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BC Ferries tickets ‘hot commodities’ being swapped, sold on Sunshine Coast – News 1130

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SUNSHINE COAST (NEWS 1130) — Confronted with the possibility of hours-long waits for ferries on summer weekends, people on the Sunshine Coast are getting creative.

Duane Burnett runs a Facebook group for residents, and says reservations have become “hot commodities.”

“It’s like they have become like a black market item, almost like you would expect from scalpers at a concert or a big event. People are selling, and trading, and giving away reservations,” he says.

“I’ve never seen this before with ferry tickets.”

But the way tickets are being exchanged is unlike the secondary market for concert tickets in one key way.

“The most outrageous transaction is that people on the coast are giving away their reservations for free to help people who are desperate to get across. That speaks volumes about our community,” Burnett says.

“Our focus over the last few months has been to protect the core of the ferry system & continue to provide safe,…

Posted by Sunshine Coast BC Canada on Friday, July 17, 2020

Summer service is usually stepped up, but extra sailings have not been added due to the pandemic.

Burnett says locals have been experiencing frustrating waits amid reduced service.

“Many of them have booked multiple reservations over the summer expecting the pandemic backlog to happen, but then they can’t use them or somebody needs to get some place really fast and they can’t get on because it’s a six to eight hour wait.”

Residents get priority for boarding, but Burnett says there’s no requirement to prove that you live in a coastal community.

“Anyone can drive up to the terminal and say ‘I live on the Sunshine Coast.’ They don’t check for ID,” he says.

Burnett also says this system doesn’t work for people who are travelling to care for family or for work, and he’d like to see those travelers prioritized over people seeking a getaway.

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Canada’s coronavirus cases surge past 380K while daily death toll average stands at 87 – Global News

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Canada’s cases of the novel coronavirus pushed past 380,000 Tuesday after health authorities added another 5,326 new cases of COVID-19, as well as 81 more deaths.

The data, announced by public health officials across the country, pushed the country’s total COVID-19 cases to 383,132 and its death toll from the virus to 12,211.

To date, a total of 304,888 people — or 79 per cent of all cases — have also recovered from the virus, while over 14,779,000 tests have been administered.

Read more:
Coronavirus therapeutics: A look at COVID-19 treatments in Canada

On Tuesday, Canada’s minister of public services and procurement, Anita Anand, said the federal government was in frequent talks with several coronavirus vaccine suppliers to negotiate earlier delivery dates.

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Health Canada is currently reviewing the approval of four vaccines, with the government previously estimating an initial rollout of six million doses — enough shots to fully inoculate three million Canadians — to come in the new year.

“The delivery window is within the first quarter of 2021 … I am negotiating with our vaccine suppliers every day for earlier delivery dates. So when the Health Canada approval comes we will kick into the delivery process ASAP,” Anand said.


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Coronavirus: Feds provide additional support to Indigenous communities amid outbreaks


Coronavirus: Feds provide additional support to Indigenous communities amid outbreaks

Leaked modelling revealed on Tuesday also showed that almost 800 Albertans were projected to be hospitalized with COVID-19 by mid-December, placing an increased strain on hospitals and intensive care units.

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Canada currently has over 2,600 hospitalizations from the virus, with the number steadily growing alongside the country’s cases and deaths.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said in a statement Tuesday that the number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase, with an average of 87 deaths and over 2,250 people being treated in hospital over the past seven days.

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Coronavirus: Which COVID-19 treatments are available in Canada?


Coronavirus: Which COVID-19 treatments are available in Canada?

Ontario tallied the highest number of new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, with 1,707 more infections and seven new deaths. The province, which saw its daily coronavirus cases peak at over 1,800 on Friday, sent several of its hotspots into lockdown last week to curb its surge in new cases.

Read more:
Canada in talks with coronavirus vaccine makers ‘every day’ as approvals near: Anand

In Quebec, another 1,177 infections and 28 additional deaths were announced by health authorities Tuesday. The province has the highest number of COVID-19-related deaths in the country, which now stands at 7,084 following Tuesday’s increase.

Alberta reported 1,307 more infections as well, pushing it’s total caseload to 59,484. Ten more deaths were also added by health authorities Tuesday, with its provincial death toll now standing at 551. Manitoba reported another 282 cases while Saskatchewan added 181.

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B.C. added 653 more cases on Tuesday, of which three were diagnosed as “epi-linked,” meaning cases that displayed symptoms and were close contacts of confirmed infections, but were never tested. A total of 336 patients are considered epi-linked in the province, while the death toll stands at 457 after 16 more fatalities were announced.

Several territories and Atlantic Canadian provinces reported new cases as well, with Nova Scotia adding 10, New Brunswick another seven and both Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut reporting just one.

P.E.I., and the Northwest Territories did not add any new infections, while the Yukon has yet to update its Tuesday case figure.


