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Among Fully Vaccinated, Breakthrough Covid-19 Infections Are More Common Than Previously Thought: Does It Matter? – Forbes

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Vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe Covid-19 disease, but they don’t form a “golden shield” against contracting coronavirus.

In recent days, breakthrough infections have featured prominently in the news. On Tuesday, the White House announced breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated staff. Breakthroughs have also been occurring on Capitol Hill. For example, a number of vaccinated individuals in Speaker Pelosi’s office have tested positive. And Covid-19 outbreaks continue to wreak havoc in the professional sports world, including several cases among vaccinated New York Yankee baseball players.

Breakthrough infections are more common than previously thought, and probably growing in incidence with the ascendance and now dominance of the Delta variant.

The question is, does it matter? The answer is yes. First, though breakthrough infections usually don’t lead to severe illness, they can. In the U.K., it was reported two days ago that 40% of confirmed Delta variant patients admitted to hospital had received at least one dose of vaccine. This implies at least moderate resistance to the vaccine, especially among those who have only have one dose. Second, and important in terms of viral spread, vaccinated individuals who get breakthrough Delta variant infections can and do transmit the coronavirus to others.

Virologists at several of the Netherlands’ leading academic medical centers have observed that fully vaccinated healthcare workers who contract coronavirus can transmit it, whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic. Transmission can take place from fully vaccinated to partially and unvaccinated persons, but also between fully vaccinated persons. Therefore, the implications of breakthrough infections for further transmission are quite evident. Though the Dutch virologists acknowledge that most of the source of the spread of the virus is among the unvaccinated, it’s clearly not confined to that group.

As such, the Delta variant presents a formidable challenge. The mRNA and other vaccines are still holding up well against severe disease, but not nearly as well at preventing infections.

This week, Israel reported a rate of vaccine efficacy of between 88% and 91% against the Delta variant in preventing severe disease; a decline, albeit relatively modest, compared to the initial numbers reported four months ago. But, there appears to be a much more significant reduction in the efficacy against preventing infections; more than a 50% decrease, which is consistent with the theme of diminishing vaccine efficacy over time, as reported in a previously released Israeli Ministry of Health study, and studies from the U.K. and Singapore.

When asked on Wednesday night about breakthrough Covid-19 cases, President Biden responded by saying it’s a “tiny percentage and not life-threatening.” The media mostly endorses this rather categorical view that’s inconsistent with the data. For example, the New York Times featured an article on Thursday that stated breakthrough infections are “relatively uncommon.”

Well, breakthrough infections are in fact not uncommon.

According to the Dutch RIVM (CDC counterpart in the Netherlands), 9% of all positive cases tallied last week in the Netherlands were fully vaccinated individuals, and 14% of the positive cases were partially vaccinated individuals.

Dutch virologists who observed fully vaccinated healthcare workers contracting coronavirus and then transmitting to others, point out that their findings may be relevant in terms of formulating masking and distancing policy for vaccinated individuals in indoor public spaces.

The White House is currently having a debate about reinstituting guidance that urges indoor masking for the vaccinated as well as the unvaccinated. At the same time, President Biden and the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Walensky, say that masking for the vaccinated is a “personal choice.” This suggests that unequivocal guidance on masking is not forthcoming.

In the absence of an unambiguous federal policy, a patchwork of local and state policies will continue to emerge. A number of municipalities have already reinstated mask mandates that apply to all, whether unvaccinated, partially or fully vaccinated. Others may follow suit as the Delta wave intensifies.

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Vancouver Island opens up five ICU beds for COVID-19 patients from Northern Health region – Victoria Buzz

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During a COVID-19 press conference today, BC health officials announced that in order to prevent an overrun ICU in the Northern Health region, they would be opening five ICU beds on Vancouver Island and ten beds in the Lower Mainland.

Also during the conference, on whether Northern BC COVID-19 response could end up similar to what is happening in Alberta, Dr. Bonnie Henry said that BC is not at the same point as our neighbours to the east.

Henry also noted that due to BC’s current COVID-19 response, the province would not be able to handle taking on Alberta residents into their ICU care.

“We are not at a breaking point [like Alberta]. We are in a different place. But sadly, as a country, especially in BC, we cannot take people from Alberta into our [BC’s] ICU care,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

This begs the question of where Vancouver Island health services are at.

