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A Fifth COVID Vaccine Will Now Be Studied In The US – TPM

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WASHINGTON – A huge study of another COVID-19 vaccine candidate is getting underway Monday as states in the U.S. continue to roll out scarce supplies of the nation’s first shot options.

The U.S. has authorized emergency use of two vaccines, one made by Pfizer and BioNTech and the other by Moderna, but doses will be rationed for months.

The candidate made by Novavax Inc. is the fifth to reach final-stage testing in the U.S. Some 30,000 volunteers are needed to prove if this vaccine – a different kind than its Pfizer and Moderna competitors – really works and is safe.

“If you want to have enough vaccine to vaccinate all the people in the U.S. who you’d like to vaccinate – up to 85% or more of the population – you’re going to need more than two companies,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press.

The study, which is funded by the U.S. government, is open to all adults but will focus on high-risk older adults and volunteers from Black and Hispanic communities who have been hard-hit by the virus. Two-thirds of volunteers will receive the vaccine and the rest will get dummy shots.

The Novavax candidate uses lab-grown harmless copies of the spike protein that coats the coronavirus to train the body to recognize if the real virus comes along. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines instead use a newer technology, injecting the genetic code for that protein.

In the U.S., Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca also have vaccine candidates in late-stage U.S. testing.

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Couple charged after travelling to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine – The Tri-City News

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WHITEHORSE — A cabinet minister says a couple from outside Yukon travelled to a remote community in the territory this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Community Services Minister John Streiker says he’s outraged the man and woman allegedly chartered a flight to Beaver Creek, the most westerly community in Canada near the border with Alaska, to get the shots.

Streiker says he heard Thursday night that the Canadian couple arrived in Yukon on Tuesday and declared they would follow the territory’s mandatory two-week self-isolation protocol, but instead travelled to Beaver Creek.

He says the two people have been charged under Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for failure to self-isolate and failure to behave in a manner consistent with their declaration upon arrival.

Streiker says the couple allegedly presented themselves as visiting workers, misleading staff at the mobile vaccination clinic in Beaver Creek.

He says territorial enforcement officers received a call about the couple, who were later intercepted at the Whitehorse airport trying to leave Yukon.

The maximum fine under the emergency measures act is $500, and up to six months in jail.

The RCMP have been notified, he said in an interview on Friday.

Streiker hadn’t confirmed where the couple are from, but he said they didn’t show Yukon health cards at the vaccination clinic.

Yukon has two vaccination teams that are visiting communities throughout the territory with priority going to residents and staff of group-living settings, health-care workers, people over 80 who aren’t living in long-term care, and Yukoners living in rural, remote and First Nation communities.

Beaver Creek was chosen as a priority community to receive doses of COVID-19 vaccine because it’s a remote border community, he said.

Yukon’s chief medical officer of health has indicated he believes the risk to the community as a result of the couple’s visit is low, Streiker added.

Streiker said there may be more scrutiny at vaccine clinics when people show up from outside Yukon, but officials are still working through options to prevent such a situation from happening again.

“I find it frustrating because what that does is it makes more barriers,” he said. “We’ve been trying to remove all barriers to get the vaccine for our citizens and so if there’s another sort of layer of check, I just don’t want it to make it harder for Yukoners to get their vaccines.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Military task force warns that Israeli COVID variant could emerge – The Times of Israel

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A military-led task force has warned of the potential emergence of a mutated Israeli variant of the coronavirus resistant to vaccines.

In a report for the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center on Saturday, Military Intelligence recommended that due to fears over the possible development of an Israeli strain, those who have received vaccines or recovered from COVID-19 be tested for the coronavirus and be subject to quarantine requirements upon entering the country.

“The mass vaccine campaign taking place parallel to the active outbreak in Israel may lead to ‘evolutionary pressure’ on the virus,” the report said.

Nearly 2.5 million Israelis have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and over 946,000 have received both shots. Israel has set a target to vaccinate its entire eligible adult population by March.

A medical worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine at a Clalit vaccination center in Jerusalem, on January 21, 2021. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

According to two preliminary studies released last Wednesday, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine appears to be effective against the new, more infectious coronavirus variant that was first detected in Britain and has since been found in dozens of countries. The strain, known as B.1.1.7, has caused alarm among experts because of its increased ability to spread and supercharge virus outbreaks.

