Ottawa’s hospitals are facing a potential tipping point as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to climb, contributing to what one doctor characterized as “a fragile situation.”
As of Wednesday there were 40 Ottawans in hospital for COVID-19 treatment, 11 of them in an ICU. Two weeks ago those numbers were 27 and six — and that’s alongside everyone else needing hospital care.
Intensive care admissions hit an all-time high across Ontario this week and while Ottawa isn’t yet at the same level as other areas, health officials say its local number is likely to rise because of more contagious and serious infection-causing coronavirus variants.
“We’re still learning about what is different about the variants of concern,” said Dr. Lindy Samson, chief of staff and chief medical officer for children’s hospital CHEO, on Wednesday.
“We are concerned that younger people are going to become sicker if this progresses.”
Ottawa’s hospitals are at about 100 per cent capacity, she said.
“And that’s as we’re seeing a huge surge in activity of COVID infections across the city. That has us very worried. We are also very worried given that the variants of concern are now … such a high proportion of the new infections.”
The load on hospitals is one of the reasons Ontario is expected to enter another provincewide shutdown. These interviews were done before Thursday’s warnings from doctors and provincial advisors.
Hospitalizations continue to climb
There are plans in case Ottawa’s hospitals become even more strained.
The city’s hospitals are working together to not only take on extra patients, but to transfer patients between hospitals or even share staff, said Dr. Stéphane Roux, chief of staff with the Montfort Hospital.
“That’s a fragile situation at this time,” he said.
The worry is that hospitalizations will rise with the number of cases involving variants of concern.
The numbers are high. They are continuing to climb and may well exceed what we saw two, three months ago.– Dr. Greg Rose, Queensway-Carleton Hospital
That’s not yet the case, according to Dr. Greg Rose, an infectious disease physician and the medical director of infection control at the Queensway-Carleton Hospital.
He said 50 per cent of Ottawa’s current cases are variants of concern. A smaller share are in hospital.
“There’s often a delay between when we start seeing cases of something in the community and when we start seeing people sick enough to need to be hospitalized,” he said.
The number of hospitalizations also hasn’t hit the city’s pandemic peak from mid-April 2020 of 62 residents with COVID-19 in hospital or 20 in an ICU, though it is similar to the early autumn and winter surges.
Younger people being hospitalized
Rose said many of the patients he has seen in hospital are relatively young and healthy with no underlying medical conditions and not all have variants of concern.
He said more young people are being infected, likely due to a breakdown of people not wearing masks, physically distancing or avoiding gatherings.
“The things we’ve been recommending all along remain as valid now as they have at any point.”
Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said last month 25 per cent of hospitalizations since December were people in their 50s who are still months away from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Ottawa Public Health breaks down the 824 people with COVID-19 who have been in hospital by age, and about 30 per cent of its total have been younger than 60:
- 123 people in their 50s,
- 54 people in their 40s,
- 46 in their 30s,
- 17 in their 20s,
- seven between the ages of 10 and 19,
- and five children under the age of 10.
Three of the people in their 30s have been in hospital this week.
The youngest person in the city to die of the illness was in his 30s, while two people — including one earlier this week — were in their 40s.
COVID cases in Ontario could spike to 30,000 per day by June
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)
Moderna sees shortfall in Britain COVID vaccine shipments, EU deliveries on track
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)
Moderna says vaccines to Canada to be delayed due to Europe shortfall
(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.
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)