U of S professor predicts Saskatoon will follow Regina’s lead in rising variant cases

Kyle Anderson says in the video that the number of COVID-19 variant cases in the province is doubling. Photo by: Jennifer Francis

A University of Saskatchewan professor released a video yesterday that predicts Saskatoon will likely see a rise in COVID-19 variants, similar to Regina’s skyrocketing numbers.

Kyle Anderson is a professor and the undergrad chair of biochemistry, microbiology, immunology for the College of Medicine in Saskatoon.

“My focus has always been on knowledge and how to explain things better to students,” he said. “All of the COVID stuff that I do has just been an extension of being very good at both explaining things and being able to make sense of all the signs.”

The video, which is titled “Will Saskatoon Follow Regina’s Lead?” claims the number of variants seen in Saskatchewan is doubling.

“The doubling time in Regina is about three or four days,” Anderson said.

He said in Saskatoon, even though there are currently only 18 variants reported there, that number has doubled “a few times” as only two were reported one week ago.

Anderson said the reason Regina has so many more variant cases than the rest of the province has nothing to do with circumstance and much to do with happenstance.

“It was sort of what we would call a founder effect, where if there are no cases anywhere in the province and Regina is the first place that we would have community transmission, that for a while would sort of go undetected,” he said.

Anderson said the reason variant cases went undetected was due to the fact that up until a few weeks ago, Saskatchewan wasn’t testing for different variants of COVID-19.

“It really probably started with one travel case and that person, just by chance, didn’t happen to isolate or maybe they didn’t have symptoms,” said Anderson.

“Maybe it was someone who they just passed at the grocery store or through the airport, it could’ve been Saskatoon, it could’ve been Lloydminster, it could’ve been Yorkton as that initial place, it just happened to be Regina.”

Anderson predicts that in two to four weeks, Saskatoon will see hundreds of cases, much like we’re currently seeing in Regina.

He said he believes a third wave of COVID-19 is coming due to a few factors, including the variants being more transmissible and less public action.

“We aren’t putting as much effort generally across the entire population as we were 12 months ago when we were first worried about COVID,” he said. “The variants are here, the wave is coming and the security of vaccination is still a few months away.”

Outspoken on Twitter

Anderson has garnered a following of nearly 3,400 people on Twitter, many appear to follow for his predictions on the virus in Saskatchewan, but some tend to disagree with him.

“It’s unfortunate that this pandemic has become very politicized and also almost a proxy war for misinformation and propaganda where you have people who have been saying ‘Masks don’t work, the virus isn’t real, people aren’t actually in the hospital’,” he said, “There are so many counterfactual arguments to this pandemic is real and serious.”

He said there are countries where COVID-19 has not been a cause for a political fight to control the pandemic and it is just based on science, facts and public health.

“Here in Canada it seems like those facts are still not up for debate but in the same way that people think that the earth is flat, no facts or arguments are going to convince them otherwise.”

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