But it is yet another mutation, known as E484K and present in the variants detected in South Africa and Brazil, but not the one from Britain, that has experts particularly worried about immunity “escape.”

The task force report came as the British variant has spread in Israel, with experts predicting it could become the dominant strain within weeks. Israel has also seen over 20 cases of the South African variant, and is carefully monitoring for the Brazilian strain, amid fears one of the mutations will evade the vaccine protections.

The Health Ministry said on Saturday that several cases of British coronavirus variant had been discovered among pregnant women hospitalized in serious condition with COVID-19 complications.

The ministry said it took samples from 10 pregnant women and that of the seven samples they have so far completed sequencing, six were found to have the British strain.

“In light of the recent morbidity findings, pregnant women will be moved in up preference for receiving vaccines. Any pregnant woman who is interested can be vaccinated,” the ministry said in a statement.

In an effort to prevent the strains from being imported into Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will seek government approval on Sunday for his proposal to suspend all passenger flights to and from Israel for two weeks.

A technician collects nasal swab samples for COVID-19 at the coronavirus lab at Ben-Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on December 14, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Netanyahu held a meeting Saturday night with officials from the Health Ministry, the Transportation Ministry, the National Security Council, and the Civil Aviation Authority where an initial agreement was reached to essentially halt almost all flights “to prevent the entry into Israel of additional coronavirus mutations,” according to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The agreement, subject to cabinet approval, includes banning all incoming and outgoing flights, restricting arrival to Ben Gurion International Airport, and formulating a separate plan to allow special flights for humanitarian purposes.

People needing to travel may be allowed to do so “in exceptional circumstances” that would require the approval of a committee headed by the directors-general of the health and transportation ministries, according to the PMO announcement.

The proposal will be submitted for cabinet approval on Sunday.

The statement said the restrictions will come into force once approved by the government, though it was not immediately clear if a majority of ministers will back them.

The travel ban is set to apply to everyone, even those fully vaccinated, according to an earlier report by Channel 12 news on Saturday. Some Health Ministry officials are suggesting the airport only reopen fully when at least 5 million Israelis have been vaccinated, according to the report, a scenario that may be reached by early March.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Couple charged after travelling to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine – NewmarketToday.ca

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WHITEHORSE — A cabinet minister says a couple from outside Yukon travelled to a remote community in the territory this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Community Services Minister John Streiker says he’s outraged the man and woman allegedly chartered a flight to Beaver Creek, the most westerly community in Canada near the border with Alaska, to get the shots.

Streiker says he heard Thursday night that the Canadian couple arrived in Yukon on Tuesday and declared they would follow the territory’s mandatory two-week self-isolation protocol, but instead travelled to Beaver Creek.

He says the two people have been charged under Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for failure to self-isolate and failure to behave in a manner consistent with their declaration upon arrival.

Streiker says the couple allegedly presented themselves as visiting workers, misleading staff at the mobile vaccination clinic in Beaver Creek.

He says territorial enforcement officers received a call about the couple, who were later intercepted at the Whitehorse airport trying to leave Yukon.

The maximum fine under the emergency measures act is $500, and up to six months in jail.

The RCMP have been notified, he said in an interview on Friday.

Streiker hadn’t confirmed where the couple are from, but he said they didn’t show Yukon health cards at the vaccination clinic.

Yukon has two vaccination teams that are visiting communities throughout the territory with priority going to residents and staff of group-living settings, health-care workers, people over 80 who aren’t living in long-term care, and Yukoners living in rural, remote and First Nation communities.

Beaver Creek was chosen as a priority community to receive doses of COVID-19 vaccine because it’s a remote border community, he said.

Yukon’s chief medical officer of health has indicated he believes the risk to the community as a result of the couple’s visit is low, Streiker added.

Streiker said there may be more scrutiny at vaccine clinics when people show up from outside Yukon, but officials are still working through options to prevent such a situation from happening again.

“I find it frustrating because what that does is it makes more barriers,” he said. “We’ve been trying to remove all barriers to get the vaccine for our citizens and so if there’s another sort of layer of check, I just don’t want it to make it harder for Yukoners to get their vaccines.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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