Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, February 12, 2021


There have been 817,163 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 21,088 deaths and 37,747 active cases across the country. Disease activity continues to decline nationally, with an average of close to 3,350 new cases reported daily over the past week. Severe illness outcomes are also on a steady decline. Over the past week, an average of under 3,050 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day, including 688 in critical care, and 82 deaths were reported each day. 

These past weeks have been very challenging, but we’ve made great progress and are now almost two thirds the way down this curve. We can all gather strength from the fact that our collective Canadian effort got us here and that we have some strong tools, in the form of COVID-19 vaccines, to light our way to a brighter future. But, we’ll need to keep putting the breaks on the spread of new virus variants of concern in Canada. There are now eight provinces reporting more than 429 B.1.1.7 variants, 28 B.1.351 variants and 1 P.1 variant (first found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, respectively). At least three of these provinces are reporting evidence of community spread and variants have been linked to outbreaks in various settings.  

To tackle this latest hurdle, we need to keep doing what we’ve been doing, but with even more diligence to counter these more contagious variants. This means keeping up individual public health practices at all times to limit the spread of the virus, protect people and populations at highest risk, and allow time for vaccine programs to expand to protect all Canadians.

We continue to make progress on the vaccine front. To date, almost 1.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada. Based on data up to February 6, over half (55.4%) of prioritised healthcare workers, over 31% of adults in the territories and 11.6% of elderly adults over 80 years of age having received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Federal, provincial and territorial authorities are working closely together to monitor vaccine safety. As of February 5th, there have been 651 reports of adverse events following immunization to date; these include any medical event that occurs following immunization, but isn’t necessarily related to the vaccine or the immunization process. 99 of these report to date – about 1 in 11,000 doses administered – were considered serious, such as a severe allergic reaction. All adverse events are subject to review. All serious events undergo a detailed investigation to determine whether or not they are related to the use of the vaccine. Information that indicates a potential link between the use of a vaccine and a previously unknown health event, or a health event with incomplete information, is considered a safety signal, which warrants appropriate action from the regulator. To date, no unexpected vaccine safety issues have been identified.

Today is the Lunar New Year. During COVID-19, as with all our celebrations, keeping everyone safer means we need to limit in-person interactions to our immediate household. To maintain our important social connections with extended family, friends and our community, reach out with virtual celebrations – where there are no limitations on how many or how far we can reach! 

Read my backgrounder to access COVID-19 Information and Resources, including information on vaccination and ways to reduce your risk of infection and spreading the virus to others.

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