I hope you had a wonderful weekend and a great start to your week so far.
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Let’s review the bad news, the good news, the most commonly asked questions of the week, and we will end on my silver lining.
What is the bad news?
More than 440 MILLION cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, with almost 6 million deaths.
We have almost 3.3 million reported cases in Canada, with over 36,000 deaths.
There are currently around 4,200 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Canada.
Modeling last week shows the significant impact COVID has had on the world. Research presented in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health shows that 5.2 million kids across 21 countries have lost a parent or caregiver from the illness. Across all regions and age groups studied, kids were more likely to have lost a father than a mother. Previous data also found a higher mortality rate for men than women. Researchers said the estimate might be conservative due to limited death reporting systems in some countries.
Dr. Dina, what is the good news?
Almost 11 BILLION COVID vaccines have been given worldwide, representing 63% who have received one dose and 56% who have received at least two doses.
88% of Canadians 5 years and older have received one dose, and 85% have received two or more.
Public health measures continue to be lifted across Canada. Most public health measures were dropped in Ontario last week, and proof of vaccination is no longer required to go to restaurants, gyms, and movie theatres. Public health experts remind us that public health measures may be resumed should another COVID variant cause an increase in cases, hospitalizations, or death.
Canadian borders are easing restrictions as well. Fully vaccinated travelers no longer need to provide a negative PCR test result to enter Canada. Rapid antigen testing results are now accepted.
The most common questions of the week
Can you get more than one strain at once?
New research shows that someone can be infected with multiple strains at one time.
Researchers believe that several different variants of COVID-19 can be inside a person’s body at one time, with some variants cloaking themselves from the immune system. We are unsure if this would make someone sicker or allow the virus to live longer in a patient.
Is the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine effective in kids?
New York state officials announced last week that the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID infection from Omicron fell from 68% to 12% for children 5 to 11. Protection against hospitalization dropped from 100% to 48%. The drop in vaccine effectiveness is suspected to be due to the lower vaccine dosage that kids receive. Kids 5-11 receive two 10-microgram shots, while kids 12 to 17 receive 30-microgram doses.
The researchers found that while the vaccine is only 12% effective for the younger kids, it was 67% effective in the older children.
Do masks cause oxygen drops in kids during exercise?
A study published at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting showed that oxygen saturation DOES NOT DECREASE in masked kids participating in exercise.
Oxygen levels remained normal in kids with asthma as well.
The participants wore different types of masks (cloth, surgical, and N95) while doing exercise and assessed their breathing and oxygen levels.
The researchers found that whether a child has asthma or not, mask use does not decrease oxygen levels or lead to impaired breathing.
What came of the new Omicron subvariant BA.2?
Studies in the United Kingdom and Denmark show that the BA.2 Omicron subvariant is about 30% more transmissible than the original Omicron variant. The World Health Organization says that 20% of the world’s COVID-19 cases are attributable to BA.2. A Danish study found reinfection with the subvariant was possible but uncommon following cases of COVID-19 from the Delta and Omicron strains.
Are masks not needed anymore in the United States?
The CDC significantly relaxed U.S. mask guidelines last week based on new COVID-19 cases, hospital capacity, and new hospitalizations. Under the new guidance, Americans residing in areas with low or medium community COVID spread do not need to use masks in public or indoor settings. The metrics indicate that only about 28% of Americans reside in areas where infection levels are high enough to use masks in schools and other indoor settings.
Want more information about kids’ vaccines?
Parent Homework, an advocacy campaign launched by The Children’s Health Coalition, provides parents and caregivers with COVID-19 vaccine facts, FAQs, information on vaccine booking, and access to the Sick Kids’ vaccine consult service. Sick Kids’ vaccine consult service offers phone appointments with a pediatric nurse for Ontario to discuss COVID-19 vaccines for kids. The service is available in multiple languages. These services are entirely free.
My silver lining of the week
Research shows that Canadians have fewer and fewer concerns with COVID and are eager for restrictions to be removed. More of you are making travel plans and are feeling that life is getting closer to ‘normal’. As public health measures drop, and COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths drop, that’s something we can all be excited about. Finally, a real light at the end of the tunnel!
Have a wonderful week, everyone,
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.