Quebec accounts for half of COVID-19 deaths in the last 14 days
Unvaccinated Quebecers or those over 70 with serious diseases are the COVID-19 patients hospitals are seeing the most, said the doctor in charge of one Montreal intensive care unit.
“Those patients have a severe strike against them,” said Dr. François Marquis, of the Rosemont-Maisonneuve Hospital. “Some patients I think would be able to survive if they only had the first problem, but on top of that having COVID, I think it’s the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.”
According to Quebec public health data, 1,505 people died of COVID-19 in January 2021. A year later — despite vaccines and doctors better at caring for COVID-19 patients — the province has already reported 688 deaths, and the month is only half over.
"We are far from the other Canadian provinces in terms of mortality rate," said Liberal leader Dominique Anglade, as she criticized the Legault government saying it had ‘lost control’ of the fifth wave of the pandemic.
In the last 14 days, Quebec’s death rate was 7 per 100,000 for a total of 604 — accounting for half the deaths in Canada (1,280) and double the rate (3.4 per 100,000).
Comparatively, Ontario had a death rate of 2.7 per 100,000 for a total of 399 deaths.
The second-highest death rate after Quebec was Manitoba, with 4.7 deaths per 100,000, for a total of 65.
“They're worried about those numbers because they do not show exactly what's going on,” said Quebec director of public health Luc Boileau, who said he needs to take a closer look at the numbers because they still don’t know who died from the disease from the pandemic's fifth wave and who died of other causes while having COVID-19.
“It is probable that they are with COVID but not necessarily from COVID,” he said.
Still, the death rate remains high. McGill University Health Centre infectious diseases specialist Dr. Donald Vinh blames the slow rollout of the third vaccine dose.
“And in fact what we’re seeing of late, in the last month or so, are elderly people who live in the community who are not triply vaccinated getting infected, getting sick and unfortunately dying,” he said.
About 85 per cent of COVID-19 related deaths in the past two weeks are people over 70, worrying some in the medical community that younger people won’t think the Omicron variant is a significant threat to them and figure they might as well get the virus and get it over with.
That’s a mistake, said Vinh.
“The reason you don’t want to let Omicron rip through the community like wildfire is because it will infect people who will get sick be hospitalized and die,” he said.
Another reality: the more infections, the longer the pandemic could last.
“Every time it infects somebody, there is a capacity for this virus to not only reproduce but to mutate and with enough mutations you eventually lead to another variant,” he said.