COVID-19 'now a preventable disease,' B.C.'s top doctor says
B.C.'s top doctor is calling COVID-19 "a preventable disease," citing effectiveness of vaccines as the reason.
In a modelling presentation Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry outlined what B.C.'s COVID-19 caseload would be without vaccines. Currently, the reproductive number in the province is at or below one in nearly all regions, meaning each new confirmed infection is spreading, on average, to just one other person, or fewer.
Without vaccination, Thursday's modelling presentation suggested the virus' reproductive number would be 3.43, and cases would be growing exponentially, surpassing 8,000 per day in a matter of just a few weeks.
"This is showing us how important and how protective and effective the vaccines that we have are," Henry said. "This is now a preventable disease, particularly in severe illness, hospitalizations."
The modelling data presented Thursday also revealed an updated estimate of how much more likely individuals are to get infected, end up in hospital or die from COVID-19 if they are unvaccinated.
Adjusted for age, unvaccinated individuals are 10 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19, the data suggested, and 46 times more likely to die from the disease.
But the risk of hospitalization is even higher.
"Just to underline the age adjusted number, 50 times more likely to be in hospital if you're unvaccinated. Fifty times," Health Minister Adrian Dix said. "I think it's important to reflect on that."
Even with vaccinations, Henry said the biggest risk factor for COVID-19 continues to be age. In fact, the modelling presentation indicated that 46 per cent of the 179 deaths during October were among those who had received two doses of a vaccine.
"Our seniors and elders continue to be vulnerable and that's why we've rolled out the booster dose to them so quickly," Henry said.
As of Thursday, 90.1 per cent of eligible people aged 12 and older have received their first COVID-19 dose and 85.6 per cent have received two. The province's plan to offer booster shots is continuing to roll out and Dix said that process is nearly complete in long-term care and assisted living homes.
"Booster-dose vaccination is 98 per cent complete in long-term care and seniors assisted living facilities across the province with 526 of 536 facilities receiving their booster dose to date," he said.
Booster doses are being offered to other groups most vulnerable to the disease first and will be available to the general population through a gradual roll-out starting next year.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ian Holliday
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