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Canada secures 2 new deals for possible COVID-19 vaccines – Global News

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Canada has inked two additional deals with companies working on a possible vaccine for COVID-19.

The two agreements include 76 million doses of Novavax Inc.’s vaccine candidate and 38 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s candidate.






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Coronavirus: Government focus is on Canadians’ access to potential COVID-19 vaccine, Trudeau says


Coronavirus: Government focus is on Canadians’ access to potential COVID-19 vaccine, Trudeau says

They bring Canada’s total number of procurement agreements with vaccine developers to four, as deals with Pfizer Canada and Moderna were announced earlier this month.

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Read more:
Canadians could join clinical trials for new COVID-19 vaccine, says researcher

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged Monday that there is “a lot more work to go” on the development of any of these vaccines, but said the “broad range of vaccine developers” Canada has signed on with will be beneficial in the long run.

“It’s possible there will be a breakthrough soon, but we don’t know where or when that breakthrough will be,” he said.






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Coronavirus: Trudeau announces 2 new deals for possible COVID-19 vaccines


Coronavirus: Trudeau announces 2 new deals for possible COVID-19 vaccines

“Taken together, our vaccine agreements will give Canada at least 88 million doses with options to obtain tens of millions more.”

Some vaccines may require more than one dose to be effective. Any potential vaccine will be required to pass Health Canada regulatory approval before being distributed.

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Coronavirus: Canada inks deals with Pfizer, Moderna for coronavirus vaccine candidates


Coronavirus: Canada inks deals with Pfizer, Moderna for coronavirus vaccine candidates

Novavax — a biotechnology company that develops vaccines for serious infectious diseases — said it expects to finalize the advance purchase agreement “as early as the second quarter of 2021.”

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Novavax’s vaccine (NVX-CoV2373) is currently in its second phase of clinical trials. The company plans to begin the third phase in September.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is currently in phase one and two of its trials in the U.S. and Belgium. In a statement, the company said plans for phase three of the program are already underway, which will include trials on 60,000 volunteers.






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Government of Canada makes vaccine deals with 2 more companies


Government of Canada makes vaccine deals with 2 more companies

Clinical trials by Pfizer Canada, which is working with BioNTech in Germany, and U.S.-based Moderna, have both already advanced to the third stage.

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Canada has requested 20 million and 56 million doses of those candidates, respectively.

Read more:
Canada’s top doctor ‘optimistic’ after Canada-China vaccine partnership collapses

Monday’s announcement is the first glimpse of how many vaccine doses the federal government is working to secure as the coronavirus pandemic continues in Canada. Previously, officials did not elaborate on the number of doses it was requesting from companies, merely saying “millions.”

The cost of the agreements is not yet clear.

Novavax’s vaccine has shown promise in recent weeks. Initial data from an early-stage trial this month exhibited an ability to produce antibodies against COVID-19.

The company recently began enrolling volunteers for its second phase candidate, with data from that part of the clinical trial expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.






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Should the COVID-19 vaccine be patent-free?


Should the COVID-19 vaccine be patent-free?

Globally, the Novavax vaccine is one of nearly 30 being tested in human clinical trials. However, it lags behind candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, which are in later stages at this time.

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The United States and Britain are also in deals with Novavax. The U.S. awarded the company $1.6 billion in July to test and manufacture its vaccine in the country, with the hopes of securing 100 million doses by January. Britain has requested to buy 60 million doses.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine uses “viral vectors” to generate immune responses. A similar approach is being taken by AstraZeneca, as well as China’s CanSino, which was once being developed in partnership with Canada but has since been abandoned.

Read more:
Safety of COVID-19 vaccine concerning some Canadians, StatCan survey shows

The government also announced on Monday that it would provide $126 million in funding to expand a biomanufacturing facility at the Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre in Montreal.






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Coronavirus: Trudeau announces over $126 million funding to NRC biomanufacturing facility for vaccine production


Coronavirus: Trudeau announces over $126 million funding to NRC biomanufacturing facility for vaccine production

Trudeau said the aid would bolster the facility’s ability to manufacture vaccines and strengthen partnerships with developers. It is expected to be up-and-running by mid-2021, Trudeau said, and intends to produce up to two million doses of vaccine a month by the end of next summer.

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Anita Anand, the minister of public services and procurement, in a statement called the in-principle agreement “an important step” in the government’s efforts to secure a vaccine as the pandemic continues and “evolves.”

As of Aug. 30, the coronavirus pandemic has claimed 9,117 lives in Canada overall, and 127,870 cases have been diagnosed, according to figures released by provincial and territorial governments.

