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Canada adds 5,955 new COVID-19 infections as Pfizer vaccines get delayed further – Global News

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Canada added another 5,955 cases of COVID-19 Thursday as delays in shipments of the coronavirus vaccine to the country appear to be worse than previously thought.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who oversees vaccine logistics for the Public Health Agency of Canada, broke the news Thursday that deliveries of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to Canada in the first week of February would be 79,000 doses — only one-fifth of what was promised.

Read more:
Even with new COVID-19 vaccine approvals, rollout won’t increase before April

Canada won’t be the only country hit by the delay though, with longer waits expected for countries in Europe and Mexico bracing to not to get any doses at all for nearly three weeks — all due to a temporary slowdown in production after the vaccine companies announced an expansion to their plant in Belgium last week.

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Deliveries from Moderna, the other company whose vaccine is approved for use in Canada, will not be affected.

In a tweet Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he was assured in a conversation with the CEO of Pfizer Global that Canada would receive four million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March.

In total, Canada is set to receive a combined six million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines — an amount totaling to vaccinating three million Canadians should they follow their respective two-dose regimens.

News of the worsening delay also comes amid a stark warning from the country’s top doctor, who expects cases of severe illness from COVID-19 will continue to rise in the coming days — ultimately leading to more hospitalizations and deaths.

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“Strong and sustained efforts are needed to reduce heavy demands on the health-care system,” wrote Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam in a statement Thursday.

“Without this, the ability to continue with the present level of elective procedures will become increasingly difficult in heavily impacted areas.”

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The warning comes as Canada’s cases of COVID-19 tally at 731,450 following Thursday’s new infections. Another 160 deaths were added as well, pushing the country’s death toll from the virus to 18,622.

Of Canada’s total infections, over 645,720 patients have since recovered from the virus however while over 20,925,000 tests and 738,864 vaccine doses have been administered to date.

Ontario added another 2,632 cases on Thursday, as well as another 46 deaths. Total cases there now stand at 247,564, with Ontario set to overtake Quebec this week as the province with the highest number of confirmed cases.

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Quebec recorded another 1,624 infections, as well as another 66 fatalities. The death toll in the province remains the highest in Canada, with over 9,270 Quebecers succumbing to the virus to date.

British Columbia added another 564 cases and 15 more deaths on Thursday. The province has also registered a total of 559 “epi-linked” cases, who are people that were in close contact with confirmed cases and display symptoms of the virus, but were never formally tested for it. A total of eight cases included in today’s count are considered “epi-linked.”

Alberta added 678 more infections on Thursday, pushing the provincial caseload to 119,114. The province marked a grim milestone on Thursday as well, with its death toll passing the 1,500 mark after another 16 deaths were announced.


Click to play video 'How long does post-infection immunity last in COVID-19 survivors?'



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How long does post-infection immunity last in COVID-19 survivors?


How long does post-infection immunity last in COVID-19 survivors?

In Saskatchewan, another 226 cases were reported Thursday. The province also recorded its highest ever daily death toll from the virus after 13 more deaths were announced by public health officials there. A total of 239 COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in Saskatchewan since the beginning of the pandemic.

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Officials in Manitoba Thursday announced an easing in COVID-19 restrictions, with most in the province now able to get haircuts and buy non-essential items in stores come Saturday.

Health officials there also recorded another five COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, as well as 198 new cases of COVID-19.

Read more:
U.S. to require quarantine for all international travellers

In Atlantic Canada, both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador added a single case each, while New Brunswick reported another 32 infections. Prince Edward Island did not add any new cases on Thursday.

Both the Yukon and Nunavut did not report any cases on Thursday. Global News’ tally also recorded a single new case in the Northwest Territories, though the infection was originally identified on Wednesday. N.W.T.’s total caseload stands at 31 confirmed infections.

