The Plan To Safely Reopen Ontario!
I hope you had a wonderful weekend.
Thanks for all your lovely feedback. I appreciate your kind words and sharing the newsletter with friends and family each week. Spreading evidence-based information and blocking out the myth-propagation noise is the goal.
We are several weeks into the school year, and kids are in school!
Cases in Ontario and across much of Canada are stable.
Things are looking up.
As we do each week, let us review the bad news, good news, and the most common questions of the week. Finally, we will end on my silver lining.
What is the bad news?
Over 240 MILLION cases of COVID have been reported worldwide, with almost 5 million deaths attributed to the illness.
1.7 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Canada, with over 28,600 deaths.
The World Health Organization noted a 7% rise in new COVID-19 cases across Europe last week. Europe is the only region in the world where cases are increasing. There were about 2.7 million new COVID-19 cases and more than 46,000 deaths last week around the world, similar to the numbers reported the previous week.
The two areas with the highest rates of COVID-19 were Europe and the United States. Globally, the U.S. reported the most significant number of new cases, at over 580,000. However, even with this high number, it represented an 11% decline from the week before.
As we spoke about last week, cases in Russia continue to climb. Last week, it was announced that restaurants, movie theatres, and most retail stores will close in Moscow for 11 days, starting October 28. Waiting until October 28 to start the restrictions is predicted to lead to hundreds of thousands of additional infections and many deaths.
Last week, there were over 35,000 new cases a day and over 1,000 deaths per day. 230,000 people have died in Russia already.
What is the good news?
Incredibly, over 6.8 BILLION vaccines have been distributed around the world. Think about this number. Holy moly!
This represents 48% having their first dose and 37% being fully vaccinated.
In Canada, 88.5% of eligible people (12 years and older) have received the first dose, and 83% are fully vaccinated.
Things are looking good across most of Canada.
Saskatchewan and Alberta are still battling surges of cases.
Last week the Ontario government released A Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term. The plan outlines a gradual approach to lifting remaining safety measures by March 2022.
The summary is this:
– October 25: Increased Capacity
– November 15: Increased High-Risk Capacity
– January 17: No Vaccine Passports
– March 28: Masks Removed
There is no clear indication of where these dates came from or what data supports them. However, the plan says there will be ongoing assessments of public health and health care indicators
Questions of the week:
Who is getting COVID-19 in Canada now?
As you can see from the graph below, over 20% of new cases are in people less than 19 years of age. While they make up the highest percentage of new cases, most infected children remain healthy and rarely require hospitalization or have severe illness.
However, when the children’s age groups are broken down further and the young adult group lumped together, the group with the highest infection rate right now is those aged 20-39. These individuals could get vaccinated.
Does vaccination make a difference?
Those vaccinated have a far lower likelihood of getting infected with COVID and are unlikely to require hospitalization or die from the illness.
How effective is the Pfizer vaccine for kids?
Pfizer’s study evaluated 2,268 kids ages 5-11 who received two vaccines three weeks apart. They received either a placebo or a low-dose vaccine (1/3 the dose that adults receive). They found that their vaccine was 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection.
Sixteen kids who received the placebo and three kids who received the vaccine were infected. There were no severe illnesses reported in any of the infected children. The vaccinated children had milder illness than the unvaccinated ones.
What’s the plan for vaccine roll-out for kids 5-11?
NOTE: When I talk about the COVID vaccine for kids, I invariably get hate emails. This section is based on news, evidence; it is objective. We are waiting for Health Canada and the FDA to review the data and approve before this is even an option. If you don’t want to hear about vaccines for kids, please unsubscribe and leave your comments to yourself. Thanks.
The United States announced last week that it will soon launch a massive COVID vaccine program. They are waiting for the FDA to approve the Pfizer vaccine based on safety and efficacy data. “We need everyone on board for the work ahead of us because every parent should have the information and tools that they need to help keep their kids safe,” The Surgeon General of the U.S., Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, said. “And that’s why we’re eagerly [awaiting] the FDA review of the data on children’s vaccines.”
Pfizer submitted the data from their vaccine study in children aged 5-11 in late September. The plan includes offering vaccines in a setting that parents and kids are familiar with, such as schools. However, kids in the U.S. likely won’t be getting their vaccines in mass vaccination sites as adults did. The current plan involves giving the vaccine in schools, pharmacies, children’s hospitals, and 25,000 pediatric offices starting in November.
If approved, kids will receive two doses, three weeks apart. The dose is 1/3 the dose adults, and older kids get. This dose was tested by Pfizer and found to be safe and produced antibodies against COVID.
In Canada, Pfizer submitted its data to Health Canada 2 weeks ago.
Alberta is already taking registrations from parents to vaccinate their children in the future.
Why is there a push to get kids vaccinated?
Though young kids are at lower risk of severe disease and hospitalization from COVID-19, vaccinating younger age groups will boost herd immunity and lower the risk of additional waves of COVID.
My silver lining of the week
Every week that passes gives me more relief. My shoulders are coming down from their position near my ears. My kids are in school. They are happy and social, and active. And off screens! We are learning to live in a world with COVID, and we are so much less constrained by the pandemic now.
I value my relationships with others more. I find such joy in connecting in person with friends and loved ones. I always valued the special people in my life, but the dial is turned way up now. I have a newfound appreciation for human contact. Who could have guessed how lovely it would feel to hug a friend? Things we took for granted before.
Have a lovely week, friends.
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.