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Britain first to approve Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, rollout starts Monday – The Globe and Mail

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AstraZeneca’s logo is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration taken November 9, 2020.

DADO RUVIC/Reuters

British regulators have approved a vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca which scientists say will massively boost efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike the vaccines currently in use — made by BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna — the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored in regular refrigerators and it has been priced far lower. Scientists say that will make it easier to distribute the vaccine to doctors’ offices, seniors’ homes and throughout developing countries. AstraZeneca said it will produce three billion doses on a not-for-profit basis throughout the pandemic. The company added on Wednesday that it could soon start producing two million doses per week.

The British government has bet heavily on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and ordered 100 million doses, enough to cover 50 million people since it requires two doses. The first batch is set to arrive in the country this week and inoculations will begin on Monday. Initial doses will be given to as many people as possible with the second dose coming up to 12 weeks later.

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The approval was “truly fantastic news, and a triumph for British science,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter Wednesday. “We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”

The U.K. has already vaccinated around 800,000 people with the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine. But that vaccine must be stored at -70C while the Oxford-AstraZeneca drug can be kept in fridges at between 2-8C. It also costs around $5 per dose compared to $26 for the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine and $43 for Moderna’s.

The approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency comes at a critical moment in the U.K. The country has been struggling with a rampant surge in COVID-19 infections which scientists believe could be linked to more contagious variant of the virus that has emerged in recent weeks. That variant has spread to dozens of countries, including Canada, despite bans on British travellers.

The number of daily cases in Britain hit record high of more than 53,000 on Tuesday and hospital admissions have reached levels not seen since the pandemic began last March. Much of the country has been put under near total lockdown and on Wednesday Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to announce further restrictions.

“The regulator’s assessment that this is a safe and effective vaccine is a landmark moment,” said Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group. “Though this is just the beginning, we will start to get ahead of the pandemic, protect health and economies when the vulnerable are vaccinated everywhere, as many as possible as soon possible.”

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been in development since last January. It uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees but is harmless to humans. Once modified with the genetic sequencing of the spike protein found in COVID-19, the vaccine prompts the human immune system to react.

That’s different from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines which involve messenger RNA, or genetic coding that instructs the vaccinated person’s cells to produce the viral protein, or antigen. That gives the immune system a preview of what the real virus will look like, without causing illness, and it can build defences.

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Approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has taken longer than the other two vaccines because of complications in the testing process.

Initially the vaccine was supposed to be administered in two full doses, like the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. However, a mistake in the early trials saw only half a dose administered at first followed by a full second dose. That combination proved to be more effective, yielding 90 per cent protection as opposed to 62 per cent for the two-full doses. By contrast the two other vaccines showed 95 per cent efficacy during trials.

The MHRA has approved the two-full dose regime of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and said that further data from the trials showed that it was 70 per cent effective after the initial dose. It was 80 per cent effective after the second dose, the agency added on Wednesday.

Prof. Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the MHRA’s Commission on Human Medicine Expert Working Group, said that an analysis of data from the half-dose, full-dose combination found that the results had not been borne out.

June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said data showed that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was effective 21 days after the first dose. She added that initial doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech offered enough protection that the second doses could be administered up to three months later.

“The public and everyone who’s listening can be absolutely confident that the scientific rigour of our assessment has been as we would normally do it according to guidelines and standards,” said Dr. Raine. “These are difficult times for so many of us. But vaccines such as this one have the potential to save many lives and will see us come through.”

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Dr. Pirmohamed also said the MHRA was not recommending mixing the vaccines — for example giving an initial dose of one vaccine and a second dose of another — but that studies were underway to see if that would be possible in future.

Public health officials and scientists said approving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was a critical moment in the pandemic. “At a time when we see the pandemic accelerating beyond our control, a rapid, efficient vaccination programme with good population coverage is our only way out,” said Daniel Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London. “With two vaccines now in the roll-out and very substantially more doses, it starts to look realistic that this could be achievable by the spring or early summer.”

How the Oxford-AstraZeneca drug works

16/16

14/14

11/11

The Oxford University and AstraZeneca Covid-19

vaccine can prevent up to 90 per cent of people

contracting coronavirus when it is administered as

a half dose followed by a full dose

at least one month apart

Spike

protein

Spike protein:

Gene is cut from

Sars-CoV-2 genome

Virus

genome

Gene: Inserted into DNA

of adenovirus which acts

as vector in vaccine

Adenovirus:

Unable to

cause disease

Vaccine: Induces spike

protein antigen – triggers

antibody immune response

Antibodies

Human immune

system: Produces

antibodies against

spike proteins

Vaccine: Can be

stored in refrigerator

at 2-8°C. Two doses

of vaccine are

required

graphic news, SOURCE: Reuters; Oxford

Vaccine Trial; University of Oxford

16/16

14/14

11/11

The Oxford University and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

can prevent up to 90 per cent of people contracting

coronavirus when it is administered as a half dose

followed by a full dose at least one month apart

Spike

protein

Spike protein:

Gene is cut from

Sars-CoV-2 genome

Virus

genome

Gene: Inserted into DNA

of adenovirus which acts

as vector in vaccine

Adenovirus:

