By: Solinne Jung

As provinces begin to ‘Go Green’ and remove pandemic restrictions, the concern over a potential fourth-wave due to the Delta variant continues to grow.

Recently, the daily trend for positive cases has been over 200 cases a day compared to 170 cases reported a week prior on July 24th, 2021.[1] Additionally, according to Public Health Agency of Canada, the Delta variant counts for around 70% of variant cases.[2]

As safety precautions such as the continued use of masks are still being advised, there are approximately 6 million Canadians that have yet to be vaccinated.[3]

On a positive note, a recent study found that the Pfizer vaccine was still effective against the Delta variant at 88% efficacy.[4]

One thing is for sure, COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and the potential of a dreaded fourth wave is partially dependent on how many more people we can get fully vaccinated.

WHAT IS THE DELTA VARIANT?

The Delta variant is a more transmissible strain of the COVID-19 virus and is even more transmissible than the common cold.[5] The original COVID-19 strain continues to mutate because as more replications of the virus take place, there are more chances that a random mutation will occur.[6] Although some mutations will be unnoticeable and less contagious, the Delta variant unfortunately is not.

WHY SHOULD WE GET VACCINATED IF VACCINATED PEOPLE ARE STILL GETTING COVID-19?

According to Dr. Omar Khan, one reason people are getting infected despite getting the vaccine is that their bodies have yet to develop immunity to COVID-19.[7] Some people might be getting exposed to COVID-19 in the two weeks after getting the vaccine before the vaccine has a chance to work.

Another reason people are still getting COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated is because the Delta variant differs enough from the original virus strain. People should also remember that the purpose of the vaccine is not only to prevent getting COVID-19 but also prevent the severity of the disease. So far, the vaccine works to prevent the severity of COVID-19 and the Delta variant as people who are fully vaccinated are not getting as sick as they would have been had they not gotten the vaccine. Therefore, the vaccine is still working and will give you protection from either getting COVID-19 and the severity of the disease if you do get COVID-19.

WILL WE NEED A THIRD DOSE?

So far, according to Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada does not offer booster shots or third shots of the current vaccine since there is “not enough data” yet to support that decision.[8]

WHY DOES VACCINE INEQUALITY MATTER?

The glaring problem seems to be that as more people get COVID, the more opportunities the virus gets to replicate and create new unwanted strains. Thus, the vaccine is almost chasing a moving target as mutations occur and brings more attention to the possibility of needing third doses or even an updated vaccine. 

In order to slow down this moving target of mutating variants and lower the chances of viral evolution, the emphasis is put on the need to get the global case count of COVID-19 down. Thus, a global outlook is necessary for slowing down the spread and slowing down the speed of random mutations, especially in countries with largely unvaccinated populations with poorer health systems.[9] Ultimately, vaccine inequality affects everyone and will impact whether we will need to make decisions on future doses or whether we will need updated vaccines.

CONCLUSION: GET VACCINATED

Dr Omar Khan explained that if you had COVID-19 prior to vaccination and survived, you have antibodies. However, people who are getting vaccinated have more antibodies and people who both had COVID and also got vaccinated have even more antibodies.[10]

Overall, the message from Dr. Omar Khan is that no matter who you are, the best bet is to get vaccinated.[11]


[1] Ontario. (2021). All Ontario: Case numbers and spread. https://covid-19.ontario.ca/data

[2] CBC News. (2021, July 31). Why the delta variant is spreading COVID-19 so quickly — and what that means for Canada.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/why-delta-variant-spreads-fast-covid-1.6120982

[3] Reuters. (2021, July 30).  Canada says Delta variant ‘formidable foe’ at start of fourth wave. https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canada-says-fourth-covid-surge-can-be-limited-with-vaccinations-slow-reopening-2021-07-30/

[4] CBC News. (2021, July 31). Why the delta variant is spreading COVID-19 so quickly — and what that means for Canada.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/why-delta-variant-spreads-fast-covid-1.6120982

[5] CTV News. (2021, July 30). Delta variant is so transmissible ‘the war has changed,’ U.S. CDC warns. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/delta-variant-is-so-transmissible-the-war-has-changed-u-s-cdc-warns-1.5529230

[6] Global News. (2021, July 9). Pfizer says we need a 3rd COVID-19 vaccine. But experts aren’t so sure. https://globalnews.ca/news/8015934/covid-coronavirus-booster-pfizer-efficacy-long-term/

[7] Scott Thompson Show. (2021, July 30). If you have been vaccinated, why be concerned about COVID-19? Dr. Omar Khan answers pressing questions. [Radio]. Curious Cast.  https://curiouscast.ca/podcast/189/the-scott-thompson-show/

[8] Global News. (2021, July 30). Canada doesn’t need vaccine boosters yet, but planning for possibility: Tam  https://globalnews.ca/news/8073916/canada-covid-19-vaccine-boosters/

[9] Global News. (2021, July 9). Pfizer says we need a 3rd COVID-19 vaccine. But experts aren’t so sure. https://globalnews.ca/news/8015934/covid-coronavirus-booster-pfizer-efficacy-long-term/

[10] Scott Thompson Show. (2021, July 30). If you have been vaccinated, why be concerned about COVID-19? Dr. Omar Khan answers pressing questions. [Radio]. Curious Cast.  https://curiouscast.ca/podcast/189/the-scott-thompson-show/

[11] Ibid.