Dr. Lisa Barrett shares her pro tips for taking your mask game from a C or a D to an A+


After a year of the new normal, most people have gotten used to the basics: social distancing, hand washing and wearing a cloth mask.

But now that a more transmissible variant of the COVID-19 virus is spreading, some people want to start taking even more precautions.

The idea of double-masking — literally, wearing two masks instead of one — is already gaining traction. But Dr. Lisa Barrett says that’s just one of the ways to get more out of your mask.

“The masking part is not just sort of important, but imperative now, that people go from a C or a D in their mask wearing, up to an A-plus game,” said Barrett.

Barrett is an infectious disease researcher and clinician at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She grew up in Old Perlican, N.L., and trained with none other than Dr. Anthony Fauci at the U.S National Institutes of Health in Maryland.

Now that her home province has seen an explosion of cases caused by a more transmissible variant of COVID-19, Barrett says we can no longer afford to be a little lax in the mask department: it’s time, she warns, to tighten up.

Here are three ways to do it.

Tip #1: Mask plus distance

“The best thing you can do is distance, plus a mask.” said Barrett. “Because sometimes we put on our mask and we feel like we’re completely protected. Not the case. The advice has always been, wear a mask and keep distance wherever you can.”

Barrett says she’s quite comfortable reminding anyone who gets too close that distancing is still important. “I’m not backing away from you because I don’t like you, I’m just going to keep my six feet, a little closer to two metres these days. And that’s really important, particularly inside, even when masked.”

Tip #2: What about double-masking?

“There’s a lot of debate as to whether or not double masking is the key,” she said. The idea is gaining some traction, but Barrett says the most important thing is to make sure your main mask is being worn properly.

“Before we go any further and add in two, three, four, five masks, none of them work unless they fit right.” said Barrett. Pay special attention to the sides of your mask. The fabric should be tight to your face, not loose and bunched up, leaving little holes on the sides where particles can go in and out (Barrett has a pro tip for keeping those edges tight. It’s a bit tricky, but check out the video above to see a demonstration).

Tip #3: One mask or two: It’s up to you

Barrett says better masking (and maintaining distance at the same time) is our best strategy against the new variants. But don’t let the debate around double-masking distract from what’s really important: That everyone wears at least one mask well.

“Just don’t yell at each other if one person’s wearing a double mask and one person’s not,” said Dr. Barrett. “We need everyone to feel comfortable with their own personal level of protection.”

In particular, Barrett says people with respiratory issues may find it difficult to wear two masks, each with several layers of fabric.

The bottom line? For Barrett, it’s much more important to pay attention to the fit than the number of masks you’re wearing.


Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/up-your-mask-game-1.5915539

By Zach Goudie


Should I be wearing a mask outdoors?

It depends on the circumstances. Federal public health officials recommend wearing a non-medical mask or face covering when:

  • You’re in public and you might come into close contact with others.
  • You’re in shared indoor spaces with people from outside your immediate household.
  • Advised by your local public health authority.

So if your circumstances meet any of these conditions — whether indoors or out — you should probably be wearing a mask.

However, if you’re doing something like walking in a quiet neighbourhood then the risk of transmission is very low, said Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and an associate professor at McMaster University.

If you are going in and out of stores, or getting on and off transit while doing errands, it is best to just keep your mask on the whole time, to minimize touching it and potential contamination, Chagla advised in December.

And If you’re interacting with others outside you should wear your mask, while also staying two-metres apart, Chagla said.

More recently, Chagla called three-layer, non-medical masks a good “minimum standard.” He suggested Canadians should opt for masks that offer better protection whenever possible.

The rapid spread of more contagious coronavirus variants across the country has led people in some hard-hit regions to question whether national public health guidelines go far enough to protect Canadians.

The concern is that people could be at risk of getting the virus from very little exposure to it.

Public Health Ontario (PHO), an arm’s-length, provincial government agency, recently told health units across the province they should reduce their thresholds for classifying all COVID-19 exposures given the emergence of variants.

If a person infected with COVID-19 and a contact are both wearing masks, but the contact isn’t wearing eye protection, PHO said they should be considered “high-risk” if they were within two metres for at least 15 minutes.

