1000 potential cases of variants in Quebec: a race against time to vaccinate

Prime Minister François Legault faces heartbreaking choices, on the eve of an announcement on health measures after the school break: the vaccination campaign is going well, but 1,000 cases of potential variants have been detected in Quebec.

• Read also: Vaccination in pharmacies starting March 15 in Montreal

• Read also: COVID-19: Quebec recruits 500 new vaccinators in less than a week

“In the greater Montreal area, the British variant, it rises quickly”, worried the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, at a press briefing Tuesday.

Quebec currently has 137 cases of confirmed variants, while 1,000 other positive results are currently being evaluated, explained the National Director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, alongside him. Between 12% and 15% of infections currently are caused by mutations of the original strain.

“If next week it goes up again, it can become very dangerous. I think we are in that situation at the moment and, I tell you frankly, I am going to weigh my words, but we are afraid of this situation, ”confided Minister Dubé.

“We are afraid, particularly in the Montreal region, that it will be a bit like the calm before the storm,” he continued. So, I think we must take that into consideration in our major decisions that we will have to make in the coming days. ”

  • Listen to the explanations of Benoit Morin, president of the Quebec Association of Owner Pharmacists

Prime Minister François Legault must announce tomorrow, at 5:00 p.m., whether Quebec will allow relaxation of the health measures in force after the break week. Some regions, such as Chaudière-Appalaches, have so few active cases that local public health recommends moving to the orange level.

Vaccination is in full swing

However, the vaccination campaign officially launched on Monday is in full swing and Quebec hopes to vaccinate as many people at risk as possible before a possible third wave.

The effort to immunize Quebecers is likely to accelerate, thanks to an agreement that will allow 350 pharmacies on the island of Montreal to participate in the vaccination campaign. Appointment scheduling will begin on March 15.

Eventually, all pharmacists in the province will be involved. These could distribute 2 million from 6 million doses planned by Quebec.

In other good news, Health Canada’s approval of AstraZeneca’s vaccine will increase the number of doses available in the coming weeks. As of Wednesday, 500,000 doses should arrive in Canada.

Quebec is, however, awaiting a recommendation from its committee on immunization to determine whether it will be offered to people aged 65 and over. Yesterday, federal experts advised against it for seniors, “because of the little information available to date on the effectiveness of this vaccine in this age group.”

One thing is certain, “vaccination is popular,” says campaign manager Daniel Paré. Some 350,000 appointments have been booked so far. In fact, demand is such that the telephone reservation center broke down yesterday due to the high volume of calls.

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