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COVID-19: Canada 'within reach' of fully vaccinating 80% of those eligible, says Tam

Last Updated Jul 8, 2021 at 12:28 pm PDT

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, Tuesday, January 12, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canada's top doctor says 78 per cent of those aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine

About 44 per cent of eligible Canadians have had two doses

Tam says Lambda variant has been confirmed in 11 Canadian cases

OTTAWA  – Canada’s top public health official says the country is “within reach” of fully vaccinating four out of every five eligible Canadians against COVID-19.

Dr. Theresa Tam says across the country, more than 40 million doses have been given, with 78 per cent of those 12 and older receiving at least one dose.

“But we must keep the momentum up. While Canadians are steadily coming forward for second doses, the rate of increase for first doses has slowed,” Tam said.

She says about 44 per cent of eligible Canadians have had two doses of vaccine.

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Meanwhile, Tam says the latest variant of interest in the COVID-19 pandemic has popped up in Canada in small numbers.

She says the Lambda variant, first identified in Peru, has been confirmed in 11 Canadian cases to date, but adds it’s too early to know how widespread it is or what impact it could have.

Lambda was first discovered in August 2020, but the World Health Organization only classified it as a “variant of interest” in mid-June this year, after it began appearing in multiple countries and was found to contain mutations that could make it more infectious or resist existing vaccines.

Variants are mutated versions of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which occur naturally as the virus spreads.

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Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan, says most mutated versions of the virus aren’t problematic, but occasionally the virus gets a “lucky” break and mutates in a way that makes it stronger.

She says the vaccines for COVID-19 are so good that even if they aren’t quite as strong against some variants, they are still doing a very good job at keeping most people from getting seriously ill and we shouldn’t expect Lambda to be any different.