Canada’s deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland, says we have a responsibility to make sure COVID-19 isn’t only quashed within our own borders, but abroad as well.
Her comments come on the heels of a G20 meeting in Venice, where the leaders of the 20 most powerful economies in the world agreed that global economic recovery is at risk as a result of the rise of new COVID-19 variants — a risk that is heightened by some nations’ poor access to vaccines.
“We are focused on doing everything which is necessary to make sure that Canadians are safe and make sure that Canadians are vaccinated. And I really want to congratulate Canadians, because we have seen such enthusiasm in our country for going out and getting vaccinated,” Freeland said to reporters on Saturday during a teleconference.
“Having said that, we also absolutely recognize that this is a global pandemic, that we have both a practical and a moral duty to fight the pandemic around the world.”
In Canada, over 78 per cent of the population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Another 48 per cent were fully vaccinated as of Saturday, according to COVID-19 Tracker Canada.
Those figures are starkly contrasted by vaccine rates in many other countries around the world — where some have first-dose coverage that’s as low as one per cent.
“In some parts of the world, the vaccination rates, even at one dose, are one per cent, two per cent, three per cent, five per cent,” said Dr. Peter Singer, an advisor with the WHO, in an interview with Global News.
“To be safe is for this fire to be put out everywhere in the world, because otherwise, if it’s burning anywhere, it’s going to be casting off embers that are going to ignite flames everywhere.”
Experts question Pfizer’s calls for third COVID-19 vaccine dose
Singer isn’t alone in his concern.
Infectious disease specialists have voiced similar warnings, noting that helping other nations isn’t a selfless act — it actually protects everyone.
“When (COVID is) burning in other places, it’s really a plane ride away. So that can result in outbreaks here as well,” said Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti.
“Getting vaccines to everybody around the world will benefit all of us.”
Beyond helping to save lives abroad, experts say that tackling COVID-19 also helps keep the world ahead of one of the biggest risk factors of the pandemic — variants.
As a virus spreads, it replicates. With each opportunity the virus has to replicate, it has more and more chances to make a mistake. Sometimes, those mistakes end up being advantageous for the virus — either allowing it to spread more easily, or potentially making the virus more severe.
The more COVID-19 spreads, the more opportunities it has to replicate and mutate. That means the biggest risk for the creation of variants is the large pockets of the world where uncontrolled spread is still occurring, Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Zain Chagla explained to Global News.
“The big things that lead to variants are large unvaccinated populations, particularly ones where health systems are really poor and patients with immune conditions,” he said.
Canada has taken steps to try to help bolster vaccination efforts around the world, Freeland said on Saturday.
The government has contributed $1.3 billion to the World Health Organization’s ACT accelerator, which aims to establish a framework involving governments, philanthropists and civil society — to name a few — that work together to help ensure the global vaccination rollout runs smoothly.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also pledged to contribute 100 million vaccine doses to global vaccination efforts at the G7 meeting in June.
But experts are eyeing the world’s vaccine priorities with some concern after Pfizer recently announced its plans to craft a fresh vaccine aimed at combatting the Delta variant of COVID-19. If approved, it could be the third jab some receive, while some countries are still waiting for their first vaccines.
“There is an ethical concern about prioritizing dose three for Americans over doses one and two for the rest of the world,” John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, told Global News.
“The general feeling is that it is not the right time for a third dose of the mRNA vaccines.”
While there are few studies showing how long the protection provided by COVID-19 vaccines lasts, the early research is promising.
A study published in the journal Nature in late June found mRNA-based vaccines create a more “persistent” germinal centre B cell response, which means that a person’s immune response to the jab is stronger and longer-lasting.
The researchers examined participants four months after they received their first Pfizer dose and found that the germinal centres in their lymph nodes, likened to a boot camp for immune cells, kept pumping out the cells needed to protect against COVID-19.
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This has led some to question Pfizer’s motivations in pursuing the new booster shot.
“It’s being (said) that Pfizer is being somewhat opportunistic,” said Moore.
“Pushing the idea of vaccine boosters will, of course, greatly increase vaccine sales.”
And while Pfizer backed up its latest research plans with claims that the “continued emergence of variants are expected,” experts say the lack of vaccine coverage around the world remains a much bigger threat when it comes to deadly mutations of the virus.
“We can build vaccines to make ourselves more protected against the evolution of this virus,” Chagla said.
“But if we’re not addressing the root cause of the evolution of this virus, then we’re going to be left with chasing our tails over and over and over again.”
