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Alberta reports 195 new COVID cases, fewest in four months; positivity rate falls to 2.8% – Calgary Herald

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Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw also announced one new variant case, bringing the province’s total to 104 since mid-December.

Of those, 97 have been cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in the U.K., along with seven of the strain first identified in South Africa.

“I know there are concerns about one of these more contagious variants becoming the dominant strain in the province,” said Hinshaw, noting that the variant cases represent very few of Alberta’s total cases.

“Variant cases made up a quarter of a per cent of all the cases identified from Dec. 15 onward,” she said.

“So far, variants are still very rare and we are working hard to keep it that way.”

On Monday, Alberta loosened restrictions for some industries, including restaurants and fitness centres. But Hinshaw said the province hasn’t set benchmarks specifically related to variant cases that would determine the pace at which restrictions are loosened or tightened.

“The important thing we are watching closely is how our cases are trending; whether our cases are declining, whether they’re starting to rise,” she said.

“If we start to see more variants, there is of course a greater risk that our cases may start to rise, but there is no specific variant benchmark because what is most important is that we keep our COVID cases trending down.”

With variant cases escalating across Canada, provincial governments lifting lockdown restrictions should be ready to reinstate them at a moment’s notice, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said earlier in the day.

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Experts caution against the temptation to comparison shop COVID-19 vaccines – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press


Published Saturday, February 27, 2021 3:01PM EST


Last Updated Saturday, February 27, 2021 3:13PM EST

TORONTO – While it’s tempting to compare various aspects of AstraZeneca-Oxford’s newly approved COVID-19 vaccine to others, several experts cautioned against focusing on data that is not comparable and the danger of underrating the product’s ability to curb hospitalizations and deaths.

Health Canada’s long-awaited announcement Friday that a third vaccine would soon be deployed came just as the provinces faced heightened scrutiny over regional immunization plans that vary by timeline, age eligibility and priority groups.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised the boost to Canada’s pandemic arsenal would mean “more people vaccinated, and sooner,” and would be key to helping contain spread.

Nevertheless, Health Canada chief medical advisor Dr. Supriya Sharma acknowledged questions over how the public should evaluate trial results that show AstraZeneca has an efficacy of 62 per cent in preventing symptomatic cases. That’s compared to the 95 per cent efficacy of the country’s two other approved vaccines, from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

But Sharma stressed that all three have been shown to prevent 100 per cent of hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.

“Each vaccine has unique characteristics and Health Canada’s review has confirmed that the benefits of the viral vector-based vaccine, as with the other authorized vaccines, outweigh their potential risks,” Sharma said.

Several medical experts including Dr. Stephen Hwang say Canadians do not have the luxury to pick-and-choose as long as COVID-19 cases continue to rage in several hot spots and strain health-care systems.

With multiple COVID-19 projections warning of a variant-fuelled third wave without tighter suppression measures, any tool that can slow the pandemic should be embraced, he argued.

“It would be important for people to be vaccinated with whichever vaccine is first available in their community to them, rather than trying to hold out for a specific vaccine,” advised Hwang, who treats COVID-19 patients at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Still, Toronto resident Maria Brum couldn’t help but question whether AstraZeneca was safe for her 79-year-old mother.

The vaccine was not tested on people over the age of 65. Health Canada, however, says real-world data from countries already using the product suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups, promising an update on efficacy in the age group as more data comes in.

“I personally would take that one out as an option for my mom,” said Brum, who is her mother’s main caregiver.

“Maybe I am wrong but, I don’t know, I don’t see that it’s more useful. I’d like to see one that has a higher percentage of (efficacy).”

As for herself, Brum said she has allergies that she believes may put her at greater risk of adverse reactions and so she is unsure whether she can take any vaccine.

But she’d like the option of choosing, if possible, even while acknowledging that limited supply could make that unlikely.

“As a Canadian, I would like to see us all have choices, regardless of age, gender, or ability,” says Brum.

“I’m going to wait where I can have more choices.”

Such hesitancy could pose public health challenges to Canada reaching the vaccination coverage needed to build protective immunity against COVID-19, said Hwang.

He noted that Germany has seen a reported preference among some for the vaccine made by Germany’s BioNTech with Pfizer, as well as a misconception that the AstraZeneca vaccine is inferior because of a lower efficacy rate.

Hwang says efficacy between vaccines cannot be compared because each involved completely different trials at different time periods, in different countries, with different volunteers of different age groups and varying trial design.

“Until we have direct comparison studies where we give people one vaccine versus another and directly compare, it’s very difficult to know for sure how it’s going to pan out,” he says.

Then there’s the fact Canada’s initial AstraZeneca doses will be made at the Serum Institute of India, which dubs its version CoviShield, while later packages will be produced at the drug giant’s own manufacturing facilities.

Hwang acknowledges that could invite further scrutiny but says the Pune, India-based biotech firm has a “strong track record of producing vaccines.”

Sharma also stressed the similarities between the two shots Friday.

“For all intents and purposes they’re the same vaccine,” said Sharma.

“There are some slight differences in terms of manufacturing and the places that they are manufactured are different. The analogy is a bit like the recipe – so the recipe for the vaccine is the same, but they’re manufactured in different kitchens.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021.

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AstraZeneca-Oxford co-creator on efficacy of vaccine – CBC News

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  1. AstraZeneca-Oxford co-creator on efficacy of vaccine  CBC News
  2. Nova Scotia to see AstraZeneca vaccine in ‘limited amounts’: Strang  HalifaxToday.ca
  3. Are you satisfied with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in B.C.?  Castanet.net
  4. Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday  CBC.ca
  5. How the approved AstraZeneca vaccine could affect B.C.’s mass vaccination plans  CTV News Vancouver
  6. View Full coverage on Google News



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Manitoba Awaits Word On AstraZeneca Vaccine Shipment – Steinbachonline.com – SteinbachOnline.com

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  1. Manitoba Awaits Word On AstraZeneca Vaccine Shipment – Steinbachonline.com  SteinbachOnline.com
  2. Canada’s vaccine arsenal could get another addition within weeks: senior health official  CTV News
  3. Experts caution against comparison shopping of COVID-19 vaccines  News 1130
  4. EDITORIAL: Canada’s AstraZeneca question is now about roll-out  Toronto Sun
  5. Explaining the vaccine from the ground level | Opinion | triplicate.com  The Triplicate
  6. View Full coverage on Google News



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