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B.C. to prioritize COVID-19 outbreaks and clusters with first doses of AstraZeneca vaccine –



Essential workers under the age of 65 and affected by an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak or cluster will be the first to get the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in British Columbia.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday the province is unsure on exactly how many doses will arrive next week in a shipment from India, but it will be in the thousands.

The vaccine is seen as easier to move than the Pfizer-BionTech and Moderna products and will be part of a separate stream of vaccinations than the age-based mass vaccination roll out.

“We know that there are some outbreaks right now that have been going on that have been challenging to manage, where immunization is going to be that extra tool to help us manage those so that we can stop that cycle of workplace to community transmission,” Henry said.

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Alberta to begin offering AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to those eligible

Alberta to begin offering AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to those eligible

This vaccine will be made available to first responders and other essential workers, and the delivery of these vaccines will run in parallel but separately from our age-based community-wide immunization program.

The vaccines were not expected to be in Canada until April or May, with Henry describing the early arrival as an “added bonus.” One of the additional challenges is that some of the vaccine expires on April 2.

Possible recipients will have the option to turn down the shot, but the province is advising people it is safe and effective at preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19.

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“We can look at the data and you can see that the rise in seven-day average, rolling average of cases, the outbreaks, the clusters we’re seeing in communities are in the Lower Mainland, particularly, and that’s where some of the more recalcitrant outbreaks have been,” Henry said.

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“Some of them are in food processing, some agricultural working. We’ve had some ongoing outbreaks in the north. People who are getting sick in a food processing plant in the Fraser Valley, many of them are lower-paid workers who live in large setting, either communal settings or in multi-generational households, and the spillover into our communities that then is into other areas through transmission to family members.”

Click to play video 'AstraZeneca vaccine arrives in Canada with a shelf life of less than a month'

AstraZeneca vaccine arrives in Canada with a shelf life of less than a month

AstraZeneca vaccine arrives in Canada with a shelf life of less than a month

The bulk of the vaccine will then be used for other essential workers. Henry admits the challenge for distribution is first responders and essential workers are “a very broad group of people.”

British Columbia’s process will not be random. Henry is working with the province’s long-standing BC Immunization Committee that is also made up of experts from public health, from vaccinology and the Vaccine Evaluation Centre.

The committee also includes pharmacists, family doctors and infectious disease specialists.

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The group will be working, based on ethical guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations, to determine which essential workers go first.

“Based upon this information we will, the BC Immunization Committee is right now going through a process of defining who should receive vaccines as it becomes available and that we will ensure those groups are than sequenced and we put the operational pieces into place,” Henry said.

“So those recommendations, I expect, are coming to me in the coming days and based on this information the detailed plan will be developed over the next week to two weeks which we will share publicly as soon as we have those details ready.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Stability of future AstraZeneca vaccine supply coming from Ottawa'

Coronavirus: Stability of future AstraZeneca vaccine supply coming from Ottawa

Coronavirus: Stability of future AstraZeneca vaccine supply coming from Ottawa

BC Food & Beverage, an organization representing a number of B.C. food processors, says it has been working with government to prioritize workers in food processing plants. One of the challenges is the inability to physically distance in many of the plants.

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The organization is hoping the province will prioritize food processing workers based on considerations such as plant population density, whether a plant is located in a high-COVID-19 zone, and any potential animal welfare issues if a plant were to close.

“Some of the drivers of the economy, food supply is a key one and we see our industry as an essential service and if there is an opportunity to have access to the vaccine it would benefit all British Columbians,” CEO James Donaldson said.

Read more:
AstraZeneca vaccine ‘still a win,’ needs better promotion by officials: experts

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation is also advocating for teachers to have access to the vaccine. President Teri Mooring says the shot should be prioritized for teachers in COVID hotspots like Surrey and in areas like Hazelton, where the virus has led to staff shortages and concerns about keeping the schools open.

“We are also seeing other jurisdictions, in particularly the U.S., prioritizing teachers to keep schools open,” Mooring said.

“We know one way schools can remain open is prioritize teachers in the essential workers.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Sanofi-GSK report positive interim results for their COVID-19 shot



An experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline showed a robust immune response in early-stage clinical trial results, enabling them to move to a late-stage study, the French drugmaker said on Monday.

Sanofi and Britain’s GSK said a global Phase III trial would start in the coming weeks and involve more than 35,000 adults, with the hope of seeing the vaccine approved by the fourth quarter after having initially targeted the first half of this year before a setback.

Sanofi and GSK last December were forced to restart their trial when the vaccine showed a low immune response in older adults as a result of a weak antigen formulation.

Sanofi and GSK shares were little changed in early trading.

“The Phase II interim results showed 95% to 100% seroconversion following a second injection in all age groups and across all doses, with acceptable tolerability and no safety concerns,” Sanofi said.

Seroconversion refers to the vaccine’s ability to prompt the body to produce antibodies against the coronavirus, as measured by blood readings. Later mass trials will be based on real infections.

“Interestingly, we also observed that our vaccine generated a higher antibody response in those with previous COVID-19 infection, we are analysing this further as it may suggest our vaccine could serve as a potential booster, regardless of what vaccine someone may have received (beforehand),” Su-Peing Ng, Sanofi’s global head of medical for vaccines, told reporters.

