Vaccinated visitors from US unlikely to spread virus, experts say – .

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Canada could allow fully vaccinated Americans to enter country by mid-August: Trudeau – .


News that Canada may soon welcome fully vaccinated U.S. travelers comes as COVID-19 cases increase in some states south of the border, but infectious disease experts say the risk posed by vaccinated visitors is low.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that Canada could reopen the border to fully vaccinated Americans by mid-August, with vaccinated travelers from around the world following suit by early September.

Dr Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist in Mississauga, Ont., Said it was the next logical step in reopening the plans and would mark a shift in efforts to eliminate risks to those who mitigate them.

“The risk will not be zero… (but) we have to start making these adjustments to get back to normal,” he said. “We cannot remain in suspended animation with our closest neighbor. “

The United States recorded more than 35,000 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, up from 12,000 daily cases a month ago. The country had an average of 250,000 cases in January before its vaccine rollout accelerated.

Fifty-five percent of Americans were at least partially vaccinated as of Friday, with 48% fully vaccinated. The vaccination rate in Canada was approaching 70 percent of the total population, of which 47 percent were fully vaccinated.

A fully vaccinated person can still catch COVID-19, although this rarely happens and the illness is less severe when it does. Although people who have been vaccinated can still spread the virus, that risk is also “significantly reduced,” Chakrabarti said.

A recent study from the UK compared the spread among household contacts after vaccinated and unvaccinated family members received COVID-19. The study found that at least one dose reduced transmission to unvaccinated limbs by 40 to 50 percent.

Another preprinted study from Israel, which has yet to be peer reviewed, suggests the vaccines are 88.5% effective against transmission.

“So it’s clearly not 100%, but (vaccination) really eliminates the chain of transmission,” Chakrabarti said.

Nazeem Muhajarine, professor of epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, said that although spread from a fully vaccinated traveler would be rare, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Canadians are vulnerable, especially if visitors bring in without the know new variants of the virus.

Muhajarine, who is also a head of CoVaRR-Net, Canada’s network for research into variants of concern, said a traveler’s country of origin should always be taken into account regardless of their vaccination status. Visitors from Peru, for example, where the new Lambda variant is located, could present more risk.

“The fact that they are fully vaccinated is important information,” Muhajarine said. “But we also have to pay attention to the epidemiological scenario where they come from. “

Details on how the screening might go with a reopening of the border were yet to be released on Friday, and there was no mention of whether U.S. visitors would be required to show proof of vaccination. . The White House has already ruled out the idea of ​​a vaccine passport.

Details on whether Canada would maintain the negative test requirement for anyone entering the country was also lacking.

Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Alberta, expects the negative test provision to remain in place as a means of reducing the risk from “extremely low to even lower.”

“But we are already starting from a place where, in the absence of symptoms or in the absence of exposure to a known case, the likelihood of travelers importing the virus into Canada is low,” he said. .

Schwartz said Canada will also need to determine which vaccines it will accept in its definition of a “fully vaccinated” visitor.

Some parts of the world, including Russia and China, use vaccines that are not authorized by the World Health Organization and have “little or questionable public data,” Schwartz said. But being “too elitist” in the qualification of vaccines could pose ethical problems, he added.

Muhajarine said more countries are starting to exclude unvaccinated travelers from entering their borders, which could prompt more people to get vaccinated, thus increasing uptake of the vaccine in Canada and elsewhere.

But while Chakrabarti has said it makes sense to limit travel to fully vaccinated people, any details missing from the rules could cause confusion, especially among families wishing to travel with unvaccinated children.

“What if you have five family members who are vaccinated and one who is not? Said Chakrabarti. “There are a lot of unknowns here and a lot of unintended consequences that could lead to. “

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 17, 2021.

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