Signs of summer’s pending arrival were greeted with other reasons for hope across much of Canada over the weekend as several provinces reported their lowest number of new COVID-19 infections in months and tens of thousands more Canadians were vaccinated.
The good news started with Quebec. Once the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, the province on Sunday reported only 179 new infections and no new deaths, a first for both measurements since September.
Ontario, meanwhile, logged 663 new cases on Sunday, the lowest figure seen since Oct. 18. Atlantic Canada was also reporting relatively low numbers, with 12 new cases in Nova Scotia today and fewer than 10 in the rest of the region. Saskatchewan reported 73 new cases and no additional deaths.
Canada’s chief public-health officer Dr. Theresa Tam in a statement called on Canadians to continue to guard against COVID-19 while also acknowledging the decline in new cases after a deadly third wave of infections through much of the spring.
Canada pre-purchased millions of doses of seven different vaccine types, and Health Canada has approved four so far for the various provincial and territorial rollouts. All the drugs are fully effective in preventing serious illness and death, though some may do more than others to stop any symptomatic illness at all (which is where the efficacy rates cited below come in).
- Also known as: Comirnaty
- Approved on: Dec. 9, 2020
- Efficacy rate: 95 per cent with both doses in patients 16 and older, and 100 per cent in 12- to 15-year-olds
- Traits: Must be stored at -70 C, requiring specialized ultracold freezers. It is a new type of mRNA-based vaccine that gives the body a sample of the virus’s DNA to teach immune systems how to fight it. Health Canada has authorized it for use in people as young as 12.
- Also known as: SpikeVax
- Approved on: Dec. 23, 2020
- Efficacy rate: 94 per cent with both doses in patients 18 and older, and 100 per cent in 12- to 17-year-olds
- Traits: Like Pfizer’s vaccine, this one is mRNA-based, but it can be stored at -20 C. It’s approved for use in Canada for ages 12 and up.
- Also known as: Vaxzevria
- Approved on: Feb. 26, 2021
- Efficacy rate: 62 per cent two weeks after the second dose
- Traits: This comes in two versions approved for Canadian use, the kind made in Europe and the same drug made by a different process in India (where it is called Covishield). The National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s latest guidance is that its okay for people 30 and older to get it if they can’t or don’t want to wait for an mRNA vaccine, but to guard against the risk of a rare blood-clotting disorder, all provinces have stopped giving first doses of AstraZeneca.
- Also known as: Janssen
- Approved on: March 5, 2021
- Efficacy rate: 66 per cent two weeks after the single dose
- Traits: Unlike the other vaccines, this one comes in a single injection. NACI says it should be offered to Canadians 30 and older, but Health Canada paused distribution of the drug for now as it investigates inspection concerns at a Maryland facility where the active ingredient was made.
How many vaccine doses do I get?
All vaccines except Johnson & Johnson’s require two doses, though even for double-dose drugs, research suggests the first shots may give fairly strong protection. This has led health agencies to focus on getting first shots to as many people as possible, then delaying boosters by up to four months. To see how many doses your province or territory has administered so far, check our vaccine tracker for the latest numbers.
“As immunity is still building up across the population, public health measures and individual precautions are crucial for COVID-19 control,” she said. “Thanks to measures in place in heavily affected areas, the strong and steady declines in disease trends continues.”
Some parts of the country nonetheless continued to struggle with high levels of infection, including Manitoba, where nearly 500 cases were reported on Saturday and Sunday combined.
The decline in new cases over the past week coincided with a drop in the number of Canadians being treated in hospital for COVID-19, Dr. Tam said, with fewer in intensive-care units and fewer deaths as well.
Meanwhile, more and more Canadians are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 every day. Ontario on Sunday reported another 158,000 jabs given since the previous day, bringing the total within the province to nearly 10 million since the start of the pandemic.
The federal government said more than 60 per cent of Canadians have received at least one dose.
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