Canada’s cases of COVID-19 now tally over 804,000, after another 3,203 cases were reported on Sunday.
Another 65 deaths were tallied by health authorities on Sunday as well, pushing the country’s death toll from the virus to 20,767. Over 738,700 people diagnosed with the disease have since recovered, while more than 22.7 million tests and 1.09 million vaccine doses have been administered.
Sunday’s snapshot in new cases paints an incomplete picture of the virus’ spread across Canada, however, as B.C., P.E.I., the Yukon and the Northwest Territories did not report case data on the weekend.
The country’s new total also comes just ahead of the year’s annual Super Bowl, which public health experts and authorities have warned of being a potential superspreader event.
In a series of puns from Saturday and Sunday, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam continued to ask Canadians to be vigilant and protect themselves against the virus.
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“No matter who you’re rooting for in this year’s #SuperBowl, don’t let #COVID19 win,” wrote Tam in tweet.
“We need to maintain a strong defensive front with #WashMaskSpace, #PhysicalDistancing, #AVOID3Cs while keeping up our team spirit #VirtuallyTogether.”
According to Tam, both new and active cases of the virus have seen a relative decline due to government-enacted measures, but said that the trend could potentially reverse should restrictions be lifted too early.
A majority of the day’s cases were detected by health authorities in Quebec and Ontario, where new infections of the virus have been on a decline over the last two weeks.
In Ontario, another 1,489 new infections were reported by the province as well as 22 new deaths.
Quebec measured another grim milestone in its fight against the pandemic on Sunday, as the province became the first in the country to surpass over 10,000 COVID-19 deaths following an announcement of 32 fatalities. Another 1,081 new cases were reported by the province on Sunday as well.
Alberta added another 351 infections on Sunday, as well as four more deaths.
Manitoba and Saskatchewan reported 79 and 194 cases, as well as four and three new deaths, respectively.
Several provinces also reported new cases in Atlantic Canada.
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Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia both reported one new case, while New Brunswick added seven.
Nunavut did not add new cases during its daily update on Sunday.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada spent $24M on COVID-19 vaccines received in January: StatCan – CTV News
Canada spent $24 million on the hundreds of thousands of vaccines the country received in January, according to newly released estimates of trade data from Statistics Canada.
StatCan did not provide a per-dose figure or breakdown costs between Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech shots in their Friday release. Health Canada told CTV News that Canada received 695,275 doses from both Moderna and Pfizer in January. On a per-dose basis that would mean the Canadian government would have paid roughly $34.51 per dose.
The StatCan review of vaccine shipments is a rare look into the cost of the immunization effort. Despite calls from opposition parties, the government has not released any details from the seven vaccine contracts Ottawa has signed with suppliers. On November 5, Procurement Minister Anita Anand told the House of Commons Health Committee that “the confidentiality provisions which prevent me from providing specifics relating to price” but the government has paid “fair value for vaccines.”
In the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the government said they “had invested more than $1 billion in vaccine agreements to secure a domestic supply of seven promising vaccine candidates,” but have provided no other specifics on the file.
Previous analysis from StatCan stated the federal government spent $16 million in December to receive their first shipments 423,900 doses of both Pfizer and Moderna, costing an average of 37.74 per dose.
While not official numbers, Canada seems to have paid more per dose compared to other countries that received early shipments.
In July, BNN Bloomberg reported that the U.S. government paid just over $24.50 per dose of the Pfizer vaccine and Reuters has reported the U.S. has paid $19.27 per dose for the Moderna one.
While the European Union attempted to follow Canada’s lead and not publicly share information related to vaccine contracts, Belgium’s budget state secretary Eva De Bleeker posted then quickly deleted the confidential price list on Twitter. The list, published in The Guardian, shows the EU paid $18.32 per dose for Pfizer and $27.48 per dose for Moderna.
India's top diplomat touts improved relations with Canada, open to sending more vaccines – CTV News
India’s top diplomat to Canada says relations between the two countries are in a “much better space” and that improvement could open the door to more AstraZeneca vaccines, should Canada request them.
Speaking to CTV News, India’s High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria said that the two countries are on better footing following a February phone call between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the call Trudeau asked India for help boosting Canada’s vaccine supply, and it was a conversation that Bisaria described as “very warm” and “very friendly.”
