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Ontario on track for Step 2 of reopening with daily vaccinations on steady pace

Last Updated Jun 15, 2021 at 2:06 pm EDT

A patron drinks a beverage at a patio in the Byward Market in Ottawa on Saturday, June 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Vaccinations are up and COVID-19 cases continue to drop.

It’s been the story in Ontario for several weeks now as well over 9 million people have received one dose of a vaccine and roughly 65 per cent of the population. As of Tuesday’s update, that accounts for approximately 75 per cent of adults in the province with one dose.

With Ontario approaching one week into Step 1 of its reopening plan, it will be worth monitoring how the easing of certain restrictions impacts daily COVID-19 case counts in the coming weeks.

The good news rests in the province – and science – encouraging outdoor gatherings and patio dining. With warmer weather upon us, data has shown that while there is still a risk of COVID-19 transmission outdoors, it remains low compared to other settings.

Coupled with an accelerated vaccine rollout and more appointments being booked for second shots in COVID-19 hotspots – Ontario opened accelerated second dose bookings to individuals who received the first dose of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine on or before May 9 – the province is on track to reach Step 2 by July 2; perhaps earlier if the positive trends continue.


Before Step 2 can begin, 70 per cent of Ontario adults need to have received at least one dose, and 20 per cent need to have received both doses. The aforementioned data shows that the province has already surpassed the first vaccination threshold and is on pace to reach 80 per cent by early July.

Reopening Snapshot:

In terms of full vaccinated Ontarians, the province says just over two million people are inoculated against the virus, accounting for just under 14 per cent of the population and slightly over 16 per cent of adults.

Based on current daily vaccinations, which are now over 180,000 vaccines administered daily, the percentage of fully vaccinated Ontarians has gone up just about one per cent per day. That means the 20 per cent, fully vaccinated threshold could be met as early as the week of June 21.

With Pfizer shipments keeping steady through this month and into July, along with more Moderna doses on the way, it’s entirely possible Ontario will have 20 per cent of the population double vaccinated in time for the start of Step 2.

In Ontario’s latest round of modelling released on June 10, health officials pointed to second-dose vaccinations as a solution in controlling and limiting the spread of the Delta variant.

“To help avoid a fourth wave, we need to continue to ensure first and second doses in high-risk communities,” said Dr. Steini Brown on Thursday.

“We need to make sure our vaccine efforts are tailored to community needs and we need to ensure the core public health functions and strong contact tracing.”

The Delta variant – more than 50 per cent transmissible than the Alpha B.1.1.7. strain first detected in the U.K. –  is considered the predominant strain in Peel Region and will soon be in the province.

Health officials say the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is less effective in protecting against the Delta variant, hence the urge for second doses, which adds 50 per cent effectiveness with residents fully protected.

It’s worth looking at Toronto’s progress, a known COVID-19 hotspot. The city announced Tuesday that as of yesterday evening, 20 per cent of residents 18 and older have received a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. To date, 2,707,340 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Toronto.

“This helps us qualify to move to Step 2 of reopening,” said Mayor John Tory. “Thanks to everyone on #TeamToronto, we’re making great strides in getting Torontonians fully vaccinated.”

With vaccinations on the upswing, the COVID-19 picture in the city has become much improved.

While Step 3 is over a month away, it’s not hard envisioning what circumstances will look like if the rate of daily vaccinations continues to exceed 130,000.

On Tuesday, the province announced that 45.7 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17 have received a first dose of a vaccine with officials saying the goal is to have educators and students receive both doses by September.

If 21 days after the beginning of Step 2 public health trends continue to head in the right direction – and 70 to 80 per cent of adults have received their first dose with 25 per cent of adults have received their second dose – the province will enter Step 3.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself proclaimed in early May a one-dose summer will set up the country for a one-dose fall.

Ontario’s Premier later doubled down on that, saying if provinces get the needed supply, “we will work our backs off to have a two-dose summer, instead of a one-dose summer.”

The way things are shaping up, Doug Ford just may be right, after all.

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