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BC fields tough COVID-19 questions on urban restrictions – Abbotsford News

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B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is walking a fine line to keep schools and businesses functioning as the province prepares for more big COVID-19 infection numbers from the weekend.

B.C. hit a daily high on Friday, Nov. 13 with 617 new coronavirus cases reported, as the second week of restrictions on the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions began. Orders in effect from Nov. 7 to 23 put a stop to travel for sports and leisure to and from the Lower Mainland, and indoor group fitness and social gatherings at private homes within the two health regions that have seen most of the increased virus spread.

Guidance posted over the weekend clarifies that people living alone can “continue to see one or two members of their pandemic bubble at each other’s homes,” where the pandemic bubble is your household.

Much of the guidance defines what is or isn’t a social gathering. There is no order restricting travel in or out of the Lower Mainland, and work, medical appointments and other essential business carries on during the two weeks of the order. COVID-19 test results will determine if the restrictions are extended past Nov. 23.

Religious services continue with safety plans for a limit of 50 people, and work or family-related travel and car-pooling to school or work is allowed. The guidance answers common questions, such as why Henry has not made masks mandatory in public indoor spaces.

“Dr. Henry expects everyone who can to use masks, the same way she expects everyone to maintain a safe distance from others, clean their hands and cough into their sleeves,” the guidance documents say.

RELATED: Canada approaches 300,000 COVID-19 cases

RELATED: Second COVID-19 vaccine shows early success

And then there are schools, with classrooms arranged in cohorts to minimize their number of contacts. School transmission is being monitored and the risk has been considered low compared to higher-risk activities.

Q: “Why is it safe for a teacher to be in a classroom of 26 students, but not see a few close friends?”

A: “This order is based on evidence that social gatherings, particularly in household settings but also in other social situations such as gatherings before or after sports events or indoor group physical activities are causing significant COVID-19 transmission.

“People who violate this order bring exposure risks into their home, risks that they latter take with them to their workplaces. We all need to reduce our social interactions so we can keep our schools and workplaces open.”

Restaurants, pubs and movie theatres continue to operate as before. Like classrooms, these are considered controlled settings, where seating is spaced and moving from one seat group to another is not permitted, unlike wedding and funeral receptions where large groups have not been effectively regulated.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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Alberta reports new one-day record Sunday with 1,584 new COVID-19 cases – Strathroy Age Dispatch

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As Albertarecorded a newrecord for single-day COVID-19 cases, the fifth one in a week, Albertans are left wondering what next steps to take when it comes to new restrictions.

On Sunday, the province reported 1,584 new cases of COVID-19 with 4,309 active cases in the city of Edmonton, a rate of 421.8 per 100,000 people.

During a Thursday emergency advisory committee meeting, Mayor Don Iveson asked Dr. Michael Zakhary what the trigger points would be for stronger COVID-19 measures to be brought in.

Zakhary, a medical officer of health for the Edmonton Zone, said that’s a policy decision for Alberta Health.

“At the moment we haven’t had information from Alberta Health about the triggers for the next action,” he said.

Not having detailed information on when and how new restrictions may come down is frustrating, said Coun. Andrew Knack in an interview Sunday.

He said at the beginning of the pandemic it was easier for the community to come together when Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, and Premier Jason Kenney explained the scope and scale of the province’s COVID-19 situation with modelling in April.

“To date, we don’t even have new modelling based on everything we’ve learned over the last eight months,” Knack said.

“So that’s challenging for everyone, including folks in municipal government, to know what the right actions are to help minimize the impact to people’s health as well as to our economy.”

The city could help if it had information on triggers for new restrictions as well as when they might loosen.

“We could aid in the decisions, we could make adjustments to our own civic facilities to help make sure we’re being clear to Edmontonians what needs to be done and what shouldn’t be done and what should be done,” Knack said.

One area that could be helpful with the city’s COVID-19 response, Coun. Ben Henderson said, is if the city’s peace officers were given the power to once again enforce restrictions in addition to police.

“There’s a whole bunch of areas where we could probably be more effective for our population,” Henderson said. “The province is one of the very few provinces that hasn’t done a mask bylaw, but has been very supportive of us doing ours, so there’s a kind of mixed signal there as well.”

