The COVID-19 pandemic has turned Stratford-based family physician Sean Blaine into an internet sensation of sorts — as a YouTube commentator offering tips to navigate the health emergency. Blaine says he has "a couple of ideas on how we can get through this thing together." He has been sharing his views on why masks are an essential part of public health practice and why everyone should always have one at the ready.
According to Blaine, the whole thing started because he was disappointed in the response to COVID-19.
"It began in April or so right in the heat of the pandemic. I was talking with a friend and … I was just frustrated because it felt like we were just kind of always behind it, always too late with everything we were doing," Blaine told CBC News.
At that time, he said the only reasonable exit strategy for dealing with the pandemic is to adopt widespread immunity testing to determine who among us possesses the required antibodies to keep the virus at bay.
"I was feeling helpless and frustrated, and I remember one day I was on the phone chatting with a friend. I heard at the time that there were some Canadian companies that were developing some serological tests or immunity tests and I thought the government should just pour money into this. "I was ranting on the phone with my friend and he said … I want to film you doing this," Blaine added. The rest, as they say, is history.
With the help of documentary producer Craig Thompson, Blaine has been making short videos designed to help people protect themselves and others from COVID-19. The latest video, Matter of Masks, was posted on June 19. Within a week it amassed nearly 20,000 views.
Based on the viewer comments, people appreciate what Blaine is doing. "This is a clear message. Thank you Dr Blaine," Dorothy Byrne-Jones wrote. "And yes carry a mask with you … Remember it is not about making a fashion statement. You don't need to have one to match what you are wearing." Meanwhile, Anne Anderson said the public should know, "my mask protects you, and your mask protects me," and if everyone has a mask, we are all protected. "Thanks for this, but people who won't wear one believe they don't need to because they are not sick or they are young … People still have it in their head that a mask doesn't protect them and that's all they care about," Anderson added.
"We have the ability to know whether people are immune to this disease or not, and that's our ticket to de-escalating the measures we're in and getting our economy back on track," Blaine said. "Let's solve the problem here and then share it with the rest of the world."