“We have had some difficult and candid conversations but this is what strategic partners should be doing,” Bisaria said. “We believe there is a much greater understanding in Canada now across the political spectrum on India’s handling of the farm’s protest in which a great deal of disinformation had been spread earlier.”
For months, farmers in India have been living in tents on the outskirts of Delhi, protesting new laws passed in September by the Modi government to deregulate wholesale trading. The farmers say the new laws will devastate their livelihoods and allow big companies to drive down prices. The government, however, insist the reforms are long overdue and will modernize the agriculture industry by giving farmers greater freedom over who they can sell their products to and for what price.
In December, Trudeau said he was “concerned” about the treatment of farmers and that Canada would always support the right of farmers to protest peacefully. His statement prompted a sharp rebuke from India’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, which called out Canada’s “interference,” threatened that continued actions by Canada would have a “seriously damaging impact on ties” and even summoned Canada’s High Commissioner to India.
The High Commissioner’s comments come a day after 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine from India’s Serum Institute – the largest drug manufacturer in the world – arrived in Toronto. In total, India is scheduled to deliver two million doses to Canada by the end of May.
The Prime Minister’s Office would not discuss exactly what the prime minister said during his February phone call with Modi, or whether he softened his stance with India in order to help secure doses of that country’s locally-made AstraZeneca vaccine. Instead, the PMO referred to a public readout provided after the bilateral call which only mentions “recent protests, and the importance of resolving issues through dialogue” as topics of discussions.
Asked about the status of Canada-India relations today and why India provided Canada with AstraZeneca vaccines, Bisaria suggested the deal was an attempt to start smoothing over relations that have been strained at times over the last few years, including as a result of Trudeau’s troubled 2018 India trip.
“India has the capacity and the ability to provide more vaccines,” Bisaria said. “Certainly the vaccine diplomacy, as you called it, and vaccine sharing is a part of India’s approach.”
While no discussions are currently ongoing with Canada for more doses, India’s vaccine diplomacy has led to tens of millions of doses being shipped to countries from Cambodia to Afghanistan and Nepal. Experts say that like China, India is using the vaccines as a diplomatic tool to find favour or even thaw frosty relationships with other countries.
“India is proud of its position as the pharmacy of the world and now as a major vaccine maker in the world,” Bisaria said, adding the country is “very aware of its and conscious of its global responsibility of being part of the global vaccine solutions.”
CTV News has reached out to Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau’s office for comment.
The Prime Minister’s Office refused to provide an official statement.
Ontario announcing plans to 'rapidly accelerate' its vaccine rollout – CBC.ca
Ontario expects to give all adults 60 and older a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by early June, officials said Friday, as they detailed who will qualify for a shot during Phase 2 of the province’s immunization campaign.
That’s at least a month sooner than originally planned. Ontario’s rollout strategy was recently revised amid a wave of vaccine-related news, including the approvals of a third and fourth vaccine for use in Canada and the option to space out shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by up to four months.
Notably, however, the updated rollout plan presented by officials was put together before some significant announcements today. This morning, Health Canada gave a green light to the one-shot Johnson&Johnson vaccine, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada should expect up to 1.5 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine in March than expected.
At a news conference, provincial officials said those developments could speed-up implementation of the rollout, especially during Phase 2, which is set to run between now and the end of July.
Officials said they expect to begin immunizing Canadians with some underlying health conditions, caregivers in congregate settings and adults in some COVID-19 hotspots by the start of April.
A list of eligible health conditions and COVID-19 hotspots can be found in the province’s slideshow embedded at the bottom of this story.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford said the province is “making incredible progress” in its vaccination plan.
“The light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter, so let’s keep working together to beat this,” Ford said.
Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, who is running the province’s vaccination plan, called this a “seismic shift,” adding that officials are “gaining confidence” about a steady flow of vaccines, and those numbers growing each week.
Another category of residents, defined as those who cannot work from home, could start getting first doses at the beginning of June. That includes educators and school staff, first responders and workers in sectors like manufacturing and food processing.
Choices about vaccines?
Members of the vaccine task force said they expect 133 mass vaccination clinics to begin operating in 26 of 34 health units by the end of March.