Hinshaw said Friday she is preparing new recommendations for the province to consider.

“No decisions have yet been made, but of course we are watching very closely and considering what may need to be done if our numbers do not go down,” she said.

As of Sunday, there were 12,195 active cases across the province and 310 people hospitalized, including 60 in intensive care units. There were no new deaths.

In the County of Vermilion River there were 7 active cases as of Monday morning. That’s a rate of 54.2 active cases per 100,000. In the County of St. Paul there are 20 cases as of Monday morning–a rate of 121.3 active cases per 100,000.

The most recent restrictions impacting group sports, fitness, amateur arts performances, and late-night restaurant liquor sales were implemented on Nov. 13. They are expected to be in effect until Friday.

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley is seeking an emergency debate on Monday afternoon in light of the record number of COVID-19 cases and the lack of information and lack of action from Kenney.

“This is the greatest public health threat we have faced in our lives,” said Notley in a news release. “When faced with great challenges, Albertans are always willing to roll up their sleeves and work together, but to do so they need leadership and a road map. So far, the premier has provided neither.

“We have seen premiers across the country address the public in recent days and provide modelling and other information that makes it clear just how big of a threat COVID-19 is. In Alberta, we’ve seen nothing of the sort.”

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3rd major COVID-19 vaccine shown to be effective and cheaper – Medicine Hat News

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By Danica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press on November 23, 2020.

FILE – In this Wednesday, June 24, 2020 file photo, a volunteer receives an injection at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg, as part of Africa’s first participation in a COVID-19 vaccine trial developed at the University of Oxford in Britain in conjunction with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. On Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, AstraZeneca Inc. announced that the Food and Drug Administration is letting it resume testing of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the U.S. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Pool via AP)

LONDON – Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals.

The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.

AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage results for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world anxiously waits for scientific breakthroughs that will bring an end to a pandemic that has wrought economic devastation and resulted in nearly 1.4 million confirmed deaths.

Pfizer and Moderna last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective. But, unlike its rivals, the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.

“I think these are really exciting results,” Dr. Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the trial, said during a news conference. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal “¦ to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is also cheaper. AstraZeneca, which has pledged it won’t make a profit on the vaccine during the pandemic, has reached agreements with governments and international health organizations that put its cost at about $2.50 a dose. Pfizer’s vaccine costs about $20 a dose, while Moderna’s is $15 to $25, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.

All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.

Oxford researchers and AstraZeneca stressed that they aren’t competing with other projects, and that multiple vaccines will be needed to reach enough of the world’s population and end the pandemic.

“We’re not thinking about vaccinations working in terms of one person at a time. We have to think about vaccinating communities, populations, reducing transmission within those populations, so that we really get on top of this pandemic,” said Sarah Gilbert, a leader of the Oxford research team. “And that’s what it now looks like we’re going to have the ability to contribute to in a really big way.”

The results come as a second wave of COVID-19 hits many countries, once again shutting businesses, restricting social interaction and pummeling the world economy.

AstraZeneca said it will immediately apply for early approval of the vaccine where possible, and it will seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization, so it can make the vaccine available in low-income countries.

The AstraZeneca trial looked at two different dosing regimens. A half-dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least one month later was 90% effective. Another approach, giving patients two full doses one month apart, was 62% effective. The combined results showed an average efficacy rate of 70%.

The vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that is combined with genetic material for the characteristic spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19. After vaccination, the spike protein primes the immune system to attack the virus if it later infects the body.

The vaccine can be transported under “normal refrigerated conditions” of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit), AstraZeneca said. By comparison, Pfizer plans to distribute its vaccine using specially designed “thermal shippers” that use dry ice to maintain temperatures of minus-70 degrees Celsius (minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit).

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the finding that a smaller initial dose is more effective than a larger one is good news because it may reduce costs and mean more people can be vaccinated.

“The report that an initial half-dose is better than a full dose seems counterintuitive for those of us thinking of vaccines as normal drugs: With drugs, we expect that higher doses have bigger effects, and more side-effects,” he said. “But the immune system does not work like that.”

The results reported Monday come from trials in the U.K. and Brazil that involved 23,000 people. Late-stage trials are also underway in the U.S., Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and Latin America, with further trials planned for other European and Asian countries.