Ng said the vaccine had not been tested against so-called variants in the Phase II trial but that the Phase III study would be assessing it against various strains including a virus lineage known as B.1.351 first detected in South Africa.

But Sanofi, Ng said, has conducted parallel studies evaluating its vaccines against variants, with results expected to be published soon.

GSK and Sanofi’s vaccine candidate uses the same technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the shot, made by GSK.


Some 162.75 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019, while economies have taken a hit and restrictions have turned daily life upside down.

The United States and Europe have embarked on mass vaccinations programmes in the past months, raising hopes of a gradual reopening, although the virus is still in circulation in many regions, with variants causing concern.

Last month, the European Union executive’s President Ursula von der Leyen said protein-based COVID-19 vaccines such as the one developed by Sanofi and GSK offered “quite a potential”, a positive signal as the bloc develops its purchasing strategy for the next two years.

Sanofi’s shot, however, even if approved, will come long after ones from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which have produced efficacy results of more than 90%.

So far, Sanofi has purchasing agreements with the United States, the EU, Britain and Canada, as well as with the World Health Organization-backed COVAX facility.

The company has pledged to help other drugmakers this year, striking “fill and finish” deals for vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

In addition to its vaccine project in collaboration with GSK, Sanofi is working on a mRNA candidate with U.S. company Translate Bio for which it has started clinical trials.


(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely)

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Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 161.42 million, death toll at 3,488,751



More than 161.42 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 3,488,751​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open in an external browser.

Eikon users can click  for a case tracker.

The following table lists the top 50 countries by the number of reported cases. A complete list is available with the above links.




United States 584,768 32,926,288 17.9

India 262,317 24,046,809 1.94

Brazil 430,417 15,433,989 20.55

France 107,423 5,848,154 16.04

Turkey 44,301 5,095,390 5.38

Russia 254,590 4,922,901 17.62

United Kingdom 127,668 4,446,824 19.21

Italy 123,927 4,146,722 20.51

Spain 79,339 3,604,799 16.95

Germany 85,903 3,579,871 10.36

Argentina 69,254 3,242,103 15.56

Colombia 79,760 3,067,879 16.06

Poland 71,311 2,849,014 18.78

Iran 76,433 2,732,152 9.34

Mexico 219,901 2,375,115 17.43

Ukraine 47,620 2,143,448 10.67

Peru 65,316 1,873,316 20.02

Indonesia 47,823 1,734,285 1.79

Czech Republic 29,857 1,651,178 28.09

South Africa 55,012 1,605,252 9.52

Netherlands 17,423 1,589,282 10.11

Canada 24,825 1,312,408 6.7

Chile 27,520 1,266,601 14.69

Iraq 15,910 1,134,859 4.14

Philippines 18,958 1,131,467 1.78

Romania 29,413 1,070,605 15.11

Sweden 14,275 1,037,126 14.03

Belgium 24,645 1,026,473 21.56

Pakistan 19,384 873,220 0.91

Portugal 16,999 841,379 16.53

Israel 6,379 839,076 7.18

Hungary 29,041 796,390 29.71

Bangladesh 12,102 779,535 0.75

Jordan 9,203 722,754 9.24

Serbia 6,646 705,185 9.52

Switzerland 10,179 679,510 11.96

Japan 11,396 673,821 0.9

Austria 10,455 635,780 11.83

United Arab Emirates 1,626 543,610 1.69

Lebanon 7,569 534,968 11.05

Morocco 9,091 514,670 2.52

Malaysia 1,822 462,190 0.58

Nepal 4,669 439,658 1.66

Saudi Arabia 7,134 431,432 2.12

Bulgaria 17,194 413,320 24.48

Ecuador 19,442 405,783 11.38

Slovakia 12,168 387,162 22.34

Greece 11,322 373,881 10.55

Belarus 2,681 373,351 2.83

Panama 6,288 369,455 15.05

Source: Reuters tally based on statements from health ministries and government officials

Generated at 10:00 GMT.


(Editing by David Clarke)

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Canada plots course to fully vaccinated return to gatherings in fall



Canada on Friday said there would be a gradual return to a world with indoor sports and family gatherings as more people get vaccinated, but it did not go as far as the United States in telling people they could eventually ditch their masks.

Canada has administered one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to just over half its adult population, and the country may be over the worst of its current third wave of infections, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places, guidance the agency said will allow life to begin to return to normal.

On Friday, Canada‘s public health agency offered guidelines to the 10 provinces, which are responsible for public health restrictions.

The agency says once 75% of Canadians have had a single dose and 20% are fully vaccinated, some restrictions can be relaxed to allow small, outdoor gatherings with family and friends, camping, and picnics.

Once 75% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in the fall, indoor sports and family gatherings can be allowed again.

“I think masks might be the last layer of that multi-layer protection that we’ll advise people to remove,” Tam told reporters, noting that in Canada colder temperatures meant people would start spending more time indoors in the fall.

“We are taking a bit of a different approach to the United States,” she added. While in most of Canada masks are not required outdoors, they are mandatory indoors.

Less than 4% of Canada‘s adult population has been fully vaccinated compared to more than 36% of Americans.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has promised that everyone who wants to can be fully vaccinated by September, this week spoke of a “one-dose summer” and a “two-dose fall” without explaining what that might look like.


(Reporting by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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