COVID-19 Update-April 6, 2021
At the end of today’s message, you will find an important notice for Doctors Manitoba’s AGM, and this year’s event will include a special presentation from a global expert on physician health and wellness.
COVID-19 Surveillance Update
Since our last update one week ago (last Tuesday):
- Another 497 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified, including 62 today. This brings the total case count in Manitoba to 34,549.
- Test positivity up: The five-day test positivity rate is 5.3%, up from 4.3%. It is 4.3% in Winnipeg, up from from 3.5%.
- Active cases up: There are 1,255 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, up from 1,197.
- There are 140 people in hospital, down from 150. This includes 30 people in ICU.
- Eight new deaths related to COVID-19 were identified, including two today. The total number of deaths is 942
Since last Tuesday, an additional 25 variant of concern cases have been identified, including five B.1.1.7 cases today. Overall there have been a total of 275 screened or sequenced variant of concern cases, including:
- 240 of the B.1.1.7 variant (UK)
- 20 of the B.1.351 variant (South Africa)
- 15 cases that have not yet been categorized
Manitoba broadened how it counts variants of concern last week, and now includes both sequenced cases as well as screened cases.
Vaccine Situation Update
- 216,718 doses have been administered, up from 178,281 last Tuesday.
- 14.3% of Manitoba adults have received their first vaccination, up from 11.4% a week ago.
- Eligibility was has not changed. Those eligible include those age 64 and older, or 44 and older among First Nations people. Those with high-risk medical conditions, age 55 – 64, continue to be eligible at a medical clinic or pharmacy. More doses are arriving and should be available to patients as early as tomorrow in those settings.
- More pop-up clinics have been planned for April in a number of rural communities, though some are being rescheduled due to a delay in Moderna vaccine
Doctors Manitoba continues to maintain two important vaccine resources:
- For physicians: Our Vaccine Resource Centre includes resources and information, including sample patient messaging, a billing guide, a vaccine hesitancy guide and more.
- For your patients: Our public vaccine hub, ManitobaVaccine.ca, continues to offer your patients answers to common vaccine questions, including when individuals will become eligible.
Third Wave and Variants of Concern
While Manitoba has not yet seen an increase in cases or hospitalizations, other jurisdictions are seeing a sharp rise and have declared that the third wave of the pandemic has arrived. In Ontario, for example, a lock down was ordered last week after the scientific advisory table released data projections, along with concerning data. The Ontario Science Table has found that variants of concern now account for two thirds of cases in the province, and these variants are associated with:
- 63% increased risk of hospitalization
- Double the risk of admission to ICU
- 56% increased risk of death due to COVID-19
- ICU admissions continue to get younger, with patients under 60 now accounting for nearly half of those in ICU.
Dr. Brent Roussin today was asked about the Third Wave and explained that Manitoba is “in a race, against our third wave. There is a third wave coming our way, and all that will depend on how many Manitobans we can get vaccinated prior to it arriving here.”
To the West, the P.1 variant of concern, first identified in Brazil, has been identified and is spreading. Like the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants, the P.1 variant is more transmissible. It may also be capable of evading prior immunogenecity, with reports that individuals previously infected with the original COVID-19 virus have become reinfected with P.1. Cases have been identified in Alberta, associated with workplace outbreaks, and in BC, including potentially being responsible for sidelining the Vancouver Canucks.
In a survey currently underway with physicians, 84% are worried or somewhat worried about the third wave of COVID-19, and 92% are worried about how the third wave will disrupt surgeries and diagnostic procedures. These results are preliminary. You should have received an invitation to complete this survey on Thursday. Your input will help to shape our pandemic advocacy on issues like addressing the surgery backlog, improving the vaccine rollout, and response to a potential third wave. If you haven’t received an invitation and want to complete this survey, email us at email@example.com.
Vaccine Rollout Concerns
Over the long weekend, there was widespread media coverage raising concerns about the pace of the vaccine rollout in Manitoba. This followed concerns a week ago about long delays and wait times at the Winnipeg vaccine super site.
A lot of the concerns this weekend focused on fewer doses being administered at the government-run immunization super sites, and the amount of vaccine in storage rather than in arms. While provincial planning documents reveal it was always the plan to scale back volumes on the Easter weekend, the concerns have increased the scrutiny about how the province is planning this massive initiative and pace of its implementation. Some data sources suggest Manitoba trails most other provinces in reaching its citizens with first doses, though there could be reporting differences across jurisdictions.
There’s no question everyone would like the immunization campaign to go faster, and we are sure this includes the provincial officials working overtime to plan and oversee the rollout. Doctors Manitoba has offered constructive advice to the Vaccine Implementation Task Force on how physicians can help support the vaccine rollout and reach more Manitobans sooner.
In countries leading the world on immunizing their citizens, doctors’ offices have played a key role, complementing the government-run mass immunization sites. This includes offering mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer or Moderna. Solutions are already developed that we can adapt for Manitoba, including:
- Online training
- Special storage trays
- Hub and spoke model for storage (hub) and medical clinic-based delivery (spokes)
- Coordinated just-in-time delivery schedules to ensure the delicate mRNA vaccines are thawed, carefully transported and used within the manufacturer-approved window.
