New BrunswickN.B. should reveal COVID case numbers among those vaccinated, experts sayAs provinces in Canada begin to share data on the number of vaccinated people who test positive for COVID-19, experts say New Brunswick should do the same.
Nova Scotia, Alberta already reporting numbers of vaccinated people who test positive for COVID-19
Some provinces are starting to share data on the number of COVID-19 cases among vaccinated people, and experts say New Brunswick should follow suit.
Alberta and Nova Scotia are two provinces that have started regularly updating the public on what are being called "breakthrough cases," which include people who've tested positive for the disease two weeks after either their first or second dose of vaccine.
New Brunswick is tracking those cases, but doesn't share the data with the public.
Bruce Macfarlane, a spokesperson for the Department of Health, said in an email that due to the province's comparatively small number of cases, coupled with the small proportion of the population being fully immunized, it is difficult to ensure the data is representative of actual trends.
But Caroline Colijn, professor of mathematics at Simon Fraser University, who does models to help forecast COVID-19 case trends, said as long as patient privacy is maintained, breakthrough cases of COVID-19 should be made public.
"I think there are benefits to doing it, absolutely, because I think these are complex questions," Colijn said.
"The pandemic affects the whole of society. We need as many researchers thinking about it with diverse perspectives and diverse points of view."
Colijn said vaccines are what will likely put an end to the pandemic, but being open about breakthrough cases will help keep everyone informed about how well vaccines are performing.
"It's a new virus facing new kinds of selection and new population, and we need to be on the lookout for changes to that scenario."
"And we need to be developing the planning and the right picture of how the virus is changing potentially and what it's doing and in order to do that, we need the information," she said.
Last Friday Nova Scotia began sharing its data on breakthrough cases, so far revealing that 94.6 per cent of its COVID-19 cases were in unvaccinated people, 4.8 per cent in partially vaccinated people and 0.6 per cent in fully vaccinated people.
Once a week, Nova Scotia is reporting 'breakthrough cases,' when a person is COVID-positive two weeks after receiving either one or two doses of vaccine. 2:01
Dr. Krishana Sankar, a science advisor for Science Upfirst, an anti-misinformation initiative, said it's always good for health officials to be transparent about the data they collect on COVID-19, and it's good to let people know you can still get the virus after being vaccinated.
"But what's important to know is that you're actually significantly reducing your risk of becoming severely ill, having to go to the hospital or dying."
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