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5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks – Comox Valley Record

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B.C.’s demographic makeup of those contracting COVID-19 is changing – infecting younger people than at the height of the pandemic – as the second wave drags on across the country.

That’s according to the latest B.C. Centre for Disease Control COVID-19 situation report, released weekly, which shows a breakdown of various aspects of how the infection is taking hold in the province.

The report shows that while overall hospitalizations have fallen in the past few weeks, young people battling the virus in hospital has increased.

In the week of Jan. 3 to 9, two children from birth to age 10 were admitted into the intensive care unit due to COVID-19. Three youth between 10 and 19 years of age were also admitted into the ICU. In the same time period, 36 children under the age of 10 were hospitalized, as well as 31 more who are between 10 and 19 years old.

Meanwhile, adults aged 20 to 39 makeup a disproportionate percentage of COVID-19 cases – 41 per cent of all cases but 28 per cent of the population, the report shows. Of those infected with the respiratory disease, 285 landed in hospital, a further 62 in ICU.

The increase in cases among young people has had an impact on the median age for reported cases, dropping from 56 years old in the first wave to 37 years old as of Jan. 9.

Median age of hospitalizations has stayed relatively stable, at 66 years old and 86 years old, respectively.

No deaths of anyone under the age of 30 have been reported in B.C. since the coronavirus touched down in the province almost a year ago. Four people aged 30 to 39 have died, while 90 per cent of all deaths are of those aged 70 and older – many connected to long-term care homes.

Roughly 65 per cent of total deaths have happened in November and December.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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COVID-19: Doctors, caregivers push for in-home vaccinations for housebound seniors – BradfordToday

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TORONTO — At age 86, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and prone to falls, John Bedborough would seem to be at the front of the line amid high-risk Canadians prioritized for a COVID-19 vaccine. 

But it’s those frailties that make it unlikely he’ll be able to visit a mass vaccination site, doctor’s office, pharmacy, or any other locale expected to administer doses when Ontario begins its community rollout mid-March, says his daughter, Diane Tamblyn.

The Peterborough, Ont. woman is among a chorus of seniors and caregivers who are pushing for in-home inoculations lest thousands of vulnerable Canadians be left behind. 

Some geriatricians are also dismissing the suggestion that unique storage and handling requirements prevent home-based deployment of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, both often described as delicate and tricky to transport.

Tamblyn says she’s heard nothing about how thousands of housebound seniors like her dad will be protected, noting they are still exposed to possible infection through visiting caregivers and relatives, and highly susceptible to complications.

“If we don’t go to people that are very frail and elderly, how the heck do we expect them to get to these vaccination centres?” says Tamblyn.

“We send the vaccinations into the nursing homes and retirement homes. What would make somebody 85, living on their own that’s housebound (different)? Why wouldn’t we take it to them?”

Specific details about where and how Ontario will administer shots were absent when retired Gen. Rick Hillier outlined the rollout earlier this week, but he insisted the evolving plan would include a variety of venues and that seniors would mostly likely be vaccinated in their own neighbourhood.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube seemed to dismiss the prospect of in-home vaccinations outright when he detailed that province’s plans earlier this week, citing precise cold-storage and handling requirements.

But that doesn’t mean at-home inoculations can’t occur, counters Ottawa physician Dr. Alykhan Abdulla, who says thawed vaccines can survive six hours – plenty of time for a paper-route style delivery to housebound seniors in the same neighbourhood.

Abdulla says he’s already reached out to colleagues who are also confident door-to-door inoculation is possible.

“We don’t know when but I can tell you frankly, that it will happen,” says Abdulla, who’s identified about 36 of his own patients he plans to visit personally.

“I have a list of doctors in the province of Ontario, over 4,000 doctors that are willing to do this work, that are willing to drive to people’s homes. They’re willing to look after people wherever they are.”

Toronto geriatrician Nathan Stall of the Sinai Health System acknowledges provincial complaints that federal delivery schedules and restrictive vaccine handling protocols have hampered rollout plans.

