Public Health Canada (PHAC) warns that if the delta variant becomes the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Canada, it could lead to a larger-than-expected resurgence in case numbers this fall.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr Theresa Tam said such a resurgence could remain in check if personal protection measures remain in place until the country achieves a higher level of vaccination coverage.
“With the Delta formula, I think the bottom line is that we get as high as possible, as much as we can exceed that target by 75 percent for the first and second doses,” Tam said.
Health officials have said that 75 percent of all Canadians must be fully vaccinated before domestic protection measures are fully lifted.
But if the Delta variant becomes the dominant strain in Canada, the Primary Health Care Center says, 80 percent of the population will need to be fully vaccinated before these measures are lifted to avoid a recurrence of falls.
The delta variant is highly contagious and has led to a resurgence of the number of cases in other countries such as the UK, where reopening plans were recently delayed by four weeks.
Dr. Tam said increasing uptake among young adults is key to helping avoid a resurgence.
She said Canadians under the age of 40 were the only ones who did not reach the 75 percent mark in the first doses, but she expects that to increase.
“I think it’s partly a matter of time and I want to see us go over 75 percent and aim for as close to 100 percent as possible,” she said.
Prairie provinces lagging behind first doses
The only thing that could be a factor in a potential return is how counties approach plans to reopen.
“What I’m watching is what happens when every county individually reopens, and that’s going to tell us if we’re going to see some kind of resurgence,” Dr. Tam said.
“If vaccination rates go up as high as possible, I think it’s all manageable.”
As it stands, only four counties reached the 80 percent threshold for the first doses, while the majority reached 75 percent, according to the Primary Health Care Center.
Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are the only provinces that have not yet reached 75 percent of their first doses. Saskatchewan is the furthest away. There, only 69 percent of the population received a single dose.