A COVID-19 outbreak in a Burlington long-term care home is much less of a concern now than it would have been a few months ago, before most residents were fully immunized, experts say.
The village of Tansley Woods, run by Schlegel Villages, reported 16 infections on Friday, with 14 residents and two staff testing positive for COVID-19. A note distributed to families said the outbreak is almost certainly linked to the widespread Delta variant, even though almost all of the affected residents – except one – have been fully vaccinated.
The outbreak is testament to the rapid spread of the Delta variant across Ontario, even among those who received both doses, said Isaac Bogoch, infectious disease specialist at the University Health Network.
But it’s also an example of how vaccines offer protection against worst-case care scenarios and make the disease virtually powerless for most of those who contract it.
“If these people who test positive for the infection have no symptoms or even mild symptoms, then we’re in great shape,” Bogoch said.
“We saw what happened when a variant was started in a long-term care facility in the pre-vaccine era. The death rate was astronomical. If residents here weren’t vaccinated, the variant would destroy the facility and kill a number of people. “
So far, the outbreak has not reported any deaths or hospitalizations due to the outbreak.
COVID-19 vaccines not only reduce the risk of infection, but also reduce the risk of death or serious illness in those infected. In fact, the likelihood of having no symptoms, even if you are infected with the Delta variant, increases dramatically with two doses, Bogoch says.
This model can be seen in hot spots around the world. Last Thursday, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention said 99.5% of people killed by COVID-19 in the past six months were unvaccinated.
“So the ‘Oh my god they tested positive’ story is no longer the right story when people have two doses,” Bogoch said. “Vaccines save lives here. “
In the aftermath of the outbreak, non-essential long-term care home visits have been suspended to protect the health and safety of residents, staff and family.
While still being investigated by Halton Public Health, the variant would likely have been spread by people without a full vaccination, whether they were staff, residents or outside visitors, Nathan Stall said, geriatrician and epidemiologist at the University of Toronto.
In an email to InsideHalton.com, a spokesperson for the house said 86% of team members received a dose. Stall suspects the full vaccination rate among staff is closer to 50 percent.
“One dose of vaccine compared to two doses is much less effective. The fact that we have this kind of vaccination rate among the staff, I guess that probably has a role to play in the epidemic of the variant, ”said Stall.
“We need a fully immunized workforce. We need proof of vaccination. Vaccines are not 100% effective, so residents are always at risk when not everyone is fully immunized.
With files from InsideHalton.com