HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) – When Amanda Wood, a mother of three, learned that hundreds of coronavirus vaccines were available to teens in Toronto, one thing stopped her from rushing to the vaccination site at a local high school: her 13-year-old daughter is afraid of injections. Wood then told Lola: if you get vaccinated, you can see your friends again, you can play sports. Tempted by the promise of regaining a normal teenage life, Lola accepted.
In Zimbabwe, a world away from Canada – more than 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles) – the challenges go much further in the fight to achieve herd immunity.
Andrew Ngwenya was recently sitting outside his home in a working-class township in Harare, the capital, reflecting on how he and his family could be saved from COVID-19. Ngwenya and his wife, De-egma, had gone to a hospital that sometimes had doses to spare. Hours later, fewer than 30 people had been inoculated. The Ngwenya, parents of four children, returned home, desperate to get vaccinated.
“We are willing to receive it, but we cannot have access to it,” said the father of the family. “We need it, where can we get it?”
The stories of the Wood and Ngwenya families reflect a totally inequitable world, divided between those who have vaccines and those who do not, between those who can imagine a world beyond the pandemic and those who can only anticipate months and perhaps years of disease and death.
In one country, initial stumbling blocks in the fight against COVID-19 were overcome thanks to money and a strong public health infrastructure. In the other, poor planning, lack of resources, and the failure of a global mechanism intended to share the few doses available have led to a desperate shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as oxygen tanks and protective equipment.
With 70% of its adult population on at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and now continues to immunize minors, who have much less risk of having complications and dying from the coronavirus.
In contrast, in Zimbabwe, only 9% of the population have received a dose of vaccines as the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus advances, which was first detected in India. Several million people vulnerable to COVID-19, including older adults and those with underlying medical problems, face problems being immunized as public officials implement more restrictive measures.
Ngwenya said the crowd of people trying to get vaccinated is daunting. “The line is about 5 kilometers (3 miles). Even if you are interested in getting vaccinated, you cannot bear that. Once you see the line, you don’t try again, ”he said.
In Canada, vaccines were not always abundant. Without a national production of the COVID-19 vaccine, the country started slow, with a vaccination rate lagging behind those of Hungary, Greece and Chile. Canada was also the only G7 country to secure vaccines in the first round of COVAX deliveries, the UN-backed effort to distribute doses primarily to poor countries.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada’s intention was always to secure vaccines through COVAX, after investing more than $ 400 million in the project. The Gavi vaccine alliance said COVAX also intended to provide rich countries with an “insurance policy” in case they did not have enough doses.
The most recent shipment of COVAX to Canada – roughly 655,000 vaccines from AstraZeneca – arrived in May, shortly after some 60 countries were sidelined when supplies from the initiative were cut to a minimum. Bangladesh, for example, had been waiting for a COVAX delivery of approximately 130,000 vaccines for its Rohingya refugee population; the doses never arrived after the Indian supplier stopped exporting them.
Canada’s decision to secure vaccines through the UN-backed effort was “morally reprehensible,” said Dr. Prahbat Jha, president of global health and epidemiology at the University of Toronto. He said Canada’s first response to COVID-19 miscalculated the need for control measures, including aggressive contact tracing and border restrictions.
“If it weren’t for Canada’s purchasing power to procure vaccines, we would be in bad shape right now,” he said.
Weeks after COVAX vaccines arrived, more than 33,000 doses were still in warehouses in Ottawa after health officials advised Canadians to better opt for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, of which they bought hundreds of millions. dose.
The Wood children received the Pfizer vaccine. When Canada began immunizing children 12 and older, Wood – who works with children in the entertainment industry – and her architect husband did not hesitate.
Wood said his sons, who are avid athletes, hadn’t been able to play much hockey, soccer or rugby during lockdowns. Lola missed baking lemon bread and chocolate chip cookies with her grandmother, who lives just three blocks away.
“We felt we had to do our part to keep everyone safe, to keep older adults safe and for the economy to resume and children to go back to school,” he said.
In Zimbabwe, there is no expectation of a return to normalcy soon and the situation is likely to get worse first. Ngwenya is concerned about the government’s threats to ban public services to unvaccinated people, including transportation.
Although Zimbabwe was assigned nearly a million COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX, none have been delivered. Their combination of purchased and donated doses – 4.2 million – consists of Chinese, Russian and Indian vaccines.
Official figures show that 4% of the 15 million inhabitants of the country are currently fully vaccinated.
And yet the numbers make Zimbabwe a relative success story in Africa, where less than 2% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people are now fully immunized, according to the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, the virus spreads to rural areas, where the majority live and health facilities are poor.
Ngwenya, a part-time pastor at a Pentecostal church, said he and his parishioners turn to faith to fight the coronavirus, but admitted that many people would prefer to get vaccinated first and then pray.
“All men are afraid of death,” he said. “People die and we see people die. This is real”.
Cheng reported from London. Lori Hinnant, a journalist for The Associated Press in Paris, contributed to this report.
Andrew Ngwenya, center, his wife De-egma, left, and their daughter in a working-class township in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, on Monday, July 12, 2021. (AP Photo / Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Amanda and David Wood stand with their daughters, twins Ruby and Lola, and their son Ethan sitting on the porch of their home in Toronto, Canada, on Monday, July 12, 2021. (AP Photo / Kamran Jebreili)
FILE – In this Thursday, March 4, 2021 file photo, women washing clothes with signs urging the use of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 outside Harare, Zimbabwe. (AP Photo / Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)
People walk past a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in downtown Toronto, Canada, Sunday, July 18, 2021. (AP Photo / Kamran Jebreili)
Vancouver Island opens up five ICU beds for COVID-19 patients from Northern Health region – Victoria Buzz
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.
Quebec man punches nurse in face for giving wife COVID-19 vaccine – Campbell River Mirror
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
Sask. children's hospital ICU accepts adults in COVID-19 surge plan – CTV News 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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