Only one shot won’t prevent fourth wave, say experts

Ontario still isn’t at the point where vaccination will shield against a fourth wave, says nurses’ association head

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Ontario has not reached the level of vaccination needed to protect itself from COVID-19 variants and a potential fourth wave, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) CEO Doris Grinspun says.

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The summer months and their outside activities work against the spread of the virus, she said.

“Come the winter, that’s not the case,” Grinspun said.

“And the variants will continue to come. It’s not the delta variant only that’s concerning me, it’s the lambda variant that concerns me even more… This variant is running after us; it’s in a marathon after us.”

In its latest update, the World Health Organization (WHO) says all variants including those of special concern are expected to continue to evolve given high rates of transmission globally.

“A phenomenon whereby variants independently acquire the same or similar amino acid substitutions that may offer a competitive advantage, also known as convergent evolution, has been repeatedly observed over the course of the pandemic,” WHO says.

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According to Our World in Data, 25.1% of the global population has had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, although that number falls to just 1% in low-income countries.

Ontario’s mantra is a “two-dose summer” as some variants can break through a single dose of any of the available two-shot vaccines.

In Canada, 42% of the population is fully vaccinated — and in Ontario it’s more than 50%.

Around 80% of Ontario’s population has had at least one shot.

However, countries with relatively high rates of vaccination — Israel and the United Kingdom included — have seen sudden spikes in new cases.

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore confirmed Friday that the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Ontario is delta and that six cases of the lambda variant have been identified in the province.

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“So the fight is far from over,” Moore said.

“We must remain vigilant, especially going into the fall as we goes into go into closed spaces, close spaces and closed ventilation systems.”

He said the province will drop most public health controls once 75% of the population is fully vaccinated.

At a peak on April 21, Ontario had 42,941 active cases of COVID-19 and 2,335 in hospital.

Now as the vaccination rate rises quickly, the number is down to 1,710 active cases and 165 in hospital, Ontario public health data shows.

Grinspun said the vaccination rate among young people still needs to be much higher, and the province needs to bring the vaccine to people who can’t get to it due to their living circumstances.

Ontario will also have to turn its mind to booster shots, likely on an annual basis, she said.

“Lambda originated in Peru,” she said. “We live in one world.”

aartuso@postmedia.com

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