One expert shares, "if it weren't for the Delta variant, we'd all be mask-less and back to normal." said Timothy Sly, Epidemiologist & Professor, School of Public Health, Ryerson University
The Delta variant is now recorded in 68 countries worldwide, and in a brief period, it has become the dominant strain. "Britain, for example, in just 60 days went from 0 % of Delta cases to something like 75% of the isolations. In Canada, it's not moving quite as rapidly, but it is becoming the dominant strain."
While England is dropping many of its restrictions as of July 19, Sly told The Mike Farwell Show on 570 NEWS, "many people in public health are highly nervous. The UK is seeing a huge surge in cases, with a certain day average of about 27,000 cases. Sly said they are very much in the fourth wave of this pandemic.
Vaccinations are the key to slowing the spread of the variants and bringing back normalcy to people's lives. The vaccines have proven to be effective with variant cases. Sly said becoming fully vaccinated is how we all will be fully protected. "One dose of the vaccine is weak, which is why the policy had changed. At the start of the vaccination roll out, the big push was around having people receive the first dose of the vaccine. Now with the variants becoming more prevalent, one dose is not sufficient. The drive is now to get the second dose into people as fast as possible."
It is the younger people aged 18 to 29 years old that are seeing the Delta variant effect more. "They are the most mobile people and the most active people. They are the group that wants to attend gatherings and such, but this is the age group that is seeing the case increase."
"The more vaccination population increases, we can keep the number in hospitals down even with the surge in variant cases. The variants will respond to vaccines in a way that we are so pleased." But, Sly added, "those who are choosing not to get vaccinated are not only not protecting themselves, but they are putting at risk the people who are undergoing cancer treatment or immunosuppressed. They can't become vaccinated."
When the first strain of the virus was detected- almost 18 months ago, we needed to be at 60% herd immunity. When the Alpha strain came along, we needed to be at roughly 70%. "Now, with this variant, we need to be at close to 80%. The Delta variant is moving so fast that there is a reason for public health to be worried. "The last thing we want to do is relax too soon within reach of the finish line and let it catch up to us."
Sly added the UK is nearly 45 per cent at the peak of the third wave in terms of the national average. However, he assures that "we will not see a surge in cases as we have before because enough people are vaccinated to take the edge off. The hospitalization will be less, but the variant itself is moving more rapidly, which remains the concern."
He believes the abundantly cautious approach is the right approach. "We didn't have vaccines initially, and we had to rely on purchasing them from other countries. "We are now number one for a single dose globally, but we still have some catching up to do on the double doses and very much on the youth. They are down 66 per cent in the 18 to 29 group, which is not where we need to be."
The province reported on July 8, more than half of Ontario adults were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, Health Minister and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones encouraged people, especially unvaccinated people, to get the shot.