Unable to

cause disease

Vaccine: Induces spike

protein antigen – triggers

antibody immune response

Antibodies

Human immune

system: Produces

antibodies against

spike proteins

Vaccine: Can be

stored in refrigerator

at 2-8°C. Two doses

of vaccine are

required

graphic news, SOURCE: Reuters; Oxford Vaccine Trial;

University of Oxford

18/18

16/16

13/13

The Oxford University and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine can prevent

up to 90 per cent of people contracting coronavirus when it is administered

as a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month apart

Spike protein

Adenovirus:

Unable to

cause disease

Virus genome

Spike protein:

Gene is cut from

Sars-CoV-2 genome

Gene: Inserted into DNA

of adenovirus which acts

as vector in vaccine

Antibodies

Vaccine: Induces spike

protein antigen – triggers

antibody immune response

Human immune

system: Produces

antibodies against

spike proteins

Vaccine: Can be

stored in refrigerator

at 2-8°C. Two doses

of vaccine are required

graphic news, SOURCE: Reuters; Oxford Vaccine Trial; University of Oxford


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The 5 Big Banks in Canada

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Banks in Canada

The Big Five Banks is a term used in Canada to describe the five largest banks: Royal Bank, The Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, The Bank of Nova Scotia, and TD Canada Trust.

Occasionally, the term “Big Six Banks” is used, with the sixth bank referring to the National Bank of Canada. As of March 2008, the Big Six Banks and Laurentian Bank of Canada are the largest banks in Canada. The Five Big Banks hold over $100 billion in assets, and they are all based in Toronto. World Atlas provides the following data on each of the Big Five Banks.

1. Royal Bank of Canada

The Royal Bank of Canada is the largest of the Big Five with respect to net revenue (C$12.431 billion in 2018) and capitalization (C$150.35 billion as of early 2020). The Royal Bank of Canada has over 16 million clients worldwide, over 74,000 full-time employees and over 1,300 branches. Founded in 1864 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the bank financed the lumber and timber industries. It was known as the Merchants Bank of Halifax. The Royal Bank of Canada gives 1% of its income to charity.

2. Toronto-Dominion Bank

The second-largest bank in Canada, the Toronto-Dominion Bank has the most assets, which are valued at C$1.4 trillion as of July 2019. This bank has over 22 million clients worldwide, 85,000 full-time employees and over 1,100 branches. The bank was the result of a merger of the Bank of Toronto and the Dominion Bank in 1955.

3. Bank of Nova Scotia

The Bank of Nova Scotia, or Scotiabank, is the next largest bank in Canada with assets valued at C$998 billion as of late 2019, the revenue of C$28.8 billion in 2018 and capitalization of C$87.55 billion. The bank has over 23 million customers worldwide, 89,000 full-time employees and over 1,000 branches in Canada. This bank offers to trade on both the New York and Toronto Stock Exchanges.

Also founded in Halifax, Nova Scotia—this one in 1832—the bank moved its headquarters to Toronto in 1900 to improve the transAtlantic trade industry.

4. Bank of Montreal

The Bank of Montreal is the fourth largest Canadian bank with C$852.2 billion worth of assets in late 2019, the revenue of C$22.8 billion and capitalization of C$64.81 billion as of early 2020. The bank has over 7 million clients in Canada and 939 branches. The bank has over 47,000 employees. It was founded in 1817 and is the oldest bank in Canada. Throughout crises such as World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, the Bank has consistently met dividend payments.

5. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has C$597 billion in assets, the revenue of C$17.834 billion for 2018, and capitalization of C$48.01 billion. The bank has over 11 million clients worldwide, 1,100 branches in Canada and over 44,000 full-time employees worldwide. The bank was formed in 1961 when the Canadian Bank of Commerce and the Imperial Bank of Canada merged.

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U.S. lawmakers press GM CEO on California emissions

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General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra faced questions from U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday on a workers’ vote at a company plant in Mexico and the company’s support for emissions reductions.

Barra met with House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other senior Democrats on Capitol Hill, and touted the company’s decision announced earlier in the day to boost spending on electric and autonomous vehicles to $35 billion through 2025.

“We’re committed to an all-EV future,” Barra said in brief comments to Reuters after the meeting. “We had a lot of conversations about a lot of things that we can do to enable EV adoption.”

Until November, GM backed the Trump administration’s effort to block California from setting tougher emissions standards than the federal government.

Pelosi had expressed disappointment with GM’s support for Republican President Donald Trump’s position on the emissions rules, a source briefed on the matter said, and she urged GM to work with California and the Biden administration to reach the strongest possible vehicle emissions standards.

The administration of Democratic President Joe Biden is set to unveil revised vehicle emissions rules in July.

GM said last week it backs emissions reductions outlined in a 2019 deal struck between California and other major automakers, but wants the federal government to endorse changes to speed the adoption of electric vehicles.

Barra also faced questions about a delayed worker vote at a GM plant in Silao, Mexico.

