Will updated COVID-19 vaccines work against the latest variant? What the Experts Say – National

Federal scientists will monitor global research to determine the effectiveness of updated vaccines against the latest variant of COVID-19, say Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Canada’s first known case of the Omicron BA.2.86 variant was detected this week in British Columbia, as the country became the seventh in the world to report its presence.

Health Canada is currently reviewing applications for new mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, developed against the dominant XBB.1.5 variant, in anticipation of a vaccination campaign planned for the fall.

This week, there were only 13 sequences of the highly mutated BA variant. 2.86 available for a**lysis in six other countries — four in Denmark, three in the United States, two in Portugal, two in South Africa, one in Israel and one in the United Kingdom, Health Canada and PHAC said in an email.

The story continues under the ad

“Scientists are looking for signs that the BA.2.86 lines would alter the severity or spread of disease, or impact the effectiveness of diagnostic tests, vaccines, or treatments for COVID-19,” they said. they stated.

“As this new variant has just been detected in Canada, it is difficult to understand its prevalence. As clinical and laboratory data are reported to PHAC, a more accurate picture will begin to emerge.

COVID-19 cases involving the XBB.1.5 variant are currently at a low to moderate level, with stable or increasing trends in all reporting provinces and territories, Health Canada and PHAC said.

However, a hospital in Windsor, Ont., and another in Montague, P.E.I., announced outbreaks of the disease this week.

The BA.2.86 variant was detected in a resident of British Columbia who had not recently left the country, provincial authorities announced this week.

Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement that there does not appear to be an increase in disease severity with the strain and that the infected person was not hospitalized.

Federal figures show that by mid-June, 80.5 per cent of Canadians had received their first round of COVID shots. The highest participation rate, nearly 92 percent, was recorded in Newfoundland and Labrador. The lowest, at 75.5 percent, was in the Northwest Territories, followed by Alberta, where 76 percent of people were vaccinated.

The story continues under the ad

Dawn Bowdish, an immunologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, said it’s understandable that people are tired of COVID-19 amid a return to mostly normal social activities, but the mutating virus puts populations at risk. vulnerable, including the elderly, at the highest risk of infection.

However, only about 21 percent of Canadians aged 80 and older have received boosters or completed a primary vaccination in the past six months, she said.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has recommended that Canadians roll up their sleeves to receive a fall booster if at least six months have pa*sed since their last dose or infection with COVID-19.

Bowdish said anyone starting chemotherapy or having major surgery could consider getting a booster before the reformulated vaccines become available, but otherwise it’s best to wait.

Parts of the Southern Hemisphere have faced a triple threat during the respiratory season, which typically begins in April and ends in September in this region.

“They had a lot of flu, they had a lot of RSV. They’ve had a lot of COVID and reported a lot of healthcare staff absences which means care for everything is compromised,” she said of Australia’s recent experience.

However, Australians had access to the current bivalent COVID-19 vaccines, not the reformulated ones.

The story continues under the ad

“What worries me is that it doesn’t have to be worse or as bad as last year to have a major impact on the health care of Canadians,” Bowdish said about of a respiratory season that saw a shortage of children’s paink**lers and long waits in emergency rooms. .

Bowdish hopes Canadians won’t mind getting a booster this fall, when they could be getting the flu shot at the same time.

For people over 60, a vaccine for RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, may also be available. Earlier this month, Health Canada announced the approval of an RSV vaccine for people aged 60 and over, but it is up to provinces and territories to decide if and when Arexvy will be included in their programs. vaccination.

Eric Arts, a virologist at Western University in London, Ont., noted that many Canadians have already reached a year since their last booster, so it will be important to get vaccinated in the fall.

The updated vaccine formula will be a minor change from current vaccines, but will provide better protection against circulating Omicron variants, he said.

“Let’s hope that the bureaucracy will rush to get them out. »

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button