Canada on course for worst wave of COVID-19 yet, new modelling data shows

TORONTO — Reported daily COVID-19 caseloads in Canada could reach unprecedented highs later this month if current levels of virus transmission are not reduced, new federal modelling data shows.

On the eve of the Labour Day weekend, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam took aim at young adults, describing an “urgent need” for more people between the ages of 18 and 39 to get vaccinated in order to prevent a rapid worsening of Canada’s COVID-19 situation.

“The moment you get people back indoors … we will see accelerations,” she said Friday at a press conference.

Data released by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) shows that 74 per cent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 and 77 per cent of those in their 30s have been fully vaccinated, versus 82 per cent of those in their 40s and even higher percentages of older age groups.

In addition, Tam said, those younger adults “continue to have the highest rates of infection,” in part because they are more likely to have close contact with people outside their household for work-related or recreational reasons.

There is also a regional disparity in vaccination rates. While 84 per cent of eligible vaccine recipients across Canada have received at least one dose, the rate is only 78 per cent in Alberta and 76 per cent in Saskatchewan.

From mid-July to mid-August, Tam said, the COVID-19 infection rate was 12 times higher among the unvaccinated than the vaccinated, and the hospitalization rate was 36 times higher.

PHAC estimates that 5.2 million eligible Canadians have not yet received any COVID-19 vaccination, while another 2.5 million are only considered partially vaccinated.

“The bottom line is that millions of people across Canada remain unvaccinated and at high risk of COVID-19 infection and severe illness outcomes,” Tam said.

Tam also called on all Canadians to limit their contacts as summer comes to a close, sending many back to schools and workplaces.

“Right now is not the time to gather in huge numbers with people that are not in your household, without taking significant layers of protection,” she said.