A majority of Canada’s COVID-19 infections and fatalities are now occurring in people who were not vaccinated against the disease, according to newly-released data from the country’s public health agency.
Data from the Public Health Agency of Canada found that, as of June 21, the country’s “breakthrough” infections in fully vaccinated people accounted for just over 2,700 cases — about 0.5 per cent — of all reported infections from 10 provinces and territories since the vaccine rollout started.
Of those fully vaccinated infections, only 66 of those cases died due to COVID-19, compared to the estimated 13,000 deaths that occurred across the country since the start of the rollout in December.
The vaccine’s effectiveness, even for those who were partially vaccinated, was evident, according to the data. There was a total of 24,469 partially vaccinated COVID-19 cases, which accounted for 4 per cent of all infections since the first vaccines started being administered in Canada.
Again, severe outcomes from contracting COVID-19 — including death — were heavily reduced with just one shot, with 484 or 2 per cent of those partially vaccinated infections having died due to the virus.
A statement from PHAC sent to Global News on Friday said that patients with COVID-19 after either receiving one or two doses were less likely to die than unvaccinated cases that were reported.
“The protective effect was significant among partially vaccinated cases aged 60+ years and those that occurred after vaccination with 2 doses over 80 years of age,” read the statement.
“Of the vaccinated individuals, only 0.0027 per cent died due to COVID-19 while partially vaccinated and 0.0018 per cent died due to COVID-19 while fully vaccinated”
The PHAC data also found that by June 21, only 0.14 per cent of partially vaccinated people were infected 14 days or more after their first dose, while 0.08 per cent of fully vaccinated people became were infected seven or more days after their second.
The data comes as Canada continues to place among the most vaccinated countries in the world, currently averaging over 460,000 vaccine doses doled out per day according to COVID19Tracker.ca.
To date, over 76 per cent of all eligible Canadians aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine and more than 27 per cent of those eligible have received their full two doses.
The continued vaccine uptick comes paired with further declining new cases, deaths and hospitalizations across the country, with Canada’s average new cases of COVID-19 averaging over 600 a day — a number that hasn’t been seen since early September of last year.
The promising data on severe outcomes, or rather the lack thereof, for those who were vaccinated was also released alongside new guidelines from the public health agency.
Several dos and don’ts for Canadians who have received either one or two doses of the vaccine were included in an infographic Friday.
Those who have received both doses would no longer have to wear masks or physically distance when outside with small groups of people from several households, even if those people are unvaccinated.
Those wanting to do the same, such as attending events, having dinner or even giving hugs in an indoor setting, would have to do so with other fully vaccinated people.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said during a press conference that the guidelines differed significantly than the ones previously outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite some similarities.
“The CDC guidance, it makes it seem straightforward: ‘Yes, I have made two vaccines. I can do whatever I want,’” he said. “We’re saying, ‘No, it’s much more nuanced than that.'”
Despite both the updated guidelines and vaccine data, public health officials continued to caution provinces with their reopening plans amid the spread of the Delta COVID-19 variant.
According to PHAC’s most recent COVID-19 epidemiology and modelling released on Friday, the variant could see an even “greater than previously expected resurgence” of the virus this fall and winter should vaccination coverage not be high enough.
Njoo also pointed out that the guidelines were made with the experiences of several countries now dealing with Delta in mind, specifically that of the U.K. and Israel.
Both of those countries had good vaccination rates and programs, but were forced to reimplement measures or push back reopening due to the spread of the variant.
“So I think all these experiences in other countries also inform us here in Canada as a sort of cautionary tale,” he said.
“But I would say, hey, you know, the science keeps evolving. We’ll have to keep an eye on the various and certainly learn from other countries as well as we move forward.”