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Biden to receive COVID-19 vaccine as Trump remains on sidelines – The Globe and Mail

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U.S. president-elect Joe Biden, with vice-president-elect Kamala Harris, speaks about the COVID-19 crisis before introducing nominees to his incoming administration in Wilmington, Del., on Dec. 11, 2020. Biden is set to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

The leader of the Trump administration’s vaccination program says people who have been infected with the coronavirus – a group that includes President Donald Trump – should receive the vaccine.

Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser of Operation Warp Speed, told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that the vaccine is safe for those who have recovered and offers stronger and potentially longer protection than does the virus itself.

“We know that infection doesn’t induce a very strong immune response and it wanes over time. So I think, as a clear precaution, it is appropriate to be vaccinated because it’s safe,” he said. “I think people should be vaccinated, indeed.”

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Trump is now one of the only senior-most U.S. officials who has not received the first of two vaccination shots, which began being administered last week as part of the largest vaccination campaign in the country’s history. Vice-President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., all were given doses Friday. President-elect Joe Biden was to receive his Monday.

All have chosen to publicize their injections as part of a campaign to convince a skeptical public that the vaccines are safe and effective, in hopes of finally putting an end to a pandemic that has killed more than 317,000 people in the United States and upended life around the globe.

Trump, who in the past has spread misinformation about vaccine risks, tweeted earlier this month that he was “not scheduled” to take the vaccine, but looked “forward to doing so at the appropriate time.” The White House says he is still discussing timing with his doctors.

Trump was hospitalized with COVID-19 in October and given an experimental monoclonal antibody treatment that he credited for his swift recovery.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory board has said people who received that treatment should wait at least 90 days to be vaccinated to avoid any potential interference.

“When the time is right, I’m sure he will remain willing to take it,” White House spokesperson Brian Morgenstern echoed Friday. “It’s just something we’re working through.”

Whose COVID-19 vaccines are coming to Canada, and when? How well do they work? Everything you need to know

Trump has spent the last week largely out of sight as he continues to stew about his election loss and floats increasingly outlandish schemes to remain in power. It’s an approach that has bewildered top aides who see his silence as a missed opportunity for the president, who leaves office Jan. 20, to claim credit for helping oversee the speedy development of the vaccine and to burnish his legacy.

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Trump has also come under criticism for failing to take the vaccine himself as an example to help allay concerns about its safety, especially among Republicans.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was the first to receive authorization, “is safe and likely efficacious” in people who have been infected with COVID-19 and “should be offered regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

While there is no recommended minimum wait time between infection and vaccination, because reinfection is uncommon in the three months after a person is infected, the committee said people who tested positive in the preceding 90 days “may delay vaccination until near the end of this period, if desired.”

But the advisers also recommended that those who received the kind of treatment Trump did should put off being vaccinated for at least 90 days.

“Currently, there are no data on the safety and efficacy of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination in persons who received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as part of COVID-19 treatment,” they wrote, recommending that vaccination “be deferred for at least 90 days, as a precautionary measure until additional information becomes available, to avoid interference of the antibody treatment with vaccine-induced immune responses.”

Surgeon General Jerome Adams cited that recommendation on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday when asked if Trump planned to receive the shot on camera.

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“From a scientific point of view, I will remind people that the president has had COVID within the last 90 days. He received the monoclonal antibodies. And that is actually one scenario where we tell people maybe you should hold off on getting the vaccine, talk to your health provider to find out the right time,” Adams said.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has given other explanations for the delay. She told reporters last week that Trump was holding off, in part, “to show Americans that our priority are the most vulnerable.”

“The President wants to send a parallel message, which is, you know, our long-term care facility residents and our frontline workers are paramount in importance, and he wants to set an example in that regard,” she said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, is among those who have recommended that Trump be vaccinated without delay.

“Even though the president himself was infected, and he has, likely, antibodies that likely would be protective, we’re not sure how long that protection lasts. So, to be doubly sure, I would recommend that he get vaccinated,” he told ABC News.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

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Calgary company begins human clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate – Business News – Castanet.net

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Human clinical trials have begun in Toronto for a proposed COVID-19 vaccine made by a Canadian company.

Providence Therapeutics of Calgary says 60 subjects will be monitored for 13 months, with the first results expected next month.

The group of healthy volunteers aged 18 to 65 have been divided into four groups of 15. Three of the groups will get three different dose levels, while a fourth group gets a placebo.

Pending regulatory approval, the company’s CEO Brad Sorenson says a larger Phase 2 trial may start in May with seniors, younger subjects and pregnant people.

Providence uses messenger RNA technology for a product it calls PTX-COVID19-B.

Sorenson says if successful, the vaccine could be released by the end of the year.

“We are thrilled to begin human clinical trials of PTX-COVID19-B. Having a made-in-Canada solution to address the global COVID-19 pandemic will augment the reliability of vaccine supply for Canadians, contribute to the global vaccine supply and position a Canadian company on the global stage as a contributor to the solution,” Sorenson said Tuesday in a release.

