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 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.