The vast majority of people diagnosed — about 89 per cent — have recovered from the viral illness.

More than 6.3 million tests have been conducted since late January.

— with files from Reuters, the Canadian Press and Global News’ Kerri Breen

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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As caseloads spike in four provinces, Trudeau warns that pandemic will be worse this fall – CBC.ca

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In a rare televised national address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to the airwaves tonight to warn that Canada is at a “crossroads” as COVID-19 cases spike in some provinces, and with pandemic conditions in the fall expected to be worse than what the country endured when the crisis was just beginning.

Canada entered an ordered shutdown of economic and social life in mid-March, when there were only a few dozen new cases being reported each day. Now, with 1,000 new cases reported nationwide yesterday, Trudeau said there can be no doubt that four of the country’s provinces — Alberta, B.C., Ontario and Quebec — are in the second wave of COVID-19.

“I know this isn’t the news that any of us wanted to hear. And we can’t change today’s numbers or even tomorrow’s … but what we can change is where we are in October, and into the winter,” he said.

“It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas.”

Trudeau said that while the outlook is grim, Canada has the tools it needs to blunt the impact of a pandemic that has already claimed the lives of 9,200 people in this country.

“We have the power to get this second wave under control. I know we can do it, because we’ve already done it once before. In the spring, we all did our part by staying home. And this fall, we have even more tools in the toolbox,” he said.

Trudeau said Canadians must continue to wear masks where possible, limit social interactions — “It’s no time for a party” — and download the COVID-19 alert app so that those who test positive can anonymously alert close contacts.

“It’s a powerful, free tool that’s easy to use and protects your privacy,” he said.

Trudeau also sought to reassure Canadians that the government is working to procure the goods needed to get the country past this health crisis.

He said the government has signed billions of dollars worth of agreements to buy vaccines, therapeutics and personal protective equipment (PPE). Canada faced critical shortages of gloves, masks and gowns in the early days of the pandemic, after government agents failed to adequately supply the national emergency stockpile.

Beyond warnings about a projected spike in cases in the coming months, Trudeau used the second half of his 15-minute address to assure Canadians that the government will be ready to help them navigate the economic fallout — pointing to some of the policy proposals that were outlined in the speech from the throne this afternoon.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who responded to Trudeau’s remarks from isolation after testing positive for the virus last Friday, said the Tories have lost faith in the government’s response to this pandemic.

“The situation facing my family shows we must remain extremely vigilant in our battle against the spread of COVID-19. We must also be very vigilant for the future of our country,” he said. His wife, Rebecca, has also tested positive.

He urged Trudeau to push Health Canada regulators to approve rapid testing devices to ease the pressure on hospital-run testing centres that have experienced hours-long lineups in some parts of the country.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two antigen testing devices months ago — tests that can deliver results in less than 15 minutes — Health Canada has said it is not ready to put its stamp of approval on such tests.

Antigen tests — which, depending on the device, use matter collected from a nasal or throat swab — don’t require the use of a lab to generate results. The FDA has said such tests are a safe and reliable way to determine a person’s COVID-19 status.

“It is unacceptable that we trust countries like Japan, Germany and the U.S. with our national security intelligence but we don’t trust their approval of a 15-minute saliva test,” O’Toole said.

Government promises 1 million new jobs

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette delivered the government’s nearly hour-long address in the Senate chamber earlier today.

In that speech, the government pledged to create one million new jobs, extend the wage subsidy program until next summer, launch the largest jobs training program in the country’s history and begin to build a national child-care program to support working women.

The Liberal government also promised to push ahead with plans to create a universal pharmacare program with any provinces willing to take part.

Watch: Throne speech outlines Trudeau government’s plans for pandemic recovery

The government promised to pursue an ambitious environmental agenda to fast-track Canada’s efforts to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions through home retrofits and infrastructure spending, and through tax incentives for companies building zero-emissions products, like electric vehicles.

“The economic impact of COVID-19 on Canadians has already been worse than the 2008 financial crisis. These consequences will not be short-lived. This is not the time for austerity. Canada entered this crisis in the best fiscal position of its peers and the government is using that fiscal firepower,” the government said in the speech.

The Bloc Québécois and Conservative parties promised Wednesday to vote against the speech.

If NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and his caucus also vote against the speech, Canadians will be headed to the polls for a fall federal election.

Singh told reporters that he had not yet decided how his caucus will vote when it’s given the chance in the Commons in the days ahead.

“We’re going to take a lot of time to consider the throne speech and make sure we evaluate it and make a decision around whether we’re supporting or not,” he said.

