Canada Want to get ahead of COVID-19 variants? Vaccinate young people, experts say
COVID protocol-related absences: 03/31/21
Each day, the NHL will publicly release the list of players that are unavailable to their respective teams due to being in COVID-19 Protocol. Here is the list for today: © Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Anaheim – Alexander VolkovBoston – Jake DeBruskFlorida – TBALos Angeles – Brendan LemieuxMinnesota – Zach PariseMontreal – Joel Armia, Eric StaalNY Rangers – Brett Howden Vancouver – Adam GaudetteAs a reminder, inclusion on this list does not mean that a player has tested positive for Coronavirus or even that they have been confirmed as a close contact to another positive person.
The imminent threat ofvariants has Canada, and much of the rest of the world, scrambling to ramp up its vaccination rollout.
If provincial governments wish to curb their spread quickly, experts say opening up doses to young people, who are more likely to be essential workers, is a crucial first step.
"With the variants, we have this new issue that people who are younger are becoming sicker, and this coincides with our essential workers who might be in the same age group," said Dr. Omar Khan, a professor at the University of Toronto's Institute of Biomedical Engineering.
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"They may become the new vulnerable population."
Little is known yet about these variants, first discovered in Britain, Brazil, and South Africa, but recent studies have found them be more easily transmissible and cause more severe reactions. One such study,suggested Britain's B.1.1.7 variant could be between 40 and 70 per cent deadlier than its predecessors depending on how the strain is measured.
Canada has the most experience with the B1.1.7 variant. To date,14,790 cases of the strain throughout every province in the country.
Why are the variants disproportionately affecting young people?
Cases of the virus are now highest among young adults aged 20 to 39,released March 26 shows. But experts say it isn't because they're partying.
NHL postpones Wednesday's Calgary-Vancouver game
The NHL has decided to ere on the side of caution as a result of Adam Gaudette’s positive COVID-19 test. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports (Twitter link) that tonight’s game between the Canucks and Flames has been postponed. TSN’s Frank Seravalli tweets that the decision was made after more information has surfaced regarding Vancouver’s test results; that information obviously has not yet been made public.
"It's not rocket science," Dr. Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, told Global News. "A lot of essential workers are, in fact, younger folks."
For example, thereleased by Statistics Canada said “half of young women (in Canada) are employed in accommodation and food services, and retail trade” — industries that were among the first to close amid pandemic restrictions and some of the first to reopen.
Statistics Canada defined youth as Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24.
"The virus is getting more effective at expanding its scope," Furness said.
"Working conditions are rather poor and ventilation is poor and training is poor and supervision is poor and pay is low. It's the usual high risk, low status, precarious work — that's where COVID thrives."
NHL postpones Canucks' next three games due to COVID
The NHL has postponed three more games for the Vancouver Canucks, shutting them down through April 6 after Travis Hamonic was added to the COVID protocol on Thursday. Hamonic joined Adam Gaudette, who has tested positive for coronavirus and a member of the team’s coaching staff. © Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports The NHL has shut down the Canucks through April 6. The league is hoping that the Canucks will be able to play on April 8 against the Calgary Flames, but games against the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets in the coming days will have to be pushed. All practices have also been canceled for the time being.
Is it time to re-evaluate Canada's vaccine rollout?
Several provinces have already begun to update their vaccination plans.
On Wednesday, provincial health officials in Quebec announced the province wasto include essential workers and the chronically ill. Areas of Ontario that are hotspots, such as York and Peel regions, have ahead of schedule.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday that theto vaccinate essential workers and teachers, but even still, the they still wouldn’t get their shots until mid-May.
In Alberta, several pharmacies have begun takingand doling out leftover vaccines to a waitlist including Canadians who won't be eligible for their shots for months.
The federal government has hinted at recommending a revamped vaccine rollout. On Tuesday, Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) was developing a strategy that would target geographic locations with higher numbers of confirmed cases.
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The COVID-19 mutation's growing presence, coupled with its behaviour against vaccines, has piqued concern from scientists worldwide. Your browser does not support this video Read more: New ‘Eek’ COVID-19 variant causes concern in Japan "It's a little bit of a worrisome mutation," said Gerald Evans, chair of the infectious diseases division at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont. "Vaccines are going to be effective still and certainly protect you from bad disease, but they will be less effective until we modify them against variants like this, especially if they become dominant.
"Of course, there is the need to protect the people who are going to get the most sick, which still remains some of the more senior population," she said.
"But at this stage, there's also a recommendation to prioritize front-line essential workers who cannot work virtually, and they have direct close physical contact with the public."
Experts also seem to think so.
According to Furness, the federal government would be wise to re-tool vaccine rollouts to prioritize people at higher risk of contracting the virus and postal codes located in COVID-19 hot spots, rather than age.
The would include teachers, grocery store, liquor and drugstore workers and others with occupational exposure, he added.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician at the Toronto General Hospital, echoed Furness's statements.
"As Phase I moves into Phase II in Ontario, we really have to focus on people who are at greatest risk of dying, but also people who are at greatest risk of getting this infection as well and amplifying the infection in the community," he said.
Bogoch added that includes essential workers, as well as individuals at high risk of getting sick and dying from infection too.
To date, the federal government said it has vaccinated just over 92 per cent of Canadians living in long-term care facilities and more than 73 per cent of Canadians aged 80 and older — two demographics considered most at-risk during the first and second waves of COVID-19.
But with the third wave, Bogoch said "the demographics have changed."
"We have vaccinated almost everybody in long term care. We vaccinated a ton of health-care professionals and we vaccinated a lot of community-dwelling seniors," he said.
"And look who's noticeably absent from this wave!"
-- With files from The Canadian Press
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