A “Get COVID” party in a Canadian town has sent several people to hospital, according to a local news report.
CityNews reported Thursday that guests at the party, which took place about two weeks ago in the town of Edson, Alberta, were trying to get infected with the virus to “build up natural immunity” rather than get vaccinated. Some party attendees ended up in the local hospital, while others wound up in the intensive care unit in Edmonton, about two hours east of Edson, according to CityNews.
On Twitter, Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara called the news “troubling.” He did not confirm the party happened but did confirm Edson residents are in Edmonton ICUs.
“While the Town of Edson was not aware of any such party occurring, these types of events would be highly dangerous and needlessly endanger lives,” he wrote.
“It is true that we have many residents in ICU in Edmonton and unfortunately 3 Edson area residents have lost their lives in recent days due to COVID.”
In a statement, Health Minister Jason Copping urged Albertans to get vaccinated and noted indoor gatherings are not allowed for those who are not vaccinated, due to higher transmission rates indoors.
“Holding or attending gatherings to intentionally be infected with COVID-19 is dangerous and irresponsible,” he said, adding the health care system is under “unprecedented pressure.”
“People who are hosting or attending these parties not only put themselves at risk of serious illness or death, but are adding stress to the health care system, which in turn may prevent other Albertans from getting the care they need.”
A ministry spokesperson said the province has “no reason to think the report (about the party) is not accurate” but clarified the information has not come from official sources.
Alberta has by far the highest COVID-19 case numbers among Canadian provinces, and one of the lowest vaccination rates.
The province postponed elective surgeries and outpatient procedures earlier this month after seeing 18 COVID-related deaths in 24 hours, prompting one doctor to say the health care system was “on the brink of collapse.”
The situation has not improved since.
On Wednesday, health officials reported the death of an 18-year-old among 20 new COVID-related deaths in the past day. Alberta also saw a record high 1,040 hospitalizations Wednesday, with 230 patients in ICU.
Alberta’s latest weekly case count is at 11,226. That’s more than double the next-highest province, Ontario, which has 10 million more residents than Alberta. The province has even asked the federal government for help transferring COVID-19 patients from its overflowing hospital beds to other provinces.
Alberta dropped nearly all pandemic restrictions July 1, pledging to remain open for summer as COVID-19 cases were falling at the time. But after steadfastly opposing vaccine passports, Premier Jason Kenney changed course and launched one Monday—in an editable PDF format that residents quickly noted was easy to alter and forge.
The idea of achieving “herd immunity” through infections, which health experts say is not possible, has been making the rounds in Alberta. In a tweet last week that was liked more than 3,000 times, homegrown country star Paul Brandt said a doctor told him there is “no medical need” for him to be vaccinated as a COVID-recovered person. He later reversed his position after talking to health professionals who reached out to him.
Health experts say contracting COVID-19 does not provide lasting immunity and the only hope for achieving herd immunity is through mass immunization.
Numbers from Sept. 11 show Alberta had the second lowest vaccination rate among Canadian provinces, with 60 per cent of those eligible being fully vaccinated. However, Alberta Health reported daily vaccinations tripled the day after it announced the vaccine passport.
A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found people who were infected and not vaccinated were more than twice as likely to be reinfected with COVID-19 compared to those who were fully vaccinated. Another study found 36 per cent of those who got COVID-19 had no detectable antibodies.
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