B.C. public health teams reported 78 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection Wednesday, with active cases creeping up this week.
The health ministry reported 76 cases Tuesday, after a week in which daily new infections dropped as low as 40. There are 729 active cases as of July 21, up from 695 in the past 24 hours, with no additional deaths or outbreaks declared in the health care system. Hospitalization remains low, with 48 people in hospital, down from 50 on Tuesday, and 16 in intensive care, up from 12.
Outbreak protocols remain in affect at Holyrood Manor in Maple Ridge, the first senior care home outbreak in more than a week. An acute care outbreak at Laurel Place in Surrey Memorial Hospital continues to be monitored.
The latest cases and active infections by region are:
• 21 new cases in Fraser Health, 196 active
• 23 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 255 active
• 31 new cases in Interior Health, 222 active
• one new case in Northern Health, 30 active
• two new cases in Island Health, 18 active
As of Wednesday, July 21, 80.1% of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 55.6% have received their second dose.
Study Will Test Different Time Intervals for COVID-19 Vaccines in Pregnant Individuals – Technology Networks
A new UK-based clinical trial will test the most appropriate time interval between two doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant individuals.
COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy
In 2020, clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines now authorized for human use did not include pregnant or breastfeeding individuals. This approach is typical for the clinical study of a new investigational medicinal product and is enforced by regulatory bodies such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect both mothers and pregnancies.
As the global rollout of several COVID-19 vaccines commenced, many pregnant individuals opted to be immunized against SARS-CoV-2 regardless. This enabled scientists to gather real-world retrospective data on the safety and efficacy of the different types of vaccines in this population. Based on the growing data supply, in April, the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that pregnant persons in the UK should be offered two doses of mRNA-based vaccines (Pfizer–BioNTech’s BNT162b2 or Moderna’s mRNA-1273) where available.
However, data gaps remain, Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Paul Heath from St George’s University of London explained in a recent press release: “Tens of thousands of pregnant women have now been vaccinated in both the US and the UK with no safety concerns reported, but we still lack robust, prospective clinical trial data on COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women.”
More information is required to determine the best time schedule for administering the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses in pregnant individuals in order to achieve the optimum immune response. A new study led by Heath – known as Preg-Cov – will provide this vital clinical information.
Vaccine dose intervals in pregnancy
Preg-Cov will recruit over 600 low-risk pregnant women aged 18-45-years-old across a number of sites in the UK. All participants will receive two doses of an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine (either Pfizer–BioNTech’s BNT162b2 or Moderna’s mRNA-1273). The eligibility criteria permits the inclusion of individuals that have received their first dose prior to enrolling in the trial. Speaking to Technology Networks, Heath said: “All will be blinded to the COVID-19 vaccine they receive except for the group that have received a dose before pregnancy – as they obviously know what they had already.”
Participants must be between 13 and 34 weeks pregnant on the date of the first COVID-19 vaccination, and will be divided into two groups: short interval and long interval dosing. The short interval group will receive their second COVID-19 vaccine between four to six weeks after their first dose, whereas the long interval group will receive their second dose between 8 and 12 weeks after their first. Consequently, some individuals will receive their second dose after delivering their baby. The study will follow all recruits for a period of one year.
“It’s important to highlight that all participants in this study will receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This is particularly important with the rising number of cases, the easing of restrictions and low vaccine uptake among pregnant women,” Professor Asma Khalil, lead obstetrician for the trial said.
Throughout the duration of the trial, various data will be collected. Recruits will be asked to maintain a symptom diary and blood samples will be obtained from the mother. In some instances, cord blood will also be extracted. “The blood samples are taken from all mothers but cord blood only from mothers at certain sites. This is because we don’t actually need to take as many samples to address the question about transfer of antibody from mother to baby in the cord blood,” Heath told Technology Networks.
The trial – which is now open for enrollment – is supported by £7.5 million worth of funding from the UK government. “Pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 and we know that vaccines are safe for them and make a huge difference – in fact no pregnant woman with two jabs has required hospitalisation with COVID-19,” said the Minister for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi. “This government-backed trial will provide more data about how we can best protect pregnant women and their babies, and we can use this evidence to inform future vaccination programmes.”
Professor Paul Heath was speaking to Molly Campbell, Science Writer for Technology Networks.
Delta variant spreads 'like wildfire' as doctors study whether it makes patients sicker – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
LOS ANGELES, Aug 2 (Reuters) – With a new wave of COVID-19 infections fueled by the Delta variant striking countries worldwide, disease experts are scrambling to learn whether the latest version of coronavirus is making people – mainly the unvaccinated – sicker than before.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that Delta, first identified in India and now dominant worldwide, is “likely more severe” than earlier versions of the virus, according to an internal report made public on Friday.
The agency cited research in Canada, Singapore and Scotland showing that people infected with the Delta variant were more likely to be hospitalized than patients earlier in the pandemic.
In interviews with Reuters, disease experts said the three papers suggest a greater risk from the variant, but the study populations are limited and the findings have not yet been reviewed by outside experts. Doctors treating patients infected with Delta described a more rapid onset of COVID-19 symptoms, and in many regions an overall increase serious cases.
But the experts said more work is needed to compare outcomes among larger numbers of individuals in epidemiologic studies to sort out whether one variant causes more severe disease than another.
“It’s difficult to pin down increase in severity and population bias,” said Lawrence Young, a virologist at the UK’s Warwick Medical School.
In addition, it is likely that the extraordinary rate of Delta transmission is also contributing to a greater number of severe cases arriving at hospitals, the experts said.
Delta is as contagious as chickenpox and far more contagious than the common cold or flu, according to the CDC report.
Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in San Diego, said the clearest indication that the variant may cause more severe disease comes from the Scotland study, which found that Delta roughly doubled the risk of hospitalization compared to an earlier version.
