The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Quebec is expected to continue to decline over the next two weeks, a government health-care research institute projected Wednesday.
By the end of the month, the number of people in Quebec hospitals with COVID-19 should drop by about 500, to 1,500 patients, according to the Institut national d’excellence en santé et services sociaux. There should be about half the number of intensive care patients by that time, or about 60, it added.
“For all of Quebec, the projections suggest a slight decrease in new hospitalizations,” INESSS said in a news release, adding that it expected the number of new hospitalizations to reach around 90 per day within the next two weeks.
The research institute said its projections should be interpreted with caution as it cannot forecast the effect of changes to COVID-19 restrictions. Quebec reopened gyms and spas on Monday, shortly after lifting restrictions on private gatherings and limits on the number of people who can dine together at restaurants.
A separate health-care research institute said Wednesday that preliminary results from a vaccine study indicate three doses of COVID-19 vaccine offer more protection compared with two doses against severe and mild forms of the disease caused by the Omicron variant.
“The effectiveness is highest against serious COVID-19 infections — those that lead to hospitalizations,” the Institut national de santé publique du Quebec said in a news release. “This efficacy is around 80 per cent after two doses and 90 per cent after three doses.”
Lead author Dr. Gaston De Serres said the effectiveness of two doses of vaccine against hospitalizations caused by the Delta variant was above 90 per cent last fall. But protection dropped to around 80 per cent against hospitalizations since the arrival of the Omicron mutation, he added.
“Moving down from 90 per cent to 80 per cent is not enormous, but it means that you double the number of hospitalized cases who are vaccinated,” De Serres said in an interview Wednesday. “If you get a third dose, then you go back to this level of protection that we had against hospitalization (because of) Delta.”
The study also found that three doses increased vaccine effectiveness against mild infections that did not require hospitalization to 80 per cent. Two doses offered the same kind of protection against Omicron of about 45 per cent, the authors said.
The study, conducted between Dec. 26, 2021, and Feb. 5, 2022, was composed of more than 100,000 Quebec adults who visited COVID-19 testing centres but who were not hospitalized and around 25,000 people who were hospitalized with the disease.
Meanwhile, Quebec’s health department reported 24 additional deaths linked to COVID-19 Wednesday. It said there were 1,995 patients with COVID-19, the first time since Jan. 6 there were fewer than 2,000 people in Quebec hospitals with the disease. Officials said 129 people were in intensive care, a decline of three from the day before.
© 2022 The Canadian Press