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Canada to ask air arrivals to take COVID tests except on U.S. flights

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Canada, seeking to halt the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, will require people arriving by air from all nations except the United States to take a COVID-19 test, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said on Tuesday.

Ottawa is also expanding a ban on travelers from southern Africa to cover three more nations, bringing the total to 10.

Canada has identified seven people with the new variant, at least four of whom were recently in Nigeria.

The Canadian government also said it was in advanced talks with Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co Inc regarding a purchase agreement for COVID-19 antiviral drugs.

“All air travelers coming from outside Canada, apart from the United States, will now need to be tested at the airport (where) they are landing in Canada,” Duclos told a briefing.

“They will then need to isolate themselves until they get the results of their test.”

Duclos said the Liberal government would talk to the 10 provinces to see whether the testing requirement could be extended, if needed, to cover everyone entering the country, both by air and across the U.S. land border. The provinces would need to agree to the extension.

“We don’t know if it would need to be done,” he said, adding no decision had been taken.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said foreign nationals who had been to Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt in the previous 14 days would be temporarily banned from entering Canada.

Last week Ottawa barred travelers who had recently been to South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Canadians and permanent residents who have been in the 10 countries, even those who are fully vaccinated, must also be tested before entering Canada, he added.

The western Canadian province of Alberta has confirmed one case of the Omicron variant, chief medical officer Deena Hinshaw told reporters on Tuesday. Hinshaw said the person identified in Alberta was asymptomatic and had recently traveled from Nigeria and the Netherlands.

British Columbia also reported its first case of the new variant, with the individual having recently returned from travelling to Nigeria.

The premiers of Ontario and Quebec, Canada‘s two most populous provinces, are calling on Ottawa to impose tougher measures and more testing for the virus.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Porter, Grant McCool, David Gregorio and Karishma Singh)

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Vaccination protects against COVID-19 hospitalization significantly more than prior infection, according to CDC study – CTV News

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Both vaccination and prior infection help protect against new COVID-19 infections, but vaccination protects against hospitalization significantly more than natural immunity from prior infection alone, according to a study published Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers analyzed the risk of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization among four groups of individuals: vaccinated with and without prior infection and unvaccinated with and without prior infection. The study case data from about 1.1 million cases in California and New York between the end of May and mid-November 2021. Hospitalization data was available from California only.

Overall, COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates were highest among unvaccinated people who did not have a previous diagnosis.

At first, those with a prior infection had higher case rates than those who were vaccinated with no history of prior infection. As the Delta variant became predominant in the U.S. in later months, this shifted and people who survived a previous infection had lower case rates than those who were vaccinated alone, according to the study.

“Experts first looked at previous infections confirmed with laboratory test by the spring of 2021, when the Alpha variant was predominant across the country. Before the Delta variant, COVID-19 vaccination resulted in better protection against a subsequent infection than surviving a previous infection. When looking at the summer and the fall of 2021, when Delta became the dominant in this country, however, surviving a previous infection now provided greater protection against subsequent infection than vaccination,” Dr. Benjamin Silk, lead for CDC’s surveillance and analytics on the Epi-Task Force, said on a call with media Wednesday.

However, this shift coincides with a time of waning vaccine immunity in many people. The study did not factor the time from vaccination — and potential waning immunity — into the analysis. The study also does not capture the effect booster doses may have and was conducted before the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Throughout the period of the study, risk of COVID-19 hospitalization was significantly higher among unvaccinated people with no previous COVID-19 diagnosis than any other group.

“Together, the totality of the evidence suggests really that both vaccination and having survived COVID each provide protection against subsequent reinfection, infection and hospitalization,” said Dr. Eli Rosenberg, New York State Deputy Director for Science. “Having COVID the first time carries with it significant risks, and becoming vaccinated and staying up-to-date with boosters really is the only safe choice for preventing COVID infection and severe disease.”

Experts also noted that characteristics of variants change, including how well they effect immunity from prior infections.

The CDC said in a statement it will publish additional data on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters against the dominant Omicron variant later this week.

