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The most recent weekly official statistics show a continuing decline in new COVID infections after the massive August through December seasonal surge.
As illustrated in our updated composite chart, COVID viral counts in Ontario’s municipal wastewater peaked at historically high levels around January 1 and then began to recede at roughly the same rate as they had risen. Note that the shaded zone represents predictions rather than hard data. PCR test positivity rates mostly reflect that decline. That said, Canadian COVID hospitalization and ICU bed occupancy rates have yet to reflect that decline. In fact, if Ontario is any indication, the actual recent numbers may be worse than those official statistics suggest. Ever more tardy reporting has resulted in significant retroactive revisions upward of the most recent weeks of data due to the arrival of late reports.
Another reason to be cautious in letting our respective guards down comes from the more independent COVID-19 Resources Canada whose current estimate of the number of Ontarians currently having active COVID infections and therefore being infectious remains one in 12.
Turning to the current mix of COVID variants, the new JN.1 (non-XBB) family of Omicron variants has consolidated its utter dominance. In the US, it now accounts for more than 93% of all new cases. The current Centres for Disease Control estimates show that all competing strains have been in sharp decline these past 6 weeks, with all but two accounting for only a fraction of one percent of new cases. Slightly less up-to-date Public Health Canada data shows essentially the same picture here, but also indicates that JN.1 is itself spawning new subvariants. While JN.1 itself remains dominant, it is followed by JN1.4 with 13% of new cases, JN1.1 at 7% and JN1.2 at 5%. There’s even a cousin strain, JN.2, at 3%. It remains to be seen how long before JN.1 is outcompeted by one of its progeny.