If we’re to have any hope of advancing to the next stage of lessened COVID-19 restrictions, we must continue to make “smart choices” in terms of our personal safety measures.
That’s the word from medical officer of health Dr. Thomas Piggott who, during a Peterborough Public Health media briefing held Thursday (February 3), said what’s ahead “is contingent on what we do — the actions that each and every one us take.”
“As we emerge into this next stage of learning to live with COVID, I want to highlight that there are measures that each and every one of us can take that don’t have the same degree of negative impact that the more heavy measures, like lockdowns, do.”
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“Continuing to wear a tightly fitted mask any time you’re around someone outside of your household bubble,” he said. “Getting vaccinated if you haven’t, and getting your third dose if you haven’t done that and are eligible. Staying home when you’re sick. Getting tested if you’re able to. It is on us to continue this process on the journey to learning to live with COVID-19.”
To those who are looking for a tangible sign that the COVID picture is brightening, Dr. Piggott said anything deemed positive has to be taken with a generous grain of salt.
“There continues to be waste-water surveillance that’s detecting transmission of omicron, though it is down. There continues to be a significant number of deaths in this community. There continues to be a burden on the hospital. We’ve passed the worst of this (omicron wave) and are in a better position. What we don’t know is what will come.”
“As the modelling is indicating, we could be in a position where we will continue to see a decline in cases over the coming weeks. We could see a rebound. We could see something in between. If we all do our part to decrease unnecessary risks, we will start to emerge and see the other side of this very soon.”
While not wanting to raise people’s hopes that COVID-19 will be in our rear-view mirror any time soon, Dr. Piggott expressed “a lot of faith that the vast majority of people in this community and in our region will continue to do their part.”
“I think we’re on the right track and we will continue to see this decline (in cases) progress,” he added. “But my crystal ball broke a while ago. We need to be nimble and adapt to the evidence as it comes out.”
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As of late Wednesday afternoon (February 2), there were 249 PRC-confirmed active COVID cases in the Peterborough region — a drop of 87 since the last health unit media briefing on January 27. To date this week since Monday, 74 new COVID cases have been confirmed locally. According to the health unit, the number of active cases is “the tip of the iceberg” due to changes in PCR testing availability.
As encouraging as those numbers are, a grim milestone has been realized with the number of local COVID-related deaths having surpassed 50, now at 51 — an increase of five over the past week. There have now been 25 COVID-related deaths since just before Christmas.
There are 14 active outbreaks. Five outbreaks are ongoing at congregate living facilities while others continue at Extendicare Lakefield, Riverview Manor, Fairhaven Long-Term Care, St. Joseph’s at Fleming, Rubidge Retirement Residence, Sherbrooke Heights Retirement Residence, Kawartha Heights Retirement Living, Peterborough Retirement Residence, and Centennial Place (Millbrook). Meanwhile, the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) is also dealing with a unit outbreak as it cares for 20 COVID-ill in-patients.
Meanwhile, the local vaccination picture shows that, as of late Wednesday afternoon, 87.1 per cent of those 18 and older eligible for a vaccine had received two doses with 59.4 per cent in that same group having received three doses. Meanwhile, 52.8 per cent of children aged five to 11 have received one dose and 17.1 per cent have received two shots. As for booster shot uptake, 51.8 per cent of all residents eligible aged five and up have rolled up their sleeves.
All Healthy Planet Arena clinics are now open for walk-in appointment for all ages and doses. Visit peterboroughpublichealth.ca/vaccineclinics for more information regarding clinic locations and hours.
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Dr. Piggott spoke at length about Paxlovid, a newly approved oral treatment for COVID-19. Individuals who qualify for the five-dose regimen are those who are immune-compromised, those 60 years or older with a medical risk factor and are unvaccinated, and Indigenous residents who are 50 years or older and are unvaccinated.
Those hoping to benefit from the drug must start on their regimen within five days of their confirmed COVID diagnosis, and can only do so once assessed and referred by PRHC.
“At this stage, there’s an extremely limited supply of this medicine,” Dr. Piggott said. “The closest clinical assessment centre to Peterborough is Lakeridge Health in Durham Region. People in our community will start to become eligible for this medicine, which may save many lives.”
Asked if he has any concerns over Paxlovid’s emergence in terms of the effect it will have on those opting to not get vaccinated, Dr. Piggott said he’s not overly concerned there will be a resulting adverse effect on vaccination uptake.
