COVID-19 Diary – Day 291

Normally on Mondays, we would be providing an analysis of the current COVID-19 numbers and trends in BC, but since today is technically a holiday, those numbers will not be available until tomorrow. However, since there has been a lot of new information, we will be using today to catch up on some of the news that happened over the Christmas break.

New Variant VoC-202012/1 Arrives in BC

On December 26th it was announced that 2 people in Ontario who had tested positive for COVID-19, also tested positive for the new VoC-202012/1 variant believed to have originated in the UK. Since that time a 3rd individual in Ontario has also been confirmed to carry this variant of the virus.

Yesterday on December 27th a joint statement was released announcing that BC had diagnosed its first COVID case with the VoC-202012/1 variant as well. The person had been on a flight back from the UK on December 15th, and developed symptoms while in quarantine. Their test came back positive on December 19th, at which point their sample was sent out for genetic testing.

At this time Canada has extended its ban of flights from the UK until January 6th, 2021, but this ban does not extend to people who have travelled from the UK to other countries and then booked flights to Canada. Nor does Canada prevent traffic from other countries with confirmed cases of this new strain, or the strain recently found in South Africa.

VoC-202012/1 is believed to be 56% more contagious than previous strains of COVID-19, but so far does not appear to lead to more serious symptoms. BC Public Health is urging everyone to remain vigilant in their COVID-19 safety measures as further genetic testing is done to determine how far this variant may have spread.

Vaccine Watch: Update!

On Dec 23rd Health Canada announced that the vaccine from Moderna had been given approval for use. Since that time the vaccine has arrived in Canada and most notably has as of today reached both the Yukon and Northwest Territories. This is specifically important for them as neither region was able to receive doses of the BioNTech vaccine due to logistical difficulties.

Recently Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed that to immunize as many people in BC as quickly as possible, with at least some degree of protection, rather than giving the second dose of either vaccine at the minimum time frame of 21 or 28 days after the initial dose, it would be given after 35 days instead. This stretching of the period before the second dose will allow for a projected 549,000 people to receive at least the initial dose by the end of March, compared to the initial estimate of 380,000 people. And it’s not just BC looking at this adjustment, other provinces are warming up to the idea as well.

To date, at least 4.6 million vaccinations have been dispensed across the world, with more than 52k of those being in Canada, and almost 9k specifically in BC. To date, there have been at least 14 severe allergic reactions to either the Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna vaccine, which include 11 (10 plus 1) cases in the USA, 2 cases in the UK, and 1 case in Canada (in Manitoba). This represents better than 1 in 328,000 odds that you will not have a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine. There is a growing but currently unconfirmed theory that polyethylene glycol or PEG may be the cause of the rare allergic reactions to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Recent News Roundup:

That’s all for now, stay safe everyone!

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