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5,300 Moderna vaccines will go to First Nations communities starting this week – CBC.ca

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Thousands of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to First Nations communities around Manitoba, starting as soon as this week, the provincial government announced Thursday.

The province expects a shipment of 7,300 Moderna vaccine doses to arrive this week, 5,300 of which will be immediately available to First Nations.

“I think it brings some hope, really, to all of us that we’re going to get through this soon, rather than later,” said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs organization (SCO).

Over the last couple of weeks, a team of First Nations health experts has collaborated with the provincial vaccine implementation task force to identify priority communities and populations to receive the first doses.

The team includes representatives from SCO, as well as the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakinak (MKO) and Indigenous health researchers from the University of Manitoba. 

“We are pleased at the partnership and spirit of collaboration that has developed and will continue as the delicate decisions around the deployment of this vaccine are made,” Dr. Barry Lavallee, health lead for MKO and CEO of Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin, said in a news release.

Melanie MacKinnon, the head of Ongomiizwin at the U of M and a member of the First Nations advisory team, told CBC News that more details about the distribution of the vaccine — including which communities would get priority access — would be announced this weekend.

Daniels said the emphasis will be on isolated communities, such as Little Grand Rapids, Poplar River and Pauingassi in the south, as well people in long-term care homes, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

Health workers get priority

Arlen Dumas, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said front-line health workers will get first priority. 

“It’s going to go primarily to all of the people on the ground, the front-line workers, the people who will be giving the vaccine,” he said.

Although the province launched its vaccination program on Dec. 16 with the arrival of the first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the storage requirements for it meant that remote and northern communities had to wait for the Moderna vaccine, which can be transported more easily.

The provincial government says it has committed to making planes available to take the vaccine to priority locations. 

First Nations hit hard

In an interview with CBC News on Tuesday, Lavallee said Manitoba could alleviate pressure on the province’s health system by prioritizing Indigenous people, which make up a disproportionate number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions.

First Nations currently make up a third of those in hospital with COVID-19 and more than 40 per cent of intensive care unit patients. Out of Manitoba’s 63 First Nations, 54 have had COVID-19 cases. 

Lavallee also said it was the work of First Nations health scholars, as well as pressure from First Nations leaders that convinced the provincial government to invite Indigenous experts to the table. 

The province says it is prioritizing health-care workers and elder-care facilities in First Nations communities, as well as offering joint training for First Nations immunization teams, access to its best practices and guiding documents and collaborating on an immunization promotional campaign.

A dedicated vaccination site will also open in Thompson to serve northern and remote communities, including First Nations. This will allow the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be shipped north, along with the Moderna vaccine.

By the end of March, Manitoba is set to receive a per-capita allotment of 228,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, as well as an extra 9,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine dedicated to First Nations.

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GameStop’s volatile rally smashes Wall St price targets – Aljazeera.com

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The video game retailer’s stock surged as much as 145 percent to $159.18 on Monday, triggering at least nine trading halts.

To see how far GameStop Corp. has outrun anyone’s ability to render sensible analysis, consider what its current dizzying rally has done to Wall Street’s best guesses of its value.

Now perched close to $75 a share, hoisted by a short squeeze ignited and arguably organized in chat rooms, the game retailer’s stock is about $60 above the average forecast of equity handicappers tracked by Bloomberg. The ratio between the two is by far the biggest in the Russell 3000 and jumped for a third day, as crazed trading capped a stretch in which the 37-year-old company burned bears who had shorted 139% of its shares.

It’s happening in a stock that before 2020 had fallen six straight years as earnings shrunk, and which isn’t projected to turn a profit before fiscal 2023. While fundamentals may one day matter again, GameStop has now become the latest show of force by newbie day traders in a market that seems more like their plaything each day.

The stock surged as much as 145% to $159.18 on Monday, at one point triggering at least nine trading halts. It briefly turned negative before bouncing back to trade up 22% to $79.56 at 2 p.m. in New York. The shares have advanced more than 320% since the start of the year.

“It doesn’t make business sense,” said Doug Clinton, co-founder of Loup Ventures. “It makes sense from an investor psychology standpoint. I think there’s a tendency where there is heavy retail interest for those types of traders to think about stocks differently than institutional investors in terms of what they’re willing to pay.”

Right now, they’re willing to pay 471% more than what analysts consider reasonable, on average. While perhaps fairly priced relative to its annual sales of about $5.2 billion in the 12 months through October, those sales are down 40% in just two years. The company is expected to report a per-share loss in both fiscal 2021 and 2022. To get a price-earnings multiple it’s necessary to look two years into the future, where the P/E is around 58.

