New modelling suggests Omicron wave has plateaued, hospitalizations will remain high

Feb 1, 2022 | Headlines, News

New modelling data from Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table show Omicron rates have stabilized, yet hospitalization rates for all age groups remain high.

“Many of the people who are being admitted to hospital are people who have COVID-19, but who have other chronic illnesses that may be exacerbated by COVID-19,” Dr. Karen Born, assistant scientific director of the Science Advisory Table said.

“So we’re seeing more vulnerable people, even if they have been double or triple vaxxed, who are landing in hospitals, but they’re not needing ventilators in the same way as they have prior,” she said.

As a result of a lack of sufficient COVID-19 testing in the province, the science table cited wastewater data in making their projections.

“We have tools to observe wastewater that we’ve never had before,” Robert Steiner, communications director of the Science Advisory Table, said.

The access to new tools has helped to do a lot of testing. The wastewater data suggests anywhere from 1.5 million to four million Ontarians were infected with COVID-19 in the past 60 days.

“So that is a very early and broad indicator of what’s going on in the community,” Steiner said.

The modelling also mentioned “Ontario data shows that vaccination (including third doses) provides strong protection against serious illness. Increasing vaccine uptake across all groups will reduce the impact of the pandemic.”

Steiner agreed with the modelling noting the importance of people getting vaccinated and receiving their boosters.

“Only about half of eligible Ontarians have boosters at the moment so that’s really key,” Steiner said. “There’s a relatively high level of background immunity, but it’s not enough. People need to keep getting vaccinated and keep getting boosters. That’s probably the most important thing.”

Born also echoed Steiner by mentioning the importance of getting vaccinated, especially for those who are unvaccinated, but also that the vaccination numbers are painting a different picture.

“Vaccines show really strong protection against serious illness and hospitalization,” she said. “Our vaccination rates in the 80s and 70s is nearly 100%. But then that continues to decline. So it’s really important for unvaccinated adults to either get their second dose or their third dose.”

At a press conference on Tuesday to announce a new long-term care home in Ajax, Premier Doug Ford mentioned that the province is ready to move forward cautiously in its reopening plan.

“Make no mistake about it. We’re going to be cautious,” Ford said. “We’re ready to move forward.”