Earlier this month, Victoria Buzz reported a story about a father pleading for people to get vaccinated after his son was waiting for an ICU bed at the Royal Jubilee Hospital ICU due to what he saw was overrun with COVID-19 cases.

“He [Joel] is in a coma, and they’ve tried bringing him out. He’s still in CCU, and he’s on a ventilator. He’s just waiting for a bed in the ICU,” Roberts said.

“Before he had his episode, I felt that yes, people need to get vaccinated. But this has made that sentiment stronger. Stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about everyone else.”

Victoria Buzz spoke to Island Health to get a better grasp of how Vancouver Island has been handling this fourth wave of the pandemic, and how ICUs in Victoria are holding up.

A representative for Island Health confirmed that they are seeing an increasing impact on hospitals and critical care units amidst the fourth wave.

They said that since the beginning of the pandemic, Royal Jubilee, Victoria General, and Nanaimo Regional General hospitals were the core facilities supporting COVID-19 patients.

Despite occupancy varying day-to-day, last week’s average occupancy of critical care beds was 73%, according to Island Health. In comparison, Alberta’s ICU capacity is 88%.

In order to support additional critical care needs beyond base capacity Island Health has now implemented surge critical care beds and an inpatient unit at Victoria General Hospital for non-critical care patients.

In a statement to Victoria Buzz, Island Health expressed their willingness to do what they can to support the province, but also acknowledged what British Columbians could do as well: get vaccinated.

“In addition to supporting the increasing critical care needs of Vancouver Island residents, we have supported over a dozen critical care patients from other health authorities,” the Island Health representative told Victoria Buzz.

“Our health-care teams need every eligible resident of Island Health to get vaccinated today if they haven’t already, and follow public health guidance, in order to protect our health-care system and our teams.”

As of this publication, 87% of all eligible British Columbians have been vaccinated and there are currently 540 active cases on Vancouver Island.

Of the 353 British Columbians who have been hospitalized from September 6th to September 19th due to COVID-19, 279 (79%) were unvaccinated.

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Quebec man punches nurse in face for giving wife COVID-19 vaccine – Campbell River Mirror

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Police in Quebec say they are looking for a man who is alleged to have repeatedly punched a nurse in the face because he was angry she had vaccinated his wife against COVID-19.

Police say a man between the ages of 30 and 45 approached the nurse on Monday morning at a pharmacy in Sherbrooke, Que., about 150 kilometres east of Montreal.

They say he accused the nurse of vaccinating his wife against her consent and repeatedly punched the nurse before leaving the store.

Police say the nurse had to be treated in hospital for serious injuries to her face.

Quebec’s order of nurses tweeted today that the alleged assault was unacceptable and wished the nurse a full recovery.

Sherbrooke police are asking for the public’s help in finding the assailant, who they say has short dark hair, dark eyes, thick eyebrows and a tattoo resembling a cross on his hand.

—The Canadian Press

RELATED: ‘Go the hell home’: B.C. leaders condemn anti-vaccine passport protests

RELATED: ‘Stay away from children!’: Premier denounces protesters who entered Salmon Arm schools

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Sask. children's hospital ICU accepts adults in COVID-19 surge plan – CTV News Saskatoon

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SASKATOON —
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is shuttling some adult intensive care patients to the province’s children’s hospital in the face of surging COVID-19 cases.

“Critical care capacity is under strain and all avenues of support need to be explored to so we can continue to care for extremely ill patients,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Susan Shaw said in a news release.

Adult patients requiring an ICU bed will be considered for admission to Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon, according to the health authority.

Patients are selected through a clinical review by the adult and pediatric critical care physicians.

Pediatric patients will continue to be prioritized for critical care at the hospital’s PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) and no pediatric patients will be displaced, according to the SHA.

The change is effective immediately and is part of a larger SHA surge plan announced Sept. 17 to prepare for a growing number of COVID patients throughout the health system.

The PICU will be able to surge to 18 critical care beds, including six additional flex beds for both pediatric and selected adult patients.

Staffing plans have been developed and continue to be secured for the additional beds, much of which will come through service slowdowns.

The SHA’s normal (ICU) capacity is 79 beds. To increase ICU capacity, the SHA has also added 22 surge beds.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 78 of the 101 available ICU beds were full and two adult COVID infectious patients had been admitted to JPCH.

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