Data shows hospitalization, death rates higher in non-vaccinated NWT residents

(Image retrieved from Pixabay)

The hospitalization rate for non-vaccinated NWT residents is four times higher than those vaccinated against COVID-19; the death rate is 3.5 times higher.

Those are some of the findings by the office of the chief public health officer, which has released new data related to the pandemic.

Last week, the territory reported its 20th death since the start of the pandemic. According to public health, this was a threshold to release additional data without compromising confidentiality.

“While presenting this data it is important to note that the CPHO recognizes that each death from a COVID-19 represents a significant loss to families, friends and communities in the NWT,” said Dr. Kami Kandola, the chief public health officer, in the release.

As of March 14, there have been 100 hospitalizations, 29 intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and 20 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Delta vs Omicron

The data released mainly compared the Delta and Omicron waves. The Delta variant was known to be associated with more severe health outcomes, while Omicron was more infectious but generally resulted in less severe health outcomes. That was reflected in the NWT’s data.

During the Delta wave, there were 57 hospitalizations, 18 ICU admissions and 12 deaths. Most significantly, the death rate was 8.7 times higher when comparing non-vaccinated to vaccinated individuals during this wave.

During the ongoing Omicron wave, there have been 38 hospitalizations, nine ICU admissions and eight deaths. These figures are since Dec. 22, 2021.

During this wave, the territory notes, “The hospitalization rate was similar between unvaccinated residents (9.1) and those who received two or more doses of vaccine (8.0). The number of deaths was too low to draw conclusions about vaccine effectiveness in preventing Omicron deaths in the NWT.”

This is despite there being about 6,000 more cases of Omicron than Delta.

Finally, public health says the Tłı̨chǫ, Sahtú and Yellowknife regions had a higher rate of severe outcomes during the Delta wave, while all regions had similar rates of severe outcomes during Omicron.
Some of the other information released includes:

  • Residents over 80 years old were at the highest risk, making up 45 per cent of hospitalizations during Delta and 47 per cent during Omicron
  • There were no deaths in residents under 30
  • There were no hospitalizations in residents between five and 14 years old
  • The death rate was 5.5 times higher in Delta cases compared to Omicron.

While the Omicron wave is still ongoing, the NWT has announced it will be removing all restrictions beginning in April.

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis was a reporter with CKLB from January 2019 to March 2023. In his time with CKLB, he had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures.