The Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Dartmouth, N.S. on Thursday, June 3, 2021. Large shipments of COVID-19 vaccines will continue to pour into Canada through the summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says, with over two million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab expected to arrive each week until the end of August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

The Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Dartmouth, N.S. on Thursday, June 3, 2021. Large shipments of COVID-19 vaccines will continue to pour into Canada through the summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says, with over two million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab expected to arrive each week until the end of August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Tam urges 2nd COVID vaccine dose as Delta variant emerges ‘essentially across Canada’

Variant has demonstrated to be more transmissible than previous versions

As Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout continues to pick up speed, the country’s top public health officer is reiterating the importance of receiving a full two-dose series, especially with the latest variant of concern now detected in several provinces.

Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday that the recently dubbed “Delta” variant, which was first detected in India, has been found “essentially across Canada.”

The variant, believed to be behind recent spikes in COVID-19 cases in parts of the United Kingdom, has demonstrated to be more transmissible than previous versions of the virus, Tam said.

Preliminary data released last week from Public Health England suggested that COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca were effective against the new variant after two doses, but less efficacy was shown with only one dose.

Sixty-five per cent of eligible Canadians had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Friday, but vaccine trackers show roughly seven per cent of the eligible population were fully vaccinated.

Tam said the heightened transmissibility of Delta was “obviously a characteristic of concern.”

“(It) means in under-vaccinated populations, or if we let go (of) public health measures … in the context of a transmissible variant, that variant could well takeoff and replace other viruses in the communities,” she said.

“So it is very important to get that second dose when variants such as the Delta variant is in our community.”

Several provinces are speeding up their second-dose rollouts as more vaccine supply pours into the country.

Prime Minister Trudeau announced Friday that large shipments of vaccines will continue through the summer, with more than two million Pfizer doses expected each week until the end of August.

Trudeau said nine million Pfizer doses will arrive in July with another 9.1 million expected in August. He added that Canada has also negotiated an option for three million more Pfizer doses to be delivered in September.

Trudeau said he’s been encouraged by the country’s vaccine rollout, adding that Canadians have “reason to be hopeful about this summer and fall.”

“The more people vaccinated, the safer we all are…. So let’s start looking forward to more of what we love, from camping to dinner with friends,” he said.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to trend downward in parts of the country while vaccinations ramp up.

Tam said the latest seven-day average for daily cases in the country was 2,300, down 73 per cent from the peak of the third wave.

Hospitalizations were down 47 per cent, ICU admissions were down 31 per cent and deaths down were down 35 per cent, Tam added.

Twenty-five million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada, with 2.8 million Canadians getting a dose in the past week alone.

Data for how many Delta variant cases have been detected in Canada was not available on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website as of Friday. The webpage said PHAC was in the process of updating its graphical view to include the Delta variant.

The webpage said the B.1.1.7 variant, or Alpha variant first detected in the U.K., continues to account for most of the variant cases in Canada, adding that Delta has “only been recently identified and thus is less understood.”

Peel Public Health in Ontario, one of the country’s most COVID-ravaged areas, said as of Wednesday 100 cases of the Delta variant had been identified in the region, leading Brampton, Ont., Mayor Patrick Brown to urge the province to prioritize the area for second doses.

Variants of concern are typically identified through genomic sequencing, a laborious and expensive process by which the virus’s entire genome is analyzed to detect mutations.

Tam said Canada “does a lot more sequencing than many” other countries, adding that as COVID-19 cases continue to decline, provinces will “(move) towards sequencing a vast majority of the positive cases.”

“Monitoring all variants of concern are very important,” she said. “The Delta variant or B.1.617 has been detected essentially across Canada. It is important then to characterize the exact distribution and the trend as well.”

The U.K. government said in a report last month that both Pfizer and AstraZeneca were 33 per cent effective against symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant three weeks after the first dose, but that number rose above 80 after two doses were complete.

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician in Hamilton and an associate professor at McMaster University, said most of the U.K.’s recent Delta cases have been in unvaccinated individuals, with the vaccines seeming to still offer good protection against death and severe disease.

—Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Canada should roll out second doses ‘as soon as possible’: NACI

RELATED: Federal government hiking fines for hotel quarantine violators

Coronavirusvaccines

Just Posted

Department of Oceans and Fisheries has announced as of July 19 chinook salmon is not to be fished in certain areas in BC tidal waters until July. Spring chinook salmon are seen swimming. (Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service)
Chinook Salmon limits set to zero in some BC tidal waters

DFO implement restrictions to protect Chinook Salmon

Richard Green and Alex Campbell stand in solemn reflection of the survivors and victims of the residential school system on May 30, in Prince Rupert National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 is a time to reflect on the sacrifices and honour the contributions made by First Nations, Inuit and Metis of Canada. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert Reflecting on National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21 is to celebrate the contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis to Canada’s culture

Mark Perry in concert at the old Driftwood School (Marty Clemens photo)
Mark Perry releases new single ahead of Northwest album.

“Golden Spruce” tells the story of a forester who cut down an old-growth Sitka Spruce on Haida Gwaii

Five rehabilitated grizzly bears were released this month into the Bella Coola area. The Northern Lights Wildlife Society will also be delivering 36 black bears to areas across the province where they were previously found. “They’re ready to go and they’re already trying to get out,” says Angelika Langen. “We feel good when we can make that possible and they don’t have to stay behind fences for the rest of their lives.” (Northern Lights Wildlife Society Facebook photo)
Suspected methamphetamine and scale seized by police. (Terrace RCMP photo)
Terrace RCMP seize guns, ammo, suspected narcotics

Man released after court appearance

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read