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Island Health shares AstraZeneca supply with Lower Mainland

500 doses shipped to more active infection zones

Thursday April 1, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 10 am]

by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends

When times get tough, the tough get on top of what needs to be done.

This week Island Health parted with half their AstraZeneca supply in order to help out in the Lower Mainland area where cases are highest.

“We have to be flexible in our vaccine rollout and in line with the provincial immunization plan, Island Health sent approximately 500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the health authorities in the Lower Mainland to assist with the vaccination rollout where British Columbians need it most,” it was explained in a statement by Island Health today.

In the first place, Island Health received 1,000 doses of AstraZeneca; that was posted in the BC CDC dashboard for Vancouver Island on March 16. That number remained consistent until March 30 when the supply indicator for AstraZeneca changed to 500 in Island Health.

The supply of AstraZeneca vaccine in Island Health dropped to 500 from 1,000 as of March 30. [BC CDC screenshot March 31, 2021]

As of March 31, there had been 439 doses of AstraZeneca administered within Island Health (all first doses).

By comparison, there have been 88,985 doses of Pfizer (8,305 as second doses) administered in Island Health as of March 31, as well as 28,016 doses of Moderna (1,843 second doses). The total COVID vaccine doses administered in Island Health, pandemic-to-date, stands at 117,440 (of which 10,148 are second doses).

Total vaccine supply as received in Island Health — as stated by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) in their dashboard at March 31 — was 171,770 doses (Pfizer 133,700, Moderna 37,500, and AstraZeneca now 500).

AstraZeneca in hot spots:

AstraZeneca, vaccine
The AstraZeneca vaccine has the distribution advantage of not requiring ultra-low temperatures during shipping or storage at immunization centres.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is being utilized within the BC Immunization Plan to address outbreaks and spread in certain types of workplaces and also in rural and remote locations.

This is in large part due to the less strident low-temperature requirements of the AstraZeneca viral vector product (it can be shipped and stored at normal refrigerator temperatures), whereas the Pfizer and Modern vaccines (the mRNA type) require ultra-low temperatures that are generally only possible in specialized freezers that are easier to setup and operate in larger urban centres.

COVID stats on Vancouver Island:

At present in Island Health there are 404 active cases of COVID-19 test-positive infections, with 13 people in hospital (one in intensive care). Total cases to date in Island Health stands at 3,324.

The positivity rate for Vancouver Island at 5.3% is at its highest point yet (that’s about half of the BC overall positivity rate of 9.9%).

The variants of concern are said to be driving this higher number of cases; these newer variants of COVID-19 (including B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1) are explained by health officials as being more easily transmitted and causing more serious illness. More people at younger ages are getting serious cases of infection from COVID now, across the country.

Vancouver Island, COVID, March 31 2021
COVID-19 dashboard for Island Health at March 31, 2021 with graph showing daily case counts pandemic-to-date. [BC CDC]

To date there have been 29 deaths in Island Health of people who had tested positive for COVID-19. That’s 1.9% of the provincial total COVID deaths of 1,458.

BC profile:

From the start, the greatest case counts have consistently been in the Lower Mainland (Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health in particular) during the COVID-19 pandemic in BC.

Yesterday March 31 there was the highest-yet one day number of new COVID cases in BC at 1,013 (or 1,014 if you refer to the BC CDC dashboard).

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