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Thousands of pediatric vaccines administered in N.B.; 124th death related to COVID-19 reported Monday – CTV News Atlantic

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HALIFAX –

Nearly 3,000 New Brunswick children aged five to 11 have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday.

Public health says this includes 400 11-year-olds who have received their second vaccine dose.

“These children had been eligible to receive the regular vaccination earlier this year because they will be 12 before Dec. 31,” wrote public health in a news release on Monday.

According to health officials, more than 11,040 appointments have been booked for children in the age five to 11 cohort.

In order to meet demand, additional clinics for children have been added in the Moncton region (Zone 1) and the Fredericton region (Zone 3).

More clinics will also be added in other areas if needed.

More than 130 pharmacies will also take part in dispensing doses of the pediatric vaccine, which they will begin receiving between Dec. 2 and 8.

Information on booking appointments at pharmacies is available online.

VACCINE UPDATE

Health officials in New Brunswick say 81.6 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated and 86.5 per cent have received their first dose of a vaccine.

“We have added children aged five to 11 to our vaccination statistics,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “That is why our percentages are lower. As more children under 12 get vaccinated, we will quickly see our vaccination progress improve and the percentages will increase again.”

In total, 1,262,605 vaccine doses have been administered in New Brunswick.

COVID-19 vaccination eligibility will be expanded in the province to include children aged five to 11 as soon as the special child vaccines are received. Regional health authority community clinics and participating pharmacies will have a role to play in administering the vaccine and details will be announced this week.

A detailed list of those eligible for a booster dose in New Brunswick is available online.

46 NEW CASES, ONE DEATH, 132 RECOVERIES

New Brunswick is reporting one new death related to COVID-19 on Monday.

Health officials say the death involves a person in their 70s in the Moncton region (Zone 1).

New Brunswick also reported 46 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, along with 132 recoveries, as the total number of active infections drops to 706.

Public health says there are 64 people in hospital due to COVID-19, 17 of whom are in an intensive care unit.

There is currently one person in hospital under the age of 19 in New Brunswick.

“Though the number of people currently hospitalized is of concern, 23 individuals contracted COVID-19 while already in hospital for another reason,” said Russell. “Steps are being taken to ensure that the virus does not spread further in hospitals in Moncton and Saint John.”

“The rate of people hospitalized and in ICU, as well as new cases, continues to impact people that are unvaccinated the most,” wrote public health.

Information about the rates of cases and hospitalizations based on vaccination status is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.

REGIONAL BREAKDOWN OF NEW CASES

Fifteen new cases in Zone 1 (Moncton region) are as follows:

  • three people 19 and under
  • three people 20-29
  • a person 30-39
  • three people 40-49
  • a person 50-5
  • a person 60-69
  • three people 70-79

Ten cases are under investigation, three cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and two cases are travel related.

Ten new cases in Zone 2 (Saint John region) are as follows:

  • two people 19 and under
  • two people 30-39
  • a person 40-49
  • four people 50-59
  • a person 60-69

Seven cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and three cases are under investigation.

Nine new cases in Zone 3 (Fredericton region) are as follows:

  • four people 19 and under
  • two people 30-39
  • a person 50-59
  • a person 60-69
  • a person 80-89

Seven cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and two cases are under investigation.

One new case in Zone 5 (Campbellton region) is a person 19 and under. This case is a contact of a previously confirmed case.

Eleven new cases in Zone 7 (Miramichi region) are as follows:

  • four people 19 and under
  • a person 20-29
  • three people 30-39
  • a person 40-49
  • two people 60-69

Seven cases are under investigation and four are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

Additional information is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.

IMMUNOLOGIST ADVISES CAUTION WITH NEW VARIANT

Rodney Russell, an immunologist at Memorial University of Newfoundland, says the focus should be on how many are in hospital with the virus – not necessarily how many cases there are.

But he says the vaccine is still the more effective tool to protect against hospitalization – even against new variants of concern like the Omicron variant.

“With this one, again, no real data yet…but on paper, based on what the mutations are in this variant, I would definitely be careful,” he said.

Twenty-three of the 64 hospitalizations in New Brunswick are people who contracted the virus while already in hospital for another reason.

The highest number of hospitalizations due to the virus to date, was 68 on Oct. 13.

“Given the situation right now with the epidemiology, you have to keep an eye on things and now we’ve got this new variant that may or may not be on its way to the Atlantic region,” he said. “We have to see how things are looking. It’s really hard to impose any kind of restrictions with the holidays coming, of course, but at the end of the day – we do have to do whatever’s necessary to protect the public at this time.”

A department of health spokesperson says they have to weigh “multiple factors…when considering whether additional measures are necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

They are encouraging New Brunswickers to practice public health measures like masking, physical distancing, hand washing, “so that we can all enjoy the Holiday season with our friends and family.”

