Earlier this month, Hamilton’s Board of Health received an update on the city’s COVID-19 case count along with a forecast for COVID-19 conditions to December 2021. As reported in the news, there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases in Hamilton. In addition, the number of Hamiltonians who are fully vaccinated is below the provincial average. The re-opening of Hamilton and Ontario will result in increases in contact transmission. This situation, combined with a highly contagious Delta variant currently active in 95% of Hamilton COVID-19 cases, poses significant risks to the unvaccinated, including children under age 12, for whom there is no vaccination available, and the under-vaccinated. Individuals with only single-dose are under-vaccinated.
Any 4th wave will primarily be among those not vaccinated, including children under 12 years old and those under-vaccinated.
In their forecasts, epidemiologists with Hamilton Public Health looked at different COVID-19 case outcomes based on different factors. They sought to answer the following questions in their forecast modelling:
- What will happen if the percentage of fully vaccinated Hamiltonians rose from the present rate of around 70% to 80%?
- What will happen if continued public health measures, such as masking and physical distancing, remain in place?
- What will happen with different combinations of #1 and #2 above? Specifically:
A) a scenario with 70% vaccination plus continued public health measures such as masking and physical distancing;
B) a scenario with 70% vaccination and the gradual loosening of public health measures;
C) a scenario with 80% vaccination with continued public health measures;
D) a scenario with 80% vaccination with a gradual loosening of public health measures.
The forecasting also took into consideration that severe outcomes like hospitalisation and death may be mitigated by vaccination. Further, the forecasts reflect what people are actually doing in terms of masking and physical distancing instead of Public Health’s advice and what is legally required.
In summary, the forecasts indicate that continued public health measures in all settings (schools, universities, colleges, workplaces) in addition to achieving a vaccination rate of 80% would help our city contain a 4th COVID-19 wave and significantly reduce Hamilton’s daily case count to under 50 cases.
Scenario A – LIGHT BLUE DASHED LINE
70% vaccination of 12+ years and maintaining active public health measures (masking and physical distancing) with gradual reductions in fall, 2021
This would prevent over 15,000 COVID-19 cases and maintain Hamilton’s daily case count of under 50 cases.
Scenario B – DARKER BLUE DOTTED LINE LOCATED AT THE TOP
70% vaccination of 12+ years rate with reduced public health measures in all settings (e.g., schools, universities, colleges, workplaces) beginning mid-October 2021 down to zero measures by mid-December 2021
If this scenario were to occur this fall, COVID-19 case counts would reach higher than those in the previous 3rd wave.
Scenario C – ORANGE DOTTED LINE
80% vaccination rate of 12+ years with reduced public health measures in mid-October down to zero measures by mid-December, 2021
This scenario would prevent 10,000 COVID-19 cases between now and the end of December 2021 compared to the worst-case set out in scenario B
SCENARIO D – YELLOW LONG DASHED LINE
The very best scenario is a combination of increased vaccination and continued public health measures. This scenario would significantly contain a 4th wave.
It is my opinion that these forecasts tell us that we must do all that is possible to enable Hamiltonians to gain access to vaccines. In so doing, we must recognise the pre-existing vulnerability of some of our neighbours due to non-medical factors such as their shelter status, their income levels, race and ethnicity. The forecasts also underscore the importance of masking and physical distancing in all settings.
It is my hope that we can continue to lend support to our friends and neighbours during this public health crisis. It has been inspiring to read about and bear witness to the community care that is taking place across our city and throughout the neighbourhoods of Ward 1. Thank you to each and every person for lending a hand and heart.