- Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccination program has moved to the next stage on Wednesday as the province widens the age-range of people eligible for a shot.
- As of 8 a.m. on Wednesday, the AstraZeneca-Oxford/Covishield vaccine could be booked by Albertans born in 1957 through Alberta Health Services (either online or by calling 811) and First Nations, Métis and Inuit born in 1972 could solely by calling 811.
- The province plans to offer the first 58,500 doses of that vaccine only to healthy adults between the ages of 50 and 64, with the rollout expanding by one birth year at a time depending on vaccine supply.
- Alberta Health is recommending AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccine for people aged 18 to 64 if they do not have a severe chronic illness. The initial doses of will not be available at pharmacies, the news release said.
- AHS tweeted at about 10 a.m. on Wednesday that more than 5,000 Albertans had booked shots within the first hour and that call volumes to 811 had been high.
- AHS recommends that Albertans book their appointment using the online booking tool wherever possible.
- Covishield, produced by the Serum Institute of India, was recently approved by Health Canada and is considered equivalent to AstraZeneca, Alberta Health Services said Tuesday.
- As of Tuesday, the province said 303,823 doses of vaccine had been administered, and 91,138 Albertans have been fully immunized with two doses.
- If shipments arrive as scheduled, the province says all adults in the province will receive their first dose by the end of June.
- Vaccinations for those 75 and older (born in 1946 or earlier) are available at 102 community pharmacies in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer as well as at the AHS sites. A list of participating pharmacies is available on the Alberta Blue Cross website.
- Alberta reported an estimated 255 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday as well as six more deaths.
- There were 4,470 active cases across the province, a decrease of 163 from the day before.
- The province reported 263 people were being treated in hospital for COVID-19, with 37 people in intensive care beds.
- 5,434 coronavirus tests were completed with a positivity rate of 4.7 per cent.
- An additional 28 variant cases were recorded, bringing the total to 687. Of those variant cases, almost all — 674 — are the strain first identified in the U.K., and 13 are the strain first identified in South Africa.
- Alberta’s R-value is 0.95. An R-value below 1.0 means the rate of transmission was decreasing during that period.
- The next update from Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, is set for Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. CBC Edmonton and Calgary will carry it live on the websites and Facebook.
- The Alberta government announced Monday that the province could step fully into Step 2 of reopening, as hospitalizations have remained below 450.
- Retail stores and malls will be allowed to increase their capacity to 25 per cent of fire code occupancy, and youth sports teams and activities are allowed to resume with up to 10 participants. Masks and physical distancing are still required.
- Restrictions are also being eased for child, youth and adult performances, including singing, theatre and playing wind instruments, though participants must follow the same restrictions as for youth sports.
- Banquet halls, community hall and hotels can now host permitted performance activities, wedding ceremonies with up to 10 people, and funeral services with up to 20.
- The province says any decisions on the province moving to Step 3 of the reopening will be made on March 22 at the earliest.
- Provincial officials are concerned that two recent COVID-19 outbreaks at two Calgary-area high schools could be linked to indoor gatherings.
- An Edmonton-based pharmaceutical company say its COVID-19 vaccine is ready for clinical trials.
- Entos Pharmaceuticals says it expects Health Canada approval for a Phase 1 clinical trial is imminent, after it shipped its vaccine for testing to the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology in Halifax.
See which regions are being hit hardest
Here is the detailed regional breakdown of active cases as reported Tuesday by the province:
- Calgary zone: 1,594, down from 1,608 (49,942 recovered).
- Edmonton zone: 1,182, down from 1,191 (52,334 recovered).
- North zone: 876, down from 960 (11,426 recovered).
- South zone: 368, up from 367 (6,310 recovered).
- Central zone: 440, down from 491 (9,872 recovered).
- Unknown: 10, down from 16 (94 recovered).
Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean
You can see active cases by local health area on the following interactive map. Scroll, zoom and click on the map for more information.
Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:
Alberta reported six more COVID-19 deaths and 255 new cases on Tuesday as the government issued a reminder that the next group of eligible Albertans will be able to start booking COVID-19 immunizations Wednesday morning.
The two groups eligible to receive the Covishield/AstraZeneca vaccine are Albertans born in 1957 and all First Nations, Métis and Inuit people born in 1972.
People in those cohorts can book immunization appointments as of 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Albertans born in 1957 can book appointments by using the AHS online booking tool or by calling Health Link at 811. However, AHS is warning that call volumes to 811 are high and it’s recommended to use the online tool.
First Nations, Métis and Inuit people born in 1972 will be able to book appointments only by calling 811.
Covishield, produced by the Serum Institute of India, was recently approved by Health Canada and is considered equivalent to AstraZeneca, Alberta Health Services said in a news release Tuesday.