CASE DATA

New Brunswick has had 8,236 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 7,432 cases have recovered and 124 people have died.

To date, 557,710 COVID-19 tests has been conducted in New Brunswick.

POTENTIAL PUBLIC EXPOSURES

A full list of potential COVID-19 exposure notifications in New Brunswick can be found on the province’s website.

Anyone with symptoms of the virus, as well as anyone who has been at the site of a possible public exposure, is urged to request a test online or call Tele-Care at 811 to get an appointment.

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COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, Jan. 21: weekly recap, 94 hospitalized, 601 new cases – Halifax Examiner

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Jump to sections in this article:
Overview
Vaccination
Testing

There are now now 94 people in hospital who were admitted because of COVID symptoms, 13 of whom are in ICU. Those 57 range in age from 0 to 100 years old, and the average age is 68.

Additionally, there are:
• 73 people admitted to hospital for other reasons but who tested positive for COVID during the admissions screening or who were admitted for COVID but no longer require specialized care
• 113 people in hospital who contracted COVID in the hospital outbreaks

The 94 people now hospitalized because of COVID have the following vaccination status:
The vaccination status of those 94 is:
• 11 (11.7%) have had 3 doses
• 60 (63.8%) have had 2 doses but not 3
• 4 (4.3%) have had 1 dose
• 19 (20.2%) are unvaccinated
Note that only 9.3% of the population is unvaccinated

My very rough calculation of the rate by vaccination status of those hospitalized (based on numbers of the population in each category two weeks ago) is as follows:
• (11) a rate of 6.1 per 100K with 3 doses
• (60) a rate of 9.8 per 100K with 2 doses (but not 3)
• (4) a rate of 5.7 per 100K with 1 dose only
• (19) a rate of 18.0 per 100k unvaccinated

Additionally, the province announced 601 new cases of COVID-19 today. The new cases are people who received a positive PCR test result from a Nova Scotia Health lab; it does not include people who tested positive using a take-home rapid (antigen) test.

By Nova Scotia Health zone, the new cases break down as:
• 269 Central
• 120 Eastern
• 49 Northern
• 163 Western

Public Health estimates that there are 5,241 active cases in the province; the actual number is undoubtedly much higher.

The graph above shows the weekly (Sat-Fri) number of new cases for the duration of the pandemic.

The graph above shows the number of weekly cases (green, left axis) and weekly deaths (red, right axis). If deaths lag three weeks behind cases, we may (nothing is certain) see 10-20 more deaths in the next couple of weeks.

The graph above shows the number of weekly cases (green, left axis) and the number hospitalized on Fridays (orange, right axis) for the duration of the pandemic.

Jail outbreak

“Active COVID-19 cases at the provincial jail in Burnside are down to 11,” reports Zane Woodford:

The Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility has had an outbreak since late-December, and Justice Department spokesperson Heather Fairbairn told the Halifax Examiner there have now been a total of 140 cases at the jail.

“As of Jan. 21, there are 11 active cases among those currently in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility,” Fairbairn wrote in an email.

As has been the case throughout, according to Fairbairn, none of the prisoners is in hospital and there are no cases in the jail’s women’s unit.

Fairbairn said since January 1, five people have been approved for temporary absences or early release. The population at the jail, as of January 20, was 223. That means about 63% of prisoners at the facility have had COVID-19.

Hospital outbreaks

There are two new cases at ongoing hospital outbreaks, one each at:
• Cape Breton Regional Hospital for a total of fewer than 10 in that ward
• Victoria General for a total of fewer than 10


Vaccination

Vaccination data were not reported today “due to a technical issue.”

The graph above shows the vaccination progress as captured on Fridays through the pandemic, except Thursday for this week. The yellow line is people with at least one dose of vaccine The blue line is people with only one dose. The green line is people with two doses but not three. The grey line is people with three doses. The red line is 80% of the population.

Appointments for boosters are now open to people 30 and over for whom 168 days have passed since their second shot.

Vaccination appointments for people 5 years of age and older can be booked here.

People in rural areas who need transportation to a vaccination appointment should contact Rural Rides, which will get you there and back home for just $5. You need to book the ride 24 hours ahead of time.

There are many drop-in Pfizer vaccine clinics scheduled, starting next week, several for kids five years old and older.


Testing

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 3,975 PCR tests yesterday, with a positivity rate of 15.1%.

If you test positive with a rapid (antigen) test, you are assumed to definitely have COVID, and you and your household are to self-isolate as required.

But take-home rapid testing kits are no longer widely available.