He said he’s troubled by the Liberals’ pitch to do away with the Canadian emergency relief benefit (CERB) in favour of a revamped Employment Insurance (EI) system, warning it could hurt workers who have been forced to stay home because of the pandemic.

Conservatives say no

Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen said the Tories cannot support the speech because it doesn’t address a major issue: Western alienation and national unity.

The speech said little about the oil and gas sector — an industry that has been hit hard by sinking oil prices and dwindling demand, leaving thousands jobless.

“There were no words that said, ‘We value natural resources, we value our forestry workers, we value our agricultural sector.’ They should have said all that and they didn’t. We were hoping for something better,” she said. “Conservatives continue to be the only party standing up for the West.”

The speech included big-ticket spending promises with no plan to pay for them — which Bergen dismissed as irresponsible.

“They’re still talking about how budgets will balance themselves, so it’s very, very concerning,” Bergen said, citing Trudeau’s claim from years back that a growing economy would reduce federal deficits.

Bergen said the speech offered little new material — “just grand gestures and empty promises” — and the prorogation of Parliament to deliver the speech was a naked attempt to shield the Liberal government from further parliamentary inquiry into the WE Charity scandal.

Asked if it was responsible to push Canadians closer to an election during a pandemic, Bergen said Canada is a democracy and Tories have the right to vote against a speech that fails to address their priorities.

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How COVID-19 worsens Canada's digital divide – CBC.ca

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Chawathil First Nation lies just 600 metres north of the Trans-Canada Highway in southwestern B.C., but it feels much more remote when you try to log onto the internet from here.

That’s apparent when, from behind a Plexiglas barrier at the band office, finance manager Peter John attempts to run an online speed test to measure the dial-up connection. 

It takes nearly two minutes for the page to load, and once it does, the meter shows the download speed is an agonizingly slow one megabit per second (Mbps)

With that kind of setup, it means students struggle with online classes, and the band can’t hold video meetings. 

“Everything they could get out of the internet, they’re not able to really get it because it’s not there,” John said.

When the pandemic thrust most school, work and services online, it further highlighted not just how essential the internet has become but also the urban-rural divide around access. 

The CRTC recommends that every household have access to broadband with download speeds of at least 50 Mbps, and the federal government has set a goal to have Canada-wide broadband by 2030

According to the CRTC, nearly 86 per cent of households overall have that level of service currently, but in rural areas only 40 per cent do. In First Nation communities, it’s estimated that just 30 per cent of households have internet connections with the recommended speed. 

And even while the connections in remote areas are often slower, the service tends to be more expensive.

Deanna John, a child-and-family advocate as well as a band councillor for Chawathil First Nation, said those in the community who have internet pay around $130 dollars a month, while others come to the band office after hours to see if they can tap into the building’s network. Some choose to take a 35-minute bus ride to Chilliwack to use the Wi-Fi at a coffee shop, she said. 

The limited internet has made it harder for residents to get health care.

John said the community’s doctor, who used to come about once a week before the COVID-19 pandemic, is unable to see patients online. Some residents have instead been driving to the nearby town of Agassiz for appointments.

Peter John and Deanna John stand in front of the Chawathil First Nation band office, where the only internet connection is dial-up over a dedicated phone line. (Briar Stewart/CBC News )

“I would like [the internet]  to be up and available … so we’re not struggling with our kids falling back on education and that we’re actually connecting our people to the mental health specialists out there,” said John. 

John said the band had been speaking with Telus about upgrading the internet but was told it would cost tens of thousands just to increase the speed at the band office. 

Federal funding

In the 2019 budget, the federal government announced $1.7 billion in funding to support high-speed internet in remote and rural areas: $1 billion is slated for a Universal Broadband Fund, for extending internet infrastructure; $600 million for satellites, which can help connect some of the most remote communities; and $85 million to top up an ongoing program called Connect to Innovate which helps fund specific community projects in rural and First Nation communities.

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), a not-for-profit organization that manages the .ca domain and advocates for better internet service, says it is currently working with about 400 rural communities to map connection speeds neighbourhood by neighbourhood. The organization also runs a yearly $1.25-million grant program to help communities invest in projects including internet infrastructure. 

“Canada’s internet service providers have passed over a lot of communities because they’re just not worth it financially,” said Josh Tabish, corporate communications manager with CIRA. 

“This is where we need the government to step up.” 

He said experts believe it will cost up to $6 billion to roll out broadband across Canada and he believes the federal government needs to act faster. The application for the Universal Broadband fund has yet to open. 

