After a few initial hiccups, COVID-19 vaccine rollout has finally picked up pace in Canada.
As of Wednesday, more than 3.8 million doses had been distributed to provinces and territories across the country. Out of these, 2.5 million doses have been administered, with more than 2 million Canadians having received at least one dose of an approved coronavirus vaccine.
“Canada is getting ready to go into the ramp-up phase after a steep increase in vaccine availability,” said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military officer overseeing the country’s vaccine distribution effort, during a news conference Wednesday.
Between April and June, 25 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine are expected, followed by another 1.5 million from AstraZeneca by mid-May, Fortin added.
Some experts warn Canada could see more speed bumps in the weeks and months ahead because it is heavily reliant on the foreign drugmakers and the goodwill of other countries – where the vaccine supplies are coming from.
“We can expect the unexpected,” said Jillian Kohler, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.
“We are at the mercy of companies that are outside of our borders and as a result of that, other nations’ interests,” she told Global News.
Coronavirus: Canada preparing to ‘ramp up’ vaccine distribution
Where are Canada’s vaccines coming from?
Canada has ordered the world’s highest number of COVID-19 vaccine doses per capita, but none of the shots are being manufactured in the country.
Pfizer’s doses are coming from their European plant in Belgium, which are shipped via FedEx to the United States before they reach Canada.
Moderna’s supplies to Canada come from Switzerland, where the company has set up a secondary production plant, in addition to its U.S. headquarters.
Currently, Canada is receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India. Supplies slated for later in the year will come from the U.S. and South Korea as part of the WHO-led COVAX program.
Meanwhile, there is no timeline set for when the Johnson & Johnson deliveries will arrive, nor is there confirmation on which of its two sites — in Europe and the U.S. — the doses will come from.
The company has already told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “there are challenges around production.”
With many variables at play, Kohler says expected vaccine supplies are not a given and Canada is in a “very precarious and unsafe situation right now.”
“It’s absolutely frightening to think that we don’t have vaccine sovereignty.”
The federal government has faced criticism from opposition parties over its response to the delays in deliveries of vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna in recent weeks, as well as the country’s inability to produce much-needed COVID-19 vaccines at home.
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Trudeau announced earlier this year a deal with Novavax to produce vaccines at a facility in Montreal, though that will not be operational until towards the end of the year.
If the vaccine is approved before that, doses will need to be shipped from abroad.
“If vaccines are manufactured in the country, you have a lot more control,” said Dan Breznitz, co-director of the innovation policy lab at the University of Toronto.
Barring any “major catastrophe,” he said the government should be able to meet its September target to vaccinate a majority of Canadians, as more production facilities of vaccines will scale up elsewhere around the globe.
“Let’s hope that there isn’t any massive outbreak out there in Europe, India, the U.S.,” Breznitz added.
‘My nation first approach’
Growing “vaccine protectionism” and political tussles are also at play.
In late January, the European Union implemented a controversial export authorization scheme for COVID-19 vaccines, which requires EU-based vaccine manufacturers to seek approval from the national government, where their doses are produced, before exporting them out of the EU.
In an escalation of a high-profile row between the bloc and Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca over a delay in deliveries, Italy blocked 250,000 doses of their vaccine to Australia last week.
Some say this could possibly have ripple effects in Canada as well.
“If they can do it to Australia, they can do it to us,” said Amir Attaran, a professor of law and public health at the University of Ottawa.
Coronavirus: Australia asks European Commission to review decision by Italy to block AstraZeneca vaccine shipment
Kohler said the “my nation first approach” that has been apparent since the beginning of the pandemic is heightening amid high global demand and a shortage in supply.
She said a “vacuum in terms of global health leadership” has only exacerbated the situation.
However, Timothy Chan, Canada Research Chair in Novel Optimization and Analytics in Health, is not concerned.
“If they are blocking only a small number of vaccines or only to specific countries, I think the impact on Canada will be minimal,” he said.
Both Pfizer and AstraZeneca told Global News they did not anticipate any delays in their vaccine deliveries to Canada.
“We do not feel like we have any cause for concern related to the export of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from Europe,” said Christina Antoniou, director of corporate affairs at Pfizer Canada, in an emailed statement.
Moderna and Johnson & Johnson did not respond to a request from Global News by the time of publication of this story.
Concerns growing over impact of EU vaccine export controls
The office of the minister of small business, export promotion and international trade also said that the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has given “repeated assurances” that the new EU measures will not affect vaccine shipments to Canada.
