COVID-19 Latest News

Latest news

With new updates on BC’s Immunization Plan being announced almost weekly, Doctors of BC is working to find ways to keep you informed and to ensure you have access to the latest information being shared from our government and Provincial Health Officer. 

This web page has been created as a central hub for that information, and will be updated regularly with the latest news relevant to our members as the COVID-19 Immunization Plan rolls out across the province. 

 

COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, June 17
  • There will be challenges with Pfizer delivery in July, resulting in reduced supply. At the same time, a substantial shipment of Moderna is expected to arrive in the coming weeks. While it may not be commonplace, mixing and matching of the mRNA vaccines may occur if supply challenges arise.
  • The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending people who got the AstraZeneca vaccine for their first shot should get an mRNA vaccine for the second shot. That said, NACI also said those who have already received two doses of AstraZeneca can “rest assured” that they are well protected.
  • The PHO said two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine provides safe and adequate protection against COVID-19 for people, but added if the immune response wanes after two doses of AstraZeneca, they may get a third dose of one of the other two vaccines available.
  • The World Health Organization will be making a decision on AstraZeneca vaccine standards for global travel, including to the US.
  • WorkSafeBC will be sharing information on how to adapt COVID-19 safety plans to create more general communicable disease protection plans in the next couple of weeks, as we move closer to Step 3 in July.
  • Government has said students, families, teachers, and staff in the province should plan for a “near normal” return to school in September. Safety checks there will be in place, with $43.6 million being provided to support these measures.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, June 14
  • Step 2 of BC’s Restart Plan begins June 15. A high uptake of vaccinations, and dropping case counts and hospitalizations, are behind this decision.
  • Masking and physical distancing remain mandatory under Step 2, as is getting tested if you feel unwell. 
  • WorksafeBC inspections continue. Workplaces will soon be able to transition to a more generic communicable disease safety plan, rather than a specific COVID-19 safety plan.
  • Even though travel restrictions within the province are lifted, those from outside the province are being asked not to travel to BC unless it's essential.
  • On Thursday Premier Horgan is meeting with other Premiers and the Prime Minister to discuss reopening Canadian borders.
  • A large shipment of Pfizer is expected over the next few days, and in the last week of June BC will receive 962,000 doses of Moderna.
  • The average seven-day case number is now at 132, the lowest since October 11th 2020. 
  • The earliest date of commencement for Step 3 of BC’s Restart Plan is July 1st.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, June 10
  • The seven-day case average is now at 161, and the reproductive rate is between .57 and .63.
  • Modeling continues to show that age is the largest risk factor when it comes to severe COVID-19.
  • New data shows that variants of concern make up the majority of cases in BC at present – predominantly the Alpha and Gamma strains.
  • The Moderna vaccine is currently being reviewed by Health Canada for those aged 12 and up.
  • And, vaccines may be available for those under 12 by the end of the year, studies are currently underway.
  • Government is looking into making the vaccine mandatory for long term care staff.
  • Work is being done in the northeast, parts of the central Okanagan, and Richmond, and among younger cohorts, to increase uptake and access of the vaccines.
  • All nine Metro Vancouver hospitals are back to full surgical operations, following the postponement of elective surgeries earlier this year.
  • Officials are examining what changes will be made when we exit the emergency phase and enter into a new phase of living with COVID-19.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, June 7
  • Health officials are beginning their plan to move away from managing COVID-19 as an emergency, as cases decline and vaccination rates rise, and manage it more like any other communicable disease that we rarely hear about.  
  • The province is on track with its reopening plan, with step two to begin on June 15th – provincial travel restrictions will be lifted, outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people and indoor seated organized gatherings of up to 50 people are both permitted.
  • Invitations to receive a second dose of AstraZeneca, for those who received a first dose, were sent out Monday.  People can choose to take the second dose of AstraZeneca from their pharmacist, or obtain a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna by making at appointment on the Get Immunized website and visiting the mass vaccination clinics. 
  • When looking at the more infectious delta variant, our Canadian vaccines have proven to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization or death. Ensuring everyone has their second dose is an important part in preventing serious illness. The delta variant is relatively uncommon in British Columbia.
  • The 7-day case average is now at 177 new cases, the lowest since October 20. There are 224 people in hospital, down from 511 at the height of the pandemic.
  • 74% of adults have received one dose of vaccine, while 72% of all eligible British Columbians aged 12 and up have received one dose.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, June 3
  • Advice from NACI, research by BC immunization committees, and data from around the world show it is perfectly safe and effective to interchange vaccines – interchanging mRNA vaccines, or interchanging mRNA with viral vector vaccines.  Although, as with all vaccines, it is preferable to have the same vaccine for both doses.
