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2nd doses of COVID-19 vaccine key to avoiding 4th wave driven by Delta variant: Ontario modelling

Last Updated Jun 10, 2021 at 6:07 pm EDT

TORONTO, April 13, 2021 -- People line up for COVID-19 tests outside a COVID-19 testing bus in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on April 13, 2021. (Xinhua/Zou Zheng via Getty Images)

To avoid a fourth wave of COVID-19 driven by the Delta variant, Ontario must ensure first and second vaccine doses are getting to high-risk communities, according to new modelling.

Health officials say the cases, per cent positivity and hospitalizations have all dropped sharply and cases are expected to continue to decline over the next 10 days.

The new modelling shows if virus spread is low and we are vaccinating people at the rate of 142,000 per day, we will see under 500 cases a day until mid-August, with cases continuing to drop.

However, if virus spread is high with the same vaccination rate, cases could spike back up to 2,500 per day. With 180,000 vaccines per day, that number would be at around 1,500.

Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, says the latest projections are far from a “doomsday scenario” of uncontrolled infections.

“The Delta variant is more transmissible and may be more dangerous. It will likely be the dominant form of the virus this summer and its critcal to control the spread of this variant and to avoid a fourth wave we need to continue to ensure first and second doses in high risk communities,” he said.

The data also shows testing numbers have dropped. Health officials say strong monitoring will be critical in controlling the pandemic going forward.

“We need to ensure our vaccine efforts are tailored to the community needs and we need to ensure the core public health functions of strong testing and case and contact tracing,” said Brown.

As for hospitals, normal operations could resume by mid-July with the modelling predicting fewer than 200 patients in the ICU by then. The province currently has 450 patients in the ICU.

The new modelling comes as Ontario prepares to enter Step 1 of reopening which includes outdoor dining, non-essential retail stores opening and outdoor gatherings up to 10 people.