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Escalating number of new COVID-19 cases a concern while vaccinations ramp up: Henry – Times Colonist

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B.C.’s top doctor says an increase in new cases of COVID-19, including new variants that are more transmissible, is cause for concern, and she asked people to observe COVID safety orders for the next three months.

Asked if B.C. is in a third wave of the pandemic, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said while she’s not a fan of the “wave analogy,” “we had a very high peak in our second wave prior to vaccinations being available, and now we’re at a high level that keeps me awake at night, for sure.”

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On Monday, Henry reported 1,785 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend — including 166 new variant cases — and another 16 deaths.

The new cases are mainly arising from transmission in workplaces and homes.

The figure includes 89 new cases in the Island Health region, for a total of 278 active cases, including 13 who are in hospital with COVID-19.

Of the new variant cases, most are the U.K. variant and in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal health regions. Relatively few new variants have been found on the Island — eight to date.

Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix stressed Monday that while the growing number of people being vaccinated is good news, not enough people are vaccinated to “keep us all safe.”

In B.C., 10.5 per cent of the 4.3 million people eligible have received a first dose of vaccine.

“It is progress, it’s ahead of where we thought we’d be at this point, but nonetheless, it’s 10.45 per cent,” said Dix.

Key indicators such as hospitalizations, the number of people in intensive care and active cases are still “too high, or worse, moving in the wrong direction,” said Dix.

“COVID doesn’t care have about vaccine optimism — it spreads to live and lives to spread,” said Dix.

Henry said new cases have been slowly and steadily growing for several weeks, mostly in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions. She said more young people, from age 20 to 59, are ending up in hospital and needing intensive care.

Provincial heath orders restricting indoor gatherings remain in place and businesses must continue to have COVID-19 safety plans, said Henry. Public health officials are working with partners including WorkSafe B.C. to ensure establishments follow their safety plans, she said.

“If you are blatantly disregarding of public health orders, there are ramifications for them,” said Henry.

Dix said gathering indoors continues to be a major problem, especially given new variants that spread more easily and faster, even with minimal contact. “If you’re thinking of going out for a birthday celebration, or someone invites you to a wedding celebration, do not go right now.”

Indoor gatherings are restricted to household members only, while outdoor gatherings of up to 10 close contacts are allowed, with the usual safety measures in place, including physical distancing.

The provincial health officer said she is putting the “final touches” on amendments to restrictions on outdoor religious gatherings, with an announcement expected in the next day or so.

Henry and Dix said they are hearing concerning news of people planning celebrations for spring, and said no such celebrations should be considered until at least summer. The province hopes that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will have had access to a first shot by July 1.

It takes two to three weeks for a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to become fully effective. Second “booster” doses in the province are being scheduled up to four months later.

More than 539,408 doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C. to date. There have been 497 adverse events following immunizations, 50 of which involved anaphylaxis or allergic reactions.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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COVID cases in Ontario could spike to 30,000 per day by June

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TORONTO (Reuters) – New cases of COVID-19 in Canada‘s most populous province could rise more than six fold, topping 30,000 per day by early June if public health measures are weak and vaccination rates remain flat, a panel of experts advising the province of Ontario said on Friday.

Even if measures to control the virus are “moderate,” the number of patients in Ontario ICUs could reach 2,000 in May, up from 695 on Friday.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario told doctors last week they may soon have to decide who can and cannot receive intensive care.

 

(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Chris Reese)

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Moderna sees shortfall in Britain COVID vaccine shipments, EU deliveries on track

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ZURICH (Reuters) – U.S. drugmaker Moderna expects a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain hitting second-quarter delivery quantities for Britain and Canada, though European Union– and Swiss-bound shipments are on track, a spokesperson said.

The delays, first announced on Friday when Canada said Moderna would be delivering only about half the planned 1.2 million doses by the end of April, come as Switzerland’s Lonza ramps up three new production lines to make active ingredients for Moderna vaccine supplies outside of the United States.

“The trajectory of vaccine manufacturing ramp-up is not linear, and despite best efforts, there is a shortfall in previously estimated doses from the European supply chain,” Moderna said in a statement.

Lonza didn’t immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment on any issues in its production.

 

(Reporting by John Miller; editing by David Evans)

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Moderna says vaccines to Canada to be delayed due to Europe shortfall

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(Reuters) -Moderna Inc said on Friday a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain will lead to a delay in deliveries to some countries including Canada.

The drugmaker would be delivering only 650,000 doses by April end as opposed to 1.2 million, Canada‘s Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in a statement.

She said one to two million doses of the 12.3 million doses scheduled for delivery by Moderna in the second quarter would be delayed until the third.

Moderna officials in Europe did not immediately comment on the reason for the delays or give the total number of countries that would be impacted.

“Vaccine manufacturing is a highly complex process and a number of elements, including human and material resources have factored into this volatility,” said Patricia Gauthier, an executive at Moderna Canada.

Canada has distributed a total of 2.82 million doses of the Moderna vaccine as of April 14 and 12.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in total.

Moderna has been aiming to deliver 700 million to 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 globally this year, including from plants in Europe and the United States.

Swiss contract drug manufacturer Lonza makes active ingredients for Moderna’s vaccine in Visp, but it was still ramping up three new production lines that once operational would be able to produce 300 million shots annually.

The current supply, demand and distribution landscape has led the drugmaker to make adjustments in the expected second-quarter deliveries, Gauthier said.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru, Allison Martell in Toronto and John Miller in Zurich; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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