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COVID-19 cases continue to trend downward, variants being closely monitored – CHAT News Today

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She said the first variant case was identified retrospectively in a sample first taken from a returning traveller on Dec. 15. Since then, the 104 variant cases identified comes from more than 43,000 cases of COVID detected in the province.

She said that accounts for a quarter of a per cent of all the cases identified from Dec. 15 onward.

“Since our lab has begun testing most if not all positive samples, the average per cent of all cases that are variants of concern is higher a 1.4 per cent of all positive tests.”

She said that between Jan. 30 and Feb. 5, 38 variant cases have been found versus 2,703 non-variant cases.

“This does not in any way minimize the threats these variants pose or the impact they will have if we let them spread widely,” Hinshaw said. “However so far variants are still very rare and we are working hard to try to keep it that way.”

Alberta Health has expanded testing capacity, created dedicated variant contact tracing teams and moved rapidly to isolate variant cases and prevent virus spread, Hinshaw said.

She added the public health measures such as staying home when sick, getting tested and following the letter and spirit of the rules in place are even more important, calling them the tried and true methods.

There are 14 active cases of COVID-19 in Medicine Hat on Tuesday.

The city now has had 535 total cases – the 14 active, 507 recovered and there have been 14 deaths.

There is one new case in the city in Tuesday’s update and one new recovery.

Across the province, there are 5,831 active cases, down 365 from Monday, and 119,678 recovered cases, up 548.

Alberta’s total number of COVID-19 cases from the start of the pandemic is 127,231.

There are 195 new cases in the province today.

There are now 427 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, 78 of which are in ICU, and 422 deaths.

The province completed 7,003 tests in the past 24 hours.

The provincial positivity rate is 3.2 per cent.

As of Feb. 8, 124,325 doses of vaccine have been administered in Alberta.

Hinshaw said that since in-person classes resumed in January, cases identified in Albertans between the ages of five and 19 have trended downwards. In the first week back 113 cases were identified; just 58 were identified last week.

“While any new case is concerning, this is a positive trend. It continues to show what we have seen here in Alberta since in-person learning began in September,” said Hinshaw.

“Cases rise and fall in children and youth as the rates of community transmission increase and decrease. When combined with the other evidence that we are seeing, this tells us that schools are still not a primary driver of COVID-19 transmission when appropriate measures are applied.”

She said the measures in place are largely working thanks to the efforts and attention of teachers, staff and students. She added it remains crucial that keep transmission rates stay low and case numbers continue to drop.

She called it “the best way to protect schools, continuing care facilities and the rest of society.”

On Monday, Hinshaw announced the province has eliminated the colour-coded regional status map and removed the regional classifications of “Enhanced,” “Watch” and “Open.”

Active case numbers and active cases rates remain on the page.

Hinshaw will provide another update on Wednesday.

There are 6,051 cases in the South Zone. There are 325 active cases and 5,651 recovered. The death total in the zone is at 75.

An AHS spokesperson told CHAT News on Monday that AHS South Zone currently has 27 COVID-19 positive individuals in hospital. There are two at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital, with one of those in the ICU. Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge has 24 inpatients, with nine of those in the ICU. The Pincher Creek Health Centre has one inpatient.

Seven Persons School is on “Alert” status, with two positive cases. One was confirmed on Jan. 17 and one on Jan. 15. Students and staff have been identified as close contacts and placed into quarantine.

The website Support Our Students is tracking instances of cases in schools across the province.

Cypress County has totaled 145 cases – one active case and the rest recovered.

The County of Forty Mile has 117 total cases. There no active cases, 115 recovered and there have been two deaths.

The MD of Taber has 332 total cases — four active cases, 322 recovered and there have been six deaths.

Special Areas No. 2 has 40 total cases – one active, 38 recovered and there has been one death.

Brooks has 1,365 total cases — five active and 1,346 are recovered. Brooks has recorded 14 deaths.

The County of Newell has a total of 158 cases — two active cases, 154 recovered and there have been two deaths.

The County of Warner has 158 total cases. There is one active case, 155 are recovered cases and there have been two deaths in the county.

The City of Lethbridge has a total of 1,828 cases. There are 189 active cases, 1,626 recovered and there have been 13 deaths. Lethbridge County has 519 cases, 12 active cases, 500 recovered and there have been seven deaths.

The figures on alberta.ca are “up-to-date as of end of day Feb. 8, 2021.”

Read the full Feb. 9 update from the province here.

Saskatchewan confirmed 80 new cases of COVID-19 in the Tuesday update.

Saskatchewan has a total of 25,654 cases, 2,026 considered active. There are 23,282 recovered cases and there have been 346 COVID-19 deaths in the province.

Saskatchewan has delivered 44,521 doses of vaccine.

