The COVID Brief: Supply of children's meds to hit pharmacy, store shelves

November 21, 2022
The COVID Brief

Your resource for the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada and around the world. Check your email for trusted reporting, fact-checking and updates on the science and socioeconomic impact of the pandemic.

By the numbers
(as of 1 p.m. EST Monday, November 21, 2022)

The Outbreak

4,392,747 cases
47,468 deaths

638,174,273 cases
6,621,283 deaths

Current Hospitalizations

4,907 hospitalizations,
 256 ICU admissions


93,756,996 doses given
83.1% one dose
80.4% at least two doses

12,970,000,000 doses given
68.4% one dose
62.9% at least two doses

5+ population in Canada:
86.9% one dose
84.3% at least two doses

Map shows hospitalizations in Canada.


Here's what's been happening in Canada

Supply of children's meds to hit pharmacy, store shelves

Starting this week, more than one million bottles of children's pain and fever medication will arrive in Canada, according to an update from the federal government on Nov. 18. Products in the newly procured supply include liquid ibuprofen and acetaminophen for kids. Drug shortages involving children's medication started in the spring. Now, the problem extends beyond just medicine for children, as hundreds of other medications are either running low or completely out of stock in Canada. For more stories on drug shortages, click below:

Drug shortages worsen across Canada, extend beyond kids' pain and fever meds
MPs demand answers from feds over kids' med shortage, call for stocking up



Amid a 'multi-demic,' when should children go to the ER?

Pediatric hospitals and clinics across the country are buckling under a surge of patients, as COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) continue to spread. Amid this "multi-demic," some parents may be wondering at what point they should bring their child to an emergency room, if at all. Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, shares her advice. For more articles on the spread of respiratory illnesses among children, click below:

Booking doctors' appointments 'a nightmare' as parents struggle with long wait times
Canadian Paediatric Society urges families to get flu vaccine for entire household

Snapshot across Canada

The number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations reported across the country is on a steady decline, based on data collected by In Ontario, public health officials reported 1,390 patients in hospital with COVID-19 on Nov. 17. Exactly one week prior, the province logged 1,722 COVID-19-related hospitalizations. Residents of Quebec are also seeing a drop in the number of hospital patients with COVID-19 week-over-week, with 1,601 hospitalizations reported on Nov. 21, not including ICU admissions.

However, western provinces such as British Columbia and Alberta are seeing hospitalizations rise yet again. According to data released by B.C. health officials on Nov. 17, COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the province exceeded 300 for the first time in about a month. Meanwhile, in Alberta, the number of COVID-19 patients in provincial hospitals rose to 1,141 on Nov. 16. This comes as pediatric hospitals in both provinces remain overwhelmed with sick children, resulting in postponed surgeries and wait times of up to 17 hours.

The largest children's hospital in Atlantic Canada is also seeing "historic levels" of sick children. Dr. Andrew Lynk, chief of pediatrics at IWK Health Centre in Nova Scotia, said the hospital has recently seen as many as 200 sick kids in the span of 24 hours. For a closer look at how the provinces and territories are doing, as well as average daily cases in the U.S., check out our interactive COVID-19 tracking map. Click below for more coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada:

Ontario's top doctor goes against own advice while maskless at Toronto party
'A perfect storm': New Brunswick acting Chief Medical Officer talks health situation in New Brunswick
What are the symptoms of long COVID? Canadians suffering share their experiences

The latest headlines

In research, reports, and data

Two new studies based on decades of research reveal a link between protecting wildlife and preventing the spread of animal pathogens, similar to the one believed to have caused COVID-19. While studying fruit bats, Australian researchers discovered that when the animals had plenty of food and natural habitats to live in, there was significantly less risk of viral shedding. For more headlines on vaccines, therapeutics, and related research, click below:

Risk of heart inflammation higher with Moderna vaccine: study
Can a tiger catch COVID-19? Database of susceptible animals grows

Around the world

The weekly average of new COVID-19 cases reported worldwide is starting to rise again, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The globe is also seeing an uptick in the number of COVID-19-related deaths recorded week-over-week. Health authorities in China reported the country's first death from COVID-19 in nearly six months on Nov. 20. This comes as strict new measures are being imposed across the country to prevent new outbreaks. The Chinese city of Guangzhou, for example, locked down its most populous district on Nov. 21. Residents of the Baiyun district are now required to present a negative COVID-19 test if they want to leave their homes. Days before, photos and videos on social media showed residents of Guangzhou's Haizhu district revolting against lockdown measures there.

Additionally, some of the latest Omicron sub-variants to emerge continue to spread across the United States. Based on the latest estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sub-variants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 make up nearly half of the COVID-19 cases reported during the week ending Nov. 19. While there is no evidence that the new sub-variants are linked to more severe infection compared to Omicron BA.4 or BA.5, some experts have warned they may be better at evading immunity. For a more detailed breakdown of how COVID-19 is spreading across the world, take a look at our Global Tracker. Click below for more international stories related to COVID-19: 

Hong Kong leader Lee isolating with COVID-19 after APEC trip
Trudeau pledges cash for infrastructure and making vaccines in developing countries

One last thing…

According to Canada's FluWatch report for the week ending Nov. 12, the country is now officially in the midst of a flu epidemic. Influenza activity has surpassed the seasonal threshold, the report states, and most surveillance indicators are above levels considered typical for this time of year.

The number of positive RSV tests logged in Canada continues to climb as well, in addition to the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

Infectious disease experts are calling on Canadians to pick up their masks again in an effort to curb the transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses currently overwhelming hospitals. Health officials on both the federal and provincial levels have also recommended that Canadians wear masks indoors. Despite this, several jurisdictions in Canada have stopped short of issuing a mask mandate.

Health experts point to a number of hurdles that may stand in the way of a return to masking in Canada, such as pandemic fatigue and a desire to participate in festive holiday gatherings.

My colleague, Olivia Bowden, has put together a regional breakdown of where provinces and territories currently stand on mask mandates, and whether there are any plans to reinstate them. Read the entire story here.

Thank you as always for reading,
Jennifer Ferreira, producer

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