Vaccine Doesn’t Stop Symptoms

cleaning macbook from bacteria

Vaccinated Canadians can have COVID-19 symptoms despite testing negative. Experts say people can test negative on a rapid test in the first few days they have symptoms. This is partly due to how quickly vaccination clears the amount of the virus in an infected person’s body, the amount of immunity a person has built up. How much of the virus a person can spread to others and how serious a person’s disease is, are all dependent on the viral load, which is the amount of virus a person has in their system. Antigen rapid tests pick up on a higher viral load much quicker.

sanitizing hands

If the antigen test is dependent on the amount of virus in your upper respiratory tract, you may still be infectious in the first few days. There’s a period of around two days before the rapid test begins to pick up the antigen This is one reason why it’s always good to give a second rapid test, a day or two afterward, just to make sure it’s really negative.

The real problem is that between 40 to 70 % of people who carry COVID-19 do not have any symptoms at all. This means people who are carriers of the virus may not be getting tested at all because they don’t have any symptoms and don’t think they have COVID-19; if they do happen to get tested, it’s often negative.

If a rapid antigen test is positive, it’s reliable. If it’s not positive and you have symptoms compatible with COVID, you should be managing yourself and the people around you as if you are COVID-positive.


Fourth Booster Shots

I've Had My COVID Booster Shot

Fourth shots (Second Booster) of COVID-19 vaccines begin Thursday in Ontario for age 60 and up and for First Nations, Métis and Inuit over 18. Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is now strongly recommending the “rapid deployment” of second COVID-19 booster shots for seniors over 80. The recommended interval between third and fourth shots is five months, but that a shorter interval may be warranted in some individuals. There’s no clear-cut answer on whether to rush out for one. I would advise older persons to get another booster right away because of the higher level of protection.

Vaccine Passports

COVID-19 has had a really disproportionate impact on people 65 and older. One in 100 older people are not with us today who were with us before the pandemic because of COVID-19.

For younger, healthier people, it might make sense to boost in late summer so it reaches maximum efficacy in the fall. Vaccine efficacy wanes over time, so getting a booster now means you won’t have maximum protection in six or seven months. It might make sense to plan your booster around respiratory pathogen season in the fall, when cases of COVID tend to go up. If you’re younger, healthy and in a place where the virus circulation is very low, it’s less critical, but if you’re somewhere where infections are raging, or if you’re traveling, it makes sense to do it now. Multiple studies have shown that the older you are, the bigger the benefit from getting another booster.


Paxlovid Approved by Health Canada

doctor giving middle aged man a vaccine

On January 17, 2022, the oral antiviral Paxlovid was approved by Health Canada. Ontario has received limited quantities from the federal government.

Treatment with Paxlovid must begin within five days of symptom onset to be effective. A full course of treatment is three pills twice daily for five days in a row.

woman getting her blood pressure tested

Ontario is prioritizing patients for treatment who have COVID-19 with the highest risk of severe outcomes, including:
immunocompromised individuals (PDF) aged 18 and over regardless of vaccine status
unvaccinated individuals aged 60 and over
unvaccinated First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals aged 50 and over
unvaccinated individuals aged 50 and over with one or more risk factors (PDF)
You must also have a positive COVID-19 test to receive treatment.
If you think you may be eligible to receive Paxlovid, you can:
contact your primary care provider
call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000
visit a COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Centre
If you have one of more of the following moderate to severe symptoms you should immediately call 911 or go to the emergency department:
severe difficulty breathing (struggling for each breath, can only speak in single words)
severe chest pain (constant tightness or crushing sensation)
feeling confused or unsure of where you are losing consciousness.


Making The Right Choice

Pharmacist talking to patient

As a pharmacist I meet people every day that have made the wrong choices about their health. Yet, I try to treat them with compassion and understanding. I try my best to help them and to educate them in ways to improve their health. This is the same when I deal with patients that are unvaccinated. I try to explain the benefits of getting vaccinated and try to allay their fears about the vaccines. I try to educate them and direct them to resources that will let them see for themselves the benefits of vaccination as well as the dangers on not getting vaccinated.

I agree. It’s a social responsibility to get vaccinated. However, the omicron variant is highly contagious and vaccines are not fully effective at stopping you from contracting it. This means that most of us are going to get it anyway whether we are triple vaccinated or not. The main benefit of vaccines is to reduce the severity of the symptoms and to hopefully keep you from getting very sick and dying.

