COVID-19 update for May 4: Here's what you need to know – Vancouver Sun

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the coronavirus situation in B.C. and around the world.
Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the COVID-19 situation in B.C. and around the world for May 4, 2022.

We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen, so be sure to check back often.

You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.

• Quebec is offering a fourth dose (or second booster) of the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone aged 18+. The province also announced it will end its mask mandate for indoor public spaces on May 14.
• Moderna Inc is forecasting higher vaccine sales for the second half of the year, as it expects the virus that causes COVID-19 to follow a more seasonal pattern requiring booster shots in the fall.
Beijing is shutting scores of metro stations and bus routes, and extended other COVID-19 curbs, as it focuses efforts to avoid the fate of Shanghai.
• COVID-19 vaccination is effective for people with immune-related inflammatory diseases, says a Quebec study
• Two new Omicron sublineages appear to dodge antibodies from earlier infection.
• Ontario parents will now be given the choice of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for their children between the ages of six and 11.
• The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended travellers continue to wear masks in airplanes, trains and airports despite a judge’s order declaring the mandate unlawful.
• A national UBC study has found that people who catch COVID-19 during pregnancy were at increased risk of complications.

Here are the latest figures given on April 28 for the week of April 17 to 23:

• Hospitalized cases: 570 (as of April 28)
• Intensive care: 47 (as of April 28)
• Total deaths over seven days: 42 (total 3,147)
• New cases: 2,276 over seven days
• Total number of confirmed cases: 363,302

Read the full report here | Next update: May 5 at 1 p.m. or later

Via Twitter this afternoon, Quebec’s Health Department announced that all adults can now book an appointment for a fourth vaccine dose (also referred to as a second booster) via Clic Santé.

These shots were already available for Quebecers 60 and older, as well as people who are immunocompromised.

“Second booster dose for 18-59-year-olds: it’s now possible to make an appointment on Clic Santé,” the Health Department said via Twitter.

“There is Comité sur l’immunisation du Québec recommendation for this age group (with exceptions) but it is possible to administer it to those who wish to receive it. There are no contraindications.”

Quebec says people must wait three months between their third and fourth doses.

— Montreal Gazette

COVID-19 cases in the Americas increased by 12.7 per cent last week from the prior week, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday, as infections continued to rise in Central and North America.

The Americas reported more than 616,000 new cases last week, while the death toll was down by less than 1 per cent in the same comparison to 4,200, the organization said.

PAHO’s director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, called for stronger measures to tackle the pandemic as cases and hospitalizations rise.

“COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising in far too many places, which should prompt us to strengthen our measures to combat the virus, including surveillance and preparedness,” Etienne told a news conference.

“We must reach those who remain unvaccinated with the full COVID-19 vaccine primary series, and ensure access to boosters, especially to the most vulnerable,” she added.

According to PAHO, cases were up for the fifth consecutive week in North America, rising 19.5 per cent. That was driven by a 27.1 per cent increase in the United States as new infections declined in Canada and Mexico.

— Reuters

Moderna Inc on Wednesday forecast higher vaccine sales for the second half of the year than in the first six months, as it expects the virus that causes COVID-19 to follow a more seasonal pattern requiring booster shots in the fall.

The U.S. vaccine maker is developing a potential next generation booster targeted at both the Omicron variant as well as the original strain of the coronavirus in hopes of producing broader protection.

“The desired features for a northern hemisphere fall winter booster we think will be that it improves the durability of neutralizing antibodies against Omicron,” said Moderna President Stephen Hoge.

Hoge expects annual boosters to be needed for people at high-risk of severe illness, which Moderna estimates consists of roughly 1.7 billion people worldwide.

Read the full story here.

— Reuters

Quebec’s top public health official said Wednesday the peak of the pandemic’s sixth wave has clearly passed and the province is ready to end its mask mandate for indoor public spaces on May 14.

“All the indicators are down, be it the number of cases, the number of health-care employees who are positive (for COVID-19), the number of hospitalizations,” interim public health director Dr. Luc Boileau told reporters in Quebec City. “The whole portrait is getting better and better.”

Boileau said masking will remain mandatory on public transportation and in health-care facilities. It will also be recommended in seniors residences and other facilities that may be home to vulnerable people.

“The virus is not leaving us on the 14th,” Boileau cautioned. “It will continue to be there.”

Read the full story here.

— The Canadian Press

Beijing shut scores of metro stations and bus routes and extended COVID-19 curbs on many public venues on Wednesday, focusing efforts to avoid the fate of Shanghai, where millions have been under strict lockdown for more than a month.

The central city of Zhengzhou earlier also announced restrictions, joining dozens of big population centers under some form of lockdown as China seeks to eliminate a virus believed to have first emerged in Wuhan city in late 2019.

But that uncompromising battle is undermining its growth and hurting international companies invested there, data shows, and has also fueled rare public outbursts of discontent.

With dozens of new cases a day, Beijing is hoping mass testing will find and isolate the virus before it spreads. Twelve of 16 city districts held the second of three rounds of tests this week.

Read the full story here.

— Reuters

COVID-19 vaccines are effective on people with immune-related inflammatory diseases, found a new Quebec study.

