New variants of concern (VOCs) now account for 67% of all Ontario SARS-CoV-2 infections. Compared with early variants of SARS-CoV-2, VOCs are associated with a 63% increased risk of hospitalization, a 103% increased risk of intensive care unit (ICU) admission and a 56% increased risk of death due to COVID-19.
VOCs are having a substantial impact on Ontario’s healthcare system. On March 28, 2021, the daily number of new SARS-CoV-2 infections in Ontario reached the daily number of cases observed near the height of the second wave, at the start of the province-wide lockdown, on December 26, 2020.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is now 21% higher than at the start of the province-wide lockdown, while ICU occupancy is 28% higher (Figure 1). The percentage of COVID-19 patients in ICUs who are younger than 60 years is about 50% higher now than it was prior to the start of the province-wide lockdown