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6 new cases of coronavirus, 5 more recoveries in London-Middlesex – Globalnews.ca

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Six more people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in London-Middlesex, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) reported Saturday.

This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in the area to 555.

The number of recoveries increased by five on Saturday and now sits at 408 — about 73.5 per cent of cases.

The number of deaths remains at 56.


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The MLHU says all six new cases are from London, where 518 of the region’s cases have been reported — about 93 per cent — while 20 cases have been reported in Strathroy-Caradoc and seven Middlesex Centre.

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Elsewhere, four cases each have been reported in North Middlesex and Thames Centre, and one each has been reported in Lucan Biddulph and Southwest Middlesex.

The health unit says the COVID-19 assessment centre at the Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre has swabbed 8,011 clients, and the assessment centre at Oakridge Arena has swabbed 4,762 as of Saturday.

Health officials say the number of active outbreaks in London and Middlesex dropped to three on Friday after three other outbreaks were declared over the day before.

Outbreaks remain active at Kensington Village, Sisters of St. Joseph and Chelsey Park Retirement Community. They were declared April 3, April 17 and May 30, respectively.

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At least 19 of the 24 outbreaks that have been declared locally during the pandemic have involved seniors’ facilities.


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Local senior homes, which includes both long-term care and retirement homes, have seen 169 cases of COVID-19. This includes 104 residents and 65 staff. Additionally, 36 people have died.

In terms of total case count, the most severe of the three outbreaks has been at Sisters of St. Joseph, where at least 25 cases have been reported involving 13 residents and 12 staff members.

Of those, three residents and one staff member have died.






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At least 457 outbreaks have been reported at seniors’ homes across the province since mid-January, according to Public Health Ontario.

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The number of hospitalized patients in the city declined by one to eight as of midnight Friday, according to the most recent update from London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).

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The figure is a combination of cases at University and Victoria hospitals. It’s not clear whether any patients are in intensive care.


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LHSC announced Friday that it would stop releasing an updated number of positive cases among staff members unless the tally increased by five or greater. The organization said it was to protect staff privacy.

In its update on Wednesday, LHSC said there had been at least 42 staff cases reported during the pandemic.

At least 18 staff members with St. Joseph’s Health Care have tested positive. It’s not clear how many cases remain active.

At least 410 hospital workers across Ontario have tested positive for the virus since mid-January, while 393 residents/patients have also been infected, according to Public Health Ontario.

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Ontario

Provincially, Ontario reported 455 new cases of the novel coronavirus Saturday morning, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 30,202.

Of the new cases, 68 were included due to a reporting delay, meaning 387 cases have been confirmed since the last report.

The death toll rose by 35, bringing the total fatalities to 2,407.

A total of 23,947 cases are considered resolved, which makes up 79.3 per cent of all confirmed cases.

Nationally, Canada has reported 95,001 of COVID-19, 7,773 deaths and 52,932 recoveries.

Elgin and Oxford

No new cases or deaths were reported Saturday in the region, and the total number of recoveries rose by two.

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Officials with Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) say there are now 68 recoveries, the total number of confirmed cases remains at 75, and no new deaths have been reported since April 22.


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Officials say an outbreak at Secord Trails that has left at least eight staff sickened remains active as of Saturday. The long-term care facility in Ingersoll has seen an active outbreak since May 18.

Of the three cases that remain active in the region, one is in Oxford County in Tillsonburg, while two remain active in Elgin County, both in St. Thomas.

As of Saturday, 5,738 tests had been conducted in Elgin and Oxford counties, of which 580 remained pending results.






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Huron and Perth

As of Saturday, no new cases, deaths or recoveries were reported.

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At least 54 cases have been reported in the region, of which 46 have recovered and five have died. No new deaths have been reported in the region since April 29.

The last new case to be reported by health officials was on Wednesday. Before that, a case was reported on Monday.


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Three active cases remain in the region, including two in St. Marys — both reported earlier this week — and one in Stratford.

The number of active outbreaks remains at zero. A total of seven have been declared, involving 27 cases.

