Ontario sees 270 new COVID-19 cases as more 2nd-dose vaccine appointments open

Ontario reported another 270 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the fewest on a single day in more than nine months, as more people in the province become eligible for a second dose of a vaccine.

As of 8 a.m. this morning, anyone who got a first shot of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) on or before May 9 can book or reschedule their second dose, several weeks ahead of schedule.

Similarly, residents of 10 provincially-designated hot spots for the delta variant of concern who got a first dose before May 30 can move up their second shot on Wednesday. 

The list of delta variant hot spots currently includes:

  • Toronto
  • Peel Region
  • York Region
  • Halton Region
  • Durham Region
  • Waterloo Region
  • Hamilton
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph
  • Simcoe Muskoka
  • Porcupine

A shipment of Pfizer vaccines expected to arrive this week will be delayed several days, the Ministry of Health said over the weekend. As a result, many public health units will be offering only Moderna for second shots this week as more than one million doses landed in the province on Friday,

Some health experts are urging Ontarians to consider the two mRNA vaccines interchangeable. 

“With this week’s delayed Pfizer vaccine shipments, I’m concerned about people delaying dose 2 because they are being offered Moderna vaccine. The last thing we want is any loss of momentum in our flourishing vaccine rollout,” Dr. Jeff Kwong, an epidemiologist with the University of Toronto, said on Twitter.

Kwong said analyses of data compiled by the independent research organization ICES show that two doses of Moderna are “just as good” as two of Pfizer in preventing infections.

As a result, he said, “no reason to think that Pfizer for dose 1 + Moderna for dose 2 would be any worse than 2 doses of Pfizer,” he tweeted.

“So if you got Pfizer for dose 1 and are being offered Moderna for dose 2, rest assured that you are doing the right thing by getting it (and not waiting for Pfizer).”

Other experts expressed similar sentiment, noting people regularly get different brands of other vaccines without thinking twice about it.

“Just a reminder — if you got a flu shot this year, you likely don’t know the brand. Neither do I. They’re made by separate companies,” Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at St. Joseph’s hospital in Hamilton, said in a tweet.

“Moderna and Pfizer are interchangeable.”

7-day average of cases falls to 334

Today’s case count is down from last Monday, when Ontario logged 447 new infections. Due to the cyclical nature of testing in the province, its best to compare same days of the week.

Labs completed 13,828 tests and Public Health Ontario reported a test positivity rate of 2.5 per cent, higher than in recent days but not unexpected given the low overall number of tests that were processed. Positivity is also down from last week, when the province saw 2.8 per cent on roughly the same amount of tests.

The seven-day average of daily cases, one of the most important indicators of the pandemic’s growth or decline, fell to 334, its lowest point since mid-September 2020.

As of yesterday, there were 323 people with COVID-related illnesses being treated in intensive care units. Of those patients, 202 needed a ventilator to breathe.

The Ministry of Health also recorded the deaths of three more people with COVID-19, pushing the official toll to 9,022.

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