COVID-19: Henry confident in extended vaccine window as B.C. reports 438 new cases, 2 deaths

COVID-19: Henry confident in extended vaccine window as B.C. reports 438 new cases, 2 deaths
Province of BC
WatchB.C.'s top doctor was forced to defend her decision to extend the allowable window to four months on Tuesday. April Lawrence explains.
There are 438 new cases and two new deaths due to COVID-19 since B.C. health officials' last update on Monday.

There are 438 new cases and two new deaths due to COVID-19 since B.C. health officials’ last update on Monday.

The number of confirmed cases in B.C. climbs to 81,367 while the province’s death toll now stands at 1,365.

Of the new cases, 137 were recorded in Vancouver Coastal Health, 249 were in Fraser Health, 19 in Island Health, 16 in Interior Health, and 17 in Northern Health.

There are currently 4,679 active cases in the province, 243 people in hospital — 63 of whom are in intensive care. There are 8,445 people under active public health monitoring, Henry said.

Overall, 75,255 people have recovered from the disease. There are eight active outbreaks in long-term care homes and eight in acute care settings across B.C.

Today’s numbers were announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix during a media briefing.

Henry clarified at the start of the briefing that due to a data error being resolved, there had been an additional 254 cases that needed to be counted over the last week. These cases were include in the overall number of 81,367 cases province-wide.


There are 330 active cases on Vancouver Island, according to the latest data on the BCCDC’s website.

A total of 732 tests for the deadly virus have been performed in the region in the past 24 hours.

Island Health, meanwhile, has identified 291 active cases on Vancouver Island in its update on Tuesday. There are 44 active cases in the South Island, 170 are in Central Island, and 77 are in the North Island.

The health authority’s data often lags behind the BCCDC’s data due to a “difference in timing of reporting across laboratory and public health data sources.”

Since the pandemic began, the Island Health region has recorded 2,423 cases and 26 deaths, and 2,065 recoveries.


Henry addressed a growing controversy surrounding the province’s decision to extend the permissible window between first and second doses to four months.

The decision was called a “basically population-level experiment” by Mona Nemer, Canada’s chief science adviser, in an interiew on CBC’s Power & Politics.

Nemer said data gathered by Moderna and Pfizer was based on doses being three or four weeks — not months — apart.

“I think it’s really important that we stick with the data and with the great science that give us these fantastic vaccines, and not tinker with it,” she said.

Many have also pointed to comments made by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease official, that stated he did not recommend extending doses past several weeks.

“I think you have to read the entirety of what he said, and it was that he did not recommend the extension of doses in the United States because they had sufficient vaccine,” Henry said Tuesday.

She said the province is in a critical spot as transmission continues in a “serious way,” with a limited number of vaccines available.

“That is why we made the decision that we did, and it is a little bit unfortunate that the national science adviser, who obviously was not involved in some of these discussions and decision-making and perhaps didn’t understand the context that this decision was made in,” she said.

Henry said the province and BCCDC have been closely following similar vaccination timelines in the U.K. She said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, an independent body, would also issue a statement in support of the decision.

“This new data that we have been following very carefully…shows that we have sustained high levels of protection against illness, hospitalization and deaths from one dose of the three approved and effective vaccines.”

Henry also addressed questions as to whether the general public would have a choice in what vaccine they are given.

As part of the vaccine rollout plan revealed Monday, Henry mentioned that with the AstraZeneca vaccine newly approved, essential workers may have the choice to opt to receive it sooner than waiting for a dose of Pfizer or Moderna.

But she said the same choice would not be available to the public.

“Let me be very clear, the vaccine you are offered is the best vaccine,” she said. “All of the vaccines we have available for use in Canada are safe and effective and a single dose provides good protection from all of them, and we will be continuing to monitor that.”

Henry also addressed whether the public could see any easing of health restrictions as immunization plans move forward.

“If things go well, if we’re able to even hold or line or even, preferably, decrease it…by the time we get to early April we may see some limited ability to increase interactions,” she said, but cautioned it’s more likely to be summer before some restrictions are eased.

British Columbia has opted to delay administering second doses of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines by 16 weeks. (CHEK News)


The live update comes a day after health officials announced 1,478 new cases of COVID-19 reported in British Columbia over the weekend with 88 cases connected with the Island Health region.

Also on Monday, health officials, joined by Premier John Horgan – provided further details about the province’s mass immunization rollout.

It was revealed that through the end of April, under Phase 2 of the plan, there are more than 415,000 people set to receive their vaccinations. They include:

  • Seniors over 80
  • Indigenous people over 65
  • Any remaining medical staff and specialists not immunized
  • Vulnerable people in close quarters
  • Those who work in senior community home support and nursing

The province has been operating under the Phase 1 plan over winter, with the most at-risk and vulnerable populations receiving vaccine doses to date. Now, its attention is turning to members of the general population over the age of 80 before moving on to the rest of the public.

Mass vaccinations will begin in the latter half of March, with a call-in system being launched March 8 for those targeted in Phase 2. Seniors and Indigenous people in the following age ranges can call in on specific dates to book their appointments:

  • March 8, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1931 (90 years+)/Indigenous peoples born in or
    before 1956 (65 years+)
  • March 15, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1936 (85 years+)
  • March 22, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years+)

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Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

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