Infectious illness consultants and COVID-19 modelers are sounding alarm bells of an approaching third wave anticipated to be pushed by extra contagious variants of the virus.
However whereas we brace for Wave 3, some are questioning if we ever truly cleared Wave 2, particularly in populous areas of the nation the place transmission has remained extra regular.
Consultants say the definition of what constitutes a “wave” and pinpointing when it’s handed isn’t so clear.
Some say we’re on the tail finish of the second wave now, as evidenced by the downward pattern of instances throughout the nation, whereas others say ebbs and flows haven’t been uniform sufficient to find out when one wave ends and one other begins.
Caroline Colijn, a COVID modeler and mathematician at Simon Fraser College, says the phrase “wave” has been considerably deceptive. Waves of viruses are inclined to ease up on their very own as immunity grows inside a inhabitants, she says, which we haven’t reached but with COVID.
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As an alternative, the ebb and circulation of SARS-CoV-2 has been dictated by our personal actions, Colijn added, as an example restrictive measures that restrict the power of the virus to unfold.
“This isn’t a wave, it’s a forest fireplace,” Colijn mentioned. “We flip the hoses off and the flames construct up once more and we get exponential development. Then we flip the hoses again on and instances lower.”
Colijn, whose modelling predicts steep rises in instances across the finish of February in six of Canada’s largest provinces, says the problem of “wave language” is that when waves recede, folks suppose the menace has ceded with it.
However till we attain ranges of herd immunity, she says, that’s not going to occur.
“We’re not seeing a pure tailing off. We’re seeing issues drop due to restrictions — these fireplace hoses we put in entrance of the hearth,” she mentioned. “Then we flip the hoses off and we’re stunned that this wave is coming again.”
Canada’s high medical doctors mentioned Friday that eight provinces have reported instances of latest COVID variants, with three of them displaying proof of group transmission.
Chief public well being officer Dr. Theresa Tam mentioned there had been 429 instances of the variant first recognized within the U.Okay., 28 instances of the variant first recognized in South Africa, and one of many variant first present in Brazil.
Whereas it appears like a small quantity in comparison with our inhabitants, College of Manitoba virologist Jason Kindrachuk says the heightened transmissibility of these variants makes the scenario extra alarming.
Compounding issues additional is that true prevalence of the variants nationwide is unknown, he added, although some jurisdictions have been doing point-prevalence research to assist decide that.
Kindrachuk says one or two instances, when caught early and remoted, aren’t too regarding. However hazard proliferates as extra pop up.
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“You might have that preliminary fireplace after which sparks begin flying … and that results in a bunch of small fires,” he mentioned. “If these begin to catch, you lose the power to essentially preserve issues in management.”
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public well being officer, says the presence of extra transmissible variants means folks ought to be extra diligent in adhering to present security measures aimed toward slowing the unfold of different COVID strains, together with limiting contacts, mask-wearing and distancing.
The spike in variant instances comes at a time when Canada seems to be “two-thirds of the way in which down the curve,” Tam mentioned, as total COVID instances fall.
Some jurisdictions, like Ontario, have taken that as purpose to reopen. A lot of the province is transferring away from its stay-at-home orders subsequent week, although projections launched Thursday present a doubtlessly speedy rise by late February.
Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious illness skilled with the College of Toronto, says reopening Ontario now may result in additional lockdowns within the province later.
“I anticipate our numbers over the following two weeks are going to be fairly good, however it’s 4 weeks from now, six weeks from now that I’m most involved about,” he mentioned.
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Troy Day, a COVID modeler out of Queen’s College, says the issue with the variants is that they’re nonetheless lurking beneath the floor. They usually could not really be seen till they take maintain extra firmly.
Day mentioned he’s involved a few third wave in Canada as a result of locations like Britain have proven related trajectories.
“Circumstances go down and also you suppose every little thing’s OK, however beneath is definitely a rise in variant instances that may ultimately dominate every little thing,” he mentioned.
Day says the phrase wave is “humorous terminology,” including he’s been hesitant to definitively label the ups and downs of COVID case counts that means.
“All of the waves we’ve seen are pushed largely by what we’re doing to regulate it,” Day mentioned. “The extra we open up and shut down, the extra a number of waves we’ll have.”
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