Vaccine hesitancy, rising R-value imply Alberta cannot let up on pandemic struggle, knowledgeable says

A rising R-value for COVID-19 in Alberta coupled with a cussed and country-leading fee of vaccine hesitancy are two indicators that the province’s battle to beat again the pandemic nonetheless has hurdles to beat, says a Calgary infectious ailments knowledgeable.

Alberta’s provincewide R-value — which represents the variety of people contaminated by every contaminated individual — rose to 0.84 from July 5 to July 11.

That’s up from the interval earlier than that, when the R-value was 0.75. The fee is calculated as soon as each two weeks. 

Meanwhile, a ballot launched Wednesday by the Angus Reid Institute suggests that vaccine hesitancy is extra widespread in Alberta than in the remainder of the nation.

The survey discovered that one in 5 Albertans stay disinclined to get a shot — twice the nationwide common. 

“We absolutely need to get a better push on vaccine uptake,” mentioned Craig Jenne, an affiliate professor on the University of Calgary within the division of microbiology, immunology and infectious ailments.

“We actually rank dead last in Canada, among all provincial and territorial jurisdictions, for vaccination. So we have the lowest vaccine rate in the country.”

According to the ballot, in B.C. the hesitancy fee is 12 per cent, and in Ontario and Quebec it is simply 9 per cent.

“Hesitancy appears to be a more significant problem regionally, jumping to 22 per cent of the population in Alberta, and 15 per cent each in Saskatchewan and Manitoba,” the institute’s ballot report mentioned.

The institute famous that hesitancy has declined in each Alberta and Saskatchewan for the reason that starting of the yr, when the speed was 45 per cent in Alberta and 26 per cent in its japanese neighbour.

Jenne says vaccine hesitancy has all the time been a phenomenon in Alberta, main up to now to vaccine preventable outbreaks of things like whooping cough.

“So this a barrier in Alberta that we have to continue to work to reduce,” he mentioned.

And while there are some encouraging tendencies — resembling continued comparatively low every day case counts and hospitalizations presently beneath 100 — there are other troubling tendencies, Jenne mentioned.

One key metric, the positivity fee — the proportion of positive exams from the variety of whole exams on a given day — had been heading downward steadily for the reason that spring. But it had climbed to 1.4 per cent by Wednesday.

On July 10, it had fallen to only 0.50 per cent, the bottom it had been since final summer season.

And while every day case counts stay comparatively low, they’re now creeping upward after hovering within the low 30s for a number of days. There have been 69 new cases reported Tuesday.

“It does look like the virus is beginning to spread again. And this is something that is somewhat concerning, and definitely something that we have to keep our eye on and be ready to respond to,” Jenne mentioned.

“And I’m not advocating for closures, or lockdowns, but we have to look and say, if we’re seeing the bulk of viral transmission occurring in this particular segment, or this activity, are there any things we can do to help reduce that.… They don’t have to be black-and-white, absolute restrictions.”

Jenne mentioned it’s also a priority that serology studies indicated through the third wave that solely three to 4 per cent of Albertans had been uncovered to the virus.

Craig Jenne is an affiliate professor of microbiology, immunology and infectious ailments on the University of Calgary. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

“So that still suggests that of that unvaccinated group, there’s very little protection there. 

If all of the hospitalizations we’ve seen, all of the loss of life was really only coming from infecting four or five per cent of Albertans, we still have 40 per cent almost with no vaccine protection,” he mentioned.

“So we have to be careful that those people are still somehow protected from the virus even if they’re not vaccinated, and the only way to do that is to keep the numbers of cases low.”

Vaccine passports

The Angus Reid Institute ballot additionally requested respondents whether or not they supported the concept of vaccine passports to certify that an individual has been inoculated with the intention to attend sure occasions, journey, or to return to work. 

“A majority of Albertans are supportive of this type of policy for air travel, but less so for domestic application,” the institute mentioned in its ballot. 

While 77 per cent of people in Ontario and 83 of Quebecers mentioned they’d help vaccine passports to board a industrial flight, solely 55 per cent of Alberta respondents authorised of the concept. 

And simply 43 per cent of Albertans mentioned they’d be prepared to point out proof of vaccination to go to work, in contrast with 64 per cent amongst Ontario respondents and 61 per cent of respondents nationally.

The Angus Reid Institute carried out its on-line survey from July 9 to 13 amongst a consultant randomized pattern of two,040 Canadian adults who’re members of Angus Reid Forum.

Online surveys don’t have a margin of error that might be precisely calculated. For comparability functions solely, a chance pattern of this measurement would carry a margin of error of plus or minus two proportion factors, 19 instances out of 20.

The margin of error is bigger when taking a look at provincial-level outcomes.

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