If neither of them is wearing a mask or eye protection — PHO said any amount of exposure time is risky, aside from briefly passing by each other.

In York Region, just north of Toronto, public health officials made headlines after releasing startling new information on individuals infected with the variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Karim Kurji, the region’s medical officer of health, said the new variant spread despite people taking precautions.

“Some of these people who caught it were just doing essential visits and not for very much time, just a minute or two,” he said in a statement to CBC News.

As for mask-wearing tips, if you’re wearing a high-quality mask that fits well, then air will go through the material, rather than escaping out the sides. A properly fitted mask will expand and collapse with each breath.

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told CBC News there have been several cases of outdoor transmission between spectators “clustering and talking with each other” during soccer games and wedding receptions where people gathered under tents, but not from brief outdoor encounters.

However, Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, suggested that with infection rates climbing, residents in the capital should wear masks outdoors at all times.

“People should wear masks when they’re outside of their house as much as possible,” Etches said in a recent CBC Radio interview. “It’s an added barrier. You don’t know if you’re going to come into close contact with someone or not.”

“Outdoors is much safer than indoors, but if you are right beside someone, you could breathe in their respiratory secretions,” she said. “We’re in a situation now where we need to have stronger protections.”

Places such as San Francisco and New Brunswick have mandated outdoor mask use, and Toronto recently made wearing face masks for outdoor activities such as skating mandatory.

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/ask-cbc-masks-outdoors-1.5900678

By CBC News


The issue of whether to wear a face mask to protect against COVID-19 has come a long way since the virus first took hold in Toronto in March.

Official advice moved from “you don’t really need a mask unless you have COVID-19, save them for front-line medical workers” to “please wear a mask in enclosed public spaces,” to “wearing a mask is the law in Toronto,” and then it was mandated across the province.

A new, more contagious variant of the virus is confirmed to be circulating locally — one that could undermine the recent progress made in bringing down the number of daily new cases.

Residents are being asked to wear masks outdoors in crowds. Several European countries are recommending surgical masks in public.

The local supply of masks for health care is not the problem it was in March: There are now more than 31 million Level 2 surgical masks for front line workers in inventory in Toronto and additional contracts are in place, according to the city.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said Friday that provincial and federal medical experts are looking at whether the advice on masks needs to be updated.

The Star spoke to Toronto associate medical officer of health Dr. Vinita Dubey about whether residents should buy medical masks if they can.

What’s the difference between a medical mask and a surgical mask?

In general, a medical mask is the same as a surgical mask or procedural mask. Medical masks come in three grades. A Level 1 medical mask has different properties compared to a Level 3 medical mask, which is just under an N95 mask, for example. The Level 3 mask also protects against splashes, like splashes of blood, which is not necessarily something that we need for COVID. So usually when we talk about a medical mask, we’re talking about a Level 1 medical grade, which includes surgical and procedural masks.

How do people know that they are buying a proper surgical mask?

The best way is to check it against Health Canada’s list to see that it has been approved as a medical-grade mask.

Other countries are recommending medical masks in public. What is the current thinking at Toronto Public Health around medical masks?

I think it’s important to recognize that COVID has evolved and so has the evidence to protect against it. We follow the guidelines provincially and nationally. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends a three-layer mask (which can be a two-layer mask with a filter). That is where we’re at right now. We will certainly update our guidelines as the science recommends.

Dr. Eileen de Villa has always been clear about this: If you’re out in public and you pass someone on the street, you’re very unlikely to get COVID. Is the new variant so transmissible that you can get infected that way?

I don’t think we know for sure. What we know is that the U.K. variant for example is 30-50 per cent more transmissible. What does that mean? I don’t have any answers to that. But when you think about increased transmissibility, we have to think about all the ways in which the virus spreads.

So I guess it’s fair to say you’re still grappling with what that increased transmissibility means and how to protect against it?

Yes, I think the one thing that is clear though, is that the measures that we do have in place, let’s do those properly. How many times have we seen that mask under the nose? Even before we start talking about medical masks, lets talk about wearing masks properly. There was some evidence that three layer masks — two layers and filter — might provide similar type protection as a medical grade mask, and if that’s more comfortable, if you can get it to fit without gaps, you’ll keep it on for longer. Well, maybe that’s the better way to go. Compliance is actually a really important piece here, not just the mask.