“We will continue to work with the EU and its member states, as we have done throughout the pandemic, to ensure that our essential health and medical supply chains remain open and resilient,” a spokesperson told Global News.
–With files from Global News’ Linda Boyle
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Wall Street’s plant-based love wilts
By Siddharth Cavale and Uday Sampath Kumar
(Reuters) – A cooling of the U.S. stock market’s taste for plant-based meat makers has raised doubts among some investors and analysts about Impossible Foods’ plans to achieve a $10 billion flotation.
Impossible is seeking to go public through an initial public offering or via a merger with a blank-check company within the next 12 months, sources told Reuters this month.
The market value of larger competitor Beyond Meat, however, has sunk from a peak of $14 billion to closer to $8.5 billion and is predicted by several brokerages to fall further.
Both firms carry expectations of being big players in a so-called faux meat market which some predict could be worth $85 billion a year by 2030 as dietary habits shift.
But with retail sales of some products sliding, four sectoral investors told Reuters that Beyond’s 420% rise in value since listing in September 2019 was now seen as overcooked.
“It’s pretty shocking when you see some of these valuations come out,” said Patrick Morris, whose Eat Beyond vehicle has invested in three Canada-listed plant-based ventures.
“The $10 billion for Impossible Foods, with Beyond Meat at $8 or $8.5 billion? The first reaction is that these valuations are coming from outer space,” added Morris, who said he is looking at investing in Impossible if it opens its books.
Some existing investors have told Impossible that it should aim to go public at a valuation below where Beyond is trading, a person familiar with the discussions told Reuters.
Impossible declined to comment.
While the signs remain positive for plant-based food, COVID-19 has halted restaurant sales, and sector studies suggest that the industry has yet to convincingly win over shoppers.
Nevertheless, both Beyond and Impossible have signed deals with major restaurant and grocery chains and the U.S. industry as a whole grew by 44% last year during the pandemic.
Revenues at Beyond and some other producers are growing, but the rate of volume sales growth of fresh and fully cooked plant-based meat alternatives has been declining steadily at U.S. retail stores since July last year, NielsenIQ data shows.
Unit sales growth eased from 32.6% in the July to September period last year to 1% in January to March quarter of 2021, when compared to the same period a year ago, the data showed.
Beyond’s sales overall were still just $407 million last year, and its stock trades at nearly 21 times sales per share, according to Refinitiv data, versus 1.6 times and 1.9 times for Kellogg Co and Kraft Heinz, which last year had sales of $13.78 billion and $26.19 billion respectively.
“Food companies need to trade in a multiple that has some logic to it,” said Christopher Kerr, Chief Investment Officer at Unovis Asset Management, an early investor in Beyond Meat who cashed out and now holds stakes in Oatly and Zero Egg.
“The question is can they get to something that represents market valuation tied to revenues … right now we’re seeing some pretty premium valuations out there,” Kerr added.
Graphic: Beyond Meat market cap – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/buzz/jznpnandjvl/Beyond%20market%20cap.PNG
One reason for the valuation floated for Impossible is the boom in special-purpose acquisition deals and initial offerings that has seen big jumps for a range of start-ups at launch.
Brian Schaeffer, managing director of private equity trading platform InvestX, which allows investors to trade in pre-IPO companies, said Impossible had been one of the top five traded stocks on the platform since introducing it this year.
“The SPAC trend is super aggressive right now …so those kind of public valuations are being translated into interest on the private platforms,” Schaeffer added.
Some market debuts, however, have not gone as well.
British-based food delivery service Deliveroo flopped on its debut last month.
While Impossible does not publish sales numbers, some industry estimates give it a less than 4% share of the U.S. imitation meat industry, compared with Beyond Meat’s 25%.
Beyond has signed deals with McDonald’s, PepsiCo and KFC and Taco Bell owner Yum Brands while Impossible last year gave up on McDonald’s, citing its inability to supply on the required scale.
Impossible’s burgers and sausages are available at only 20,000 stores globally, versus Beyond’s 122,000 and it is still seeking regulatory approval in Europe and mainland China, where the genetically modified yeast it uses is banned.
“There is so much money (from SPACs) looking for so few places to go, because the space is so new,” Curt Albright, managing member of alternative protein investment firm Clear Current Capital said.
“Whether the valuations are too much or too little, that the market will figure out eventually.”
