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Canada to pause Oxford-AstraZeneca shots for under-55s – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Canadian Press


Published Monday, March 29, 2021 11:32AM EDT


Last Updated Monday, March 29, 2021 7:21PM EDT

Canadian provinces suspended use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in people under age 55 on Tuesday, acting on an advisory committee’s concerns about a possible link between the shot and rare blood clots.

Dr. Shelley Deeks, the vice-chair of Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization, said the committee updated its recommendations amid new data from Europe that suggests the risk of blood clots is now potentially as high as one in 100,000 — much higher than the one in one million risk believed before.

Health Canada demanded Monday that AstraZeneca do a detailed study on the risks and benefits of its COVID-19 vaccine across multiple age groups, and Deeks said the advisory committee recommended the shot be suspended for younger groups pending the outcome of that review.

“NACI has determined that there is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to adults under 55 years of age, given the potential risks associated with it,” Deeks said.

“As a precautionary measure, while Health Canada carries out an updated benefit-risk analysis based on emerging data, NACI recommends that the vaccine not be used in adults under the age of 55 years.”

She said most of the patients in Europe who developed a rare blood clot after vaccination with AstraZeneca were women under the age of 55, and the fatality rate among those who develop clots is as high as 40 per cent.

The blood clot condition is known as Vaccine-Induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopenia. Deeks said it is treatable, and the fatality rate could go down now that it has been identified and symptoms are communicated.

Health Canada said it has not received any reports of blood clots in Canada, and the department’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Supriya Sharma, said Monday she believes the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks.

The department changed its label on the vaccine last week to warn about the rare risk of blood clots. Sharma said Health Canada hasn’t changed its decision to authorize AstraZeneca.

The company said in a statement that its vaccine is safe and effective and has been approved by European regulators and Health Canada.

“The extensive body of data from two large clinical data sets and real-world evidence demonstrate its effectiveness, reaffirming the role the vaccine can play during this public health crisis,” the statement read.

Provincial governments decide on their own how to use a vaccine, but Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief medical officer of health, said all provinces and territories had agreed to suspend the use of the vaccine for those under 55, pending the results of further study.

Several provinces had announced earlier in the day that they planned to limit the use of the vaccine, including Quebec, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island.

Quebec’s Health Department said it was pausing the use of the vaccine for those under 55 as a precautionary measure, saying it is impossible to rule out the possibility of a link to blood clots.

“The (European Medicines Agency) still considers this product to be safe and effective, but the possibility of a link between the vaccine and clotting issues … cannot be completely ruled out at this time,” the province said in a statement.

Manitoba decided to limit the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people between the ages of 55 and 64 as more information is sought around some adverse symptoms in younger people noticed in the United Kingdom, according to the medical lead of the province’s vaccine task force.

“This is a pause while we wait for more information,” Dr. Joss Reimer said Monday.

Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador also said they were suspending use of the shot for younger age groups while awaiting new data.

Dr. Heather Morrison, PEI’s chief medical officer of health, said the risk of developing a serious problem after being immunized is “very, very low.” She said people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine should look for symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain, sudden onset of severe or persistent headache or blurred vision and skin bruising elsewhere than the site of vaccination, developing four to 20 days after vaccination.

The development is the latest setback for AstraZeneca, which has previously been dogged with questions over its preliminary trial data in the United States and confusion over whether it is safe for seniors.

The AstraZeneca vaccine was approved in Canada for all people over 18 on Feb. 26, but NACI then said there weren’t enough seniors included in clinical trials to be confident about how the vaccine would perform on people over the age of 65.

Two weeks later, NACI retracted that advice, citing new real-world evidence from the United Kingdom that showed the vaccine was very effective when used on seniors.

Canada received 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca, made at the Serum Institute of India, but it’s not clear how many have been administered to date. Many provinces prioritized their use for people aged 60 to 64, but some focused on younger groups.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2021.

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Citigroup lawyer says another bank made bigger payment error than Revlon

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – A lawyer for Citigroup Inc told a U.S. judge on Friday he was aware of another large bank that recently made a bigger payment error than Citigroup made last August when it sent $894 million of its own money to Revlon Inc lenders.