“Just because you can get a blood transfusion after a car accident, that doesn’t mean you’re not going to wear your seatbelt and drive safe. Right now, the access to this medicine is extremely limited. People should not be thinking of it as a panacea. Beyond that, there’s a fairly limited group of individuals who can qualify for this treatment.”
Also on the media briefing call were Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith and Selwyn mayor and Board of Health chair Andy Mitchell. Peterborough-Kawartha MP Michelle Fererri was not in attendance.
COVID-19 vaccines saved 20M lives in 1st year, scientists say – CTV News
Nearly 20 million lives were saved by COVID-19 vaccines during their first year, but even more deaths could have been prevented if international targets for the shots had been reached, researchers reported Thursday.
On Dec. 8, 2020, a retired shop clerk in England received the first shot in what would become a global vaccination campaign. Over the next 12 months, more than 4.3 billion people around the world lined up for the vaccines.
The effort, though marred by persisting inequities, prevented deaths on an unimaginable scale, said Oliver Watson of Imperial College London, who led the new modelling study.
“Catastrophic would be the first word that comes to mind,” Watson said of the outcome if vaccines hadn’t been available to fight the coronavirus. The findings “quantify just how much worse the pandemic could have been if we did not have these vaccines.”
The researchers used data from 185 countries to estimate that vaccines prevented 4.2 million COVID-19 deaths in India, 1.9 million in the United States, 1 million in Brazil, 631,000 in France and 507,000 in the United Kingdom.
An additional 600,000 deaths would have been prevented if the World Health Organization target of 40% vaccination coverage by the end of 2021 had been met, according to the study published Thursday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The main finding — 19.8 million COVID-19 deaths were prevented — is based on estimates of how many more deaths than usual occurred during the time period. Using only reported COVID-19 deaths, the same model yielded 14.4 million deaths averted by vaccines.
The London scientists excluded China because of uncertainty around the pandemic’s effect on deaths there and its huge population.
The study has other limitations. The researchers did not include how the virus might have mutated differently in the absence of vaccines. And they did not factor in how lockdowns or mask wearing might have changed if vaccines weren’t available.
Another modelling group used a different approach to estimate that 16.3 million COVID-19 deaths were averted by vaccines. That work, by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, has not been published.
In the real world, people wear masks more often when cases are surging, said the institute’s Ali Mokdad, and 2021’s Delta wave without vaccines would have prompted a major policy response.
“We may disagree on the number as scientists, but we all agree that COVID vaccines saved lots of lives,” Mokdad said.
The findings underscore both the achievements and the shortcomings of the vaccination campaign, said Adam Finn of Bristol Medical School in England, who like Mokdad was not involved in the study.
“Although we did pretty well this time — we saved millions and millions of lives — we could have done better and we should do better in the future,” Finn said.
Funding came from several groups including the WHO; the U.K. Medical Research Council; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
AP health and science reporter Havovi Todd contributed
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content
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ACIP Backs Moderna's COVID Shot for Kids 6-17 Years – Medpage Today
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted unanimously on Thursday to recommend that children ages 6-17 years receive Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
With a 15-0 vote, ACIP endorsed a two-dose primary series of the mRNA vaccine for kids ages 6-11 years (50 mcg per dose) and adolescents ages 12-17 (100 mcg per dose). The recommendation now awaits approval from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH.
The recommendation was largely expected, and followed FDA’s emergency use authorization last week. Until then, only Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine had been authorized and recommended for these age groups.
At Thursday’s meeting, ACIP members considered safety and efficacy data on Moderna’s vaccine, which was primarily studied during periods where the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 and Delta strains were predominant, in teens and the younger kids, respectively. In both groups, the vaccine was effective against severe disease and hospitalization.
“We know that the benefits outweigh the risks for mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in all ages,” said Sara Oliver, MD, of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, during the meeting. “Receipt of this primary series continues to be the safest way to prevent serious COVID-19.”
Oliver emphasized that serious outcomes with COVID-19 do not spare kids. The Omicron wave was accompanied by a surge in hospitalizations among children, and she pointed to 189 COVID-related deaths in kids 5-11 years and 443 in kids 12-17 throughout the course of the pandemic.
Several ACIP members raised questions about the intervals between the first and second dose of the Moderna vaccine, as such an approach may reduce the risk of myocarditis associated with the vaccine. Some evidence suggests the Moderna vaccine carries a higher risk of myocarditis or pericarditis than Pfizer’s vaccine, though CDC experts cautioned that these findings are not consistent in all U.S. monitoring systems.
