Alberta health minister sounds alarm on COVID-19 variants as pace of vaccines slows drastically

Article content continued

“There’s no question that this kind of exponential growth, would push our health care system to the brink.”

Recent studies show these variants’ infection rates to be 30 to 50 per cent higher than the strain of virus in Alberta.

Shandro’s projections show that within a six-week timeframe and with no public health measures in place, 250 cases of the current strain of COVID-19 in Alberta would grow to 2,127 cases. With the same conditions, 250 cases of the variants would multiply to 10,217 cases.

“These variants are a challenge that all jurisdictions in the world now face,” said Shandro.

Alberta Health Services and Alberta Precision Labs are enhancing their capacity to do genetic analysis on samples, enabling them to fully sequence 400 samples per week by next week. Rapid screening capacity for mutations of concern is also being expanded.

Participants in the border pilot program, which allowed for an easier process upon returning from travel, will now require travellers to isolate until their second negative test comes back.

Every sample from those tests will be analyzed for the U.K. and South African variants in an effort to catch new cases as they arrive, Shandro said.

While concern has risen about community spread of the super-spreading variants, Alberta’s vaccination rollout has slowed drastically.

Between Saturday and Sunday, only 646 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered to Albertans — 240 on Saturday and 406 on Sunday.

View Source