The Delta variant is ‘moving the goalposts’ for Canada’s vaccination targets

Vaxx Populi: Outbreaks at a Toronto hospital and in Yukon have been linked to more infectious variants; data shows vaccines are very effective at preventing hospitalization among those who contract Delta The post The Delta variant is ‘moving the goalposts’ for Canada’s vaccination targets appeared first on Macleans.ca.

The Delta variant is ‘moving the goalposts’ for Canada’s vaccination targets

The public’s crash course in epidemiology and vaccine efficacy shows no sign of ending, more than 15 months into this pandemic. Now, even as more Canadians are fully vaccinated and provinces are lifting public health restrictions, there is a growing realization that outbreaks will occur for the foreseeable future. In particular, the Delta variant is “unfortunately reshuffling the deck for us,” says Dr. David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto. 

There are , representing nearly half of the territory’s cumulative tally since the pandemic began. “COVID-19 is now widespread throughout Yukon, primarily affecting unvaccinated people and is now present in most Yukon communities,” the government  in a press release on Monday. “We expect to see many more cases over the coming weeks, especially in our unvaccinated population,” said Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health. At least 35 cases have been identified as Gamma (P.1). 

What makes this outbreak a reality check for the rest of the country is that Yukon has the highest vaccination rates in Canada. of Yukon’s entire population is fully vaccinated, with 71.4 per cent having at least one dose. If it were a country, then it could take the No. 1 spot on pretty much any vaccination list in the world (Israel has  of its population with 61 per cent having at least one dose). And yet, the virus was able to spread there.

RELATED: My first dose was Pfizer. Why am I being offered Moderna for the second?

In late April, the Public Health Agency of Canada that restrictions could start to be eased once 75 per cent of eligible Canadians had one dose of vaccine and 20 per cent were fully vaccinated. Canada reached that threshold on June 19. 

Two days later, Health Minister Patty Hajdu focused her attention on a much higher benchmark during a press conference about new vaccination rules for entry into the country: “What we do know is that Canada will be much better protected when we have a much higher rate of full vaccination. The one metric Canadians can watch for is the rate of fully vaccinated Canadians that is at least 75 per cent.” 

“More infectious variants are moving the goalposts. The government is just responding to that,” Fisman told Maclean’s. He for Delta is well above one in Ontario (meaning each case of Delta spreads that infection to more than one other person). “Seventy-five per cent [of eligible residents] with a single shot would have been fine with pre-Delta variants,” he says. In Britain, where Delta is now the dominant strain of SARS-CoV-2, a preprint study by Public Health England (PHE) into how well the vaccines stood against Delta effectiveness against infection “was notably lower after one dose of vaccine” compared to how well they withstood the older Alpha variant.

RELATED: Fully vaccinated people have gotten the Delta COVID variant. Should we be worried?

The vaccines are deemed “effective” after two doses. According to PHE, Pfizer’s effectiveness fell to 87.9 per cent against Delta (from 93.4 per cent against Alpha). AstraZeneca’s effectiveness dropped to 59.8 per cent against Delta (from 66.1 per cent against Alpha). Based on the current pace of vaccinations, we could reach the target of 75 per cent of eligible Canadians being fully immunized in early August, according toby Trevor Tombe, an economics professor at the University of Calgary. 

The success of Canada’s vaccination program will be measured in the number of hospitalizations and deaths. So far, vaccines have been shown to be remarkably effective against severe COVID-19. Even though Delta is up to 50 per cent more transmissible than older variants, Public Health England shows that the vaccines are more than 90 per cent effective against hospitalization for those who contract Delta. 

RELATED: COVID-19 in Canada: How our battle to stop the pandemic is going

Last week, an outbreak likely linked to Delta was found at Toronto Western Hospital, involving at least four patients and three staff, some of whom had been vaccinated. “I think it’s important for everyone to recognize that none of the individuals who have picked up COVID have had any severe disease,” Dr. Alon Vaisman, an infectious diseases physician at the University Health Network . “They all have been either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic as a result of the COVID.” Earlier in June, a majority of the 22 patients and staff in at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary experienced only mild symptoms, though one required treatment in the intensive care unit.

As variants spread, Fisman’s is simple: “Get vaccinated. We will likely see a resurgence with Delta, but can blunt the impact with widespread vaccination.”

As Canada rolls out the country’s most complex vaccination project to date, Maclean’s presents Vaxx Populi, an ongoing series in which Patricia Treble tackles the most pressing questions related to the new COVID-19 vaccines. Send us a question you’d like answered at vaccines@macleans.ca. If you have specific questions about your own health, we recommend consulting a family doctor or the local public health authority in your area.

The post The Delta variant is ‘moving the goalposts’ for Canada’s vaccination targets appeared first on Macleans.ca.

Source : Maclean's More   

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Erin O’Toole frames coming election as a choice between Conservatives and ‘four parties on the left’

