COVID-19 Update-March 16, 2021
COVID Surveillance Update
Since our update yesterday:
- 111 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified today. This brings the total case count in Manitoba to 32,903.
- Test positivity increased: The five-day test positivity rate is 5.2%, up from 4.8%. It is 3.7% in Winnipeg, up from 3.5%.
- Active cases up: There are 989 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, up from 908.
- There are 151 people in hospital, the same as yesterday. This includes 22 people in ICU.
- No new deaths were identified today, the second day in a row. The total number of deaths is remains at 917.
Thirteen more cases were confirmed to be the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant of concern and one additional case the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant. This brings the total number of variant of concern cases to 55, including 43 B.1.1.7 and 12 B.1.351 cases.
Vaccine Situation Update
- 109,875 doses have been administered, up from 106,931 yesterday. This includes 74,638 first doses and 35,227 second doses.
- 6.9% of Manitoba adults have received their first vaccination, up from 6.8% yesterday.
- Eligibility was expanded today to include those age 75 and older, and First Nations peoples age 55 and older.
Clinics and pharmacies started receiving their first shipments of AstraZeneca/Covishield last week. The province has also released a schedule of pop-up clinics in smaller communities such as Portage la Prairie, Gimli, Teulon, Dauphin, Swan River, The Pas and Flin Flon. The pop-up clinics are scheduled between March 16 and 31 with more dates expected. Review the full list and schedule online.
More data is available at the province’s vaccine data reporting page.
AstraZeneca Now Recommended for Older Adults
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has updated its recommendations today, now advising that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is recommended for adults of all ages, including those age 65 and older.
This does not yet change the vaccine’s approved use in Manitoba. We have checked with government officials, and they will likely update the provincial guidelines in the next few days. Doctors Manitoba will keep you updated as the provincial guidance changes.
In the meantime, the existing provincial guidelines apply. This means:
- Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses should continue to be offered to individuals with high-risk medical conditions between the ages of 50 and 64 (or ages 30 and 64 among First Nations people).
- Patients age 65 and older are not yet eligible for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Manitoba. They may be in the next few days.
The NACI guidelines were updated following their review of real-world observational data from the UK that has confirmed the effectiveness of the vaccine among those age 65 and older. While NACI is now recommending the vaccine for adults of all ages, their guidance still suggests mRNA vaccines might be preferable for those at highest risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, based on the data they reviewed. This position could change as NACI continues to review more real-world data about effectiveness.
You can view the new full NACI recommendations here.
AstraZeneca Safety Concerns
Many of your patients may be calling you with concerns about the safety of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, following reports in the last few days about European countries pausing its use after reports of blood clots. Here is some information to help you with your response:
- Physicians have confidence in the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine. This includes Dr. Brent Roussin, who has chosen to get the AstraVeneca vaccine himself later this week.
- The scientific evidence, along with the findings of several regulators, reinforces the safety of this vaccine.
- Health Canada, the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency continue to reinforce the safety and benefits of the vaccine.
- Several countries with rigorous regulatory and safety monitoring are continuing the use of this vaccine, including Canada, the UK and Australia.
- Even if there was a legitimate concern, Canada is using a different batch of the vaccine than the one used in Europe.
Third Wave Already?
The scientific table advising the Ontario government declared today that the province may be entering its third wave of the pandemic.
The advisory group found that variants of concern, particularly B.1.1.7 first discovered in the UK, now account for half of all new cases. More than two thirds of the province’s public health units are now reporting reproductive numbers of over 1, meaning the rate of infection is growing.
Manitoba has identified a comparatively low number of cases with variants of concern so far, though 18 new cases were identified yesterday and another 14 today. There are now 55 variant of concern cases that have been identified in Manitoba so far.
Test positivity has increased slightly over the last few days. Provincial health officials have pointed to travel restrictions and quarantine rules, as well as tougher case and contact isolation requirements, as key efforts to slow the spread of these variants of concern in Manitoba.