  • For those who received a first dose of AstraZeneca, there will be a choice in what comes next:
    • a second dose of AstraZeneca at least 8 weeks after your first dose, available through your pharmacy.  Pharmacies will soon contact those who received a first AstraZeneca dose in March/April to schedule a vaccine dose appointment, or
    • a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna, at least 8 weeks after your first AstraZeneca dose, through the mass immunization clinics in the province. This can be done by booking online through the Immunization BC platform. Most British Columbians are registered, regardless of which vaccine you initially received, but if not, you will need to register before you can book an appointment
  • Studies show that the risk of blood clots from the second AstraZeneca vaccine are greatly reduced.
  • Full surgical slates returning to hospitals:
    • Burnaby, Royal Columbian, and St Paul’s Hospitals are back to full surgical operations after temporarily closing to scheduled surgeries during the third wave. 
    • Abbotsford, Surrey Memorial, Lions Gate, UBC, and Vancouver General Hospitals will be back to full surgical operations by June 7.
    • But, full surgical operations at Richmond Hospital have been delayed due to the covid outbreak in a unit last week. Until June 24, the hospital will focus on surgeries that do not require overnight stays. 
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, May 31
  • 69.7% of British Columbian adults have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • The number of new daily cases, active cases, and hospitalizations continues to fall. The rolling seven-day average of new cases is 277, the lowest since October 31st.
  • The province has seen a third case of vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT)--a man in his 30s in the Island Health region is receiving treatment in hospital.
  • Approximately 12 children received Moderna in error, but public health does not believe it will cause clinical harm, and it is likely that Moderna will be approved for under 18's in the coming weeks. There are more processes now in place to prevent this mix-up happening again. 
  • The province will have guidance on second doses for those who received AstraZeneca this Thursday.
  • Allowing unmasked visits in long term care will be a cautious process, as some of the new variants can still transmit rapidly, even with a heavily immunized population.
  • The BCCDC will apply the whole genome sequencing process to every positive case as numbers continue to go down, which will assist the province in detecting unusual variants as movement and travel restrictions begin to lift.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, May 27
  • The current seven-day rolling average of new cases stands at 330.
  • More than 3,000,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in BC – 66% of all adults and 62% of those aged 12 and above have received at least one dose.
  • Thanks to a steady supply of vaccine, the interval between dose one and two will now start at around 8 weeks. People over 70, and clinically extremely vulnerable people, who have already received a single dose should soon receive an invitation for their second dose.
  • The current inventory of Moderna will be reserved for second doses.
  • NACI has found that it is safe for two different messenger RNA vaccines to be used for dose one and two, but it is still preferred that individuals receive the same vaccine for both. Mixing of vaccines may occur in some cases.
  • All long term care and assisted living centres are expected to be fully vaccinated in the next few days. Rural Indigenous communities will be fully vaccinated in the coming weeks.
  • It is expected that everyone eligible will have received both doses by the end of the summer, depending on supply and the trajectory of the virus.
  • 97% of non-urgent surgeries cancelled since the start of the pandemic have now been completed. The recent non-urgent surgeries cancelled during the peak of the third wave are set to resume June 7 in all hospitals (except for Burnaby Hospital which has already resumed surgeries).
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, May 24
  • The BC re-start plan includes four phases.
  • Phase 1:  May 25 – June 15, more than 60% of eligible adults have received one dose of the vaccine at the start.
    • Travel, including recreational, only permitted inside your health region, unless essential
    • Up to five guests or one household in your home
    • Indoor and outdoor dining allowed, up to a maximum of six people
    • Indoor low-intensity workouts, outdoor team games and practices can resume
  • Phase 2:  June 15 – July 1, presuming 65% of eligible people have received a first dose and new cases remain low.
    • BC wide travel will be permitted
    • High-intensity indoor fitness, indoor team games
    • Organized, indoor seated gatherings of up to 50 people
  • Phase 3:  July 1 – September 7, presuming 70% of eligible people have received a first dose and new cases remain low.
    • Masks will be recommended (not mandatory)
    • Canada wide travel will be permitted
  • Phase 4:  September 7 onwards, presuming more than 70% of eligible people have received a first dose and new cases remain low.
    • Mask wearing will be a personal choice
    • Normal social interaction
    • Offices and workplaces will fully re-open
  • Guidance on international travel will be forthcoming from the federal government. Work is ongoing around vaccine passports – they will be necessary for  international travel.
  • BC is also looking at potentially providing people who got a first dose of Moderna with a second dose of Pfizer, details will be coming in a few days.
  • Guidance on mixing and matching AstraZeneca with another vaccine, and the shortening of dose intervals will also be coming in the coming days.
  • 44% of those eligible aged 12 to 17 have registered to be vaccinated.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, May 20
  • 331 British Columbians are in hospital, with 113 in critical care or ICU.
  • At the highest point, 511 people had been hospitalized with COVID-19, that number has now reduced to 331 people. However, surge beds are still in use in some of the province’s hospitals.
  • A little more than 2.5M first doses have been administered to British Columbians, approximately 59% of eligible adults.
