B.C.’s top doctor says COVID-19 hospitalizations have peaked

B.C.'s top doctor says COVID-19 hospitalizations have peaked
Province of BC

More people are in hospital with COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic, but B.C.’s top doctor says hospitalizations have likely peaked and are expected to fall in the weeks ahead.

“It does look like we are at our peak of hospitalizations, and this is where we would expect to be given the modelling that we’ve been using to help us understand the trajectory,” Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said during a press conference Tuesday where she unveiled new hospitalization data.

As of Jan. 31, there were 1,048 people in hospital with COVID-19 across the province, which is the highest at any point throughout the pandemic and comes following a massive surge of new infections in December and January.

“Hospitalizations are what we call a lagging indicator, it takes time and we have very high levels of transmission in the community for some time now and we have seen this translate into hospitalizations,” Henry said.

B.C.’s top doctor unveiled new government new data showing that Omicron appears to have hospitalized more people but Delta was more lethal over a two-month period.

“It’s very clear that as we have progressed into January, Omicron has been the cause related to hospitalization … overtaking Delta,” said Henry.

According to that data, there were 1,194 individuals hospitalized with the Omicron variant and 511 hospitalized with the Delta variant between Nov. 28, 2021 and Jan. 28, 2022.

Of those who were admitted to hospital with the Omicron variant during that period, 23.4 per cent were unvaccinated, 13.1 per cent required critical care and 6.5 per cent died. Out of the 346 patients who were admitted with the Delta variant, 67.7 per cent were unvaccinated, 37.5 per cent required critical care and 14.2 per cent died.

One notable stat, 30.9 per cent of patients admitted with Omicron were 80 or older compared to just 13.7 patients 80 or older who were admitted with Delta during the same period.

The data also showed that 56 per cent of people hospitalized since Dec. 1 were admitted because they had COVID-19, compared to 44 per cent who were admitted to hospital for something else and had either no or mild symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19

Henry explained that the data shows that people over 80 remain at the highest risk.

“This is something we’ve seen all along, whether they are vaccinated or not. We also know that people over age 80 are much more likely to have underlying illnesses which may be the reason why they are admitted to hospital and could be screened for COVID,” she said.

When broken down by variant, Henry said people were primarily being admitted to hospital if they had Delta compared to those with Omicron and that a higher percentage of those with Delta, required critical care.

“That is telling us that as Omicron has spread in the communities we are more likely to pick it up when people are admitted to hospital for other reasons and those other reasons are what keep them in hospital,” she said.

Henry said vaccination rates across age groups have “made the difference” in ensuring that hospitals were not completely overwhelmed in December and January.

An earlier version of this story appears below

British Columbia’s health officials are scheduled to provide a live COVID-19 update, regarding the current landscape in the province, on Tuesday afternoon.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix will host a live press conference, which is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PT. A live stream will be available on this web page as well as the CHEK+ app.

Coming off the weekend, British Columbia health officials reported 4,075 new COVID-19 cases, including 575 in Island Health, and 19 new deaths.

Of the new deaths recorded over the past 72 hours, three were in Island Health.

New data from the province shows that fully vaccinated people accounted for 74 per cent of all cases recorded between Jan. 14 and Jan. 27, while unvaccinated people — a much smaller portion of the population — accounted for 21 per cent of all new cases recorded during the same period.

In the two weeks ending January 27th, more than 69 per cent of people admitted to hospital had been fully vaccinated.

According to the BCCDC’s dashboard, there are 117 people in Island Health that are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, nine of whom are in critical care.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the Island Health region has had 27,884 reported cases, 1,076 hospitalizations, and 171 deaths.

Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!