Earlier this year, there was a strong hope that high levels of vaccination would see us all finally getting the upper hand over SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
In an ideal scenario, the virus would then be contained at very low levels without further societal disruption or significant numbers of deaths.
But since then, new more deadly variants have emerged and spread worldwide, putting current pandemic control efforts, including vaccination, at risk of being derailed.
Put simply, the game has changed, and a successful global rollout of current vaccines by itself is no longer a guarantee of victory.
No one is truly safe from COVID-19 until everyone is safe. We are in a race against time to get global transmission rates low enough to prevent the emergence and spread of new variants. The danger is that variants will be too infectious to be stopped or slowed down, and that they can overcome the immunity that we may have once had from vaccinations or prior infection.
Right now, the variants have arrived in our backyard and Canada is losing the race between vaccines and variants as the 3rd wave worsens. The rapid spread of more contagious coronavirus variants across Canada is continuing to drive a devastating third wave in much of the country and increasing the level of risk in situations previously thought to be relatively safe from COVID-19.
More than 90,000 cases of the more transmissible and potentially more deadly variants have been reported across Canada to date. The number is rising, with more than 90 percent of those being the B117 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.
But the P1 variant first discovered in Brazil is also on the rise in Canada, with cases over 3100 — mostly in British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta.
But experts say Canada's slow vaccine rollout has failed to keep up with the exponential rise in variants in the third wave, leading to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. It has even gotten to affecting younger Canadians.
What are ‘variants of concern’?
Genetic mutations of viruses like SARS-CoV-2 emerge frequently, but some variants are labelled “variants of concern” because they can reinfect people who have had a previous infection or vaccination, or are more transmissible or can lead to more severe disease.
Not even border controls and high vaccination rates can guarantee protection in countries like Canada from home-grown variants, including ‘variants of concern’ where there is substantial community transmission.
Do your part to protect yourself and others and to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and its new variants. Wear proper Medical PPE such as Medical Masks, Protective Medical Gloves, Protective Medical Face Shield, and Isolation Gowns. Remember to always wear a Medical Mask, practice social distancing and stay safe.