Ontario’s top doctor said on Tuesday that it could take “a few years” for COVID-19 to reach “low prevalence” in the province.
Dr Kieran Moore made the remarks during the COVID-19 briefing at Queen’s Park.
Moore was asked by a reporter if COVID is “something we’re going to have to learn to live with” and if it will ever go away.
Moore responded by saying that COVID-19 is a “global disease” and therefore worldwide vaccinations need to go up a lot before rates of the virus drop dramatically.
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“We have many ways to work with the World Health Organization and other international organizations to try to reduce the number of individuals in which this virus can mutate and/or spread,” he said.
“Within Canada and Ontario in particular, I see one day where we will have low prevalence of the virus,” he said.
Moore said international surveillance will likely still be required to track changes in COVID-19 strains.
“But I do see a time when we will have low prevalence, and it will be like flu or other winter respiratory viruses, where it is seasonal, where it has a discontinuous impact. to our health care system. and like the flu, you need a vaccine every year to protect against it,” he said.
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It’s possible that the flu and COVID-19 vaccines could be combined to create an annual shot that provides protection “against any newly circulating strains of bacteria,” Moore said.
“It may take a couple of years to see a low prevalence, and then the effect of winter, where the virus is most active between November and March,” he said.
The World Health Organization previously told Global News that if a disease “represents globally but at expected or normal levels” it will be considered an epidemic.
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Moore said the goal is to limit the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on “mental, physical, social, and economic health.”
He again urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they haven’t already, as it provides strong protection against severe illness.
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Experts who spoke to Reuters previously said they expect the first countries to come out of the pandemic will have a combination of high vaccination rates and natural immunity in people infected with the coronavirus, such as such as the United States, Great Britain, Portugal and India.
However, they warn that SARS-CoV-2 remains an unpredictable virus and is mutating as it spreads through unvaccinated populations.
No one can completely rule out what some call a “doomsday scenario,” in which the virus mutates so much that it evades hard-won immunity. However, they expressed growing confidence that many countries will leave the worst of the pandemic in the coming year.
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Meanwhile, Ontario’s seven-day average of COVID-19 cases continues to rise with 928 new cases reported on Tuesday. Last Tuesday there were 687 cases reported. The seven-day average has now reached 975, up from the previous week’s 794.
Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Panel released a model Tuesday showing that COVID cases and ICU admissions are expected to increase in the coming weeks.
The Ontario government has said it will not want to implement restrictions across the province in the future and would rather see public health units implement restrictions if needed.
Ontario currently plans to lift most public health restrictions by the end of March, depending on COVID-19 trends.
– with files from Gabby Rodrigues, Saba Aziz and Reuters
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