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PODCAST: Dr. Reka Gustafson talks COVID in a one-on-one interview

TODAY IN B.C.: Medical Officer says review of pandemic response should be global

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Host Peter McCully chats with Dr. Reka Gustafson, Chief Medical Health Officer for Vancouver Island and the former Medical Health Officer for the City of Vancouver about COVID, the Flu, current immunization plans and long-term effects of COVID.

Dr. Gustafson says that the (Flu and RSV) respiratory season was unusual when compared with the previous 5 to 10 years but would be considered predictable.

Recently the World Health Organization downgraded the the COVID Pandemic declaring it is no longer a global emergency as the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths has been mostly stable the past few months.

‘What that declaration really meant is that for years, countries prioritized preventing COVID. Above other things that were important for the health and well-being of the population. It’s no longer the case,’ says Gustafson.

‘Are we going to be dealing with COVID 19? Yes, we are. We deal with influenza. We deal with RSV, but we also really need to make sure that we return to full education, full participation in society connecting with our families, connecting with our friends, because every one of those things is critical for health.’

McCully asked what the most common misconceptions about COVID are.

‘I think one of the most common misconceptions is a lack of appreciation of how much this infection has changed. I would say that there is a number of behaviors that people have adopted during the pandemic, and I think there is a misconception that it would be of benefit to continue those,’ says Gustafson.

The Chief Medical Officer also talks about mental health issues, and long-term health effects of COVID, and the challenge of review of the response to the pandemic.

‘One of the challenges that I think is going to be hard to do, is to actually have a very rational, critical look at what was done, not defensively, not in an attempt to justify the actions taken, but meaningfully and humbly reviewing what worked, what didn’t work, what was critical and beneficial, what probably wasn’t necessary and did harm - to make sure that we have an educated and learned response next time.’

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Peter McCully

About the Author: Peter McCully

Peter has been a broadcaster and publisher on both of Canada’s coasts and has owned a small newspaper and run an advertising agency along the way.
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