  • Approximately 310,000 children and youth aged 12 to 17 can now receive the Pfizer vaccination:
    • All children and youth must first register with the province’s Get Vaccinated website
    • They can get vaccinated with their parent or guardian at their appointment, or
    • They can make their own appointment, without the need for written consent from a parent or guardian
    • Clinic staff can answer specific queries that people in this age bracket may have, and notify them of vaccine implications
    • While Pfizer is the only vaccine currently approved for people in this age bracket, it is hoped that Moderna will be approved in the coming days
  • The province is still working out the details to move up second doses. Older people and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be prioritized.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, May 17
  • The seven-day case average is at 508 per day, the lowest since February 22.
  • However, 350 people are in hospital, with 132 in critical care/ICU.  And 128 surge beds are currently in use, 14 are being used for critical care.
  • More than 55% of eligible adults have received their first dose:
    • 86% of those over 70
    • 82% of those over 60
    • 70% of those over 40
  • Second doses will likely be moved up for everybody as supplies grow, with large shipments of Pfizer and Moderna expected to arrive in BC in the coming days.
  • Remaining AZ stock in BC (approximately 20k doses) is viable until the end of June, and is is reserved for second doses.
  • Public health will ensure that CEV and older individuals can get their second AZ shot as soon as dose two is available.
  • More details from studies on mixing and matching vaccines will be released in June.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, May 11
  • The rolling 7-day average for new cases is 616.6, the lowest since March 23.
  • 2,159,103 doses of all three vaccines have been distributed - 106,058 are second doses.
  • The BCCDC is working on an interactive case mapping app, which will be available soon.
  • 118 surge beds are currently in use, and while hospitalizations are dropping, healthcare workers are feeling the strain.
  • Over a three week period BC is receiving:
    • 826,000 doses of Pfizer
    • 255,600 doses of Moderna
    • J&J’s shipment is in approvals with Health Canada.
  • BC is looking at Saskatchewan’s and the UK’s reopening plan, but BC’s plan will not be based solely on immunizations. 
  • Any re-opening plan will be done provincewide, not on a regional basis. 
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, May 6
  • A woman in her 40s is the first person in BC to acquire vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), she is in a stable condition in a Vancouver Coastal Health hospital.
  • 421 surgeries in BC were postponed in the last reporting week, with 819 surgeries postponed in total.
  • The number of active cases in BC is at its lowest since the end of March, at 6,082.
  • BC administered a record 52,000 doses of vaccine on May 5 - the two millionth dose will be administered today
  • Pfizer is set to remain the main arm of BC’s vaccine roll-out.
  • The province is waiting for data from the UK on mixing and matching vaccines – hopefully by end of the month. 
  • Provincial legislation regarding sick pay is expected next week. 
  • The federal government is examining how vaccine passports could work.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, May 3
  • 474 people are in hospital - 176 of these people are in ICU or critical care. Some ICU surge beds are in use in Metro Vancouver.
  • Johnson & Johnson supply should arrive later this week or early next week, and the province will initially target groups such as farm workers and tree planters.
  • The PHO is looking at shortening the first and second dosage interval time as supplies increase. The priority still remains to give as many people their first dose as quickly as possible.
  • More than 1m doses of vaccine are due to arrive in BC in May -  everyone eligible being offered their first dose by the end of June is looking highly likely, dependent on supply.
  • The federal government is looking to ensure continued AZ supply, and the PHO is examining vaccine mix and match studies underway around the world.
  • Pfizer study data regarding vaccinating 12-to-16 year-olds is being examined, and Moderna is currently doing clinical trials with children as young as 6 months. 
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, April 29
  • There are 503 people in hospital, with 178 people in ICU.
  • From April 19 to 25, 398 surgeries were postponed in Fraser Health, Coastal Health, and Island Health.
  • Overall hospital numbers are stable, but the impact of increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients in critical care is felt.
  • Of the more than 200,000 CEV patients, 70% have now received their 1st shots.
  • BC expects to receive more than 1M doses of Pfizer and Moderna in May, allowing the age-based vaccine program to accelerate. 
  • 15% of this supply is earmarked for priority workers such as first responders and those who work with children/in education.
  • Data shows we will likely reach just under 50% of eligible adults with a single dose by the end of next week – and everyone who wants a vaccine will have at least their first immunization by mid-June.
  • Johnson & Johnson will arrive in the province next week, and plans will soon be announced for its use.
  • Pop-up clinics in hotspots may come back, but this is not a certainty. Social media has caused confusion regarding the pop-up clinics.
  • Everyone who got their AstraZeneca vaccine from a pharmacy needs to still register with Get Vaccinated to get their second dose.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, April 26
  • The province has administered 1,635,372 doses of vaccine so far, 89,035 of these are second doses. 36% of those eligible have received their first shot.
  • Those in their late 50s can now book their appointments
  • Patient immunization information collected and put into the registry is completely private and secure – the info is not shared with any other government agency.