Depending on vaccine supply, Albertans born between 1958 and 1971 will be offered the chance to book in the coming days, with the rollout expanding by one birth year at a time.
Alberta Health is recommending Covishield/AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged 18 to 64 who are less at risk of severe outcomes. The initial doses of will not be available at pharmacies, the news release said.
AHS said the online tool and 811 have the combined capacity to book approximately 5,000 appointments an hour.
Alberta will further expand its COVID-19 vaccine rollout to include people under age 75 starting March 15, and if shipments arrive as scheduled, all adults in the province will receive their first dose by the end of June, the health minister says.
It’s expected that by June 30, every adult in the province can have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
To avoid long delays for those making appointments, when Phase 2A begins on March 15 bookings will be offered in two-year age groups. On the first day, anyone aged 73 or 74 will be able to book. On the second day, eligibility will be expanded to include anyone aged 71 to 72, and so on from there.
Retails stores and malls will be allowed increase their capacity to 25 per cent of fire code, and youth sports teams and activities will be allowed to resume with up to 10 participants, Alberta’s health minister announced Monday.
Tyler Shandro said with case counts and positivity rates continuing to decline, along with deaths and hospitalizations, it is now safe for the province to complete Step 2 of its reopening plan.
“The situation is changing and we need to change along with it,” Shandro said Monday at a news conference. “We said that we’d complete Step 2 when it was safe to do so, and I believe that it now is.
“The time is right to keep moving safely forward, and at the same time there are reasons for us to remain cautious. We’re not seeing the same sharp decline in cases that we saw in December. Cases have plateaued. And we still have to consider carefully how to get the balance right. But I believe that this step, the remainder of Step 2 today, is safe,” he said.
“Just last week I announced that we should be able to offer every Albertans a first dose by June 30, and that changes the whole picture here in Alberta.”
Effective immediately, the province will complete Step 2 by easing more restrictions, Shandro said.
An Edmonton-based pharmaceutical company say its COVID-19 vaccine is ready for clinical trials.
Entos Pharmaceuticals says it expects Health Canada approval for a Phase 1 clinical trial is imminent, after it shipped its vaccine for testing to the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology in Halifax.
The company developed a genetic vaccine, similar to those developed by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. But instead of delivering mRNA, the Entos’ vaccine is DNA-based.
The company says the expected single-dose vaccine can be stored at room temperature for a month or in a fridge for a year. The two-dose mRNA vaccines, meanwhile, need to be stored at either freezer or ultra-cold temperatures.
The company says it applied its cancer-fighting medical technology at the outset of the pandemic to develop the vaccine.
“If I told you five years ago that a small company that started out with a dozen people brought a new vaccine from concept to phase one trials in ten months, you’d say it couldn’t happen,” said John Lewis, Entos CEO and associate professor in the department of oncology at the University of Alberta.
“I think what we’ve accomplished so far with a relatively modest budget has been really remarkable.”
If approved, Entos would join Calgary’s Providence Therapeutics on the list of Alberta-based COVID-19 vaccine developers to enter clinical trials. It comes as the provincial government announced plans Tuesday to build out its local vaccine manufacturing capacity as new variants of the coronavirus emerge.
Provincial officials are concerned that two recent COVID-19 outbreaks at Calgary-area high schools could be linked to indoor gatherings.
Last week, an outbreak declared at Cochrane’s Bow Valley High school had 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — which put more than half of its students and teachers in isolation.
Rocky View Schools told CBC News in an email last week that since a majority of students are able to attend class and they have enough substitute teachers, the school will remain open.
On Friday, Bowness High School in Calgary announced an outbreak which shifted around 1,184 students in grades 10-12 to online learning.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, says one concern that has been raised is that these two outbreaks might have been started because of large indoor gatherings.
“Remember that your actions don’t just impact you, they impact those around you. And again, not just your immediate circle, but there is a knock-on effect of transmission that flows through all of our networks if we’re not cautious,” she said at a COVID-19 briefing on Monday.
It was inevitable, the premier said.
Though there were only dozens of cases of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 reported in Canada, health officials were resigned that the pandemic would eventually spread into Alberta.
A news bulletin went out in the late afternoon March 5, with few details aside from confirmation that a presumptive case had been confirmed.
Less than an hour later, the province’s chief medical officer of health took to the podium.
“Uh, you all know, my name is Dr. Deena Hinshaw,” she said. “I’m here, as you know, to provide an update on COVID-19 in Alberta.”
Hinshaw went on to provide more details: the presumptive case was a woman in her 50s who had been on board the Grand Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined off the coast of California.
Nearly a year later, Hinshaw needed to introduce herself to Albertans no longer — she had become a fixture when it came to her daily updates on cases, hospitalizations, outbreaks and deaths.
- For the latest on what’s happening in the rest of Canada and around the world, see here.
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