Pop-up testing has been scheduled for the following sites:

Saturday
Halifax Central Library, 11am-6pm
Alderney Gate, 10am-2pm
Glace Bay Legion, 11am-3pm

Sunday
Halifax Central Library, 11am-6pm
Knights of Columbus (KOC) Hall (New Waterford), 11am-3pm

Monday
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Hubbards Lions Club, 11am-3pm

You can volunteer to work at the pop-up testing sites here or here. No medical experience is necessary.


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Mexican president has cardiac catheterization, health said to be good

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Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador underwent a cardiac catheterization in hospital on Friday and was found to be in good health, the interior ministry said in a statement.

“In this procedure, the heart and the arteries of the president were found to be healthy and functioning appropriately,” the statement said.

Lopez Obrador, 68, who had a serious heart attack in 2013 and recently recovered from his second coronavirus infection, underwent the procedure as part of a check-up every six months that include lab tests, electrocardiograms, stress tests and CT scans, the government said.

The medical team said the latest results indicated the need for a cardiac catheterization, without providing further details on why they performed what they described as a 30-minute procedure.

The government said “no other type of intervention” was needed and that Lopez Obrador was in “perfect health.”

The procedure inserts a thin tube into a large blood vessel leading to the heart and can detect how well the heart is working.

Lopez Obrador said he had mild symptoms from both bouts of COVID-19. In the most recent case earlier this month, he went into isolation for a week before returning to public activities, including lengthy daily news conferences.

On his first day back, he praised honey, pain reliever paracetamol and VapoRub, a topical ointment popular in Mexico, for helping ease his symptoms.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon, Dave Graham and Miguel Angel Gutierrez; Editing by William Mallard)

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Small children getting less sick from Omicron; Genetic mutation protects against severe COVID

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The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.

Small children are getting less sick from Omicron

In very young children, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus causes less severe disease than the Delta variant, according to a new study.

Researchers reviewed data on nearly 80,000 U.S. children under age 5 with a first infection, including 7,201 infected in late December or early January when Omicron was causing more than 90% of cases. After accounting for other risk factors, including medical conditions and socioeconomic circumstances, researchers found children infected during the Omicron surge had a 29% lower risk of emergency department visits, a 67% lower risk of hospitalization, a 68% lower risk of needing intensive care, and a 71% lower risk of needing machines to breathe, compared to children infected with Delta. However, “because of Omicron’s increased transmissibility, the overall number of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and mechanical ventilator use in children may still be greater” with Omicron than with Delta, according to a report posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review.

The investigators have also observed that infection rates were disproportionately higher in Black and Hispanic children for both Omicron and Delta for this age group, and the gap widened for infections with Omicron, said study leader Rong Xu of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Not yet published data shows that “children under 5 had the highest infection rate with Omicron” compared to older children and adults in all age groups, she said.

Genetic mutation protects against severe COVID-19

New findings add to evidence that people with a certain version of a gene are less likely to develop severe COVID-19.

Earlier research had identified a specific group of genes, called the OAS1/2/3 gene cluster, as being involved in the risk for severe COVID-19. One version of a gene in that cluster – passed down from Neanderthals – appeared to protect against severe disease, reducing the risk by about 23%. The earlier research was done mainly in people of European ancestry. According to a report published in Nature Genetics, researchers now see the same association of this genetic variant with less severe COVID-19 in people of African ancestry.

“The fact that individuals of African descent had the same protection allowed us to identify the unique variant in the DNA that actually protects from COVID-19 infection,” coauthor Dr. Jennifer Huffman of said in a statement. OAS genes are involved in a cascade of effects that help cells fight viruses, the researchers said. Understanding of these genes and their effect on COVID-19 risks could aid development of future drugs, they added.

Fewer Delta breakthroughs with Moderna vs Pfizer/BioNTech

When the Delta variant of the coronavirus was prevalent in the United States, recipients of two doses of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine were less likely to experience a breakthrough infection – and if they did, were slightly less likely to be hospitalized – than recipients of two doses of the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, a large study found.

Researchers analyzed health records of more than 637,000 vaccine recipients who were not previously infected with the virus and had not gotten a booster shot. As reported on Thursday in JAMA, breakthrough infections steadily increased every month from July to November 2021, with higher rates in the Pfizer/BioNTech group. In November, there were 2.8 cases among every thousand people vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech shots, compared to 1.6 cases per thousand recipients of the Moderna vaccines. The vaccines protected equally well against death, but the hospitalization rate was 12.7% for infected Moderna recipients and 13.3% for Pfizer/BioNTech recipients. When the researchers compared 62,584 Moderna recipients to a closely-matched equal-sized group of Pfizer/BioNTech recipients, the risk for breakthrough infection was 15% lower in the Moderna group.

“Although there is a difference in breakthrough infections, both vaccines are highly protective against SARS-COV2 infection and especially against the most severe consequences of infection,” said coauthor Pamela Davis of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in a statement.

Click for a Reuters graphic on vaccines in development.

 

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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