Rates of COVID-19 more than 20 times higher among unvaccinated in Ottawa

Dr. Vera Etches says the rates of COVID-19 among the unvaccinated in Ottawa are more than 20 times higher than those with two doses of protection. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Ottawa residents who have not received a shot of COVID-19 vaccine are experiencing rates of infection more than 20 times greater than those considered fully immunized, according to new data from the local public health unit.

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, released data Thursday morning on COVID-19 cases in the city between July 4 and Aug. 7.

Her statistics broke down cases from the past month among the unvaccinated, those with one shot of the vaccine and residents with both doses.

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The vast majority of cases over that timeframe, 112 infections out of a total 168, were among unvaccinated residents.

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That amounts to a rate of 67 cases per 100,000 unvaccinated Ottawa residents. That compares to rates of 19 infections per 100,000 among those with one shot and three cases per 100,000 among the fully immunized.

Etches told councillors and members of the board of health Thursday that she doesn’t have Ottawa-specific data on hospitalizations among the vaccinated and unvaccinated because the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 has been very low as of late in the city.

But she said that looking at provincewide data, the difference in protection between the two groups is “even greater” when looking at hospitalizations.

Read more: Hospitalizations remain low in Ottawa despite COVID-19 case increases

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As of OPH’s latest update on Wednesday, some 84 per cent of Ottawa residents aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 77 per cent of the eligible population has gotten both shots.

Etches has set a vaccination goal of 90 per cent in Ottawa. She says current levels of immunization across the city are insufficient to fully protect against a fourth wave of the virus.

“We’re not quite there yet. It’s because the Delta variant is more transmissible,” she said.

In the past month, 60 per cent of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa were confirmed to have the Delta variant, Etches said.

Delta made up 90 per cent of variant cases in the past week, she added. The city’s wastewater data now primarily detects Delta versus the Alpha variant, which was previously dominant in Ottawa.

“The Delta variant is driving an increase in COVID-19 in Ontario and Ottawa,” Etches said.

She added that Delta is resulting in more cases across all age groups, but primarily in younger demographics that report lower rates of vaccination.

OPH reported 19 new COVID-19 cases in the city on Thursday, while hospitalizations and active cases held relatively steady.

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The number of ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in Ottawa meanwhile dropped to one, with the sole active outbreak affecting a child-care centre.

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