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B.C. doctor links non-medical use of nitrous oxide to serious illness, addiction – CBC.ca

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An emergency room physician in British Columbia is warning of the misuse of a cooking tool that requires the use of nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas.

A statement from Vancouver Coastal Health says Dr. Matthew Kwok reports seeing patients at Richmond Hospital who have intentionally inhaled the gas and suffered drug-induced psychosis and neurological effects.

Nitrous oxide is used in medical and dental offices for sedation and pain, but it is also readily available in small canisters, called whippits, that are attached to a kitchen utensil used to whip cream.

Kwok says addiction to nitrous oxide is possible and non-medical use of the gas can be “extremely dangerous.”

Dr. Matthew Kwok says he has seen patients at Richmond Hospital who have intentionally inhaled the gas and suffered drug-induced psychosis and neurological effects. (CBC/Claudia C. Cantin)

In the December issue of the BC Medical Journal, Kwok reports that no single agency in Canada is tracking non-medical overdoses, despite the dangers posed by the gas which is easily purchased.

Kwok is calling for restricted access to nitrous oxide, safeguards to minimize harm and greater awareness by medical staff and the public about non-medical use of laughing gas.

“When people present at the emergency department with unexplained neurological symptoms it’s important for clinicians to consider nitrous oxide as a possible cause,” Kwok says in the statement.

The article in the BC Medical Journal outlines the case of a 20-year old woman who was hallucinating but had no history of psychiatric or medical illness, although she admitted to daily use of nitrous oxide, and had recently increased her dosage.

“It’s also important for users to know that using this product outside a supervised medical setting can cause serious health effects,” said Kwok.

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Sen. Forest-Niesing hospitalized despite being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 – Bowen Island Undercurrent

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OTTAWA — Sen. Josée Forest-Niesing is in hospital after contracting COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated.

Her office says the 56-year-old Sudbury senator is no longer in intensive care and is hopefully on the mend.

It says she was fully vaccinated earlier this year.

So-called “breakthrough cases” of COVID-19 are rare.

Ontario reports that just 2.4 per cent of COVID-19 cases reported since last December involved people who had received two doses of an approved vaccine at least 14 days prior to infection.

The province estimates that unvaccinated individuals are seven times more likely to contract COVID-19 compared to those who are fully vaccinated.

Among people 60 years of age and older, the province estimates that unvaccinated individuals are 28 times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Forest-Niesing’s office says the senator is “grateful for the messages of support she has received and the excellent care the hospital and its staff are giving her.”

Forest-Niesing was appointed to Canada’s Senate in 2018. She is a member of the Independent Senators Group.

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

The Canadian Press

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Anti-vax Ottawa mother banned from giving teenage son COVID vaccine advice – Montreal Gazette

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The judge granted the boy’s father sole decision-making when it came to getting vaccinated

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An Ottawa mom has been legally banned from telling her 14-year-old son not to get the COVID-19 vaccines and prohibited by court order from showing him online information that calls into question the safety or efficacy of the vaccines.

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In her family court decision released Oct. 18, Ontario Superior Court Justice Jennifer Mackinnon granted the boy’s father sole parental decision-making authority regarding the vaccine. The judge said the boy was entitled to be vaccinated and sided with the father’s lawyer, Linda Hanson, who presented the court with supporting information from reputable organizations and doctors who recommend getting vaccinated.

The parents share custody of the boy and decision-making.

The boy’s father petitioned the court for sole decision-making authority when it came to getting his son vaccinated.

The mother opposed the motion and retained Dr. Mary E. O’Connor, who wrote a supporting letter saying the boy should not be vaccinated because he has asthma, the vaccine is experimental and there’s no evidence of benefits to children.

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The judge noted: “Dr. O’Connor does not refer to medical or scientific support for her conclusion that there is no evidence of any benefits to children from the vaccine other than she has heard of ill effects in her practice. This statement is too general to be given weight.”

The doctor, who has not yet responded to voice mails and text messages for comment, also wrote that the vaccines have many adverse effects, “including deaths.”

The Ottawa doctor finished off the letter, writing: “Anyone who administers such a vaccine will be held responsible and liable for any adverse effects that would occur immediately, or in the years to come.”

