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COVID-19 variants still concerning in Canada

Last Updated May 31, 2021 at 9:04 am MDT

CALGARY – Variant cases in the country continue to be a point of concern, even though numbers are going down.

But that doesn’t mean their spread is limited. So how did Canada end up with variant cases in the first place?

“Variants emerged basically in places where there was a high level of cases and high level of spreads like in U.K., U.S., Brazil and now in India. So, we don’t have such a high level of spread here yet so probably we didn’t generate our homegrown variants. But they come from abroad so they come because people are travelling,” said Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz, a COVID-19 researcher and biologist at the University of Calgary.

Experts say controlling variants is only possible through zero-COVID-19 in Canada.

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Yet the on-ground situation is far from it.

With only 30 per cent efficacy against variants, they say vaccines might be helpful but with the reopening of provinces across Canada, especially in Alberta, there is a high chance of mixing of variants.

“By such an event as a stampede, when people come from other provinces, come from other countries, then there is a possibility of bringing new variants here and it is also possible to mix variants or mix cases,” she said.

“We are working towards the fourth wave in Alberta, especially with the very fast reopenings we are doing right now. And with b1617 variant is present here already.”

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She says, that 42 cases of the b.1.617 variant have been reported in Alberta and it is feared that they will exponentially grow across the country if the virus is not eliminated soon.

Gasperowicz says the solution lies in more strict public health measures and getting Canadians a second dose sooner rather than later.