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New COVID-19 offshoot takes root in Western Canada – The Province

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“It’s not something that people should stay awake worrying about at night,” a virologist said, but there is another danger of COVID-19 surges.

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A new stem of COVID-19 has shot up in Western Canada, seeded by the virus’s extra-infectious Delta variant and watered by its spread through Alberta and Saskatchewan.

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A top Saskatchewan virologist said there is no hard evidence yet suggesting AY.25.1, as it is called, is any more virulent than the other Delta strains, but its emergence is a reminder of how unchecked viral transmission can cause new, more dangerous variants to bloom.

“It’s not something that people should stay awake worrying about at night,” Dr. Angela Rasmussen said. “What people should be thinking of is: we don’t want any variants, including this one, infecting as many people as it has.”

Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), said each new SARS-CoV-2 infection gives the virus a chance at winning the mutation lottery and becoming a fitter, more transmissible strain. The overwhelming majority of infections don’t create that change. Rasmussen said there are more than 100 such sub-lineages of the Delta variant, most of which don’t differ significantly from the “original recipe.”

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Saskatchewan Health Authority pathologist Dr. Jessica Minion told the province’s physicians at a Nov. 4 town hall that AY. 25.1 is an offshoot of AY.25, another sub-lineage associated with the midwestern United States. She said international authorities have been approached to get it officially designated.

“We kind of warned people that uncontrolled spread is going to lead to evolution of the virus. Give it enough opportunities to pass through enough people, we’re going to get something unique to Western Canada, and this is kind of what it is,” Minion said.

So far, available data doesn’t point to AY.25.1 being substantially worse than other Delta strains. Rasmussen said preliminary data show it appeared to slightly out-compete other Delta strains in Saskatchewan based on genetic sequencing done by scientists, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more transmissible. It might have benefitted from a “founder effect” — a big boost of infections at a given time that epidemiologists wouldn’t have been aware of, she said.

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“Maybe this lineage got into a population that was largely unvaccinated, got into a super-spreader event, and so it is expanding exponentially due to pure chance,” Minion said.

Rasmussen said the next step could be infecting cells with the new strain in a controlled laboratory environment to see if it really is a “fitter” virus, a project she is considering taking on herself.

“The lesson that everybody should take from this is: this is how variants of concern emerge,” Rasmussen said.

“Variants basically beget variants.”

zvescera@postmedia.com
twitter.com/zakvescera

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    Sask.’s COVID-19 response in question after modelling revelations

The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.

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WHO advises against using blood plasma of recovered patients as COVID-19 treatment – CBC.ca

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The World Health Organization on Monday advised against using the blood plasma of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat those who are ill, saying current evidence shows it neither improves survival nor reduces the need for ventilators.

The hypothesis for using plasma is that the antibodies it contains could neutralize the novel coronavirus, stopping it from replicating and halting tissue damage.

Several studies testing convalescent blood plasma have shown no apparent benefit for treating COVID-19 patients who are severely ill. A U.S.-based trial was halted in March after it was found that plasma was unlikely to help mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients.

The method is also costly and time-consuming to administer, the WHO said in a statement Monday.

A panel of international experts made a strong recommendation against the use of convalescent plasma in patients with non-severe illness, the WHO said. They also advised against its use in patients with severe and critical illness, except in the context of a randomized controlled trial.

The recommendation, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), is based on evidence from 16 trials involving 16,236 patients with non-severe, severe and critical COVID-19 infection.

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COVID vaccine clinics available this week – The North Bay Nugget

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A number of appointments for COVID-19 vaccine clinics – including some for children five to 11 years of age – are available across the region this week.

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Only individuals five to 11 years of age will be able to secure an appointment at a child and youth Clinic, although older siblings or parents will be able to receive an adult dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at these clinics if they are accompanying a child to their appointment.

The pediatric COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in five to 11-year-olds is not yet available at regular clinics. However, it is available at participating pharmacies throughout the district. Parents and guardians are encouraged to book an appointment at one of the participating pharmacies if they would like their child immunized this week and cannot secure an appointment at a clinic hosted by the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit.

