Covid cases among First Nations in Canada are dropping, says Dr. Evan Adams, Chief Medical Officer of Health with the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia.
What this means for the immediate future of the pandemic is not certain, but Dr. Adams says eventually, Covid-19 will be an endemic virus.
That’s his take from watching the virus unfold for the past 22 months.
“If I was a betting man, I’d say we’re probably headed toward regular vaccination against Covid and in a little while, it will become endemic and live amongst us and be relatively benign and be controlled but we’re not there yet,” said Dr. Adams during an online question and answer session with Six Nations community members last week.
The Covid virus, he explained, is half-alive, referring to it as a “bag of protein.”
Its genetic material is made of RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) making it an unstable virus.
Because of RNA’s instability, that means it will mutate, he said.
Dr. Adams, who is also well-known for his acting work and his memorable role as Thomas Builds-the-Fire in 1998’s Smoke Signals, fielded a number of questions on Covid-19 during the online session.
From the Tla’amin Nation in British Columbia, Dr. Adams obtained his doctorate in 2002 and also went on to obtain a master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.
As Covid unfolded in First Nations communities across the country, he said he’s lost family members to the virus – not just physically, but also through disagreements on the science surrounding Covid and vaccine.
He said Covid cases among First Nations people are now levelling off but there is a lag in booster doses among First Nations people.
They’re half as likely to have had a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine compared to the rest of the population, he said, despite being more likely to die of Covid-19 complications than the general population.
Still, about 86 per cent of Indigenous people over 12 have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, he said.
Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Adams has been a big proponent of both traditional medicine and Western medicine to treat the virus.
He encourages people to get along, despite the fact his “anti-vaxxer” cousins have approached him in supermarkets to scream at him.
“I want to help and I want for us to get along. Vaccinated or unvaccinated, those are our people. I would much prefer that we be friendly to each other.”
There will always be vaccinated and unvaccinated people and people who wear masks and people who don’t wear masks among us, he said.
“We don’t really have to go at each other every time we see each other. I am a Western-trained doctor but I am very supportive of traditional medicine.”
Instead of subscribing to the dichotomous thinking that has pervaded public debate since the pandemic began, Dr. Adams advocates the melding of both streams of medicine for the benefit of people’s health.
“It is possible to have both. You don’t have to choose one or the other just because you’re a traditional person.”
Dr. Adams addressed myths that mRNA Covid vaccines affect a woman’s fertility.
“There is no evidence that the vaccination affects fertility in any way,” he said.
He said a few women reported changes in menstruation but menstruation (flow and frequency) changes fairly easily and he said illnesses such as influenza can affect menstruation slightly, as well.
He said it’s temporary and there is no evidence that a Covid vaccine affects a woman’s fertility.
He said any kind of vaccine injury is recorded and reported transparently.
“Why would I try and hide that?”