New this week: Take home tests and more info on vaccine passports
Welcome to another exciting week of updates.
I know many of you are feeling anxious about the start of school. I am with you. There is so much stress as we face this fourth wave which is driven by the Delta strain, the uncertainty, and fears over the continued spread of COVID-19.
As always, my goal is to educate and empower you as parents to live the best lives possible and raise the healthiest kids possible.
This newsletter and my daily updates on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook are ways I help spread evidence-based information to help combat the nonsense and myth propagation out there (check out all my links here).
I am more than happy if you want to share with family and friends.
Let’s review the bad news, good news, some questions of the week, and my silver lining.
The bad news
There have been over 215 MILLION cases of COVID-19 confirmed worldwide, with almost 4.5 MILLION deaths.
Canada has seen almost 1.5 MILLION cases and nearly 27,000 deaths from COVID-19.
According to new modeling at the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, the United States is projected to see more than 100,000 MORE COVID-19 related deaths by December 2021.
The good news
83% of Canadians have received their first vaccines, and 75% are fully vaccinated. Worldwide, 5.13 BILLION doses have been given. 33% have received one dose, and 25% have received both.
Public Health Ontario said last week that we will not be able to reach herd immunity without kids getting vaccinated. Currently, more than 10 million Canadians are unvaccinated against COVOD-19. Half of these are children who are not yet eligible.
Ongoing public health measures such as masking, social distancing, staying home if sick, and testing remain essential to prevent the fourth wave from leading to more severe illness, death, and another lockdown.
Take-home tests for kids
Sick Kids, Michael Garron Hospital, and Women’s College Hospital are rolling out testing kits to all schools in Toronto. The take-home test kits for COVID-19 will help us better monitor the spread of COVID and provide quick identification of those infected.
At-home tests will allow kids to pick up a test kit from school, complete the test at home, drop it off at a secure (non-school) location, where it will be brought to the hospital. The tests are confirmatory PCR-based tests (not rapid tests, which are less reliable and accurate), and therefore will provide reassurance that a child is not infected and can return to the classroom. Test results will be reported within 1-2 days so that kids who test negative can get back to school quickly. In addition, the tests are saliva-based so that kids can avoid uncomfortable deep-nasal swabs.
The tests will be used for kids with COVID-19 symptoms or those who experienced a high-risk exposure. The goal is to have more kids with timely access to testing. As a result, they can avoid long wait times in testing centers and potential exposure to other sick people.
What is the plan for COVID-19 vaccine passports?
Each province will opt-in or opt-out of vaccine passports.
For example, British Columbia has announced that their vaccine passport will be required for every single person. Even those that have medical or religious reasons will not be exempt.
Alberta will have a ‘convenient’ card-sized passport, but it is not yet clear how it will be used.
In Ontario, we anticipate there will be an announcement this week from the government on a passport or something similar. In the meantime, regional health units will have vaccine certificates if the province does not roll one out.
Quebec launched its passport this past week. They will require proof of vaccination for non-essential enclosed public spaces as of Wednesday. Some experts think the Quebec version will be the model for all of Canada.
Where are vaccines required?
Many private businesses have announced vaccine requirements for employees. For example, the University Health Network in Toronto, the five largest banks in Canada, several major long-term care operators, and Air Canada are some organizations mandating complete vaccination.
The Toronto Blue Jays are mandating proof of vaccination or negative COVID tests for people 12 years and older.
Cases are rising across Canada, particularly in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Hospitalizations have doubled in Saskatchewan since public health measures were dropped in July. Public health measures work!
We have rising numbers in Ontario, too, over 800 a day on Friday, with a positivity rate increasing 3%.
You’ll note I have not recently shared data from the Ontario Science Table. Last week the esteemed Dr. David Fisman resigned, saying that politics is influencing public health recommendations and modeling projects a ‘grim Fall,’ and the public is not being honestly informed.
Moderna for older children
Health Canada has authorized Moderna for use in kids 12-17 years of age.
What’s the deal with ivermectin?
You may have heard of ivermectin, a medicine used to treat parasite infections in livestock, being used as an alternative treatment in COVID-19. I was asked about it a few times last week.
The FDA in the US has urged Americans to stop using it due to significant illness requiring hospitalization caused by ivermectin. It does not treat COVID-19 and can be very dangerous. It’s made for horses with parasites.
What might be an effective and safe new option?
AstraZeneca is trialing a non-vaccine antibody therapy to prevent COVID-19. This may help people who don’t mount a robust immune reaction from the vaccine or those who have vaccine allergies.
Silver lining of the week
This one is short and sweet.
I am thankful for the lovely weather and chance to savor the end of Summer. I am grateful that school starts long into September this year so that the kids can enjoy an extra week outside with loved ones.
Have a wonderful and safe, 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.