Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday. After lagging behind its neighbour in the early months of its COVID-19 vaccination rollout, Canada has now surpassed the United States in per-capita vaccinations.
According to CBC’s vaccine tracker, 48.48 per cent of Canadians are now fully vaccinated, while 69.48 per cent have had at least one shot.
The same figures in the U.S. are 48.05 per cent and 55.44 per cent, respectively, according to the CBC tracker.
After weeks of declining case numbers, hospitalizations and daily deaths, the trajectory of the pandemic in the U.S. is changing quickly. While case numbers are dramatically lower than they were during the January peak, all COVID-19 metrics are headed in the wrong direction.
When it comes to new daily cases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the seven-day average is up nearly 70 per cent; hospitalizations are up 36 per cent; and daily average deaths have increased 26 per cent to 211 per day. The CDC says the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated Americans.
Canada’s vaccination rate remains among the highest in the world, but it’s starting to slow as the pool of people still looking for a first or second dose shrinks — a far cry from when doses were hard to come by early in the year.
In the early stages of the country’s vaccination drive, Canada relied on shipments from countries like the U.S. and the U.K. — which were busy supplying their own populations with vaccines made in their own plants — resulting in a sluggish rollout.
Now, an abundance of doses is prompting health officials to pivot to a “more nuanced” approach.
Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie, who is leading the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution program, said more than two million doses are already being held back because provinces have said they can’t use them yet — a big change from when all newly arrived doses were shipped around the country as quickly as possible.
“In the coming weeks, we will cross a symbolic threshold of 66 million doses, signalling that there are enough doses in Canada to vaccinate every currently eligible Canadian,” Brodie said at a virtual news conference from Ottawa on Thursday.
“As we pivot from limited supply to sufficient supply, we are implementing a more nuanced approach to ensure that the vaccines are stewarded in a manner that best supports Canada’s enduring domestic needs, as well as optimizes options for supporting global vaccination efforts.”
Health Canada has not responded to a question asking how many doses of each vaccine are available in reserve or when they expire. Canada has already said it plans to donate the rest of its expected shipments of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine — 17.7 million doses — to the COVAX global vaccine-sharing alliance.
Those doses will be shipped to developing countries that are nowhere close to the level of vaccination Canada now enjoys. Across the African continent, for example, about three per cent of the population has now received at least one dose, and 1.4 per cent are fully vaccinated.
In Canada, demand for AstraZeneca plummeted in May after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were preferred because they weren’t associated with the rare but serious side-effect of blood clots potentially linked to AstraZeneca.
Canada has yet to say when or if it will donate any doses of Pfizer or Moderna. Procurement Minister Anita Anand said there will be 95 million doses of the two vaccines delivered by the end of September. That is at least 20 million doses more than Canada could use even if 100 per cent of Canadians chose to get fully vaccinated.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had reported 1,422,918 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 4,704 considered active. The country’s COVID-19 death toll stood at 26,492. More than 44.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to a CBC News tally.
In British Columbia, 79.5 per cent of eligible people 12 and older in the province have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 49.9 per cent have received their second dose.
In Alberta, the same figures are 74.5 per cent and 49.2 per cent, respectively. Elsewhere in the Prairies, Saskatchewan logged 35 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, while Manitoba registered 62 new cases and posted no new related deaths for the second day in a row.
Ontario reported 176 new cases and three more deaths. The figures come a day after the province moved into Stage 3 of its reopening plan, which allows for indoor dining and drinking at restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
In Quebec, the province is holding a lottery for $2 million in cash and scholarships in an effort to encourage more people to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
In the Atlantic provinces, Prince Edward Island on Sunday will start letting in fully vaccinated Canadians from outside the Maritimes; New Brunswick saw no new cases on Saturday, and neither did Nova Scotia, as active cases in the province are now below five for the first time since last October; and 81 per cent of the eligible population of Newfoundland and Labrador has had at least one vaccine dose, while 37 per cent have had a second dose.
The territories continue to lead the country in percentage of fully vaccinated eglible residents, which stands at 81.49 per cent in Yukon, 77.26 per cent in the Northwest Territories and 62.98 per cent in Nunavut.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday, more than 189.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported, according to a tool from U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University, which has been collecting coronavirus data from nations around the world. The reported death toll stood at more than four million.
In Europe, thousands of people marched in France on Saturday to protest mandatory vaccinations for health-care workers and COVID-19 passes that will be required to enter restaurants and other venues.
In Asia, Thailand has tightened coronavirus restrictions and warned of further measures as daily cases surpassed 10,000 and the death toll hit a record 141 despite an overnight curfew in Bangkok and several other provinces. The surge since April has overwhelmed hospitals, strained the economy and thrown tourism recovery plans in doubt.
In Africa, dozens of countries on the continent will receive 25 million COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by the United States, U.S. officials and the Gavi vaccine alliance said. African Union Special Envoy Strive Masiyiwa said the U.S. donation to 49 countries was appreciated, “especially at this moment when we are witnessing the third wave in a number of African countries.”
In the Americas, some 92 Cuban doctors and nurses who lent a hand to Mexico during the coronavirus pandemic in recent months have been flown home, Mexico’s foreign ministry said. It is not clear why the doctors left, as Mexican hospitals are under increased pressure amid another wave of coronavirus cases.