COVID-19 updates for the week of May 2

·4 min read

According to Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam’s April 28 statement on COVID-19 in Canada, she mentions National Immunization Awareness Week as an opportunity to get the word out about the importance of vaccinations, including getting the COVID-19 vaccine. She says that taking away barriers to vaccination and providing evidence-based information are paramount for supporting Canadians in getting vaccinated. Tam notes that the Public Health Agency of Canada is funding several projects under the Immunization Partnership Fund for the development and expansion of tools and training for healthcare providers and using community driven solutions to get people more willing to accept and receive the COVID-19 vaccines. Science Up First, a national network of science and health communicators, media and citizens, is being developed to get accurate and credible information about the vaccines out to Canadians, and The University of Toronto’s CARD system is looking to improve the vaccine experience by using game-based coping strategies to comfort, relax and distract people who are going to get the vaccine.

“Through projects like these, we are working to build confidence and make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to everyone in Canada,” she said in her statement.

Tam says there have been 3,755,956 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including 257,001 active cases and 39,293 deaths reported. In addition to the overall burden of the virus, she says the numbers and the results of the serological studies, tell us that a very large majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19.

However, with increased vaccine delivery and many choices of vaccines to combat the virus, she says there is cause for optimism.

Although COVID-19 activity remains high, with an elevated number of cases involving variants, Tam says the latest epidemiology and modelling data shows that public health measures and restrictions implemented are having an impact.

The latest national level data shows a seven-day average of 7,897 new cases per day from April 22 to 28, an 8.3 per cent decrease versus that previous seven days.

Tam says that elevated infection rates are still impacting COVID-19 severity indicators, especially in areas with sustaiened elevated levels of disease activity. This rise in severe and critical illness continues to strain the healthcare system and healthcare workers.

Provincial and territorial data shows an average of 4.392 people being treated in hospitals each day during the period from April 22 to 28. This represents a 7.6 per cent increase over last week. This includes an average of 1,406 people being treated in the Intensive Care Unit, which is a 13.6 per cent increase from last week. Tam says that the mortality trend is on the rise as well, with the seven-day average of 50 deaths reported showing an increase of 8.7 per cent over the previous week.

In Ontario, as of May 1, there were 2,243 new cases reported. There were 1,410 hospitalizations, and 187 people reported in the ICU as of that day. There were 12,872 deaths reported this week since the beginning of the pandemic, an increase of 136 cases since last week.

In Hastings Prince Edward, as of April 29, there were 93 new high-risk cases and active high-risk cases amounted to 468 people. There were 14 outbreaks in high-risk settings like LTC homes, and there were 54 deaths reported. There are 31 people who are currently hospitalized at Quinte Health Care hospitals and four people in the ICU.

Moderna requests Health Canada authorization for vaccine for children under five years old

Health Canada was asked by Moderna on April 29 to approve its COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as six months old, a day after asking the U.S. FDA to do the same. Health Canada confirmed its receipt of the request on its submission page on April 30.

This would be the first COVID-19 vaccine for children under five years old since the start of the pandemic back in March, 2020. A trial study of 6,700 children showed the vaccine was safe and produced a similar antibody protection as seen in the adult vaccine. A single dose given to children under five years old is 25 micrograms, a quarter of the amount of vaccine given to adults.

This new vaccine was shown to be 51 per cent effective at preventing symptoms in children under two years old and 37 per cent effective at negating symptoms in kids from two years to five years old.

Pfizer is also working on a similar vaccine for the under five years old section of the population, and hopes to submit it for possible authorization by Health Canada as soon as it is feasible.

Healthcare professionals lauded the new Moderna vaccine, emphasizing that protecting all Canadians of all ages will be the best opportunity of getting through the pandemic.

Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times

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