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada’s and Zimbabwe’s paths for COVID-19 vaccination are worlds apart – The Globe and Mail
When mother-of-three Amanda Wood heard that hundreds of coronavirus shots were available for teens, only one thing prevented her from racing to the vaccination site at a Toronto high school – her 13-year-old daughter’s fear of needles.
Wood told Lola: If you get the vaccine you’ll be able to see your friends again. You’ll be able to play sports. And enticed by the promise of resuming a normal, teen life, Lola agreed.
In Zimbabwe, more than 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) and a world away from Canada, immunity is harder to obtain.
On a recent day, Andrew Ngwenya sat outside his home in a working-class township in Harare, the capital, pondering how he could save himself and his family from COVID-19.
Ngwenya and his wife De-egma had gone to a hospital that sometimes had spare doses. Hours later, fewer than 30 people had been inoculated. The Ngwenyas, parents of four children, were sent home, still desperate for immunization.
“We are willing to have it but we can’t access it,” he said. “We need it, where can we get it?”
The stories of the Wood and Ngwenya families reflect a world starkly divided between vaccine haves and have nots, between those who can imagine a world beyond the pandemic and those who can only foresee months and perhaps years of illness and death.
In one country, early stumbles in the fight against COVID-19 were overcome thanks to money and a strong public health infrastructure. In the other, poor planning, a lack of resources and the failure of a global mechanism intended to share scarce vaccines have led to a desperate shortage of COVID-19 shots – and oxygen tanks and protective equipment, as well.
With 70% of its adult population receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Canada has among the world’s highest vaccination rate and is now moving on to immunize children, who are at far lower risk of coronavirus complications and death.
Meanwhile, only about 9% of the population in Zimbabwe has received one dose of coronavirus vaccine amid a surge of the easier-to-spread delta variant, first seen in India. Many millions of people vulnerable to COVID-19, including the elderly and those with underlying medical problems, are struggling to get immunized as government officials introduce more restrictive measures.
Ngwenya said the crush of people trying to get vaccinated is disheartening.
“The queue is like 5 kilometers (about 3 miles) long. Even if you are interested in a jab you can’t stand that. Once you see the queue you won’t try again,” he said
Vaccines weren’t always plentiful in Canada. With no domestic coronavirus vaccine production, the country got off to a sluggish start, with immunization rates behind those in Hungary, Greece and Chile. Canada was also the only G7 country to secure vaccines in the first round of deliveries by a U.N.-backed effort set up to distribute COVID-19 doses primarily to poor countries known as COVAX.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it had always been Canada’s intention to secure vaccines through COVAX, after investing more than $400 million in the project. The vaccines alliance, Gavi, said COVAX was also meant to provide rich countries with an “insurance policy” in case they didn’t have enough shots.
COVAX’s latest shipment to Canada – about 655,000 AstraZeneca vaccines – arrived in May, shortly after about 60 poor countries were left in the lurch when the initiative’s supplies slowed to a trickle. Bangladesh, for example, had been awaiting a COVAX delivery of about 130,000 vaccines for its Rohingya refugee population; the shots never arrived after the Indian supplier ceased exports.
Canada’s decision to secure vaccines through the U.N.-backed effort was “morally reprehensible,” said Dr. Prabhat Jha, chair of global health and epidemiology at the University of Toronto. He said Canada’s early response to COVID-19 badly misjudged the need for control measures including aggressive contact tracing and border restrictions.
“If not for Canada’s purchasing power to procure vaccines, we would be in bad shape right now,” he said.
Weeks after the COVAX vaccines arrived, more than 33,000 doses were still sitting in warehouses in Ottawa after health officials recommended Canadians get shots made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna instead – of which they had bought tens of millions of doses.
The Wood children got the Pfizer vaccine. When Canada began immunizing children aged 12 and over, Wood, who works with children in the entertainment industry and her architect husband didn’t hesitate.
Wood said her children, who are all avid athletes, have been unable to play much hockey, soccer or rugby during repeated lockdowns. Lola has missed baking lemon loaves and chocolate chip cookies with her grandmother, who lives three blocks away.
“We felt we had to do our part to keep everyone safe, to keep the elderly safe, and to get the economy going again and the kids back to school,” she said.
In Zimbabwe, there is no expectation of a return to normal anytime soon, and things are likely to get worse – Ngwenya worries about government threats to bar the unvaccinated from public services, including transport.
Although Zimbabwe was allocated nearly 1 million coronavirus vaccines through COVAX, none have been delivered. Its mix of purchased and donated shots – 4.2 million – consist of Chinese, Russian and Indian vaccines.
