UK COVID success gives Canada hope for the future – fr

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UK COVID success gives Canada hope for the future – fr


It’s about putting more vaccines on the line and keeping smart public health measures in place for as long as possible, to let vaccines do their job.

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On May 3, the UK government announced that only one person had died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

It was a sharp turn in just over three months, from the country’s worst record in the pandemic to almost none.

It is also something that Canadians can look to with hope, according to health experts.

“The UK is showing the best way forward for Canada,” said Dr Fahad Razak, internal medicine specialist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

UK shows the best way forward for Canada

The way, Razak said, is to get more vaccines into guns and keep smart public health measures in place for as long as possible, to let vaccines do their job.

In January, the UK recorded a record number of new cases, deaths, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions. They were three to five times the worst numbers Canada has ever known.

On January 8, more than 68,000 people were diagnosed with COVID-19, on January 20, more than 1,820 people died. That month there were over 39,000 people in hospital on the worst day, and over 4,000 in intensive care.

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People eat and drink seated at tables outside a restaurant at lunchtime in the City of London on April 29, 2021. Photo de DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP via Getty Images

Now, after half of the UK population received a single dose of the vaccine, a quarter had two, and the country as a whole faces a strict lockdown with a gradual, staged reopening of the UK situation isn’t just better, it’s a whole new world.

Each of these statistics is on the decline. New cases? Down 96 percent. Deaths? Down 99%. Hospitalizations and patients in intensive care? Down 97%.

“It’s the remarkable effect of getting these vaccines into people’s arms and effectively and intelligently restricting public health measures,” Razak said. “That’s the effect, you see it right now. “

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses by several months, so more people can be protected by at least one dose faster.

It was, in both countries, an experience with many criticisms. With an ongoing pandemic and the need to quickly complete clinical trials, vaccine makers have typically tested their products with delays of three to four weeks between doses.

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But with B.1.1.7 resulting in crisis infection levels and burdened with vaccine science that postponing a second dose often generates a stronger immune response, Britain decided to push the second dose at 12 weeks.

Canada decided in March to postpone second doses for most people for up to 16 weeks because production issues were delaying deliveries and doses were rare.

Razak said it was, in both cases, “absolutely the right decision”.

“We’re going to see the benefits of this if we continue our aggressive vaccine rollout,” he said.

A street of people eating and drinking in Soho as non-essential retail reopened on April 12, 2021 in London, UK.
A street of people eating and drinking in Soho as non-essential retail reopened on April 12, 2021 in London, UK. Photo par Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty Images

The UK – which was strictly closed nationwide in January and February – is gradually returning to normal. The kids are back to school, hair salons are open, restaurant patios are crowded, and even small backyard gatherings are allowed.

Everything was done in calculated stages, the restrictions being gradually lifted every few weeks from the beginning of March.

Next week, May 17, comes one of the biggest advances to date: restaurants will be allowed to eat inside and people will be able to accommodate up to 6 friends and family from two households to l inside. Outdoor gatherings will be increased to a limit of 30 people. Children’s play areas, cinemas, hotels and indoor fitness classes will be allowed again.

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On June 21, the British government hopes to be able to completely lift all restrictions.

They can do it, Razak said, because there are more people vaccinated, and therefore fewer people available for the virus to infect.

The UK quickly got by with vaccines, making smart deals to get early doses of Pfizer, investing heavily in Oxford-AstraZeneca early on and expanding production to make some at home.

In January, it even overtook the United States in terms of vaccinations, behind only Israel and the United Arab Emirates in doses administered per person.

Yet the UK is not without supply issues. Vaccinations slowed considerably in April as AstraZeneca was unable to make all of its deliveries to the UK and Moderna cut UK deliveries along with those from Canada.

Canada, whose vaccine deliveries in May are expected to exceed those of the past five months combined, is catching up. It has been ahead of the UK for much of April and expects to receive a first dose for everyone over 12 by the end of June.

The UK is aiming for this by the end of July.

Dr David Naylor, co-chair of Canada’s National COVID-19 Immunity Working Group, said the downward curve in UK COVID-19 statistics may be happening here.

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“I wouldn’t be surprised and very relieved if we actually see a fairly significant recovery (in) case count drop when we get about 40% of the first doses once, which we’re moving towards quickly,” Naylor said.

Canada hit 14 million people vaccinated with at least one dose on Friday, more than 37% of all Canadians. At current immunization rates, Canada is expected to reach 40% by midweek.

Since vaccines are coming faster now, the 50 percent marker should arrive before Victoria Day.

“When we get around 50%, I think we should see a lot more light at the end of the tunnel,” Naylor said. “I just hope there won’t be a lot of premature opening at that point, because that might put us back.”

Razak said there was no magic formula for when and how to lift the restrictions, but he said it had to be data driven. If this is done too quickly, before enough people are vaccinated and the virus has limited places to take hold, a fourth wave is very likely.

Naylor said if things are done right, there is no reason Canada cannot be where Britain is now, in the not too distant future.

“We are able here, with this flood of effective vaccines, to really fight this virus and get ourselves out of limbo and get our lives back,” he said.

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