2021-05-03 BC

Vaccinations

This article reports that there have been 618 cases of COVID among people more than two weeks after they got their first dose (most of whom had not gotten their second dose). That’s 0.14% of vaccinated people. 18 people died, most of them over 80.

Vaccines are good, but not perfect.

Events

It’s not surprising, but is official: the Festival of Lights fireworks in Vancouver is cancelled again.

Press Briefing

tl;dr: Cases are down, hospitalizations are down, lots more vax is coming, please go register and please fill out the survey!

Remember that I paraphrase heavily and not completely 100% accurately. The snark is mine unless I specifically call it out, and I’ve never heard Dix or Henry being snarky.

Dr. Henry:

  • Appointments are now being booked for those 54 years old and older.
  • We are going to get a lot more vaccine, a million just from Pfizer just in May. This means we might, might, if everything goes right, see all the adults vaccinated by mid-June. We also might be able to shorten the interval between the first and second doses.
  • Yes, there have been glitches in the IT, that’s what happens with IT ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. There are bound to be bumps, but we will adjust. People who already got their AZ will probably get invitations to book, don’t worry about it (just don’t book). Everyone will get their vax, and soon.
  • For people who got the AZ first dose, don’t worry about your second dose. We’re working to get more vax, and we might want to give Pfizer as a second dose, depending upon how the mix&match studies (e.g. one in the UK) come out: it might be better to get a different brand of second dose than your first dose.
  • This virus can spread really fast with superspreading events, which is why we’ve been so anal about blocking events which can lead to superspreading. But! We’ve been seeing encouraging signs that cases and hospitalizations are coming down. Also, in places like the UK and Israel which have high vax rates, we’ll start to see more dramatic drops soon.
  • But we have to keep Doing The Things.
  • Go get registered!
  • Go take the survey!

Dix:

  • The hospitalizations are coming down slowly, but they are still too high. The number of postponed surgeries is too high. (One is too high!) Multiple hospitals are now using some of the surge beds, especially the ICU surge beds.
  • 41.53% of eligible BCers have been vaxxed, yay!
  • We’ve been using what we’ve been getting, e.g. 97% of all the available Pfizer. We’ve used 98% of the Moderna which we got last week.
  • A ton more vax is coming. This month, we’re going to get 275 kilodoses per week, and that’s going to go up in June. We’re getting more Moderna, so go register and book!
  • We’ve vaxxed 85% of the people over 70, and more than 190K of clinically extremely vulnerable, yay us!
  • BUT GO REGISTER! AND BOOK WHEN YOU GET AN INVITE!

Q&A

Snark alert.

Q: Fraser Health has higher cases, what’s behind that? More hesitancy, inadequate registration, language issues, what? A: Surrey actually has a higher level of immunization than elsewhere, but they have a high level of transmission. A lot of people in FH are essential workers who can’t stay home, and there are a lot of big multigenerational households. There are some barriers around language, we’re working on that. Over the weekend, a bunch of people from the pub health team were out at the gurdwaras, for example. Hey, I thought religious services were all cancelled, wouldn’t that include the gurdwaras? I guess they could have outdoor services? It’s also not just Surrey, there are communities around the province, like Terrace and Ft. St. John’s.

Q: You said you might decrease the interval between dose 1 and dose 2, what influenced the four-month decision and how much shorter could it be? A: It’s all about that vax, bout that vax, no kidding. We knew the max was 4 months, and all our modelling said that first-doses-first would be better, and a study in the UK said that HCW were well-protected even after only one dose, so we went for it.

That latter study was done before the variants hit, so we didn’t know how good the 1-dose protection would be, but so far we don’t seem to be having a problem with the variants evading the vax. We’re watching carefully, though.

For those who were immunized early, don’t worry, we’ve got you. We’re taking your second doses off the top to make sure you get your second.

We are looking at data for how we are doing that over the next few months, after we vax as many people as fast as possible.

Q: NACI said that those who don’t want to wait should get the AZ, while before we got the message that you should take the first dose you’re offered, why did this change? A: NACI has always had the recommendations based on comparisons something something you should take the first dose you are offered. Yes, there’s the clotting issue, but let’s be clear: we have really good, real-world data from the UK which says that a single dose of either AZ or Pfizer gives like 80% protection from serious illness / hospitalizations and also make it less transmissible. They are both awesome. My family members got AZ, and we will make sure you have access to information about second doses when it is available.