Pfizer for instance, packages 195 vials — or 975 doses — in large trays, and requires them all to be transported together after they’re removed from -70 C freezers.

But Stall says Israel managed to vaccinate seniors in their homes by separating some shipments into smaller packages of 50 vials, and he doesn’t see why Canada can’t attempt to do the same. 

“What they did almost immediately was to package vaccine into pizza-sized boxes, so that they took smaller amounts and they went and vaccinated people who are frail older adults living in their homes,” says Stall, who sits on Ontario’s science advisory table. 

“The excuse about the federal supply or our handling does not hold.”

Montreal geriatrician Quoc Dinh Nguyen is open to the idea but raises several logistical hurdles, including the possibility of wasted doses if the delivery route, schedule or patient availability is derailed.

“Six hours is not a lot, and we do have to understand that it’s big packs of vaccines that we can’t just … take 10 (doses) and keep the 900 that are left for a month,” says Nguyen.

In the short term, he says it makes sense to focus on vaccinating the most people possible as quickly as possible, while working on a plan to reach at least 90 per cent of those aged 85 and older – the priority group Quebec invited this week.

“If this is the start of the vaccination period, I think it’s OK that you use mass vaccinations, that you take the low-hanging fruit that works,” he says.

Making sure no one falls through the cracks is a big concern to Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Toronto’s Sinai Health System and the University Health Network, who envisions a mix of family doctors, homecare nurses and paramedics administering doses to some patients at home.

“The problem with all of this is that these are the people we know about,” adds Sinha.

“I would say there’s an equal number of people out there who we probably don’t know about because they don’t actually have a primary care provider, or the families are actually providing all the care on their own, or they’re actually buying their care privately.”

Ontario’s vaccination playbook, which outlines public health guidance, includes a vague mention of on-site and mobile clinics to reach “populations that are too frail to attend a mass immunization clinic” such as long-term care residents, but doesn’t mention those who are homebound in the community.

Still, it’s very likely seniors who receive provincial homecare services would be in line for an in-home shot, suggests Sharon Goodwin of the Victorian Order of Nurses.

Goodwin, senior vice president of home and community care at the non-profit, says some public health units “are engaging home care in the process,” and notes homecare workers are also among those who will be vaccinated in the priority group.

Abdulla points to a variety of creative experiments underway in pockets around Ontario including a drive-through model in Collingwood, Ont., and a pilot program in Toronto that is administering vaccines to about 500 seniors and health care workers in three congregate-care buildings.

As for 94-year-old Toronto resident Nina Rockett, all she wanted for her birthday this week was a vaccine.

“I miss being close to people, you know, hugging people, spending time with them,” she says.

Her daughter Margot Rockett is especially eager for clear information about whether seniors facing barriers to leaving the home but willing to try – despite, for instance, hearing problems, vision loss, incontinence, dementia, or difficulty standing for long periods – will be accommodated.

She herself is uncertain whether to risk taking her mother to a clinic because of mobility problems. 

“Let’s just get out there and figure this out, and find all these people and connect with them.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021.

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

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Questions and answers about AstraZeneca — Canada’s newest COVID-19 vaccine – Toronto Star

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Canada has a new COVID-19 vaccine at its disposal — one that relies on different technology than the other two doses that have been approved for use in this country.

The federal regulator announced Friday it has authorized the vaccine created in a collaboration between AstraZeneca and Oxford University. At the same time, the regulator also approved the version made by the Serum Institute of India, known by the name Covishield.

The federal government has already procured 20 million doses of the vaccine, and now says it has procured an additional two million doses from India, with the first shipment to arrive within weeks.

The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine has had a more winding journey to authorization than the previous two vaccines, with the European regulator at one point saying there wasn’t enough evidence to show it was effective in seniors. South African officials have also raised questions about its usefulness against the variant that emerged in their country.

But the approval of this shot is significant, experts say, because of the edge it has in terms of the speed at which it can be manufactured and the ease with which it can be shipped around the country.

