TORONTO — More questions are being raised about how long second shots of the COVID-19 vaccine can be delayed for seniors and other immunocompromised people.
The federal body that advises how vaccines be deployed said Thursday it’s reviewing a Vancouver study that found long-term care residents had a weaker immune response to their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than younger healthy adults.
After supplies slowed to a trickle earlier this year, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said provinces and territories can delay second doses by as long as four months.
That’s instead of the recommended schedule that spaces out the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines by three to four weeks, and the AstraZeneca product by four to 12 weeks.
Committee chair Dr. Caroline Quach said Thursday that NACI is looking at the Vancouver research, which found a weaker antibody response among older recipients but did not measure whether seniors were more likely to fall sick or die.
She said the findings will be assessed along with data from Quebec and the United Kingdom.
“What is so difficult with this disease is that there is no correlate of protection. That means that the presence and quantity of antibody present does not mean protection, or lack thereof,” Quach said in an email to The Canadian Press.
“Based on all those data, NACI will see if exceptions to the extended interval are necessary, keeping in mind that we are managing risk at a population level: the more people are vaccinated, the more likely we are to stop transmission, which will also be protective for the most vulnerable who may not mount an optimal response.”
The Vancouver data, funded by the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, has yet to be peer-reviewed but adds to concerns about the rollout strategy of provinces including Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.
Task force director Dr. Tim Evans said the findings underscore a need to monitor senior recipients very carefully after their first shot.
“The immune response is so complicated and we still don’t fully understand what are called the correlates of protection,” Evans said from Montreal, where he is director and associate dean of the school of population and global health at McGill University.
“The most important takeaway from this study is we have to be very vigilant in monitoring the followup for the elderly, or immunocompromised with respect to extending the vaccine dose beyond what’s recommended.”
Evans stressed that older people in both long-term care and the community are well-protected for many weeks by a single dose of an mRNA vaccine, but said there may be limits to how long some people should wait for their second dose.
He said COVID-19 vaccines have already been associated with dropping hospitalizations and deaths in Canada, but expected NACI may have to refine its advice for how they be used in various populations.
“We’ve got multiple vaccines, they all work a little bit differently and so we know that we don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach,” he said, adding that long-term care residents may be more vulnerable than seniors in the community.
“We’re going to have to get used to working with different approaches for different age groups with different vaccines over the coming months as the vaccine rollout continues.”
The director of geriatrics at Toronto’s Sinai Health said a delayed-dose strategy makes little sense for a population already known to have a less-robust response to vaccines.
Dr. Samir Sinha said there’s already enough evidence for NACI to revise its advice, suggesting some urgency as he pointed to statistics that find 96 per cent of COVID-19 linked deaths are people over the age of 60.
“As a geriatrician, I’m becoming increasingly uncomfortable about the strategy of delaying these doses for older people and in particular, older people living in congregate care settings, and those who are highly vulnerable,” said Sinha.
Sinha acknowledged that NACI considers an array of factors in determining its guidelines and at the time of its March 3 decision, pressures included dwindling vaccine supplies, emerging variants and fears of a looming third wave.
Earlier Thursday, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma noted her agency – a separate body from NACI – approved the vaccines for use according to their respective labels.
She also said NACI’s advice will evolve as new science becomes available.
“I think it does make sense that we potentially have a more nuanced recommendation around that delayed second dose, but those conversations are ongoing,” Sharma said.
Principal investigator Dr. Marc Romney, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia, said not only did his study find LTC residents produced lower levels of antibodies, the antibodies they produced were less adept at blocking the SARS-CoV-2 virus from binding to its target cells.
“You don’t want to be leaving a large segment of society that’s already borne the brunt of the pandemic vulnerable to infection, awaiting a second dose – that is the potential issue here,” said Romney, medical leader for medical microbiology and virology at St. Paul’s Hospital, Providence Health Care.
“Hospitalizations are increasing again. And we have seen some outbreaks in long-term care facilities where people have been vaccinated, which is also concerning.”
He and a research team co-led by Dr. Zabrina Brumme of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and Dr. Mark Brockman of Simon Fraser University analyzed blood samples collected from 18 long-term care residents and 12 healthcare workers.
They were taken in late 2020 and early 2021 before vaccination and compared to changes after participants received their first dose.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2021.
Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
Delta variant of COVID-19 now makes up nearly 4 in 10 cases in B.C., data shows – Global News
New data from the BC Centre for Disease control shows that the highly-transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 has grown to nearly four in 10 cases in the province, up from fewer than one in 10 just two weeks before.
The data comes as the province reported more than 100 new cases in a 24-hour period for the first time in five weeks.
The BCCDC released the data Friday, which covers the week of July 11 to July 15.
B.C. reports 112 new COVID-19 cases, four new deaths
Out of 376 cases recorded that week, the Delta variant, first identified in India, made up 39 per cent of cases, while the Gamma variant, first identified in Brazil, made up 40 per cent. The Alpha variant, first identified in the U.K., made up 17 per cent of cases.
