Lessons learned form the Delta variant

The Grey Bruce Health Unit has learned some valuable lessons from our current experience with the COVID-19 Delta variant.

We see the Delta variant is as advertised; extremely efficient and effective in its transmission, and unfortunately, similarly effective in causing sever disease leading to hospitalizations and deaths.

A two-pronged approach is necessary. Robust Case and Contact Management (CCM) was indispensable in bringing this latest Delta variant surge under control. An aggressive roll-out of vaccine is needed to ensure it does not return.

The CCM in Grey Bruce Health Unit is second to none with robust protocols and most importantly a committed and experienced team. Over the past 16 months, the team was able to bring down every surge keeping the number of new cases to a manageable level of less than 5 per day with many days without any new cases.

With the Delta variant becoming dominant in Grey Bruce, the same robust CCM has been successful in preventing the number of new cases from shooting up to hundreds per day. That said, it was through enormous effort in reaching hundreds of cases and high-risk contacts to direct them to appropriate measures that the team was able to plateau the number at 20 new cases per day for over the past 3 weeks. That has been reduced to 9 new cases per day over the past week.

We conducted Social Analysis of the surge in Grey Bruce. The attached Social Analysis in Grey Bruce and in Owen Sound are a graphic representation of how transmission infiltrated into our community. With the increase in our numbers, we could share this work without threatening privacy. 

This analysis identified:

·       Majority of transmission was in individuals who were not fully vaccinated
·       Main drivers of outbreak were
                –   Private gatherings/parties
                –   Transient/low economic status/crowded housing
·       High numbers of high risk contacts
·       No increased risk of transmission in workplace/regulated settings (10+ locations investigated)

Without question, vaccination is the only way to prevent a 4th wave and our way out of this pandemic.

Working with our partners and volunteers, the Grey Bruce Health Unit took vaccines to the community with both mass and targeted vaccinations. We vaccinated about 70,000 people, 50% of eligible public in Grey Bruce, in the past 4 weeks. The mass vaccination strategy has been successful in achieving its purpose and is ramping down.

Although we reached the vaccine coverage target for the regular strains of COVID-19, the fact that the Delta became the dominant variant means we now require a higher vaccine target of 90% coverage. Therefore, we are ramping up the targeted vaccination strategy adding more pop-up and drive through clinics.

We need everyone’s help to encourage those who have not had their vaccine to get protected. Having everyone in the family who are eligible fully vaccinated is the most successful way to prevent COVID-19. There are Drop-In Vaccine Clinics every day in Grey Bruce. Vaccine Schedule