Bivalent boosters

The anticipated fall wave of Covid-19 infections is now seeing Canada proactively rolling out an updated booster shot to target the still insistent and insidious Omicron variant.

As a community we should remain informed, and must know by now that early last month, Health Canada approved Moderna’s bivalent vaccine. This latest vaccine iteration includes the original Covid-19 strain, and the BA.1 subvariant of the Omicron lineage.

It is now being administered across the country as a new booster dose to all Canadian adults.

As Canada’s Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos indicated early last month, this country received 780,000 doses of Moderna’s Omicron booster on September 2, with a total of 10.5 million shots acquired last week.

It is important for our community to note that the National Advisory Committee on Immunisation has recommended the bivalent Omicron vaccine be administered to adults 18 years and older at least six months after the last booster dose, or following a Covid-19 infection.

It should also be noted that NACI has indicated that those among us who are at a high risk to Covid-19 infections are being offered the bivalent shots within a shorter time interval of at least three months.

Also, that adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 years, who are immuno-compromised, or otherwise at risk of severe infection, have also been advised to acquire this latest Omicron booster.

As we note in this edition, Ontario residents who are considered the most vulnerable received the priority go-ahead late last month to take the bivalent booster shot.

As of last month, Ontario opened up appointments through its online booking system to 70 years and older, long-term care residents, Indigenous people, pregnant individuals, those who are immuno-compromised, and health-care workers.

It is important that all members of our community acquire this latest booster within eligibility requirements.

As was reported by CBC last week, Ontario was recording over 12,000 new cases daily, which was based on limited testing.

Also, on September 15 the province saw 85 more deaths linked to Covid-19 over the seven days before. It was an increase from the 74 fatalities that occurred in the second week of September.

As CBC noted, this latest wave of Covid-19 infections in Ontario started back in June 19, and peaked in early August. It continues to be driven by the BA. 4 and BA. 5 Omicron variants.

Meanwhile, according to data from the Ontario Ministry of Health, as of September 15, the number of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 decreased from 1,248 to 1,167.

Also, a downward trend was noted in the number of patients in intensive care with Covid-19, with the total at 130, slightly down from 136 the week before.

Perhaps there is a fibre of reassurance to be had in this slight, downward trend, particularly when contextualised against the global picture of a pandemic that is showing infection and fatality numbers on the decrease, according to data revealed last week by the WHO.

As noted in its update last week, new weekly deaths were at its lowest point during week two of September since March 2020. According to the WHO, around 11,000 deaths were recorded globally during September 5-11 – a 22 percent decrease from the week before.

It also stated that new weekly cases fell by 28 percent during that time, down from nearly 4.2 million during the week of August 29 to September 4 to around 3.1 million in the second week of September.

“We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

However, he wisely added, “We are not there yet, but the end is in sight.”

Until our community has that ‘end in sight’, it is important that we seek out and acquire our booster shots.