Ontario on track for good summer despite small risk of fourth wave, modelling suggests

COVID-19 cases in Ontario are dropping sharply and while the threat of a fourth wave caused by the delta variant still exists it is unlikely, health officials say.

Officials unveiled updated COVID-19 modelling data on Thursday, which depicts a much better control overthe pandemic in Ontario than in previous updates.

"We've turned the corner in our progress against the pandemic," Science table co-chair Dr. Adalsteinn Brown said. "We can look forward to a much better summer."

According to the modelling, cases should continue to decline for at least the next 10 days in Ontario.

Infections have already declined sharply in almost all public health units over the past few weeks.

COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive care admissions have also continuedto drop.

If Ontario continues to control COVID-19, the modelling suggests intensive care admissions will drop to below 200 bymid-July and normal hospital operations can resume.

HOW ONTARIO PLANS TO AVOID A FOURTH WAVE

To avoid a fourth wave, officials say Ontario needs to ensure full immunization in high-risk communities with two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The delta variant, which is expected to become the province’s dominant strain early this summer, is about 50 per cent more transmissible than the B.1.1.7, or alpha, variant.

Officials say the first dose of aCOVID-19 vaccine is less effective in protecting against the delta variant.

A second dose of the vaccine adds 50 per cent effectiveness, officials said.

"To be clear,we are not out of the woods just yet," Brown said. "Our ICUs still have more COVID-19 patients than they did at the peak of the second wave and the delta variant, the variant that hit India so hard, is here and is on track to be the dominant form of the virus this summer but we believe we can control it with the right action."

"This is not a doomsday scenario … We have a really good chance of a good summer."

Ontario announced on Thursday it will begin accelerating second doses for individuals who received their first shot on or before May 9 in seven hot spot areas where the delta variant is a concern.

Individuals in hot spots within Halton, Peel, Porcupine, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and York public health units will be eligible to book their second Pfizer or Moderna doses through the provincial booking system as of 8 a.m. on June 14.

In a best case scenario, Ontario’s daily COVID-19 case count will remain under 500 during the summer.

In a medium scenario, that number could jump back up to nearly 1,000 cases per day by August.

In a worst case scenario, cases will spike to 2,500 per day by the middle of August.

Health officials logged 590 new infections on Thursday, as well as 11 deaths related to the novel coronavirus.

In total, over 10.6 million vaccine doses have made it into the arms of Ontarians. To date, 1,399,776 people have received two shots and are considered fully vaccinated.

Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said Thursday the majority of people getting infected with COVID-19 in Ontario are those who haven't received a first dose.