“The transportability is really important — it offers more options, and more flexible vaccination planning at a health unit level,” Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of Alberta, said in an email.

Federal officials also reiterated Friday that it will be just one weapon in their public health arsenal.

“The idea is to have a suite of vaccines that are available,” said Dr. Supriya Sharma, a senior medical adviser with Health Canada. “I think Canada is hungry for vaccines; we’re putting more on the buffet table to be used.”

The regulator made its decision based on four human trials — conducted in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa; and the federal department said the two-shot regimen has an efficacy of 62.1 per cent. It added there have been no deaths or life-threatening events related to the vaccine.

“Based on the available data, the vaccine at the indicated dose was considered safe and well-tolerated,” Health Canada said in its decision.

Here’s what we know about the new dose.

How is it given?

Like the two vaccines currently on the market, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine is a two-dose regimen, given between four and 12 weeks apart.

The vaccine dose is 0.5mL of a colourless to slightly brown solution that is injected intramuscularly, normally into the arm.

Who can take it?

People 18 and up.

Who should not take it?

Anyone allergic to the ingredients in the vaccine, anyone who had an allergic reaction to the first dose, or anyone with COVID-19 symptoms. For other questions, ask your doctor.

Does it work in older people?

The trials included relatively few older adults, leading the European regulator to conclude there wasn’t enough information to definitely conclude the vaccine worked in seniors, but that protection was expected.

Health Canada said there is “limited information” from clinical trials on the efficacy of the vaccine in those over the age of 65.

However, they also say that “emerging real world evidence” from countries where the vaccine is being used suggests “a potential benefit and no safety concerns.”

How is it different from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines Canada has previously approved?

AstraZeneca’s vaccine uses a different technique than the two vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer, which relied on new mRNA technology.

Its approach is called a viral vector, which uses a virus normally found in chimpanzees to sneak the DNA for a coronavirus spike protein into your body, which then teaches your immune system how to fight off a future potential infection from the actual coronavirus.

Doses are expected to be cheaper and can be stored in a normal fridge, which would be a win for poorer countries.

“It’s more nimble,” as Saxinger puts it.

“It’s fairly inexpensive and easy to mass produce and store, comparatively, so you can get it to remote places much more easily, and it can possibly be given in doctors’ offices, as just usual refrigeration is needed.”

How well does it work?

According to Health Canada, getting two full doses of vaccine is between 62.1 and 59.5 per cent effective.

Isn’t 62.1 per cent a little low?

While this isn’t quite as high as Moderna and Pfizer, experts say it’s still higher than the 50 per cent efficacy rate vaccine makers were aiming far, and isn’t far off from the usual efficacy rate of the annual flu vaccine.

“(If) you look back, for example, just to last year, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine against the most common strain was about 64 per cent; across the next common strain it was about 54 per cent,” Sharma said. “These vaccines do have a use.”

In addition, this vaccine has also proven to be effective in reducing serious illness and death.

Saxinger cautioned people not to get hung up on efficacy numbers here: “A few months ago, people would’ve been clamouring for a 70 per cent effective vaccine,” she said.

“It’s important for everyone to realize that protection from severe disease is excellent for all of the vaccines so far.”

Why did it take so long to get approved?

While both Pfizer and Moderna got the green light not long after submitting their final trial results, AstraZeneca has been in limbo for weeks.

Observers point to some confusion about the efficacy of this vaccine early on, based on a dosing error during testing that saw some volunteers get a half dose for their first shot.

Back in November, AstraZeneca said its vaccine was about 72 per cent effective overall, but ranging from as low as 62 per cent to as high as 90 per cent.

In a news release, the company revealed it had mistakenly tried out two different doses in one of its trials — and that had led to two different results.

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While two full doses was about 62 per cent effective, the mistaken half dose appeared to raise that number to 90 per cent, but only in a small sample, and researchers aren’t sure why.

As a result, the regulator’s job was “a bit more complicated” this time around, Sharma told reporters in January.

Given the need to make sure the data was clear, Saxinger called the delay here “appropriate.”

