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Experts worry about hospitals amid widespread Omicron

As the number of Omicron cases continues to rise, experts warn that rollout of the third dose may have to be stepped up and some health restrictions may have to be reintroduced to prevent this variant from overrun with diseases. institute.

Experts say the Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa, is unusual because it has a high number of mutations in two key regions of the virus’ mutant protein. Dozens of cases of this variant have been detected across Canada and experts warn it could become the dominant strain in the coming days.

Infectious disease expert Dr Isaac Bogoch told CTV’s Your Morning he was most worried about hospital capacity amid the growing prevalence of the Omicron variant, calling it a “Canada-wide problem”.

“No one wants to hear this, but it’s not even better now,” Bogoch said Tuesday. “It’s actually worse because there’s been significant attrition from healthcare over the last 18 months … so our ICU capacity is tight.”

As ICU capacity becomes limited, Bogoch said it is important for medical units to reassess constraints to ensure hospitals can continue to deliver care.

“When you start to be in a position where you can’t care for people in your area because of the rise in cases and really the use of healthcare is way beyond what you can afford. can do, maybe you should implement some Bogoch said.

Increased restrictions were recently announced in Atlantic Canada, as well as in several individual health areas in Ontario, including Kingston and London.

While Bogoch admits that “nobody wants these restrictions,” he added that they “could help slow the spread of a very rapidly spreading variant that is of concern.”

“As you start to see public health units implementing some of these additional public health measures and restrictions, I think the wall post and we’re likely to see more and more units. Public health imposes them when we see this expected increase in Omicron Bogoch said.

Canada’s top doctor warned Monday that the Omicron variant poses a threat to an already exhausted health care system.

Director of Public Health Dr Theresa Tam said in a news conference that she hopes the ongoing situation in Ontario, where Omicron is responsible for 21% of new cases, will soon be reflected in elsewhere in Canada, it is stated that this may be due to a decline in herd immunity.

“Certainly we are seeing community transmission, maybe in the early stages, but this could escalate rapidly in the coming days,” she said.

Dr Peter Juni, scientific director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Panel, told CTV News on Tuesday that provinces needed to act quickly to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant from diseases. The institute is overwhelming.

He said the Omicron variant is likely responsible for 30 to 50 percent of COVID-19 cases in Ontario as of Tuesday.

“We need to interrupt these transmissions now,” he said. “We can’t let our ICUs get overwhelmed and if we want to avoid that, we really need to act relatively aggressively now.”

Juni said provinces need to “step up” on rolling out the third dose, adding that individual Canadians can do their part by maintaining small gatherings this holiday season.

Juni said data on Omicron is still limited, so extreme caution is needed.

“We don’t know how this is going to play out here. Especially we don’t know how it will play out in people who are completely immune, have never been infected, have never been infected. vaccinated,” he said.

THREE ‘BETTER’ SHOES BETTER TWO

In a year-end interview with CTV News’ Evan Solomon, broadcast in full on CTV’s Question Period at 11 a.m. this Sunday, Trudeau announced his government has secured adequate doses of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. for everyone to get the boosters”, but offered no timeline for their deployment.

“Delivering those boosters to the provinces and they are setting their timelines on that,” he said. “There are commitments to have the boosters in Canada right when we need them.”

Bogoch said the provinces will likely “pivot” their third dose strategy as more information about the Omicron variant becomes available.

“There’s been data that’s emerged in the last seven to 10 days demonstrating that a third dose will significantly help Omicron. Two doses is good, but three doses is better and I think we’ll see a second dose strategy. three accelerate from coast to coast,” said Bogoch.

Bogoch said the third shot would “absolutely” help protect people against the Omicron variant and keep them out of the hospital.

“It will further reduce your chances of getting this infection,” says Bogoch. “You can still get this infection, but it will also most likely reduce your chances of having a more serious outcome like hospitalization, an ICU stay, or death.”

While two doses still provide protection against Omicron, Bogoch says three is key.

Given that the Omicron variant is more transmissible, Bogoch said this means it also has “the ability to re-infect people”, as well as “easier” to infect people who have had one or more vaccinations. two doses of vaccine.

“People who have had three doses of the vaccine also get infected,” says Bogoch. than” .

A new study, published Saturday in the journal Emerging Microbes & Infection, has found that the Omicron variant may have a greater ability than other virus strains to evade immune protection from infections. antibodies from a previous COVID-19 infection and possibly a vaccine. .

The researchers warn that because the antibody’s ability to protect against previous vaccinations or infections decreases over a six-month period, the variant “could get away with better immunity.”

The study found that although the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine “can significantly enhance immunity, the protection it provides from Omicron” may be compromised. “

Even so, researchers in Israel say they have found a three-shot course of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine provides significant protection against the Omicron variant.

The Israeli study also found that people who received a second dose 5 or 6 months ago “did not have the ability to neutralize against Omicron.”

With files from Sarah Turnbull and Hannah Jackson of CTVNews.ca

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