OTTAWA, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The spread of COVID-19 misinformation cost at least 2,800 lives in Canada over nine months of the pandemic, a new report said on Thursday.
The report was released by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) which commissioned a quantitative economic model to provide an estimate of the direct healthcare costs of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy between Mar. 1 and Nov. 30, 2021.
According to the report, if those who reported believing COVID-19 was a hoax were vaccinated when they became eligible, over 2.3 million additional people in Canada would have been vaccinated, resulting in roughly 198,000 fewer cases, 13,000 fewer hospitalizations, and 2,800 fewer deaths from COVID-19.
The cost of hospitalizations, including ICU visits associated with these cases, was conservatively estimated at 300 million Canadian dollars (240 million U.S. dollars), the report showed.
These modelled estimates of COVID-19 misinformation impacts in Canada are conservative because they do not capture other direct health costs, such as physician compensation, as well as the ripple effects across society, including the strain placed on Canada's healthcare system, opportunities for the creation of new variants, and slowing economic recovery, according to the report.
Moreover, impacts are experienced unevenly across society and among different groups, reinforcing longstanding inequities and divisions, CCA said.