Neal Katyal, the lawyer, made the disclosure at a hearing in Manhattan federal court, where Citigroup urged U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman to extend a freeze on $504 million that it has been unable to recoup from the Revlon lenders.

Katyal did not identify the bank, the size of the payment error, or whether the error was fixed.

Citigroup is appealing Furman’s Feb. 16 decision that 10 asset managers, whose clients include Revlon lenders, could keep its mistaken payments.

Furman accepted the asset managers’ argument that Citigroup, as Revlon’s loan agent, paid what they were owed, and they had no reason to think a sophisticated bank would blunder so badly.

Citigroup has said the lenders received a “windfall,” and Furman’s decision could steer banks away from doing wire transfers in a “finders, keepers” marketplace.

Katyal is a partner at Hogan Lovells and former Acting U.S. Solicitor General. Citigroup hired him for its appeal.

 

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Diane Craft)

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Canada aims to raise safety along notorious “Highway of Tears” with cell phone service

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By Moira Warburton

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Canadian authorities will help fund mobile phone service to increase safety along a remote stretch of highway in British Columbia known as the “Highway of Tears” for the number of women who have gone missing on the route, most of them indigenous.

Indigenous groups recommended the move in 2006 in a report on disappearances and murders of women along the highway between the cities of Prince Rupert and Prince George, roughly 800 km (500 miles) north of Vancouver.

The recommendation was endorsed by a provincial government-mandated commission several years later.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating 13 cases of murdered women and five who disappeared on or near the Highway of Tears, although no new cases have been added since 2007. Advocates believe the number of homicides and missing is significantly higher.

Lisa Beare, British Columbia’s minister of citizens’ services, called the project “a critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies along this route.”

Cell phone plans in Canada are among the most expensive in the world, according to government data, and the cost and lack of coverage in rural areas was a top issue in the last election.

The provincial and federal governments will contribute C$4.5 million towards the C$11.6 million ($9.24 million) cost for Rogers Communications to install 12 cell phone towers, the British Columbia government said on Wednesday.

Lorraine Whitman, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, applauded the plan but said it was only one step in making the area safer for indigenous women.

“This truly is a blessing for the women,” she said. “But not all women have a phone. These towers are being put up, but it makes no use to the person that has no cell phone.”

($1 = 1.2558 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Canadian fertilizer producer Nutrien to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030

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By Rod Nickel and Rithika Krishna

(Reuters) –Canada‘s Nutrien Ltd, the world’s largest fertilizer producer by capacity, said on Thursday it aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% by 2030, in a plan costing the company up to $700 million.

Agricultural companies, including Mosaic and Corteva, have set carbon emissions targets as climate-conscious investors push firms to become more environmentally friendly.

Nutrien plans to spend $500 million to $700 million to meet the carbon emissions target, which includes cutting emissions from nitrogen production by 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by the end of 2023.

“We’re in a really unique spot to address two big societal challenges – food security, and in a way that reduces our environmental footprint,” said Mark Thompson, Nutrien’s chief corporate development and strategy officer, in an interview.

Synthetic fertilizers account for 12% of global emissions from agriculture, according to a 2016 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report.

Nutrien’s target includes Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which reflect direct operations and electricity use. Nutrien is addressing Scope 3 emissions – those related to on-farm activity – with a program that encourages growers to adopt sustainable practices that generate monetary credits.

The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company plans to deploy wind and solar energy at four potash plants by the end of 2025, replacing electricity generated by coal and natural gas.

It also plans to expand its sequestration of carbon emissions from nitrogen fertilizer production and to invest in technology to capture nitrous oxide gas from its facilities.

Nutrien estimates that its carbon credit program could directly amount to $10 to $20 per acre for farmers, and it expects to benefit financially itself as well.

“If we can provide agronomic value and the value of the carbon credit over time, we’ll have customer loyalty – we anticipate that we’ll be a preferred supplier,” Thompson said.

(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Steve Orlofsky)

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