Official figures show that 4% of the country’s 15 million population are now fully immunized.
The figures make Zimbabwe a relative success in Africa, where fewer than 2% of the continent’s 1. 3 billion people have been vaccinated, according to the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, the virus is spreading to rural areas where the majority live and health facilities are shambolic.
Ngwenya is a part-time pastor with a Pentecostal church; he said he and his flock have had to rely on their faith to fight the coronavirus. But he said people would rather have vaccines first, and then prayer.
“Every man is scared of death,” he said. “People are dying and we can see people dying. This is real.”
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Vaccines best defence against Delta resurgence as Waterloo Region reopens: Dr. Wang – CTV Toronto
Waterloo Region’s medical officer of health says COVID-19 vaccines remain the best defence against resurgence of the Delta variant as the economy reopens.
The region joined Ontario with a move into Step 3 last Friday. Step 2 was delayed in the area due to wide community spread of the Delta variant earlier this summer.
“The risk of Delta will increase as we reopen our economy and society,” Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said at the region’s COVID-19 update on Friday. “Therefore, we need to protect ourselves. Residents should not delay getting their first or second doses.”
She encouraged people to continue following all public health measures, avoid crowded indoor spaces, gather outdoors whenever possible and wear a mask if physical distancing isn’t possible.
“The Delta variant continues to be the predominant strain in Waterloo Region and is estimated to have accounted for 97 per cent of cases in the previous two weeks,” Dr. Wang said.
Trends in the community have improved in recent weeks. The weekly incidence rate is now down to 25 cases per 100,000 people, according to Dr. Wang.
Dr. Wang added the majority of new cases continue to be in people who aren’t vaccinated, or anyone who has only received one dose.
“Fully vaccinated people are the most protected possible against infection and, in particular, severe illness that can lead to hospitalization or even death,” she said.
She said there is a possibility of breakthrough cases in people who are fully vaccinated, but they are less likely to have severe symptoms or to spread the disease to others.
“The more there’s spread of the virus, the more everyone is at increased risk, because there’s more exposure to the virus,” Dr. Wang said. “But, those who are vaccinated, especially those that are fully vaccinated, are the most protected.”
The region continues to have some of the highest first-dose coverage in Ontario, but Dr. Wang reminded residents that it’s too soon to relax restrictions completely.
“We may feel done with the pandemic, but the pandemic is not done with us,” she said.
CONTINUED PUSH FOR ACCELERATED SECOND DOSES
Regional officials continue to encourage people get their second vaccine dose as soon as they are eligible to do so. The interval between mRNA vaccines is 28 days, and people can get a second shot eight weeks after receiving AstraZeneca.
All regional clinics are offering walk-ins for first and second doses, and all other appointments will be honoured.
“I encourage every resident who has an appointment in August, September or October to book an earlier appointment or pop into one of the clinics,” said Dept. Chief Shirley Hilton, who is leading the region’s vaccine rollout.
The region launched a new mobile vaccine bus this week, which is aimed at making doses more accessible to people who may not be able to get to a clinic, pharmacy or primary care facility.
Hilton said the vaccine task force is beginning to look at ramping down some of its mass vaccine clinics as more and more residents receive both first and second doses. She said they will continue to offer mobile and other vaccine options into the future.
Officials reported one enforcement action at this week’s COVID-19 update. Regional bylaw officers issued one ticket to a business for failing to comply with the face covering bylaw. That ticket was worth $240.
Canada and Zimbabwe: Two Very Different Vaccination Campaigns – The Saxon
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) – When Amanda Wood, a mother of three, learned that hundreds of coronavirus vaccines were available to teens in Toronto, one thing stopped her from rushing to the vaccination site at a local high school: her 13-year-old daughter is afraid of injections. Wood then told Lola: if you get vaccinated, you can see your friends again, you can play sports. Tempted by the promise of regaining a normal teenage life, Lola accepted.
In Zimbabwe, a world away from Canada – more than 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles) – the challenges go much further in the fight to achieve herd immunity.
Andrew Ngwenya was recently sitting outside his home in a working-class township in Harare, the capital, reflecting on how he and his family could be saved from COVID-19. Ngwenya and his wife, De-egma, had gone to a hospital that sometimes had doses to spare. Hours later, fewer than 30 people had been inoculated. The Ngwenya, parents of four children, returned home, desperate to get vaccinated.
“We are willing to receive it, but we cannot have access to it,” said the father of the family. “We need it, where can we get it?”
The stories of the Wood and Ngwenya families reflect a totally inequitable world, divided between those who have vaccines and those who do not, between those who can imagine a world beyond the pandemic and those who can only anticipate months and perhaps years of disease and death.
