This is my 22nd weekly COVID-19 update. Subscribe to Dr. Dina
I hope you had a lovely weekend!
Welcome to our 22nd newsletter since the start of the pandemic.
Thanks for your ongoing support and encouragement. I remain committed to presenting evidence-based and easy-to-digest updates to keep you informed to help you can keep your family healthy and safe.
As usual, let’s review the bad news, followed by the good news. I will address my most commonly asked question of the week and will end with a silver lining.
Dr. Dina, what is the bad news?
Canada has reported almost 1 MILLION cases of COVID-19, with almost 23,000 deaths. More than 126 MILLION cases have been reported around the world, and over 2.7 million people have died.
The World Health Organization appealed last week for countries to donate COVID-19 vaccines to vulnerable, poorer countries. They need 10 million doses immediately as a stop-gap measure. “Bilateral deals, export bans and vaccine nationalism have caused distortions in the market with gross inequities in supply and demand. Ten million doses is not much and it’s not nearly enough.”
Kenya has an outbreak on their hands, as does Brazil, who reached 85,000 news cases A DAY last week.
We are in a precarious situation in Canada. Variants of concerns are now circulating widely, and Public Health warns the case count could rise to 12,000 A DAY if we do not decrease the number of people we are in contact with daily. As a reminder, Canada peaked at around 9,000 cases a day in January, when the healthcare system was under immense strain.
Importantly, we know that around 40% of ICU patients in Ontario are younger than 60, and the average age is dropping. More young people are getting sick, and very sick.
The Ontario Science Advisor Table report that variants of concerns SUBSTANTIALLY increase the risk of significant illness compared to the ‘wild type’ or initial strain of COVID-19.
We expect to see this data early this week. But I understand it will look something like this:
• 60% increased risk of death.
• 60% increased risk of hospitalization.
• 100% increased risk of being admitted to an ICU.
This is serious. The VOC now make up > 50% of COVID-19 cases in Ontario.
Apparently, there are some decision makers who think that we should ease restrictions. In Ontario, hair salons and outdoor fitness classes can reopen in some areas under lockdown. Places of worship will accommodate more people and the economy is opening up. (Though some of you are happy about this, many of us are seriously worried that Wave 3 will be the worst yet, and suggest you avoid indoor places with people you don’t live with, even if the government allows).
What is the good news?
About 2% of Canadians are fully vaccinated, and 10% have received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is better than last week, but many worry the speed at which we are vaccinating isn’t fast enough to compete with the rapid spread of VOC. The race is on, and unfortunately, the variants are winning.
Oh, and it is nicer outside, so we can spend more time there!
(Sorry, that’s all I got).
Can you mix and match different COVID-19 vaccines?
I was asked several times this week if someone can get different types of COVID-19 vaccines for the two shots. Thus far, it is not recommended, but a trial in the U.K. will be looking at this exact question. Data may allow a more flexible process for vaccine rollout.
Participants in the study will receive:
• The typical approach of receiving the same vaccine twice.
• A Pfizer “prime” dose followed by a “booster” from AstraZeneca.
• An AstraZeneca dose followed by a Pfizer dose.
Participants will receive their first and second doses either four or 12 weeks apart. The most effective interval will be ascertained. Perhaps the mixed approach will combat the COVID-19 variants more successfully than using the one vaccine type per person.
If the results demonstrate that the type of vaccines received doesn’t matter, different COVID-19 vaccines can be rolled out more efficiently, with less worry about which vaccine was previously given.
My silver lining
My silver lining this week is a shout-out to my incredible colleagues from all across the world. Healthcare workers and their teams, who have shined brightly in crisis. I have seen true compassion, courage, and empathy. I have born witness to awe-inspiring bravery and kindness, as I see #TeamKidcrew and others in the community go above and beyond in every way to take care of children and their families, and their colleagues too.
Many of us have bonded in ways we never expected, united through chaos and necessity. I have heard from countless colleagues who are exhausted, overwhelmed, and stressed, sometimes under-appreciated, and yet continue to work to keep other people healthy, without complaint or hesitation, day after day.
To those of you who relate to the above; I thank you.
Please know that I see you. I value you. And we could not be getting through this without you.
Please take a moment to thank a person (or a few!) this week who have made your experience this year a little bit better. There are dozens of people who you rely on. The person who brings your mail. The grocery store clerk. Your dentist, eye doctor, doctor… There are so many amazing individuals who are working hard to keep your life as ‘normal’ as possible. And you can change their day (or week, or month!) by telling them so. 😃
Passover and Easter Celebrations
Nothing breaks my heart more than hearing people’s plans for the holidays with extended family this week. Seriously, painful. If you cherish your loved ones, and you don’t live in the same home as them, please don’t gather indoors with them this week. We saw this over the Christmas holidays, and many, many people got sick and died. I have friends who lost loved ones due to the spread of COVID from asymptomatic people from indoor gatherings. I am begging you, don’t do it. Not now. These VOCs are no joke, and I want you and your loved ones to stay healthy and safe. Go for a distanced (and even better, masked) walk outside. Have an Easter Egg hunt outdoors or share a virtual meal. But please don’t gather indoors unless you were vaccinated over a month ago or live in the same home. Please.
That’s a wrap friends,
Have a great week, and please be safe!