Bears have seen more than $6.1 billion mark-to-market losses this year, according to financial analytics firm S3 Partners.

While Wall Street may have no clue what GameStop shares are worth, it does have ideas on what the company should do with them: sell.

“GameStop can issue equity and should sell stock to pay down debt,” said Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst Michael Pachter, who had a price target of $16 for GameStop as of Jan. 11. Doing so would involve “minimal dilution at these levels” and provide protection against an economic downturn. “They should do as much as the market will absorb,” he said.

Separately, Telsey Advisory Group analyst Joseph Feldman double-downgraded the stock to underperform from outperform on Monday, removing GameStop’s only buy-or-equivalent recommendation.

Bullish Options

Whatever the future holds, the recent past has been a bonanza for anyone who dared own the stock — or, even better, bullish options. Calls expiring Jan. 29 with a strike price of $115 were the most-traded GameStop contract early Monday. Other similar wagers had correspondingly heady gains as contracts once seen as long-shot upward bets suddenly were in the money.

At investment research firm Hedgeye, analysts advised clients to not go short the stock, despite removing it from their “best idea long list” to reanalyze fundamentals. “Wouldn’t dare do that given the positive catalysts we think will be coming down the pike as the year progresses” with a very bullish calendar on the horizon, Brian McGough and Jeremy McLean wrote.

GameStop “has become a cult stock because of Ryan Cohen’s success with Chewy,” Wedbush’s Pachter said, referring to the activist investor and co-founder of online pet retailer Chewy Inc., who joined GameStop’s board this month. “I cannot discount Mr. Cohen’s past successes and don’t know what he has in mind going forward, but I need to see their strategy before I give them credit for materially higher earnings power.”

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Canadian provinces push back vaccination plans as Pfizer deliveries grind to a halt – Canada News – Castanet.net

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Some Canadian health-care workers are being told they’ll have to wait longer to receive their first doses of COVID-19 vaccines as deliveries from a major manufacturer grind to a temporary halt.

Canada is not expected to receive any Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines this week as the company revamps its operations, and deliveries are expected to be slow for the next few weeks.

Ontario announced today that it was pausing COVID-19 vaccinations of long-term care staff and essential caregivers so that it can focus on giving the shots to all nursing home residents.

Several provinces have used up nearly all their vaccine supply and have been forced to push back their vaccination schedules.

Saskatchewan announced Sunday that it had exhausted all the doses it has received so far, while Quebec has used up more than 90 per cent of its supply.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the delay is only temporary and that Canada is expected to receive 4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of March.

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Merck Gives Up on Coronavirus Vaccines – The Motley Fool

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Pharmaceutical giant Merck (NYSE:MRK) officially threw in the towel on its efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The company said it’s discontinuing the development of two candidates, V590 and V591, after a review of results from phase 1 studies indicated that they were unlikely to provide adequate protection against the coronavirus. It will instead focus its COVID-19 research and production capabilities on two therapeutic drugs for the disease.

Merck had hinted at a conference last month that the efficacy rates of Moderna‘s mRNA vaccine and the one developed by collaboration partners Pfizer and BioNTech were better than it had expected, and set a high bar for its efforts. As it turned out, V590 and V591 produced immune responses that were inferior not only to those produced by other vaccines, but to those seen in patients who have recovered from COVID-19 infections.

Syringe and torn paper with "Coronavirus" written on it.

Image source: Getty Images.

Merck is the second-largest vaccine seller in the world, but had hesitated to develop one for COVID-19, falling months behind in the race. Eventually, it launched programs to develop single-dose vaccine candidates based on proven technology, one using the viral vector Merck uses in its approved Ebola vaccine, and one from a company it acquired last year in the hope of getting multiple shots on the COVID-19 goal. Instead, Merck will take a non-cash charge to its fourth-quarter earnings for the programs.

However, the pharma company still has high hopes for two COVID-19 treatment candidates. MK-7110 is an anti-inflammatory drug that appears to reduce the risk of death or respiratory failure in moderately to severely ill COVID-19 patients by as much as 50%. Phase 3 trial results for it are expected in the first quarter. Molnupiravir (MK-4482) is an oral antiviral being evaluated in trials that are expected to be complete in May. If successful, that drug could compete with Gilead‘s remdesivir, which faces some skepticism over its efficacy.

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