Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Experts say Omicron COVID-19 variant likely to re-infect ‘repeatedly’ – National | Nation World News

Although COVID-19 cases are declining across the country, it is still possible to get infected again with the virus – especially from the Omicron variant – experts say.

“As long as it is circulating in the community, there is always a possibility,” Stephen Hope Cann, a clinical professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, told Global News.

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Receiving Omicron more than once also appears to be more likely than other variants.

“The Omicron variant, in particular, seems to be the one that will infect people over and over again,” Kelly McNagney, a professor of medical genetics in the University of British Columbia’s School of Biomedical Engineering, told Global News.

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“It’s a bit more like the common cold virus that infects the upper airway, which is a place where you don’t easily develop strong immunity.”

According to McNagney, unlike Omicron, other types of the virus infect someone deep in the airways. “I think it gave you a little bit more security,” he said.

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“Ever since Omicron became the dominant form, reinfection has increased,” says Lisa Glover, also assistant director of Alberta Health.

“The risk of re-infection from Omicron is much higher than any other previous edition,” Glover told Global News.

“A major factor that increases the likelihood of re-infection is weakened immunity from a previous infection or not being completely up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations, including additional doses,” she said.

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Regardless of the version, McNagney says that having the vaccination will provide a high level of protection against reinfection. In addition to vaccination, bringing back the mask requirement could also mean that fewer people will be infected with the virus again.

“It’s very clear,” McNagney said. “As soon as we started throwing away the masks, the infection rate started rising again.”

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In places where many public health measures have been lifted, COVID-19 transmission rates have resumed, and so have flu cases, Dr Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief medical officer for health, said in a virtual news release on Friday. told reporters during the conference.

“Personal protective habits help reduce the spread of COVID-19 as well as other risky transactions during illnesses,” she said. “It’s a reminder that our efforts are still needed.”

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“Now, because we don’t have masks, you see such a huge increase of flu in the population,” Horacio Bach, a clinical assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine, told Global News.

“Masks are definitely the first line of defence,” Bach said, noting that the return of the mask mandate would reduce the chance of re-infection. “I’m double-masked everywhere,” he said. “It’s my protection.”

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Even celebrities like comedian Jimmy Kimmel have tested positive for the virus more than once.

In a Twitter update on May 17, Kimmel wrote, “I am such a positive person, I tested positive again.” But, he said he was “feeling fine.”

Most of the provinces that responded to Global News, including Alberta, Nova Scotia and Quebec, were unable to provide re-infection data. In Ontario, between May 8 and 14, there were 415 reinfection cases of COVID-19 in the province.

A spokesman for the Northwest Territories also confirmed that individuals have experienced re-infection there.

“COVID-19 re-infections have been identified during the Omicron wave, with most of the previous infections occurring during the delta wave,” the spokesperson told Global News in an email.

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As of May 20, the seven-day average of daily laboratory-confirmed cases in Canada sits at slightly above 3,564, more than 60 percent lower than the rate seen a month earlier.

The number of Canadians receiving hospital treatment for COVID-19 stands at 4,880 patients, down more than 20 percent from two weeks ago. This includes 349 people who are being treated in intensive care units, a number that has now stabilized after falling in the first half of April.

At present, 63 deaths are happening on an average daily in the country. The rate has remained stable in early May after rising steadily through April. However, the newly-confirmed COVID-19 cases have brought the national total to over 3.84 million cases and over 40,600 deaths.

As of May 19, more than 84,952,660 doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines have been given across Canada.

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So far, about 35 million Canadians have received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 31 million Canadians have been vaccinated against COVID-19 with two doses.

Since they were authorized in September 2021, according to available provincial and territorial data, 18,610,469 “booster” doses have been administered, meaning 48.7 percent of Canada’s population has received three doses.

As of May 19, 90.4 percent of eligible Canadians aged five and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 86.2 percent have been fully vaccinated with two shots. The vaccination for children between the ages of five and 11 was approved by Health Canada last November.

— With files from Sean Boynton

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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