Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam looks at a giant screen showing data during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Third wave would have killed more people in Canada without vaccines: Tam

OTTAWA — Canada’s chief public health officer says without vaccines the third wave of COVID-19 in Canada would have been much deadlier.

Dr. Theresa Tam says as vaccines began to roll out among the most vulnerable, older populations in Canada, she was “quite struck” by how quickly infections and deaths plummeted in that age group.

In January, when the second wave of COVID-19 peaked in Canada, more than 4,000 Canadians over the age of 80 died from it.

In April, when the third wave peaked and most Canadians over 80 had at least one dose of vaccine, the number of deaths in that age group fell to 498.

Tam is thrilled with the current pace of vaccinations in Canada but says with the Delta variant appearing in more places, immunization targets need to be higher.

She says higher vaccination rates among adults are particularly important since children under 12 are not yet eligible for vaccines.