Should the public wear N95 masks?

N95 is a very particular medical mask. You need to be fitted for it, to ensure that ambient air doesn’t get into the mask. They are actually quite difficult to wear, because they are not breathable the way a medical mask is. It’s not even recommended for everyone in the hospital. I only wear the N95 if it’s a code blue and I’m intubating someone for example.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2021/01/29/q-and-a-toronto-public-healths-latest-advice-on-masks.html



The spread of more contagious coronavirus variants in Canada amid already high levels of COVID-19 makes it a critical time to think about the masks we wear.

Whether that means finding better quality masks, doubling up on masks, or wearing them in settings we wouldn’t normally think to, experts say it’s time we step up our game.

The variants first identified in South Africa and the U.K are spreading in Canada, in some cases with no known link to travel, and have already led to devastating outbreaks in long-term care homes.

The variant discovered in the U.K., known as B117, is estimated to be at least 56 per cent more transmissible and potentially more deadly than the original coronavirus strain.

But even as COVID-19 case numbers show early signs of slowing down in Canada, experts say it’s becoming more important than ever to lower our risk of exposure as much as possible to prevent variants from taking hold here.

“The floodwaters are receding right now, but it’s still very, very dangerous,” said Erin Bromage, a biology professor and immunologist at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth who studies infectious diseases.

“If [B117] does pop up as the dominant variant here, we are going to need to really up our game in regards to masks, in regards to … how many contacts we have in a day, because it definitely appears to have an upper hand.”

‘Time to step it up’ with masks

Canada currently recommends the use of three-layer non-medical masks with a filter layer to prevent the spread of the virus, but has not updated its recommendations since November, before the emergence of new variants.

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, said that while three-layer non-medical masks are a good “minimum standard,” Canadians should opt for masks that offer better protection whenever possible.

Those include surgical masks, which are a step below N95s and KN95s and come in three different filtration levels determined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

“When I go to the grocery store now, I wear my very best mask,” said Linsey Marr, one of the top aerosol scientists in the world and an expert on the airborne transmission of viruses at Virginia Tech. “Before I was wearing an OK mask that was comfortable and easy.”

She said a cloth mask can “easily filter out half of particles, maybe more, but we’re at the point where we need better performance.”

Bromage said he changed his approach to masks several months ago when COVID-19 cases started to spike in many parts of North America. That’s when he ditched common cloth masks for surgical masks, he said.

Bromage said Level 3 ASTM surgical masks, those that are used at dental clinics, for example, offer both a better level of protection and a better quality fit.

“The most important part is you’ve got to make sure your breath actually goes through the material,” he said.

“You really should see the mask expand and then collapse and expand and collapse with each breath that you take. That’s a good indication that what you’re breathing is actually going through the material.”

Double-masking and other tips

Bromage said a tight-fitting mask is more important than ever due to the emergence of variants, which is why it’s becoming more common to see people wearing two masks at the same time.

“It’s not that double-masking provides extra protection if the mask was fitting well,” he said. “Double-masking helps the mask that is closest to your skin fit more snugly, meaning more air goes through that mask.”

If you’re already wearing a high-quality mask that fits well, with air going through the material rather than out the sides, Bromage said there’s really no extra benefit in throwing an extra mask on top.

He recommends looking at yourself in the mirror before you go out to make sure your mask isn’t too loose fitting, which could put you at heightened risk of exposure in situations such as in-store shopping.

“I really want people to look at them and think, is all the air going through the material? And if it’s not, work out a way to do that,” he said. “And that may be putting a second mask on or finding a different mask that fits their face.”

Outdoors not without risk

Coronavirus variants can also change the level of risk we face in situations that are typically more safe, such as being outdoors.

Places such as San Francisco and New Brunswick have mandated outdoor mask use, and Toronto recently announced it now requires face masks for outdoor activities such as skating.

“The risk is much lower outdoors than indoors, but with the new variants, we should be more careful outdoors as well as indoors,” said Marr.