All but seven of those cases were reported at Greenwood Court in Stratford. An outbreak there saw six residents and 10 staff members test positive, and four people die. It was declared over May 11.

Twenty-six cases have been reported in Stratford, while 13 have been reported in Huron County and 11 in Perth County.


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Four cases have been in St. Marys, including the region’s first two.

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The health unit said 3,829 tests had been administered in Huron and Perth as of Friday. Of those, 124 were awaiting test results.

Sarnia and Lambton

Six more people have recovered from the novel coronavirus and no new cases or deaths were reported as of late Friday, according to Lambton Public Health (LPH).

This brings the total number of recoveries to 223. The total number of confirmed cases remains at 267 and the death count at 24.

LPH says one outbreak remains active — at Vision Nursing Home in Sarnia, where 26 residents and 25 staff members have tested positive for the virus. Nine residents have since died.

Still-positive residents from the home have been moved to Bluewater Health hospital to keep the outbreak from spreading.






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The hospital says it’s treating 11 COVID-19 patients as of Saturday, one fewer than the day before, along with 21 who are suspected positive or are awaiting tests, five fewer than the day before.

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According to the health unit, 40 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in the county have been outbreak-related and 35 per cent are related to close contact.

As of late Friday, LPH said 7,861 test results had been received by health officials. It’s not clear how many cases are still pending.

— With files from Global News’ Ryan Rocca and Matthew Trevithick

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Coronavirus vaccine: ICMR aims to launch COVAXIN by August 15 – Moneycontrol

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This is as per a letter written as internal communication by ICMR to Bharat Biotech asking for fast-tracking of the indigenous vaccine with an aim to launch by August 15.

Representative Image (Source: Reuters)

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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Thursday said that it aims to launch the Coronavirus vaccine being developed in partnership with Hydereabad-based Bharat Biotech for public health use by August 15.

This is as per a letter written as internal communication by ICMR to Bharat Biotech asking for fast-tracking of the indigenous vaccine with an aim to launch by August 15.

“It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by 15th August 2020 after completion of all clinical trials. BBIL is working expeditiously to meet the target, however, final outcome will depend on the cooperation of all clinical trial sites involved in this project,” the letter says.

PM Modi had recently held a high-level meeting to take stock on the indigenous vaccine efforts.

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Bharat Biotech, the company to whom the letter is addressed, has refused to comment on the matter.

ICMR sources confirm authenticity of the letter but say it was meant for internal communication.

Moneycontrol couldn’t independently verify the letter.

The indigenous vaccine being developed in India is one of the top-priority projects which is being monitored at the top-most level of the government, the statement further read. 

“You have been chosen as a clinical trial site of the BBV152 COVID Vaccine. In view of the public health emergency due to COVID-19 pandemic and urgency to launch the vaccine, you are strictly advised to fast track all approvals related to the initiation of the clinical trial and ensure that the subject enrollment is initiated no later than 7th July 2020,” ICMR’s statement read.

India has over 6 lakh reported cases of coronavirus with over 19,000 deaths until July 2.

First Published on Jul 3, 2020 08:26 am

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What social science says about convincing people to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic – CBC.ca

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Mandating, not just recommending, the use of non-medical masks will help convince more Canadians to wear them as the economy reopens, just as wearing seatbelts is now the norm, some social scientists and physicians say.

In Canada’s largest city, wearing non-medical masks is now mandatory for people riding with the Toronto Transit Commission, with certain exemptions, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. A bylaw extending the rule to indoor public spaces goes into effect on July 7. Similarly, mayors in Peel Region, which includes Mississauga and Brampton, west of Toronto, and York Region to the north also plan to introduce such bylaws.

In Quebec, Premier François Legault announced that public transit users in the province will be required to wear masks starting on July 13.

Governments are passing laws that require the wearing of masks, but they’re difficult to enforce. That’s why behavioural scientists say it’s so important for the public to get on board with many health authorities who now consider face coverings a necessity.