Worldwide cases of the novel coronavirus continue to spread, with global total infections now standing at 97,425,000 according to Johns Hopkins University. A total of 2,087,820 people have also succumbed to the virus, with the U.S., India and Brazil continuing to lead in both cases and deaths.

— With files from the Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Alberta records its largest daily case count since early February, adds 430 new infections – CTV Edmonton

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EDMONTON —
Alberta recorded its largest daily increase in new COVID-19 cases since near the start of the month with 430 new infections reported on Wednesday. 

The increase in the largest in one day since the 582 reported on Feb. 4.

Active cases continued to fall, down by 25 to 4,545, a level last seen in late October. 

The number of active cases continues to decline but the rate of decrease has tailed off in the last week, with no triple-digit decreases since Feb. 17 and small increases recorded twice in the past week.

The province also reported 13 deaths, bringing its total to 1,866. Due to delays in death reporting only two of the deaths reported Wednesday occured in February, with five of them going back to December of 2020.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients also continued its downwards trend with 307 reported in hospital, down 20 from Tuesday. The number of patients in intensive care units rose by five, up to 56. 

Alberta reported a 4.64 per cent test positivity on based on 9,467 tests. 

The province reported 22 new variant cases of COVID-19, all of them the B.1.1.7 “U.K.” variant. Eighteen of those cases were recorded in the Calgary health zone, which is significantly larger than the city itself.

More than 186,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far.

Dr. Hinshaw returns Monday, March 1, for an in-person update.

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Computer programmer shares workaround to Alberta COVID-19 vaccine booking issues – Global News

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UPDATE: As of 7 p.m. Wednesday, it appeared the website had been changed and the workaround was no longer effective.

Hundreds of people said they were able to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments for their loved ones Wednesday thanks to a workaround published online by a computer programmer.

It all started Wednesday morning when Kory Mathewson‘s family logged on to the Alberta Health Services website to book appointments for Grandma Mufty and Grandpa Bill.

The first appointment was booked after a few tries but getting the second was more difficult.

Like so many other Albertans, once logging onto the website and putting in the postal code, the website stopped working for Mathewson.

Read more:
Alberta COVID-19 vaccine booking site ‘experiencing very high volumes’ as appointments open to those 75 and older

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Being a computer programmer and developer, Mathewson checked out the coding of the website.

He discovered that he could alter the code and bypass the postal code section, going straight to the patient information form.

By doing so, Mathewson was quickly able to book an appointment.

Upon getting the confirmation, he describes feeling immediate relief.

“It’s exactly that. It’s like: ‘Finally! I don’t have to worry.’”

After double checking the process and simplifying it for a less tech-savvy audience, Mathewson posted the workaround to Twitter in hopes of helping others do the same.

“It was like, ‘OK, how do we make this as easy as possible for people?’ You know, people that don’t know code,” Mathewson told Global News.

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Within hours, hundreds of Albertans responded saying the hack had worked for them and they were also able to book appointments for their loved ones.

However, as of 7 p.m. it appeared the website had been changed and the workaround was no longer effective.

In a series of messages on Twitter Wednesday night, AHS said it had “put additional queuing software in place to help manage the volume of users on the AHS COVID-19 immunization booking tool.

“This software will indicate an estimated wait time, and where each individual is in the booking queue to give people the option to continue booking, or to try again later.”

As of 7 p.m., 43,000 eligible seniors 75 and over had booked appointments using the immunization tool and 811 since it went live at 8 a.m., AHS said.

A spokesperson for AHS told Global News that the queueing system has “nothing to do with the workaround” shared on Twitter.

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A Twitter user created a video walking through the steps to show others how to do it in a visual way.

“It was a real community effort and all the different people kind of pulled together to make this solution happen,” said Mathewson.

Read more:
Albertans 75 and older can book COVID-19 vaccine appointments starting 8 a.m. Wednesday

The former Edmontonian believes Alberta Health Services could use the tool to fix the delays for all Albertans.

