Will we soon see the end of the sixth wave? For the third straight summer, COVID-19 in Quebec is showing signs of being run out of air, but the contagiousness of omicron and its subvariants is encouraging authorities to remain cautious.
Posted at 5:00 am
Since public screening tests ended, it’s difficult to know where we stand with COVID-19. The number of deaths and hospital admissions offer some clues, but for the most part it seems to be down to word of mouth to get a sense of the level of infection. (In the style: and you, people in your family, your friends, your neighbors or your colleagues are being beaten?)
Analysis of sewage – which provides a cheap index of the spread of the virus in the population – seems to be a glimmer of hope.
In the federal government, the seven-day moving average of viral loads measured at both the Montreal North Collector and the South Collector indicate a lull, according to the latest released data.
Montreal’s sewage had peaked in January when so many Montrealers fell in battle, and then spiked in April.
In May, we return to roughly April-October 2021 levels (as in Toronto), while COVID-19 remains more present in Edmonton and Halifax.
“Experts still assume that we are in the sixth wave. The latter is not yet complete, although all indicators have dropped significantly,” the Department of Health and Social Services replied.
In the end, it’s all a matter of semantics, says André Veillette, a researcher at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute and a member of the federal working group on vaccines against COVID-19.
In reality, “the end of the sixth wave may sound when the seventh wave begins,” he says.
Since the current variant Omicron is extremely contagious, he believes it could well be “that there will be a number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths throughout the summer”.
On Tuesday there were nine deaths on a seven-day average; 1181 people were hospitalized.
The reluctance of the authorities can also be explained by the fact that there was an increase in cases in the USA in mid-May. According to the American health authorities, these increases are due to the contagiousness of new sub-variants of Omicron, the decreasing availability of the mask and the fact that the immunity conferred by vaccination (which in many cases goes back several months) or by previous infection.
The DD Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in mid-May that about a third of Americans still live in areas with moderate to high rates of COVID-19.
In Portugal, however, the distribution of the subvariant Omicron BA.5 – which appears no more virulent than the original Omicron – points to a possible resurgence of the epidemic in Europe.
Will we get out of this one day? André Veillette doesn’t have the answer to that any more than anyone else. The most we can think of is that there really are “cycles of infection,” with summers in Quebec where we can breathe a little better.
But in his opinion, everything points to a new vaccination campaign in the fall, probably at the same time as the flu shot.
It could be an RNA vaccine against the original Wuhan strain, or an RNA vaccine updated to better target Omicron, or a protein vaccine. Nothing certain for now.
June 28 promises to be an important date for researchers. A summit meeting between the US FDA and the US Vaccination Advisory Committee is taking place in the United States on this day “to discuss the relevance of changing the composition of vaccines against COVID-19 and, if necessary, to decide which strains to select for autumn 2022 “.
With the collaboration of Pierre-André Normandin
- March 13, 2022
- Official date for the start of the sixth wave according to the Quebec National Institute of Public Health
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