By Laura Keil, Publisher/Editor

Another variant of concern has emerged, and the World Health Organization is warning that the risk from the omicron variant is “very high” based on early evidence, saying the mutated virus could lead to surges of infection.
At the same time, it says “considerable uncertainties” remain in terms of how quickly the virus can spread and the severity of the symptoms it causes. Why am I not optimistic?

We are in a war of attrition, and the virus appears to be one-upping us.

Widespread infection accelerates mutations and COVID-19 is more disastrous than any other virus circulating widely today (the most number of deaths for any pandemic in the last two decades, and that’s with restrictions and mandates).

Canada confirmed its first cases of the variant on Sunday. You can bet this mutation will escape our grasp, as have all the others.

“The emergence of the omicron variant has fulfilled, in a precise way, the predictions of the scientists who warned that the elevated transmission of the virus in areas with limited access to vaccine would speed its evolution,” said Dr. Richard Hatchett, one of the founders of the U.N.-backed global vaccine sharing initiative COVAX.

Meanwhile, in Canada, with its fairly high vaccination rate (77 per cent fully vaccinated), we are still dealing with mandates and restrictions due to the quickly-spreading virus and the negative consequences on people who don’t have immunity.

On the face of it, it’s confusing. Our vaccination rate is high, so why are we still masked and told to do our due diligence in face of the virus?

It would certainly help if we could ask more questions of the authorities laying down these mandates. Even as a member of the media, it’s like pulling teeth many times to get a straight answer out of Northern Health or the Province.

Many times I’m barred from Robson Valley data due to “privacy concerns.” Other times, I’m simply ghosted, my requests ignored for days until I follow up again and again.

You can imagine how this breeds distrust not just with journalists but with the public towards journalists and authorities.

When trained journalists can’t get answers to basic questions, it feels like our democracy is slipping into the communication protocols of an authoritarian regime.

But as a newspaper, we have failed at this as well. We have pushed vaccines and COVID-19 information in our editorials without inviting questions.

So let’s dig into the facts! As a journalist, this is my favourite thing to do. Journalists are also taught to distrust (ie. fact check) the words of people in power, to seek information from a variety of sources, and to question the motivations of all sources.

The Goat would like to encourage you to ask any question regarding the COVID-19 response or vaccination and we will endeavour to find answers from Northern Health, epidemiologists, and scientists in the know. If we can’t get answers, we will let you know that too. If you have a question, chances are someone else has the same one.
Contact us here: [email protected] / 250-566-4606