Thursday, January 21, 2021
Health

Vaccine versus Variant: Ontario racing to protect most its vulnerable

Vaccine versus Variant: Ontario racing to protect most its vulnerable
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Meanwhile, vulnerable long-term care residents and high-risk patients in many parts of the province are waiting.

Ontario needs to vaccinate as many vulnerable people as quickly as possible, Deonandan said, and to encourage residents to take measures to reduce spread of COVID-19 until herd immunity kicks in.

“The new variant makes it more difficult because the number of people becoming infected per day is going to increase and getting ahead of it becomes harder. Not that we are ahead of it now.”

Why the B117 variant is causing concern

Mutations are common in viruses and often have little impact on their spread or severity. But the new variant of SARS-C0V-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is a different story.

Multiple changes to its spike protein, which attaches to cells in order for infection to occur, make it at least 56 per cent more transmissible than the original variant.

The result is being seen in the United Kingdom, where it was first identified, and other parts of the world where communities with high numbers of the variant are struggling with vertical case growth and overwhelmed health-care systems.

The variant is not more severe, but its ease of transmission results in more serious illness and death. It responds to the vaccine, meaning immunization will protect people against it.

It is one variant of concern right now and more are expected. Another was first identified in South Africa.

epayne@postmedia.com



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