Home Health Immunization Next new vaccines will be game changers, says Premier Horgan

Next new vaccines will be game changers, says Premier Horgan

Newer vaccines may not have the temperature and storage challenges of Pfizer & Moderna products.

Wednesday January 27, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends

“We’re doing everything we can do to keep you safe,” the Premier said with surety during his media availability session today following his weekly Wednesday cabinet meeting.

For a year now, there has been an ongoing onslaught of measures to be considered and taken, including public health orders, enforcement of those orders, educating the public about bending the curve, supporting individuals, communities and businesses through the range of economic impacts ($10 billion between budgets), and now a massive immunization strategy.

The BC Immunization Plan is based primarily on age being considered the highest risk factor due to the premise that immune system strength declines with age. After health-care workers and long-term care residents and workers are given access to vaccines (Phases 1 and 2), then the so-called ‘general population’ will be offered vaccines based on age (Phases 3 and 4).

Phase 3 will accommodate people ages 79 down to 60 (in five-year cohorts), and then Phase 4 will offer vaccines to people ages 59 to 18 (in five-year groupings). Notably, this leaves the university and college set (age 18 to 24) not receiving vaccines until September 2021.

All of these timelines depend very much upon vaccine supply. This week there has been no Pfizer product delivery, due to a retooling of their COVID vaccine production plant in Belgium. The Moderna contract promises their supply in full by March 31, but without a specific schedule for how that gets rolled out between now and then. The contracts for vaccine supply are negotiated by the federal government.

Premier John Horgan, January 27 2021
Premier John Horgan during his weekly media availability, on January 27, 2021 in Victoria.

All travel discouraged as COVID variants circulate:

Travel of any kind during the COVID-19 pandemic is strongly discouraged by the Public Health Officer and by Premier John Horgan today.

This is particularly in light of consistently high daily COVID-19 case counts and the presence of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 (aka COVID-19) virus found in BC (notably B117/UK and B1351/South Africa).

As explained by Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry earlier this week, the B117 (UK) variant has been found in BC as a result of travel, and then people being in contact with the person who travelled. The B1351 (South Africa) variant has been found only by community transmission, which indicates it has probably been here for a while, under the radar.

Vaccine challenges:

Vaccines are part of the COVID scene now in 2021, but it’s still too soon to let our guard down as individuals or as communities, says Horgan. So far about 125,000 doses of mRNA-type COVID vaccines have been administered (Pfizer and Moderna), but there’s a long way to go before achieving herd (community) immunity against the virus.

Specifically — as of January 26 — there have been 122,359 doses of mRNA type vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) administered in BC, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC). Of that tally, 4,105 were second doses. As of yesterday, the total supply of vaccines received in BC to date has been 144,450 doses (26,775 of those received last week, according to the BC CDC).

Dr Bonnie Henry, January 25 2021
Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry expresses the importance of holding down the COVID-19 curve in BC, January 25, 2021.

Hurdles and obstacles include inconsistent supply, and the sheer magnitude of administering the doses to every adult who wants one — vaccination centers need to be set up and operated across 172 communities in the province.

Particular aspects of each type of vaccine will require specific actions and adjustments. For example, as the Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-low storage temperatures and delicate handling, it was used close to home in frontline health-care and long-term care (residents and staff), while the Moderna vaccine being less strident around temperature and movement has been shipped to rural, remote and Indigenous communities.

Horgan has hopes for the upcoming approval by Health Canada of the vaccine products by Astra-Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson — those will be ‘game changers’, he told media today. That’s based on the expectation that requirements for temperature and durability during transport will be less strident for the next set of COVID-19 vaccine product types.

COVID Case Profile in BC (January 27, 2021):

A total of 65,719 cases in BC to January 27, including 485 new cases today. There are 4,299 active cases, with 303 people in hospital (74 in ICU). Another 6,520 people are self-isolating due to known exposure. Another four deaths today (total 1,172).

COVID Vancouver Island Case Profile (January 27, 2021):

A total of 1,538 cases in Island Health to January 27, including 45 new cases today. There are 220 active cases, with 16 people in hospital (four in ICU). No new deaths today, but one reported Monday, and another yesterday (total 19).

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