B.C. health officials report 22 new COVID-19 deaths and 1,475 cases since Thursday | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. health officials report 22 new COVID-19 deaths and 1,475 cases since Thursday

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix provides a COVID-19 update as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry looks on, Dec. 17, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
January 11, 2021 - 4:01 PM

B.C.'s "slow and steady" COVID-19 vaccination program continues to roll out — so much so that the Pfizer supply will run out by tonight — but herd immunity may not be reached this year, health officials said today.

"Since the start of our immunization program in December (until yesterday), we have now delivered 59,902 vaccinations," Dr. Henry said, after announcing 1,475 new cases of COVID-19 since Jan. 8 and 22 new deaths.

Two of the deaths and 217 new cases were from Interior Health.

B.C. has had 71,200 doses allotted to it. That number includes 48,533 of the 50,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 11,369 of the 20,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

"We recognize we put less Moderna vaccine in arms to date, there are really good logistical reasons for that," she said.

The Moderna vaccine, she said, is what's being used in more remote or isolated communities, including some First Nations communities because it's more flexible. 

"We do expect to fully use up all of the Pfizer vaccine that we have in the province by today," she said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said more Pfizer was scheduled to arrive mid-week and more Moderna by the end of the week.

While vaccines will continue to rollout, Dr. Henry said community immunity won't happen anytime soon, echoing a point made today by The World Health Organization’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.

Swaminathan said in a press conference, that the world will not achieve any levels of population immunity or herd immunity in 2021.

Scientists typically estimate that a vaccination rate of about 70% is needed for herd immunity, where entire populations are protected against a disease. But some fear that the extremely infectious nature of COVID-19 could require a significantly higher threshold. Dr. Henry said that's because of the new variant.

"The (current vaccination) approach is based on our available supply, where the highest risks in our province are and who is at risk to be most severely impacted by the virus," she said. "This has been the approach that we've taken, recognizing that we have a limited amount of vaccine that is coming between now and the end of March."

Regardless, she said, "everybody is important in British Columbia, and everyone who is wanting the vaccine and is able to receive the vaccine will have access to it."

"We know that some people are at higher risk and that is why they are getting immunized first," she said. "It means they're either more likely to have severe illness or their circumstances or activities make them more likely to be exposed to (and) potentially spread the virus."

And that is what we're focusing on first. The approach is aimed at preventing hospitalizations and help keep the healthcare system going. Some in the aforementioned groups are also getting their second dose already.

Come March, and starting in April, health officials will start planning how to immunize more people in communities across the province.

"So if you haven't seen your name on a list for after March, it's because we are working out those details both here in British Columbia and across the country," Dr. Henry said.

"We will absolutely be looking at our essential workers across the board. And we will also be ensuring that we make allowances for people who are at risk by age by underlying conditions, etc. So those details are coming, and we just need everybody to please be patient."

Protection from the vaccine at two weeks after the first dose was 92.6% for the Pfizer vaccine and 92.1% for the Moderna vaccine. After the second dose, according to clinical trials, immunity went from 92.6% to 94.8% for the Pfizer vaccine, and from 92.1% to 95.2% for the Moderna vaccine.

Until it's rolled out, however, Dr. Henry said it's important for people to remember to use their already well-known lines of safety, like hand-washing, keeping a distance from one another and keeping social gatherings small.

"Right now of all times, we have to step it up because there is an end," she said. "We are at that part in the marathon when we're tired and we can stumble and get injured but we need to support each other to keep this going because there is an end. And part of it is because of vaccine and part of it is because we're keeping our rates as low as we can and that saves lives every day."

Of the new cases since Jan. 8, 287 people are in the Vancouver Coastal health region, 736 people in the Fraser health region, 59 people on Vancouver Island and 173 people in the Northern Health region.

There are currently 5,220 active cases in all health authorities in British Columbia, 358 people are in hospital and 72are in critical care or ICU.

Today there are 7,313, people under active public health monitoring and all of our health authorities

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