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3 days of protests by anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers in Ontario

Three graphs comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated people: COVID-19 cases, Patients in hospital and patients in ICU
Ontario Science Advisory Table
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The Ontario Science Advsiory Table said unvaccinated people have a 6-fold higher risk of symptomatic COVID-19 disease, a 30-fold higher risk of being in the hospital and 48-fold higher risk of being in the ICU compared to the fully vaccinated people.

Ontario has posted three straight days of more than 800 new cases of COVID-19. And while many regions ramp up their vaccination efforts, governments, hospitals, businesses and schools are tightening their policies over COVID-19 vaccinations.

The province has also moved toward a vaccine passport system. But there have also been growing protests from anti-mask and anti-vaccination protesters. That’s led to frustration in the medical community.

In Ontario and in some major cities across Canada, people have taken to the streets to protest against mandatory vaccinations and vaccine passports or certificates. The latest demonstrations were made in front of hospitals.

Hundreds blocked traffic in downtown Toronto as they protested and shared misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. In some cases healthcare workers were forced to wind their way through the demonstrators, most of whom were not wearing masks.

The head of the Ontario Hospital Association, Anthony Dale, issued a statement calling the protests truly disheartening....and making things more difficult for overworked and overburdened staff.

The Canadian and Ontario Medical Associations said there has been an increase in antivaccine messaging in certain cities and it has to stop, adding that healthcare workers are being bullied and harassed for doing their jobs.

Dr. Peter Juni, the head of Ontario’s Science Advisory Table, said there are still millions of unvaccinated people in Ontario and that’s led to projections of accelerated case numbers of COVID-19, driven by the Delta variant.

"All those unvaccinated people out there will still be able, actually to overwhelm our ICUs and that’s what we see in these projections," Juni said. "The point is, without the vaccines things would look considerably worse. That’s really important just to realize. Without our vaccine coverage that we had, things would look 10 times worse.”

Juni also had a warning for those people who have not been vaccinated or are only partially vaccinated.

"There’s no way for those that are not vaccinated that they don’t get infected," he said. "Their risk of getting infected during the next six to 12 months is about 90%."

Dr. Isaac Boguch, an infectious disease specialist in Toronto, said vaccines are one of the key factors in keeping the virus in check and preventing our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

"Luckily, we have safe, effective vaccines that are widely available for everyone over the age of 12, but there’s millions and millions of people who are eligible who are still not vaccinated," Boguch said. "I mean, I think we need to focus our attention on that, plus focusing our attention on creating safer indoor spaces.”

Kerry Bowman, an ethecist at the University of Toronto, said he understands the concerns of many people, especially over vaccine passports.

"There’s concerns with freedom of movement. There’s concerns with surveillance. There’s concerns with vulnerability. But if this is going to work, and work well, it means that the benefits of this needs to override all of those concerns, that the benefits are so strong that it justifies the action taken,” said Bowman.

Many doctors and nurses said they’re frustrated with the anti-vaccination protests and angry that limited healthcare resources are being used to save people who decided not to protect themselves against COVID-19.

The latest numbers show that a large majority of new cases are among people who have not been vaccinated or had just one dose. There were 944 new cases reported on Saturday.

The latest modeling suggested a substantial fourth wave with daily case counts possibly reaching 9,000 in October in a worst-case scenario.