The judge decided that it was in the best interests of the boy to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

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The judge also noted that it seemed the boy had been influenced about his apparent position on not getting vaccinated.

“I find that the current views expressed by the child are not independent, rather are the result of influence by his mother and the doctor she retained to oppose the motion. The mother will be ordered … not to provide the child with any information directly or indirectly about COVID-19 vaccines contrary to what is provided by the Canadian, Ontario and Ottawa public health authorities.”

In a Sept. 18, 2021, letter filed in court, O’Connor wrote that she had already discussed the “concerns about the risks of this needle.” The doctor said the boy “definitely said that he does not want this vaccination.”

The judge decided otherwise and granted the boy’s father sole decision-making when it came to getting vaccinated.

This newspaper is not naming the parents in this case to protect the identity of the boy.

gdimmock@postmedia.com

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Why 'waning immunity' from COVID-19 vaccines isn't as bad as it sounds – CBC.ca

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This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.


Canadians concerned over waning immunity from COVID-19 vaccines, breakthrough infections and the need for booster shots in the general public could benefit from a dose of some important context, experts say.

Antibodies, your first line of defence against COVID-19 infection, do decline — and may even be doing so as you’re reading this — but that’s not unexpected.

While one aspect of your vaccine-induced immunity to COVID-19 is technically “waning” in the weeks and months after vaccination, that’s not necessarily a bad thing — because it’s not your immune system’s only form of protection against the virus.

“I don’t even like the term,” said University of Toronto immunologist Jennifer Gommerman. “And the reason I don’t like the term is that it implies that the immune response in its entirety is declining.”

It’s “entirely normal” for antibody levels to drop initially after vaccination and your immune response to the virus to become “contracted” over time, she said. But your body is also creating “highly efficient” memory B cells to fight off COVID-19 long term.

B cells work quickly to generate large quantities of antibodies in the weeks after vaccination, but they typically produce more effective antibodies as time goes on, helping sharpen the long-term response to a virus.

So while reports of waning immunity may sound concerning, that initial decrease in antibody levels may also be necessary in the fight against COVID-19, as it helps fine-tune the immune system’s plan of attack.

A new study published in the journal Science found “robust cellular immune memory” from B cells for at least six months after mRNA vaccination against all circulating strains of the virus — even the highly contagious delta variant.

The researchers found those memory cells, unlike the initial wave of antibodies, continue to learn how to fend off the virus months after vaccination and are actually getting better at it over time.

“That doesn’t sound like ‘waning’ to me,” Gommerman said. “There’s a natural contraction, but waning implies that something bad is happening.” 

While reports of waning immunity may sound concerning, the initial decrease in antibody levels may also be necessary in the fight against COVID-19, as it helps fine-tune the immune system’s plan of attack against the virus. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Breakthrough infections don’t tell the whole story

Reports of waning immunity and breakthrough infections have sporadically emerged across Canada in places like the Northwest Territories and New Brunswick, but lack important context and data on who is seriously affected and why.

The N.W.T. has been in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak since mid-August that started in the Sahtu region before spreading to Yellowknife and its surrounding communities. It has infected 1,584 residents.

During that time, there have been 54 hospitalizations attributed to the outbreak, about 17 of which were among fully vaccinated people. A government spokesperson declined to comment on how many of the nine deaths in the territory were among those fully vaccinated.

WATCH | Concerns over waning immunity leads to expansion of boosters in N.W.T.:

N.W.T. expands COVID-19 boosters over concerns about waning immunity

5 days ago

Northwest Territories Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola talks about the impact of the fourth wave and why the territory is offering COVID-19 booster shots to residents as young as 50. 2:58

In New Brunswick, where reports that one in five COVID-19 deaths occurred in people who were fully vaccinated made headlines this week, the data shows that while 17 fully vaccinated people have died, evidence of widespread waning immunity is lacking.

“New Brunswick has not identified confirmed evidence of waning immunity among COVID-19 cases,” a government spokesperson said in a statement.

In terms of national numbers, 94.7 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Canada since Dec. 14 have been among those not fully vaccinated, as well as 95.8 per cent of hospitalizations and 94.3 per cent of deaths, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

That means a total of 520 fully vaccinated Canadians have died of COVID-19 in the nearly 10 months since our vaccine rollout started, compared with 8,520 who were not considered fully vaccinated during that same time period.

