With just under 4.4 million people, Alberta is the Western Canada province covering vast terrain from mountains and prairies to desert badlands and seemingly endless coniferous forests. With about 1.4 million residents, Calgary represents the urban hub, abutting the Rocky Mountains to the west. Canada represents one of the most COVID-19 protected places on the North American continent, with about 80% of the entire population fully vaccinated. The province of Alberta’s vaccination rate surpasses the national average: of those individuals age 12 and above, 86.1% of the population is fully vaccinated (two doses), yet the province is now ravaged by both the delta and omicron variants of COVID-19. The data indicate widespread transmission and infection of SARS-CoV-2 regardless of vaccination status. The vaccinated are hospitalized at higher rates than before, as the great majority of hospitalized now fall in that category. Of course, this partially can be explained by the fact that the great majority of the population is vaccinated. Yet, the sheer volume of people hospitalized despite full vaccinated status should be of concern. When delving into the actual hospitalization and ICU data the unvaccinated still face higher risks for hospitalization and associated ICU admission. The fatality rate in both Alberta and Canada hovers at about 1%. Noteworthy, while hospitalization due to COVID-19 is rare in Alberta (4% of total) and very rare with children, it does occur with SARS-CoV-2, and when it does it’s with the unvaccinated in Alberta. Moreover, surprisingly, those children that end up hospitalized overwhelmingly don’t have comorbidities. This may impact the risk-benefits analysis associated with decisions to vaccinate the younger cohorts.
First, despite heavy vaccination rates across Canada (booster rate now over 40% as well) new SARS-CoV-2 cases have skyrocketed across Alberta. With a 36.38% positivity rate, a record number of daily cases have been reported in this latest infectious surge which started right before Christmas. Currently, Alberta’s government reports 37,468 active SARS-CoV-2 cases, 3,566 deaths, and 1,516 current hospitalizations. On Jan. 31, the province’s health agency reported a record number of COVID-19-related deaths in one day at 35. But what about the hospitalization rates? If this was purely a pandemic of the unvaccinated the great majority of hospitalizations would be unvaccinated persons.
Before delving into more granular infection and hospitalization data it should be noted that overall COVID-19 hospitalization is rare. For example, with 37,468 total active cases reported by the government right now, only 1,516 are hospitalized, which is about 4% of the total current cases.
Over the entire pandemic, deaths are rare with a rate double that of the flu, approximately 494,000 total cases, and 3,566 deaths leading to a fatality rate of about 1%. The nationwide fatality rate is comparable.Subscribe to the Trialsitenews “SARS-CoV-2” ChannelNo spam – we promise
What does the government report?
New Case Rates by Vaccination Status
|New Cases||3 doses||444||25.2%|
|New Cases||2 doses||769||43.74%|
|New Cases||1 dose||78||4.44%|
Clearly, it would appear that the triple dose booster affords some protection, as the infection rate at 25.2% of all new cases is lower than the 769 (43.74%) figures for those fully vaccinated with two doses. Few people have one dose, so that explains the lower number. There are fewer unvaccinated, and according to official Alberta statistics this cohort represents 26.56% of new cases. The clear takeaway is that even if fully boosted there is a 25% chance of getting infected based on these figures. Also, what was considered “full vaccinated” (e.g., two doses) isn’t so anymore in the real world of outcomes.
But what about Active cases?
Active Case Rates by Vaccination Status
|Active Cases||3 doses||8,705||23.23%|
|Active Cases||2 doses||19,693||52.56%|
|Active Cases||1 dose||1,877||5.01%|
Noteworthy are the substantial numbers totaling 52.56% of all active infections associated with the “fully vaxxed” category of two doses. The unvaccinated represent only 19.2% of all active infections. Of course, TrialSite can attest this becomes the reality in ever more places we review as there are less vaccinated persons. Yet what is clear is that the vaccines are not stopping transmission, and any ethical and moral mandate presupposes the vaccine stops the pathogen from spreading. This is clearly not the case.
On to hospitalization. These figures should show in the hospitalization rates.
Current Hospitalization Rates by Vaccination Status
|Currently Hospitalized||3 doses||357||23.55%|
|Currently Hospitalized||2 doses||637||42.02%|
|Currently Hospitalized||1 dose||73||4.82%|
Just over 70% of those individuals hospitalized right now in Alberta are either booster (3 doses); fully vaxxed (2 doses) or partially vaxxed (1 dose) while 29.62% are unvaccinated. Yes, there are far fewer unvaccinated persons indicating typically a higher proportion of that cohort finds trouble with SARS-CoV-2 infections. Yet the data trend here is undeniable: the fully vaccinated, even the boosted are hospitalized far more than the unvaccinated.
