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As vaccines are rolled out, questions remain – msnNOW

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European countries are following the United States, Britain and a handful of other countries to begin rolling out coronavirus vaccines.






© MIGUEL RIOPA
A doctor shows a syringe at the Sao Joao Hospital in Porto, where the first batch of Covid-19 vaccine arrived on December 26, 2020, one day before the coronavirus vaccination program starts in Portugal

The rapid development and approval of drugs has been hailed the world over, questions remain about the availability, effectiveness and side effects of the jabs.

– How many vaccines? –

It usually takes roughly 10 years to develop and market a new vaccine, but the process was vastly accelerated for Covid-19.



a group of people in a room: Medical pesonnel in Nitra, Slovakia get ready for some the first people in the country to receive the novel coronavirus vaccine


© VLADIMIR SIMICEK
Medical pesonnel in Nitra, Slovakia get ready for some the first people in the country to receive the novel coronavirus vaccine

A vaccine developed by the American company Pfizer and the German company BioNTech was approved for use in Britain on December 2. Thousands of older people have since received the first dose.

A total of 16 countries and the European Union have given the green light to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorisations to the Pfizer-BioNTech drug and another jab from the American company Moderna. 



Workers at the Mexico City airport unload containers from an airplane carrying the second shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the country


© Pedro PARDO
Workers at the Mexico City airport unload containers from an airplane carrying the second shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the country

Russia began vaccinations on December 5 with its domestic drug Sputnik V, which is still in its third phase of clinical trials. China has already given the go-ahead for emergency use of some of their vaccines, even though none have yet been formally approved.

A total of 16 vaccines are in the final stage of development, including those already on the market, the World Health Organization says. 

– What is the EU’s roll-out timetable? ‘ –

Vaccinations can begin from Sunday following approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Each member country will take the lead in defining their priorities with the rollout.

But three member states — Germany, Hungary and Slovakia — started vaccinations a day early on Saturday. 

– Which vaccine is most effective? –



a person standing in a room: Doctor Adrienne Kertesz receives the first vaccination against the novel coronavirus at the South Pest Central Hospital in Budapest, Hungary


© Szilard KOSZTICSAK
Doctor Adrienne Kertesz receives the first vaccination against the novel coronavirus at the South Pest Central Hospital in Budapest, Hungary

Since 9 November, four manufacturers have announced that their vaccine is effective: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, the British alliance AstraZeneca-University of Oxford and the Russian state institute Gamaleia.

Gallery: Early rounds of COVID-19 vaccine administered in UK hospitals (USA TODAY)

These announcements are based on phase 3 clinical trials that involve tens of thousands of volunteers. 

However, detailed and validated data are available only for the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford drugs.

The scientific journal The Lancet confirmed on December 8 that AstraZeneca’s vaccine was 70 percent effective on average. 

The FDA confirmed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at 95 percent efficacy with Moderna claiming 94.1 percent for its drug. Russia claims a 91.4 percent efficacy for its Sputnik V vaccine.

The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is the least expensive at around €2.50 per dose). The vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech have a logistical handicap, as they can only be stored over the long term at very low temperatures (-20° Celsius for the former, -70°C for the latter).  



a close up of a person wearing a costume: A Spanish Health Ministry official holds one of the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in warehouse in Guadalajara after arriving from Belgium and prior to being distributed to other Spanish regions


© Jose Maria Cuadrado Jimenez
A Spanish Health Ministry official holds one of the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in warehouse in Guadalajara after arriving from Belgium and prior to being distributed to other Spanish regions

– What are the side effects? –

Experts insist that with clinical trials carried out on tens of thousands of volunteers, any major risk would have already been detected. But rarer side effects, or those affecting specific patient profiles, cannot be ruled out. 

According to the FDA, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can result in painful reactions on the arm where the injection is made. Other undesirable side effects include fatigue, headaches, cramps and, more rarely, fever. 



a screenshot of a cell phone: This is the temperature on the freezer where the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines were kept at the AP-HP central pharmacy outside Paris


© STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN
This is the temperature on the freezer where the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines were kept at the AP-HP central pharmacy outside Paris

– Further outstanding issues – 

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The most important is the long-term efficacy. 

Penny Ward of King’s College in London said key questions were how long would protection last and could the virus eventually mutate and no longer be covered by the vaccine? 

