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COVID-19: B.C.'s approach to AstraZeneca unchanged after NACI recommendation

Last Updated Jun 17, 2021 at 7:33 pm PDT


Dr. Bonnie Henry says NACI recommendation based on small study

B.C. records 120 new cases, one death

Nearly 75 per cent of all British Columbians aged 12 and up have received at least one COVID vaccine dose

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s top doctor says the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s (NACI) latest recommendation around the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is not surprising, and the province won’t be changing its current policy.

NACI now says it’s preferable for people who received AstraZeneca for their first shot get an mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccine for their second dose.

“It’s based on some preliminary data from a study that was done in Germany and with a small number of people. And what it’s based on is measuring of the immune system response,” she said. “It showed that people who had an mRNA vaccine after a dose of AstraZeneca had good or better immune markers afterwards.”

“We’ve weighed this data along with the real-life data that we see about how well these vaccines protect us. Does that little bit of extra antibody or the cell-mediated response translate into better protection in the real world? The answer is we don’t know that yet,” she said, adding both options offer good protection.

Related article: Pfizer, Moderna vaccines now preferred second dose for AstraZeneca recipients: NACI

“The bottom line is the very real world experience and evidence shows us that we have good protection across the board with both vaccines in our community. Both approaches are highly effective. Mixing an mRNA after a dose of AstraZeneca may give some boost to the immune system, but we don’t know whether that translates into whether you’re better protected or not. We don’t know that definitively and we may not know that for some time,” she said.

British Columbians who received an AstraZeneca shot for their first dose have the choice to receive either the same brand through a pharmacy or one of the mRNA vaccines for their second.

In the past day, 66,729 doses of vaccine have been administered, including 57,161 second doses.

In total, 4,231,871 doses have been given out, 768,008 of which are second doses.

Henry says 76.5 per cent of adults in B.C. have received at least one dose. Among those aged 12 and up, 74.8 per cent have had at least one shot.

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B.C. has recorded 120 new COVID-19 cases in the past day, as hospitalizations remained steady.

There are 131 COVID patients in the hospital, down from 134 on Wednesday. Of those patients, 44 are in the ICU, up from Wednesday’s figure of 41.

One person in their 80s has died of the illness, bringing the total in B.C. to 1,739.

On Tuesday, Henry and B.C.’s education minister outlined its current back to school plans in September. Smaller learning cohorts, which were introduced last year in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms, will be a thing of the past.

Students will return to the classroom for full-time in-person learning. Remote learning will no longer be offered.

When it comes to masks, more direction will be provided later in the summer.

B.C. moved into the second phase of its restart plan, allowing larger outdoor gatherings and spectators at outdoor sports. Travel is also now allowed province-wide.

We could enter stage three as early as July 1, when nightclubs and casinos would be re-opened and larger groups would be allowed to dine together.

If COVID cases remain low and the number of people vaccinated continues to rise, we could see life returning to near-normal by September.