“The times we need to be paying attention to it is if there are a lot of people around at a sporting event, or in a crowded park, or if you’re out walking or running and you’re passing by several people per minute, because all those little exposures can add up over time.”

Bromage said he wears a cloth mask or surgical mask with a lesser filtration level when in an isolated area outdoors, but gets concerned when he sees a group of people huddling together outdoors without moving around.

“The closer you are outdoors, the much more risky it is,” he said.

While not common, there have been cases of outdoor transmission of COVID-19 in Canada.

An outdoor 40-person barbecue at a park in Ottawa last summer led to 105 people being exposed and two testing positive, while a “heated conversation” in B.C. caused an infection.

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told CBC News there have been several outdoor transmission events between spectators “clustering and talking with each other” during soccer games, and during wedding receptions where groups of people crowded together under tents.

“Again it comes down to being in close contact, without a mask, talking loudly or sharing food and drinks that makes it risky even outside,” Henry said.

She said B.C. has not seen transmission from brief outdoor encounters, waiting in line outside or at outdoor picnics where people maintain a reasonable distance and wear masks when close for short periods of time.

Chagla said standing six-feet apart while wearing masks is a responsible way to interact with others outdoors.

“There are ways to do things outdoors safely, even in the context of the variant,” said Chagla. “You don’t want outside to be a free pass, but you also want to use it for what it is, to let people see each other and have contact with humanity, too.”


Bromage said that while the risk of exposure outdoors is less than indoors, the risk of both is higher due to the emergence of coronavirus variants.

“It’s really time that people think about upping their game just in general,” he said.

“Because if we are going to get a new wave from this variant, and it’s already going to build off a very high level of infection that we already have, we need to do better to keep it out of our lives.”

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/masks-coronavirus-variants-canada-1.5890893

By Adam Miller

This was such an amazing day, working together with some of the most caring people in the community. Thank you for your words of generosity.


As Ottawa’s COVID-19 infection rate continues to climb, the city’s medical officer of health is strongly suggesting residents wear masks outdoors at all times.

Dr. Vera Etches told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning on Wednesday the risk of community spread is higher than ever, and said people should wear masks outside their homes whenever they can.

“People should wear masks when they’re outside of their house as much as possible. It’s an added barrier. You don’t know if you’re going to come into close contact with someone or not,” Etches said.

Previously, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) advised people to wear masks outside in situations where physical distancing was difficult. Masks are required in indoor public areas including common areas of condos and apartment buildings.

While the risk of transmission outdoors remains lower, Etches said it’s still possible to contract COVID-19 from an infectious person.

“Outdoors is much safer than indoors, but if you are right beside someone, you could breathe in their respiratory secretions,” she said. “We’re in a situation now where we need to have stronger protections.”

Her comments come a day after she announced a maximum of 25 people at outdoor rinks and other outdoor recreation areas such as toboggan hills and ski trails.

People should still avoid crowded outdoor areas of all kinds, Etches said.

Virus survives better in winter

Earl Brown, an emeritus professor of virology at the University of Ottawa, said viruses like the one that causes COVID-19 tend to survive better in winter. That’s because the aerosols expelled by infectious people — and the virus that clings to them — tend to last longer in cool, dry air than in hot, humid conditions.

“When we’re walking downtown, it makes obvious sense that you want to wear your mask. You’re passing people,” Brown said.

The risk of transmission is further increased with the appearance of new strains of the virus, Brown said.

“I think it’s it’s just wise to suggest that we sort of double up on our precautions.”

Though key indicators show COVID-19 levels have been steadily rising for about two weeks, the numbers don’t yet fully reflect the potential impact of holiday gatherings, public health officials say.


By CBC News and Kimberley Molina


The World Health Organization is urging people to wear face masks and social distance this holiday season amid the novel coronavirus pandemic even if it feels “awkward” to do so.

In a statement released Wednesday, WHO Europe offered advice on how to navigate the holiday season as safely as possible while the virus continues to spread.

“It may feel awkward to wear masks and practice physical distancing when around friends and family, but doing so contributes significantly to ensuring that everyone remains safe and healthy,” the statement read.