“In my opinion, this seems like a relatively straightforward fix.”

“I’m more than happy to be connected with the people at AHS to make this happen,” Mathewson said. “Part of the reason that I’m here is to sort of communicate that there are great developers like myself that are ready to help make this possible and make this as frictionless and as easy as possible for all Albertans.”


Click to play video 'Alberta Health Minister says AHS is ‘fixing the the problems’ with COVID-19 vaccine booking system'



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Alberta Health Minister says AHS is ‘fixing the the problems’ with COVID-19 vaccine booking system


Alberta Health Minister says AHS is ‘fixing the the problems’ with COVID-19 vaccine booking system

In a statement, Alberta Health Services confirmed the appointments booked using the workaround were official but that “this is not a permanent solution.”

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“The AHS online immunization booking tool continues to experience extremely high volumes and our IT teams are working to find a way to make the process as fast and efficient as possible for everyone.”

Read more:
Should all seniors get the COVID-19 vaccine before essential workers?

In the meantime, Mathewson and his brother Kyle say they’ll continue to help others looking to book appointments.

“I did this for my grandparents but really, this is for all the grandparents of Alberta,” said Mathewson.

“There’s a lot of people that want this and want to be safe. And hopefully this gets them one step closer and takes away that, ‘when is it going to happen?’”


Mufty and Bill Mathewson.


Courtesy/Kory Mathewson

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Moderna begins studying potential COVID-19 vaccine booster targetting variant first detected in South Africa – CBC.ca

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Drug manufacturer Moderna says it will begin testing a variant-specific version of its COVID-19 vaccine that would target the B1351 variant first detected in South Africa.  

The company has previously reported that its original two-dose vaccine — already approved for use in Canada — appears to provide protection against the B117 variant first detected in the U.K., as well as the B1351 variant, though its own research suggests it may be less effective against the latter

The company says it will study the B1351 variant-specific vaccine both as a potential booster to the original COVID-19 vaccine and as a standalone for people who have not yet received a vaccine at all. 

It will study the outcomes of three different scenarios:

  • A single shot of the B1351 variant-specific vaccine. 
  • A shot combining both the original vaccine and the B1351 variant-specific booster. 
  • A booster of the original vaccine, added to the original two-dose version. 

The B1351-specific vaccine will undergo clinical trials at the National Institutes for Health in the U.S.

“As we seek to defeat COVID-19, we must be vigilant and proactive as new variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerge,” said Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna in a statement. 

“Leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are moving quickly to test updates to the vaccines that address emerging variants of the virus in the clinic.”

Moderna reported last month that its vaccine was essentially as effective against the B117 variant as it was to prior variants.

But it found there was a reduction in its neutralizing ability against the B1351 variant. 

Neutralizing antibodies are one of the body’s immune responses to control viral infections.

South Africa paused its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine after data from a small trial suggested the vaccine did not protect against mild to moderate illness from the B1351 variant now dominant in the country.

Johnson & Johnson, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Novavax have all looked at how their vaccines perform against the B1351 variant.

WATCH | Doctor calls for aggressive action to target COVID-19 variants:

In an interview on Rosemary Barton Live, Dr. Brooks Fallis speaks out against reopening plans in several provinces as officials study potential implications of the spread of new COVID-19 variants. 8:46

Variants confirmed around the world

The B1351 variant has been detected in at least 40 countries while the B117, first detected in the U.K., has now been identified in 80. Both have been found in Canada. 

Health Canada would need to approve any booster or new vaccine against the B1351 variant before it could be administered here.

The prime minister confirmed Wednesday that Moderna will deliver the two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine it is contracted to provide Canada by the end of March. 

Justin Trudeau said Canada expects to receive 460,000 doses the week of March 8 and 840,000 doses beginning  March 22.

That’s in addition to the 518,000 Moderna shots that have been administered in this country already and the 168,000 doses that are set to arrive this week.

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