The majority of hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus in the United States are occurring in people who have not been vaccinated. But there is evidence that the shots are less effective in people with compromised immune systems, including the elderly.
For vaccinated, otherwise healthy individuals, the odds are that if they contract COVID-19 they will only experience asymptomatic or mild disease, said Dr. Gregory Poland, infectious disease expert at the Mayo Clinic.
“But they can pass it on to family members and others who may not be so lucky,” Poland said. “We have to be vaccinated and masked or we will, for the fourth time now, endure another surge and out of that will come worse variants.”
The rate of severe illness, especially in regions where vaccination rates are low, is again straining healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic.
“This is like a wildfire, this is not a smoldering campfire. It is full-on flames right now,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control at Colorado’s UCHealth.
Research from China suggesting that the Delta variant replicates much faster and generates 1,000 times more virus in the body compared to the original strain highlights the biggest danger of this new wave, Barron said.
“It is hard to tell if they are more sick because of the Delta variant or if they would have been more sick anyway,” she said.
Other doctors said patients infected with Delta appear to become ill more quickly, and in some cases with more severe symptoms, than those they treated earlier in the pandemic.
“We are seeing more patients requiring oxygen sooner,” said Dr. Benjamin Barlow, chief medical officer at American Family Care, a 28-state chain of urgent care clinics.
At his clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, Barlow said that around 20% of patients are testing positive for COVID-19, compared with 2-3% a few weeks ago. Patients are assessed at that time for potential hospital admission and oxygen support.
David Montefiori, director of the Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research and Development at Duke University Medical Center, said the Delta variant is more infectious and leads to faster onset of illness – particularly for the unvaccinated.
“Frankly there’s a severity that comes from this variant that is a little more severe,” Montefiori said on a webcast last week. “It’s not just easier to transmit, it makes you sicker.” (Reporting by Deena Beasley in Los Angeles, Josephine Mason in London and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Daniel Wallis)
Calgary councillor pushing for emergency council meeting on COVID-19 data – Globalnews.ca
With Alberta’s health measures set to be scaled back in two weeks, a Calgary city councillor wants her colleagues to step up to look into what options the City of Calgary has in terms of its own health measures.
Testing and isolation requirements implemented by the province during the COVID-19 pandemic are among the health protocols being lifted on Aug. 16.
“That data is essential. That data is all we have,” University of Calgary developmental biologist Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz said.
“If we know how fast the virus is growing, we know how fast we should react.”
Speaking at a fourth-straight day of protests against the public health changes outside McDougall Centre in Calgary, Ward 3 councillor and mayoral candidate Jyoti Gondek said she’d like to see the city take action on COVID-19 data collection and to look at other options.
“We’re not doctors but we are in fact able to understand what the evidence and the data is telling us,” Gondek said.
“To deny the public, and to deny policymakers access to the data is a big mistake.”
In lieu of COVID-19 testing data, Gondek is calling on the city to begin daily updates through Calgary’s emergency management agency to share data through the University of Calgary’s wastewater sample testing.
The sampling and testing of wastewater began in July 2020, and researchers said the samples can detect areas with a rise in COVID-19 cases faster than provincial testing could.
“That data is awesome information — it’s probably the earliest signal that something is going wrong — so we absolutely should use it,” Gasperowicz said. “Because we’ll know not only if something is going bad in Calgary, we’ll know even where it is because you can trace where the wastewater comes from.”
Rally organizer and emergency room physician Dr. Joe Vipond said the wastewater data is helpful with providing broad data, but isn’t able to provide specific data to pinpoint exactly where there are outbreaks of the virus.
“It does not identify outbreaks,” Vipond said. “You can look at quadrants of the city and how bad it is in different areas of the city, but you can’t say Western Canada High School has an outbreak, that the Agape Hospice has an outbreak, that the McDonald’s on 4 Street has an outbreak.”
If cases continue to rise, Gondek said she will call on Mayor Naheed Nenshi to call an emergency meeting of council to discuss re-establishing some public health measures.
Masks are still required on public transit, in taxis and rideshare vehicles, but those requirements will also be lifted on Aug. 16.
Nenshi said he isn’t recommending bringing back the mask bylaw but would recall council over councillors’ August break to discuss the issue if cases dramatically rise.
“We have the power to continue requesting people to wear masks on transit. We regulate the taxi industry so we have the power to do that,” Nenshi told Global News on Friday. “But if there is a point that I need to recall council from their summer vacation because we have to put back the masking bylaw because we’re looking at an outbreak, I won’t hesitate to do that.”
Other councillors are also in favour of reinstituting some measures, including Ward 7 councillor Druh Farrell, who tweeted that she would would support reinstating the mask bylaw.
“I also support reinstating the mask bylaw,” Ward 9 councillor Gian-Carlo Carra tweeted. “Unfortunately, we will need to wait for the numbers to get worse before we’ll have the political support on (city council) to get it over the line.”
Meanwhile, Ward 13 councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart tweeted that she would be opposed to bringing back the mask bylaw, and added that it wouldn’t be enforcible.
Mayoral candidate and Ward 6 councillor Jeff Davison also took to social media to weigh in on the province’s decision to scale back measures.
“Are we really about to become the first place in the world to abandon test-trace-isolate practices?” Davison tweeted Monday. “Getting the world to take us seriously is hard enough — I worry this policy by the province is about to do us irreparable harm.”
City council is currently on summer break until September.
Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, said due to the lack of power the city has in terms of health measures, the Oct. 18 municipal election should be noted when analyzing what council decides to do with health measures.
“When we look at the COVID restrictions that the city has the capacity to do, they can’t be viewed independently of that ongoing election,” he said.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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