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Data from previous pandemics shows government Covid response is unwarranted

CALGARY: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms today released a new report, Covid versus the Spanish Flu of 1918: Does the virus merit the government's response?

The report compares the historical data of past influenza outbreaks throughout the world and in Canada with the current data on Covid, and analyzes the extreme government response to Covid. Contrary to the grossly inflated predictions of Imperial College London’s Dr. Neil Ferguson in March 2020 which led to worldwide lockdowns, the government's own numbers reveal that the current pandemic is far closer to the flu outbreaks of 1957 and 1968 in Canada than to the devastating 1918 Spanish flu which killed an estimated 55,000 Canadians, at a time when the population of Canada was less than a quarter of what it is now.

Based on Dr. Ferguson’s wildly inaccurate estimation that without Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (masks, lockdowns, ‘social distancing,’ businesses and school closures, etc.) fatalities could reach 326,000 in Canada and 40 million worldwide, Canada's federal and provincial governments (and most other governments around the world) hastily imposed severe restrictions on society and on the economy, with little if any serious analysis of lockdown harms and costs.

The 1918 Spanish flu was deadliest among healthy, young people. The majority of the 55,000 Canadian Spanish Flu deaths were in the 15-44 age category. Covid, in contrast, has primarily affected the elderly and very ill individuals with multiple co-morbidities, the vast majority living in long-term care homes.

Comparatively few young Canadians have died with Covid. Almost all the young people who died were already ill with other serious conditions like cancer, leukemia, and diabetes. On one occasion, the Government of Alberta reported the death of a child with no health issues from Covid and later clarified the child was terminally ill with brain cancer and did not die of Covid. The federal Department of Health initially reported six young children had died of Covid, but the actual number is two fatalities out of roughly five million children aged five to 11.

The Justice Centre report reveals in detail that Covid is much more similar to previous flu epidemics such as those of 1957 and 1968.

Canadian Epidemics (as of January 11, 2022)

Since the late 19th century, Canada has experienced five major viral events, in 1890, 1918, 1957, 1968 and 2009. Epidemiologists estimate each outbreak lasted between 1-2 years.

1918-19 Spanish flu


55,000 deaths, in three waves over 12 months.

(Population of Canada: 8,148,000)

Deaths: One person in 148. (0.67% of total population.)

1890 Russian flu

DEATH RATE: < 0.17%

Deaths: Roughly ~One person in 600

(Population of Canada: 4,779,000)

1957 Asian flu


7,000 deaths over ~6 months.

(Population of Canada: 16,610,000)

Deaths: One person in 2,372

1968 Hong Kong flu

DEATH RATE: 0.019%

4,000 deaths over ~6 months.

(Population of Canada: 20,701,000) One person in 5,175. (0.019%)

2009 H1N1 Swine flu

DEATH RATE: 0.0013%

428 deaths.

(Population of Canada: 33,630,000) Up to one person in 78,574.

2020-22 Covid-19


30,957 deaths over 22 months.

(Population of Canada: 38,436,447) One person in 1,241.

2020 15,472 deaths over the first 10 months: 1 in 2,457.

2021 14,781 deaths over the next 12 months: 1 in 2,600.

Around the world, Covid has generated extreme responses from governments and health authorities that were never attempted during other comparable Influenza epidemics. These measures have generated severe harms of their own, as documented in Are Lockdowns Worth Their Cost?

In Canada, both federal and provincial responses to Covid have assumed that the virus is uniquely dangerous, and on a scale significantly larger than Influenza. Yet Covid’s impact on Canada's population does not differ significantly from the Asian flu of 1957, with both viruses sparing more than 99.9% of Canadians from harm.

"Covid versus the Spanish Flu of 1918 demonstrates that this prediction and any comparisons of Covid-19 to the Spanish flu remain unfounded, and therefore the continued violations of Charter rights and freedoms remain unjustified and unacceptable,” says lawyer John Carpay, President of the Justice Centre.

“We are now 22 months into the 'two weeks to flatten the curve' and life must go on. We cannot continue to live in fear of a respiratory virus forever, especially one that has a 99.97% survival rate. Governments can no longer justify their violations of our Charter right to bodily autonomy and our Charter freedoms to move, travel, assemble, associate, worship and protest peacefully, all of which are based on the March 2020 Neil Ferguson prediction that we would be dealing with something like the Spanish flu of 1918” adds Mr. Carpay.

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