Jan 22 COVID-19 Update

Finally, most of us seem to be taking this pandemic more seriously. Traffic data shows that many more are heeding the plea to stay home and, for the first time since August, COVID numbers are moving in the right direction.

Over the past week, Toronto cases dropped to 5068, an average of 724 per day. New hospitalizations also fell. Another critical statistic, the number of people each new case infects, declined to .86. When this number is above 1, as it has been, cases rise. If it stays below 1, they decline.

Does this mean that the worst is over? Any such conclusion is extremely premature.

The answer lies mostly in the continued combination of public co-operation and government restrictions. Without both of those, we could easily shoot back up into a new surge, starting from a dangerously high base line.

And then there is the extremely troubling new threat from variants.

A variant that emerged in the UK is at least 50% more transmissible. If such variants are allowed to spread, they will crowd out the less transmissible variety, causing cases to skyrocket. There is also the potential that variants will turn out to be more deadly or to make vaccines less effective.

In addition to the UK, South Africa, Brazil and California have identified dangerous, with more likely on the way. In the U.S., health officials expect variants to dominate by March. Are we far behind?

A variant is thought to be responsible for the unchecked spread in a Barrie nursing home, where almost all residents and most of the staff have been infected. So far, 19 people have died.

The more new cases we get, the more likely this variants will spread, and the higher the risk that we’ll produce a home-grown variant.

So, please, continue to do everything you can to protect yourself and others.