Is Canada heading towards a fourth wave?

The short answer is yes, but the real question is how severe the resurgence of COVID-19 cases will be. According to Canada’s latest modelling, the fourth wave is set to be driven by the delta variant; its impact on the general public, however, will directly correlate with the number of people who are fully vaccinated (Aiello, 2021).

The pandemic of the unvaccinated

The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) has also warned that the upcoming surge in COVID case numbers could become a great threat to the province (Johnson, 2021). Ontarians who have yet to receive two doses are now considered to be the most vulnerable population. Officials are calling this upcoming fourth wave “the pandemic of the unvaccinated” (Johnson, 2021).

“The updated longer-range forecast shows how the epidemic trajectory may evolve through early September. It suggests that we are at the start of the Delta-driven fourth wave, but that the trajectory will depend on ongoing increases in fully vaccinated coverage, and the timing, pace and extent of reopening,” – Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

A Disproportionate Impact

In a recent interview,  Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller expresses his concern as he fears that this Delta-driven fourth wave would heavily impact marginalized communities, especially Indigenous peoples (Malone, 2021). According to Miller, a large portion of Indigenous peoples, particularly those living on reserves, are children under the age of 12, who are not eligible to get a dose (Malone, 2021). The biggest threat to unvaccinated individuals however, is the rising number of delta variant cases. 

Outbreaks of the Delta variant have already begun to pop up on reserves within the past few weeks. In northern Saskatchewan, the Black Lake First Nation went into lockdown last month as the Delta variant spread rapidly and affected around 1600 individuals (Malone, 2021).The Athabasca Health Authority also claims that the number of cases this week reached over 200—ultimately requiring those living in affected areas to self-isolate (Malone, 2021).

Taking a closer look at the numbers

Hospitalization rates across the region have continued to remain low, with less than 1% of hospitalized cases occurring in people who are fully vaccinated (Aiello, 2021). That being said, 89.7% of all hospitalized cases occurring in unvaccinated people are those who are eligible to receive the vaccine (Aiello, 2021). 

Out of the 84.9 % hospitalized cases who are unvaccinated, 5.3%of cases are those who are not yet eligible for vaccines, and 4.6% are those who are partially vaccinated. (Aiello, 2021)

“I think it’s going to be primarily be younger unvaccinated children [affected], and of course the adults who have chosen not to get the vaccine,” – Dr. Steve Flindall, York Region Emergency Physician

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References

Aiello, R. (2021, July 30). Canada is heading towards a ‘Delta-driven’ FOURTH Wave, tam says. Coronavirus. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/canada-is-heading-towards-a-delta-driven-fourth-wave-tam-says-1.5529290.

Johnson, N. (2021, August 4). Ontario hospitals begin to brace for fourth wave of covid-19. Toronto. https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-hospitals-begin-to-brace-for-fourth-wave-of-covid-19-1.5534889.

Malone, K. G. (2021, August 4). Indigenous Minister worries lifting COVID-19 restrictions could bring fourth wave. Coronavirus. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/indigenous-minister-worries-lifting-covid-19-restrictions-could-bring-fourth-wave-1.5534383.

About the Author

Bairavie Piravakaran (she/her) is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a Psychological & Health Sciences student, she values the importance of sharing credible information and making health resources more accessible to the public. Her interests in population health, research, and design are also reflected in her non-academic pursuits—she currently with the Young Leaders of Public Health and Medicine (YLPHM) as a Social Media Manager for the Scarborough Chapter and is a Health Promotion & Analytics Member at Critical Health Innovations Lab (CHIL). At EMPOWER Health, Bairavie works closely with the Marketing Team in order to plan and execute strategies that help inform the public about current health-related topics.