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Infectious Diseases

Variants of Concern and Mutations of Interest (VOC/MOI)

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Summary

  • The B.1.1.7 variant of concern (VOC), first detected in the United Kingdom in the fall of 2020, is the most common (VOC) identified in Simcoe Muskoka. As of May 18, 2021 there are a total of 4,206 variant cases (B.1.1.7, P.1, B.1.351, B.1.617 and Mutations of Interest (MOI)/screened positive cases).
  • As of May 18, 2021, there are 10 active COVID-19 outbreaks that have known variant cases.
  • The 7-day moving average of new VOC/screened positive cases has more than quadrupled from 15 cases per day in early March 2021 to over 80 cases per day by late April; however, this appears to be trending down below 50 cases per day by mid-May (Note: not including the most recent days due to reporting delays).
  • Over 90% of COVID-19 cases screened for variants and reported in the last week (May 9th) are positive for a variant (i.e. positive screen or confirmed VOC).
  • The emerging B.1.617 variant has been classified as a VOC by the Public Health Agency of Canada.  Public Health Ontario is currently screening for this variant and other variants of concern in a subset of positive COVID-19 specimens for surveillance purposes.
  • Estimates suggest that the B.1.1.7 variant is 36% to 75% more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain. The P.1 and B.1.351 variants are also associated with increased transmissibility. (Public Health Ontario. Interim Guidance for Infection Prevention and Control of SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern for Health Care Settings. February 2021).
  • Compared with early variants of COVID, VOCs are associated with a 63% increased risk of hospitalization, a 103% increased risk of intensive care unit (ICU) admission and a 56% increased risk of death due to COVID-19. (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. COVID-19: Variants of Concern. April 20, 2021).
  • For outbreaks in which 1 or more cases have been laboratory confirmed to have a VOC, there is a higher degree of certainty that other cases in the outbreaks will also have the VOC.
  • Effective February 3, Public Health Ontario (PHO) and the Provincial Diagnostic Laboratory Network began screening all new positive COVID-19 specimens for known VOCs, to rapidly identify and mitigate against spread of VOCs in Ontario.Prior to February 3, not all specimens were tested for the variant and therefore the reported number of COVID-19 cases with a VOC in Simcoe Muskoka and elsewhere in the province are an underestimate.
    • Variant testing is a two-step process with the screening occurring first, followed by whole genome sequencing (WGS) upon positive screening results. Delays in reporting of up to 10 days are possible for the initial screening, while WGS can take between 3 and 6 weeks depending on volume and laboratory capacity.
  • Emerging VOCs have mutations in the virus genome that alter the characteristics and cause the virus to act differently in ways that are significant to public health. It’s important to understand that genetic mutations are expected, and some variants can spread and become predominant while others subside. Information on VOCs, including B.1.1.7 and others, can be accessed here.
  • Public health measures needed to help address the variant are the same as those in place right now. Visit SMDHU’s website for ‘Stop the Spread’ information as well as Public Health Ontario’s Evidence Brief on Public Health Measures Required for Rapid Control of Variants of Concern.
  • Visit Public Health Ontario’s website for additional information about the different types of VOCs

Variant Outbreaks with Variants of Concern Cases and/or Positive Screen Cases, Simcoe Muskoka

Variant Outbreaks with Variants of Concern Cases and/or Positive Screen Cases Declared by Week, Simcoe County and Muskoka District

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Variant of Concern Cases and/or Positive Screen Cases by Type of Case, Simcoe County and Muskoka District

7 Day Rolling Average of New COVID-19 Cases with a Variant of Concern (VOC) or a Screened Positive Result, Simcoe Muskoka

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Percent Positivity for Cases screened for Variants

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Technical Notes and Definitions

Please see Technical Notes and Definitions here.

Page Last Modified: May 18, 2021