Q: The registration is borked, in that if you got AZ, the registration system will let you book at the age-based clinics. Could we miss some people who will thus get a second dose of Pfizer? A: The system will be very helpful in the future, but we’re building it as we go along. We have a Provincial Immunization Registry which every single dose, including from pharmacies, goes into. The Registration&Booking system sits on top of that, and anybody who is familiar with IT knows there will be glitches. Even I got a notice that I’m eligible! But we don’t think people will be missed.

There might be a delay as the pharmacies enter info; if you’ve already had your vax, just ignore the booking message.

The other thing the system will allow us to do is alert you at 13 weeks that your second shot is coming up. But if we decrease the interval, we can shorten that number.

Q: Any news about getting more AZ? A: I don’t have any news, but the feds are working on it.

Q: What about bumping pregnant women higher in the queue? A: We’re still looking into it. But meanwhile, vaxes are totes safe for preggers, and btw breastfeeding gives the babies antibodies, yay!

Q: Today, the Celebration of Light got cancelled. Can you provide guidance on summer events — PNE, Pride, etc. Do we just cancel everything, even if we’re all going to be vaxxed by Canada Day? A: We hope that we can have some small outdoor events, but we’re not likely to have big events, even outdoors, this summer. I can see many smaller, distanced events with maybe hundreds of people.

The UK has been doing experiments to see what’s dangerous and what isn’t. We recognize that cultural/arts events are important, but no big events this summer.

Q: Are strains more resistant? Is that why you want to ramp up second doses? A: Look, variants aren’t that different. B.1.1.7 and P.1 are more transmissible, but that’s what we’d expect from mutants. But the measures you take against any new strain are exactly the same as you’d take against COVID Classic. We’ve seen that in Whistler. The outbreak control measures made a difference, and they mostly had P.1. It’s not the variant which makes a difference, it’s what we people do.

We’ve had about1700 breakthrough cases, mostly from people who only had one dose. So far, we haven’t seen a problem with variants being resistant to vax.

Q: Is the delay of J&J going to affect the rollout? A: No, it’s a tiny amount. It’s good for some people who will be hard to find — people who come in and move around like farmworkers, tree planters, forest firefighters.

Q: How many people have registered, and is that a lot or a little? A: 2.1M, which is a good number; more than 100K of the 18-24 cohort, even. But we need the number to be higher. GO REGISTER! A fair number of people have not registered because they already got their first dose through one of the other programs (like LTCH).

We need to fill our clinics every week. That hasn’t been an issue because we’ve been supply-limited. REGISTER REGISTER REGISTER!

Q: Can you quantify what “significantly earlier than Canada Day” means? A: <hedging> Middle of June, if everything goes perfectly, which it won’t. GO REGISTER so we know how much vax we have to send where.

Q: Everyone over 16 will be able to get vax, so why not ask the 16 and 17 y/os to register? A: We’ll look into that in May/June.

There’s only one vax for under-18s, but yay Pfizer had good results for younger teens, yay!, Canada will make a decision whether to approve for younger folks within a week or two. Clearly we want to protect adolescents by next school year.

Moderna is also doing a study on even younger kids, down to six months. So if things look good, we’ll get Moderna as well.

Q: Will the decision to mix or match AZ be a provincial or national one? A: National. We should have results from the big UK of mixing and matching AZ and Pfizer by the end of this month, and we’ll be making a decision as fast as possible. I expect that will be late May or early June.

Q: You said registration needs to be higher, what if it isn’t? A: Then we work harder at outreach. Dix: more people are registering, we’re seeing that. We don’t see an issue, but we want to go as fast as we can. REGISTER!

Statistics

Fri/Sat: +835 cases
Sat/Sun: +671 cases
Sun/Mon: +668 cases

Over the weekend: +15 deaths, +89,519 first doses, +1,089 second doses (of which +17142 were AZ). Currently 474 in hospital / 176 in ICU, 7327 active cases, 11781 under monitoring, 122518 recovered.

We have 177,360 doses in fridges; we’ll use it up in 5.0 days at last week’s rate; we’ve given more doses than we had received by 7 days ago.

We have 118,390 doses of mRNA in fridges; we’ll use it up in 5.0 days at last week’s rate; we’ve given more doses than we had received by 6 days ago.

We have 58,970 doses of AZ in the fridges; we’ll use it up in 7.3 days at last week’s rate.

Charts

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