  • There are currently 484 people in hospital - 158 of them in the ICU.
  • There has not been a major increase in at-home deaths linked to COVID-19 in recent weeks, despite the ongoing third wave.
  • Vaccine delivery:
    • Pfizer - 138,000 doses this week
    • Moderna – 82,000 doses this week
    • J&J - 32,000 doses set to arrive this week (distribution plans to come)
    • AstraZeneca - no new doses coming this week
  • Based on research, the dose interval will remain at 4 months for cancer patients – who had hoped it would shrink to 3 weeks. 
COVID-19 Update - Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, April 22
  • There are currently 502 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in BC, with 161 of them in intensive care.
  • Everyone over 18 can now register online to get their first dose.  Expectation that the vaccine will be available to young teens by the fall.
  • To ensure critical care staff are available in Lower Mainland hospitals, 750 non-urgent surgeries in Fraser Health and 1,000 in Vancouver Coastal are being postponed for the next two weeks in the following hospitals: 
    • Surrey Memorial Hospital 
    • Royal Columbian Hospital 
    • Vancouver General Hospital 
    • Lions Gate Hospital 
    • Abbotsford General Hospital 
    • Burnaby Hospital 
    • Richmond Hospital 
    • St. Paul's Hospital 
    • UBC Hospital
  • Pharmacies have limited supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine for over-40s due to high uptake and the hotspot redeployment across the province.
  • The BCCDC has confirmed that a 'variant of interest', the B1617 variant first identified in India, is present in the province. Some of these B1617 cases are associated with direct travel from India but the rest are community spread.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, April 20
  • BC is restricting travel to within health authorities only, with check points and fines for non-essential travel, until the May long weekend, at which time it will be reevaluated.
  • There is a growing demand on BC's 20 COVID-19 hospitals, and on healthcare workers in BC. Overall provincial rates are under capacity, but there is significant site variation in terms of occupancy and stress on staff.
  • The province is moving into using surge beds and levels of service deferral to support staff redeployment, as well as rescheduling some non-emergency surgeries.
  • While use of ventilators is at just 29%, there is a broad spectrum of care that COVID-19 patients need, contributing to staff strain.
  • 30% of eligible British Columbians have now been vaccinated. Every eligible adult will have one dose of vaccine by July 1, and their second dose by September 2021.  
  • 60% of Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people have received one dose.
  • Those aged 40 and over are now eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine through pharmacies, and in special clinics located in hotspots across the province, especially in and around Surrey, and in Dawson Creek, Kensington, and Squamish.
  • The risk of a rare blood clot with AstraZeneca is around 4 in a 1M.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, April 15
  • BC hit record high hospitalizations, with 409 people currently in hospital and 125 people in intensive care. Hospitalization is now being driven by people between the ages of 40 and 79.
  • Overall case counts continue to be driven by those aged 19 to 39, followed by people aged 40 to 59.
  • BC could see 2,000 cases a day by next month if current contacts are not reduced. 
  • 63% of total new confirmed cases are variants – B117 (first identified in the UK) encompasses 50% of variant cases, and the P1 variant (first identified in Brazil) makes up 49% of variant cases.
  • British Columbia will now start vaccinating all school staff (including teachers), fire fighters, police officers, and child care staff using 10% of the Moderna and Pfizer supplies until AstraZeneca guidance is updated. This will kick off in hot spots in the Fraser area. 
  • Roughly 400 people developed COVID-19 approximately 14 days after their first dose, which equates to .07% of those vaccinated.
  • The bamlanivimab (a monoclonal antibody therapy) trials are having difficulty finding trial participants.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, April 12
  • 50% of new infections are now positive for at least one of the variants, the most prevalent is B117.
  • Nearly 25% of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine.
  • This week the province expects 138,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine, 105,900 doses of Moderna vaccine (expected last week), and 42,900 Astra Zeneca vaccines to be delivered. Only Pfizer has the most consistent delivery schedule.
  • While the province has capacity to deliver a large volume of vaccine, supply constraints are restricting it.
  • Province wide we have a 72% occupancy rate of base hospital beds, with 55% occupancy in critical care beds. However, hospitals such as Vancouver General, Lions Gate, Surrey Memorial, and University Hospital in Northern BC are close to 100% capacity. Ventilator capacity is not an issue right now.
  • Some surgical slates are being adjusted in certain hospitals (Surrey Memorial, Abbotsford, and Royal Columbian) to free up resources to manage the surge in cases. This process will be localized, and will not result in across the board elective surgery cancellations like we saw last year.
  • Hotspot communities continue to be targeted to receive mass vaccinations – as was done in Prince Rupert and is being done in Whistler.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, April 8
  • BC continues to see a rise in B117 (the variant first identified in the UK) and now an increase in P1 (the variant first identified in Brazil) – which is most prevalent among the 20 - 39 age group.
