EDSON, Alta. – A party west of Edmonton has landed several people in the hospital with COVID-19, sources have confirmed to CityNews.
And this was no ordinary party–it was a “COVID party”, where guests tried to intentionally get the virus to “build up natural immunity” without getting vaccinated.
One source told CityNews that the Edson party, which happened about two weeks ago, had sent some people to the local hospital. A number of Edmonton ICU cases also come from the party.
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The gathering was similar to chickenpox parties where children were intentionally exposed to the virus, but University of Alberta virology expert Dr. Lorne Tyrrell says COVID-19 is much deadlier.
“It’s just unbelievable. And it’s very sad and very irresponsible to think you’d get good immunity from the virus without getting serious disease,” he said.
“[COVID-19] carries a mortality rate around two per cent but also we’ve got all the long-COVID people who’ve been infected and have had symptoms for a long period of time.”
The idea of natural herd immunity has been prevalent recently. Albertan country singer Paul Brandt made headlines after he posted on social media that he didn’t need to be vaccinated because he already had the virus.
An Alberta doctor told me there is no medical need for me to be vaccinated as a COVID-recovered person.
I’m not an anti-vaxxer.
Does anyone else who has immunity from prior COVID infection feel unseen?
I have questions. Join the conversation on Facebook. https://t.co/P2FmCh6Mvx pic.twitter.com/ycGiy2MqwC
— paulbrandt (@paulbrandt) September 17, 2021
Brandt later tweeted that after conversations with medical experts, he reversed course on the decision.
Tyrrell says this kind of misinformation on immunity can lead to deadly consequences.
“We thought originally that if we had 70 to 80 per cent of people vaccinated, we’d slow up this pandemic. But with the delta variant being more easily transmissible, we need to see herd immunity to get closer to 90 or 93 per cent.”
CityNews reached out to Alberta Health Services for comment on the Edson party, Edson case numbers, and concerns around intentionally contracting COVID-19.
“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,” said the newly-appointed Alberta health minister, Jason Copping, in a statement.
“COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, largely in unvaccinated Albertans.”