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Cases of the virus continue to rise across the world, with 63,679,000 cases being reported as of today according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

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A total of 1,476,900 people have also died from the virus so far, with the United States, Brazil and India leading in both infections and fatalities.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Conservatives push for parliamentary committee study into failed vaccine deal – Canada News – Castanet.net

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The federal Conservatives are calling for a parliamentary committee to probe the Liberal government’s plan to refit a National Research Council facility in Montreal to start producing a COVID-19 vaccine.

The government announced the $44-million project in May as part of a partnership between the NRC and a Chinese company to develop a made-in-Canada vaccine.

By August, the Liberals confirmed the partnership with CanSino Biologics had fallen apart, after the Chinese government had blocked shipments of vaccine samples meant to be used in clinical trials in Canada.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has criticized the Liberals for putting too much faith in Beijing, and blamed the failed deal for Canada being late to order vaccines from other foreign companies.

The proposed committee probe would look at the investment intended to upgrade the NRC facility and how the deal impacted Canada’s efforts to ensure the country has timely access to vaccines.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted last week that Canada might have to wait for other countries to get access to vaccines, though the government and vaccine-makers have since downplayed any delay.

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COVID-19 vaccine questions answered by experts – CTV News

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As with other aspects of the COVID-19 vaccine process, the approval process has been sped up, said Chagla. Normally, pharmaceutical companies would send completed data sets to Health Canada for approval. Now, analysis of data that would typically be under embargo at this stage is happening in “real time,” he said.

U.S. health officials are expected to meet on Dec. 10 to determine emergency authorization for the Pfizer vaccine candidate, in which case distribution could begin on Dec. 11. Chagla doesn’t expect Canada to take much longer for the approval process, and thinks a vaccine could “start drizzling in at the end of the year.”

“I don’t think Canada is going to let themselves fall that far behind, noting that hopefully most of that data or some of that data is already being fed back to Health Canada right now and it’s really just crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s,” he said. “This is a global emergency that’s shutting down society and relatively so, this is probably the biggest intervention to date that might actually reduce some of the burden in our communities.”

The Canadian government assembled a team of experts and officials months ago to prepare for vaccine rollout, including logistics and prioritization. From an operations standpoint, a Canadian military general is heading the rollout. From a prioritization standpoint, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), a long-established body that includes public health, infectious disease, and immunization policy experts, created a vaccine prioritization framework, released in early November. The framework determined that people and staff at long-term care facilities should be immunized first, then other health care workers and vulnerable populations, and finally the general population.

It’s possible that vaccination could be required in certain education, health care and travel circumstances, said Chagla, and there is precedent for it.

In parts of South America and Africa, travellers are required to present a “yellow fever vaccination certificate” to prove they are immune from the virus and won’t set off an outbreak. In Canadian schools, some provinces require children and adolescents to be immunized from a variety of illnesses before they can attend school, unless they have a medical exemption.

“I think you’re going to see some fairly forward-facing industries like travel industries, health care, schools, where this is probably going to be part of the mandate,” said Chagla, noting that mandatory vaccinations get “dicey” when it comes to employment law.

While no one can be forced to get an eventual COVID-19 vaccine, ethicists have urged for more clarity around what the rollout of vaccines will mean, including for millions of people who may choose not to get one.

“That is an ethical concern because what will likely happen to people within that group is more and more opportunities may slowly be shut off to them,” Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine, told CTV National News.

Common side-effects will have already been identified since most adverse events associated with vaccines occur within a day of receiving the shot, said Bogoch, the most common of which is a sore arm.

“There are certain rare vaccine side effects that can occur two to four weeks after vaccination. They’re not very common at all,” he said, adding that early data suggests the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine candidates, which use a relatively new mRNA technology, have not resulted in any notable side effects other than people feeling “fatigued or a little unwell” in the day following vaccination.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both “messenger RNA” or mRNA vaccines, which is a new kind of vaccine technology that is like “giving an instruction booklet for your cells to make antigens,” said Chakrabarti in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca last month. In the absence of the coronavirus, a person’s cells would still be programmed to develop the antibodies that fight the virus off.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, developed by Oxford University scientists in England, uses a more well-established approach that introduces a cold virus common in chimpanzees. The vaccine alters the chimp virus, called a modified adenovirus vector, to mimic COVID-19 and thereby produce an immune response in the human body.

Probably not. While study participants represented a wide spectrum of ages and ethnicities, they were also all generally healthy people, said Chagla in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca in November. In the past, when vaccines for other illnesses rolled out, they may have had strong data from clinical trials too. “But they’re not necessarily as good as patients get more complex, as their medications get more complex and their immune system diseases are more complex,” he said, so defining the efficacy of a vaccine after rollout becomes a difficult task. “More surveillance, more data, once it comes to the market, will probably tell us what the real life efficacy of these vaccines are,” he said. “I would suggest it will probably be a little less than this 95 per cent.”