  • A number of the variants share a mutation of concern. The N501Y substitution is one of 8 spike proteins present in the B117, P1, and B1351 (first identified in South Africa) variants that permit the variant it is attached to, to be more transmissible. 
  • Therefore, the strategy will shift from carrying out whole genome sequencing for positive cases to determine specific variants, to using this capacity instead for more systematic testing and sampling of all strains to ensure nothing is missed.
  • Given routine screening for variants will no longer take place, it will be assumed that those who screen positive for COVID-19 have one of the highly transmissible variants and will be treated accordingly.
  • The province’s genome capacity will also be used to determine the proportion of travelers who have variants of concern, and to monitor for re-infections, vaccine failures, and escaped variants (those that may not respond as well to the vaccines). 
  • Workplaces continue to drive transmissions. As of Monday, an expedited workplace order will be in effect – workplaces with three or more infected workers will work with WorkSafeBC and public health and will temporarily close – realizing that some essential workplaces will fall outside the workplace order, including health care.
  • Recognition and appreciation was given to all the critical care teams in hospitals who have been working everyday under difficult circumstances for well over a year, saving as many lives as possible.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, April 6
  • 19% of 4.2M eligible British Columbians have now had their 1st dose of the vaccine.
  • 207 new confirmed cases of variants of concern reported in last 24 hours. All but one case are found in VCH. BC has had a total of 3,766 variant cases – with 266 still active.
  • B117 (first identified in the UK) is the dominating variant in BC, and is increasing because our transmission numbers still too high - 30% of all new cases – mostly driven by younger people attending social gatherings across the province. We are about 1 month behind Ontario, where B117 comprises about 60% of new overall cases. 
  • We are able to trace whether those who have tested positive for the virus have also had their vaccine – we have not seen any negative effects as of yet.
  • The province’s online booking tool now open to register for the vaccine – More than 160,000 have registered. Once registered, those eligible at the given time period will get their invitation to book their appointment. 
  • With the pause of the front line worker program, the AstraZeneca vaccine was rerouted to pharmacies for quick vaccination of people age 55 – 65 in advance of the vaccines’ expiration. The pharmacy program is being expanded outside of the Vancouver Coastal as new supply comes into the province.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, March 29
  • The Astra-Zeneca vaccine administration is on pause for people under 55 across the country, following recommendations from NACI after a number of rare blood clots have been found in some immunized patients. Updates on its continued use will be out soon.
  • Around 160,000 doses of Pfizer are arriving to BC this week.
  • The province has administered 699,092 doses of the COVID vaccine, including 87,289 second doses.
  • The province's test positivity rate is at 9.68%, up from 6.5%.
  • There are now 413 active variant cases in BC. There have been 2,233 variant cases in total.
  • BC is implementing a three-week "circuit breaker" lockdown that until April 19 bans indoor adult fitness groups and indoor dining, and cancels the variance for indoor worship services.
  • Masks are now mandatory in all schools in Grades 4-12, and strongly recommended in K-Grade 3.
  • All non-essential travel is prohibited.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, March 25
  • 610,671 doses of the three available COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in BC, 87,212 of which are second doses.
  • Residents in long term care and assisted living will be able to have more frequent visitors starting April 1. Visit the BCCDC website for more details.
  • There have been 191 new confirmed variant of concern cases in BC, out of a total of 1,772 variant cases. Of the total cases, 215 are active. Close to 100% of positive cases are being screened for potential variants of concern
  • Variant breakdown:
    • 1,549 cases of B117 (UK)
    • 47 cases of B1351 (South Africa)
    • 176 cases of P1 (Brazil)
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, March 22
  • 539,408  doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 87,161 second doses – 10.5% of the eligible population have received a first dose
  • Allergic reactions have occurred in 50 instances, none linked to blood clotting events
  • There are 166 new variant cases in BC, with a total of 1,366 variant case so far. 
  • The B117 variant, first identified in the UK, is the predominant variant at 1,240 cases.
  • According to data, the variants are not driving spread as we have seen in the UK and Ireland – in BC it is more of a gradual replacement of cases.
  • Canada is set to receive close to 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week, alongside 846,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine – BC’s share of the vaccines will be about 280,000. Canada expects to receive weekly shipments of at least a million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech for the foreseeable future.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, March 18
  • By April 18th the province expects to have 906,059 first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available, depending on delivery dates.
  • 68,000 AstraZeneca doses were received last week, with another 340,000 to be delivered by late May. The US may send Canada even more supply.
  • Starting in April, more than 300,000 first responders, teachers, childcare staff, grocery store workers, and other workers in certain industries will be eligible for their AstraZeneca immunization, administered in parallel with the age-based strategy.
  • The AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered by a combination of community pharmacists, existing clinics, and mobile worksite clinics.
  • 465,584 doses of all three available vaccines have been administered in BC – 87,120 are second doses.
  • More details will be coming for the 151,000 clinically vulnerable British Columbians who will be eligible before their age cohort for the vaccine.