Kim Lavoie, a professor of psychology in behavioural medicine at the University of Quebec at Montreal, is among the experts calling for governments in Canada to consult social scientists on preventive measures like wearing masks as lockdowns lift in the absence of vaccines or effective treatments for COVID-19.

“Wearing a mask is something we control. Washing our hands, staying home, skipping that party are all things we control,” Lavoie said.

“People forget that the virus isn’t more powerful than our collective will to get rid of it, and there are things we can do. But right now, they’re behavioural.”

Many aspects of the pandemic are beyond our control. Wearing a mask isn’t one of them, experts say. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Dr. David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said masks could help more people get back to business and “regular life.”

“We think it’s sort of low-hanging fruit and a no-brainer,” Fisman said.

Why? Layering on masks on top of hand hygiene, avoiding touching your face and physical distancing helps reduce transmission in small case reports, observational studies and a preliminary model.

“Me wearing a mask protects you. If I have COVID, you wearing a mask also protects you from breathing in my virus,” Fisman said.

While Fisman called Canada “a country of rule followers,” there are people who oppose mandating masks, saying it impinges on individual rights and freedoms.

But with COVID-19, one person’s behaviour affects the next person — the basis for secondhand smoke laws.

“It’s no more [an infringement] than asking you to wear a seatbelt,” Lavoie said. “You’re not free to drink yourself under the table and then get behind the wheel. If you don’t have a PCR test at your house to test yourself negative, then you have to consider the possibility that you might be infected and not know it and be putting us all at risk.”

Protecting yourself a major motivator

Lavoie is one of the researchers behind a large study called iCARE (International assessment of COVID-19-related attitudes, concerns, responses and impacts). Together with collaborators from Johns Hopkins University’s project on cases and Oxford’s policy tracker, they’re regularly surveying Canadians and people around the world on how they feel about and adhere to policies.

The goal of the research is to disentangle what motivates people of different ages and socioeconomic backgrounds to change their behaviour to inform health-care policy and messaging.

Awareness, motivation and confidence are important to changing behaviour, says Kim Lavoie, a professor of psychology in behavioural medicine at the University of Quebec at Montreal. (Submitted by Kim Lavoie)

Based on 50,000 responses since the end of March, Lavoie said the findings to this point suggest that concern about getting infected with the virus is a major motivator.

“One thing people don’t realize is how contagious it is,” she said.

Most people recover at home, but people of all ages have also been severely sickened, some for months, says the Public Health Agency of Canada. Patients say long-term symptoms and consequences such as heart damage are coming to the fore.

An urgent need

While making mask wearing the norm would help prevent transmission, Fisman said mixed messaging and “dithering” by Ontario’s government have hindered mask use from becoming commonplace.

“Once the signal comes from our public health leaders that this is the expectation and this is how we’re going to move forward, I think people will fall in line pretty fast,” he said.

A woman wears a protective face mask as she waits to enter a bank in downtown Vancouver on June 2. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Wearing masks could be considered a behaviour that needs to be adopted urgently and collectively, Lavoie said.

She pointed to how behavioural change boils down to three factors:

  • Awareness of the need to wear masks.
  • Motivation, such as protecting yourself, loved ones or neighbours who may be vulnerable to serious complications.
  • Confidence in the ability to execute the behaviour.

Cost can be a barrier. That’s why Alberta’s government is distributing 20 million non-medical masks at drive-thru restaurants.

Shift from self-consciousness to the norm

Mitsutoshi Horii, a professor of sociology at Chaucer College in Canterbury, England, studied the uptake of masks in Japan during the 1918 flu pandemic. The practice continues in Japan during flu and hay fever season, as well as during COVID-19.

Horii said when the 1918 flu pandemic hit, the Japanese government prohibited traditional folk rituals around health as part of its efforts to promote modernization and to avoid colonization.

“Then the mask came in and that gave people a sense of direction. When you’re facing uncertainty, you want to do something. By doing something, we establish a sense of control,” he said.

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Federal government and health officials are reluctant to make wearing a mask mandatory in Canada, citing a focus on education and issues with enforcement. 1:58

Horii contrasts that with his experience in the U.K. now, where wearing masks is not common.

