Predominant Omicron subvarieties in Quebec

The three new Omicron subvariants, which are causing a surge in infections in Europe and the United States, now account for just over half of Quebec’s cases. Despite rising case numbers and hospitalizations, the situation is not worrying, but still requires some vigilance.

Posted at 5:00 am

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

Henri Ouellette-Vezina
The press

Pierre-Andre Normandin

Pierre-Andre Normandin
The press

Chaos in Europe

The variant picture has changed a lot in the last few weeks. Subvariant BA.2.12.1, which recently caused a spike in cases in the United States, now accounts for more than a third of new cases in the province, according to the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ). Subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, responsible for increases in several European countries, account for 16% of infections. In the UK, daily infections are back near their highest level since the pandemic began. Italy recorded 30,526 new cases in 24 hours from Saturday to Sunday, up 63.4% in seven days, according to the latest Health Ministry report. France is second to none, with an accelerated spread of the virus in mainland France for ten days and a contamination rate of over 44,000 cases per day.

The pressure should increase

Quebec saw an increase of 43 hospital admissions on Wednesday. There are currently 1,084 people hospitalized related to COVID-19. This corresponds to an increase of 8% within one week. In addition, the National Institute for Excellence in Health and Social Services (INESS) estimates that the increase in cases seen in recent weeks should lead to an increase in hospitalizations. The number of people admitted is expected to increase to around 100 per day within two weeks. INESSS notes that this increase is due to people being hospitalized for COVID-19, and not simply patients who were admitted for another reason but tested positive for the coronavirus. After recently approaching 1,000 hospital patients, Quebec should have 1,378 within two weeks.

What sewage says

In view of the lack of availability of PCR screening tests in the general population, the INSPQ has been publishing the results of the wastewater analysis since Wednesday to follow the general trend of COVID-19. Since the beginning of June, the organization’s reports have shown significant increases in the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 in several cities, including Montreal, Quebec, Gatineau and Laval. In Quebec, wastewater collection began in the spring of 2022. The program will eventually be deployed in about fifteen communities. The Dright Matthew Oughton, an infectious disease specialist at Jewish General Hospital, says there is a need to “expand access to testing” as rapid tests are “more likely to miss infections.” “In the current context, I think we need to take concrete action. For the rest, caution is advised, especially in the elderly or with risk factors. It means wearing a mask and being mindful of the risk of our exposure. »

cases on the rise

The results of screening by PCR tests continue their upward trend, although partly and mainly affecting healthcare workers. Quebec reported 1,110 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the daily average to 795. The trend has thus increased by 19% within a week. In addition to the cases detected by PCR tests, 712 people who received a positive result of a self-performed rapid test have come forward in the last few days. Self-reported cases, which are not included in daily reported cases, increased by 29% in one week.

The consequences of reinfection

A recent preliminary study published on the Research Square platform also notes that people who have been reinfected with COVID-19 are at higher risk. The study suggests that reinfection with COVID-19 “contributes to additional risks of all-cause mortality, hospitalization and adverse effects on pulmonary system health.” American researchers Ziyad Al-Aly, Benjamin Bowe and Yan Xie also note that this risk appears to be “obvious” in unvaccinated individuals or those who have received two doses or fewer. Their study provoked many reactions in the scientific world. Some observers were quick to use it to illustrate that reinfections are not “benign” as some claim. “You can no longer rely on previous infections to protect yourself. There is mounting evidence that Omicron’s immune response to natural infections really does not provide much protection against other variants.”right Matthew Ooughton on that.

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