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Dr. Jeff Powis Answers 5 Questions about new COVID-19 Variants, Predictions for a Third Wave, Vaccine Distribution and Resuming In-Person Learning
Sarah Downey, president and CEO of Michael Garron Hospital (MGH), asks Dr. Jeff Powis, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control, MGH five questions about the new COVID-19 variants, predictions for a third wave, vaccine distribution and resuming in-person learning.
You have questions and Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) has answers.
In this community edition of “5 Questions with President and CEO Sarah Downey” video series, Sarah interviews Dr. Jeff Powis, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control, MGH, about the new COVID-19 variants, predictions for a third wave, vaccine roll out plans and resuming in-person learning at schools.
Watch the video to find out the answers to the following 5 questions:
- What do we know about the new COVID-19 variants? (0:35)
Key Points: There are three variants of concerns (VOC) in Ontario: the UK variant (B.1.1.7), the Brazilian variant (P.1) and the South African variant (B.1.351). Most COVID-19 infections in Ontario are currently non-variant infections but increasingly we are seeing more VOC, particularly the UK variant.
Dr. Powis predicts that the UK variant will soon become the dominant strain of COVID-19 within Ontario. This is because it is more infectious than the native COVID-19 strain and as a result, will become the more dominant strain because it will infect more people.
- What has been our experience with the COVID-19 vaccine so far? (1:45)
Key Points: Over 23,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered by MGH. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have shown astonishing effectiveness against native COVID-19 infections and have also shown effectiveness against the UK variant.
- Will we see a third wave of COVID-19? (3:04)
Key Points: Two variables will impact the likelihood and severity of a third wave: how many people are vaccinated within the community and what public health measures are in place.
At this point, vaccines have not been administered broadly within the community and as such when the UK VOC becomes the dominant strain, it will be vital for Ontario to have appropriate public health measures in place to minimize the likelihood of spread and the severity of a third wave.
- When can the general public expect to get a COVID-19 vaccine? (4:11)
Key Points: MGH is administering COVID-19 vaccinations in alignment with the provincial government framework. Unfortunately at this time MGH is unable to confirm when vaccines will be available to the general public.
MGH is looking at numerous community sites to set up vaccination clinics including large scale clinics which could vaccinate up to 10,000 people a day, clinics within existing practices and mobile operations. This proactive planning will help ensure that when the time comes to vaccinate the broader East Toronto community, MGH will be able to administer vaccines quickly and effectively.
- Is it safe for students to go back to school? (5:58)
Key Points: MGH’s school outreach team led by Dr. McCready has been supporting East Toronto schools in their ability to operate safely and respond quickly to suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19. Some of the ways MGH has partnered with East Toronto schools include:
- Developing an infection prevention and control (IPAC) champion course to ensure that there is local onsite expertise within schools that can help prevent COVID-19 transmission
- Hosted virtual Q&A sessions for principals and teachers of East Toronto schools since August
- Partnered with the East Toronto Family Practice Network (EasT-FPN) to create a hub-and-spoke model whereby family physicians from EasT-FPN act as clinical liaisons with principals from 12 priority schools to offer enhanced support to meet the specific needs of their student populations
- Assembled take home testing kits for children who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms at school or who have a known exposure to someone with COVID-19
- Spearheaded broad-based asymptomatic school testing in East Toronto, an initiative that was part of a pilot program with the Ministry of Education in partnership with Toronto Public Health (TPH) and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB)
The best way to keep schools safe is to reduce incidents of COVID-19 in the community. It is vital that the province continues to implement robust public health interventions, ramp up testing efforts and roll out COVID-19 vaccinations broadly to the community.
- MGH and EasT-FPN Lead Proactive, Community-Based Approach to Back-To-School Planning
- Michael Garron Hospital Pilots Take-Home Covid-19 Testing Kits in East Toronto Schools
- How Dr. Janine McCready, Infectious Diseases Physician at MGH, is Spearheading Broad-Based Covid-19 Testing at Schools in East Toronto