Variants Could Double Case Counts: Tam

Public Health Agency of Canada

"We need more vaccines".

The cumulative number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in India has crossed 5.46 crore with 15,20,111 doses being given till Thursday evening, the Union Health Ministry said.

The highest incidences of COVID-19 are now being experienced in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and parts of Ontario, while overall the incidence rates are highest among young adults aged 20 to 39 and have declined among older Canadians.

Daily case counts and severity indicators are once again on the rise, after an easing off of lockdown measures in major provinces west of Atlantic Canada, with an average of 4,057 new cases, 2,194 hospitalizations, and 29 deaths over the past seven days. "As we have seen these bumps are temporary, and have not knocked us off course", said the procurement minister, noting that Canada's shipments of vaccines over the course of the next three weeks are expected to match the total number of doses received over the course of the past three months combined.

Tam says rising cases indicate we're in a "very tight race" between vaccines and variants of concern, which make up an increasingly high proportion of new cases in several provinces.

At the same time, public health experts in the United States are warning at every opportunity that relaxing social distancing and other measures could easily lead to another surge. The U.S. on Wednesday surpassed 30 million confirmed cases, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Some of the decrease in incidence rates among older Canadians is a result of vaccine efforts, Tam said.

Vaccine exports from the EU to Canada-which now include shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the two major providers-are subject to authorization requests and the European Commission.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been more than 951,500 COVID-19 cases and 22,790 deaths in Canada. The favorable downward trend in some states can hide an increase in case numbers in others, particularly smaller ones, said Ali Mokdad, professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The Ontario Hospital Association said Friday that the third wave is threatening the province's ICU capacity as the number of severely ill patients approaches a previous peak.

Seeking to offer an incentive to double-down now, Tam said that eventually easing restrictions will only be possible if current spread is brought under control.

Dr. Tam said stronger public health measures will be necessary to counter the resurgence fueled by more infectious variants. "Try and keep that even keel until the vaccines have gained much more of acceleration in terms of coverage".

"It is important to remember that although severe illness is less common in younger age groups, serious or prolonged illness can occur at any age and there are emerging concerns about increased severity of the B.1.1.7 variant in adults", Tam explained. In fact, she said she was referencing data from Ontario.

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