In the end, Health Canada followed in the footsteps of regulators in the European Union and Britain by authorizing two full doses, because that’s the regimen tested on more people to date.

What about the variants?

Earlier this month, South Africa halted the rollout of this vaccine because of concerns it would be less effective against B. 1.351, the virus variant now dominant there.

A relatively small trial of 2,000 people suggested the vaccine offered “minimal protection” against mild and moderate cases, though research continues and experts haven’t ruled out the vaccine’s effectiveness against serious cases.

Right now, there are relatively few cases of the variant in Canada, but experts say this will have to be watched.

However, the vaccine seems to be just fine when faced with B. 117, the variant that emerged in the U.K. AstraZeneca has been a major pillar of vaccination efforts there.

The World Health Organization is still recommending the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, even in countries where variants emerged as dominant.

What about transmission?

All of the vaccines were designed to do one, big thing — stop someone exposed to the coronavirus from getting the illness we now know as COVID-19.

But in order to achieve herd immunity, the vaccines will need to do something else — stop a person exposed to the coronavirus from giving it to others.

Determining how good these vaccines are at stopping transmission takes time, so for many doses, this was a question we just couldn’t answer yet.

However there’s some possible good news on that front for AstraZeneca. Research done by British researchers — which still needs to be peer-reviewed, or vetted by other scientists — suggests that vaccinated people may be less infectious.

The study didn’t look at transmission directly (for example, it didn’t test the family members of those who had been vaccinated) but it took nasal swabs from study participants and found that the rate of positive PCR results fell by half after two doses.

What are the side effects?

According to the United Kingdom, where the shot is already in use, very common side effects include tenderness, pain or bruising at the injection site, as well fatigue, headache or joint pain.

It’s also common to experience a fever or flu-like symptoms.

More uncommon symptoms include feeling dizzy, decreased appetite, abdominal pain and enlarged lymph nodes.

According to Health Canada, the most commonly reported adverse infections were tenderness (75.3 per cent) and pain (54.2 per cent) at the injection site, fatigue (62.3 per cent), headache (57.5 per cent) and myalgia, or muscle pain (48.6 per cent).

Most reactions were mild or moderate.

How is it transported?

According to the company, the vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at “normal refrigerated conditions,” meaning between two and eight degrees Celsius for at least six months.

It can be given in “existing health-care settings.”

This will make it easier to transport that the existing vaccines, both of which are transported frozen, or in the case of Pfizer, in ultra cold temperatures, according to Health Canada.

With files from Alex Ballingall

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A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 – Times Colonist

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The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 67,201 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,774,599 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 4,682.409 per 100,000.

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There were 398,071 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,441,670 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.68 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 3,827 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 20,285 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 38.739 per 1,000. There were 7,020 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 33,820 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 59.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 1,485 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 12,176 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 76.758 per 1,000. There were 1,670 new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.75 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 6,987 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 32,019 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.81 per 1,000. There were 14,700 new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 51.66 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 5,135 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 26,317 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 33.738 per 1,000. There were 11,760 new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 13,464 new vaccinations administered for a total of 400,540 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 46.81 per 1,000. There were 28,500 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 537,825 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.47 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 21,805 new vaccinations administered for a total of 643,765 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.826 per 1,000. There were 220,030 new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.27 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 2,409 new vaccinations administered for a total of 71,469 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 51.902 per 1,000. There were 6,100 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 108,460 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 65.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 4,015 new vaccinations administered for a total of 69,451 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 58.899 per 1,000. There were 15,210 new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 93.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 11,728 new vaccinations administered for a total of 207,300 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.092 per 1,000. There were 69,090 new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.39 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting 12,490 new vaccinations administered for a total of 252,373 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 49.18 per 1,000. There were 15,491 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 323,340 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.05 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 15,174 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 363.615 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 80.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,454 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 364.68 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 86.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting 19 new vaccinations administered for a total of 7,276 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 187.884 per 1,000. There were 8,500 new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 30.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 26, 2021.

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