They thought they had come out of the forest. Clink glasses in pubs. They were celebrating the end of COVID-19.
But on Monday, the British, still among the world’s vaccine champions, delayed lifting their latest health restrictions for a month.
Whoever comes to break a party, this is the Delta variant. This new mutant, first discovered in India, resembles a virus on steroids. At the same time, it is more transmissible, more virulent and better in inhibiting vaccination than the original strain.
In theory, don’t panic. Firstly, this option is not yet very present in our country. Then even in the United Kingdom, where he dominates, this is far from a massacre. Despite the rise in cases, the number of hospitalizations and deaths remains very low (even lower than in Canada, all things considered).
The United Kingdom will not return to cramped conditions. Restaurants and bars remain open. First of all, the ban on mass gatherings is being expanded.
What is happening there should still get our attention. Quebec has developed its vaccination strategy along the lines of the United Kingdom’s strategy. Like the British, we decided to give the first doses before distributing the second.
This strategy allowed us to resist the third wave well. But that makes us vulnerable to the Delta variant.
A dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine protects only 33% of the new beast’s symptomatic infection, according to British public health data. In Calgary, the virus has just triggered an outbreak in a hospital, affecting at least ten vaccinated people.
What to do ? The two most obvious things are to keep a close eye on the enemy’s progress and vaccinate at full speed.
The good news is that Quebec is doing just that. But the card can still be played if it ever starts to heat up.
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Until now, we have heard little about the Delta variant in Quebec. This can mean two things: either the situation is under control, or we lack vigilance.
Fortunately, this is the first option that prevails. The National Public Health Laboratory is really watching this closely. After an initial screening for mutations associated with other worrying variants, he genetically screens any remaining viruses for delta. A full investigation of each suspected case is then carried out.
So we can think that the 35 cases identified to date in Quebec provide a clear picture of the situation. A hopeful portrait.
Our best weapon against the Delta variant is obviously the two-dose vaccination.
Protection increases from 33% to 88% after the second dose of Pfizer vaccine and to 60% for the AstraZeneca vaccine. If it took one more argument to get the second dose, then this one is dumb.
Here again we can be sure. The vaccination campaign is known to be in full swing. The fact that second doses of AstraZeneca and Moderna are now available makes the picture even better.
But there remains a factor that may delay the second dose for some: the eight-week delay required by Quebec after receiving the first.
The Quebec Immunization Committee made this recommendation because research shows it provides better long-term immunity. But many countries use shorter time frames.
While many Quebec residents are currently poorly protected from the Delta option, and many would like to pay for vaccinations ahead of vacation, a shorter eight-week deadline will provide welcome flexibility. France just did it for the holidaymakers.
If the Delta option ever gains traction with us, it is worth considering anyway.