It’s too early to know. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, separated by two weeks, but the second is not considered a “booster” shot, which are given to prevent immunity from waning.

“We don’t have a clue how long immunity will last,” said Bogoch over the phone with CTVNews.ca in November. “We’ll have clues about this longer-term after people are vaccinated to see how long immunity will last.”

Booster shots are typically given several years after the first, though children will often receive them earlier to provide a more “robust immune response,” said Chagla. “For most adult vaccinations you have a series [of doses], and things like the pneumonia shot or tetanus shot you do at five, 10-year intervals after getting it just knowing that immunity wanes in some of the older populations,” he said.

The Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccine candidates all have different requirements for transportation and storage. Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be kept at -70 C during those stages to remain effective, but it is not administered into someone’s veins at that temperature, assured Bogoch.

“God, that would suck. You’d get frostbite. That would cause tremendous damage,” he said. “The Pfizer vaccine is stable for about five days in a conventional refrigerator. The Moderna vaccine needs to be stored at -20 C but it’s stable in a refrigerator for about 30 days.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine candidate can be stored between 2 C and 8 C, which experts consider a major logistical advantage for areas of the country that don’t have access to ultra-cold freezers.

The specifics of the rollout are still being developed or have not yet been announced to Canadians, but experts expect there to be a variety of methods by which people will be vaccinated. Where someone lives may determine which vaccine they receive by which method.

“It’s going to depend on what vaccine is locally available, what resources are in that region to actually administer them,” said Chagla, noting the different storage temperatures required of the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca candidates.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of different models. You’re going to see family doctor models, drive-thru models, hospital models, models where people are going into long-term care facilities and plastering it among patients and staff,” he said. “You might get other ways of administering it, like mass vaccination clinics.”

Recent lessons from the administration of influenza vaccines may be informing how a COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out, said Chagla, who expects there to be less reliance on lining up at local pharmacies.

“We can’t have people standing in long lineups, particularly in the era of COVID-19,” he said. “People getting COVID waiting for a COVID vaccine seems like fairly poor optics in that sense.”

If someone is vaccinated and they come into contact with the virus, one of two things is going to happen, said Bogoch: “You’re either going to get the infection, or you’re not.”

Early data from COVID-19 vaccine trials suggests that the probability of getting the infection is significantly lower in vaccinated people than in unvaccinated people. Similarly, the early data suggests severe illness is also less common in people who are vaccinated.

“It’s extremely important to note that we don’t have the data available, and we’re only going by the snippets of data that we do have available,” he added.

Yes. While a minority of people get sick and die from COVID-19, that small group of people can still overwhelm the hospital system, said Chakrabarti.

“Once that happens, there’s a ripple affect that has effects on everybody’s health,” he said, noting cancer screening appointments are cancelled and elective operations are postponed. As of Dec. 1, some of the largest hospitals in Canada were nearing capacity, threatening widespread cancellations of non-emergency surgeries that would further extend a health care backlog.

While some have suggested protecting the elderly and letting the virus “rip” through society to allow for natural herd immunity, Chakrabarti says it’s very difficult to protect all vulnerable people and the consequences of such a strategy can’t be understated.

“The cost of doing that is that you would overrun hospitals and there would be all sorts of collateral damage,” he said.

Maybe, but it’s unlikely that individual people will get each of the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines, or some other combination of vaccines, during the first rollout, said Chakrabarti.

“This stuff will be honed in the coming years as we start to get to know more and more. There is a precedent for using vaccines of slightly different mechanisms to give you a synergistic type of effect,” he said, noting that high-risk populations are inoculated with both pneumonia vaccines on the market for a more powerful affect.

There’s also added benefit to having multiple vaccines on the market, whether or not an individual person receives multiple shots. The differences in the storage requirements alone provide important benefits, particularly to the developing world, noted Chagla.

“Right now it’s just a race to get a vaccine on the market rather than necessarily saying ‘What’s the optimal strategy?’” he said. “As things go on, we’re probably going to get more and more data to say which one is better in kids, which one is better in the elderly, which one is better in certain settings, or with certain medications. That’s the benefit fo having multiple on the market.”

While some experts expect a feeling of “normal” to return at some point next year, a complete return to normal might not come until 2022.

“The rollout of the vaccine is a gargantuan task,” said Chakrabarti. “I do completely expect that things will be back to normal sometime in 2022. I think 2021 will be a gradual and stepwise improvement in our daily lives and the case count.”

Chagla expects people will begin to “step off the break” once the most vulnerable populations are vaccinated in the early months of 2021. Summer could be close to normal, he added. “We’re going to see ‘normal’ starting to show up more and more and more as some of those higher-risk settings get more and more vaccinated,” he said.

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