Elderly man holding a young childs hand walking

The fact is that in Ontario, almost 90% of us are vaccinated. However, 10% of the unvaccinated population take up 50% of ICU beds. This clearly demonstrates that the unvaccinated are at a greater risk of getting very sick. There is ample evidence from all over the world that the virus can start replication before the immune system can stop it. The vaccines prime our immune system and help prevent severe disease, but they cannot stop the spread; they can only limit it. The same is true about Vaccine Inequity. Until, we vaccinate the whole world instead of just selfishly vaccinating Canadians, we will not get out of this Pandemic. Until we vaccinate the world, there will be another variant and another variant and… And speaking of variants, a new variant can develop from anywhere, variants can come from Canada just as easily as they can come from South Africa or Denmark. We have to be realistic and treat this pandemic as being endemic and INCREASE OUR HEALTH CARE CAPACITY and increase our ICU capacity and increase the number of trained healthcare workers that we have.

Using simple math, if you catch Omicron, you probably caught it from one of the 90% of vaccinated individuals that you socialize with, rather than one of the 10% of unvaccinated individuals that by now you probably don’t socialize with anyway. Let’s stop demonizing individuals for making their own life choices (even is they are the wrong choices). Let’s instead direct our anger to the politicians who starved the hospitals for funding, threw out our strategic PPE stockpile before the pandemic, and refused to provide sick days and rapid tests. Let’s never forgive administrators that prevented nurses in COVID wards from accessing N95 masks. Blaming individuals for systemic problems is not right. In other words, blaming a small minority of people who have not gotten vaccinated and allowing our governments to get away with not funding our health system responsibly for years is not the right thing to do. Politicians that did not responsibly fund health care should be the ones getting the blame. CALL YOUR MPP AND MP AND ASK THEM WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO EXPAND HEALTHCARE CAPACITY. Give THEM and earful instead of ostracizing your neighbor.


Hormone Therapy

Nurse checking labels on hormone therapy medication

Hormonal therapy is sometimes given in conjunction with radiation to boost the effectiveness of prostate cancer treatment. Hormonal therapy may also be used to shrink the size of large prostate glands to ensure the proper placement of the radioactive seeds.

Combination hormonal/radiation therapy is now a standard option for men with cancer that has extended beyond stage T3 or T4 or whose cancer is considered high-risk. Studies show that it reduces the risk of dying from prostate cancer and other causes more than with either treatment given alone.

patjient on an MRI getting scanned

Studies also show that patients who have advanced prostate cancer have better outcomes if hormonal therapy continues for at least two years after radiotherapy and that hormonal therapy and radiation given together were more effective than radiation by itself at treating recurring prostate cancer after prostatectomy.

Combined treatment is more likely than radiation alone to cause erectile dysfunction (ED). Until more is known, be aware that side effects do occur with combined therapy and that it’s important to discuss this issue with your doctor.


New Insecticide That Reduces Cases of Malaria

mosquito net over someone reading outdoors

A mosquito net coated with a new insecticide that makes the insects unable to move or fly has reduced cases of malaria in children by about 40 per cent, according to a new study conducted in Tanzania involving Canadian researchers. The two-year study involved 39,000 Tanzanian households.

mosquito repellant candle

In randomized trials with over 4,500 children aged six months to 14 years, mosquito nets coated with the new insecticide chlorfenapyr and with pyrethroids — traditional chemicals that kill insects — reduced the prevalence of malaria by 43 per cent in the first year and 37 per cent in the second. Traditional mosquito nets are only coated with pyrethroids. The double-coated netting also reduced clinical episodes of malaria by 44 per cent over the two-year study period.

Chlorfenapyr is the first new class of insecticide approved to fight malaria in 40 years.
Mosquito nets covered with insecticide have contributed greatly to reducing the impact of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa for the past decade. But there’s been a slowdown or reversal of that trend more recently, particularly because the Anopheles mosquitoes responsible for the spread of malaria have become increasingly resistant to the pyrethroid insecticides.


