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Record high ICU admissions in Sask. has doctors suggesting an update to vaccine strategy –



Intensive care (ICU) COVID-19 hospitalizations in Saskatchewan are at an all-time high. As of Monday, a total of 47 COVID-19 patients are in ICU, with 31 of them in Regina. 

Variants of concern (VOCs) are spreading in Regina right now as well. VOCs are mutated strains of the virus that causes COVID-19 that tend to be more contagious and cause more serious illnesses.

The Regina zone accounts for 803 — or 84 per cent — of the VOC cases with confirmed lineage reported in Saskatchewan.

“The situation in Regina is certainly out of control,” said Dr. Hassan Masri, an intensive care specialist in Saskatoon.

“Unfortunately, we did allow those numbers to rise here in Saskatchewan and specifically in Regina and so now we have ICUs that are really full in Regina and potentially patients will have to be diverted to Saskatoon.”

Masri said that has not happened yet, but it is a possibility. 

Intensive care specialist Dr. Hassan Masri was one of the first people in the city of Saskatoon to get the COVID-19 vaccine. (Don Somers/CBC)

Dr. Kevin Wasko, lead physician with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), said Regina’s ICUs are at surge capacity and currently have more COVID-19 patients than those with any other illness.

He also confirmed that some people in Regina who need an ICU bed could be sent to another city if COVID-19 ICU admissions continue to rise.

People in the health care system familiar with the situation have told CBC that the breakdown of hospitalizations in Regina as of Monday is as follows:

  • Pasqua Hospital ICU: seven total beds, three positive COVID-19 patients, one recovered COVID patient.
  • Pasqua medical surveillance unit (MSU): five overflow ICU patients, zero positive COVID patients.
  • General Hospital medical ICU: ten total beds, ten positive COVID patients, one recovered COVID patient.
  • General surgical ICU: 12 total beds, 11 positive COVID patients.
  • Cardiology Care Unit at the General: 5 overflow positive COVID patients.

Wasko said ICUs in other cities like Moose Jaw and Swift Current have also added additional beds because they have “surged beyond their capacities.”

“This is real. This is filling up — literally filling up — the ICUs right now,” he said.

If ICUs reach a “breaking point,” Wasko said some people who need ICU care won’t be able to get it, although SHA can implement field hospitals if need be.

“It’s really hard for the public sometimes to understand the gravity of the situation unless you actually stepped foot in one of these overcapacity ICUs,” he said.

“If you’re not really seeing it and facing it, I think it’s sometimes hard to really appreciate how real it is.”

Wasko said it’s hard to predict when an ICU could reach a breaking point, but with more VOCs being reported around the province, “if we continue on the trajectory that we’re on, it is a matter of time.”

Recovered patients are marked as such only after they are no longer contagious, but they may still require hospital or ICU care.

LISTEN | Dr. Kevin Wasko was on CBC Saskatchewan’s Morning Edition Tuesday

The Morning Edition – Sask11:55Physician lead for Sask. Health Authority talks concerning spread of COVID-19 variants in southern parts of the province

Dr. Kevin Wasko says COVID-19 variants of concern are causing intensive care units to fill up with younger patients. 11:55

Younger people filling ICUs

“The other important story in all of this is the age group that are filling the ICUs,” Masri said. 

“We are seeing a lot of patients in their 20s, 30s and 40s … the variant, which is really rapidly spreading in Saskatchewan, seems to affect younger people much more profoundly than the original COVID virus.”

Masri said to see young people fighting for their lives in the ICU is “very disturbing and extremely unusual.”

Wasko said one of the reasons younger people are being more affected is because most elderly people in Saskatchewan have been vaccinated, which means younger people are now more vulnerable to COVID-19 and VOCs.

In light of this, Masri suggested the vaccine strategy be tweaked slightly to include essential workers sooner. 

“You know, there are people going to work every day at grocery stores or truck drivers or even people in health care who are being asked to go to work everyday and put themselves at a really high risk, but yet they may not be vaccinated for two months or three months or four months from now,” he said. 

Wasko echoed Masri’s sentiment, saying the provincial government should consider adjusting its vaccination plan to prioritize essential and front-line workers.