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Experts caution against the temptation to comparison shop COVID-19 vaccines – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press


Published Saturday, February 27, 2021 3:01PM EST


Last Updated Saturday, February 27, 2021 3:13PM EST

TORONTO – While it’s tempting to compare various aspects of AstraZeneca-Oxford’s newly approved COVID-19 vaccine to others, several experts cautioned against focusing on data that is not comparable and the danger of underrating the product’s ability to curb hospitalizations and deaths.

Health Canada’s long-awaited announcement Friday that a third vaccine would soon be deployed came just as the provinces faced heightened scrutiny over regional immunization plans that vary by timeline, age eligibility and priority groups.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised the boost to Canada’s pandemic arsenal would mean “more people vaccinated, and sooner,” and would be key to helping contain spread.

Nevertheless, Health Canada chief medical advisor Dr. Supriya Sharma acknowledged questions over how the public should evaluate trial results that show AstraZeneca has an efficacy of 62 per cent in preventing symptomatic cases. That’s compared to the 95 per cent efficacy of the country’s two other approved vaccines, from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

But Sharma stressed that all three have been shown to prevent 100 per cent of hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.

“Each vaccine has unique characteristics and Health Canada’s review has confirmed that the benefits of the viral vector-based vaccine, as with the other authorized vaccines, outweigh their potential risks,” Sharma said.

Several medical experts including Dr. Stephen Hwang say Canadians do not have the luxury to pick-and-choose as long as COVID-19 cases continue to rage in several hot spots and strain health-care systems.

With multiple COVID-19 projections warning of a variant-fuelled third wave without tighter suppression measures, any tool that can slow the pandemic should be embraced, he argued.

“It would be important for people to be vaccinated with whichever vaccine is first available in their community to them, rather than trying to hold out for a specific vaccine,” advised Hwang, who treats COVID-19 patients at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Still, Toronto resident Maria Brum couldn’t help but question whether AstraZeneca was safe for her 79-year-old mother.

The vaccine was not tested on people over the age of 65. Health Canada, however, says real-world data from countries already using the product suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups, promising an update on efficacy in the age group as more data comes in.

“I personally would take that one out as an option for my mom,” said Brum, who is her mother’s main caregiver.

“Maybe I am wrong but, I don’t know, I don’t see that it’s more useful. I’d like to see one that has a higher percentage of (efficacy).”

As for herself, Brum said she has allergies that she believes may put her at greater risk of adverse reactions and so she is unsure whether she can take any vaccine.

But she’d like the option of choosing, if possible, even while acknowledging that limited supply could make that unlikely.

“As a Canadian, I would like to see us all have choices, regardless of age, gender, or ability,” says Brum.

“I’m going to wait where I can have more choices.”

Such hesitancy could pose public health challenges to Canada reaching the vaccination coverage needed to build protective immunity against COVID-19, said Hwang.

He noted that Germany has seen a reported preference among some for the vaccine made by Germany’s BioNTech with Pfizer, as well as a misconception that the AstraZeneca vaccine is inferior because of a lower efficacy rate.

Hwang says efficacy between vaccines cannot be compared because each involved completely different trials at different time periods, in different countries, with different volunteers of different age groups and varying trial design.

“Until we have direct comparison studies where we give people one vaccine versus another and directly compare, it’s very difficult to know for sure how it’s going to pan out,” he says.

Then there’s the fact Canada’s initial AstraZeneca doses will be made at the Serum Institute of India, which dubs its version CoviShield, while later packages will be produced at the drug giant’s own manufacturing facilities.

Hwang acknowledges that could invite further scrutiny but says the Pune, India-based biotech firm has a “strong track record of producing vaccines.”

Sharma also stressed the similarities between the two shots Friday.

“For all intents and purposes they’re the same vaccine,” said Sharma.

“There are some slight differences in terms of manufacturing and the places that they are manufactured are different. The analogy is a bit like the recipe – so the recipe for the vaccine is the same, but they’re manufactured in different kitchens.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021.

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AstraZeneca-Oxford co-creator on efficacy of vaccine – CBC News

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  1. AstraZeneca-Oxford co-creator on efficacy of vaccine  CBC News
  2. Nova Scotia to see AstraZeneca vaccine in ‘limited amounts’: Strang  HalifaxToday.ca
  3. Are you satisfied with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in B.C.?  Castanet.net
  4. Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday  CBC.ca
  5. How the approved AstraZeneca vaccine could affect B.C.’s mass vaccination plans  CTV News Vancouver
  6. View Full coverage on Google News



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Manitoba Awaits Word On AstraZeneca Vaccine Shipment – Steinbachonline.com – SteinbachOnline.com

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  1. Manitoba Awaits Word On AstraZeneca Vaccine Shipment – Steinbachonline.com  SteinbachOnline.com
  2. Canada’s vaccine arsenal could get another addition within weeks: senior health official  CTV News
  3. Experts caution against comparison shopping of COVID-19 vaccines  News 1130
  4. EDITORIAL: Canada’s AstraZeneca question is now about roll-out  Toronto Sun
  5. Explaining the vaccine from the ground level | Opinion | triplicate.com  The Triplicate
  6. View Full coverage on Google News



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