The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table has released new COVID-19 modelling as cases in the province rise and more Omicron cases are detected in more public health units.
The new modelling shows that COVID-19 cases are steadily rising and that test positivity rates are climbing. Even without factoring in the Omicron variant spreading, the Science Table predicts that hospitalizations and ICU admissions will continue to grow.
Our latest assessment (1st of thread): Cases are rising, even without much Omicron yet. Our hospitals & ICUs are feeling pressure again. We need to increase vaccination & we can’t let up on public health measures. #COVID19ON https://t.co/OG9Dj5JjYa
— COVIDScienceOntario (@COVIDSciOntario) December 7, 2021
The Science Table said that the Omicron variant would likely push COVID-19 cases above their current modelling predictions.
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As of now, the Science Table suggests that Ontario will see nearly 3,000 new daily COVID-19 cases if no new public health measures are taken, and only 30% of children aged 5 to 11 get vaccinated.
This number drops to below 2,000 if 50% of children between 5 and 11 get vaccinated. If people decrease their contacts by 15% and 30% of children are vaccinated, cases in the province will hover around 1,000 per day.
All of these models are based on the current Delta variant and do not factor in the new Omicron variant. The Science Table said that current hospitalizations and ICU admissions are stable, but they predict that Ontario will hit 250 ICU COVID-19 patients by the end of December. ICU occupancy could rise to 400 if no new public health measures are introduced and only 30% of children are vaccinated.
The Science Table recently released data showing that ICUs in the province cannot handle another surge of COVID-19 patients. Staffing shortages, burnout and an inability to indefinitely delay surgeries and other procedures are weighing heavily on ICU occupancy.
Compared to other countries and regions, cases, ICU occupancy, and deaths have increased exponentially. Ontario could follow the same pattern if contacts aren’t decreased, the Science Table warns.
The Science Table advises that available data shows the Omicron variant is more transmissible than the Delta variant that is dominant in Ontario. Data from Gauteng, South Africa, shows a steep rise in both cases and hospitalizations. The Science Table said that vaccination appears to be effective against the new variant.
Despite measures that are in place, such as masking, physical distancing, and vaccinations, the future of Omicron in the province is uncertain. The modelling shows a number of outcomes if Omicron becomes dominant in the province. If the transmission is high and it is able to evade the body’s antibodies, Ontario could see a steep rise in COVID-19 cases.
The Science Table warns that with global vaccine inequity, new variants will continue to be seen. To avoid worst-case scenarios, Ontario will need to increase vaccinations in all eligible age groups and increase third doses, the Science Table said.