On a day when the federal government approved two versions of a new COVID-19 vaccine, comes a jarring spike in new cases in B.C.

Earlier today, the feds announced the approval of two versions of a new COVID-19 vaccine – the viral vector vaccine produced by Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Verity-Serum Institute of India vaccine. 

The province says that, unlike the vaccines that have been available to date, this new, two-dose vaccine has the benefit of being ‘fridge stable,’ making it much easier to transport and distribute around B.C..

It will be integrated into B.C.’s immunization program as delivery and supply is confirmed in the coming weeks. 

“The additional supply will allow us to look at accelerating immunization of priority populations and essential workers,” provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a written statement.

“This is another exciting and encouraging step forward for all of us. It means we have one more layer of protection available to us and are one step closer to getting through this pandemic.

“Let’s celebrate this milestone and also continue to do our part to keep our communities and our loved ones safe.”

Meanwhile, the province reported 589 new ones on Friday – that’s nearly 200 more than the 395 announced on Thursday.

From Thursday to Friday, there were 31 new cases on Vancouver Island, 157 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 317 in Fraser Health, 39 in Interior Health, and 45 in Northern Health.

There have been seven new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,355 deaths in B.C. since the start of the pandemic.

There are 4,665 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 8,040 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. A further 73,188 people who tested positive have recovered.

Of the active cases across B.C., 232 people are in the hospital with COVID-19, 63 of whom are in intensive care. 

To date, 252,373 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 73,808 of which are second doses. 

Immunization data is available here.

Jump in cases on north Vancouver Island

Earlier this week, Island Health posted that the number of COVID-19 cases in north Vancouver Island had more than doubled in just three days. 

These increases are linked to known cases, clusters and larger, more frequent social gatherings.