December 2, 2023

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the coronavirus situation in B.C. and around the world.

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the COVID-19 situation in B.C. and around the world for May 27, 2022.

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We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen, so be sure to check back often.

You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Here are the latest figures given on May 26 for May 15 to May 21:

• Hospitalized cases: 473
• Intensive care: 42
• New cases: 1,358 over seven days
• Total number of confirmed cases: 370,559
• Total death over seven days: 42 (total 3,469)

Headlines at a glance

• Hospitalizations with COVID-19 decrease, but 42 more deaths recorded over seven days.
• Swiss to destroy more than 620,000 expired Moderna COVID doses.
• Western premiers meet in person for the first time since the pandemic broke out.
• Majority of Canadians believes the worst of the pandemic is over, finds poll.
• Study finds link between air pollution and COVID-19 severity.
• Pfizer/BioNTech say three COVID shots elicit good response in children under five years old, using a much smaller dose than for older children or adults.
• A fourth dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine can boost antibodies and other immune responses to levels higher than those seen after the third dose, according to U.K. trial data.
• Women should not delay routine mammograms after receiving a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, experts now say.

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Number of COVID-positive patients in hospitals decline; 42 deaths 

B.C. health officials reported a decrease in the number of people in hospital with COVID-19.

On Thursday, there were 473 people with the virus in hospital, down from 540 last Thursday. Out of these cases, 42 are in intensive care.

There were 1,358 new infections from May 15 to 21, a 17 per cent dip from the previous week.

B.C.’s death toll from COVID-19 stands at 3,469. Out of these, 467 deaths occurred after April 2 when the provincial government started reporting deaths using 30-day all-cause mortality, which counts deaths from any cause within 30 days of a COVID-19 positive lab result.

Read the full story here.

— Cheryl Chan

Swiss to destroy more than 620,000 expired Moderna COVID doses

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Switzerland will destroy more than 620,000 expired doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, health officials said on Friday, as demand for the shots drops dramatically.

“It was consciously accepted that under certain circumstances too much vaccine was procured for Switzerland’s needs,” a spokesperson for the Federal Office of Public Heath said, confirming a report by broadcaster RTS.

“The aim is to protect the population in Switzerland at all times with sufficient quantities of the most effective vaccines available.”

Switzerland, which has ended public health measures designed to curb the spread of the disease, secured a total 34 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for 2022 for a population of around 8.7 million.

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North Korea stockpiled Chinese masks, vaccines before reporting COVID-19 outbreak

n the months before it acknowledged its first official COVID-19 outbreak, North Korea suddenly imported millions of face masks, 1,000 ventilators, and possibly vaccines from China, trade data released by Beijing showed.

Two weeks ago state media revealed the outbreak, fuelling concerns about a lack of vaccines, medical supplies and food shortages. Chinese data show that even before that announcement, the North had begun stocking up.

North Korea is not known to have conducted any significant COVID-19 vaccine campaign. In February, however, China exported $311,126 worth of unidentified vaccines to its neighbour, according to the data released this month. China reported no other vaccine exports to North Korea for any other month this year, or all of last year.

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Health transfers a priority as western premiers meet in Saskatchewan

Health transfers are expected to be high on the agenda when Western Canada’s provincial and territorial leaders meet in-person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe will play host when the premiers gather today in Regina.

He is to be joined by his counterparts from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

Moe posted on his Twitter account that health transfers from the federal government will be a priority at the meeting.

He said a significant long-term increase from Ottawa for health-care funding is required.

Earlier this year, Canada’s premiers asked Ottawa for a $28-billion increase to health transfers, which would bring the federal funding share to 35 per cent from 22 per cent.

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—The Canadian Press

Majority of Canadians believes the worst of COVID-19 is over: Poll

The majority of Canadians believes the worst of COVID-19 is over and generally feels satisfied about how their governments have tackled the threat, found a new survey.

According to a Research Co. report, 76 per cent of Canadian respondents believe the worst of the pandemic threat is behind us — a jump of 14 points since a similar poll was conducted in April.

The feelings of optimism were most prevalent in Alberta and Ontario where 80 per cent say the pandemic is unlikely to get worse. British Columbians are slightly more wary, with 71 per cent saying the worst of the pandemic is in the rearview mirror.

With the threat of COVID-19 receding and the majority of pandemic-related restrictions lifting, more Canadians are reporting positive views about how their governments dealt with the virus and its impacts.

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Read full story here.

— Cheryl Chan

Study finds link between air pollution and COVID-19 severity

An extensive study of thousands of COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals has found links between the severity of their infections and the levels of common air pollutants they experience.

