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Vaccination not enough, as omicron becomes dominant in Ontario

Modeling showing the different outcomes expected depending on how the omicron variant is addressed.
Ontario's Science Advisory Table
Modeling showing the different outcomes expected depending on how the omicron variant is addressed.

New modeling for Ontario suggests the province needs an immediate "circuit breaker" to blunt the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Health experts said even the best case scenarios are bleak.

The latest modeling comes from Ontario’s Science Advisory Table, which suggests the omicron variant will become the dominant strain in the province this week.

And increasing vaccination is not enough to slow this wave. Experts are making it clear that people and businesses need to reduce contact limits by at least 50%. That might give the push for boosters enough time to have an effect.

“We will need to reduce contacts between people," said Science Table Co-chair Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, dean of the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "I believe we can do this without closing schools or shutting down businesses that have suffered during previous waves, but it will take serious restrictions that reduce contacts.”

On Thursday, the province reported more than 2,400 new cases of COVID-19 —almost double from a week ago and numbers not seen since May. The modeling suggests, if unchecked, there could be 10,000 cases or more a day by the end of the year.

“This will likely be the hardest wave of the pandemic, but if we can control it and drive vaccinations as hard as we can, we can make it to the exit," Adalsteinn said. "And there is an exit plan from the pandemic. We just need to push as hard as we can and control its immediate impact as much as we can tolerate."

The modeling also suggested hospital intensive care capacity could reach unsustainable levels in January unless the spread of the Omicron variant is blunted.

Meanwhile, people are scrambling to get rapid antigen COVID-19 tests, vaccine boosters and re-evaluating their holiday plans.