Black Scientists’ Task Force warns against complacency regarding COVID

by Lincoln DePradine

Dr Candice Todd

The COVID-related societal lockdown of two years ago and accompanying government-mandated measures, such as mask-wearing, may have been lifted. But an African-Canadian biologicals specialist and pharmaceutical industry veteran is warning against complacency with the Coronavirus, which has killed more than 44,000 Canada. Worldwide, COVID-19 has infected 601 million people, and is responsible for the deaths of 6.49 million globally.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,’’ cautioned Trevor Aldridge, a former Health Canada drug and biologicals specialist.

Aldridge issued the warning while participating in an August 25 online town hall meeting titled, “Vaccination Essentials for African Communities’’.

Aldridge, one of three panelists at the meeting, said the virus is changing, with a couple of strains “more infectious’’ than the original that emerged in 2020.

North America and Europe are not isolated from the rest of the world, where unvaccinated rates are high, “with a lot of virus circulating; with a lot of opportunities to mutate and create new strains that could cause havoc,’’ said Aldridge, who has more 30 years of professional working experience that covers the manufacturing medical devices and biopharmaceuticals.

“We don’t have anything approaching herd immunity in certain parts of the world. Anything that happens on the outside is going to happen here too. We’re interconnected,’’ added Aldridge, who now is senior director of quality and compliance with Brevitas Consulting Inc., an Ontario-based company that’s involved in the pharmaceutical, medical services, chemical and food and beverage industries.

The townhall was organized by the City of Toronto-backed Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity, in cooperation with several other groups.


Trevor Aldridge

Aldridge and fellow panelists, Dr David Burt and Dr Candice Todd, encouraged vaccination against COVID, explaining the benefits and side-effects of vaccines.

Todd, a naturopathic doctor with expertise in disease prevention, said Black health professionals also are to be trusted. “Take the information, knowing that it’s coming from people who look like you and just want the best for our community,’’ she said.

Panelists emphasized that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks that include common adverse effects that are “very visible’’ and are reported by Health Canada.

Among the common side-effects are “pain at the injection site’’, swelling, flu-like symptoms, headache and “a little bit of fatigue’’, which are “really signs that your immune system is working’’, said Todd.

“When you’re talking about vaccination, the idea is to prevent serious illness and death,’’ she explained. “There are some side-effects. But, in terms of the greater good and protecting our community that is often marginalized, often we are at greater risks because of the jobs that we do, because of where we live, because of comorbidities, vaccines are effective. You’re trying to create antibodies for that specific illness, so that you can fight it off better in the future.’’

Burt, for his part, described vaccination as a “preventative measure. It’s training our immune system to recognize something that can cause damage to ourselves and, in many cases, death. And, that’s exactly what these COVID vaccines do’’.

More serious adverse effects, such as blood clots, are “rare’’ and the unvaccinated, who are depending on “natural immunity’’, are putting themselves at risk of COVID-19 infection and suffering such things as
“brain fog’’, said Burt.

“You’re playing Russian roulette if you are waiting on natural immunity to give that immune response. You’re going to be susceptible to all of these issues that are associated with being infected with the virus,’’ Burt said.

Someone, who has had just two doses of a COVID vaccine, said Burt, has “50 percent less chance of being infected and you have around 70 percent less chance of being in hospital. Most of the people, who are in ICU, haven’t been vaccinated or haven’t had their full dose of vaccine. And, it’s telling us that these vaccines are actually working, despite all the information you might hear against vaccine’’.

LJI Reporter