Tabish said about one in 10 Canadian households have no internet connection whatsoever, and the pandemic has exacerbated the gap in connectivity between rural and urban areas. He said high-speed internet has become even faster in cities, while it has plateaued in remote areas. 

In the meantime, he said, those without it struggle with daily life. 

Spotty satellite connection 

In the hamlet of Ryder Lake, residents have been pleading for better internet for years. The community is made up of sprawling acreages and farms that stretch up a lush green mountainside in B.C.’s Fraser Valley. 

The landscape was one of the reasons Sheri Elgermsa and her family of six moved here despite the fact that only satellite internet is available. When CBC News visited, her family was only getting about nine Mbps download speed. 

WATCH | Family of 6 schedules online time due to slow speed, spotty service

Ryder Lake, B.C. resident Sheri Elgersma explains how managing her kids’ time online became even more complicated during this unusual school year. 0:57

“When we moved up here eight and a half years ago, the internet … was a social thing. It was nice-to-have,” Elgersma said. 

“Now it’s become essential.”

When schools were closed back in the spring and classes moved online, Elgersma had to sit down with her four children and work out a schedule, as the internet connection would only allow one person to be online at any given time. 

If there were any classes overlapping, she said, she would have to pick one over another. 

Her oldest son, Elijah, 18, was often the priority, as he was wrapping up his final year of high school. He is now enrolled in a university program and has online classes two days a week, but even with no one else in the house allowed online at those times, the internet is still an issue. 

“All of a sudden it kind of goes frozen and I miss half the stuff,” Elijah said. 

“It’s a little bit frustrating.”

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Highlights of today's speech from the throne – CBC.ca

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The Liberal government laid out its plan to guide the country through the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic in its throne speech today.

Here are some of the highlights of the throne speech delivered by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.

Jobs

One of the pillars of the speech is a promise by the Liberal minority government to create over one million jobs. The government said it will do this through “direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure, immediate training to quickly skill up workers, and incentives for employers to hire and retain workers.”

As part of that plan, the government says it will extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through to next summer. 

The program, which was set to end at the end of the year, initially offered to cover 75 per cent of wages, up to a weekly maximum of $847, for workers at eligible companies and non-profits affected by the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was updated in July to both expand eligibility and gradually reduce the subsidy rate.

Watch: Government commits to creating one million jobs

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette delivered the 150th speech from the throne in the Senate chamber on Wednesday. 2:08

As of Sept. 13 the program has paid out more than $35 billion.

“People losing their jobs is perhaps the clearest consequence of the global economic shock that Canadians — like those in other countries — have faced,” says the speech.

Women, the economy and child care 

To address the pandemic’s disproportionate economic effects on women, the throne speech touched on the government’s pledge to get more women into the workforce. 

As part of that effort, the government is promising “significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system.”

The government said it also remains committed to subsidizing before- and after-school program costs.

Criminal Code changes for seniors

Noting that one of the greatest tragedies of the crisis has been the lives lost in long-term care homes, the government is promising to amend the Criminal Code to penalize people who neglect seniors under their care.

The government said it also will work with the provinces and territories to set new national standards for long-term care

Canadian Disability Benefit

The speech also included a promise to another group that has been hit hard by the pandemic: Canadians living with disabilities.

The government said it is working on a Canadian disability benefit, modelled on the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors. 

Climate change 

The government is promising to bring forward a plan to exceed its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. 

It’s also promising to legislate Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

The throne speech includes promises to create thousands of jobs by retrofitting homes and buildings and to make zero-emissions vehicles more affordable.

Systemic racism 

While most of the speech focused on Canada’s COVID-19 recovery plan, one section was dedicated to addressing systemic racism in Canada.

Most of those initiatives have been announced already, or were hinted at over the summer as Black Lives Matter protests erupted across North America and the RCMP dealt with the blowback from a number of controversial arrests and use-of-force incidents.

The Liberals are reopening Parliament with a renewed promise to introduce legislation to shake up the criminal justice system “from diversion to sentencing, from rehabilitation to records.”

It also said it will move forward on enhanced civilian oversight for the RCMP — which falls under the minister of public safety’s portfolio — and address standards on the use of force.

New airline routes

The Liberals say they will work with partners to support regional routes for airlines.

“It is essential that Canadians have access to reliable and affordable regional air services,” says the speech.

“This is an issue of equity, of jobs, and of economic development. The government will work to support this.”

Watch: Government lays out four approaches to pandemic and economy

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette began the 150th speech from the throne by explaining how these four ‘foundations’ can help the economy recover. 1:53

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