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Balancing vaccine hope with pandemic reality

Dr. Bonnie Henry discusses the current state of the pandemic at this year’s Duncan G. Sinclair Lectureship.

The COVID-19 vaccines are allowing people to start imagining the end of the pandemic, but at the same time daily life continues to be disrupted and people around the world remain at risk of the virus. Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia, discussed the complexities of this current situation on Feb. 10 in her talk “Balancing vaccine hope with pandemic reality,” which was this year’s Duncan G. Sinclair Lectureship in Health Services and Policy Research. The Sinclair Lectureship is co-presented by the Queen’s School of Policy Studies (SPS) and the Health Services and Policy Research Institute at Queen’s.

“The vaccine is our light on the horizon, but we are still in a long and dark tunnel. And this will be the hardest time. It will take the greatest toll on us now, personally and professionally. We must look to our own personal resilience, our psychological stamina, and how we can support each other to get through this phase,” said Dr. Henry in her presentation.

Dr. Henry touched on many different aspects of the pandemic in her lecture, including how life has changed, the lessons that have been learned, and the ways people have responded. She also discussed the ways in which COVID-19 has highlighted the inter-connectedness of the world, as well as its inequities.

“I have said many times that we’re all in the same storm globally, but we are not all in the same boat. We have seen that over and over again. Whether it’s racialized people, Indigenous peoples, certain countries and communities around the planet have been disadvantaged more than others,” said Dr. Henry.

After her lecture, Dr. Henry took questions from a virtual audience that tuned in via Zoom from across Canada. The Q&A portion of the event was moderated by Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health (Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington Health Unit) and Professor, Family and Emergency Medicine, at Queen’s. Dr. David Walker, Special Advisor to the Principal on COVID-19 and Professor of Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, and Policy Studies at Queen’s, introduced Dr. Henry at the beginning of the lecture.

“It was an honour for Queen’s to present Dr. Henry’s thought-provoking lecture. The Duncan G. Sinclair Lectureship is always a highlight for the university, as it brings leaders in health policy to share their insights on the most pressing issues of the day with our community,” says Warren Mabee, Director, Queen’s School of Policy Studies.

The lectureship is named in honour of Duncan G. Sinclair, who held multiple decanal and vice-principal roles at Queen’s before retiring in 1996. Learn more about Dr. Sinclair and the Duncan G. Sinclair Lectureship in Health Services and Policy Research on the SPS website.

Watch Dr. Henry’s lecture on the SPS YouTube channel.