RDOS board hears from retired doctor, asks virus questions

Doctor fields virus questions

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen's hospital board invited a retired molecular oncologist to answer questions about COVID-19 at their board meeting Thursday. 

Dr. Malcom Paterson is retired and living in Okanagan Falls and spent his career in cancer research, with notable research into antibody-based therapy for breast cancer.

He gave a detailed presentation on his conclusions about the spread of COVID-19 with data from various outbreak points in different nations, then fielded questions. 

Director Julius Bloomfield asked for his thoughts on the Swedish model of approaching the pandemic, which involved a notable lack of lockdown of local businesses. 

"The Swedish approach, a brave one in the view of many, is to fight their way through it and try to achieve herd immunity as soon as possible," Paterson said, explaining it means more casualties, but faster herd immunity. 

But he added he doesn't think it would work in North America, due to Swedes generally being healthier and with fewer underlying conditions that seem to increase the likelihood of COVID-19 patients being fatal.  

"I would argue that in North America, it would be difficult for us to adopt this strategy," Paterson said. 

He said BC, in his opinion, is the "gold standard" of North America in terms of dealing with the outbreak, and praised Dr. Bonnie Henry. 

Director Karla Kozakevich asked whether he had any input on whether people who have had the virus can be considered immune after they recover. 

"I think the jury is out at the moment on answering that question. We really don’t know whether those who are mildly affected, whether they are really developing neutralizing antibodies. So that’s an open question at the moment," Paterson said. 

He concluded by saying everyone should continue doing their part to practice physically distancing as much as possible, and brace for the fall flu season, which could see people hit with a double infection of a cold or flu and COVID-19. 

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