Chen Chen, an epidemiologist at the University of California, says the study suggests that the more long-term pollution people are exposed to, the worse a COVID-19 infection hits them.

The study has been published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The study looked at more than 150,000 COVID-19 cases in Ontario patients and correlated their outcomes with levels of fine particles, ozone and nitrogen dioxide — the three components of smog.

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— The Canadian Press

Pfizer/BioNTech say 3 COVID shots elicit good response in children under 5

Drugmakers Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE said on Monday that three doses of their COVID-19 vaccine generated a strong immune response in children under age 5 and was safe and well-tolerated in their clinical trial.

The companies said they plan to soon ask global regulators to authorize the shot for the age group, children for whom no vaccine is currently approved in most of the world. They said they expect to complete their submission of data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week.

The clinical trial involved giving 1,678 children ages 6 months to under 5 years smaller doses of the vaccine than given to older children and adults. Pfizer and BioNTech said that three shots of a 3 microgram formulation of their vaccine generated a similar immune response in that age group as in 16 to 25-year-olds who had received two doses of the 30 microgram formulation of the vaccine in an earlier clinical trial.

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Read the full story here.

— Reuters

mRNA vaccine response stronger after fourth dose vs third

A fourth dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine can boost antibodies and other immune responses to levels higher than those seen after the third dose, according to U.K. trial data.

Researchers recruited 166 adults who had received a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine after two doses of either AstraZeneca’s viral vector vaccine or initial inoculation with Pfizer/BioNTech’s shots. They were randomly assigned to receive either another Pfizer/BionTech shot or Moderna’s mRNA booster as a fourth dose. Half of the participants were older than 70, and the average interval since the third shot was seven months.

Two weeks after the fourth dose, levels of antibodies targeting the spike on the coronavirus were up to twice as high as antibody levels seen four weeks after the third dose for both vaccines, regardless of initial vaccine schedule, the researchers reported in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Responses of immune cells called T cells were significantly increased 14 days after the fourth dose compared with 28 days after the third dose, but only in participants who received three Pfizer shots followed by a Moderna booster.

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Delaying mammography after COVID vaccination unnecessary

Women should not delay routine mammograms after receiving a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, experts now say.

In some women, the vaccines cause swollen lymph nodes around the armpits, which could be misread as a possible sign of breast cancer on a mammogram. Early after the vaccines became available, the Society for Breast Imaging advised women to wait four-to-six weeks after the second shot before having a screening mammogram because it was thought the abnormalities would resolve by then.

New research shows that so-called axillary lymphadenopathy after vaccination can last longer than initially reported. In 111 women with this side effect after receiving an mRNA COVID vaccine, the swelling took an average of 12-13 weeks after the second shot to resolve completely, researchers reported in the American Journal of Roentgenology. Women should not delay their mammograms for extended periods, the Society for Breast Imaging now says.

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In an updated guideline directed at asymptomatic, average risk women with no history of breast cancer or lymph node cancer, the group now advises that if screening mammograms show the kind of lymph node abnormalities associated with the vaccines, the exams should be repeated six months later.

— Reuters

What are B.C.’s current public health measures?

MASKS: Masks are not required in public indoor settings though individual businesses and event organizers can choose to require them.

Masks are also encouraged but not required on board public transit and B.C. Ferries, though they are still required in federally regulated travel spaces such as trains, airports and airplanes, and in health care settings.

GATHERINGS AND EVENTS: There are currently no restrictions on gatherings and events such as personal gatherings, weddings, funerals, worship services, exercise and fitness activities, and swimming pools.

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There are also no restrictions or capacity limits on restaurants, pubs, bars and nightclubs; and no restrictions on sport activities.

CARE HOMES: There are no capacity restrictions on visitors to long-term care and seniors’ assisted living facilities, however, visitors must show proof of vaccination before visiting. Exemptions are available for children under the age of 12, those with a medical exemption, and visitors attending for compassionate visits related to end of life.

Visitors to seniors’ homes are also required to take a rapid antigen test before visiting the facility or be tested on arrival. Exemptions to testing are available for those attending for compassionate visits or end-of-life care.

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Where can I get a COVID-19 test?

TESTING CENTRES: B.C.’s COVID-19 test collection centres are currently only testing those with symptoms who are hospitalized, pregnant, considered high risk or live/work with those who are high risk. You can find a testing centre using the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s testing centre map.

If you have mild symptoms, you do not need a test and should stay home until your fever is gone. Those without symptoms do not need a test.

TAKE-HOME RAPID ANTIGEN TESTS: Eligible British Columbians over the age of 18 with a personal health number can visit a pharmacy to receive a free take-home test kit containing five COVID-19 rapid antigen tests.

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