While COVID-19 cases continue to fall in British Columbia, variants of concern continue to wreak havoc around the world.
Originally a variant of interest, B.1.617.2, now known as the Delta variant of concern under the World Health Organization's new naming system, surfaced in Canada earlier this year. In April, incoming passenger flights from India and Pakistan were banned in an effort to curb the spread of the highly transmissible strain.
But as cases of the Delta variant surge in other parts of the country, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in the daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday (June 3) that it isn't replacing other variants of concern in B.C.
The Delta variant isn't replacing the more common variants of concern in B.C., which are Alpha (B.1.1.7) and Gamma (P. 1). Henry noted that "those are still the more common that we are seeing. As we know, as cases are coming down, the numbers of each of these are decreasing."
Whole genome sequencing for COVID-19 variants in B.C.
Testing for variant strains has also changed in B.C. Previously, screening tests could not always differentiate between the Delta and Beta (B.1.351 ) strains, she said. "So we have gone now to doing whole genome sequencing on all of the new cases every day, so we can tell exactly what strains are circulating in our province."
The Delta variant has been transmitted in several clusters and there has been one outbreak in a care home that health officials are "watching very carefully."
"We've also learned that no matter what strain of the virus that we're seeing the measures that we take to reduce transmission are the same, and they work, and so far we've been watching very carefully the vaccine effectiveness, and having two doses of vaccine continues to be very effective against all of the strains that we're seeing in the province," she added.
"Obviously, we're going to be watching that very carefully, too."
Correction: The original version of this story included a quote from Dr. Bonnie Henry that stated that there were around 300 cases of the Delta variant. However, the BCCDC reports that there are 541.
With files from the Canadian Press.