  • The five HA regional call centres will condense to one province-wide centre, with the addition of a robust online booking system by  April 6.
  • BC is fast-tracking its age-based registration in the province.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, March 15
  • The province has administered 409,103 doses of vaccine, 87,059 are second doses.
  • Canada is now receiving regular shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. And 60,000 AstraZeneca vaccines have just arrived.
  • Pfizer and Moderna are being used for the age based immunization program, while AstraZeneca will be used to curb clusters and break transmission chains in high risk worksites across BC, in parallel with the age-based strategy.
  • There are now only three outbreaks in long-term care, down from 42 in January.
  • In total there have been 469 adverse effects in reaction to the vaccines, including 46 anaphylaxis.
  • The age-based vaccination timeline is being accelerated, presuming we continue to receive regular shipments of the vaccine, as bookings are now a week ahead of schedule.  
  • Over the weekend, a further 163 cases variants of concern were identified.
  • BC has seen 880 variant cases in total:
    • 818 cases of the variant first identified in the UK (B117)
    • 41 cases of the variant first identified in South Africa (B1351) 
    • 21 cases of the variant first identified in Brazil (P1) 
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from PHO modeling briefing on Thursday, March 11
  • It has been one year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
  • BC’s infection rate has been low and steady when compared to the dramatic increases/decreases of other provinces.
  • Currently, BC's effective reproduction number (R1) of COVID-19 is hovering around the crucial reproductive threshold of 1.   
  • BC is at 50-60% of our pre-COVID infectious contact rate – we need to get to 40% to bend the curve back down.
  • Those most at risk remains constant: less severe and fewer cases in children under 18, higher number of cases and more fatalities in those over 70. However, the spread is now being led by those aged 19-59 years.
  • Number of BC deaths relatively stable this past year: BC has seen a 5% increase in the number of all-cause mortality. COVID-19 is ranked the 8th most cited cause of death and illicit drug overdoses ranked as the 5th most cited cause.
  • COVID-19 has a profound effect on older people, the O/D crisis has an equally profound effect on younger people.
  • The variant first identified in the UK (B117) remains the most prevalent variant in BC, largely found in Fraser Health. Variants make up a small percentage of positive cases showing BC’s measures are working.
  • Public health orders have been amended to allow outdoor, socially distant gatherings of up to 10 people. Indoor restrictions remain in place.
  • The province is looking closely at the AstraZeneca concerns in Europe. The blood clotting events there are associated with a particular lot number, not included in BC’s allocation. There are no safety issues related to AstraZeneca in BC.   
  • Because of its easy mobility, AstraZeneca will start being used in workplaces where clusters are found: food processing plants, large industrial camps, and farm operations/nurseries, etc.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, March 9
  • A modified return to certain activities might be possible over the next few weeks including LTC visits, travel in households, resumption of religious gatherings, and youth sports.
  • Government will be watching the US CDC's guidelines for vaccinated people (couples outside your bubble who have been vaccinated can meet inside your home without a mask) with a consideration of applying something similar here.
  • AstraZeneca is arriving in BC in the coming days. The shipment will be split between Prince Rupert to manage community spread and the Lower Mainland for high-risk workplaces.
  • BC has provided 333,327 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including 86,925 second doses.
  • There are 144 new variant cases in BC – with 394 cases in total. The variant first identified in the UK (B117) is by far the most prevalent.
  • The online system for mass vaccinations is aiming to be ready April 12.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, March 4
  • BC has administered 298,551 doses of vaccine so far, including 86,746 second doses.
  • Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has said the maximum interval between the first and second doses of the approved vaccines can increase to four months.
  • The first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive next week, and will initially be used in the Lower Mainland to tackle clusters, with a longer term plan for it to be used for essential workers.
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, approved by Health Canada this morning, requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods at regular refrigerator temperatures. Canada has preordered 10M doses.
  • There are a total 246 cases of variants of concern identified, with 46 new confirmed cases.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO Briefing on  Tuesday, March 2
  • So far, BC has administered 283,182 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, including 86,537 second doses.
  • The province hopes to immunize more than 400,000 British Columbians in Phase 2.
  • There have been 182 cases of variants of concern identified, including 22 news cases.
  • Dr Henry cites studies from the New England Journal of Medicine and the BCCDC regarding data on the efficacy of a single dose of vaccine and her decision to lengthen the time between doses.
  • The province expects to update the visitation policy for long term care and is looking to increase visits by the end of the month.
COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, March 1
  • Based on growing evidence of the efficacy and duration of protection a single dose provides, the time between first and second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines has been increased to 16 weeks (112 days).
  • With the increase in time for the 2nd dose, the plan now is that all British Columbians will be offered their first COVID-19 vaccine by late July 2021.
  • The two-dose, viral vector Astra-Zeneca vaccine is now approved for use in Canada. This vaccine has the benefit of being ‘fridge stable,’ making it easier to transport and distribute around the province.
