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Britain becomes 1st country to approve Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine – Global News

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Britain on Wednesday became the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca as it battles a major winter surge driven by a new, highly contagious variant of the virus.

Boris Johnson’s government, which has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, has jumped ahead of other Western countries with its vaccination program.

It was the first to approve a shot developed by Pfizer of the United States and Germany’s BioNTech, with the result that hundreds of thousands of people were vaccinated in Britain before European Union countries and the United States even began administering it this month.

Read more:
Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine shows 70% overall efficacy, more work needed: study

The AstraZeneca/Oxford shot, unlikely to be approved for some time by EU or U.S. regulators, will start being administered on Monday, beginning with those most at risk from COVID-19.

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While the approval by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is a vindication for a shot seen as essential for mass immunisations in the developing world as well as in Britain, it does not eliminate questions about trial data that make it unlikely to be approved so rapidly in the European Union or the United States.

Uncertainty has swirled over the most effective dosing pattern for the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine since it released data last month showing a 90% success rate for a half-dose followed by a full dose, but only 62% – still usually more than enough for regulators – for two full doses.


Click to play video 'AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine looks promising, 70% effective on average'



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AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine looks promising, 70% effective on average


AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine looks promising, 70% effective on average – Nov 23, 2020

The MHRA said that the results for the half-dose regimen had not been borne out by analysis. Instead, it approved the regimen of two full doses.

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An official involved in the MHRA decision, said that the vaccine’s effectiveness had risen when the doses were given three months apart.

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“Effectiveness was high, up to 80%, when there was a three- month interval between first and second doses, which is the reason for our recommendation,” Munir Pirmohamed, Chair of the Commission on Human medicines expert Working Group on COVID-19 vaccines, told reporters.

Read more:
U.K. to assess AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as questions swirl over data

Hancock said hundreds of thousands of doses would be available to administer next week in Britain.

“The NHS (National Health Service) will be able to deliver these shots into people’s arms at the speed at which it can be manufactured,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News.

“I am also now, with this approval this morning, highly confident that we can get enough vulnerable people vaccinated by the spring that we can now see our route out of this pandemic.”


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: WHO encouraged by AstraZeneca vaccine results, but needs further analysis'



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Coronavirus: WHO encouraged by AstraZeneca vaccine results, but needs further analysis


Coronavirus: WHO encouraged by AstraZeneca vaccine results, but needs further analysis – Nov 23, 2020

Crucially for countries with relatively basic health infrastructure, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine can be stored and transported under normal refrigeration, rather than supercooled to -70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit).

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The vaccine is one of two candidates currently undergoing a rolling review by Health Canada, along with one developed by Johnson & Johnson. The agency has not said when approval might come for the AstraZeneca shot.

India is keen to start administering the new shot next month; Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, has already made about 50 million doses. Chile is also interested.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout and Paul Sandle in London, additional reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru, Kate Kelland in London, John Miller in Zurich, Emilio Parodi in Milan; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Kevin Liffey)

–With files from Global News and the Associated Press

© 2020 Reuters

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TD Bank CFO Ahmed to head securities unit, move seen as CEO succession play

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TD Bank Group on Thursday named Chief Financial Officer Riaz Ahmed chief executive of its securities unit and head of wholesale banking, a move some investors interpreted as a sign he will succeed CEO Bharat Masrani.

For Ahmed, 58, the change marks a return to his TD roots. He began his career at the bank in 1996 as an investment banker in the securities division, following which he served as its CFO and chief administrative officer. He has been part of TD Bank‘s executive team for nine years, and CFO for over five.

“Cross-training in the capital markets role … increases the likelihood of (Ahmed) succeeding Masrani when he retires, but I doubt it would be soon, as that would create unnecessary turnover atop TD Securities,” said Brian Madden, portfolio manager at Goodreid Investment Counsel.

“Maybe Masrani announces his retirement next year (or the following) and leaves early in 2023” or 2024.

Masrani’s compensation arrangements anticipated his retirement in 2020, TD said in its 2019 shareholders meeting proxy circular. But he was granted stock options worth C$1.9 million ($1.5 million), vesting in five years, on the condition that he remain available to serve as CEO throughout that period.

Ahmed replaces Bob Dorrance, who will retire on Sept. 1 after about 16 years at the bank, Canada’s second-biggest lender by market value said in a statement.

When asked about TD’s succession plans, a spokesperson said: “Today we are celebrating Bob Dorrance’s incredible career and accomplishments, and the appointment of top executives to critical, leadership roles.”

At a time when diversity, particularly in executive and board ranks, has come under increased scrutiny, Ahmed’s appointment as CEO would mean TD, the only one of Canada’s six biggest lenders to have a non-Caucasian at its helm, would retain that aspect.

