A worker is seen cleaning surfaces inside Little Mountain Place, a long term care home where 41 residents have died since a COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the facility in November, in Vancouver, on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A worker is seen cleaning surfaces inside Little Mountain Place, a long term care home where 41 residents have died since a COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the facility in November, in Vancouver, on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

COVID death toll in B.C. tops 1,000 as 1,475 new cases recorded over the weekend

B.C. has administered nearly 60,000 vaccines as of Sunday night

B.C. has reported 1,475 new COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths over the weekend, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a press briefing Monday (Jan. 11).

By day, there were 538 cases reported Saturday, 507 cases Sunday, and 430 cases Monday, with nine epi-linked cases. The weekend’s deaths bring the total COVID-19 death toll in B.C. to 1,010.

By region, the three days worth of cases break down to 736 in Fraser Health, 287 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 217 in Interior Health, 59 in Island Health and 173 in Northern Health and three people

There are 5,220 active cases of COVID-19 following the weekend. Currently, there are 358 people in hospital, of whom 72 are in critical care or ICU. There have been a total of 58,107 confirmed cases in B.C. since the pandemic began, of whom 50,551 have recovered. There are currently more than 7,313 people under active public health monitoring, excluding Northern Health due to data compilation issues.

There are 50 active outbreaks at long-term care facilities and 10 in acute care.

Henry said there have been 59,902 doses of both COVID-19 vaccines administered as of Sunday night, mostly of the Pfizer vaccine. She said the Moderna vaccine, which does not require ultra-cold storage, is going to remote areas. In total, B.C. has received 71,200 doses of the two vaccines.

She warned that even though people are being vaccinated, it’s not time to get complacent.

“We expect more vaccines, and more vaccines to be approved for use, by March,” Henry said.

“[But] we do not have enough supply coming between now and the end of march to achieve that community immunity.”

READ MORE: Social gathering, events to remain banned in B.C. as daily COVID-19 cases stay high

Henry, who has previously estimated that herd immunity could begin at 60 per cent of the population vaccinated, said the figure depends on the novel coronavirus’s reproductive number, or how many people each infected individual spreads the virus to.

She said that with COVID, 60-70 per cent immunized should prevent it for most people,” but added that it “will not prevent some of those superspreader events.”

If different variants of the virus become more prevalent, including the faster spreading one first reported in the U.K., Henry said that herd immunity threshold may have to be reevaluated.

Henry also defended the province’s decision to give out the second dose at 35 days after the first, and not either 21 days as initially recommended for the Pfizer vaccine or 28 days with the Moderna vaccine.

“By waiting between doses it allows the body to build up that immunity,” she said, noting that the time period between the two doses allows the body to develop “antigens that attack the proteins, also for the body’s cell-mediated immunity to recognize the offending protein, the virus, as well.”

“We did not take this decision lightly,” she added, noting that scientists have reviewed materials from here in B.C. and around the world. B.C. has been told, she said, that vaccine deliveries will be backloaded – meaning that the rate of delivery will increase as time goes on.

“Based on the data from the clinical trials… shows protection two weeks [after first dose] was 92.6 per cent for Pfizer and 92.1 per cent for Moderna. That is quite frankly amazing.”

The data also shows, Henry noted, that there was no difference shown in immunity when people received their second dose at 19 days for Pfizer, 21 days for Moderna or at 42 days for either vaccine.

READ MORE: Number of Canadian who want COVID vaccine inches country towards herd immunity, poll suggests


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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