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COVID variants hitting younger B.C. residents hard

March 25, 2021 - 3:02 PM

Since most B.C. residents over the age of 80 have been vaccinated, the increasing number of daily COVID-19 cases are amongst younger people.

And, a growing number of those people are contracting the B.1.1.7 variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom where studies have found that it’s not only easier to transmit but tends to make people sicker.

B.C. seems to be following that pattern, according to information provided by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at a news briefing today, March 25.

Out of 1,600 residents under the age of 60 who have been hospitalized with COVID in B.C. so far in this pandemic, about 19 per cent needed treatment in intensive care units.

For those with the B.1.1.7 variant, about 30 per cent of people who had to go to hospital ended up in intensive care, Dr. Henry said, but there haven't been many people with the variant who ended up in hospital so the sample size is small.

“That’s something that’s a signal,” she said. “So far, the numbers are very small so it’s not something that necessarily is a worry, but it is something that we will be watching and investigating further.

“The other thing that this does reflect is that, when younger people are in hospital, they thankfully have a higher proportion of people who survive but it does mean their stay in hospital is often longer.”

As of yesterday, there have been 1,581 cases of variants of concern in B.C., with 1,397 being B.1.1.7.

There have only been 44 of the South African variant but, more concerning, is the 140 cases of the P.1 Brazilian variant.

That has been primarily in the Vancouver Coastal health region but there have been two clusters in the Interior Health region.

Dr. Henry didn’t say where or how many people were infected in Interior Health but did say the clusters have been contained.

“That is something that we’re watching very carefully,” she said. “It’s concerning because this has been seen to be very destructive in Brazil and there is concern about the effectiveness of vaccines.”

That’s why, she stressed, people need to continue to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, which seems to be moving into a third wave in B.C.

READ MORE: 16 deaths and 1,785 cases of COVID-19 in B.C. as third wave poised to rise

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