'The virus has changed': Virologist details risk as Manitoba enters the fourth wave
With Manitoba’s top doctor declaring that the province has entered the fourth wave, one virologist is urging people to get vaccinated to decrease the risk of the Delta variant.
“We know that we have to have immunity in our populations as high as possible for Delta,” said Dr. Jason Kindrachuk in an interview on Monday.
“And certainly, we already know that we’re a little bit behind the eight ball because kids under the age of 12 can’t be vaccinated, so we have to take that percentage off the top, so that doesn’t leave us a lot of room. Anywhere below that, we’re going to see transmission.”
Kindrachuk’s comments come after Manitoba health officials announced 366 new COVID-19 cases from Sept. 24 to Sept. 27.
Kindrachuk said these numbers concern him.
“We certainly know that Delta is moving through the unvaccinated very, very quickly,” he said.
“And it has a predilection for causing severe disease in those folks, because they don’t have any protection. So this is a very, very concerning time.”
Kindrachuk noted to reduce the risk of the Delta variant, which is highly transmissible, Manitobans need to get vaccinated.
This is of particular importance in the Southern Health Region, which has the lowest uptake in the province at just over 65 per cent.
“We need a concerted message from our elected officials basically speaking in concert with one another to try and basically get testing increased in these regions and certainly get vaccine uptake, and masking and distancing basically adhered to,” Kindrachuk said.
As for how many eligible Manitobans need to get fully vaccinated to mitigate the risk of the Delta variant, Kindrachuk said as many people as possible.
“The reality is the virus has changed,” he said.
“Viruses are unpredictable at the best of times, and certainly they do what they do very well. Delta, because of its transmissibility, has pushed that value up extremely high and we’re talking certainly between 90 to 100 per cent.”
When asked what could happen as Manitoba enters the fourth wave, Kindrachuk said he hopes we’re in a better position than other provinces due to the high vaccination rates in certain areas, including Winnipeg.
“Hopefully, that will mitigate some of the concerns,” he said. “We are still not at baseline in our hospitals, and that is a big concern.”
- With files from CTV’s Maralee Caruso.