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Has Canada reached its vaccine ceiling? – TVO

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Vivian Harbers is a project manager with the COVID-19 Canadian Social Impacts Research Study at the University of Guelph; Eric B. Kennedy is an assistant professor in Disaster and Emergency Management at York University; Jean-François Daoust is an assistant professor at the University of Edinburgh.

As COVID-19 case counts continue to rise across Canada, it is clear that we’re far from out of the woods with this pandemic. While much is still unknown about the Omicron variant, it seems very likely that existing vaccines will offer protection against severe cases of COVID-19, and Canada is rapidly administering booster shots in an effort to help to bolster immunity.

While vaccination coverage against COVID-19 is relatively high (76.49 per cent of the total population is fully vaccinated at the time of writing), there remains a substantial group of Canadians who are either unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.

At this point in the pandemic (more than six months after most Canadian adults became eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine), should we declare this level of vaccination coverage as the “vaccine ceiling?” Our research suggests the answer is no.

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As defined by the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts, the term “vaccine hesitancy” is used to describe “a delay or refusal of vaccination, despite availability of vaccination services.” The range of reasons some Canadians remain unvaccinated is wide, including (but not limited to) concerns about “personal freedom” and health and the belief that COVID-19 is not as serious a health threat as it’s made out to be.

Much of the existing research on vaccine hesitancy has focused on identifying personal or demographic factors associated with vaccine hesitancy, such as age, gender, and socio-economic status. Our research investigated the role of timing in vaccine uptake.

Given the unique nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its vaccines, not all Canadians gained access to a vaccine at the same time — and many around the world are still waiting for access. As a result, people had to start thinking about their vaccine decisions in hypothetical or future contexts. Because of this, we sought to understand how thinking about COVID-19 vaccine availability along different timelines might influence a person’s vaccine decisions.

In December 2020 (just prior to broad vaccine availability in Canada), we asked Canadian survey respondents about their impending vaccine decisions. Each participant was presented with one variation of the question:

“If a coronavirus vaccine was available to you (today, or in one month, or in six months, or in one year), would you get vaccinated, or not?”

In analyzing results from this experiment, we found that the proportion of most enthusiastic participants (those who selected “Yes, as soon as possible” as a response) increased substantially as the proposed date of vaccine availability became more distant.

Even more interesting was our finding that the proportion of hesitant people decreased as the proposed date of vaccination moved further into the future. The proportion who responded that they would “Wait some time” before vaccination and the proportion who responded, “No, I would not get a coronavirus vaccine” both decreased as vaccine availability became more distant in time.

This has important implications for Canadian policy-makers. While the swift uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine might be the ideal scenario for squashing case counts, these findings suggest that those who are hesitant aren’t necessarily going to refuse the vaccine altogether.

This finding may also be useful for countries that are much further behind on mass vaccination efforts, as it suggests a delayed vaccine rollout might encounter less hesitancy and have faster uptake.

We also asked open-ended questions about what Canadians would wait for, before getting the vaccine. What we found is that many Canadians who said they were waiting for “some time to pass” were couching their true concerns (for example, waiting for a certain number of other people to be successfully vaccinated first) within the more broad category of “timing.”

[embedded content]Agenda segment, January 18, 2022: What should we do about the unvaxxed?​​​​​​​It may be useful to remember this finding when having conversations with folks who might be vaccine hesitant. Offering space for people to elaborate on their vaccine concerns might help bypass default responses and reveal alternative reasoning that has the potential to be addressed.

In some cases, these concerns might even be addressed with empathetic listening, by input from trusted experts, or from evidence that speaks to the values and beliefs of those who have questions.

As recent Omicron surges remind us, vaccination alone is not a silver bullet in the fight against COVID-19. However, it remains an important tool in mitigating the spread and severity of the disease, and the United Nations Foundation still positions vaccine equity as our best exit strategy for the pandemic.