The WHO said vulnerable people and elderly friends and family members “may find it very difficult to ask loved ones to stay away physically, regardless of the anxieties or concerns they may have.”

“Consider what others may be feeling and the difficult decisions they will be facing,” the statement said.

The WHO warned that indoor gatherings, even small ones, “can be especially risky because they bring together groups of people, young and old, from different households, who may not all be adhering to the same infection prevention measures.”

Gatherings should be held outside where possible, and attendees should wear masks and maintain physical distancing, according to the WHO.

“If held indoors, limiting group size and ensuring good ventilation to reduce exposure risk are key,” the statement read.

What has Health Canada said?

Health Canada has issued its own recommendations for the holidays, urging Canadians to follow the advice from their local public health authorities.

“Check your personal risk level and the risk level of your immediate household,” the agency’s website said. “Consider whether the activities you’re planning to take part in are safe. If you’re planning on going out during the holidays or for a celebration, plan lower-risk activities.”

The agency said all Canadians should “show kindness and respect to others by following public health measures.”

For months, Health Canada has urged Canadians to practice physical distancing, limit their number of contacts, wear a face mask and practice good hand hygiene in order to stem the transmission of the virus.

“For everyone’s wellbeing, help limit the spread of COVID-19 during holidays and celebrations,” the agency said.

In a previous interview with Global News, Dr. Timothy Sly, an epidemiologist and professor emeritus at Ryerson University’s School of Public Health said this will “not be a normal Christmas, by any stretch of the imagination,” adding that Canadians should embrace using video-chat software like Zoom or Skype to connect with their loved ones.

“I think most of the joy of this time of year is getting together with other people maybe you haven’t seen for a while,” he said. “But we’re going to see them in a two-dimensional screen.”

And, while this will be a holiday season unlike any other, one thing will remain the same.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, confirmed on Wednesday that Santa Claus is, in fact, an essential worker.

Source: https://globalnews.ca/news/7526910/who-face-mask-coronavirus-christmas/


SSE Cares is very happy to be able to support SickKids Foundation during this time of uncertainty.


Now that a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved in Canada and the first shots are set to be given, lots of you have questions about vaccines: If I’ve previously tested positive for COVID-19, should I still get vaccinated? Is the vaccine safe for pregnant women, children and people who are immunocompromised? Where can I find the ingredients list? Can I choose which vaccine to get? We talked to the experts to get you some answers.

Once someone is vaccinated, do they still have to wear a mask and physically distance?

Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University and an infectious disease physician in Hamilton, Ont., said yes, in the short-term, for two reasons.

The first is, during such a large immunization, not everyone will get vaccinated at the same time. Some will be vaccinated while others are still waiting and need to be protected by wearing masks, physical distancing, frequent hand-washing and other safety measures.

“Plus, it takes time for the immune response to actually build up and kick in,” Chagla said.

Given that the vaccines will be rolled out in a step-wise fashion starting with the most vulnerable populations, the health-care workers who serve them and then scaling up to the general public, Dr. Tasleem Nimjee, an emergency department physician in Toronto, suspects that we’ll see a parallel drawing back on public health measures such as wearing masks and staying apart.

“It’s not going to be a sort of, ‘Now we can all take off our masks,'” Nimjee said on The National’s virtual town hall, Confronting COVID.

Instead, shedding masks will likely be more gradual.

Can you still carry and spread the virus if you’ve been vaccinated?

That’s not something most of the clinical trials were designed to test, said Dr. Michael Gardam, a Toronto infectious disease physician who is currently the senior medical adviser for Health PEI.

In the recently published study on the clinical trial results for the AstraZeneca vaccine, the efficacy against asymptomatic infection was just 27 per cent — suggesting those vaccinated generally can still transmit the disease — but the number of cases was quite small to draw conclusions.

Moderna says it does plan to check if its vaccine prevents more than just symptomatic infection.

Gardam said because it’s something that still needs to be figured out, “for now, getting vaccinated does not automatically mean that you couldn’t potentially pass COVID-19 on to someone else.”

That’s another reason he expects we’ll be wearing masks for a while, he said.

