Nurses close the curtains of a patients room in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey, B.C., Friday, June 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Nurses close the curtains of a patients room in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey, B.C., Friday, June 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Rate of more contagious delta COVID-19 variant increasing in B.C. with 500 cases so far

Independent modelling group says variant poses a ‘serious risk’

As more and more British Columbians receive their COVID jabs, a variant could make the race between immunizations and the virus more heated.

The delta variant, scientifically dubbed B.1.617, was first reported by the province on April 22. At the time, health officials said there were 42 cases in the province. On Monday (June 7), Dr. Réka Gustafson, deputy provincial health officer and lead of the vaccine rollout, said the province had recorded about 500 cases – a figure she called “relatively uncommon.” Exact variant counts fall behind actual case counts due to the time it takes to do full genome sequencing.

The Delta variant has caused trouble both in Canada and abroad. In India, where it appears to have originated, it contributed to a month of daily death counts in the 3,000 and 4,000 range. In the United Kingdom, public health officials have said it’s 40 per cent more contagious and in Ontario, it’s on track to become the dominant variant, beating out alpha variant (B.1.117).

Speaking Monday, Gustafson was unable to provide information on where the delta variant is spreading in B.C. but said that it “has had an increase in the rates over the last several weeks and we will continue to monitor it.”

However, an independent modelling group made up of scientists from three major B.C. universities is concerned. In a video released June 2, University of B.C. associate professor of mathematics Eric Cytrynbaum said there was evidence that the delta variant was more resistant to the Pfizer vaccine, dropping from about 50 per cent for the alpha (B.1.117) variant after dose one to 33 per cent for the delta one.

The modelling group stated that if the delta variant remains contained, the May 25 Step 1 reopening is expected to lead to a “moderate” increase in cases, which will drop as more people are vaccinated.

“We should aim for more than 70 per cent vaccination of 18+ (~60% of all ages) in order to allow more reopening safely, especially in light of newly emerging VOC, like (delta variant) B.1.617.2,” the modelling group said.

“Delta poses a serious risk with with a potential five to 10 per cent per day increase in spread (over alpha),” Cytrynbaum said.

At the time the video was posted, 71.1 per cent of British Columbian adults had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As of Tuesday, one week after, 74.2 per cent of adults have received at least one dose.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control said that the first case of the delta B.1.617.2 variant was detected between March 21 and March 28 in the province. the BCCDC said that at the time, it was designated as B.1.617, which was split into three “sub lineages,” including delta B.1.617.2.

The BCCDC said the delta variant’s introduction into the province “appears to be travel related” and came in through multiple travellers, with the variant currently being found mostly in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health.

READ MORE: Tam urges 2nd COVID vaccine dose as Delta variant emerges ‘essentially across Canada’


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Grizzly Plaza Revitalization team. Robert Inwood (left), Bill Cameron, Fran Jenkins and Tom Lynn (creators of the bear statues). (Photo from Revelstoke Museum and Archives #10304 TR-853)
Man who redesigned downtown Revelstoke honoured with lifetime achievement award

Robert Inwood has worked on historical projects across the province

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
MP Morrison appointed to parliamentary national security committee

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian one of five candidates appointed to national security committee

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Hot and cold water have different pouring sounds

Your morning start for Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

This photo of the small wildfire burning above Naramata was taken at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021 (Monique Tamminga Western News)
BC Wildfire on scene of small wildfire above Naramata

Smoke has been showing since earlier in the day

Students in the Grade 10 entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School have completed a cookbook with international recipes. (Contributed)
Summerland students create virtual international cookbook

Entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School uses virtual cookbook as fundraiser

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

More flames
Lake Country home destroyed in large blaze, 11 dogs rescued

Fire crews are responding to 10839 Hallam Drive

(Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs reaches tentative agreement with dispatchers union

The tentative agreement could help end the dispute between the taxi company and the dispatchers

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

Most Read