Unvaccinated people in B.C. are seven times more likely to contract COVID-19, 30 times more likely to end up in hospital and 50 times more likely to be lined up for a ventilator in intensive care, the latest data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control show.
Analysis by the BCCDC continues to show the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines, especially in protecting against severe illness, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in her monthly research update Tuesday. That trend is also showing up with the more than 500,000 people who have received booster third doses as the program shifts to people aged 60 and up.
“It’s still extremely rare for people to have severe illness under that age,” Henry said Dec. 14. “People who are getting sick are people who don’t have the protection that vaccination affords, across all age groups.”
Up to Dec. 12, 44 cases of the Omicron variant have been identified in B.C. using whole genome sequencing, which is now being applied to almost all positive test results in the province. Of those cases, 24 have been detected in the Fraser Health region, 11 in Vancouver Coastal, five on Vancouver Island, three in Interior Health and one in Northern Health. Of the 44 cases, 20 people have recent travel histories to Africa, Iran, Mexico, Germany, Portugal and the U.S.
“We do know that Omicron is more infectious than Delta,” Henry said. “What we don’t know is how much more.”
BCCDC testing tracks more than 20 different sub-variants of the coronavirus, including 10 types of Delta alone. Testing continues at a high rate in B.C., except for regions affected by flooding and road closures. More than 10,000 test results were reported for the 24 hours up to Dec. 13.
In overall infections, Northern Health remains high, along with the Cariboo-Chilcotin region of the B.C. Interior. In the Lower Mainland, Maple Ridge and Fraser Valley East continue to have higher rates that are improving as vaccination rates rise.
The infection rate per case remains stable in most regions of the province, with a slight increase on Vancouver Island that Henry said is mainly traced to two outbreaks. As of Monday 124 cases were confirmed among University of Victoria students from an off-campus event, and a religious gathering in the North Island has also resulted in a cluster of cases, mostly among younger people.
“We’re not seeing increased hospitalizations in Island Health,” Henry said.
B.C. health authorities continue to operate scheduled appointment COVID-19 vaccination clinics around the province for residents age five and older. Registration and booking appointments in B.C. can be done online here, or by calling 1-833-838-2323 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week.