Tag Archives: question

Experts question whether Canucks can finish season following COVID-19 outbreak

The NHL says it remains hopeful the Vancouver Canucks can complete a 56-game schedule even though 25 members of the team have tested positive for a variant form of COVID-19, but some experts question if that is possible.

The Canucks released a statement Wednesday saying 21 players, including three on the taxi squad, plus four staff members, “have tested positive and the source infection is confirmed a variant.” Which variant has not been confirmed.

On Tuesday, when the Canucks had 18 players on the COVID-19 protocol list, an NHL spokesman said “a 56-game season is still the focus,” but if necessary the league has some flexibility on scheduling the opening of the playoffs. Asked Wednesday if anything had changed following the Canucks’ announcement, the spokesman said, “my answer is the same as it was yesterday.”

An NHL agent said he had heard nothing about any plans to cancel games.

“So far it sounds like they will push forward based on what I’m hearing,” the agent said.

WATCH | Concerns intensify amid Canucks’ growing outbreak:

Twenty-five members of the Vancouver Canucks organization have tested positive for a COVID-19 variant and it has put the remainder of the team’s season in question. 1:55

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician for St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, said studies have shown people affected by the different variants “will recover on pace,” but depending on the severity of the virus — professional players may need extra time to regain their conditioning.

“They may be out of quarantine in 10 days, but a lot of players may not return after they are considered clear,” he said. “They may actually need a few weeks to get back to hockey normal.”

The Canucks’ situation is complicated because so many players have contracted the virus.

“If you have an outbreak of five or six [players] you can fill in the gaps, you can wait for some of your players to condition properly,” Chagla said. “At 21 players, that’s 21 different players that need to condition properly, that’s 21 players that need to get back into shape, get over their COVID and heal.”

Recovering from the virus is different from rehabbing after a sports injury.

“[A] lot of these guys, it sounds like, were in bed at home,” Chagla said. “You’re losing muscle mass; you’re losing that elite shape.”

WATCH | Vancouver Canucks sidelined by COVID-19:

The Vancouver Canucks have cancelled several upcoming games after a COVID-19 outbreak hit at least half the team’s roster. 1:59

When the first Canuck player tested positive last week, Vancouver’s next four games were postponed. The Canucks were scheduled to return to play Thursday in Calgary against the Flames. The Canucks’ website now says that game and another on Saturday in Calgary have been postponed.

The NHL season was originally scheduled to end May 8 but has already been extended to May 11 to allow for previously postponed games.

The Canucks have 19 regular season games remaining.

The cost of doing business

Corey Hirsch, a former NHL goaltender who is now a member of the Canucks’ radio broadcast team, worries about the physical strain forced on players if they are expected to play their remaining games in a condensed period of time after overcoming the virus.

“You are talking about the whole team,” he said. “You’re not only talking about one guy. My question would be if they are at risk of injury because of the physical shape they are in.”

Moshe Lander, a senior lecturer in the economics of sports, gaming and gambling at Concordia University in Montreal, said the Canucks’ situation is a result of the NHL “not bubbling up for a season.”

“The NHL has accepted this is the cost of doing business,” said Lander.

Delaying the start of the playoffs creates problems for teams in the other three divisions, Lander said. The league also won’t want the playoffs extending into late July because of the Tokyo Summer Games.

Last year’s playoffs, which included a play-in round, began Aug. 1 and ended Sept. 28.

Lander predicts Vancouver might only play 50 games, which will impact other teams in the NHL’s North Division.

“A whole bunch of Canuck games are going to be cancelled, not going to be made up,” he said. “You’re cancelling games against the Oilers, or the Canadiens, or [other teams] that are playoff-bound so their ranking system is going to be disrupted.

“The NHL has protocols in place to determine tiebreakers. I’m assuming it’s just going to be best winning percentage. Everybody has played enough games at this point that you have a reasonable enough sample size to know who [the playoff teams] are.”