Individuals are encouraged to bring a health card or another form of identification, if possible, as well as any required documentation for those with underlying health conditions eligible for a third dose. Eligible individuals who received their last dose before June 21 will be able to book and receive their booster dose this week.

Flu shots will also be available for those with COVID-19 appointments at the adult clinics this week.

Appointments are still available at the following clinics this week:

Parry Sound,  Wednesday, child and youth clinic at Parry Sound High School (111 Isabella St., Parry Sound) from 4 to 8 p.m.

South River,  Thursday, child and youth clinic at Almaguin Highlands Secondary School (21 Mountain View Rd., South River) from 4 to 8 p.m.

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Mattawa, Friday, child and youth clinic at Élisabeth Bruyère Catholic Secondary School (359 Brydges St., Mattawa) from 4 to 8 p.m.;

North Bay,  Saturday, child and youth clinic at Northgate Shopping Centre (1500 Fisher Street, North Bay), former Gap location, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sturgeon Falls,  Tuesday, child and youth clinic at West Nipissing Public Secondary School (175 Ethel St., Sturgeon Falls) from 4 to 8 p.m. and  Wednesday, at Marcel Noel Hall (219 O’Hara St., Sturgeon Falls) from 4 to 7 p.m.

To book an appointment or for more information, visit myhealthunit.ca/GetVaccinated or call the health unit call centre at 1-844-478-1400 or 705-995-3810.

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More than 12500 Waterloo Region kids aged 5-11 have had 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine – cjoy.com

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More than 12,500 Waterloo Region children aged five to 11 have had their first jab of a COVID-19 vaccine since they were first handed out 11 days ago.

Waterloo Public Health says 26.62 per cent of area residents of that age group’s estimated 48,000 have had their initial dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Read more:

Waterloo Region has special plans in store for Every Dose Counts weekend

This number increased by 8.5 per cent from Friday, with Waterloo Public Health no longer updating its totals over the weekend.

The agency says there have now been 941,742 vaccinations done in the area, which is 7,303 more than it reported on Friday.

However, the number of those getting their second dose continues to climb at a slow pace as that total now stands at 455,372, 569 more than was announced 72 hours prior.

This means that 75.24 per cent of all residents in the region have now had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The youth vaccinations could not come at a more prudent time as there were a host of COVID-19 outbreaks announced at schools across Waterloo Region over the past few days.

There were five new outbreaks announced over the weekend with four of those coming at schools including Mary Johnston Public School in Waterloo, Sir Adam Beck Public School in Baden, Saint John Paul II School in Kitchener and Forest Glen Public School in New Hamburg. The fifth new outbreak was at an unnamed auto sales location.

In addition, Waterloo Public Health reported another 125 positive tests for the coronavirus on Monday, lifting the total number of COVID-19 cases in the area to 21,145.

This lifts the rolling seven-day average number of new daily cases up to 34.6. A week ago, that number was 24.7.

Another 70 people were also cleared of the virus, lifting the total number of resolved cases in the area to 20,549.

There have been no new deaths reported in the area in five days, leaving the death toll at 308, including one victim in December.

The region now has 282 active COVID-19 cases, the highest number that has been reported since July 12.

There are also 12 people in area hospitals, including two patients in need of intensive care.

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Ontario reports 887 new COVID-19 cases, 3 more deaths

Elsewhere, Ontario reported 887 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total case count in the province to 624,384.

Of the 887 new cases recorded, the data showed 373 were unvaccinated people, 24 were partially vaccinated people, 426 were fully vaccinated people and for 64 people the vaccination status was unknown.

According to Monday’s report, 139 cases were recorded in Toronto, 73 in Simcoe Muskoka, 60 in York Region, 60 in Peel Region and 55 in Ottawa. All other local public health units reported fewer than 50 new cases in the provincial report.

The death toll in the province now stands at 10,027 as three more deaths were reported.

—with files from Global News’ Jessica Patton

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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