OTTAWA — Erin O’Toole ended his first session of Parliament as Opposition leader Wednesday where he began: railing against what he calls “cancel culture” and the erasure of Canadian history. As he spoke out against cancelling Canada Day celebrations in the aftermath of the discovery of the graves of 215 Indigenous children, O’Toole also sought to frame the coming federal election as a stark choice for Canadians: his party as the defender of Canada, or a coalition of the other parties leading the nation down a dangerous path. “There are not five choices for Canadians,” O’Toole told the final meeting with his MPs and senators before the summer break.“There are two: Canada’s Conservatives on one side, and the Liberal-NDP-Green-Bloc Quebecois coalition on the other.”O’Toole began his tenure as leader of the Conservatives with a similar speech just nine months ago, when Parliament formally resumed after being thrust into disarray by the COVID-19 pandemic. The sitting began after a summer of protests over systemic racism and the reigniting of a debate over statues and honours given to former Canadian prime ministers and others who presided over the residential school system that’s created such long-standing damage in Indigenous communities.The debate erupted anew with the recent discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children who attended residential school in Kamloops, B.C. More statues have been taken down as schools and other institutions have changed names amid intense demands for a faster pace on the reconciliation efforts by the federal government.The road to Indigenous reconciliation, said O’Toole, does not involve tearing Canada down. Injustices in Canada’s past or present are too often seized upon by “a small group of activist voices” who attack the very idea of Canada itself, he said.“Let’s acknowledge where we fall short. Let’s ensure we do not forget or cover it up,” he said.“But let’s also channel the pain of a Canada falling short to build up the country and not tear it down.”How Canada will build itself back up after the COVID-19 pandemic will be a central ballot box question come the next election, which is widely expected to be called within months.The way things stand presently, O’Toole warned, Canada is barely being given a choice. “We are a diverse nation. We disagree. We can have different visions of the future. That’s what a democracy should be,” he said.“But that debate isn’t there. It’s been stitched up. Four parties on the left — the Liberals, the NDP, the Greens and the Bloc Québécois — give the illusion of choice and debate but there is no such thing.”To pass legislation in a minority Parliament, the Liberals have had to find allies among the other parties, and in recent days they’ve been ticking items of their priority agenda. Late Tuesday night, a bill that would legislate targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions passed the Commons with the support of the NDP and Bloc Québécois. Earlier this week, a more controversial bill that updates Canada’s broadcasting rules for the digital era also headed off to the Senate, again with the support of those two parties. The Liberals have framed the Conservatives’ opposition to those and other pieces of government business as the actions of a party standing in the way of a progress, a theme Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers are expected to continue to push over the summer months. That obstruction isn’t just ideological, Trudeau and his ministers have also alleged, but practical, leading to a Parliament that’s bogged down and taking too long to get anything done. “We have seen a level of obstructionism and toxicity in the House that is of real concern,” Trudeau said Tuesday outside his Rideau Cottage residence. The New Democrats have a slightly different point of view. In social media videos posted in recent days, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has sought to make the case that it’s his party that’s making anything work at all, pointing to positive changes it has promoted for numerous pandemic support programs. “When you send New Democrats to Ottawa, we fight for you,” Singh said.Stephanie Levitz is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @StephanieLevitz

Erin O’Toole frames coming election as a choice between Conservatives and ‘four parties on the left’

OTTAWA — Erin O’Toole ended his first session of Parliament as Opposition leader Wednesday where he began: railing against what he calls “cancel culture” and the erasure of Canadian history.

As he spoke out against cancelling Canada Day celebrations in the aftermath of the discovery of the graves of 215 Indigenous children, O’Toole also sought to frame the coming federal election as a stark choice for Canadians: his party as the defender of Canada, or a coalition of the other parties leading the nation down a dangerous path.

“There are not five choices for Canadians,” O’Toole told the final meeting with his MPs and senators before the summer break.

“There are two: Canada’s Conservatives on one side, and the Liberal-NDP-Green-Bloc Quebecois coalition on the other.”

O’Toole began his tenure as leader of the Conservatives with a similar speech just nine months ago, when Parliament formally resumed after being thrust into disarray by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sitting began after a summer of protests over systemic racism and the reigniting of a debate over statues and honours given to former Canadian prime ministers and others who presided over the residential school system that’s created such long-standing damage in Indigenous communities.

The debate erupted anew with the recent discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children who attended residential school in Kamloops, B.C. More statues have been taken down as schools and other institutions have changed names amid intense demands for a faster pace on the reconciliation efforts by the federal government.

The road to Indigenous reconciliation, said O’Toole, does not involve tearing Canada down.

Injustices in Canada’s past or present are too often seized upon by “a small group of activist voices” who attack the very idea of Canada itself, he said.

“Let’s acknowledge where we fall short. Let’s ensure we do not forget or cover it up,” he said.

“But let’s also channel the pain of a Canada falling short to build up the country and not tear it down.”

How Canada will build itself back up after the COVID-19 pandemic will be a central ballot box question come the next election, which is widely expected to be called within months.

The way things stand presently, O’Toole warned, Canada is barely being given a choice.

“We are a diverse nation. We disagree. We can have different visions of the future. That’s what a democracy should be,” he said.

“But that debate isn’t there. It’s been stitched up. Four parties on the left — the Liberals, the NDP, the Greens and the Bloc Québécois — give the illusion of choice and debate but there is no such thing.”

To pass legislation in a minority Parliament, the Liberals have had to find allies among the other parties, and in recent days they’ve been ticking items of their priority agenda.

Late Tuesday night, a bill that would legislate targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions passed the Commons with the support of the NDP and Bloc Québécois.

Earlier this week, a more controversial bill that updates Canada’s broadcasting rules for the digital era also headed off to the Senate, again with the support of those two parties.

The Liberals have framed the Conservatives’ opposition to those and other pieces of government business as the actions of a party standing in the way of a progress, a theme Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers are expected to continue to push over the summer months.

That obstruction isn’t just ideological, Trudeau and his ministers have also alleged, but practical, leading to a Parliament that’s bogged down and taking too long to get anything done.

“We have seen a level of obstructionism and toxicity in the House that is of real concern,” Trudeau said Tuesday outside his Rideau Cottage residence.

The New Democrats have a slightly different point of view.

In social media videos posted in recent days, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has sought to make the case that it’s his party that’s making anything work at all, pointing to positive changes it has promoted for numerous pandemic support programs.

“When you send New Democrats to Ottawa, we fight for you,” Singh said.

Stephanie Levitz is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @StephanieLevitz

Source : Toronto Star More   

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