  • Essential workers and first responders will likely be offered this vaccine once the volume arriving into the province is known – however, they can choose whether they want the Astra Zeneca vaccine earlier or wait until their age cohort to be immunized with one of the mRNA vaccines. 
  • The Phase 2 immunization schedule has begun, which goes by age cohort:
    • March 8: Seniors born in or before 1931 (90), and Indigenous people born in or before 1956 (65).
    • March 15: Seniors born in or before 1936 (85).
    • March 22: Seniors born in or before 1941 (80).
  • Government has created a website for seniors with details on how to register.
  • Phase 3 is expected to begin in mid-April for those 60 and above, and will include an online registration and booking system.
COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, February 26
  • Pfizer deliveries have ramped up this week, with 475,020 doses arriving in Canada – BC’s share is 64,600.
  • Moderna is set to boost deliveries beginning the week of March 8, with 466,000 doses – BC’s share will be 63,375.
  • The number of second COVID-19 vaccine doses administered to British Columbians February 25 exceeded those who got their first dose as immunizers play catch-up following weeks of shipping delays.
  • The reproductive number of the virus in BC has climbed above one. The seven-day rolling average of new cases and the percentage of tests coming back positive are climbing.
  • BC hopes to be screening 100% of positive cases for variants of concern by next week.
  • There have been 116 cases of COVID-19 variants in BC, with 9 active current cases:
    • 95 cases of the variant first identified in the UK (B117)
    • 21 cases of the variant first identified in South Africa (B1351)
    • The two cases of the variant first identified in Nigeria (B1525) are no longer variants of concern, but active monitoring continues.
COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, February 23
  • The PHO will discuss details of the planned vaccine rollout for people 80+ and the 172 mass immunization clinics at the Monday, March 1st briefing.
  • A new PHO order will allow dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians, paramedics, retired nurses, and others, with special training, to be among those who will immunize British Columbians over the next six months in the mass immunization clinics.
  • Seniors will be contacted in a variety of ways from postcards sent direct to homes, home-care services, independent living facilities, and specialty clinics to ensure that no one is left out.
  • Of the 559 new cases reported today, none involved any long-term care or assisted living residents.
  • BC is currently screening 70% of positive tests for variants of concern.
COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Friday, February 19
  • BC has 72 variant cases of concern: 52 UK variant, and 20 South Africa variant.
  • Vaccination dates for those 80+ awaiting immunization are March 1 to March 15 for those linked to home care support, and March 16 to March 31 for those not linked to home care support. Details are forthcoming.
  • The PHO is closely monitoring the discussion in medical media (The Lancet, etc.) regarding the level of protection against COVID-19 provided by a single dose of an m-RNA based vaccine.

 

  • BCCDC has released data showing encouraging evidence of the decline in number and scope of outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living. The links below detail vaccination rates in long term and in assisted living facilities:
  • The Pfizer delivery arrived mid-week, with BC currently meeting its second dose targets. Government expects similar quantities of Pfizer over the next two weeks, which will see the target of 10% immunization met by the end of March, presuming supply is on time.

 

 

COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, February 16
  • More Pfizer vaccine has arrived in the province, but supply remains limited.
  • Most people who have received one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will receive the second dose within 42 days, but will depend on supply.
  • Evidence from Quebec and the UK shows that a longer interval between COVID-19 vaccine doses, does not negatively impact overall effectiveness.
  • It is still unknown how long the vaccine provides protection for, but after three weeks of monitoring LTC residents who have had a single dose, the protective effect is still at 89-90%.
  • The uptick in the reproduction (R) number in the Fraser Health area is being monitored closely by public health.
  • BC has 60 confirmed variants cases: 40 of the UK variant, 19 of the South Africa variant, and now 1 of the Nigeria variant.
COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, February 8
  • Through genome sequencing, BC has identified 40 variant cases of the UK and South Africa variants. In 4 cases of the South African variant the source is unknown – this is being monitored.
  • BC is hoping to do a point prevalence study such as the one carried out in Ontario – this involves whole genome sequencing for an entire day’s tests. This will provide a deeper understanding of variants.
  • There will be a clinical trial for bamlanivimab in Surrey Memorial Hospital, to test the drug as a possible COVID-19 treatment. Health Canada has already approved it, but clinicians in the province wanted to examine the process more closely. The product was developed in Vancouver by AbCellerra and made by Eli Lilly.
  • PHAC (Public Health Agency of Canada) and NACI (National Advisory Committee on Immunization) are examining data around the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will likely be approved by Health Canada soon.
  • A province-wide essential visitor long-term care order has been issued to provide consistency in policy across all health authorities.
COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Friday, February 5 
  • The UK variant has an increased rate of transmissibility, with data suggesting more severe illness. Concern that the South Africa variant won’t be blocked by some of the vaccines.