“Personally, I still feel embarrassed to wear a mask” in the U.K., Horii said, even though they’re now compulsory on public transit in England and will soon be required in stores in Scotland.

He said he thinks changing the rules would encourage him and others to overcome self-consciousness.

“At the same time, I bought some masks and we’re ready to wear [them] at any time. We just need a bit of a push to do it.”

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How Moderna executives are cashing in on COVID-19 vaccine stock speculation – Reuters

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(Reuters) – Biotech firm Moderna Inc could reap tens of billions of dollars in sales and stock appreciation if it wins the race for a COVID-19 vaccine. If it loses, the early-stage company’s value could crash.

FILE PHOTO: A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Inc, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyde

In the meantime, the firm’s chief executive is pocketing millions of dollars every month by selling shares that have tripled in price on news of Moderna’s development progress, a Reuters analysis of corporate filings shows. The sales – by CEO Stéphane Bancel, his childrens’ trust and companies he owns – amount to about $21 million between January 1 and June 26, including $6 million in May.

The company’s chief medical officer, Tal Zaks, has cashed out the majority of his available stock and options, netting over $35 million since January, the filings show.

The lucrative liquidations highlight the unusually powerful incentives for biotech executives to highlight development milestones for drugs that often never get approved or sold, according to interviews with seven executive-compensation experts. Optimistic corporate statements on coronavirus vaccines, they said, could cause investors to overpay for company shares or create false hope among the public and health officials seeking new weapons to fight the pandemic.

Bancel set a fixed schedule for his share sales – known as a 10b5-1 plan – long before the pandemic hit. Such executive share-sale plans are meant to guard against insider trading, avoiding the potential for executives to sell in advance of bad news they know is coming, or to put off selling until after a positive announcement.

Zaks sharply increased the pace of his sales with a new plan he put in place on March 13. That was three days before Moderna announced it had dosed the first human with a vaccine candidate, news that sent its stock price up 24% and signaled that future development milestones might push the shares higher.

The sales give the firm’s executives an unusual opportunity to lock in big profits on what could be fleeting market optimism, said Jesse Fried, a Harvard Law School professor who wrote a book about executive compensation.

“This may be their one shot at making a boatload of money if the vaccine doesn’t work out,” Fried said. Executives have wide discretion in releasing information, he said, and Moderna’s chiefs have a powerful motivation to “keep the stock price up.”

Reuters found no evidence that Bancel, Zaks or Moderna has exaggerated the company’s vaccine progress.

Many news outlets have reported sales by Moderna executives in the wake of positive news on its vaccine efforts. Reuters is the first to report that Bancel and affiliated entities are selling 90,000 shares every month and that Zaks moved to sharply increase his sales in March, three days before Moderna released market-moving news.

A Moderna spokesman said that Bancel is liquidating only a small portion of his holdings and that “substantially all of his family’s assets remain invested in Moderna.” This stakeholding reflected Bancel’s “long-term commitment” to the firm, the spokesman said. Bancel, his companies and his children’s trust own more than 24 million Moderna shares, making him the second largest stockholder, owning about 8% of the firm, down slightly from the beginning of the year.

Zaks did not respond to requests for comment, and Moderna did not comment on his share sales.

The high frequency, volume and profits of Bancel’s transactions – at about 90,000 shares monthly – are unique among the CEOs of 26 companies identified by Reuters as developing COVID-19 vaccines or treatments and that regularly publish information on executive trades of company shares.

Twenty-one of the firms have seen their stock rise since the end of January, just before coronavirus spread globally, and ten of those, including Moderna, have seen share prices at least double. But just four of the CEOs of those firms, including Bancel, have sold company stock. Only one – Chad Robins of Adaptive Biotech – made substantial, regular sales under a 10b5-1 plan, like Moderna’s Bancel. Adaptive Biotech, however, has seen a far smaller recent stock-price increase – about 50% – than Moderna. During May and June, Robins sold about $12 million in stock after Adaptive’s stock price rose on news that it is researching antibody therapies and a coronavirus test that delivers faster results.

