The Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Dartmouth, N.S. on Thursday, June 3, 2021. Large shipments of COVID-19 vaccines will continue to pour into Canada through the summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says, with over two million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab expected to arrive each week until the end of August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

The Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Dartmouth, N.S. on Thursday, June 3, 2021. Large shipments of COVID-19 vaccines will continue to pour into Canada through the summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says, with over two million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab expected to arrive each week until the end of August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Tam urges 2nd COVID vaccine dose as Delta variant emerges ‘essentially across Canada’

Variant has demonstrated to be more transmissible than previous versions

As Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout continues to pick up speed, the country’s top public health officer is reiterating the importance of receiving a full two-dose series, especially with the latest variant of concern now detected in several provinces.

Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday that the recently dubbed “Delta” variant, which was first detected in India, has been found “essentially across Canada.”

The variant, believed to be behind recent spikes in COVID-19 cases in parts of the United Kingdom, has demonstrated to be more transmissible than previous versions of the virus, Tam said.

Preliminary data released last week from Public Health England suggested that COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca were effective against the new variant after two doses, but less efficacy was shown with only one dose.

Sixty-five per cent of eligible Canadians had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Friday, but vaccine trackers show roughly seven per cent of the eligible population were fully vaccinated.

Tam said the heightened transmissibility of Delta was “obviously a characteristic of concern.”

“(It) means in under-vaccinated populations, or if we let go (of) public health measures … in the context of a transmissible variant, that variant could well takeoff and replace other viruses in the communities,” she said.

“So it is very important to get that second dose when variants such as the Delta variant is in our community.”

Several provinces are speeding up their second-dose rollouts as more vaccine supply pours into the country.

Prime Minister Trudeau announced Friday that large shipments of vaccines will continue through the summer, with more than two million Pfizer doses expected each week until the end of August.

Trudeau said nine million Pfizer doses will arrive in July with another 9.1 million expected in August. He added that Canada has also negotiated an option for three million more Pfizer doses to be delivered in September.

Trudeau said he’s been encouraged by the country’s vaccine rollout, adding that Canadians have “reason to be hopeful about this summer and fall.”

“The more people vaccinated, the safer we all are…. So let’s start looking forward to more of what we love, from camping to dinner with friends,” he said.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to trend downward in parts of the country while vaccinations ramp up.

Tam said the latest seven-day average for daily cases in the country was 2,300, down 73 per cent from the peak of the third wave.

Hospitalizations were down 47 per cent, ICU admissions were down 31 per cent and deaths down were down 35 per cent, Tam added.

Twenty-five million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada, with 2.8 million Canadians getting a dose in the past week alone.

Data for how many Delta variant cases have been detected in Canada was not available on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website as of Friday. The webpage said PHAC was in the process of updating its graphical view to include the Delta variant.

The webpage said the B.1.1.7 variant, or Alpha variant first detected in the U.K., continues to account for most of the variant cases in Canada, adding that Delta has “only been recently identified and thus is less understood.”

Peel Public Health in Ontario, one of the country’s most COVID-ravaged areas, said as of Wednesday 100 cases of the Delta variant had been identified in the region, leading Brampton, Ont., Mayor Patrick Brown to urge the province to prioritize the area for second doses.

Variants of concern are typically identified through genomic sequencing, a laborious and expensive process by which the virus’s entire genome is analyzed to detect mutations.

Tam said Canada “does a lot more sequencing than many” other countries, adding that as COVID-19 cases continue to decline, provinces will “(move) towards sequencing a vast majority of the positive cases.”

“Monitoring all variants of concern are very important,” she said. “The Delta variant or B.1.617 has been detected essentially across Canada. It is important then to characterize the exact distribution and the trend as well.”

The U.K. government said in a report last month that both Pfizer and AstraZeneca were 33 per cent effective against symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant three weeks after the first dose, but that number rose above 80 after two doses were complete.

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician in Hamilton and an associate professor at McMaster University, said most of the U.K.’s recent Delta cases have been in unvaccinated individuals, with the vaccines seeming to still offer good protection against death and severe disease.

—Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Canada should roll out second doses ‘as soon as possible’: NACI

RELATED: Federal government hiking fines for hotel quarantine violators

Coronavirusvaccines

Just Posted

AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)
SD70 chooses new name for AW Neill School in Port Alberni

New name honours Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples’ connection to region

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Port Alberni RCMP officer in command Insp. Eric Rochette presents longtime community policing volunteer Louie Aumair with a OIC appreciation certificate. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP honour longtime volunteer

First responders receive support from broader community

The Dock+ is located on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
PROGRESS 2021: Port Alberni’s food hub still growing a year later

The Dock hopes to open a retail store on Alberni’s busy waterfront

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read