The study could be good news for the more than seven million Canadians over the age of 16 who live with an immune-mediated inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, and ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis that usually affects the spine.

“The effectiveness of vaccines for Canadians living with immune-mediated inflammatory diseases has not been thoroughly investigated before, primarily due to them being excluded from COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials,” said Dr. Jessica Widdifield, lead author of the study and a scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “Our encouraging findings begin to give a clearer picture of vaccine effectiveness in those with IMIDs.”

The study, published in The Lancet Rheumatology, found mRNA vaccines were 92 to 97 per cent effective against hospitalization or death due to COVID for people with IMIDs. Even though the immunity waned over time, vaccination remained effective even beyond 120 days after a second dose. Immunity also rebounded after a booster shot.

— Cheryl Chan

In the past week, cases of a new variant of the Omicron strain of COVID-19 have tripled in South Africa, two cases have shown up in the United States, and others have appeared in Denmark, Scotland and England. While BA.4 is making its way to other countries, BA.5 has been slower to leave South Africa and Botswana.

The World Health Organization last month added the two subvariants to its monitoring list, but said it was tracking just a few dozen cases globally.

The two new sublineages can dodge antibodies from earlier infection well enough to trigger a new wave, but are far less able to thrive in the blood of people vaccinated against COVID-19, South African scientists found.

“What we are seeing now, or at least maybe the first signs, is not completely new variants emerging, but current variants are starting to create lineages of themselves,” Tulio de Oliveira, director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform (KRISP), told the New York Times. Omicron has produced several subvariants since it was identified in South Africa and neighbouring Botswana in November.

Read the full story here.

— National Post

Ontario parents will now be given the choice of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for their children between the ages of six and 11.

The provincial government had previously only made Pfizer vaccines available to that age group, even thought Health Canada had approved vaccines by both Pfizer and Moderna.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health says Pfizer is the preferred vaccine, but has updated its guidance to say that Moderna can also be given on the basis of informed consent.

The change comes after an Ottawa professor filed a human rights complaint against Ottawa Public Health in order to get access to Moderna vaccines for his children.

Read the full story here.

— Ottawa Citizen

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended travellers continue to wear masks in airplanes, trains and airports despite a judge’s April 18 order declaring the 14-month-old transportation mask mandate unlawful.

The CDC said it based its recommendation on current COVID-19 conditions and spread as well as the protective value of masks.

The Justice Department last month filed notice it will appeal the ruling and it has until May 31 to do so. But the government has made no effort to seek immediate court action to reinstate the mandate.

The mask mandate had been due to expire on Tuesday just before midnight unless the CDC sought an extension of a Transportation Security Administration directive.

A CDC spokeswoman said, “As a result of a court order, the mask order is no longer in effect and is not being enforced.”

— Reuters

People who catch COVID-19 during pregnancy were at increased risk of complications that could affect their pregnancy and their baby, found a newly-published national study.

The study by researchers at the University of B.C. examined 6,012 pregnancies between March 2020 and October 2021 where the mother-to-be had COVID-19 and found these pregnancies to be at increased risk of hospitalization, admission to intensive care, and pre-term births.

UBC obstetrics and gynaecology professor Dr. Deborah Money launched the CANCOVID-Preg surveillance research program with other Canadian researchers in March 2020, during the onset of the pandemic and in a vacuum of information on the impact of the novel coronavirus on pregnancy.

Read the full story here.

— Cheryl Chan

MASKS: Masks are not required in public indoor settings though individual businesses and event organizers can choose to require them.

Masks are also encouraged but not required on board public transit and B.C. Ferries, though they are still required in federally regulated travel spaces such as trains, airports and airplanes, and in health care settings.

GATHERINGS AND EVENTS: There are currently no restrictions on gatherings and events such as personal gatherings, weddings, funerals, worship services, exercise and fitness activities, and swimming pools.

There are also no restrictions or capacity limits on restaurants, pubs, bars and nightclubs; and no restrictions on sport activities.

CARE HOMES: There are no capacity restrictions on visitors to long-term care and seniors’ assisted living facilities, however, visitors must show proof of vaccination before visiting. Exemptions are available for children under the age of 12, those with a medical exemption, and visitors attending for compassionate visits related to end of life.

Visitors to seniors’ homes are also required to take a rapid antigen test before visiting the facility or be tested on arrival. Exemptions to testing are available for those attending for compassionate visits or end-of-life care.

Everyone who is living in B.C. and eligible for a vaccine can receive one by following these steps:

• Get registered online at to book an appointment in your community.
• Or, if you prefer, you can get registered and then visit a drop-in clinic in your health authority.
• The system will alert you when it is time to go for your second dose.
• The same system will also alert you when it is time for your booster dose.

TESTING CENTRES: B.C.’s COVID-19 test collection centres are currently only testing those with symptoms who are hospitalized, pregnant, considered high risk or live/work with those who are high risk. You can find a testing centre using the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s testing centre map.

If you have mild symptoms, you do not need a test and should stay home until your fever is gone. Those without symptoms do not need a test.

TAKE-HOME RAPID ANTIGEN TESTS: Eligible British Columbians over the age of 18 with a personal health number can visit a pharmacy to receive a free take-home test kit containing five COVID-19 rapid antigen tests.

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