Adaptive Biotech declined to comment and referred to a company filing that said Robins sold the stock to diversify his investments.

Most of Bancel’s sales have been carried out through plans in place since December 2018, the filings show. The transactions started in November 2019, when a trust belonging to his children began selling 11,046 shares each week. This January, Bancel and two companies he controls started selling stock regularly. Since then, they have collectively sold about 90,000 Moderna shares each month.

HIGH RISKS, REWARDS

Such scheduled sales are more common at early-stage biotech companies such as Moderna – which face intense risk-reward scenarios – than at more established and diversified drug firms, where executives frequently hold their equity until they leave the company.

Executives’ ongoing sales are an effective hedge against the bigger downside risk faced by companies like Moderna. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the firm has more than 20 therapies and vaccines in development – but none near approval. Investors view the firm as a frontrunner in creating a COVID-19 vaccine, but it faces 17 serious competitors with candidates in clinical evaluations and 129 others in earlier development stages, according to the World Health Organization. Only a very small number of companies are expected to get vaccines to market, biotech executives and health experts say.

If Moderna successfully launches its coronavirus vaccine and a dozen other of its most promising trial medicines, its stock price could rise to $279 based on the new revenues, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. That would yield Bancel a fortune of about $10 billion including currently unvested share options, the Reuters analysis shows.

The firm’s stock has soared from $18 in late February – just before it announced it had shipped its vaccine candidate to the U.S. government for trials – to close at $56.57 on July 2, down 5%, after a report that the start of its large vaccine trial would be delayed. That gives the company a market capitalization of nearly $23 billion. The stock hit a high of $80 in May.

But Morgan Stanley also has a “bear case,” in which the company would be worth only as much as the cash on its balance sheet if all of its vaccine and drug candidates don’t make it to market.

‘SCIENCE BY PRESS RELEASE’

Bancel and Zaks have been bullish on Moderna’s prospects in public statements.

Bancel calls the mRNA technology the company uses for all vaccine development the “software of life,” with potential to create “a new class of medicines.” He has also said Moderna’s process can create vaccines much faster and with a better chance of “technical success” – and, by implication, regulatory approval – than other firms.

“We are not aware of anybody else who can do this at this scale, with this focus, at this speed,” he told investors on June 2. Earlier, in a May 7 earnings call, Bancel said he had “never been as excited and optimistic about the future of Moderna.”

Many investors and analysts are optimistic as well but say it is difficult to evaluate Moderna’s prospects given the early stages of trials.

The company drew criticism from scientists for releasing incomplete data from a trial being conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). On May 18, Moderna announced that its vaccine candidate had produced protective antibodies in a small subset of healthy trial volunteers. The news pushed Moderna stock up 20% to its peak of $80.

Some scientists suggested Moderna should have held off publishing until it had all test subjects’ results. “This was science by press release,” said Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Without complete data, he said, “you’re left to read the tea leaves.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci – the nation’s top infectious disease expert – shared the test results with U.S. governors, Vice President Mike Pence said in a Twitter post the day of Moderna’s announcement. But Fauci – who is running the Moderna trial – later said he didn’t like the company’s early release of incomplete data, according to an interview published by the STAT health news service. A spokeswoman for Fauci’s agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, did not comment beyond what Fauci said in the interview.

Bancel told investors at a June conference that Moderna’s leadership worried the information had been seen by too many people, including at the NIH. He said the company made the partial findings public because it worried the data would get leaked – and it considered the incomplete results material information that all investors should receive at the same time. A company spokesman told Reuters the company believed it needed to release the information to comply with Securities and Exchange Commission rules.

The day after the May 18 announcement, Zaks sold 125,000 shares – netting him nearly $10 million – at a price of $78, up from $66 on the Friday before the Monday press release. Company filings show the sale was executed in accordance with the plan that Zaks put in place on March 13.

Reporting by Tom Bergin and Robin Respaut; Editing by Tom Lasseter and Brian Thevenot

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