Last week, the BCCDC reported the Delta variant made up 33 per cent of cases, while the week before it was just eight per cent.
Research has found that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the Delta variant, but only when people receive both doses.
Partially vaccinated people remain at a much greater risk of contracting it or becoming seriously ill.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Friday that 96 per cent of new cases reported in B.C. between June15 and July 15 were among people who weren’t fully vaccinated.
As of Friday, more than 2.68 million people — 58.1 per cent of those eligible and 52.2 per cent of the population — have been fully vaccinated.
Could Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination drive slowdown fuel another surge?
There were strong regional variances in the prevalence of Delta.
In the Vancouver Island Health Region, all of the 14 cases reported over the week in question were found to be the Delta variant.
In the Interior Health Region, which has seen growing case numbers and lagging vaccination rates, Delta made up a whopping 74 per cent of the 122 cases over the week reported.
More than half of the new cases reported on Friday were in the Interior Health region.
Vancouver Coastal Health had the second highest prevalence of Delta, at 33 per cent, followed by the Fraser Health region at 15 per cent.
Officials said 97 per cent of all samples tested were at least one of the known variants of concern.
The BCCDC cautions that the data reported on Friday is subject to change due to a lag in sequencing some samples.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
COVID-19 in Ottawa: Fast Facts for July 24, 2021 – CTV Edmonton
Good morning. Here is the latest news on COVID-19 and its impact on Ottawa.
- The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa continues to creep up as vaccination slows
- A new outbreak in Barry’s Bay has led to nearly two-dozen close contacts and forced businesses to close
- Ontario reported 192 new cases on Friday as the seven-day average jumped slightly
COVID-19 by the numbers in Ottawa (Ottawa Public Health data):
- New COVID-19 cases: Seven new cases on Friday
- Total COVID-19 cases: 27,768
- COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (previous seven days): 3.9
- Positivity rate in Ottawa: 0.5 per cent (seven day average)
- Reproduction Number: 1.28 (seven day average)
Who should get a test?
Ottawa Public Health says you can get a COVID-19 test at an assessment centre, care clinic, or community testing site if any of the following apply to you:
- You are showing COVID-19 symptoms;
- You have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by Ottawa Public Health or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app;
- You are a resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by Ottawa Public Health;
- You are a resident, a worker or a visitor to long-term care, retirement homes, homeless shelters or other congregate settings (for example: group homes, community supported living, disability-specific communities or congregate settings, short-term rehab, hospices and other shelters);
- You are a person who identifies as First Nations, Inuit or Métis;
- You are a person travelling to work in a remote First Nations, Inuit or Métis community;
- You received a preliminary positive result through rapid testing;
- You require testing 72 hours before a scheduled (non-urgent or emergent) surgery (as recommended by your health care provider);
- You are a patient and/or their 1 accompanying escort travelling out of country for medical treatment;
- You are an international student that has passed their 14-day quarantine period;
- You are a farm worker;
- You are an educator who cannot access pharmacy-testing; or
- You are in a targeted testing group as outlined in guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Ottawa:
There are several sites for COVID-19 testing in Ottawa. To book an appointment, visit https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/shared-content/assessment-centres.aspx
- The Brewer Ottawa Hospital/CHEO Assessment Centre: Open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- COVID-19 Drive-Thru Assessment Centre at 300 Coventry Road: Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- The Moodie Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- The Ray Friel Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- North Grenville COVID-19 Assessment Centre (Kemptville) – 15 Campus Drive: Open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Centretown Community Health Centre: Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Sandy Hill Community Health Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 pm.
- Somerset West Community Health Centre: Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday
COVID-19 screening tool:
The COVID-19 screening tool for summer camp children and staff. All campers and staff must complete the COVID-19 School and Childcare screening tool daily.
Classic Symptoms: fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath
Other symptoms: sore throat, difficulty swallowing, new loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, pneumonia, new or unexplained runny nose or nasal congestion
Less common symptoms: unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, headache, delirium, chills, red/inflamed eyes, croup
The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa is back above 40 for the first time in two weeks, as the city’s vaccine administration pace slows down.
Ottawa Public Health reported seven new cases of the virus in Ottawa on Friday. There were no new resolved cases for the second straight day, so the number of active cases has climbed to 41.
It’s the most since July 9, when there were 43 active cases in the city.
A new outbreak of COVID-19 in Barry’s Bay, Ont. has resulted in two closed businesses and nearly two-dozen high-risk contacts.
The Renfrew County health unit is reporting three new confirmed cases that started with a visit from southern Ontario.
Twenty-one high-risk contacts now have to isolate, a fresh example that Canada is not yet out of the pandemic.
Ontario is reporting another jump in the number of new COVID-19 cases as health officials log just over 190 new infections and the seven-day average rises.
The province confirmed 192 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, which comes after officials logged 185 new infections on Thursday.
Before that, the province reported case numbers below the 150 mark for three days.
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