Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press
Canada currently has 112 confirmed cases of simian smallpox, the vast majority of which are 98 in Quebec.
The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada and her assistants, Dr. Theresa Tam and Dr. Howard Njoo, provided an update on the outbreak of the virus in Ottawa on Friday.
In all cases, they were men between the ages of 20 and 63, and the majority of them had sex with other men. However, Dr. Tam recalled that “the virus can be transmitted to anyone as a result of close contact with an infected person.”
However, the increase in the number of cases in one week in Quebec was much less pronounced than in the previous two weeks, but Dr. Njoo did not want to venture to say that the propagation.
“Honestly, it’s too early to draw conclusions. (…) We will see in the coming days and weeks the evolution of the epidemic curve in Quebec, but also across the country.
“It is hoped that with the strategy of continuing to monitor contacts and vaccine supply in places where there are high-risk events, it will have an impact on the epidemic curve,” the doctor said.
Mass vaccination: neither necessary nor possible
There are nine other cases in Ontario, four in Alberta and one in British Columbia. The National Microbiology Laboratory is also looking into other suspicious cases.
“We are preparing to confirm further cases in the coming days and weeks,” Dr. Njoo warned.
However, national public health estimates that no mass vaccination campaign is required at this time. The new guidelines for administering the IMVAMUNE vaccine suggest that a single dose be given only to people at high risk of exposure to the virus and those in environments where there is a high risk of transmission.
A national vaccination campaign would be unthinkable anyway since there are not enough vaccines, Howard Njoo acknowledged.
“The Government of Canada is still working with manufacturers to get more vaccines (…) but we also need to keep in mind the possibility of a biological event with smallpox,” he said. , suggesting that Canada cannot be completely exposed if a “traditional” smallpox outbreak ever occurs.
“We don’t have an unlimited amount of vaccines, but if we use them with a good strategic approach, with caution to cool the outbreak if possible, because maybe this is just the beginning, we have better chances of avoiding the establishment of monkeypox here in Canada, ”he added.
The two doctors also said that all Canadian cases are related to the international outbreak that is currently affecting other countries around the world.
COVID-19: “We have passed the sixth wave”
Drs Tam and Njoo also provided an update on the situation of VOCID, addressing the issue of vaccination more specifically.
“In general, we can say that now we have passed the last wave, the sixth wave, across the country and normally, during the summer, the activity of the virus decreases compared to the winter if we rely on the past.” But it’s still important to keep an eye on it because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the fall and winter when people start gathering inside again, ”Howard Njoo argued.
Theresa Tam, meanwhile, says she is considering a new fall awareness campaign to invite people to pick up a third dose. “Two doses are not enough to provide protection against Omicron (variant) infection because immunity declines over time and certainly after six months.” So it takes a third dose to bring immunity back to a higher level, ”she said.
The data collected by many studies on the subject prove him right. Thus, she explained that after six months, the protection offered by two doses against Omicron infection falls to less than 20%. On the other hand, protection against the serious consequences of an infection remains strong, between 65% and 85%, depending on the studies, the populations studied and so on.
The addition of a third dose, on the other hand, offers 50% to 60% protection against infection, although studies as a whole have a much wider range (40% to 80%). On the other hand, the protection against serious consequences is very robust, at 90%, with a third dose.
Theresa Tam, however, warned that protection will not be eternal again.
“It’s going to decline over time, but we don’t have enough data to measure it yet,” she said. Not only could it slow down over time, but it could also change the situation and reduce protection. It’s never a static number. “