In one country, initial stumbling blocks in the fight against COVID-19 were overcome thanks to money and a strong public health infrastructure. In the other, poor planning, lack of resources, and the failure of a global mechanism intended to share the few doses available have led to a desperate shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as oxygen tanks and protective equipment.
With 70% of its adult population on at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and now continues to immunize minors, who have much less risk of having complications and dying from the coronavirus.
In contrast, in Zimbabwe, only 9% of the population have received a dose of vaccines as the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus advances, which was first detected in India. Several million people vulnerable to COVID-19, including older adults and those with underlying medical problems, face problems being immunized as public officials implement more restrictive measures.
Ngwenya said the crowd of people trying to get vaccinated is daunting. “The line is about 5 kilometers (3 miles). Even if you are interested in getting vaccinated, you cannot bear that. Once you see the line, you don’t try again, ”he said.
In Canada, vaccines were not always abundant. Without a national production of the COVID-19 vaccine, the country started slow, with a vaccination rate lagging behind those of Hungary, Greece and Chile. Canada was also the only G7 country to secure vaccines in the first round of COVAX deliveries, the UN-backed effort to distribute doses primarily to poor countries.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada’s intention was always to secure vaccines through COVAX, after investing more than $ 400 million in the project. The Gavi vaccine alliance said COVAX also intended to provide rich countries with an “insurance policy” in case they did not have enough doses.
The most recent shipment of COVAX to Canada – roughly 655,000 vaccines from AstraZeneca – arrived in May, shortly after some 60 countries were sidelined when supplies from the initiative were cut to a minimum. Bangladesh, for example, had been waiting for a COVAX delivery of approximately 130,000 vaccines for its Rohingya refugee population; the doses never arrived after the Indian supplier stopped exporting them.
Canada’s decision to secure vaccines through the UN-backed effort was “morally reprehensible,” said Dr. Prahbat Jha, president of global health and epidemiology at the University of Toronto. He said Canada’s first response to COVID-19 miscalculated the need for control measures, including aggressive contact tracing and border restrictions.
“If it weren’t for Canada’s purchasing power to procure vaccines, we would be in bad shape right now,” he said.
Weeks after COVAX vaccines arrived, more than 33,000 doses were still in warehouses in Ottawa after health officials advised Canadians to better opt for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, of which they bought hundreds of millions. dose.
The Wood children received the Pfizer vaccine. When Canada began immunizing children 12 and older, Wood – who works with children in the entertainment industry – and her architect husband did not hesitate.
Wood said his sons, who are avid athletes, hadn’t been able to play much hockey, soccer or rugby during lockdowns. Lola missed baking lemon bread and chocolate chip cookies with her grandmother, who lives just three blocks away.
“We felt we had to do our part to keep everyone safe, to keep older adults safe and for the economy to resume and children to go back to school,” he said.
In Zimbabwe, there is no expectation of a return to normalcy soon and the situation is likely to get worse first. Ngwenya is concerned about the government’s threats to ban public services to unvaccinated people, including transportation.
Although Zimbabwe was assigned nearly a million COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX, none have been delivered. Their combination of purchased and donated doses – 4.2 million – consists of Chinese, Russian and Indian vaccines.
Official figures show that 4% of the 15 million inhabitants of the country are currently fully vaccinated.
And yet the numbers make Zimbabwe a relative success story in Africa, where less than 2% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people are now fully immunized, according to the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, the virus spreads to rural areas, where the majority live and health facilities are poor.
Ngwenya, a part-time pastor at a Pentecostal church, said he and his parishioners turn to faith to fight the coronavirus, but admitted that many people would prefer to get vaccinated first and then pray.
“All men are afraid of death,” he said. “People die and we see people die. This is real”.
Cheng reported from London. Lori Hinnant, a journalist for The Associated Press in Paris, contributed to this report.
Andrew Ngwenya, center, his wife De-egma, left, and their daughter in a working-class township in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, on Monday, July 12, 2021. (AP Photo / Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Amanda and David Wood stand with their daughters, twins Ruby and Lola, and their son Ethan sitting on the porch of their home in Toronto, Canada, on Monday, July 12, 2021. (AP Photo / Kamran Jebreili)
FILE – In this Thursday, March 4, 2021 file photo, women washing clothes with signs urging the use of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 outside Harare, Zimbabwe. (AP Photo / Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)
People walk past a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in downtown Toronto, Canada, Sunday, July 18, 2021. (AP Photo / Kamran Jebreili)
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