“If we have 100 per cent or 95 per cent of the population vaccinated, almost all the cases that we see, including severe cases, will be in vaccinated people — just because most everyone’s vaccinated,” said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious diseases physician and associate professor at the University of Alberta.

“So that very rare outcome becomes the majority of the outcomes, and seeing an increasing number of cases in vaccinated people over time doesn’t actually mean that the vaccine works less well, necessarily.”

A nurse tends to a patient in the intensive care unit at Scarborough Health Network’s Centenary Hospital in Toronto on Apr. 8. A total of 520 fully vaccinated Canadians have died of COVID-19 in the nearly 10 months since our vaccine rollout started, compared with 8,520 who were not considered fully vaccinated. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Underlying conditions key to breakthrough infections 

PHAC says fully vaccinated Canadians who do get COVID-19 are also 79 per cent less likely to be hospitalized and 64 per cent less likely to die, backing up new Canadian data showing strong vaccine protection from infection, hospitalization and death.

But key information on the age, underlying health conditions or specific vaccine combination administered to those who were hospitalized or died from COVID-19 two weeks after their second shot is not available in Canada due to health privacy laws.

The recent death of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell from COVID-19 sparked fresh debate about breakthrough infections and waning immunity. But less attention was paid to the fact he was at heightened risk due to a blood cancer called multiple myeloma.

Older, frailer Canadians living with comorbidities in congregate settings, such as long-term care facilities, are at increased risk of breakthrough infections because their antibody levels drop “much faster” than in the general population, said Gommerman.

A recent preprint study from the Toronto-based Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Sinai Health analyzed 119 Ontario long-term care residents and 78 staff over four months, finding much lower levels of neutralizing antibodies in the elderly patients.

Gommerman also stresses there’s an important difference between infections and disease. 

“We expect people to get infected — even healthy people to get infected — as antibody levels decline, because the only thing that can protect you against a breakthrough infection are antibodies,” she said.

“But we have to think about who we’re looking at, and what underlying comorbidities might be there in people who experienced breakthrough disease.”

Other immunocompromised groups, such as transplant patients, have shown declining protection from COVID-19 vaccines, as evidenced in the New England Journal of Medicine from researchers at the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto. 

WATCH | NACI recommends COVID-19 booster shots for long-term care residents:

NACI recommends COVID-19 booster shots for seniors in long-term care

24 days ago

Amid a global debate over COVID-19 vaccine boosters, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending third doses for Canada’s most vulnerable, especially seniors in long-term care homes. 1:58

“If you are a healthy person and you’ve been fully vaccinated, you don’t need to worry about getting severe COVID-19,” Gommerman said. 

“If you are worried about getting infected with SARS-CoV-2, you should worry because you have people around you who are not vaccinated or who are under-immune.” 

Boosters for general population ‘premature’ in Canada

New data from researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in Toronto, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, found fully vaccinated people over 16 in Ontario were highly protected against both infection and severe COVID-19 after eight months.

ICES’s vaccine estimates, which have not yet been published, show that protection against symptomatic infection does drop — from 94 per cent to 81 per cent — but protection against severe outcomes remained high, at more than 90 per cent.

“The main takeaway is that we don’t need to do boosters at this time for the general population. We can hold off and wait and see — and when we start seeing the waning, then that’s when we should use the boosters,” said Dr. Jeff Kwong, an epidemiologist and senior scientist at ICES.

“It would be premature to do it at this time and not in our best interest, because we’re allowing other variants to emerge potentially if we let the pandemic spread uncontrolled in other parts of the world [where] they’re not vaccinated.”

WATCH | PHAC reviewing data supporting COVID booster shots in Canada:

Public Health officials say they are reviewing the data supporting COVID booster shots

8 days ago

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says Canada’s Public Health Agency is reviewing the data supporting third doses of a COVID vaccine and will issue recommendations soon. 1:23

Saxinger said the vast majority of Canadians who get severely ill or hospitalized after full vaccination are the very elderly, the immunocompromised, transplant patients and people with certain types of cancers. 

“That group of people, of course, they should get a third dose,” she said. “But even with a third dose, they still are going to remain vulnerable as long as we have circulating virus in the community.”

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