Will those who have tested positive for COVID get the vaccine or will they be deemed to have immunity? Is there any danger if they do get the vaccine?

There’s not enough information yet to answer the first question, said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease doctor in Toronto and a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force.

“But my inkling,” he said, “is that they should be vaccinated.”

Bogoch said there have been reports of people getting reinfected with COVID-19 as soon as four months after recovering from their previous infection, and those are probably the tip of the iceberg. He said he expects most people who have recovered from COVID-19 will be eligible for vaccination.

As to whether getting the vaccine poses a risk to those who have been previously infected, Gardam said no, there is no danger.

He said vaccines are routinely given to people without testing if they have been exposed to the disease, because it’s logistically easier to just vaccinate everyone.

What if only half the population is vaccinated? How much of the population has to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity?

Herd immunity is the point at which the virus can’t find enough people to infect in order to continue the chain of infection.

Vaccinating half the population probably won’t be enough.

The percentage required to achieve herd immunity depends on how many people a single infected person spreads the disease to on average. For COVID-19, this is thought to be between two and three, so about 60 to 70 per cent of the population will need to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity.

In other words, if a vaccine is 100 per cent effective, then 60 to 70 per cent of the population would need to be vaccinated.

However, the COVID-19 vaccines have been less than 100 per cent effective in clinical trials, and may be even less so in the real world, said Dr. Zain Chagla of McMaster University. That’s because the trials didn’t include people with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, or transplant recipients, to name a couple examples.

So, how effective are the vaccines when they’re given to all kinds of people?

“That’s really what’s going to determine how long it takes to get to true herd immunity,” Chagla said.

Will the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines work for people on chemo or suffering from autoimmune diseases or taking an immunosuppressant drug? Will they be able to take these vaccines?

Bogoch said those conditions are all different, and it’s important for anyone who has them to talk to their doctor about their unique situation.

“But, in general, it’s very likely that those with an immunocompromised state will be eligible for this vaccine,” he said.

It’s possible that they won’t generate the same level of immunity as a healthy person, he said, “but some protection is better than nothing.”

Gardam said there may be concerns about giving a vaccine containing live viruses to an immunocompromised patient, but the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines contain only genetic material.

“There’s nothing live in that. So, typically, people who are immunocompromised can get vaccines like that.”

Could a person get a shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for their first dose and the Moderna vaccine for their second?

Right now, you can’t take shots of two different vaccines, Bogoch told CBC News Network.

“If you start with Moderna, you end with Moderna,” he said. “I doubt anything would happen if you mixed and matched, but it’s not going to happen. You shouldn’t be doing that.”

That’s because different vaccines haven’t been tested together yet. However, tests of combinations of different types of COVID-19 vaccines have been proposed for next year, so that could change in the future.

Can I choose one vaccine over another?

“I suspect we won’t have the luxury of doing that, at least in the early stages,” said Dr. Susy Hota, an infectious disease specialist at the University Health Network and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.

Quantities of the vaccine will be limited for now.

“We’ll probably have to get whatever’s available at that time,” she said.

Where can I find a list of ingredients for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine?

The ingredients are listed on Page 23 of the vaccine’s product monograph. A detailed article about them was recently published in the MIT Technology Review.

In general, you can find the ingredients list for vaccines in the Canadian Immunization Guide or the vaccine’s product monograph available through Health Canada’s Drug Product Database.

Do I still need to take the flu shot if I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Absolutely, Chagla says.

The reason is, the flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses and need different vaccines.

“The time is probably now to get your flu shot in,” Chagla said.

Will we need to take this vaccine yearly like the flu shot?

Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease physician at the University of Alberta, said we don’t have an answer yet because immune responses to the vaccines haven’t been studied long enough to know.


Gardam said there’s been a lot of discussion about whether vaccines to protect against COVID-19 will be needed each year.

“The only way we’re going to know that is by following people along over the next nine months to a year to see if they still have good immunity or not,” Gardam said.

I suffer from severe trypanophobia. Is there an oral or nasal COVID-19 vaccine in the works?

