High vaccination rates among older adults and more infectious variants of COVID-19 are now shifting the brunt of the Canadian pandemic to young people.
Far fewer elderly people were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 in April than during the peak of the second wave in January, according to an analysis of data released by Health Canada.
Among people under the age of 60, the number of hospitalizations and visits to intensive care has increased.
Nearly half of the deaths, hospitalizations and admissions in the under 50 category have occurred since February, according to federal data.
Director of Public Health Dr Teresa Tam has often warned the public that COVID-19 could affect young people as well.
Due to the emergence of more infectious options, the death of a young man is less rare than during the first wave, in the spring of 2020, she said.
Several tragic cases have been reported over the past week, including the heartbreaking death of 13-year-old Emily Viegas in Brampton, Ontario.
British Columbia recorded the first death of a patient in his 20s last week. The province also announced last week that a child under the age of two with pre-existing medical conditions had died of the virus.
According to the Institut de la santé publique du Québec, since the beginning of the year, a person aged 10 to 19 has died from COVID-19 in Quebec, as well as 80 and 10 years between the ages of 30 and 30. In 2020, COVID caused the death of an eighty-eight-year-old child at the age of thirty.
Nationwide, as of April 23, eight people aged 19 and under have died from COVID-19, half of them since February. More than 40% of deaths in the 20-29, 30-39 and 40-49 age groups have occurred in the last three months.
More than 1,400 patients are now being treated in intensive care units across the country. As of January, that number was around 900.
“And many of these patients are younger than 70 years old,” says Dr. Tam.
“This is currently affecting the capacity of intensive care units in a number of provinces,” she notes.
But the vaccination campaign has worked well in people aged 70 and over. More than 80% of people in this age group have been vaccinated and the effect is already being felt.
Thus, the number of deaths registered from March 26 to April 23 among people aged 70 and over decreased by more than 77%, and the number of hospitalizations – by 44%. There are also reports of a 15% reduction in intensive care hospital admissions.
While mortality in the 50 to 70 age group has also dropped sharply – by about 38% – the number of hospital admissions has increased by about a quarter.
There is also an increase in the number of hospitalizations among people aged 40 to 40 years (65%), as well as from 30 to 20 years old (40%).