ICU physician credits vaccines with significant drop in COVID-19 patients

Despite COVID-19 transmission remaining high across central Ontario, Southlake Regional Health Centre ICU physician Dr. Barry Nathanson says vaccination has helped ebb the flood of critical patients.

"While we see very high community case counts, we are seeing a relatively much lower flow of patients in hospital than we would have prior to vaccinations."

The Newmarket critical care doctor notes that ICU admissions and mortality rates are also decreasing.

Experts are closely watching wastewater data to see the lag time between the development of a case and the need for hospitalization.

"It has changed throughout the pandemic as the virus has evolved," says Dr. Nathanson.

"Therefore, one would estimate a lag time of about two or two-plus weeks between case counts reflected in wastewater versus case counts that we are seeing the community and hospitals."

The ICU physician is also keeping watch on emerging COVID-19 variants globally. Currently, experts are tracking the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants, plus the XE variant.

Dr. Nathanson says the BA4 and BA.5 variants were first detected in South Africa in early 2022 but have become more dominant.

"A month or so later, they were estimated at a five to six per cent prevalence in South Africa, and since that time. Currently, South Africa is seeing a significant surge in cases."

Dr. Nathanson concludes by saying there is no good evidence that the efficiency of the vaccine is lower against the two variants.