Trypanophobia is fear of medical procedures involving injections or needles. Those who suffer from it will be happy to know that a number of oral and nasal COVID-19 vaccines are in development. In fact, there are research groups in Canada working to develop both those kinds of vaccines, and the oral vaccine from Symvivo has begun clinical trials. There is also a nasal spray from Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy and Xiamen University that is in Phase 2 clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization’s tracker.

What constitutes a ‘history of serious allergic reactions?’ Once?

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic response by the body to a substance in a food, medicine or vaccine.

Chagla said people with anaphylaxis can get very short of breath and their blood pressure can drop.

The experience of a single episode that required epinephrine, such as from an EpiPen or other auto-injector, constitutes a “history of serious allergic reaction.”

Dr. Zainab Abdurrahman of McMaster University’s clinical immunology and allergy department said the U.K. regulators temporarily paused delivery of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine to people with a history of anaphylaxis after two adverse events occurred among health-care workers with such a history who carried auto-injectors.

Both received the vaccine and then experienced reactions that doctors and regulators call adverse events until any cause-and-effect relationships are sorted out. The two people were treated immediately and recovered without needing to be hospitalized.

“There’s a lot of different kinds of reactions and we need to clarify exactly what happened,” such as what components of the vaccine might be responsible, Abdurrahman said.

The adverse events could be coincidences that weren’t caused by the vaccinations. The events are under investigation and further guidance could come from regulators, Chagla said.

How many vaccines can our bodies tolerate?

Dr. Noni MacDonald, a professor of pediatrics at Dalhousie University who specializes in vaccine safety and communication, said she’s been getting this question for at least 25 years. Vaccines contain antigens — generally viruses, bacteria or parts of them — that trigger an immune response similar to those triggered by the microbes themselves.

“I think what people don’t know is how much we are bombarded by antigens … every day,” MacDonald said. Those include the microbes in your gut, in your food, in the air you breathe. “The amount of antigens that are in these vaccines is extraordinarily limited.”

And such small amounts are not going to overwhelm your immune system, she said.

And as Chagla points out, our bodies are programmed to deal with multiple pathogens and immune triggers at the same time.

“In everyday life, it’s not like every bacteria and virus takes a break because one other bacteria and virus has affected you. You can get a cold and then eat something that gives you food poisoning.”

In fact, infants receive a number of vaccines in a single product.

“We’re able to take multiple vaccines,” Chagla said.

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/covid-19-general-vaccine-faq-1.5838140

By Emily Chung, Amina Zafar


Because the leading vaccine makers don’t know yet if their vaccines will prevent transmission of the virus, infectious disease specialists said it’s important for people to continue to wear face masks and follow public health advice even after they’ve been immunized.

Dr. Rob Kozak, a clinical microbiologist at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto who helped isolate the SARS-CoV-2 virus in March, said health officials won’t be able to lessen restrictions until they can see the results of these mass immunizations campaigns.

“It’s going to take time for everybody to get vaccinated, not just in Canada, but across the world,” he said. “The masks probably aren’t going anywhere. I don’t think that we’re going to be back to normal by next April.”

Chagla said data released on Tuesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the Pfizer vaccine showed that it can take some time before a vaccine will be protective against the disease.

“You see some of the divergence between people who weren’t vaccinated and who were around day 20 to 28 after the first dose, so it does take some time, meaning you can get COVID the day after you get vaccinated,” he said.

Ostrowski said the length of time people will be required to wear masks will also depend on how quickly countries are able to vaccinate their populations.

“It’s going to take a while to vaccinate everyone, especially since these new vaccines are very difficult to both distribute and keep stable,” he said.

Although there are still many questions surrounding these vaccines, such as how they will be able to provide protection, if they prevent transmission, and how they affect different groups, Kozak said they are a great first step in the fight against COVID-19 and scientists will only continue to improve upon them.

“These vaccines are protective, they will work,” he said. “The question now is, can we continue to optimize them so they’ll become even better so that we potentially need fewer doses, or it protects against transmission, or it completely provides sterilizing immunity? These are the bigger questions, but once we have these first generation ones in place, that gives us a little more time to think about that kind of stuff.”

Source: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/this-is-why-you-will-still-need-to-wear-a-mask-after-being-vaccinated-1.5222206

By Jackie Dunham