Moderna Approval on Children Aged 6 to 11

Male youth getting vaccinated

On March 17th, Health Canada authorized the use of the Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine in children 6 to 11 years of age. This vaccine was previously authorized for use in patients 12 years of age and older. NACI recommends that a complete series with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to children in the authorized age groups without contraindications to the vaccine, with a dosing interval of at least 8 weeks between the first and second dose. (Strong NACI Recommendation)

child wearing a mask doing crafts

For children 6 to 11 years of age (which is the age group in which the Moderna Spikevax 50 mcg primary series vaccine is authorized):

Moderna Spikevax (50 mcg dose) may be offered as an alternative to PfizerBioNTech Comirnaty (10 mcg dose), however the use of Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty (10 mcg dose) is preferred to Moderna Spikevax (50 mcg dose) to start or continue the primary vaccine series.

Recommendations on the use of Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine in children 6 to 11 years of Age Although risk of myocarditis/pericarditis with the Moderna Spikevax (50 mcg) in children 6 to 11 years of age is unknown, with a primary series in adolescents and young adults the rare risk of myocarditis / pericarditis with Moderna Spikevax (100 mcg) was higher than with Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty (30 mcg).


Canada’s First COVID-19 Manufactured Vaccine

COVID-19 Radit Test Kit

The first COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by a Canadian company will “very likely” not get the green light for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to its ties to the tobacco industry.

The Quebec-based biopharmaceutical company Medicago’s vaccine marks the world’s first-ever plant-based jab for human use. The vaccine, called Covifenz, It’s also owned by tobacco company Philip Morris International — so the process is put on hold because it’s well known that the WHO and UN have a very strict policy regarding engagement with tobacco and arms industries. It’s very likely that it will not be accepted for emergency list using by WHO. Medicago’s COVID-19 vaccine is listed as “not accepted” in the WHO’s expression of interest phase.

COVID-19 Blood Vials

Canada has a contract for 20 million doses and an option for up to 56 million more, but Canada does not need them. More than 85 per cent of Canadians over the age of five are now fully vaccinated and going forward Canada is relying almost solely on the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
Canada had promised to donate any excess vaccines it purchased to COVAX. If the WHO rejects Medicago’s vaccine, Canada won’t be able to donate any of its doses to the Covax alliance, which is desperate for doses to reach its goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of people in every country by July.


Travel Mandates Changed For COVID-19

nearly empty airport

Fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada will not have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test as of April 1.

Passengers may still be subjected to random PCR testing at the airport though they will not be required to isolate while awaiting their results.

Unvaccinated Canadians and other travelers who are exempt from the vaccine mandate will still need to provide a negative rapid antigen or molecular test, or an accepted form of proof of recent infection to enter the country. Unvaccinated travelers will also be tested on arrival, again eight days later, and will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

Air Traffic Workers confiscating contents

All travelers will still have to use the ArriveCAN app or online form to enter their proof of vaccination and other required information within 72 hours before their arrival in Canada. Travelers who do not complete this submission may face testing and isolation requirements, regardless of vaccination status, according to the government.

The requirement to be fully vaccinated in order to board federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation remains in effect. Cruise ship passengers will still need to provide a negative antigen test taken within 24 hours before the scheduled boarding time, but will no longer need to be tested again to get off the ship.

If you’re 12 or older, you’ll need to be fully vaccinated in order to board domestic flights, VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains, and cruise ships.


The Dominance of Omicron

covid hot spot map of the world

Health experts have warned since omicron took over as the dominant strain that everyone is likely to get COVID-19 at some point. Yet all of the data we have at this point suggests there are still millions of Canadians who haven’t been infected.

How can it be that two years into a pandemic marked by increasingly contagious variants, so many people remain COVID-free? What separates those of us who have tested positive from those who haven’t?

mask, gloves, and headphones with a note saying "Keep calm and protect your friends"

Reason 1: Because vaccines, masking and distancing works
Reason 2: Because you’ve remained totally isolated
Reason 3: Because you did actually have it, you just didn’t know
Reason 4: Because household transmission is not a given
Reason 5: Because, well, luck

While there are clear, well-established mitigation strategies that have helped lower individual risk of contracting COVID-19, a lot of it comes down to a hefty dose of just good luck. There’s a lot of randomness to COVID. There are people who seem to have minimal exposure who come down with it, and there are people who have heavy exposure who seem to do OK.

The truth is that experts are still learning about COVID-19.