COVID-19 Updates-March 26, 2021
COVID-19 Surveillance Update
Since our update on Tuesday:
- Another 259 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified, including 116 today. This brings the total case count in Manitoba to 33,810.
- Test positivity down: The five-day test positivity rate is 4.4%, down from 5.3%. It is 3.6% in Winnipeg, down from 3.9%.
- 46 new variant of concern cases: A new batch of B.1.1.7 (UK) variant cases were confirmed today. This brings the total number of variant of concern cases identified to 123, including 109 B.1.1.7 and 14 B.1.351 (South Africa) cases.
- Active cases down: There are 1,169 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, down from 1,247.
- There are 142 people in hospital, unchanged from Tuesday. This includes 31 people in ICU.
- Three new deaths related to COVID-19 were identified, all reported today. The total number of deaths is 932.
Vaccine Situation Update
- 157,399 doses have been administered, up from 139,591 on Tuesday.
- 9.9% of Manitoba adults have received their first vaccination, up from 8.7% Tuesday.
- Eligibility has not changed, and includes individuals 65 and older, or 45 and older among First Nations people. Those with high-risk medical conditions, age 50 – 64 (or 30 – 64 among First Nations people) are eligible at a medical clinic or pharmacy. There are still a few locations that are reporting having doses available.
- More pop-up clinics have been planned for April in a number of rural communities.
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.
This weekend, you can preview new vaccine Q&As for the public that will go live on Monday. Based on thousands of questions we’ve received through our vaccine campaign, a team of physicians contributed answers to dozens of the most common questions. Take a look, and let us know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. What other questions are you hearing from patients?
Third Wave Coming?
Some experts are concerned the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has started in parts of Canada and in other countries, with new variants circulating that could be more transmissible and potentially more deadly.
Nationally, the number of infections and hospitalized patients has started to increase again. Much of this is being fueled by cases in Ontario, where half of new cases are variants of concern and experts have concluded the third wave has started. Other provinces are also seeing new cases increase again too.
An analysis in Ontario suggests variants of concern lead to more serious illness and death, in addition to being more transmissible. While the analysis is early, the preliminary findings suggest:
- 60% higher risk of hospitalization
- Double the risk of ICU admission
- 60% higher risk of death.
Other medical experts are now raising concerns that the third wave is hitting younger people, and hitting them harder.
In Manitoba, we have not yet seen the same spike in new daily cases, though the number has plateaued at a rate that is higher than many consider comfortable. It is now starting to rise again very gradually, a trend public health officials noted today.
Dr. Jazz Atwal, the Deputy Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, disclosed today that about one third of new cases in Manitoba are testing positive for variants of concern. While this was expected, it is concerning and public health efforts are designed to slow this down while people get immunized.
Dr. Atwal mentioned that modest changes to public health orders come into effect today, but reinforced the importance of limiting interactions. Even though it may be possible to go out every day to a public place, each interaction carries a risk and Manitobans were strongly encouraged to limit the risk to slow the spread.
Feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of a third wave?
Need to talk to someone? It’s a challenging and uncertain time to practice medicine. Contact the Physician & Family Support Program 24/7 at 1−844−436−2762.
Earlier this week, we provided an update on the developments on AstraZeneca’s vaccine, and now that the week is over we can share a little more.
AstraZeneca released a more complete analysis of their U.S. clinical trial, reporting 76% overall efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19, slightly lower than the 79% reported on Monday from their interim analysis. What did not change was that the vaccine was still found to be 100% efficacious against severe or critical illness and hospitalization. This is still considered to be a highly effective vaccine. The most recent analysis also found 85% vaccine efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 among adults age 65 and over.
This ends a confusing week, where AstraZeneca’s initial report was flagged by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease as incomplete or outdated, and fueling concerns about this vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci has said it a “very good vaccine” and others have called this a PR blunder for what is otherwise a highly effective immunization option.
Overall, regulators and medical experts continue to have confidence in this vaccine as being both safe and effective.
Reports also emerged this week about the EU and India slowing down exports of AstraZeneca to help immunize more of their citizens. The Canadian government, so far, does not believe this will impact our vaccine supply, but this is something we will continue to monitor closely. Meanwhile, good news emerged this afternoon with confirmation that 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca will arrive in Canada on Tuesday, though we do not yet know when supplies will arrive in Manitoba.
This weekend, you can preview new vaccine Q&As for the public that will go live on Monday, including answers about the safety and effectiveness of AstraZeneca. Based on thousands of questions we’ve received through our vaccine campaign, a team of physicians contributed answers to dozens of the most common questions. Take a look, and let us know what you think by emailing email@example.com. What other questions are you hearing from patients?
Dr. Brock Wright Endowment Fund
A name familiar to many Manitobans, Dr. Brock Wright retired recently as CEO of Shared Health. To mark his retirement and honour his leadership contributions to the medical profession and the health care system, an endowment fund has been created by his friends and colleagues with the University of Manitoba.
Dr. Gigi Osler, former CMA President, invites you to consider supporting this important initiative:
“I want to encourage my colleagues to seriously consider making a contribution to this endowment fund. Dr. Brock Wright has worked tirelessly, with various governments and system leaders to find ways for physicians to provide excellent care for Manitoba families. This fund is a tremendous honour for Dr. Wright, and it will support medical learners for years to come. Please join me in donating today.“
The Dr. Brock Wright Endowment Fund will support a scholarship for a student in his or her final year of education with the Max Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. The student will have demonstrated service and leadership through a commitment to improving health services for Manitobans by:
- Enhancing collaboration among care providers to create a more integrated and effective provincial health care system; or
- Advancing inter-professional education or practice to ensure health care providers across the province are better able to work to their full scopes of practice; or
- Improving the cost-effectiveness of health service delivery so that resources can be directed to those services that best meet the health needs of Manitobans; or
- Increasing access to care for structurally disadvantaged populations to reduce the inequities that exist in health service provision.
In addition, successful scholarship applicants will have demonstrated qualities of integrity, empathy, and emotional intelligence. They will be excellent communicators, and be motivated by and committed to the success of the team.
You can click here to learn more about the fund, and make a donation, today.
Women Leading in Pandemic Event
On Monday, you can join an event about how women are leading the world through the pandemic.
Our CEO, Ms. Theresa Oswald, will be joining a national panel along with Dr. Theresa Tam, to explore opportunities, challenges and impact during this ongoing public health emergency. This includes a discussion about how women in leadership roles are translating policy into action, effective leadership models, and the interconnected business, legal and cultural impacts of the pandemic.
Not Throwing Away My Shot!
A group of physicians in Northern California have re-written the song My Shot from the hit musical Hamilton, and it’s worth a watch! Check it out on YouTube this weekend. If you haven’t already received the vaccine, don’t throw away your shot!
Creative ideas like this help, especially with reaching those open to the vaccine but complacent at the same time. Younger people may not perceive the same urgency or personal risk with COVID-19, and a variety of creative approaches will be needed to connect with them so they don’t throw away their shot!
If you have a creative idea about reaching the vaccine hesitant, or complacent, let us know! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org