Statement from Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on July 22, 2021

From: Public Health Agency of Canada

July 22, 2021 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create stress and anxiety for many Canadians, particularly those who do not have ready access to their regular support networks. Through the Wellness Together Canada online portal, people of all ages across the country can access immediate, free and confidential mental health and substance use supports, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Today, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has released updated guidance on the use of COVID-19 vaccines. NACI’s latest guidance, continues to recommend that people who were previously infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus may receive a full series of COVID-19 vaccines. In making this recommendation NACI considered a range of factors, including data from real-world studies on the protective immune response offered by previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, the immune responses after one and two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine series in previously infected people, and the safety of offering two doses to previously-infected people.

Available evidence indicates the immune response in individuals with a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection after one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is similar to the immune response seen in individuals without a history of infection after receiving two doses of COVID-19 vaccines. However, there is a lack of evidence on long-term one-dose effectiveness in people who were previously infected, in particular in relation to infection with recently circulating variants of concern. Provinces and territories consider NACI advice and take into account their local situation when determining their preferred approach. Individuals who have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus are reminded to wait to receive a vaccine until they no longer have acute symptoms of COVID-19 and are no longer infectious to others.

As COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are continuing to track key epidemiological indicators to monitor trends and quickly detect emerging issues of concern, including to better understand the impact of circulating virus variants. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is also providing regular updates on COVID-19 vaccines administered, vaccination coverage and ongoing monitoring of vaccine safety across the country. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,424,715 cases of COVID-19 and 26,512 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Variants of concern (VOCs) represent the majority of recently reported COVID-19 cases, including four VOCs (B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma), and B.1.617.2 (Delta)) that have been detected in most provinces and territories. Regardless of which viruses are predominating in an area, we know that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures, continue to work to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

As public health restrictions are eased, some increase in cases, particularly among unvaccinated populations, is not unexpected. Over the past two weeks, there has been a slowed rate of decline in disease activity nationally and today’s 7-day moving average of 427 cases reported daily during the period July 15-21, indicates a small increase of 2.6% over the previous week. Severe illness trends continue to decline with the latest provincial and territorial data showing an average of 553 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (July 15-21), which is 15% fewer than last week. This includes, on average 248 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 21% fewer than last week and an average of 8 deaths were reported daily (July 15-21).

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