Alberta’s chief medical officer provides live update on COVID-19

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health is expected to provide another COVID-19 update on Thursday afternoon, as the province awaits details on AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine rollout. 

The news conference is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. You can watch it live here. 

During Wednesday’s news conference, Hinshaw said the province was still working to confirm who will be first to get the new vaccine. 

The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) has recommended against using the vaccine for people 65 or older, citing a lack of clinical-trial data to determine how effective it would be in preventing infection in the older cohort. 

To date, Alberta has made vaccine appointments available to anyone 75 and older. 

Some provinces, including Manitoba and Nova Scotia, have signalled their intent to distribute the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to people aged 50 to 64. 

Alberta now plans to extend the period between the first and second doses by up to four months. Research has found that a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was 70 to 80 per cent effective, according to NACI, which recommended the extended time period. 

As of Wednesday’s update, 255,283 vaccine doses had been administered in Alberta and 89,094 people had been fully inoculated with a second shot.

Hinshaw also announced the first long-term care outbreak linked to a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus and reminded the public the province is “not out of the woods yet.” 

An outbreak at Churchill Manor, a private supportive living facility in Edmonton, has infected 27 people since the first case was reported late Friday. The outbreak includes 19 cases of the variant first identified in the U.K. 

The province has identified 500 cases of that variant since December. 

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