Alberta’s top doctor says new COVID-19 strain identified in UK may not be ‘dramatically different’

COVID-19 in Canada
COVID-19 in Canada

To learn more about today’s top stories and the spread of the new coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, commented on the new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, detected in the UK, indicating that it may not be as important as some might assume.

“We have had a few reports of different genetic mutations of mutations in COVID-19 and so far there is no evidence that these mutations differ as dramatically … as, for example, the influenza virus, which we know mutates very quickly and changes dramatically. ”Dr. Hinshaw explained.“ But it is too early to know exactly what implications it may have or that, as we have seen with some of the other minor genetic changes, it is not a significant problem with how it interacts. with the population. “

Alberta’s top physician did emphasize that officials are still keeping a close eye on developments and new information about this virus variant.

Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe?

For anyone still concerned about the possibility of getting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or another vaccine candidate, Dr. Hinshaw said Canada “has one of the most robust new vaccine regulatory systems in the world” and that, if available, everyone should be immunized.

“When it’s your turn, please get vaccinated,” she said. “It is a kind act to yourself, to your loved ones and to your community.”

“I believe that the benefits of a vaccine far outweigh the risks and that this vaccine will save lives. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccination is the best defense against serious infections. “

Can we run out of a vaccine?

In terms of vaccine prioritization, the first phase of vaccine rollout in Alberta is targeting health professionals caring for those most at risk of a severe outcome from COVID-19, individuals in long-term care homes, Albertans over 75 years and individuals in indigenous communities over 65 years of age.

Phase two of the vaccination distribution plan would include first responders and other frontline workers, expected to begin in April 2021.

Dr. Hinshaw said there may be a circumstance where some of the doses the county has received will have to be withheld when they arrive to ensure that each person who has been immunized can receive their second dose. It takes two injections for both the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to be effective.

“That issue of running out, we know that there is global demand for these vaccines, we know that Canada has advanced agreements with many different vaccine manufacturers and so we are wondering what the results are,” she said. “We expect … to be able to offer this vaccine to all Albertans.”

“The questions are timing, of course, and that’s one we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.”

Check out our COVID-19 in Canada topic page for the latest news, tips, health updates, cases and more.