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COVID-19 Delta variant now the dominant strain in the region, public health reports

Responsible for 70% of new cases since July 1, health unit said infectious new variant demonstrates the urgent need for vaccinations

The Delta Variant of the COVID-19 virus is now dominant within the Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) jurisdiction.

PHSD issued a news release Friday that said the majority of new COVID cases being reported locally (70 per cent) since July 1 are infected with the variant that has the Delta (B.1.617.2) mutation profile.

“The Delta variant can spread more easily and is associated with higher rates of hospitalization, ICU admission and death as compared with the Alpha variant,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, PHSD's Medical Officer of Health.  

“COVID-19 vaccines are effective against Delta, but there is evidence of reduced protection against symptomatic disease after one dose. This means that two-dose vaccine coverage is important for everyone. Also, given how infectious Delta is, vaccination rates need to be as high as possible to protect against community spread. If you were waiting for yet another reason to get immunized, here it is,” Sutcliffe added.

PHSD said it is now more important than ever to book an appointment, attend a walk-in clinic, or visit the mobile bus or pop-up sites to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The health unit said local vaccination rates have reduced the number of new cases being reported, but the virus still poses a threat. Personal health measures, such as physical distancing, masking, and limiting gatherings, not only help us to stay COVID-safe, but help prevent the spread of the virus and its variants as the vaccination rollout continues, said PHSD.

“It is important to remember that some individuals cannot get the COVID-19 vaccine due to their age or medical conditions,” said Sutcliffe.

“High levels of vaccination in our communities protect those who can be immunized and those who cannot. The sooner we reach high rates of vaccination, the sooner we can get back to our favourite activities and be less dependent on other protective measures. It is time to get vaccinated if you haven’t already.”

PHSD said with Delta spreading throughout Ontario and local case counts vulnerable to change, the push is now on for residents to get their first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine without delay. The health unit said it is aiming for a target of 90 per cent of those aged 12 and older to be fully vaccinated. 

To date, said PHSD, 79.8 per cent of Sudbury and district residents aged 12+ have received their first dose of a vaccine, and 66.3 per cent of those aged 12+ are fully vaccinated. While these numbers are impressive, there is still work to do to reach the 90-per-cent target and Delta protection, said the health unit.