OTTAWA — Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the country is amidst a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as variants of the virus continue to spread, namely among the unvaccinated.
Tam said the national case count has taken a turn for the worse since the last modelling update two weeks ago.
“We have been closely monitoring increases in COVID-19 activity across the country. The latest national surveillance data indicate that a fourth wave is underway in Canada and that cases are plotting along a strong resurgence trajectory,” she said speaking to reporters on Thursday.
There are currently more than 13,000 active cases in Canada, more than double the number from late July. Tam said that 1,500 new cases are being reported daily and the majority are among those aged 20 to 39.
“Fortunately, the number of deaths remain low, with an average of seven deaths being reported daily,” she said. “We need build up momentum to increase coverage among young adults, the age group where most of the transmission is occurring.”
During the same news conference, International Development Minister Karina Gould and Procurement Minister Anita Anand announced Canada will donate an additional ten million Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to the global vaccine-sharing network COVAX, to help low and middle-income countries boost their vaccination efforts.
“Around the world, millions are still unvaccinated and unprotected against COVID-19. In low-income countries, only two per cent of the population have received one dose. We have a lot of work to do to vaccinate the entire planet,” said Gould.
At the G7 summit in June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to sharing 100 million vaccines with developing nations, of which 13 million would be donated as actual doses and the rest would come in the form of funding to global initiatives, including COVAX.
This announcement brings Canada’s contribution of doses to just over 40 million.
Health Canada approved the two-dose Johnson & Johnson drug in early March but after its quality review of a first shipment from a facility in Baltimore, Mary., it decided not to distribute the vaccines to provinces to “protect the health and safety of Canadians.”
Anand said that because Canada has enough vaccines to vaccinate all Canadians twice, the government can redirect extra supply.
“As of today, we have received over 70 million doses in the country, 82 per cent of eligible Canadians have had at least one dose and 71 per cent are fully vaccinated…our approach this year is why Canada is in a position to continue to share millions of doses of vaccine with the world.”