Lambton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade at a mass vaccination clinic.  (Photo by Lambton Public Health)Lambton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade at a mass vaccination clinic. (Photo by Lambton Public Health)

COVID 'approaches burden of influenza,' Lambton MOH

Sarnia-Lambton's top doctor was in attendance for county council's first in-person meeting in over two years Wednesday morning.

The majority of councillors attended Lambton's administration building while others tuned in virtually.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade said it felt very surreal to be back. He said the meeting, and other signs, are kind of evidence that the community is moving to a place of integrating COVID into the things people do.

"That's what we're talking about now. We're not talking about treating COVID as a separate thing out here, we're talking about having it be a risk that is ongoing, something that is happening around us and that we have to integrate into the activities that we have."

Ranade said it's important to respect other people's need for distance, if that's what they need. He also said delaying or avoiding exposure to COVID now requires substantial ongoing changes to someone's social behaviour.

"And for some people they might actually be willing to do that, and that's reasonable. But at the level of the population, those changes are not particularly sustainable," he said. "And that is why we're moving to a model of integrating the risk and acknowledging that the burden of disease in a highly vaccinated population from COVID starts to approach -- it's not quite there yet -- but it approaches the burden of influenza."

Ranade said when we look at fatalities among vaccinated people they are, by and large, over 80-years-old or significantly immunocompromised.

"And that may not be a risk that we can do that much about except for offering them additional boosters, so we're going to do that."

On Wednesday, the province announced it was expanding fourth shots to those over 60 as of Thursday.

Ranade said boosters will also roll out through the rest of the population, and that he anticipates there will be a need for re-boosting in the general population before the fall.

Lambton Public Health reported 28 new COVID-19 cases in its weekly update Wednesday. However, Ranade said it's an under representation of all of the cases. He said around Ontario, wastewater signals are moving upwards.

"That is an indication that cases are going up and the other indication is that hospitalizations across the province are also going up, and that's important to remember."

Ranade said everything he's saying comes with a massive caveat, which is that most of the world remains unvaccinated, which creates the condition in which new variants can arise. He said for now, we're going to see ongoing omicron waves.

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