What follows is a comprehensive chart of COVID-19 cases over the past 120 days in the province by vaccine status and pre-existing condition.
|Age Group||Total Number||% Of total||3 dose Condition||3 dose No Condition||2 dose Condition||2 dose No Condition||Unvaxxed Condition||Unvaxxed No Cond.|
First, we note that those with preexisting conditions fare worse overall than those that have no conditions—meaning they end up in the hospital at higher rates although there are some exceptions, most notably with young people. Conditions include respiratory diseases, diabetes, stroke, dementia, cardiovascular disease, liver diseases, renal diseases, cancer, and immune-deficiency disorders.
Out of the entire population of hospitalized cases over the last 120 days, children aged 5 and under only represent 3% of the total hospitalized with 226 cases. Of those hospitalized, small unvaccinated children with no condition represent 89.8% of the total—a clear indication that albeit rare, risks are present with children of a young age and COVID-19. This raises the specter of ensuring parents understand the proper risk-benefit analysis associated with pediatric COVID-19 vaccination. The numbers were surprising, however. TrialSite will probe other data sources in other regions to determine if this is a trend.
Hospitalization due to SARS-CoV-2 is far more distributed among age cohorts than many might expect. Clearly, the older ages introduce more risk with the delta and omicron variants, and those risks are distributed far more equitably.
What about ICU past 120 days?
|Age Group||Total Number||3 doses # %||2 doses # %||Unvaccinated # %|
|Under 5||32||0||0||32 100%|
|12-29||69||1 1.4%||11 15.9%||53 76.8%|
|30-39||88||0||14 15.9%||72 81.8%|
|40-49||149||2 1.3%||19 12.8%||122 81.9%|
|50-59||232||11 4.7%||37 15.9%||180 77.6%|
|60-69||275||9 3.3%||66 24%||188 68.4%|
|70-79||197||17 8.6%||54 27.4%||118 59.9%|
|80+||37||7 18.9%||13 35.1%||17 45.9%|
What’s the takeaway? Clearly, those who are unvaccinated face significantly higher risks of entering the ICU should they fall in the relatively rare category of hospitalization first (4%) and then, of course, ICU (under 1%). TrialSite suggests that social determinants of health are a factor as well as overall health condition which is greatly influenced by social factors, may be at play as well, given the unvaccinated cohorts often associate with certain socioeconomic factors. Also, vaccine side effects/serious adverse event risks must be mentioned. Any vaccination should look at risk-benefit analysis of the induvial and situation. Young children face little overall risk of serious infection and that must be accounted for as well as looking at adverse events. The mRNA-based vaccines, most commonly used in North America, are associated with cardiovascular problems (e.g., myocarditis), for example. While a rare occurrence, they do happen. Moreover, TrialSite suggests there are some data points that indicate the number of events are suppressed due to the politics of mass vaccination—this is, however, difficult to prove.
A TrialSite Message
The data here confirms many assumptions and includes some surprises. Regardless of the risk to the unvaccinated raised by SARS-CoV-2, blaming the unvaccinated for the pandemic is not only incredibly ignorant but also grossly negligent and even dangerous, and is evidence of the ongoing politicization of this pandemic. This type of behavior conjures up medieval European practices seen during the horrific plague and some of the horrid prejudice and bias existing then. Have we learned anything? The concept of transparency, compassion, and empathy remains central to improving public health and to educating the public about health and biomedical research. From continuous education as to how to improve health generally (physician movement, healthy eating, and lifestyle) to properly adhering to medication prescriptions when necessary to a more grounded and honest assessment of vaccine quality, the hope is that governments, health systems, and civil society can learn from this ongoing crisis. During the pandemic, health authorities in the USA, for example, imposed a top-down structure disrupting the age-old localized physician-to-patient care model, including the intervention of various early care movements. These efforts at early care with existing, approved medications were not driven by quacks and incompetents but rather by established, accomplished physicians and licensed caregivers. In healthcare, the physician or health provider-to-patient bond is the most sacred, and attempts to federalize those relationships through control and power levers only serves to create more overall distrust in government and the public health apparatus.