COVID-19 outlook for Canada: Cases plummet 90 per cent, but we can't reopen fully with Delta variant around, experts say

·3-min read
COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling (Public Health Agency of Canada)
COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling (Public Health Agency of Canada)

New COVID-19 modelling data reveals that Canada's average case counts have dropped by over 90 per cent since the peak of the third wave in mid-April, with 758 daily cases reported over the past seven days.

But with the Delta variant spreading, having the protection of vaccinations is an important aspect to prevent a possible fourth wave of the virus.

"Although the Delta variant of concern has emerged as the latest hurdle, Canada has every opportunity to avoid a strong Delta wave by remaining vigilant to keep infection rates low as we build the vaccination barrier wall high," Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said at a press conference on Friday.

COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling (Public Health Agency of Canada)
COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling (Public Health Agency of Canada)

The number of people with severe illness has also lowered, with the seven-day average for hospitalizations dropping by almost 75 per cent since peak activity.

COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling (Public Health Agency of Canada)
COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling (Public Health Agency of Canada)

Short-term forecasting projects that Canada will see between 1,413,010 and 1,420,740 cumulative COVID-19 cases by July 4, and between 26,175 and 26,475 cumulative deaths by the same date.

COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling (Public Health Agency of Canada)
COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling (Public Health Agency of Canada)

The two-month forecast for Canada warns that the epidemic could resurge if reopenings across the country increase the contact rate to 50 per cent or more.

COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling (Public Health Agency of Canada)
COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling (Public Health Agency of Canada)

This is a particular concern with the more transmissible Delta variant spread in Canada, with the potential to cause a strong resurgence in the fall or winter.

"With the Delta variant, I think our bottom line is that we just need to get as high as possible, as much as we can pass that 75 per cent goal post for both first and second doses," Dr. Tam said. "We do know that second dose is quite important in terms of strengthening your protection against that type of variant."

Canada's chief public health officer stressed the importance of increased vaccine update across the country, particularly in younger populations that have more work and social connections.

COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling (Public Health Agency of Canada)
COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling (Public Health Agency of Canada)

"This scenario shows what could happen if Delta is predominating, but we have achieved a higher vaccine coverage with at least 80 per cent of the population age 12 to 54 years fully vaccinated before we ease individual precaution, such as masking and spacing," Dr. Tam said. 

"In this scenario, while we may still expect some degree of resurgence this fall or winter, by maintain individual precautions until vaccine coverage is a bit higher, we could reduce the risk of a strong resurgence that could overwhelm hospital capacity."

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