Tuesday, May 17, 2022
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Ontario Science Table Releases New Covid-19 Projections Today; Expects Hospital & ICU Occupancy To Increase

COVID-19 case numbers, hospital and ICU occupancy have stopped declining; there is considerable regional variation.
• Given the relaxation of public health measures and consequent increase in transmission, hospital and ICU occupancy will likely increase over the next few weeks, but less than in January 2022 and for a limited period of time if changes in behaviour are only moderate.
• The extent of this increase, and of a person’s risk of contracting COVID-19, will depend on the number of close contacts (especially indoors without masking), vaccination status, and the spread of the more transmissible BA.2 subvariant.
• Older adults, immunocompromised, unvaccinated and marginalized individuals and groups are still susceptible to severe illness from COVID-19.
• A complete vaccine series (currently two doses in children, three doses in adults, four in long-term care residents and other eligible high-risk groups) is the best defence against getting and spreading COVID-19.

A 3rd COVID-19 vaccine dose offers better protection against Omicron infection over time than 2 doses

Lower income neighbourhoods continue to be hit hardest by the pandemic, also during the fifth wave caused by Omicron

Future scenarios in Ontario will depend on population immunity, the virulence and severity of future variants

Masks are still an effective public health measure to reduce COVID-19 transmission
• Public health measures, including increased ventilation and filtration, physical distancing and wearing a well-fitted, high-quality mask can help reduce SARS- CoV-2 transmission in places where people gather indoors.
• Recent studies from the United States analysed the impact of mask-wearing on SARS-CoV-2 community transmission: mandatory masking reduced the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection consistently.
• Masking protects both the person who wears the mask and others.
• Community benefits from masking are most pronounced when adopted widely.

Ontario built strong pandemic control tools, which can be used to maintain readiness
Ontarians should:
• Ensure that they have a complete vaccine series (includes three doses in adults, four in eligible, high-risk groups).
• Use high-quality masks whenever necessary to protect vulnerable people or themselves.
• Stay home when sick or symptomatic.
Ontario should:
• Continue improvement of ventilation and air filtration in public indoor spaces.
• Create rapid paths to testing and treatment (e.g., Paxlovid, antibodies) with a focus on equity.
• Be prepared to renew mass COVID-19 vaccination campaigns if needed.
• Be prepared to renew vaccine certificates requiring a recent booster dose for high-risk settings if
needed.
• Be prepared to reintroduce mask mandates if needed.
• Maintain protective measures that are appropriate for the general health and wellbeing of those living and working in congregate care settings such as long-term care.

Ontario remains vulnerable as long as the global pandemic continues
• New variants are more likely to develop if a large number of people who are immune-compromised do not receive appropriate treatment and vaccination
• 2-3% of global population is immunosuppressed
• Many of the more than 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS are not appropriately treated
• Although 56% of the world population has now received two COVID-19 vaccine
doses, that is still too few to build sufficient immunity globally.
• Broad-acting and intranasal vaccines now under development could play a key role in the future.
• Global surveillance and public health controls remain insufficient.
• Global wastewater surveillance and genomic sequencing will continue to be essential in the future.
• Improved ventilation, air filtration and adoption of high-quality masks will continue to be important worldwide.

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