Data update: B.C.’s overdose crisis and pandemic by the numbers

Vancouver Coastal Health’s chief medical officer speaks to city council on both public health emergencies

Dr. Patricia Daly, the chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, spoke to Vancouver city council Thursday about the overdose crisis and pandemic | File photo Dan Toulgoet

The chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health used a series of charts and statistics Thursday to update Vancouver city council on the overdose death crisis and the pandemic.

Dr. Patricia Daly’s presentation, along with questions from councillors to her, Fire Chief Karen Fry and Deputy Police Chief Fiona Wilson, ran for two-and-a-half hours.

Glacier Media has compiled some of the statistics rolled out Thursday to provide some insight into both public health emergencies. The list below is based on data and comments from Daly, Fry and Wilson, along with Ministry of Health statistics.

Some quotes first…

Daly: “The vaccine is our ticket out of the pandemic.”

Fry: “Mental health continues to be a large stressor for our general public and our first responders who have continued to work through the overdose crisis as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Wilson: “The Vancouver Police Department certainly supports the notion of safe supply. We've been very open about that. In fact, I believe we were one of the first departments in the country to advocate for safe supply. It's the way that it’s rolled out that I think we need to have further discussion on.”

Overdose crisis:

• B.C. is on track to set a record for number of overdose deaths this year, with 1,204 recorded in the first seven months of the year; BC Coroners Service statistics show there were a total of 1,734 deaths for all of 2020, the most ever recorded.

• Overdose deaths were the fourth-leading cause of death in B.C. between March 2020 and July 2021, with deaths from COVID-19 ranking seventh; cancer, heart disease and stroke ranked in the top three. The number one cause of death for people aged 19 to 39 over the same period was overdose.

• Vancouver police data shows 298 people died of a suspected drug overdose in the city this year, with many dying in single-room-occupancy hotels and supportive housing. The data covers Jan. 1 to Sept. 5.

• Vancouver police officers administered the overdose-reversing drug Naloxone more than 100 times this year.

• Vancouver firefighters responded to more than 3,000 overdoses this year. The department’s community overdose response team referred 200 people who previously overdosed to support services.

• No one has died at an overdose prevention site in B.C.

Pandemic:

• The Vancouver Coastal Health region, which includes Vancouver, Richmond, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast and up to Bella Bella and Bella Coola, has the second lowest rate of active COVID-19 cases (686) of B.C.’s five health regions; Island Health is lowest at 504, as of Thursday.

• 2% of people tested in Vancouver Coastal Health end up being positive for COVID-19.

• The Vancouver Coastal Health region has a vaccination rate of 88.7%.

• Portugal has the highest rate of vaccine coverage in the world, with 98% of eligible people over 12 years old fully vaccinated; more than 83% of B.C. residents 12 and over are fully vaccinated.

• An estimated 500,000 people in B.C. over 12 years old and eligible for vaccination have not received a first dose. Same goes for another 500,000 kids aged 12 and under.

• The Vancouver Coastal Health region has an estimated 90,000 post-secondary students and staff. Since the start of the school year, Dr. Daly said, the authority has identified “about 120 cases [of COVID-19] amongst that cohort of people — and less than five transmissions have occurred in the post-secondary setting.”

• 67% of young people in Vancouver reported their mental health has worsened during the pandemic, according to a survey conducted by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

• Respondents to the survey who self-identified as Black or Chinese reported increased discrimination during the pandemic.

• A total of 533 people have died of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

mhowell@glaciermedia.ca

@Howellings