Canada Canada to face COVID-19 like yearly endemic flu due to variants, expert says
COVID-19 live updates: Quebec reports 1,041 new cases, 13 more deaths
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A Canadian health expert on the federal government'sTask Force says that Canada and the rest of the world will most likely see the novel coronavirus become a part of the viral ecosystem -- akin to the seasonal endemic flu -- due to the spread of several variants of concern.
Speaking with Abigail Bimman on The West Block, Dr. Alan Bernstein said that his advisory council in the task force, which focuses on variants of concern, were looking at ways to deal with the spread of alarming variants across the country.
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According to him, one way to deal with such spread would be for vaccine makers to adapt and modify their shots over the coming years -- a path he says Canada is already negotiating with suppliers to do.
"We've been in this journey before, of course, with [the] flu, we all get the influenza vaccine every year and every year is a different vaccine because the influenza virus changes every year," said Bernstein. "So those are variants, and some years, of course, the flu variants can be very serious and some years are quite mild -- the ones that are serious, we don't call them variants of concern, but we could.
"And so I think we're going to enter into that world now with the COVID-19 variants of concern and the ones that we know about now."
Hajdu ‘laser focused’ on community COVID-19 spread amid calls for tougher borders
Speaking to Mercedes Stephenson on The West Block Sunday, the health minister pushed back on suggestions that further restrictions could have an impact on community transmission. "People are getting sick at work, they're getting sick in crowded housing settings, they're getting sick in the community," she said. "And that community transmission is where we need to stay laser focused, because when we bring down cases of COVID in the community, that's when we start to see the resumption of more normal Canadian life.
Canada alone has seen the spread of at least four variants of concern -- one of which Bernstein and several health experts have pointed to as having taken over as the dominant version of COVID-19 in Canada and several other parts of the world.
He pointed to the B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the U.K., as now becoming the main COVID-19 variant in the country. That specific variant's danger brought alarm to public health experts and officials as it is up to 65 per cent more transmissible.
Bernstein said that they were lucky, however, because the more vaccine-resistant B.1.351 variant, initially found in South Africa, still had very low numbers in Canada.
"And so we're going to have to design new vaccines against that variant ... but it means we're all going to have boosters maybe, [though] we don't know that for sure yet," he said, pointing to the advantages of mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna that can be easily tweaked.
We probably won't reach herd immunity against COVID-19 any time soon, but it's OK, experts say
Herd immunity looks like an increasingly high bar, and it may be out of reach. But that's no reason to despair. It's not herd immunity or bust. The closer we get, the more we can return to normal life.It has often been suggested that as this trend continues, we will soon reach a point where so many people are invulnerable to the virus that it will largely die out due to a lack of hosts to infect — offering indirect protection to the entire population, even those who are not immunized.
As of May 6, Canada has recorded over 137,885 cases of COVID-19 identified as a variant of concern -- with over 96 per cent of those variants being that of B.1.1.7.
Several studies published last week also suggested that Pfizer's vaccine, which Canada will be receiving several millions of in the coming months, was extremely effective in preventing both infection and death from the U.K. and South African variants.
One other topic Bernstein spoke on was Canada's views on waiving intellectual property and patent rights on COVID-19 vaccines.
While Canada has not yet taken a direct stance, much like the U.S. has in waiving such rights to allow freer access to vaccine production, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said that Canada was working on a "consensus-based solution" around it.
Bernstein said that while he hasn't discussed that issue with the country's Vaccine Task Force, he believes that the widespread use and need of the COVID-19 vaccine makes such a waiver on vaccines very important but "mostly symbolical."
"It's not going to be that easy for a company to say we're going to scale up and start making one hundred million doses of these vaccines," he said. "Vaccines are very complicated mixtures of a lot of different chemicals, dozens of different chemicals that have to go into that.
"I think it would be great if we did personally, because I think there is a great symbolic value in it that we are all in this together."
COVID protocol-related absences: 05/13/21 .
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 today’s list: © Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports Colorado – Devan DubnykSt. Louis – Jake WalmanWashington – Evgeny KuznetsovAs 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.