Canada has signed an agreement to secure another 20 million vaccine doses as the global race for a COVID-19 vaccine intensifies.
During a news conference in Ottawa today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a deal with AstraZeneca on access to a vaccine prospect now being developed at Oxford University. As a result, the federal government has now secured access to six leading vaccine candidates. None of the candidates have been proven to work so far.
“We’ve been guided by science since the very beginning and right now, both the COVID-19 vaccine task force and the immunity task force are doing important work to help us identify the most promising vaccine options and strategies,” he said.
There is no approved vaccine yet for COVID-19, though there are many in clinical trials and in development. Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the global market is “intense and unpredictable.”
“Each supplier and therefore each negotiation is unique, with its own set of concerns,” she said. “The resulting agreements contain terms specifying the quantity, the price, the anticipated delivery schedule, the manufacturing and finishing parameters for each vaccine.
“When a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready.”
The federal government already has reached vaccine agreements with Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer and Moderna, for a total of 282 million doses.
Full payments to drug companies are contingent on the vaccines passing clinical trials and obtaining regulatory approval.
Health Canada says it will review the evidence on safety, efficacy and manufacturing quality for each vaccine to determine if individual vaccines will be approved for use in Canada before they are made available to Canadians.
Government buying syringes, swabs, needles
The government is also procuring equipment and supplies needed for vaccine manufacturing and packaging, as well as immunization equipment such as syringes, needles and alcohol swabs.
Trudeau also announced that Canada will provide $440 million to COVAX, a global procurement initiative meant to ensure fair, equitable and timely access to vaccines for less wealthy countries.
“This pandemic can’t be solved by any one country alone because to eliminate the virus anywhere, we need to eliminate it everywhere,” Trudeau said.
The U.S. is not participating in the global COVAX project.
Trudeau said the fact that 190 countries are participating — some as contributors, others as recipients — shows that “the world is coming together.”
“Unfortunately, there are a few large countries that have decided not to participate, but I can assure you that the number of countries that have stepped up and participated like Canada is ensuing that we’re going a long way towards having a vaccine accessible for the most vulnerable around the world, which is essential as we move forward to get past this pandemic,” he said.
Rapid test in the works
With frustratingly long waits for COVID-19 tests still the norm in some parts of the country, the federal government is under increasing pressure to approve rapid testing options. Asked about the holdup today, Trudeau said Health Canada accelerated the process to evaluate testing measures this spring.
“But at the same time we have to make sure that every step of the way we are not compromising science or the safety of Canadians,” he said.
Earlier this week, Tam warned that Canada is at a “crossroads” in its pandemic battle and said the actions of individual Canadians will decide whether there will be a massive spike in COVID-19 cases.
Modelling shows the epidemic is accelerating nationally, with projections that cases could climb to more than 5,000 daily by October. If Canadians don’t step up preventative measures, the virus could spread out of control and trigger a wave of infections bigger than the first one, Tam said.
The following day, Trudeau delivered a rare address to the nation with a similar message. He warned that infections could surge and urged Canadians to do their part to prevent transmission by following public health guidelines on masks, gatherings and physical distancing.
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Cenovus Energy shares plummet on news of its $3.8B deal to buy Husky Energy
The all-share deal by Cenovus Energy Inc. to buy Husky Energy Inc. for about $3.8 billion will likely spark more mega-mergers among Canadian oil and gas majors, according to a veteran oilsands analyst.
“This is likely just the start of big deals in Canadian energy land and thus it begs the question of who is next?” said analyst Phil Skolnick of Eight Capital in a report on Monday.
“As seen in the U.S. with the accelerated M&A activity, when there’s one meaningful transaction, there’s likely more to come.”
Several industry observers point to Calgary-based oilsands producer MEG Energy Inc. as the leading potential target, noting Husky’s failed $3.3-billion hostile takeover attempt of its smaller rival two years ago.
In his report, Skolnick presents scenarios where Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (sometimes referred to by its stock ticker, CNQ) or Imperial Oil Ltd. buy MEG, while also outlining the numbers involved if Canadian Natural combined with Imperial or Suncor Energy Inc., and if Suncor were to merge with Imperial.
“Some (scenarios) have been asked about before and I was just bringing up some new ones _ like a CNQ and Suncor merger is not something I’ve heard out there, but nor was Cenovus-Husky,” he said in an interview.
“I’m not going to give zero chance to anything anymore.”
Analysts generally applauded the surprise Cenovus-Husky hookup announced Sunday for its operational advantages but criticized the plus-20-per-cent premium in the price for Husky.
“The deal does makes strategic sense,” said Manav Gupta of Credit Suisse in a note to investors.
“Like U.S. E&P (exploration and production companies), Canadian energy companies also need to come together, cut costs and become leaner to better adapt to lower energy demand in post pandemic world.”
He said Cenovus’s reputation as an efficient operator in its steam-driven oilsands projects will help Husky overcome its struggles with operational issues, including higher operating and administrative costs.
The companies have identified $1.2 billion in potential annual cost savings which will include workforce reductions.
But Gupta added the premium is “excessive” and joined other observers in predicting Cenovus shares would trade lower, as they did, falling by as much as 15 per cent to $4.15 in Monday trading in Toronto before closing down 8.4 per cent at $4.47.
Husky, meanwhile, gained as much as 14.2 per cent to $3.62 before closing up 12 per cent at $3.55 .
Husky shareholders are to receive 0.7845 of a Cenovus share plus 0.0651 of a Cenovus share purchase warrant in exchange for each Husky common share if the deal is concluded.
Cenovus shareholders would own about 61 per cent of the combined company and Husky shareholders about 39 per cent.
The transaction must be approved by at least two-thirds of Husky’s shareholders but Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing controls 70 per cent of Husky’s shares and has agreed to vote them in favour of the deal.
The announcement Sunday came just as Calgary’s oilsands companies are about to start rolling out third-quarter financial results, with Suncor Energy Inc. set to report Wednesday and both Cenovus and Husky scheduled to report on Thursday.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Ant Group raises $34.4 billion in the biggest IPO of all time – CNBC Television
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