According to Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam’s May 20 statement on COVID-19 in Canada, an ongoing study in Montreal called EnCORE, supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada through the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, found that proportion of children with antibodies to COVID-19 aged two years to 17 years, increased from 3.3 per cent in October-November 2020 to 8.9 per cent from February to April 2021. Although some communities have been affected more than others by COVID-19, the EnCORE study revealed that children living in lower income, racialized neighbourhoods in Montreal had higher antibodies present, and nearly 90 per cent of parents in the study said they would have their children vaccinated as soon as it was available.
Tam emphasizes that vaccines are critical in Canada’s recovery from COVID-19 and that everyone should get vaccinated as soon as they are able to do so. She says that steady progress is being made, with 47,866 active cases, which is 47 per cent less than the peak of the third wave in mid-April. However, she cautions that precautions and public health measures need to be maintained to remain on course to drive infection rates down.
An average of 3,911 cases has been reported daily during the last seven-day period from May 19 to 25 according to the latest national-level data. This is a decrease of 29 per cent, although infection rates remain high in many parts of the country.
Provincial and territorial data indicate an average of 3,016 people being treated in hospital each day during the last seven-day period from May 19 to 25, a 16 per cent drop from the previous week. This includes an average of 1,195 people in the ICU, a 10 per cent decrease from the previous week. An average of 44 deaths were reported during this period from May 19 to 25, impacting this levelled off trend are continued high infection rates and high numbers of hospitalizations and ICU admissions.
Tam reveals that variants of concern represent the majority of recently reported cases across Canada. While all four variants of concern have been detected across the country, the B.1.1.7 variant continues to account for the majority of genetically sequenced variants of concern in Canada. As of May 25,2021 in Canada, the most recently designated variant of concern, B.1.617 has been identified across all provinces and one territory. There are three sub-lineages being studied, which may have different properties.
“Early data from the United Kingdom indicate that the protection offered by two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccines were generally similar for the B.1.612.2 sub-lineage and for the B.1.1.7 variant. In addition, data from the U.K. suggests that the B.1.617.2 variant may be more transmissible than the B.1.1.7 variant. B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.3 sub-lineages are less well understood but carry mutations that are similar to mutations observed on P.1 and B.1.351. These mutations occur in an area that may have an impact on vaccine effectiveness but there is limited data available to the extent of the impact, if any. While all variants of concern continue to be assessed to characterize their impact in the Canadian context, we know that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures are working to reduce the spread of [COVID-19],” she said in her statement.
In Ontario, as of May 30, there were 547 new cases reported. There were 611 hospitalizations, and 147 people reported in the ICU as of that day. There were 13,226 deaths reported this week since the beginning of the pandemic, an increase of 25 cases since last week.
In Hastings Prince Edward, as of May 26, there were 19 new high-risk cases and active high-risk cases amounted to 83 people. There were seven outbreaks in high-risk settings like LTC homes, and there were 59 deaths reported. There are 21 people who are currently hospitalized at Quinte Health Care hospitals and one person in the ICU.
New information on latest Omicron sub-variant
The COVID-19 mutation now dominant in the U.S. is a member of the Omicron family but spreads faster, is better at escaping immunity and may cause more serious illness than its Omicron predecessors, as it has properties of both Omicron and Delta variants.
In addition to the U.S. Omicron subvariant, there are two others with a similar genetic change in South Africa, BA.4 and BA.5, that have this “Delta mutation” as pathologists call it.
Therefore, those infected with Omicron previously show little immunity from new infection from these subvariants, while studies have revealed those who had previously been infected with Delta seem to have some extra protection, although that immunity may decrease over time.
However, scientists say that COVID-19 booster shots can provide strong protection against the new mutations. At this time, they say it is still too early to predict whether the new mutation, which is more transmissible, may escape previous immunity and may cause more serious illness, will cause an increase in new cases, hospitalizations and death. The scientific community continues to monitor the situation as it develops.
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times