Indeed, 98% of the participating medical clinics who responded to our survey are open to offering mRNA vaccines in their office. Most medical clinics can also offer more doses than the province has planned for, which could add as much as 5,500 more doses per day to the provincial vaccine rollout.
We know vaccine hesitancy can be caused by a number of factors, primarily concerns about the vaccines themselves or difficulty accessing the vaccines. Physicians are best-positioned to address both of these issues with trusted medical advice and convenient clinic locations.
Doctors are reporting frustration to us everyday as they counsel patients in their office about the vaccine, but are not able to convert that to a needle in the arm due to a lack of vaccine supply.
Surgery Backlog Plans
Last week, the provincial government announced $50 million to help address the surgery backlog, or “pandemic pileup” as Premier Pallister called it.
Doctors Manitoba welcomed this news, as it followed a key recommendation we submitted to Finance Minister Scott Fielding when our President, Dr. Cory Baillie, and other Board members met with him several weeks ago. We called the investment a “good start” as it recognizes the issue and commits serious funding to help address it, but the issue is complex and a third wave could disrupt hospital operations again and add the backlog.
The backlog in surgical procedures caused by pandemic restrictions was pegged at over 10,000 a few months ago. The Canadian Medical Association released a study by Deloitte that estimated $68 million was needed to address the backlog in Manitoba, but this focused just on the backlog from the first wave of the pandemic, and only the priority wait time procedures.
We now have a survey underway with surgeons, anesthetists, radiologists and all other physicians to understand the impact of the surgical and diagnostic slow downs and how they should be addressed. If you haven’t received this survey, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure you can share your views.
There is no shortage of information on the COVID-19 vaccines these days, and some of it is being delivered in webinars. We are trying to keep track of what is available, to help you stay up-to-date.
Tonight at 6:30p.m., Manitoba Health has planned a webinar for clinics and pharmacies participating in the vaccine rollout. Clinics should have received an invitation directly from Manitoba Health. If you did not, let us know at email@example.com.
Other upcoming and past webinars of note:
Information session about COVID-19 vaccination and public health measures
With: Dr. Howard Njoo, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Public Health Agency of Canada
When: April 16, 2021 at 1 pm – 2 pm. CDT
If you have questions that can inform the Question and Answer period for the event, we ask that they be submitted by Thursday, April 8th 12:00 PM (EDT) to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: PHAC info session- health- April 16-question.
Vaccine Hesitancy Webinar from Doctors Nova Scotia
With: Dr. Iris Gorkinel, a Toronto family physician, CBC contributor and principal investigator of PrimeHealth Clinical Research
When: Available On Demand (originally aired March 25)
Join us on Thursday May 6 for the Doctors Manitoba Annual General Meeting! We have a special headline speaker planned on a topic that couldn’t be more important. We hope you’ll join us.
Our AGM will start this year with a presentation about physician health and wellness, featuring Dr. Tait Shanafelt. We are very lucky to be joined by this global thought-leader and researcher in the field of physician well-being and its implications for quality of care, and one who recognizes the importance of organizational and system-level strategies to improve wellness.
Dr. Shanafelt leads the WellMD Centre at Stanford University, where he also works as a professor, associate dean. Clinically, he focuses on care of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Previously, he served as the founding director of the Mayo Clinic Department of Medicine Program on Physician Well-being.
His pioneering studies nearly 20 years ago are credited with helping launch the entire field of organizational efforts to promote physician well-being. Dr. Shanafelt is a member of the American College of Physicians Task Force on Physician Well-being and the National Academy of Medicine Committee on System Approaches to Support Clinician Well-being. He has helped hundreds of organizations and their leaders work to reduce burnout and promote professional fulfillment for physicians.
NOTICE OF THE 113th ANNUAL GENERAL BUSINESS MEETING
Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 6:00 p.m.
Registration information will follow, and will be added under upcoming events on our website.
Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Business Meeting of the Members of Doctors Manitoba is called for and will be held on Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 6:00 p.m.
In accordance with the Doctors Manitoba By-Laws, the Meeting is called for the following purposes:
- To approve the Minutes of the 112th Annual General Business Meeting, held on May 8, 2020;
- To receive the recommendation of the Board of Directors for the office of President-Elect for 2021 – 22 and, if no other nominations are received in accordance with the By-Laws, to approve the recommendation; and
- To transact such other business as may properly be brought before the Meeting.
All Members in good standing are invited to attend. Members can attend virtually due to ongoing pandemic restrictions. Instructions for participation will be provided by e‑mail and posted on the Doctors Manitoba website prior to the Meeting.
The Agenda, the Minutes of the 2020 Annual General Business Meeting, and other details will be provided by e‑mail and posted on the Doctors Manitoba website prior to the meeting.
Members who prefer to receive this information by mail must contact the Doctors Manitoba office at 204−985−5888 no later than April 30, 2021.