Possibility of a better summer ahead

Data shows the combination of lockdowns and getting vaccines into long term care has brought the number of cases and deaths in long term care down.

Ontario’s top scientist on COVID says to remain cautious now

One of Ontario’s top scientific advisors says there is a chance for a “better summer ahead.”

University of Toronto‚Äôs Dr. Adalsteinn Brown released the most current modelling of the COVID-19 pandemic today. He says the lockdowns, while painful, have had an impact saying the spread of the virus has slowed in the community. That, along with long term care residents receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in the last few months has lead to a “substantial” reduction in deaths in the homes. He estimated about 326 senior’s lives have been saved .

And he says the number of health care workers getting sick is down 75 per cent.

“A better summer is ahead if we remain cautious and keep focus,” he says.

Brown is concerned about the variant strains of the virus which are now about 20 per cent of the cases seen in Ontario. A month ago, variants were only five per cent of the total cases.

In the UK, the COVID variants quickly took over and the number of cases tripled. Brown says a scenario like that is still “not off the table” for Ontario.

Brown expects with the current decline of cases, we could see about 500 new COVID cases a day by the end of March. Right now, there are between 1,000 and 1,100 daily.

But he says if the variants become the dominate virus, we could climb to between 2,000 and 4,000 cases a day by the end of March.

Brown was optimistic the vaccines being distributed now are highly effective and do provide protection against COVID-19 “but we have to give it time to work.

“We need a few weeks to understand how variants are acting and rolling out.

“We can’t afford to rush through the minefield. There is a period of remaining risk,” says Brown adding loosening up public health measures should only be done carefully. And when the disease does flare up, government has to act quickly to intervene.

“We could be looking toward a much better summer,” he says “but it requires us to maintain the gains we’ve achieved.”