Vaccine experts and infectious disease specialists urge provinces to act faster to start getting second doses in guns in Canada, especially for the elderly and those with high-risk health conditions.
“We absolutely have to move forward,” said Dr. David Naylor, co-chair of the National Immunity Working Group, in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“I think there are compelling reasons to pick up the pace with the second doses. “
Nearly 20.5 million Canadians received at least their first dose on Thursday, but less than two million of them have been fully immunized with the required two doses.
Canada delayed second doses for up to 16 weeks in March, on the advice of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, due to scarcity of vaccine stocks.
The strategy has worked to some degree, with more than half of Canadians now having at least one vaccine, and evidence from the UK that the 12-week delay of Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca has finally produced stronger immune responses.
As most provinces set their own vaccine markers to reopen the economy, Public Health Director Dr. Theresa Tam wants one-fifth of eligible Canadians to receive both doses and 75% to have at least one. one, before the provinces consider easing restrictions on outdoor activities.
Canada will likely hit 75% with one dose by June 21, but a fifth with two doses is more difficult to measure. Canada should triple the number of second doses it gives each day, immediately, to get there by Canada Day.
The second doses increase slowly. Just a week ago, less than one in 10 injected had gone to a second dose. In the past two days, it has passed 15 percent.
But it is not fast enough for some.
Naylor cited a new study from Public Health England this week which showed that two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca were two or three times more effective than a single dose in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection in from two common variants, B. 1.1.7 and B.1.617.2.
He said there was no data yet showing how infected people were infected after a dose, which will make a difference to how embarrassing the news is for Canada.
Naylor also said that the elderly who waited the longest for their second dose, who were the most careful about their activities and warned that their immune systems were not as strong after a single dose, also deserved their second. appointment is advanced.
“I think from a risk mitigation perspective, as well as compassion, it would be a good thing to continue to move these second doses for the elderly and for people with a significant form of immune compromise,” did he declare.
Several Toronto doctors echoed the sentiment on social media this week, including intensive care physician Dr. Michael Warner.
“Vaccines are effective but one shot is not good enough for the elderly / vulnerable,” he tweeted. “The best way to maintain our positive trajectory and minimize the impact of this variant on the healthcare system is to fully immunize those at risk as soon as possible. “
Warner said he is currently caring for a husband and wife, both aged 80, who had their first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech, but there are no plans to receive their second. dose before more than a month.
The administration of second doses is slow. British Columbia announced Thursday that it plans to reduce the wait for the second dose from 16 weeks to eight.
Manitoba is now reserving a second vaccine for people vaccinated for the first time at least nine weeks ago.
Quebec hopes to announce a second dose plan next week with plans to allow people to start rescheduling their second dose earlier from June 7.
Ontario’s vaccine task force met on Wednesday to discuss the province’s second-dose strategy.
Most provinces also allow second doses of AstraZeneca to first-time recipients, largely because they are trying to use doses that expire as early as next week.
With provinces no longer offering the vaccine for first doses due to the potential risk of a rare blood clotting disorder, thousands of doses of AstraZeneca are now at risk of expiring on Monday.