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B.C. reports 438 new COVID-19 cases as top doctor defends plan to delay second dose

Click to play video: 'B.C. officials report 438 new cases of COVID-19, two additional deaths' B.C. officials report 438 new cases of COVID-19, two additional deaths
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reports 438 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, March 2, and two additional deaths in the last 24-hours. Dr. Henry also provides the latest update on COVID-19 vaccines administered so far – Mar 2, 2021

B.C. recorded 438 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, along with two additional deaths.

Of the new cases, 137 were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 249 were in the Fraser Health region, 19 in Island Health, 16 in Interior Health, and 17 in Northern Health.

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B.C. extends state of emergency through to March 16 – Mar 2, 2021

The province reported an additional 22 cases involving variants of concerns, bringing the total number of cases in B.C. to 182. Eight cases involving variants are active.

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a correction to recent COVID-19 data, adding an extra 254 cases to totals over the last week. There have been 81,367 cases of COVID-19 in B.C.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Criticism over gap between vaccine doses, Tuesday briefing with B.C. health officials' Coronavirus: Criticism over gap between vaccine doses, Tuesday briefing with B.C. health officials
Coronavirus: Criticism over gap between vaccine doses, Tuesday briefing with B.C. health officials – Mar 2, 2021

The deaths bring the province’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,365.

The number of people in hospital with the disease rose by seven to 243. Of those patients, 63 are in intensive care.

There are 4,679 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. while 8,445 people are self-isolating due to possible exposure to the novel coronavirus.

The seven-day rolling average of B.C.’s positivity rates is 6.3 per cent.

The province has administered 283,182 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, 86,537 of which were second doses.

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Coronavirus: Stability of future AstraZeneca vaccine supply coming from Ottawa – Mar 2, 2021

On Monday, health officials unveiled details around COVID-19 vaccinations for people over the age of 80.

The province also said it expects that all adults in the province will have the option to receive their first dose before the end of July.

Read more: B.C. says all eligible adults should get first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by end of July

Health officials said the province plans to extend the interval between vaccine doses to four months, saying the decision was based on local and international evidence that shows the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provides “miraculous” 90 per cent protection from the virus.

Read more: B.C. reports 1,478 new COVID-19 cases, eight deaths over three days as total cases top 80k

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Chief science adviser Mona Nemer said in a media interview that B.C.’s plan amounts to a “population-level experiment” and that the data provided so far by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech is based on an interval of three to four weeks between doses.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Dr. Bonnie Henry on the return of the BCHL' Coronavirus: Dr. Bonnie Henry on the return of the BCHL
Coronavirus: Dr. Bonnie Henry on the return of the BCHL – Mar 2, 2021
Henry responded to Nemer’s comments on Tuesday, saying B.C.’s decision was made after considering strong local and international data.
“This makes sense for us, knowing that it is a critical time right now with the limited amount of vaccines that we have in the coming weeks, to be able to provide that protection … to everybody here,” Henry said.
“That is why we made the decision that we did.”
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— With files from Richard Zussman and The Canadian Press

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