Dr. Theresa Tam – COVID-19 Update on August 6, 2021

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Dr. Theresa Tam
Dr. Theresa Tam

OTTAWA – COVID-19 Update – As COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are continuing to track key epidemiological indicators to monitor trends, quickly detect, and understand emerging issues of concern, including the impact of circulating virus variants. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) provides regular updates on COVID-19 vaccines administered, vaccination coverage and ongoing monitoring of vaccine safety across the country. Below is the latest summary on national numbers and trends.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,436,182 cases of COVID-19 and 26,637 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Four variants of concern (VOCs) in Canada, B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma), and B.1.617.2 (Delta), have been detected in most provinces and territories.  At the national level, the Delta variant currently accounts for the majority of recently reported VOC cases. Regardless of which SARS-CoV-2 variants are predominating in an area, we know that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures, continue to work to reduce the spread of COVID-19. At the present time, those who are unvaccinated are at greatest risk of infection and severe outcomes; however, the spread of the virus in areas with low vaccination coverage presents an ongoing risk for the emergence, and replacement by, new variants. This is why we must remain vigilant to reduce the spread of the virus, especially for variants that have some ability to evade protection from vaccines.

Hence, as public health restrictions are eased across the country, we are closely monitoring increases in disease activity, particularly among unvaccinated populations. Today’s national 7-day moving average of 945 new cases reported daily (Jul 30 – Aug 5), is an increase of 48% over the previous week. With early signs of a Delta-driven wave beginning and the fall approaching, efforts to increase the proportion of fully vaccinated Canadians and reinforce individual precautions per local public health advice are crucial to reducing virus spread and lowering the risk of a resurgence that could lead to healthcare capacity being exceeded this coming fall and winter. To this end, public health authorities continue to encourage uptake and administer first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to eligible people, aiming to achieve high vaccine coverage for widespread, stronger and longer lasting immunity across the Canadian population.

Currently, severe illness trends are continuing to decline, with the latest provincial and territorial data showing that an average of 455 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jul 30 – Aug 5), which is 5% fewer than last week. This includes, on average 183 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 18% fewer than last week and an average of 6 deaths were reported daily (Jul 30 – Aug 5).

The Government of Canada, via the Immunization Partnership Fund, supports initiatives to improve access to vaccines and encourage vaccine uptake. Several projects focus on addressing physical, cultural or information barriers that can delay or discourage people from getting vaccinated: these include Improving COVID-19 Vaccine Literacy among newcomers in Alberta, which will support newcomers to Canada with access to multilingual information resources, help with booking vaccination, and practical aids like transportation to appointments. In Winnipeg, The Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre will deliver a community-based and Indigenous-led project to reduce misinformation and promote vaccination among Winnipeg’s urban Indigenous communities. Through projects like these, we are working to build confidence and make COVID-19 vaccines accessible for everyone in Canada.

As of August 5, provinces and territories have administered over 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The latest provincial and territorial data indicate that over 81% of people aged 12 years or older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and over 69% are now fully vaccinated. Age-specific data as of July 31, show that first dose coverage by age group ranges from 70% to 95%. Over 85% of adults 60 years or older are now fully vaccinated, providing strong protection for those at highest risk of severe outcomes. COVID-19 vaccination is important for all eligible age groups and I want everyone, including younger eligible age groups, to know how important you are in the vaccination effort. By keeping the momentum up, Canada is within reach of having at least 80% of the eligible population fully vaccinated. If you haven’t already, please make an appointment to get your first or second dose as soon as you are able. For more information regarding the risks and benefits of vaccination, reach out to your local public health authorities, healthcare provider, or other trusted and credible sources, such as Canada.ca and Immunize.ca.

Canadians can access information on Canada.ca to understand the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19, find guidance on life after vaccination and utilise free interactive risk assessment tools to aid in informed decision-making and understanding COVID-wise precautions to lower the risks in different settings. However, as jurisdictions begin to ease restrictions, risks and circumstances are not the same everywhere and following local public health advicecontinues to be important, regardless of your vaccination status. While COVID-19 is still circulating in Canada and internationally, core public health measures and individual protective practices can help us to reduce the spread: stay home/self-isolate if you have symptoms; be aware of risks associated with different settings; avoid non-essential travel outside Canada; and maintain individual protective practices such as physical distancing and wearing a well-fitted and properly worn face mask, as appropriate.

Canadians can also go the extra mile by sharing credible information on COVID-19 risks and prevention practices and measures to reduce COVID-19 in communities. Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others, including information on COVID-19 vaccination.

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada