Friday January 14, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends
Hospitalizations for infection with COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) are have been higher in the last five weeks or so due to the Delta variant, more than the Omicron variant.
The data also includes hospitalizations for people who went to hospital for something non-COVID-related but were found to be infected with COVID once they were in the hospital system (ER or full admission).
Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry showed that in her new modelling presentation delivered today January 14.
The data period was November 28, 2021 through January 2, 2022 when Omicron transmission was fast and wide in the community. Transmission continues, but not at a rate that is quite as high with the Omicron variant, said Dr Henry for the current situation here at mid-January.
“The median length of stay is (with Omicron) is about half of people with Delta. The need for critical care is down by two-thirds. There is also less severe illness (with Omicron) that leads to death,” said Dr Henry today in her live media session.
Higher risk if unvaccinated:
Transmission of the Omicron variant in BC hit a peak last weekend (January 8 or 9, 2022), said Dr Henry today.
Nonetheless, people who are unvaccinated are still clearly more at risk for severe illness, hospitalization and death, the data shows.
This is not new information, but the repeated messaging is aiming to hopefully protect more people and protect the health-care system from its current state of overload (not just the number of patients but also the reduced level of staffing given that a number of health-care workers are off sick).
Today Dr Henry added that people are less likely to transmit COVID when it’s the Omicron variant and by people who are otherwise well.
As well, anyone over age 70 years is significantly more at risk for COVID infection at this time, even if vaccinated. Today Health Minister Adrian Dix encouraged anyone age 70+ who’s not yet vaccinated — or is still needing their booster shot (i.e. third dose) to make an appointment today at the Get Vaccinated | Immunize BC website. More info about getting a COVID vaccine injection is on the BC Centre for Disease Control website.
Today Dr Henry said that 60,000 people over age 70 — who have two COVID vaccine doses already — still don’t yet have a booster shot.
According to BC Health, booster shots are done with the mRNA-type vaccines.
The Pfizer booster dosage is the same as the first two shots (i.e. 30 mcg each) and the Moderna booster dosage is 50 mcg (compared to the 100 mcg for the first two shots).
The pediatric Pfizer dose for children age 5 to 11 years is 10 mcg.
Next few weeks challenging:
Dr Henry said today that transmission of Omicron likely peaked last weekend in BC, but that the peak of hospitalizations will likely be seen Jan 15-22, and it will take another week for hospitalization levels to go down. “It’s going to be a challenging few weeks yet” for the hospital system.
Health Minister Adrian Dix reminds people to respond responsibly and kindly. Work done by teachers, grocery and health-care is recognized. Focus on what each of us can be done today, he said in today’s media session.
Shifting to endemic:
“It’s going to be a transition, not an abrupt change (from pandemic to endemic). I think this virus will settle down in communities over the next little while,” said Dr Henry today. She mused that for a third year in a row ‘it will be different/better by Easter’.
Dr Henry invites pregnant women to phone for COVID booster shots (January 13, 2022)
COVID vaccination profile in Island Health (January 11, 2022)
Omicron: 5th COVID variant is going strong (January 8, 2022)