Among close to 55 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine administered to individuals ages 5-17 years, the rare adverse event has been observed in at least 635 children, according to the CDC. Risk is typically higher among children ages 12-17, in boys, and after the second dose. Among kids age 5-11, there were no signals detected.
In a presentation on clinical considerations, Elisha Hall, PhD, of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that although the current recommendation is for a 4-week gap between the first and second doses, the CDC will likely be recommending an 8-week interval for adolescent males. (The CDC also recommends shorter dose intervals for children who are immunocompromised.)
Some of the ACIP members expressed confusion about the product labels on Moderna’s vaccines in each age group. The product authorized for kids 6-11 will have the same color cap as the vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years, but a different color border to distinguish the higher concentration. For the product authorized for kids ages 12-17, it will have the same label as the adult vaccine, as it is the same dose.
“I am … concerned about vaccine administration errors,” said Matthew Daley, MD, chair of ACIP’s working group. Others echoed concerns about administration blunders, encouraging more resources for providers and further clarification on labeling from the manufacturer.
Safety and efficacy data for Moderna’s vaccine in this younger population came from two ongoing phase II/III clinical trials (study mRNA-1273-P203 for adolescents ages 12-17 and study mRNA-1273-P204 for kids ages 6-11 years). The studies included nearly 8,000 kids in total.
Among participants ages 12-17, vaccine efficacy was 93.3% (95% CI 47.9-99.9) during a time when the ancestral and Alpha strains were predominant. Among the younger group, vaccine efficacy was 76.8% (95% CI -37.3 to 96.6) during a period when Delta was most prevalent.
The committee agreed on the data that COVID-19 vaccines protect children against severe disease. Many children in this age group, however, remain unvaccinated. Approximately 30% of teens and 65% of younger kids have yet to receive a vaccine, according to Oliver.
“We can predict with future COVID-19 surges, the unvaccinated will continue to bear the burden of disease,” she said.
COVID Rates Dropping; Vaccination Campaign Continues – ckdr.net
Health officials in Canada are warning of a seventh wave of COVID-19 this fall, with a possible new variant.
Dr. Kit Young Hoon is the Medical Officer of Health for the Northwestern Health Unit and stresses they will be ready.
“Although the timing of an increase in COVID-19 specifically is difficult to predict, the Northwestern Health Unit will be prepared to offer large-scale COVID-19 vaccinations in the fall to protect our communities most vulnerable.”
She notes the vaccine remains the best way to stay protected and vaccines continue to be offered for those eligible.
The Health Unit is reporting 132 COVID cases confirmed through PCR testing.
One hundred of them are in communities under the jurisdiction of the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kit Young Hoon says numbers are lower elsewhere.
“Overall, there’s been a steady decrease in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 locally. Case numbers in most health hubs are low, as are our institutional outbreak numbers”.
The positivity rate is sitting at 11.2%.
Case count (Health Hubs):
-Sioux Lookout (on reserve): 100
-Sioux Lookout: (off reserve): 5
-Red Lake: 3
-Fort Frances: 3
There are 3 institutional COVID outbreaks in the region.
That includes one at the Pinecrest home for the aged in Kenora.
Recent testing showed 25 residents testing positive for the virus.
Day and overnight absences have been placed on hold for the time being, but one essential caregiver is allowed for each resident.
Meantime, the Northwestern Health Health Unit says it’s important to continue to get booster doses for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Dr. Kit Young Hoon says there is evidence that the first or second dose starts to drop.
“The vaccine protection does wane somewhere around the six month mark, maybe a little bit earlier or a little bit later, depending on the individual,” says Dr. Young Hoon.
“So its important to have some sense what’s going on, with respect to vaccination policy, and know when you might be eligible in the future for your next dose.”
She adds vaccination criteria hasn’t changed that much over the past few months.
“If its been more than three month since you had COVID then you should be looking to book an appointment for your booster dose. There is added benefit from and protection from a booster dose so you have significantly reduced risk of severe illness and decreased risk from being infected.”
Dr. Young Hoon expects fourth dose eligibility will decrease from 60 years of age and older over the next few months, and the vaccine for kids under the age of five should be available later this summer.
For information on vaccinations, visit Northwestern Health Unit
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