AstraZeneca has been ramping up manufacturing capacity, so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine starting in January, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said earlier this month.

Soriot said Monday that the Oxford vaccine’s simpler supply chain and AstraZeneca’s commitment to provide it on a non-profit basis during the pandemic mean it will be affordable and available to people around the world.

“This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,” Soriot said.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he felt “a great sense of relief” at the news from AstraZeneca.

Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, and the government says several million doses can be produced before the end of the year if it is approved by regulators.

Just months ago, “the idea that by November we would have three vaccines, all of which have got high effectiveness “¦ I would have given my eye teeth for,” Hancock said.

___

Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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AstraZeneca says late-stage trials show coronavirus vaccine ‘highly effective’ – Global News

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AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90 per cent effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals.

The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.

Read more:
AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine produces strong immune response in older adults

AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage results for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world anxiously waits for scientific breakthroughs that will bring an end to a pandemic that has wrought economic devastation and resulted in nearly 1.4 million confirmed deaths.

Story continues below advertisement

In September, Canada inked a deal to obtain up to 20 million doses from AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

Pfizer and Moderna last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective. But, unlike its rivals, the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.

“I think these are really exciting results,” Dr. Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the trial, said during a news conference. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”






1:40
Canada signs new coronavirus vaccine deals


Canada signs new coronavirus vaccine deals – Sep 25, 2020

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is also cheaper. AstraZeneca, which has pledged it won’t make a profit on the vaccine during the pandemic, has reached agreements with governments and international health organizations that put its price at about $2.50 a dose. Pfizer’s vaccine costs about $20 a dose, while Moderna’s is $15 to $25, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.

Story continues below advertisement

All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

The results come as a second wave of COVID-19 hits many countries, once again shutting businesses, restricting social interaction and pummeling the world economy.

AstraZeneca said it will immediately apply for early approval of the vaccine where possible, and it will seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization, so it can make the vaccine available in low-income countries.

The AstraZeneca trial looked at two different dosing regimens. A half-dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least one month later was 90 per cent effective. Another approach, giving patients two full doses one month apart, was 62 per cent effective. The combined results showed an average efficacy rate of 70 per cent.

Read more:
AstraZeneca to resume coronavirus vaccine trial after unexplained illness in U.K.

The vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that is combined with genetic material for the characteristic spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19. After vaccination, the spike protein primes the immune system to attack the virus if it later infects the body.

The vaccine can be transported under “normal refrigerated conditions” of two to eight degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit), AstraZeneca said. By comparison, Pfizer plans to distribute its vaccine using specially designed “thermal shippers” that use dry ice to maintain temperatures of -70 degrees C (minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit).

Story continues below advertisement

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the finding that a smaller initial dose is more effective than a larger one is good news because it may reduce costs and mean more people can be vaccinated.

“The report that an initial half-dose is better than a full dose seems counterintuitive for those of us thinking of vaccines as normal drugs: With drugs, we expect that higher doses have bigger effects, and more side-effects,” he said. “But the immune system does not work like that.”


Click to play video 'Early trials of U.K. COVID-19 vaccine shows promise'



1:41
Early trials of U.K. COVID-19 vaccine shows promise


Early trials of U.K. COVID-19 vaccine shows promise – Jul 20, 2020

The results reported Monday come from trials in the U.K. and Brazil that involved 23,000 people. Late-stage trials are also underway in the U.S., Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and Latin America, with further trials planned for other European and Asian countries.

AstraZeneca has been ramping up manufacturing capacity, so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine starting in January, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said earlier this month.

Story continues below advertisement

Soriot said Monday that the Oxford vaccine’s simpler supply chain and AstraZeneca’s commitment to provide it on a nonprofit basis during the pandemic mean it will be affordable and available to people around the world.

“This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,” Soriot said.

Read more:
Canada could get multiple coronavirus vaccines. Experts say there are unique challenges

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he felt “a great sense of relief” at the news from AstraZeneca.

Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, and the government says several million doses can be produced before the end of the year if it is approved by regulators.

Just months ago, “the idea that by November we would have three vaccines, all of which have got high effectiveness … I would have given my eye teeth for,” Hancock said.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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