COVID-19 Diary – Day 297

Weekly New Infections Charts

Every Monday we take a look at our week to week totals and chart how BC’s fight against COVID-19 is progressing. Because of the reporting schedule used in BC, we use 7-day totals running from Tuesday to Monday. The above chart shows each week of the pandemic as a unique bar.

Despite the significant restrictions that have been in place here in BC for almost 6 weeks now, we are once again seeing an increase in new cases in our week-to-week totals. In the last 7 days, we have seen roughly 400 additional cases reported, compared to the previous 7-day period previous. This change in momentum ends a 4-week long streak of improvements and raises questions about whether the restrictions currently in place will be extended beyond the current deadline of January 8th.

To better understand how the provincial numbers break down, we now also look at individual health authority regions. In the last 7-days, both the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health Authorities have reported more new cases than the previous 7-day period. This is especially surprising in the Fraser Health region as previously there had been a consistent and very steep decline in new cases, meaning that the shift in momentum was even more dramatic than what is being seen in other regions.

Cases from outside of Canada began being reported during the week of Jul 7-13, and the initial spike of 51 cases reflects the data catching up

Similar to the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health Authorities, the remaining Van Isle. Health, Interior Health, and Northern Health Authorities are all also seeing increases in their week-to-week new case totals now.

Some data points have had to been estimated by averaging values, specifically Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays without specific reporting figures.

Despite the recent significant increases in new cases across the province, there are now 6823 known active cases currently. This is an incredible improvement compared to 3 weeks ago when the number was over 10,000. Unfortunately, if we are unable to get our new case numbers better under control, the number of known active cases will begin to rise again soon as well.

Week-to-Week Growth Rate

This graph tracks the growth rate between 7-day totals and is a good indicator of the overall momentum of new case numbers. Before this week, there had been 6 weeks of almost straight decline in new case growth. This week however we saw a significant shift in momentum, with our new case growth shifting from the negatives back into positive growth. To see our numbers shift from -18.4% to +11.7% (a difference of 30.1%) is a cause for concern. However, We do not yet know if this will just be a single unusual spike before the growth rate returns to the previous trend.

It is worth noting that today is 10 days after Christmas, and we may be seeing the first signs of a Christmas-based increase in numbers now.

We can see from the above charts (Courtesy of the BC COVID-19 Dashboard website) that starting around December 20th, testing numbers dropped from around 15k a day, to between 4k and 8k a day. Meanwhile, the 7-day rolling average for our province’s test-positive rate has jumped to an all-time high of 8.8%. In general, we want the test-positive rate to be around the 2% mark or lower.

Looking at just the Fraser and Northern Health regions now, we see that the test-positive percentage is much higher than the average, sitting at over 10% and over 17% respectively. These numbers are much higher than we would expect to see in a controlled situation.

Hospitalizations & Deaths

Our ICU numbers still seem to be slowly trending lower, but unfortunately, it looks like our overall hospitalization numbers are slightly increasing, or at best holding steady. These numbers have been far more consistent than one would expect based on the new case number changes we’ve seen in the previous 6-7 weeks.

In the last 7-days, another 78 people in BC have died from COVID-19. This is another significant drop from the previous several weeks but is still a very large number compared to during the Summer of last year. We may see this number continue to drop even further in the next 1-2 months as more and more of the most vulnerable receive a vaccine shot.

Vaccine Q&A with a Local Professional

One of our regular readers reached out to us offering to do a Q&A session on the current COVID-19 vaccine training all professionals are required to take before being able to give the live saving shots. We have verified their credentials, and were happy to take them up on their generous offer!

Q1) Can you tell us anything about the differences between giving say a flu shot versus one of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines?

A1) So the first thing is that anyone giving the covid vaccine, even if they are already vaccine certified by the BCCDC, must take additional training (we also take training each year for the flu shot). In terms of administration itself, it’s the same. You follow the instructions by the manufacturer (Pfizer needs to be diluted in saline, Moderna does not), and it’s injected into the deltoid like any other shot. It’s very easy to do.

Similar to the flu shot, the mRNA shots do NOT contain live virus. YOU CANNOT GET COVID-19 FROM THE VACCINE. It’s impossible.

Q2) How are allergic reactions addressed? I know some people are very nervous right now, for example those with food or bee allergies.

A2) Interestingly, side effects (fever, headache, etc) seem to be seen more in those younger than 65. All side effects are temporary and will subside in 1-3 days.

Many people are concerned about anaphylaxis. At this time we are looking at anyone with:
– Known allergies to any component of the vaccine, with an emphasis on PEG.
– Severe allergic reaction where the trigger is UNKNOWN.

In those cases you should see an allergist before getting the vaccine.

Q3) Is there any info that you think people would want to know but wouldn’t think to ask about?

A3) When it comes to allergies I want to really emphasize that the providers are ALL trained to manage anaphylaxis.

You’re in good, capable hands.

Hopefully this will help put some minds at ease with regard to possible allergic reactions to the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. And we would like to give a big special thank you to the you and every other professional on the front lines who is stepping up to administer these shots! We are all truly in your debt!

That’s all for now, stay safe everyone!

2 thoughts on “COVID-19 Diary – Day 297

  1. Thanks Greg, I’m hoping this is just a spike we are seeing and that soon the numbers will dive once again!

    Greg issues in schools are taking over the news and social media and I am trying to understand what is happening in the schools. A large part of me understands the children are bringing the virus from poor choices at home, however I also believe children spread germs etc easily. PHO says very little transmission in a school setting. Can you please enlighten this layman!
    Thank you for your time.

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    1. I will see what I can do! But fair warning, I am far removed from the school situation personally as I have not been in school for about 20 years, and I do not have children. There are dedicated groups collating data and researching the issues which may be a much better source of information on this topic than I can be. But I will give it my best shot!

      Like

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