Alberta reports 422 new COVID-19 cases, 8 deaths
Alberta reported 422 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday as the number of active cases in the province decreased.
There are 608 people hospitalized with the disease, 128 of whom are in intensive care, according to the province’s chief medical officer of health.
"While we are headed in the right direction, I want to be clear that this is still a significant number of people in hospital, taxing our healthcare system,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
“We must all continue to support efforts to bring these numbers down even further.”
Eight Albertans were reported to have died due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, according to Hinshaw. She added that after a review, four deaths that had previously been attributed to COVID-19 were deemed to have not been caused by the disease.
There are active alerts or outbreaks in 211 Alberta schools, and 10 had 10 or more people with COVID-19 who were in the building, according to Hinshaw.
On Monday, Albertans will need their vaccination QR code or a negative test to enter businesses taking part in the Restrictions Exemption Program, Hinshaw added. Paper copies of vaccine records will not be accepted as of Nov. 15.
First Nations and military vaccination records will still be accepted.
Of Alberta’s eligible population, 87.6 per cent have received a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 81.4 are fully vaccinated.
“In Alberta, the odds of being hospitalized with COVID-19 are approximately eight times higher if you’re only partially vaccinated and 10 times higher if you’re unvaccinated,” said Hinshaw.
Health Canada approved booster doses for the Pfizer vaccine for people 18 and older, which Hinshaw called “encouraging.”
Albertans who are deemed to have an increased risk of breakthrough COVID-19 infections are already eligible for boosters. Hinshaw said there is no specific timeline for when the general public would be able to get a third dose of vaccine.
All Albertans living in continuing care facilities have had the opportunity to get a third dose of vaccine, added Hinshaw.
NEW TREATMENT FOR COVID-19
Hinshaw also announced a “new tool to help prevent severe outcomes for those at the highest risk.”
Alberta Health Services began administering sotrovimab to patients at home who are 65 and older, have COVID-19, are unvaccinated and have consented to receive it.
“Sotrovimab is a monoclonal antibody, a type of protein that attaches to the spike protein of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19, and prevents the virus from entering and infecting healthy cells within your body,” according to the government of Canada website.
The use of sotrovimab was authorized by Health Canada in July.
It is intended to be used to treat people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.
“The treatment is being rolled out across the province in a phased approach, starting with those with the highest risk of severe outcomes, like hospitalization,” said Hinshaw.
“Let me stress that sotrovimab is not a replacement for COVID-19 vaccines… as vaccines are the most effective method to prevent serious outcomes from the disease.”
In the update, Hinshaw also addressed “misinformation”, including a “rumor” that COVID-19 vaccines cause miscarriages.
“I want to assure Albertans that we continue to look at safety, including this particular question, in detail,” said Hinshaw. “There is no evidence that miscarriages or stillbirths have increased after COVID-19 vaccines have been made available.
“In fact, evidence shows that there has been a slight, but steady, reduction in the number of miscarriages in Alberta, starting in 2019, prior to the COVID pandemic, and this has continued over the following two years.”
Hinshaw also addressed concern over reports of a potential new variant in western Canada, which she called a sub lineage of the Delta variant.
“It is not a different variant of concern, there’s no evidence that it causes more severe illness, that it evades vaccine protection, that it’s significantly different from the Delta variant that’s been circulating as the dominant strain in Alberta since late summer,” said Hinshaw.
“We know that when viruses replicate, they can change their genetic slightly, so sometimes you have these sub lineages that evolve, but that doesn’t mean the behave differently from that parent strain and that’s the case with this particularly sub lineage.”
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