  • BC is doing whole genome sequencing, looking at 30,000 base pairs of genomes that make up the virus’ genetic material, to identify the variants.
  • BC currently does about 750 whole genome tests on positive cases per week. Working with partners across the country, the BCCDC is looking to increase the genome tests to thousands each week.
  • BC has sequenced 4,500 cases to date, and uncovered 28 variant cases.
  • Beginning in March, community vaccines to start: aged 80+ individuals, family and specialist community physicians, hospital staff, among others.
  • The Public Service is setting up a hotline to call people via a number of different ways – they are currently working with MSP. More information about how communication will work coming in about two weeks – no one will be left out.
  • Mass vaccination clinics will be set up when the vaccine is available in March.
COVID-19 update:Highlights of Dr Bonnie Henry’s briefing on Monday, February 1 
  • The vaccine supply is expected to increase as the month progresses, and the province continues with preparations for wider-spread immunizations in just a few weeks.
  • Additional Moderna vaccine is expected to arrive mid-week and end of week.
  • Across BC, 138,982 people have received a single dose of vaccine, 4,491 people have received two doses.
  • The UK and South African variants are a major concern, but cases remain low at 18.
  • The province is stepping up monitoring and testing in areas of outbreaks to identify the variants, and is using full genome sequencing, random sampling, and mandatory testing of international travelers to screen for variants.
  • Full genome sequencing is being done in all cases of school aged children. To date a little more than 11,000 genome sequencing on British Columbians have been done, at 500 per day the expectation is to increase that daily number.
  • The Red Cross will be providing non-clinical and admin staff support in certain LTC and assisted living facilities, beginning with Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health. Non-clinical teams will provide prevention and control assessment of the facility, identify supports required to limit the spread, in an effort to improve quality of life in the facilities.
  • The upcoming briefing on Friday, February 5, will include the latest provincial modelling, and updates on restrictions across BC.
COVID-19 update: Highlights of Dr Bonnie Henry’s briefing on Friday, January 29 and Prime Minister's briefing on January 30
  • BC received no Pfizer vaccines last week, and will get reduced vaccines for the following two weeks, but the supply should increase 3rd week of February. Moderna vaccine supply coming this week will be reduced by 20% due to difficulties at its manufacturing plant.
  • PHO remains confident we’ll still meet our Phase 1 and Phase 2 objectives, and be ready, once we have the vaccine available, to offer it to everyone starting in April.
  • BC has now offered first doses of vaccinations to all residents and staff in long-term and assisted living care facilities, with a very high uptake. As a result, there are now far fewer outbreaks in these facilities.
  • The number of hospitalizations are going down.
  • Research shows the MRNA vaccines work well in older people. The AstraZeneca vaccine has proven to work better on younger people. This knowledge helps in the strategy going forward. 
  • Health Canada is currently reviewing three additional vaccines from AstraZeneca (expected to be approved within the next few weeks), Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax.
  • BC has low numbers of the UK and South African variant – the fewer transmission events we have, the less likely the virus will mutate.
  • The Prime Minister announced more restrictive measures for non-essential travel, including mandatory PCR testing and hotel quarantine measures.
COVID-19 update: Highlights of Dr Bonnie Henry’s briefing on Friday, January 22
  • British Columbia has 4.3 million people eligible for the vaccine: 2 doses = 8.6 million vaccinations in total.
  • We are currently in Phase 1. Phase 2 to start in February until March and will include all community doctors, and those at highest risk.
  • Phase 3 will be from April to June and Phase 4 July to September – both will focus on the broader population based on age. 
  • Those born in 1941 and earlier will be the first to be vaccinated, and afterwards will proceed in five year increments.
  • Pre-registration for vaccines to begin in March.
  • 172 BC communities will establish clinics in partnership with HAs and local communities, and will deliver in public venues, mobile clinics, and some home visits.
  • We expect to receive 800,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines between now and end of March, with 2.6 million due April to June, and 6 million due July to September.
  • Health Canada will likely approve AstraZeneca before end of March, which will then will be approved by provinces and territories at some point after.
COVID-19 update: Highlights of Dr Bonnie Henry’s briefing on Monday, January 18
  • Delays in Pfizer vaccine supply will be felt over the next four weeks – the biggest impact will be the week of January 25th and subsequent two weeks.
  • The temporary short supply represents about half of the expected Pfizer doses (60,000), but these will be replenished beginning in March.
  • The temporary delay will affect 1st doses in the short term to at-risk people, however those deemed at highest risk will continue to receive their 1st dose.
  • The focus for the next several weeks will be on the 2nd dose, as promised at 35 days.
  • When the deficient Pfizer doses are restocked in early March, the first dose program will resume its expansion. More 1st doses will be given in March, than will be given in February.
  • This will not delay getting the vaccine to the general public starting in April.
  • Numbers are updated daily on the BCCDC Dashboard. General COVID information can be found on our COVID Resource page.