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Rich couple took COVID vaccine meant for Indigenous: Charges – Al Jazeera English

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Canadian couple charged with flying to rural, First Nations settlement and posing as residents to take vaccine.

Great Canadian Gaming CEO Rod Baker has resigned, the company said on Monday, after he and his wife were charged with travelling to a northern Canada settlement that is majority Indigenous and misleading authorities in order to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp, which first reported the incident, said Baker, 55, and his wife Ekaterina Baker, 32, had travelled from Vancouver to the Yukon territory and posed as local workers in the remote community of Beaver Creek in order to receive a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The Canadian census says in 2016, 85 of the 93 individuals who lived in the Beaver Creek settlement were Indigenous, part of the White River First Nation.

“We are deeply concerned by the actions of individuals who put our Elders and vulnerable people at risk to jump the line for selfish purposes,” White River First Nation Chief Angela Demit wrote on Facebook.

Beaver Creek is found in northwestern Canada, where rural communities are being given priority for vaccinations, as government data shows they face higher rates of infection, the Yukon News reported.

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Documents filed in the Yukon court registry show the pair were charged on Thursday with having failed to behave in a manner “consistent with (their) declaration”.

They also were charged with failing to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Yukon and each was fined 1,150 Canadian dollars ($905.12), according to the tickets.

Baker did not immediately return Reuters’s request for comment.

Great Canadian Gaming said in a statement it received the chief executive officer’s resignation on Sunday but offered no details, saying it did not comment on personnel matters.

Yukon’s Community Services Minister John Streicker said in a statement he was “outraged” and found it “disturbing that people would choose to put fellow Canadians at risk in this manner”.

A spokesman for the Yukon government said it would implement new requirements for proving residency in the territory.

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BlackRock's shift to 'net-zero' investments is accelerating, CEO Larry Fink says – The Globe and Mail

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Larry Fink, founder and chief executive of the investment firm Blackrock, at his offices in New York, on Aug. 10, 2016.

DAMON WINTER/The New York Times

BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest fund manager, is accelerating its push to reduce the risks of climate change for clients, asking corporate leaders to disclose how their companies will fare in a “net-zero” economy and selling its stakes in those that fail to live up to heightened standards.

BlackRock chief executive officer Larry Fink said in his annual letters to the CEOs of companies in the firm’s portfolio and to BlackRock clients that the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the reallocation of capital to investments with lower-climate risk. Activity boomed as countries made new pledges to get to net zero – when greenhouse gas emissions are simultaneously reduced and offset – as they plotted economic recovery.

From January to November last year, investors around the world plowed US$288-billion into mutual funds and exchange-traded funds with sustainable assets, nearly double the the tally of 2019, he said.

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Mr. Fink’s comments show how New York-based BlackRock, which manages US$8.7-trillion in assets on behalf of pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and other clients, has quickly built on its market-moving pronouncements of a year ago. Mr. Fink made headlines by saying BlackRock would part ways with companies that generate more than 25 per cent of their sales from thermal coal, and set up new ETFs that filter out fossil fuel investments.

It was seen as a wake-up call for the corporate world, and several other major investors have since made similar announcements. On Tuesday, Mr. Fink described the change in investor preference for more sustainable opportunities as a “tectonic shift.”

“Given how central the energy transition will be to every company’s growth prospects, we are asking companies to disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net zero economy – that is, one where global warming is limited to well below 2 degrees Celsius, consistent with a global aspiration of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” Mr. Fink wrote in his letter to CEOs.

“We are asking you to disclose how this plan is incorporated into your long-term strategy and reviewed by your board of directors.”

Governments in the European Union, China, Japan, South Korea and Canada have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions in the coming decades. Under new President Joe Biden, the United States has committed to rejoining the Paris Agreement on battling climate change. No company will be unaffected by the transition, and gathering and assessing data will be key, Mr. Fink said.

“Of course, investors cannot prepare their portfolios for this transition unless they understand how each and every company is prepared both for the physical threats of climate change and the global economy’s transition to net zero,” Mr. Fink said.

Last year, BlackRock asked all companies in its portfolio to disclose information about climate-change risk and social and governance issues in step with guidelines established by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

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Mr. Fink said he is urging all companies to begin disclosing climate data in line with the TCFD standard before regulators begin to mandate such reporting. Last week, an Ontario government task force recommended the Ontario Securities Commission require companies to adopt such disclosure.

In its active investing portfolios, BlackRock is adopting a “heightened scrutiny model,” applying its risk-management tools to identify particularly high climate risk among companies owing to high carbon intensity and insufficient preparation for the energy transition.

“Where we do not see progress in this area, and in particular where we see a lack of alignment combined with a lack of engagement, we will not only use our vote against management for our index portfolio-held shares, we will also flag these holdings for potential exit in our discretionary active portfolios because we believe they would present a risk to our clients’ returns,” Mr. Fink wrote in his letter to clients.

“Conversely, we believe companies that distinguish themselves in terms of their emissions trajectory, transition preparedness and governance will often represent an opportunity for our clients.”

Jeffrey Jones writes about sustainable finance and the ESG sector for The Globe and Mail. Reach him at jeffjones@globeandmail.com.

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