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Peel Region to see Delta variant as dominant COVID-19 strain, top doctor says

Click to play video: 'B.1.617 first detected in India to be dominant COVID-19 strain in Peel Region, top doctor says' B.1.617 first detected in India to be dominant COVID-19 strain in Peel Region, top doctor says
WATCH ABOVE: Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel Region’s medical officer of health, says that the B.1.617 variant – first discovered in India and now known as Delta – could be the new dominant strain in a month, outnumbering the B.1.1.7 variant (Alpha) across the region and cautions the province in reopening. – Jun 2, 2021

Peel Region’s medical officer of health says it is expected that in a month the Delta variant will be the dominant COVID-19 strain across the region.

“Members of the science table this week have advised Peel Public Health that B.1.617 … is increasingly being detected in Ontario and that Peel Region has the highest proportion of this variant out of the entire province,” Dr. Lawrence Loh said at a briefing on Wednesday.

The B.1.617 variant was first discovered in India and has been renamed by the World Health Organization as “Delta” to avoid stigmatizing countries which detect and report variants.

The naming convention for coronavirus variants  — using letters from the Greek alphabet — also saw the B.1.1.7 first identified in the U.K. renamed to “Alpha.” The B.1.351, first detected in South Africa, was renamed to “Beta” and the P.1, first identified in Brazil, called “Gamma.”

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Read more: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta: WHO officially names COVID-19 variants of concern

Loh called the trends and analysis from recent preliminary lab results “concerning.” So far, there are currently 97 cases of Delta in Peel Region including some that were acquired through the community, Loh said.

“B.1.617 is quickly replacing B.1.1.7. which was the Alpha variant originally detected in the U.K. and which drove our third wave across Brampton and the Region of Peel,” Loh said.

He said that based on the early analysis, Delta will be the dominate strain in Peel Region in one month, with the rest of Ontario just weeks behind.

“With initial signals that the Delta variant is more transmissible and severe on top of the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), this means we very much welcome the province’s continued cautious reopening as one component to preventing a fourth wave,” Loh said.

Read more: U.K. urges caution on COVID-19 variant first seen in India. Should Canadians worry?

“However, with the new Delta variant growing we need to move quickly to two doses for maximum protection,” Loh said “We saw this in Bolton, in the United Kingdom, where they rushed in second doses into that community to get ahead of the virus.”

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford commented at an unrelated news conference on Wednesday on the preliminary analysis for Peel Region and the Delta variant.

“Back in stage 2, back to where we were with the U.K. variant,” Ford continued.

According to Public Health England in a tweet on May 27, one dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was 33 per cent effective against Delta. After two doses, that effectiveness increased to 88 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively.

So far, 1.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Peel Region. About 72 per cent of the adult population has received one shot with 40 per cent of first dose coverage to the aged 12 to 17 population.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said he wants to see an aggressive second dose strategy for hot spot areas.

“I’m concerned that first vaccine coverage will not be adequate when it comes to some of these variants,” Brown said.

“And we’ve got crowded factories and warehouses and that’s how it spread out across the province initially. So we need to get second doses out to our essential workers to make sure that this variant doesn’t take hold like we’ve seen it take hold in other jurisdictions internationally,” Brown said.

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