Ontario considers diverting half of its COVID-19 vaccine supply to hot spots
TORONTO -- COVID-19 hot spot communities in Ontario could receive half of the province's vaccine supply as the Doug Ford government studies a recommendation made by the Science Advisory Table.
Scientific advisors have called on the government to divert up to 50 per cent of the life saving vaccine to communities facing the highest risk of COVID-19, suggesting the province could prevent 20 per cent of infections in people aged 16 to 59.
Health Minister Christine Elliott confirmed that the province is "studying it very carefully" and said a final decision would be made "very shortly."
"We're looking at that now because we know that does have a really significant effect in reducing transmission getting the numbers down which means fewer people hospitalized," Elliott told reporters at Queen's Park.
Elliott said the additional doses would be diverted to all hot spot communities -- including the 25 hot spot postal codes in Peel region -- and suggested that a lack of supply prevented the province from taking this step earlier.
"We don't want to ... take vaccines away from any groups right now," Elliott said. "But starting next week, should we decide to move forward, we would have a much larger allocation of vaccines to be able to put into those hotspot areas."
The Science Advisory Table published a new brief on Friday outlining the impact of deploying 1.5 million vaccines -- 50 per cent of the next three million vaccines -- in hard-hit communities, compared to the province's current strategy.
The study found the province could prevent more than 56,000 COVID-19 infections, 1,731 hospitalizations, 258 ICU admissions and 517 deaths.
"This is because the hotspot-accelerated vaccination strategy not only affords more direct protection to Ontario’s younger residents and essential workers in COVID-19 hotspots, but it also affords substantially more indirect protection to older adults in these hotspots," The science table research said.
"Older adults, especially those living in multigenerational households, will benefit from fewer infections among younger adults, many of whom are essential workers."
Brampton East MPP Gurratan Singh said with a positivity rate above 22 per cent, the city is in desperate need of additional support and protection from the virus.
"Brampton is in a crisis right now. We have some of the highest positivity rates in the entire province, and people are getting sick in really high numbers and people are dying from this virus," Singh said at Queen's Park.
"The reality is that Brampton right now is not providing being provided with the support we need to fight COVID-19."