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Federal modeling suggests ‘very intense’ growth of Omicron within weeks

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New model released today by the Canadian Public Health Agency (PHAC) suggests that the highly transmissible version of Omicron will push hospital admissions to “extremely high levels” in the coming weeks, as the number of cases reaches unprecedented levels previously in this country.

While there is much uncertainty about how many new infections are reported each day due to ongoing testing limitations for COVID-19, PHAC said the current test positivity rate suggests the variant is widespread and will have “several weeks of very intense activity.” that is expected to come. “

Nationwide, the positivity rate is a staggering 28 percent. This means that more than one in four tests for the virus are returning positively almost five times higher than the rate at any other point of the pandemic.

SEE: Dr. Theresa Tam on current COVID modeling

Public health chief says it ‘possible’ for Canada to see peak COVID cases in the coming days

Theresa Tam, Canada’s public health chief, says COVID-19 growth should peak in the coming days, but we’ll know more next week. 1:12

Such a high number can be sidelined by testing restrictions, now that there are several provinces and territories restricting access to testing for the most vulnerable groups to COVID-19.

To safeguard the health care system and the “critical functions of society,” PHAC is urging Canadians to limit personal contact, get their booster vaccines, and wear good quality, face-appropriate face masks. helped stop the transmission of a spoiling variant. through communities across the country.

While PHAC said Omicron is likely to be less severe than previous variants, the risk of hospitalization is lower than with the Delta variant, for example, the large number of new infections means more people will be susceptible to serious consequences, including hospitalization and death.

The “large volume of cases” modeling suggests there could be up to 150,000 new infections a day sometime this month, spurring an increase in serious disease trends nationwide, PHAC said. New hospital admissions can rise to somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 every day, well above historical figures.

Since December, the number of people with COVID-19 treated in hospitals has quadrupled to an average of over 6,779 per day, while the number in critical care has doubled to an average of over 884 per day. Meanwhile, 82 deaths are reported every day.

While the high volume of cases is driving an increase in hospitalization rates in all age groups, then the number of hospital admissions and ICUs is still higher among adults 80 years of age or older.

Infection rates may stabilize in Quebec, Ontario

People over the age of 80 report hospitalization rates eight to 10 times higher than younger groups. But unlike previous pandemic waves, the Omicron wave has also seen a small but noticeable increase in hospitalizations in young children.

There are early indications that the rate of new infections may stabilize in Ontario and Quebec. “It is very possible that in the coming days we will see a peak of cases,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief of Public Health in Canada.

But then the number of new hospital admissions will remain high for the foreseeable future because there is a time lag between infection and severe outcomes.

“We can be like other countries seeing a sharp and sharp rise and then it will fall pretty fast. But we all want to be careful about that before we see more information,” he said. Tam.

Omicron has wreaked havoc because it is able to ward off previous immunity from past infections and vaccinations. PHAC said two doses of an mRNA vaccine are not very effective against infection and symptomatic disease; he described the effectiveness of the vaccine against an Omicron infection as “low to very low”.

However, people with two doses of a vaccine are less likely to be hospitalized. PHAC data suggests that unvaccinated persons are 19 times more likely to be hospitalized with persons vaccinated with COVID-19.

“These trends clearly show that two- or more-dose vaccination is highly protective. As booster doses continue to expand, updating with COVID-19 vaccines is expected to maintain this protective advantage,” Tam said.

To prevent further strains in hospitals, PHAC is urging vaccine holders to finally get a dose. More than 6.5 million qualified Canadians are not yet fully vaccinated. Vaccine coverage among people ages 5 to 11 remains stubbornly low, with only 48 percent of children in this age group having had at least one dose.

This image provided by Pfizer shows COVID-19 Paxlovid pills. Pfizer COVID-19 pills that were supposed to be an important weapon against the pandemic are in short supply. (Pfizer via AP Photo)

Tam said Pfizer’s promising antiviral, Paxlovid, could be a useful tool in the next phase of this pandemic warfare, and future federal modeling of hospitalizations and deaths may need to be updated if and when this self-administered treatment is widely available to high-risk patients.

Clinical trial results suggest that Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by an impressive 89 percent compared with a placebo in high-risk non-hospitalized adults with COVID-19.

Health Canada is reviewing the product now, but delivery time after approval remains uncertain.

“There is a global supply constraint and it may not be widely used for a while. What we’re trying to do at PHAC is gather experts to help provide some consideration on how initial priorities can be prioritized, so “as we did with the initial ones. vaccine group. This work is going on,” Tam said.

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