It seems nearly certain that there will remain a group of Canadians who choose to never receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, our findings suggest that it is unwise to assume that all Canadians who have not yet been vaccinated will never do so. They may just be waiting.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

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'Never' or just 'not yet?' How timing affects COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy – Medical Xpress

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Timing plays a role in decisions, so vaccine hesitancy may not mean that a person will never choose to be vaccinated. Credit: Pixabay

As COVID-19 case counts continue to rise across Canada, it is clear that we’re far from “out of the woods” with this pandemic. While much is still unknown about the Omicron variant, it seems very likely that existing vaccines will offer protection against severe cases of COVID-19, and Canada is rapidly administering booster shots in an effort to help to bolster immunity.

While vaccination coverage against COVID-19 is relatively high (76.49 percent of the total population is fully vaccinated at the time of writing), there remains a substantial group of Canadians who are either unvaccinated, or only partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

At this point in the pandemic (more than six months after most Canadian adults became eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine), should we declare this level of as the “vaccine ceiling?” Our research suggests the answer is no.

Vaccine hesitancy in a COVID-19 world

As defined by the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), the term “vaccine hesitancy” is used to describe “a delay or refusal of vaccination, despite availability of vaccination services.” The range of reasons why some Canadians remain unvaccinated is wide, including (but not limited to) concerns about “personal freedom,” health concerns and the belief that COVID-19 is not as serious a health threat as it’s made out to be.

Much of the existing research on vaccine hesitancy has focused on identifying personal or demographic factors associated with , such as age, gender and socio-economic status. Our research investigated the role of timing in vaccine uptake.

Given the unique nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its vaccines, not all Canadians gained access to a vaccine at the same time—and many around the world are still waiting for access. As a result, people had to start thinking about their vaccine decisions in hypothetical or future contexts. Because of this, we sought to understand how thinking about COVID-19 vaccine availability along different timelines might influence a person’s vaccine decisions.

Survey results

In December 2020 (just prior to broad vaccine availability in Canada), we asked Canadian survey respondents about their impending vaccine decisions. Each participant was presented with one variation of the question: “If a coronavirus vaccine was available to you (today, or in one month, or in six months, or in one year), would you get vaccinated, or not?”

In analyzing results from this experiment, we found that the proportion of most enthusiastic participants (those who selected “Yes, as soon as possible” as a response) increased substantially as the proposed date of vaccine availability became more distant.

Even more interesting was our finding that the proportion of hesitant people decreased as the proposed date of vaccination moved further into the future. The proportion who responded that they would “Wait some time” before vaccination, and the proportion who responded, “No, I would not get a coronavirus vaccine,” both decreased as vaccine availability became more distant in time.

This has important implications for Canadian policy-makers. While the swift uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine might be the ideal scenario for squashing case counts, these findings suggest that those who are hesitant aren’t necessarily going to refuse the vaccine altogether.

This finding may also be useful for countries that are much further behind on mass vaccination efforts, as it suggests a delayed vaccine rollout might encounter less hesitancy and have faster uptake.

What are they waiting for?

We also asked open-ended questions about what Canadians would wait for, before getting the vaccine. What we found is that many Canadians who said they were waiting for “some time to pass” were couching their true concerns (for example, waiting for a certain number of other people to be successfully vaccinated first) within the more broad category of “timing.”

It may be useful to remember this finding when having conversations with folks who might be vaccine hesitant. Offering space for people to elaborate on their vaccine concerns might help bypass default responses and reveal alternative reasoning that has the potential to be addressed.

In some cases, these concerns might even be addressed with empathetic listening, by input from trusted experts or from evidence that speaks to the values and beliefs of those who have questions.

As recent Omicron surges remind us, vaccination alone is not a silver bullet in the fight against COVID-19. However, it remains an important tool in mitigating the spread and severity of the disease, and the United Nations Foundation still positions vaccine equity as our best exit strategy for the pandemic.

It seems nearly certain that there will remain a group of Canadians who choose to never receive a COVID-19 . However, our findings suggest that it is unwise to assume that all Canadians who have not yet been vaccinated will never do so. They may just be waiting.


Explore further

Vaccine hesitancy changes over time: Attitudes toward vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic


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‘Never’ or just ‘not yet?’ How timing affects COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy (2022, January 18)
retrieved 19 January 2022
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