“COVID is killing faster and younger,” new modelling data shows variants fueling a deadly third wave

Provincial Government expected to announce more lockdown measures in response to growing numbers

Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table released modelling data on Thursday that indicates variants have taken over and are sending entire families to the ICU.

Dr. Steini Brown, with the advisory table, says without further intervention, the province could see 6,000 new cases per day by the end of April. Without steady vaccination in that time, there could be 10,000 new cases. He says this massive rise is attributed to the B.1.1.7. variant of the virus, which spreads more readily than its base version. “As the new variant spreads, you will see that COVID is killing faster and younger. It’s spreading far more quickly than it was before. And we cannot vaccinate quickly enough to break this third wave. This is the challenge of the new variants,” said Brown.

According to modelling data released on Thursday, younger Ontarians are ending up in hospital with far more frequency than before; the risk of ICU admission is twice as high with the variant, while health officials say the risk of death due to a variant is 1.5 times higher than the original virus.

According to Thursday’s briefing, cases are increasing in almost all public health unit areas, with most new cases being variants of concern.

“We’re seeing situations where whole families end up in intensive care all at the same time,” said Brown, noting that the pressure on the healthcare system in Ontario means individuals must be moved to wherever there is available space. “One family ended up spread between three hospitals; one in Simcoe, one in Toronto, and an adult child on a ventilator in the third city. Another family ended up spread between three cities, three different hospitals, and all of them died.”

“Vaccination alone is not enough and it has never been enough as this third wave started. The best weapons we have for short-term control are the public health measures like masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene, staying outside if you need to meet people, and as a last resort, stay-at-home orders. These measures only work if people understand them and can follow them,” added Brown. “These measures are the key to the control of the pandemic now and the time that we need to vaccinate more Ontarians.”

On Wednesday evening, reports began to surface that Premier Doug Ford was set to announce another province-wide lockdown in response to spiking COVID-19 numbers across Ontario. Confirmation of this was expected at 1:30 Thursday afternoon.