As for restrictions in the province, Masri said the government should revisit the opening of bubbles and the loosening of those types of restrictions. He also said rapid testing has been underutilized in the province and country. 

Masri emphasized that this is not just a Regina problem, and that the entire province should be preparing. 

Wasko, meanwhile, acknowledged that many people are tired of COVID-19 and restrictions that come with it, but said it’s more important than ever to follow the protocols and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“We do have a lot of hope with a vaccine coming, but it will take a few months until we really can get those first doses into everybody’s arms and start to make an impact,” he said.

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Calgary firm advances new trial, manufacturing of mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 –



OTTAWA – Calgary-based Providence Therapeutics says it has signed two contracts to have its developmental mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 manufactured in Canada.

The company says it has signed a $90-million, five-year contract with Emergent Biosolutions to make part of the drug substance, and also to fill and finish the vaccine, at its Winnipeg manufacturing plant.

Another $15-million contract was signed with Calgary’s Northern RNA firm to make some of the raw materials needed to produce the messenger RNA in the vaccine.

Providence this week reported that a Phase 1 trial, involving 60 adults between 18 and 64, showed its mRNA vaccine is producing immunity levels comparable to those produced by authorized mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

A Phase 2 clinical trial in 525 people is now about to begin to further test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

Canada has yet to authorize a made-in-Canada vaccine for COVID-19 and has relied mostly on importing mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

As of Tuesday, 26 million Canadians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and another 2.4 million people have received their first dose.

Canada’s lacklustre manufacturing capacity for vaccines was a major issue heading into the COVID-19 vaccination procurement process and the federal government is working to expand the industry.

The vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer are the first mRNA products authorized for widespread use and have been critical to helping slow the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada and elsewhere.

The technology is being researched for use on a number of other conditions including cancers and influenza.

Moderna recently signed an agreement to build a manufacturing plant for its mRNA vaccine somewhere in Canada, but the location has yet to be chosen. Earlier this week Moderna announced it has also signed a contract with National Resilience for the latter to start producing the mRNA used in Moderna’s vaccine.

The federal government last spring invested almost $200 million to help Resilience expand its manufacturing facility in Mississauga, Ont., so it can make more vaccines, including mRNA vaccines.

Emergent BioSolutions is based in Maryland and has multiple facilities in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The company was heavily criticized earlier this year when a mistake in manufacturing at one site in Baltimore, Md., led to the destruction of at least 60 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2021.

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COVID-19 cases at Central Okanagan seniors facilities plateau as Interior Health numbers decline – Global News



The spread of COVID-19 at Central Okanagan care homes seems to have slowed significantly in the last week.

Since infections started to spike in the Kelowna area in August, there have been 142 cases related to COVID-19 outbreaks in seven seniors facilities and 20 related deaths. This is up from 139 cases and 19 deaths just a week ago, on Sept. 9.

Click to play video: 'Interior Health loosens COVID-19 restrictions for vaccinated people'

Interior Health loosens COVID-19 restrictions for vaccinated people

Interior Health loosens COVID-19 restrictions for vaccinated people

Of the cases, 98 have been among residents and another 44 were among staff members. Now six care homes remain on outbreak status from the original seven.

Read more:
NACI backs 3rd dose of COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised

Most affected by the outbreaks has been David Lloyd Jones long-term care in Kelowna, which has reported 55 cases among 41 residents and 14 staff. There were seven deaths connected to the outbreak.

Cottonwoods long term care was similarly hard hit, with 30 cases among 20 residents and 10 staff, with six deaths connected to the outbreak.

Click to play video: 'B.C. health minister provides details on unvaccinated ICU patients with COVID-19'

B.C. health minister provides details on unvaccinated ICU patients with COVID-19

B.C. health minister provides details on unvaccinated ICU patients with COVID-19

Brookhaven Care Centre in West Kelowna has 17 cases, with 10 residents and seven staff, and three deaths connected to the outbreak.

Village at Mill Creek assisted living/independent living in Kelowna has 12 cases among seven residents and five staff with two deaths connected to the outbreak.

