Ontario’s top doctor to make announcement about 4th COVID-19 shots, rapid antigen tests

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health is set to make an announcement on Wednesday about access to fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines and to free rapid antigen tests.

Dr. Kieran Moore is scheduled to provide an update at 11 am at Queen’s Park.

The Ontario government has been under pressure in recent weeks to expand age eligibility for the fourth shots and to extend distribution of the test kits beyond July 31.

Moore confirmed to CBC News on July 6 that Ontario is in the midst of another pandemic wave, the province’s seventh.

“Sadly yes, we’re in another wave,” Moore said last Wednesday.

The Omicron BA.5 subvariant and to a lesser extent, BA.4, is largely driving the latest wave, according to Dr. Fahad Razak, an internist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and the scientific director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

“The BA.5 subvariant has mutated to the extent that your body is not recognizing it and people are getting reinfected,” Razak said last Friday.

“You’re seeing this additional surge start in Ontario, and now it’s started in other parts of Canada as well.”

In its most recent update on the pandemic, published July 7, the province says 712 people are in hospital with COVID-19, up from 585 in the previous week. There are 110 patients in intensive care due to the virus, up from 95 the previous week.

Public Health Ontario, in its July 7 weekly epidemiological summary, which contains data until July 2, said the province’s seventh wave of COVID-19 began as early as June 19.

According to the summary, case rates have increased across 25 of Ontario’s 34 public health units as of July 2, and in all age groups.

The largest jump was among children aged four and under, with cases in that group spiking by 40 per cent. Case rates remain higher among people 20 and over and are still highest among people 80 and up.

In Ontario, a clear picture about the state of COVID-19 has become increasingly difficult to obtain over the last several months after the government restricted lab testing and stopped publishing school-related data.

Also on June 11, the province moved to weekly reporting of COVID-19 data after more than two years of daily updates.

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