Mexico’s Labor Ministry scrapped an initial union-led vote in April, citing “serious irregularities,” and later ordered the GM union to hold a new ballot within 30 days of its May 11 statement. No vote has been scheduled

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office in May asked Mexico to review potential labor abuses at the Silao plant under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Last month, U.S. Representatives Dan Kildee, Bill Pascrell and Earl Blumenauer, all Democrats, pressed GM to answer questions about potential abuses in Mexico.

“We want to see some real demonstration of embracing the labor standards in Mexico — more than compliance,” Kildee told Reuters after the meeting. “The situation in Silao — I raised that with Mary — that’s a problem.”

The Democrats urged GM to commit to providing workers with physical copies of the contract, publicly posting contracts and to meet other requirements.

Kildee offered additional steps GM could take to support workers and meet USMCA requirements, and the three lawmakers followed up with a written list of suggested actions, congressional aides said.

The suggestions “would be tangible demonstrations of GM’s commitment to lead on compliance with the new labor standards,” Kildee told Reuters.

Earlier Wednesday, some House lawmakers on a trade panel, including Kildee, had a virtual meeting with Mexico’s ambassador to the United States in which the GM labor issued was raised.

 

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Presenting Your Professional Experience: Numbers Are Your Friends

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Numbers rule the business world—revenue, headcount, process time, value increase, number of clients, inventory count, profit margin, credit rating, customer satisfaction score. Numbers indicate and measure success or failure, whether a business activity is positive or negative to the bottom line. You’d be hard-pressed to find a business decision made without some factoring in of “the numbers,” be it stats, cost, the potential return on investment.

 

Hiring is a business decision.

 

To make a strong case for yourself (Envision your selling features.) throughout your resume use numbers, the language of business, to quantify your results and establish yourself as someone who can bring value to an employer. Using numbers shows you understand how companies operate and that they exist to make a profit. Most importantly, using results-achieved numbers displays your value.

 

Which job seeker displays better value?

 

Candidate 1: Duties included taking field measurements and maintaining records, setting up and tracking project using Microsoft Project.

 

Candidate 2: Spearheaded the Hazzard County water decontamination project, finishing $125,000 under budget due to a 25% decrease in staff allocation time.

 

Which job seeker gives a clearer picture of their responsibilities?

 

Candidate 1: Supervised team leaders.

 

Candidate 2: Supervised 3 team leaders, collectively responsible for 40 CSRs answering 1,750 – 2,500 calls daily.

 

Which job seeker shows their work ethic?

 

Candidate 1: Completed first editing pass on articles.

 

Candidate 2: Reviewed and evaluated 50 – 75 articles per week, deciding whether to reject the article, forward it to the editorial team, or send it back to the author with revision suggestions.

 

Information quantified means something. Information not quantified is just an opinion. Most resumes are just a list of opinions, thus quantifying your professional experience will set you apart from your competition.

 

TIP: Always use bullets, not paragraphs, to describe your professional experiences.

 

For each position you list on your resume, ask yourself:

 

  • Did I increase my employer’s revenue? How?
  • Did I save my employer money?
  • Did I save time?
  • Was my boss(es), colleagues, staff, customers, vendors, and leadership team members happier because of me?
  • How did I contribute to improving my employer’s business?

 

When answering these questions, quantify (percentage, range, monetary, frequency, before/after comparison, ratio). Creating a resume that WOWs requires filling it with quantified results-rich statements.

 

  • Reduced customer complaints by 47% by implementing a formal feedback system.
  • Improved product delivery time 22% after assigning clarified monthly job tasks to team members.
  • In 2020, grew revenue 33%, and improved gross margin by 22%, by standardizing business operating procedures.
  • Produced $1.75M in cost-savings after renegotiating the company’s supply and service contracts (14 vendors).
  • Built sales organization from the ground up, hiring and training 15 sales representatives within 6 months.
  • In 2019, generated over $7.25M in additional revenue by identifying, pursuing, and securing 4 new international contracts.

 

As I mentioned a few columns back, your resume must clearly and succinctly answer one question: How did you add or bring value to your employers? When it comes to answering this question, numbers are your friends.

 

Something to keep in mind: The king of numbers, the only metric in business that matters, the one that keeps a business alive and profitable, is revenue. As much as possible, throughout your resume and cover letter, demonstrate the results you’ve achieved that were added value to your employer’s financial success.

 

Don’t write on your resume what’s become a cliche, “result-oriented.” Don’t write it on your LinkedIn profile. Don’t say it during an interview. Show your results! “In 2017, I increased sales by 29% by creating upsell opportunities for my 8-member sales team to offer.”

 

Additional tips when bulleting your professional experience:

 

  • Employment dates need to be month/year. Only indicating years is a red flag you’re trying to cover up employment gaps.
  • Under 2 Lines. Your bullets shouldn’t be more than 2 lines.
  • The first 5 – 8 words are critical. When skimming a resume, the reader will likely read the first few words of a bullet then, unless their interest is piqued, move on to the next bullet. The first few words need to be captivating.

 

Next week I’ll cover presenting your education, skills, and certifications. These need to demonstrate your career path, not that you simply attended classes.

______________________________________________________________

 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

 

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