Read more:
Interior Health loosens restrictions on gatherings with implementation of Vaccine Card

Spring Valley Care Centre long-term care in Kelowna had 15 cases among 11 residents and four staff, with two deaths connected to the outbreak.

Sun Pointe Village assisted living/independent living in Kelowna has eight resident cases, with one death connected to the outbreak.

Click to play video: 'According to  Interior Health, there’s been an uptake in people getting their first dose of vaccine since vaccine card announcement was made'

According to Interior Health, there’s been an uptake in people getting their first dose of vaccine since vaccine card announcement was made

According to Interior Health, there’s been an uptake in people getting their first dose of vaccine since vaccine card announcement was made

The current stagnation of cases within the Central Okanagan seems to be reflected in the larger population. While current Okanagan-specific COVID-19 numbers aren’t readily available, the provincial ministry of health’s daily case numbers for health regions and Interior Health, which covers much of the Southern Interior has, shown some progress.

Read more:
‘Deflated’ health-care workers thankful for free meal in Kelowna

Of the 677 new cases across the province reported on Tuesday, 153 were within Interior Health. There are still 1,583 active cases in the region.
That’s the lowest new case count in weeks.

Click to play video: 'Interior Health hosts vaccine clinics at schools'

Interior Health hosts vaccine clinics at schools

Interior Health hosts vaccine clinics at schools – Sep 4, 2021

And, while Interior Health may be showing some progress, things aren’t necessarily as rosy everywhere else.

Read more:
COVID-19 case numbers inching down in the Okanagan, still high

Fraser Health is now leading the province for new cases, reporting 237 new cases in the area. There were 102 in the Vancouver Coastal health region, 99 in the Northern health region, and 86 on Vancouver Island.

Ten more people are in hospital with COVID-19, bringing the total to 288, an increase of 10 from Monday. Nearly half of those patients are in intensive care.

B.C.’s COVID-19 death toll is now 1,866.

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

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Manitoba reports 49 new COVID-19 cases, mostly among people not fully vaccinated –



Manitoba reported 49 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, more than 80 per cent of them among people not fully vaccinated against the illness.

Of those infections, 31 are among people not vaccinated at all while another nine are among people who are only partly immunized, the province’s online vaccine dashboard says.

Two more deaths linked to the illness were also posted on Wednesday. While details have not been released, the number of deaths connected to more contagious coronavirus variants also rose by two, the province’s online variant dashboard says.

That dashboard also shows 104 newly identified cases of more infectious coronavirus variants: 100 more in the unspecified category, three more linked to the alpha variant and one more connected to the delta strain.

The deaths bring Manitoba’s total to 1,203. More details, including the ages, sexes and health regions of those who died, are expected Thursday in the province’s next COVID-19 news release.

Most of the new cases reported Wednesday are split between the Winnipeg health region, which has 20, and the much more sparsely populated Southern Health region, which has 17, the province’s online coronavirus dashboard says.

The rest are spread among the Interlake-Eastern and Northern health regions, with five new cases each, and the Prairie Mountain Health region, with two new infections.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate dropped to 2.9 per cent, the dashboard says, down from 3.2. There were 2,364 more COVID-19 tests done in the province on Tuesday.

No fully vaccinated active cases in ICU

There are now 69 people in Manitoba hospitals after getting COVID-19, including 15 in intensive care, the dashboard says. Both numbers are up one since Tuesday.

Among those in hospital, 29 are still considered to have active cases of the illness — 86 per cent of whom either only have protection from one dose or aren’t immunized at all, the vaccine dashboard says.

In intensive care units, seven patients are considered to have active COVID-19 cases. None of them have been fully vaccinated, the dashboard says.

The number of people in Manitoba ICUs remains well above the province’s pre-pandemic capacity of 72. As of midnight, there was a total of 91 people in intensive care, including those with COVID-19 and those there for other reasons, a Shared Health spokesperson said.

Most of Manitoba’s 584 active COVID-19 cases — 70 per cent — are also among people not fully vaccinated against the illness.

The proportion of vaccinated eligible Manitobans rose slightly on Wednesday. For those with at least one shot, the number now sits at 83.9 per cent, while for those fully immunized, it’s now 78.9 per cent.

In total, 57,679 people have been deemed recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

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