I hope you had a wonderful weekend and enjoyed what appears to be the end of winter. Spring, I welcome you! I can’t wait for the sun and heat! Bike rides and swimming!
Let’s get to the bad news of the week, the good news, the most common questions from you this week, and my silver lining.
What is the bad news?
Some provinces are seeing a rise in hospitalizations and viral load detected in wastewater samples. Ontario and British Columbia hospitalizations due to COVID are up. British Columbia is now offering rapid tests to those 18 years and older. Hospitalizations have also risen in Manitoba, where the test positivity rate is now 15%. Hospitalizations are down in Alberta, but their health care system remains very stretched. In Saskatchewan, 10% of cases are from BA.2. The viral load in Saskatoon wastewater has increased by more than 66%.
It is unclear whether we will have a ‘wavelet’ or an actual wave. Dr. Theresa Tam suggests we will see a spring ‘blip’ and no considerable surge. But she describes the current situation as “unstable.”
BA.2 appears to be 30% more transmissible than the original Omicron, which was already more easily passed than Delta.
Quebec predicts a spike in COVID infections and hospitalizations as BA.2 accounts for 50% of new cases. Hospitalization rates have risen as a result.
Ontario is showing a ‘sustained increase’ in wastewater containing COVID-19.
COVID-19 cases increased globally by 7% last week. Around 300 people died in South Korea in one day last week, marking it the deadliest day in the pandemic so far there. There is a record-high number of cases, hospitalizations, and death. Nearly 20% of South Koreans have COVID, with over 10 MILLION cases.
What is the good news?
Over 11 BILLION COVID-19 vaccines have been given worldwide, representing 64% receiving the first dose and 57% receiving at least two doses.
89% of Canadians (5+) have received one dose, and 86% have received at least 2.
As of April 1, 2022, fully vaccinated individuals will no longer be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test before entering Canada. Travellers may be subject to random COVID testing on arrival, but it will not be necessary to quarantine while waiting for results. Travellers aged five and older who are not fully vaccinated will still need to provide a negative PCR test administered within 72 hours of entry, a negative result on a rapid antigen test administered by a lab or clinic (not a home test) within 24 hours of entry, or a positive result on a PCR test administered by a lab or clinic 11 to 180 days before entry.
While kids and adults are no longer required to wear masks at school or in other indoor settings as of last week, patients are still required to wear masks in healthcare settings until restrictions are fully lifted at the end of April.
Most common questions of the week
Is the Moderna vaccine available for kids?
Moderna plans to seek vaccine approval for kids under age six. Moderna says its COVID vaccine at a low dose is effective in infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children. They plan to ask the United States and European regulatory agencies to approve two low doses of the vaccine for kids under age six and larger-dose injections for older kids and teenagers.
Their dose for young kids is ¼ the dose given to adults. They say their vaccine provides kids with the same protection as it does for adults.
Unfortunately, like Pfizer, they found their vaccine to be less effective against Omicron than previous variants. The children in their study were prevented from severe illness, but it was only 44% effective at preventing mild illness in 6 month-2 years and 38% effective in preventing illness in preschool-age children.
What about Moderna for older kids?
Health Canada approved the Moderna vaccine for kids last week. Children six to eleven can receive two 50 mcg doses, given at a minimum of three weeks apart. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends an interval of at least eight weeks and states that the Pfizer vaccine is preferred over Moderna for children in this age group. Adolescents and young adults had higher rates of myocarditis/pericarditis with Moderna compared to Pfizer, but the risk is still unknown for those aged six to eleven.
Do kids have a more robust antibody response than adults?
According to a recent study published in JCI Insights, kids four and younger have more robust antibody responses after COVID-19 than adults. They had almost 2x the COVID-neutralizing antibodies than adults.
Kids five and younger had antibody levels 13x higher, and kids 5-17 had antibodies 9x higher than adults.
Infants and toddlers have a more robust immune response against COVID-19 than adults. The researchers hope this data suggests that an appropriate vaccine dose can effectively protect kids.
The silver lining of the week
It is that time of year in Ontario when it is winter-spring, all in the same week. Many of your kids were on March break this week and enjoyed the snow and warm weather, even on the same day.
We enjoyed skiing this weekend and a long run/bike ride. My kids are eagerly anticipating warmer temperatures and the opportunity to spend more time outside in the coming weeks. Swim season, here we come!
Have a lovely week, everyone, and stay healthy and safe!
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.