Even before the virus struck, Vancouver faced an uphill battle to make the playoffs.

Heading into Wednesday night, the Canucks (16-18-3) trailed Montreal by eight points for the final playoff spot in the North Division.

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CBC | Sports News

Experts question whether COVID-19 curfews work. But France may have had some luck

As Quebec becomes the first province to implement a curfew to help curb the spread of COVID-19, there isn’t clear consensus whether similar efforts around the world have had much of an effect.

Quebec’s 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew went into effect this weekend and is scheduled to last until Feb. 8, meaning many of the province’s residents will be prohibited from going outside at night. Those caught outside without a valid reason could face a fine of between $ 1,000 and $ 6,000.

The province is following in the footsteps of other jurisdictions that have implemented similar curfews. Spain, Italy, Switzerland and France have all put in nation-wide curfews, and this weekend, 15 zones of France will have even earlier restrictions, beginning at 6 p.m. and lasting until 6 a.m.

Despite the widespread use of curfews, some health experts have challenged what they actually do to fight COVID-19

“I don’t think there is any strong evidence that that kind of approach works,” said Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician and a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

However, researchers in France have found data suggesting it has worked to slow spread there — at least for some age groups.


Starting Saturday, Quebec is under curfew for the next four weeks, though there are some exceptions, including for dog walkers. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Curfews associated with slowing spread

A team of French researchers looked into three waves of the French government’s health policy measures to combat COVID-19. 

Starting Oct. 17, 16 of France’s zones known as départements were put under curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. The following week, 38 were added, so more than half the country was under mandatory curfew from October 23 onwards.

Finally, starting on October 30, a nation-wide lockdown was implemented.

The researchers found that the curfew was able to reduce the acceleration of the pandemic, but the strongest effect was only for people who were 60 and older. 

For people younger than 60, it was the subsequent lockdown that did more to curb the spread.

“This suggests that if health policies aim at protecting the elderly population generally more at risk to suffer severe consequences from COVID-19, curfew measures may be most effective,” according to the study, which was released in November on SSRN, a pre-print server.

Patrick Pintus, an economics professor at Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France, who was one of the researchers, acknowledged this was not a controlled experiment, that the results can only show correllation, not cause-and-effect.

“But what we found was that, especially the first week of the curfew, did seem to have an effect in terms of curbing the pandemic in the sense [of] reducing the acceleration,” he said.

“Our interpretation is that it’s probably due to the fact that because of the curfew, there were much less interactions between that age group in bars, in the restaurants.”


People enjoy a glass of mulled wine in the street before curfew on Dec. 17 in Strasbourg, France. Now, the curfew is moving even earlier, to 6 p.m., in parts of the country. (AP)

Pintus said they couldn’t say why the curfew didn’t have the same impact on virus spread among the younger age groups.

However, the older demographic is key — not just because they are more vulnerable but because, pre-curfew, the virus was circulating at twice the rate in those over 60 as under, said Pintus.

He did say that from his own experience, he believes people are following the curfew. 

“And I think the reason is that our own people prefer the curfew to the lockdown. Of course, they complain about it. And so it’s a huge constraint. But, you know, compared to lockdown, it’s much better.”

Impact uncertain

Meanwhile, in other jurisdictions, including U.S. states with curfews, there have been mixed results from the public health measure — and the specifics of timing may be key.

On Nov. 19, Ohio implemented a curfew from 10 p.m to 5 a.m., requiring people to stay inside a place of residence between those hours. That order has since been extended three times, with the most recent curfew set to last until at least Jan. 23.


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has extended his state’s curfew three times, and credits it with helping flatten case numbers there. ((J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune/Associated Press)

In announcing the extension, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said they had seen a “somewhat flattening of cases” and that the rate of increase was slowing down.

He attributed the change to both mandatory mask-wearing in retail locations and the curfew — but not everyone is convinced.