(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale and Uday Sampath Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Patrick Graham and Alexander Smith)
The Art of Finding Work
By Nick Kossovan
Interviews Are Modern Greek Tragedies
Odds are the person interviewing you has a similar story as mine—they developed their interviewing skills “on the job.” Executives and managers are thrust into the recruiting part of their job without first developing skills to evaluate talent.
Outside of human resources, those whose job requires them to assess and interview candidates get little to no training. I never received any formal training regarding how to interview and evaluate a candidate. Yet, I’ve interviewed 1,000’s throughout my career.
I admit I stumbled through my first 150 – 200 interviews. I developed my interviewing skills, a skill I knew would serve me well, on job candidates, which I now admit was unfair to them.
Hiring the right people who’ll fit with the position, team and company can’t be overstated. I keep British-American author Simon Sinek’s words top of mind, “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for the money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”
Since finding work is seeking approval, I often think of interviews as conduits to modern Greek tragedies.
We spend much of our youth and adulthood seeking approval, trying to “fit in” with the right clothes, car, house, job, etc. We’re constantly aware we’re being judged—a cause of much of why we second-guess ourselves and the stress this causes.
- Am I good enough?
- Do I fit in?
You desperately want to hear, “We want you.”
WARNING: Three interview truths coming.
- When interviewing, everything goes into “the mix”—past hiring mistakes, bias, prejudices, commonalities.
- At the core of every hiring decision is gut feel.
- Likability is the most valuable currency a job seeker has, trumping education, skills, and experience.
When a candidate is sitting in front of me, I’m asking myself:
- Will this person fit in with the current team members and the company’s culture?
- Will this person be seen as a good hire by my boss and peers, and the team? (A bad hire = bad judgment, which is an X against my reputation.)
Acing an interview is extremely hard. Much of your success depends on whom you’re speaking to, and humans are the ultimate moving target. The best you can hope for is to stack the odds in your favour and hope your interviewer is in a good mood.
Keep top of mind: An interview is a sales meeting, and hiring is a business arrangement.
When interviewing, your job is to establish rapport (READ: connection), build trust and achieve the following goals of making the interviewer:
- Believe in you.
- See you as a fit.
You achieve these goals by:
- Clearly demonstrating what value you can bring to the employer. Connect how yourtrack record, which needs to be quantified; otherwise, it’s just your opinion, would be an asset to the employer.
- Presenting yourself as a problem solver. If you look at work holistically, you’ll realize every position within an organization exists to solve a problem(s). How can your experience and skills solve the problem(s) the position you applied to exists to solve?
- Asking good questions. By asking good questions, your interviewer will talk about their pain points. You can then explain (sell yourself) how you’d go about solving their pain point.
Three things worth noting and using as guidance when interviewing:
- An employer will hire you if they’re convinced you’ll bring more value than you cost, therefore offer as much value as possible.
- Problem solvers, those with a proven track record of solving their employer’s pain points, will always be in demand.
- People don’t have short attention spans. They have short interest spans. Make your interviewer interested in you!
There’s no blueprint to guarantee interview success. All you can do is stack the odds in your favour as much as possible. However, there’s one universal interview rule that’ll tip the odds in your favour: Always tell the person sitting across from you what they want to hear. When you develop the ability to read your interviewer and comfortably offer solutions to their pain points, you’ll have developed solid interviewing skills. Such skills will mitigate the number of Greek tragedies you’ll experience while job searching.
Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Judge Rules to delay Huawei CFO’s extradition hearings
By Moira Warburton
VANCOUVER (Reuters) – A Canada judge has agreed to delay Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s U.S. extradition hearings for three months, according to a ruling read in court on Wednesday, handing her defense team a win.
Meng, 49, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on charges of bank fraud in the United States for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.
Meng’s team had asked for more time to review additional documents that became available after HSBC and Huawei reached a settlement in Hong Kong. Extradition hearings were originally set to wrap up in May.
Defense attorney Richard Peck argued in court on Monday that they were requesting “a modest frame of time” to be able to read the documents and potentially file them as evidence in the British Columbia Supreme Court.
Lawyers representing the attorney general of Canada had fought the adjournment of hearings set to start on Monday, arguing that Meng’s team had been given more time than was usual in an extradition to make their case, and the contents of the documents were too redacted to be relied upon as significant to the case.
“The outstanding feature of this application is that it’s based on speculation,” prosecutor Robert Frater said on Monday.
But Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes disagreed, siding with the defense in granting an adjournment.
Her reasons will be read out on in court on April 28.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy)
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