According to letter to the president of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver Coastal Health’s top doctor advised in mid-February that vaccine mandates, passports, and segregated lockdowns may inflict more harm than good.
“Good public health policy means implementing restrictions that are the least intrusive available, based on scientific evidence, neither arbitrary nor discriminatory in application, of limited duration, respectful of human dignity and subject to review.” the letter explained.
Dr. Henry, however, rejected calls in a March 1 briefing to follow the path of other provinces and scrap the pandemic safety measures. “There are still many, many areas that have significant transmission and we are still seeing widespread transmission of this virus across the province, which is why the protections we have in place right now remain a necessary part of our strategy for now,” she pleaded to reporters then.
The president of UBC, Santa Ono, received a letter from Vancouver Coastal Health on Feb. 16 urging him to abandon his plan to deregister students who refused to reveal their COVID-19 vaccination status. In his letter, Dr. Daly highlighted a non-peer-reviewed study as important proof that the program would be ineffectual.
It was also argued in the letter the so-called COVID-19 vaccine are not effective at preventing infection or transmission of the Omicron variant of COVID-19
“Current scientific evidence, including BC data, indicates that COVID-19 vaccination (2-doses), while effective at preventing severe illness, is not effective at preventing infection or transmission of the Omicron variant of the virus, which now accounts for almost 100% of cases in the province. Therefore there is now no material difference in likelihood that a UBC student of staff member who is vaccinated or unvaccinated may be infected and potentially infectious to others. We also know that Omicron causes less serious illness than the other variants of COVD-19, which is particularly true in young people”
The letter also took aim at the university’s requirement for weekly rapid antigen testing of unvaccinated students and staff, which had been in place since last September.
“mandatory rapid tests for unvaccinated students and staff, and related employment/academic sanctions – are not useful in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 on campus” it continued with explaining there is no evidence to show those who have not blindly obeyed the UBC policies influenced by government coercion have posed any public health risk to fellow student, faculty, even during the circulations of other variants.
The study, titled The Unintended Consequences of COVID-19 Vaccine Policy: Why Mandates, Passports and Segregated Lockdowns May Cause More Harm Than Good, was in preprint, meaning it hadn’t been peer reviewed yet. Vaccine requirements, the report concluded, may deter the adoption of future health initiatives. “Restricting people’s access to work, education, public transport, and social life based on COVID-19 vaccination status impinges on human rights, promotes stigma and social polarization, and adversely affects health and well-being,” it says.
Caroline Colijn, a professor at B.C.’s Simon Fraser University and Canada 150 Research Chair in mathematics for evolution, infection and public health, said there is solid evidence indicating that two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are less effective in preventing transmission of the Omicron variant than previous variants.
Twelve days after Dr. Daly’s letter to the university, UBC declared it would drop both its rapid testing program and its plan to deregister students who have not complied with its vaccine requirements.
“The evolution of the virus and the presence of the Omicron variant now indicates that a different public-health and safety approach should be taken,” states the bulletin, posted for faculty, staff and students in Vancouver and the Okanagan. The university also took advice from its COVID modelling team that concluded in a Feb. 20 letter: “There is no longer a strong scientific reason to differentially treat those who were fully vaccinated months ago and those who are unvaccinated, in terms of the risks that they pose for transmitting COVID to others.”
Matthew Ramsey, a spokesperson for the university, said the policy changes were made “after extensive discussion within UBC and through careful consideration of available data.”