“I have not seen any data suggesting they [curfews] have been effective in curbing viral spread in Ohio,” Tara Smith, a professor of epidemiology at Kent State University said in an email.

In California, some areas are under a  “limited stay-home order” which includes a restriction of some activities after 10 p.m. 

“I can tell you just looking at what’s going on in California, that this particular curfew hasn’t made much of an impact,” said Dr. Lee Riley, professor and chair of the division of infectious disease and vaccinology at the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.

“I’m not really sure curfews do much.”

Karin Michels, professor and chair of the UCLA department of epidemiology, said she believes the 10 p.m. starting time still invites too much social contact, and that an 8 p.m. curfew, like in Quebec, could make a difference.

“If I have to be home at 8:00 I have to start early. If I want to go to somebody else’s house, and maybe I don’t have much time because I work until 5:00 or 6:00 or something. 

“I think [8 p.m.] is more effective. And really, I think given the situation of the pandemic right now, I think we just have to bite the bullet and be more more restrictive.

WATCH | Why Quebec has decided to implement a curfew:

Quebec has imposed a nightly curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. as part of a four-week provincial lockdown aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 after record cases have put a strain on the health-care system. 2:00

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CBC | World News

Using plasma to treat COVID-19 still in question after clinical trial results

Using convalescent plasma from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat other patients failed to prevent deaths or worsening illness in one clinical trial. But Canadian researchers continue to study its potential.

Investigators in India randomly split 464 adults hospitalized with COVID-19 between April and July into two groups. About half received transfusions of plasma with virus-fighting antibodies, and the others received standard care only.

In this week’s issue of the BMJ, researchers said that after seven days, use of convalescent plasma seemed to improve some symptoms, such as shortness of breath and fatigue. But this did not translate into a reduction in deaths or progression to severe COVID-19 after 28 days, based on clinical exams, lab tests and check-ins by phone.

The investigators said future research could explore using plasma with high levels of “neutralizing antibodies” to see if this might work better.


Jeannie Callum, a transfusion medicine specialist and hematologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto said it’s logical that convalescent plasma would help fight viral infections, but it remains an unproven therapy. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Jeannie Callum, a transfusion medicine specialist and hematologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, commended the Indian researchers for completing the trial with nearly 40 centres under real-world conditions.

Plasma treatment aims to eliminate virus

Here’s how convalescent plasma is thought to work: The virus binds to cells in the body. People with COVID-19 who have recovered develop what are known as antibodies — proteins that white blood cells make to bind to the virus and help eliminate it. 

“We believe that these antibodies actually neutralize the virus so it can’t reinfect your cells,” said Callum.

By clearing the virus from the bloodstream and tissues, she said it’s hoped that patients will be pushed into a state of recovery. 

Callum said that while it is logical that convalescent plasma would help fight viral infections, it remains an unproven therapy.

High level of antibodies needed

Dana Devine, chief scientist at Canadian Blood Services, is part of a Canadian project called CONCOR that is also trying to determine if the straw-coloured liquid component of blood helps patients to fight off COVID-19.

Devine said not all plasma from recovered people can be used in the

The way FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn characterized the benefits of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients raises concerns about political interference, says Dr. Samir Gupta, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto. 5:01

Scientists also say larger trials are needed for COVID-19 patients who have milder cases of the disease and for those who are newly infected. 

“One could well imagine that the treatment might work particularly well in those earlier in the course of the disease or who have not been able to mount a good antibody response to the virus of their own,” said Martin Landray, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Britain’s Oxford University. “But such speculation needs to be tested.”

As for other treatments, so far, only the steroid dexamethasone has been shown to cut the risk of death from COVID-19.

On July 27, Health Canada approved the use of the antiviral medication remdesivir, with conditions, to treat COVID-19 in adults and youth 12 years and older with pneumonia needing supplemental oxygen.

Remdesivir was also the first drug authorized to treat Canadian patients hospitalized with severe symptoms.

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CBC | Health News