About 80 per cent of all vaccine doses administered during phases two and three will be done through these clinics, officials said.
They stressed, though, that what vaccine someone receives will depend on where they live and how they choose to get it.
Because each of the four vaccines approved in Canada have different characteristics, some people will be limited in terms of choice.
AstraZeneca will be administered mostly through pharmacies and primary care clinics, for example, because it can be stored safely in a regular fridge.
Ontario anticipates 194,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to arrive the week of March 8. They will be used to give first doses to adults aged 60-64.
Stay-at-home orders lifted
Meanwhile, stay-at-home orders in Toronto, Peel and North Bay Parry Sound are being lifted, the province announced Friday, with those regions transitioning back into Ontario’s previous COVID-19 framework effective Monday, March 8.
North Bay Parry Sound will be returning to the framework at the red-control level, the province said in a news release, while Toronto and Peel will enter at the Grey-Lockdown level.
“Our government is taking a safe and cautious approach to returning to the framework and due to our progress, all regions of the province will soon be out of the provincewide shutdown,” Minister of Health Christine Elliott said in a statement.
“Despite this positive step forward, a return to the Framework is not a return to normal. As we continue vaccinating more Ontarians, it remains critical for everyone to continue to follow public health measures and stay home as much as possible to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities.”
You can read the province’s breakdown of each tier of the framework here.
Several recent developments forced members of the vaccine task force to revise Ontario’s immunization strategy.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine was approved for use by Health Canada late last week, while this morning, the agency gave a green light for use of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The federal government has ordered 10 million doses of the vaccine — the fourth to be approved in Canada — with an option for 28 million more.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) subsequently recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine only be used for people under the age of 65. As more real-time evidence on the efficacy of the vaccine has become available, however, pressure has mounted for NACI to change course.
Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones suggested this week that, at least for now, Ontario will use the AstraZeneca vaccine for adults between 60 and 64.
Both France and Germany had originally implemented similar guidance for the vaccine, but have since reversed those decisions, citing evidence from countries such as the United Kingdom and Israel, where the AstraZeneca vaccine is already being administered to adults 65 and over.
And earlier this week, NACI said that provinces can safely extend the time between shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines up to four months.
The move followed an announcement by health officials in British Columbia, who said just days earlier they would implement a 16-week interval to ensure that more people got a first dose of vaccine earlier.
Both vaccines have been shown to be more than 90 per cent effective at preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19 after a single dose.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Ontario Ministry of Health said it welcomed the new recommendations from NACI.
“This will allow Ontario to rapidly accelerate its vaccine rollout and get as many vaccines into arms as quickly as possible, and in doing so, provide more protection to more people,” a ministry spokesperson said in an email.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott has said repeatedly that an updated rollout plan would be released by the government imminently.
According to the ministry, health units administered 35,886 doses of vaccines yesterday, a third straight record high day in the province. A total of 269,063 people in Ontario have now been given both shots of a vaccine.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said on Thursday that he remains concerned about the presence of “variants of concern.”
“These are not insignificant numbers,” he told reporters. “We want to be cautious at this time.”
Most new cases in a week
Meanwhile, public health units reported another 1,250 cases of COVID-19 this morning, the most on a single day in a week.
The new cases include 337 in Toronto, 167 in Peel Region and 129 in York Region.
They come as Ontario’s lab network completed 64,748 test samples for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and logged a test positivity rate of 2.3 per cent.
Labs also confirmed 155 more cases linked to the virus variant first identified in the United Kingdom, bringing the total thus far to 799.
On Wednesday, 1,002 test samples province-wide were screened for the tell-tale spike gene that suggests the presence of a variant of concern. The spike was detected in 308, or nearly 31 per cent, of those samples. Those samples are then sent for whole genomic sequencing to determine the specific variant of concern.
The seven-day average of daily cases stands at 1,063.
The Ministry of Education also reported another 96 school-related cases: 82 students, 13 staff members and one person who was not identified. Twenty-nine schools are currently closed due to the illness. That’s about 0.6 per cent of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.
Public health units recorded the deaths of 22 more people with the illness, pushing Ontario’s official toll to 7,046.
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