Another crucial question is whether the vaccines act differently in populations most at risk, starting with elderly people who are more likely to develop a serious form of Covid-19. 

It also remains to be seen whether these vaccines block the transmission of the virus, and also reduce the severity of the disease in those who have received the jab. 

– Is the vaccine less effect against the new strain? –

European Union experts believe that the current vaccines against Covid-19 remain effective against the new strain of the virus detected in Britain and elsewhere, which is thought to be more infectious. 

“At the moment there is no evidence to suggest” that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine “is not effective against the new variant”, the European Medicines Agency said. 

Co-director of the German laboratory BioNTech, Ugur Sahin, echoed that message, adding that his company would in any case be in a position to provide a vaccine for a new strain of Covid-19 within six weeks.

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What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. for Jan. 22 – CBC.ca

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THE LATEST:

  • Premier John Horgan will join health officials this morning to talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.
  • As of Thursday, 104,901 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C.
  • The premier has announced that B.C. will not restrict interprovincial travel at this time.
  • On Thursday, 564 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 more deaths were reported.
  • There are currently 4,450 active cases of the coronavirus in B.C.
  • 309 people are in hospital, with 68 in the ICU.

Long-awaited details on B.C.’s plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be released Friday morning.

Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Penny Ballem, executive lead of the B.C. immunization rollout, are scheduled to provide more information during a public announcement at 10:30 a.m. PT.

The province’s immunization program has been complicated by a hiccup in vaccine supply from Pfizer-BioNTech. Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed because of production issues.

So far, 104,901 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., including 1,680 second doses. 

Friday’s announcement follows news that B.C. will not ban non-essential travellers from other provinces in order to halt the spread of COVID-19. 

Thursday evening, Horgan said that the government has explored its legal options and it’s not possible to restrict travel at this point, but that could change if B.C. sees an increase in transmission caused by interprovincial visitors.

On Thursday, B.C. health officials announced 564 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 more deaths.

In a written statement, Henry and Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 309 people, 68 of whom are in intensive care. Hospitalizations are now at their lowest level since Nov. 28

A total of 1,119 people in B.C. have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Henry and Dix said a new community cluster has been detected in and around Williams Lake in the central Interior. There are no new outbreaks in the health-care system, and six outbreaks have been declared over.

READ MORE:

What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 8 p.m. PT on Thursday, Canada had reported 731,450 cases of COVID-19, and 18,622 total deaths.

A total of 67,099 cases are considered active.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Loss of taste or smell.
  • Headache.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they’re mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or o​​​​​​ther extreme symptoms should call 911.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.
  • Keep your distance from people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government’s website.

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B.C. slated to give more details on COVID-19 vaccine program – Toronto Star

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VICTORIA – British Columbia is updating its immunization strategy for COVID-19 today as Premier John Horgan is scheduled to be joined by health officials to lay out the latest on the government’s plan.

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine that the province expected to arrive by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production delays in the supply from Pfizer-BioNTech.

Two doses of the vaccine are needed to ensure immunity from the virus that causes COVID-19 and Health Minister Adrian Dix said earlier this week that B.C. was set to begin administering second doses.

He said the province remains committed to ensuring all those who have had the first shot get a second dose within 35 days.

On Thursday, the province said it had administered 104,901 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, of which 1,680 were second doses

Horgan is being joined in making today’s announcement by Dix, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Penny Ballem, who is leading the COVID-19 immunization rollout.

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

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B.C. slated to give more details on COVID-19 vaccine program – WellandTribune.ca

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VICTORIA – British Columbia is updating its immunization strategy for COVID-19 today as Premier John Horgan is scheduled to be joined by health officials to lay out the latest on the government’s plan.

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine that the province expected to arrive by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production delays in the supply from Pfizer-BioNTech.

Two doses of the vaccine are needed to ensure immunity from the virus that causes COVID-19 and Health Minister Adrian Dix said earlier this week that B.C. was set to begin administering second doses.

He said the province remains committed to ensuring all those who have had the first shot get a second dose within 35 days.

On Thursday, the province said it had administered 104,901 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, of which 1,680 were second doses

Horgan is being joined in making today’s announcement by Dix, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Penny Ballem, who is leading the COVID-19 immunization rollout.

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

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