More than half of Canadians have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine – Saanich News

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Canada‘s race for widespread immunity to COVID-19 reached a milestone on Saturday, with figures showing that half of the national population has received at least one dose of vaccine intended to protect against the virus.

The news came hours after the country’s leading vaccine advisers issued new second-dose guidelines, potentially paving the way for mixing and matching injections of the same overall type.

Data compiled by federal, provincial and territorial health authorities showed more than 20.6 million doses had been injected across the country as of Saturday, with 50.01% of the population receiving at least one vaccine.

Canada edged the United States in its proportion of inoculations on Thursday, when just over 48 percent of Americans received their first dose.

Raywat Deonandan, epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa, said the 50% threshold was an important marker for Canada, adding that such a visible sign of progress was giving Canadians a much needed psychological boost.

“This is an important step,” Deonandan said. “It’s like, Hey, as a company we’ve passed a big point in this marathon and we can almost see the finish line. And even though we’re all tired, we’re going to sprint to the end together.

Nonetheless, Canada remains far behind the pack in the race for full immunization, with about four percent of Canadians fully immune, according to Health Canada.

The single-dose milestone marks a dramatic turnaround for Canada, which just a month ago fell well behind world leaders such as the US, UK, Israel and Chile.

Federal figures show that an average of 330,000 people have joined the vaccinated group each day during the past week.

Canada’s chief public health officer said the current number of cases is about 30% lower than it was in mid-April, when the third wave of the pandemic peaked.

Dr Theresa Tam released a statement on Saturday saying strong public health measures must remain in place where COVID-19 is circulating, especially in light of the Victoria Day holiday on Monday which creates a long weekend. end across the country.

As the resurgences have followed the social gatherings over the long weekends and holidays, maintaining precautions during this long weekend remains essential to maintain our progress, ”she said.

Meanwhile, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization updated its guidelines on second injections, recommending that patients receive the same vaccine in the second round as they did on their first appointment.

But if this vaccine is not available, NACI suggests taking Johnson & Johnson in place of Oxford-AstraZeneca and taking Moderna in place of Pfizer-BioNTech – both are mRNA vaccines – or vice versa. .

Regarding the AstraZeneca and J&J viral vector vaccines, however, the question is moot at this time. Plans to distribute Johnson & Johnson’s initial 300,000-dose shipment remain on hold after Health Canada learned parts of the batch were manufactured at a Maryland facility plagued by quality control issues.

An mRNA vaccine in place of a second injection of AstraZeneca may be an option, but NACI is awaiting more data.

A Spanish study published the first results last week showing that a second dose of Pfizer for AstraZeneca recipients produced a stronger immune response, but more information is pending.

A UK study earlier this month found that the same sequence produced stronger initial side effects, but were temporary and the vaccine mix was considered safe. More data on whether the mixture gives similar or better results than two doses of the same vaccine is expected in a few weeks.

Matthew Tunis, executive secretary of NACI, told a parliamentary health committee on Friday that AstraZeneca recipients would have to wait 12 weeks for a second dose to elicit a stronger immune response. NACI has already said that up to 16 weeks will suffice.

The first AstraZeneca recipients in Canada received their first dose in mid-March, which means there are a few weeks left before the three-month marker hits. The window leaves some time for more evidence to arrive on the interchangeability of vaccines.

The growing percentage of Canadians vaccinated has not allayed concerns at all levels, nor has it had an immediate impact on reducing the number of cases in some hot spots.

Manitoba reported 476 new cases of COVID-19 and six deaths on Saturday as the percentage of people testing positive, on a five-day average, continued to rise.

Premier Brian Pallister has called on the U.S. government to boost the province’s vaccination campaign by allowing states like North Dakota to begin exporting their own vaccines.

Pallister said the United States has exported vaccines from one country to another, but argued that allowing individual states to do so could speed up the process.

He said he wrote to US President Joe Biden on the matter, but has yet to receive a response.

“Vaccines are stored in freezers miles away (in North Dakota). We have people waiting here and we need these vaccines here, ”said Pallister.

In Nova Scotia, officials announced the community spread of COVID-19 in both the central region and Sydney, saying they would increase testing in “areas of concern.”

Nova Scotia also marked a milestone in immunization on Saturday, administering its 500,000th dose of vaccine.

But it was Ontario that led the recent wave of vaccinations, administering more than 190,000 vaccines on Friday. The province recorded 1,794 new infections on Saturday, as well as 20 virus-related deaths.

Quebec, meanwhile, recorded the lowest number of new cases since September, when it added 505 to its provincial count.

Infections have also declined in Nova Scotia, which has reported 64 new cases and one associated death. Officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new infections, while New Brunswick had two.

Further west, Saskatchewan reported 180 new cases on Saturday, while Alberta recorded 621 in addition to six new deaths.

– With files from Mia Rabson in Ottawa, Steve Lambert in Winnipeg and Danielle Edwards in Halifax

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Corona virus vaccines

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