According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, there were no new cases of COVID-19 for the period of February 7-13 in the Powell River Local Health Area (includes City of Powell River, qathet Regional District (minus Lasqueti), and Tla’amin Nation).
While this is good news, around the province we are being reminded that things can quickly change when people do not observe Public Health orders. Yesterday afternoon Dr. Bonnie Henry noted that some parts of the province are starting to see upward swings in their positive COVID-19 rates, including in the Vancouver Coastal region. The reproductive number, which measures how many people each new case is infecting, is also on the rise in several areas.
“Once we start to see increases, they rise very quickly, and then we go back to playing catch up again.” Dr. Henry emphasized that what we do today won’t be reflected in the case numbers for 1-2 weeks so it takes longer to catch up once we get into that position.
There is no new information on when we will be receiving further vaccine in Powell River, but provincially we are expecting an increase in vaccine delivery starting next week.
In her update this week, Dr. Henry addressed concerns over the possibility of further delays between first and second doses of the vaccine. She said that health officials have been monitoring B.C. residents in long-term care who have received their first shot, and the protective effect of the initial vaccine is 89%, which is higher than expected, and positive news. It is still not certain how long the effects of the initial vaccine will last, but Dr. Henry said that there is a buffer in which the second dose can be safely delayed if needed for operational reasons. Effectiveness of the initial vaccine doses will continue to be monitored in B.C. residents so health officials will know if effectiveness starts to decline.
There has also been an update on the spread of coronavirus variants of concern in B.C. Officials have now confirmed 40 cases of the variant first identified in the U.K., 19 of the variant first identified in South Africa, and one of a lesser-known variant from Nigeria.
Finally, PHAC (Public Health Agency of Canada) and NACI (National Advisory Committee on Immunization) are examining data around the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine. That vaccine will likely be approved by Health Canada soon.