Coronavirus: Alberta reports 296 new COVID-19 cases, declining hospitalizations

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Coronavirus: Alberta reports 296 new COVID-19 cases, declining hospitalizations
Coronavirus: Alberta reports 296 new COVID-19 cases, declining hospitalizations

Alberta released new provincial COVID-19 vaccine data Thursday showing only a minuscule percentage of people with their first dose got infected or needed hospitalization.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said the vaccines have proven even more effective than expected. Since January, 96 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Alberta were either unvaccinated or diagnosed within two weeks of getting their first shot while their immunity was still building.

Just 0.2 per cent of all Albertans who received their first dose got COVID-19 after two-weeks had passed since getting the shot.

Over that same period, 93 per cent of the people who needed hospital care were either not vaccinated or were diagnosed with infection within two weeks of receiving their first dose.

The province launched a new online dashboard Thursday with detailed Alberta data about vaccine outcomes.

Alberta reported 296 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The province administered another 44,726 doses of vaccine Wednesday.

There were 411 people in hospital, a drop of 24 compared to the previous day. Of those, 120 people were being treated in intensive care.

Five new COVID-19 deaths were reported to Alberta Health.

Second calls resume for variants

The province’s positivity rate was about 4.6 per cent. With the province resuming its screening of all positive cases for variants of concern this week, Hinshaw said 305 of those cases had been identified in the last 24 hours.

Hinshaw says case investigation teams will be restarting second calls for cases with variants of concern other than the B117 variant, first identified in the U.K.

This will help AHS do more in-depth investigations to find out where the case was exposed, Hinshaw said. The province will be paying attention to the P1, B135 and B1657 variants, identified in Brazil, South Africa and India, respectively.

“Our data also clearly show the vaccines are effective against the most common variants circulating in Alberta right now,” Hinshaw said.

In Alberta, one dose of an mRNA vaccine has proven to be 73 per cent effective against infection of the B117 variant, the dominant strain in the province. Two doses are 91 per cent effective, Hinshaw said.

One dose was 75 per cent effective against the P1 variant and two doses bump that up to 89 per cent, she said.

“These numbers reinforce just how important vaccines are,” Hinshaw said. “These vaccines work better than we could’ve expected.”

Hinshaw says vaccine effectiveness for AstraZeneca and effectiveness against other variants was not yet available.

Reopening reliant on vaccinations

Another 44,762 doses of vaccine were administered Wednesday, about half of which were second doses. About 64 per cent of Albertans over 12 have now received at least one dose, with 11.3 per cent receiving two doses.

Last week, as cases continued to decline, Kenney announced a summer re-opening plan that would see almost all public health restrictions lifted by early July.

The first phase of re-opening launched this week and the second phase — when entertainment venues such as movie theatres and casinos will be able to reopen their doors — could come as early as June 10.

Vaccination rates are the linchpin for each step in the three-step plan.

The province has since expanded its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, allowing everyone over age 12 who has had a first shot to book a booster before the end of the month.

Anyone who received their first dose in March can book a second shot immediately. Anyone vaccinated in April can start booking June 14, and those vaccinated in May can start booking June 28.

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