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

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

(Big White Ski Resort/Contributed)
Big White’s big clean-up: Large turnout for post-melt mountain tidy

More than 165 people showed up to help gather the litter left behind from the winter season

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

(Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)
Delays expected on Lakeshore Road this week

Northbound traffic on Lakeshore between Richter and Barrera will be detoured for paving

David Larsen, left, and co-host Tony Peyton. (K96.3/Twitter)
Popular Kelowna radio host dies after battle with cancer

David Larsen was half of the longtime Kelowna morning-show duo David and Tony

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Most Read