Ahmed’s appointment comes after TD’s wholesale banking unit recorded an 8% revenue decline in the second quarter from a year ago, contributing to the bank’s overall underperformance versus some rivals.

Kelvin Tran, currently executive vice president for enterprise finance, will replace Ahmed as finance chief.

Dorrance, who has headed TD Securities since 2005, will stay on as chairman of TD Securities and serve as special adviser to Masrani.

TD shares were flat at C$87.12 on Thursday afternoon, compared with a 0.2% gain in the Toronto stock index. The shares are up 21% this year, versus a 15% gain in the benchmark.

($1 = 1.2303 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather in Toronto; Additional reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in BengaluruEditing by Nick Zieminski and Matthew Lewis)

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AIB agrees to life and pensions joint-venture with Canada Life

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Allied Irish Banks on Wednesday said it would form a joint venture with Canada life as it seeks to plug gaps in its life, savings and wealth products.

The joint venture will be equally owned by Canada Life, a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco Inc.

“The move to create this joint venture is aligned with AIB’s stated ambition to complete its customerproduct suite and diversify income,” AIB said in a statement.

“Through this strategic initiative AIB intends to offer customers a range of life protection, pensions, savings and investment options enhanced by integrated digital solutions withcontinued access to our qualified financial advisors.”

The Irish lender highlighted Canada Life’s “deep experience” of the Irish bancassurance market through Irish Life Assurance, which is also a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco.

AIB currently operates under a tied agency distribution agreement with Irish Life, and will enter into a new distribution agreement with the new joint venture company.

Chief Executive Colin Hunt highlighted the need to plug gaps in AIB’s life, savings and wealth products when he set out the bank’s medium-term targets last December.

AIB expects its equity investment in the joint venture will be around 90 million euros ($107.51 million), equating to around 10bps of CET1.($1 = 0.8372 euros)

(Reporting by Graham Fahy;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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Interac: Canada’s Latest Payment Solution Phenomenon

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Few can argue that digital payment methods aren’t central to modern-day society. In recent times, increasing numbers of payment solutions have come to the forefront, offering consumers more choice regarding their transaction preferences. Canada, in particular, has embraced a wide-ranging selection of secure, forward-thinking options. Of those available throughout the country, Interac has piqued the interests of local consumers the most. So, let’s look at why this payment solution is an especially popular option throughout Canada. 

Usable Across Various Markets 

It speaks volumes about Interac’s versatility in that it’s usable across a variety of different industries. Since being founded in 1984, the Canadian interbank network has become integral to numerous markets, including local air travel. Air Canada, which has been operating since 1937, has expanded their accepted payment methods, and now passengers can pay for their flights using Interac. According to the airline’s official website, the Interac Online service lets consumers pay for their tickets via the internet directly from their bank account. 

Not only that, but Interac is also available at Walmart. In November 2020, the two organizations partnered together to expand in-store and online payment options. Walmart has adapted well to the digital trend, with American Banker reporting that they’ve opened Interac Flash sale points throughout their stores. 


Source: Unsplash

Aside from the above, Interac has also taken the digital world by storm. Following its rapid rise to prominence, the solution has also altered the online casino industry, with platforms like Genesis Casino now accepting the transaction type. The provider, which features Interac Canadian casino options, uses the popular payment method to enhance transaction speeds of deposits and withdrawals, as well as security. Players can use Interac Online and Interac e-Transfer to make deposits or withdrawals from their desktops or mobiles as the platform is fully optimized. 

A Reflection of Modern-Day Society 

In recent times, Interac recorded a 55 percent increase in transactions between April and August 2020 compared to the same period the previous year, as per BNN Bloomberg. These figures somewhat reflect the current state of e-Commerce and modern consumerism. Following the rise of Interac and other payment methods, it’s now less troublesome for consumers to complete in-store and online purchases. 


Source: PxHere

There’s an ever-growing perception that land-based businesses need to adapt within the digital era and accept forward-thinking payment methods. According to Cision, Interac is of utmost importance to the Canadian economy, and a year-on-year increase in Interac Debit payments of 333 percent reflects that. Not only that, but Interac e-Transfer payments are growing at 52 percent each year. This Interac-oriented trend appears unlikely to fade over the coming years, with the network being selected as the country’s provider for a new real-time payment system, as per Lexology. 

Consumer Habits are Changing 

There can be no doubt that consumerism has changed drastically over the past decade. The popularity of Interac suggests that a cashless future may be on the horizon, with increasing numbers of shoppers enjoying the security of online payment methods. While it’s currently unclear if that will happen, Interac appears to be prevalent for the long run.

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