COVID projections for SK paint a grim picture


COVID projections for Saskatchewan show ICUs in the province will continue to be overwhelmed and have to function above sustainable levels well into 2022. The data was presented in what is being described as an emotional teleconference by Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab.


Reporters on the call say Dr. Shahab became emotional and broke down into tears at one point, needing to take a moment to collect himself. One reporter used a follow up question to ask Dr. Shahab if he was okay.


ICU Projections Modeling Scenarios (Source SHA)

The presentation projects the results of five different scenarios based on various health interventions. Of note, the scenarios model any new restrictions to start on October 15, 5 days earlier than the data was shared with the public.


Scenario 1

The worst case scenario involves no change to current restrictions and no booster shots for older people. In this case ICUs will continue to be overwhelmed with close to over 300 people requiring critical care by April 2022. At that point levels will slowly decline with the numbers never below 200 well until the timeline projection at the end of May. The province announced a booster shot program for individuals over 65 years old. It is widely expected the province will lower the age of eligibility over time.


Scenario 2

Scenario 2 is the province's current situation. Demand for ICU beds will continue to grow beyond the current unsustainable level of 82. ICU demand is expected to peak in early January at around 230, declining to a sustainable level in early March.


Scenario 3 and 5

Scenario 3 and 5 compare using current restrictions, boosters for 60+ and "mixing reductions" for 14 or 28 days. Mask mandate and proof of vaccine requirements would remain in place. According to the presentation a mixing reduction involves:

  • Further reduction in how much people are in contact with each other (not a lockdown)

  • Could include a combination of: private and public gathering limits, capacity limits and work from home

A 28-day mixing reduction projects the best results. In this scenario, the number of people in ICU will start to drop in a matter of a few days - below our current unsustainable situation. Even in this "best case" scenario, the number of people in ICU doesn't reach a sustainable level until early February.


With a 14-day mixing reduction, ICU admissions follow a similar pattern as a 28 day reduction; however, the post Christmas bump will be higher, peaking at around 100. A sustainable level is projected to be reached at the end, or beginning of March.


Scenario 4

Scenario 4 is a 28-day mixing reduction, boosters for 60+ age group and a return to "normal" after the 28-day period - which could mean no mask mandate and no proof of vaccine required. In this scenario, the ICU census drops quickly but will start to rise sharply again at the beginning of December. Scenario 4 peaks at around 175 in early February and only becomes sustainable around May.


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