In the aftermath of the collapse of a multimillion-dollar coronavirus vaccine collaboration between Canada and China, Canada’s chief public health officer says she is optimistic about advance purchase deals made recently with the American producers of two front-running vaccine candidates.
This week Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) announced it has abandoned its partnership with Chinese company CanSino Biologics because China’s government continues to block shipments of vaccine materials to Canada. If Canada had received CanSino’s vaccine this summer and confirmed its safety and effectiveness in testing, Canadians would have been front-of-line for a guaranteed supply of the vaccine, produced in NRC facilities.
But Canadian scientists and a former Canadian official responsible for vaccine collaborations with China told Global News it appears Chinese officials have blocked CanSino material because of Beijing’s geopolitical objectives.
At a COVID-19 response briefing Friday, chief public health officer Teresa Tam said she is “optimistic” despite the CanSino collapse and Canada is “continuing to pursue all (potential vaccine supply) avenues internationally and domestically.”
Earlier this month, the Canadian government signed new deals with pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Moderna to secure millions of doses in 2021 of the coronavirus vaccine candidates each company is currently developing.
How close are we to developing a coronavirus vaccine?
Tam said there are over 100 vaccine candidates in testing worldwide and Pfizer and Moderna are in the group of about 10 going through Phase 3 clinical testing.
“I was heartened with the results for older adults in the Moderna vaccine [testing],” Tam said. “But you might not expect this vaccine for quite a few months, and we may be looking at [obtaining supply of] more than one vaccine. We are keeping all of those options open.”
Canadian vaccine researcher Gary Kobinger said the CanSino vaccine has fallen behind many candidates worldwide after its Phase 2 test results. In simple terms, the CanSino vaccine is designed to prepare immune systems to fight the coronavirus by introducing another virus — Ad5-nCoV — that encourages the production of coronavirus antibodies.
However, many elderly people have already been exposed to the virus used in the CanSino vaccine. And that means their bodies have already naturally developed defences, and won’t produce the needed coronavirus antibodies without boosted doses, Kobinger says.
“It’s a waste because it is not effective for the most important population,” Kobinger said. “There are many candidates that Canada should be betting on rather than this one.”
Meanwhile, CanSino responded Friday to reports that NRC has abandoned its partnership with China.
“Up to the date of this announcement, the collaboration between the National Research Council of Canada and the Company has not been terminated. None of the management of the Company has accepted any interview in relation to the clinical trails (sic) for Ad5-nCoV in Canada in the recent period,” a statement sent to Global News says. “The Company is currently driving the international multi-centre phase III clinical trial for Ad5-nCoV with several countries.”
And according to the Wall Street Journal, a senior CanSino executive said the company is negotiating with several countries “to get emergency approval to use an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, developed with the Chinese military, before the completion of large-scale safety and eﬀectiveness trials.”
“Pierre Morgon, senior vice-president for international business at CanSino, said getting the vaccine out to millions of people now, before its clinical trials are complete, would broaden the base of knowledge about the drug’s safety and eﬀectiveness,” the Journal reported.
Morgon said several developed countries were in talks with CanSino, along with Pakistan and some Latin American countries, according to the report.
CanSino did not immediately respond to questions from Global News for this story.
And the NRC did not respond to a question from Global News on the information in the Wall Street Journal report.
The NRC — which is part of the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry — has received about $44 million since late March to upgrade its production capacity in Montreal in preparation for materials expected from CanSino.
The NRC says it is working with two other COVID-19 vaccine collaborators including the United States company VBI Vaccines.
“With the funding received from the Government of Canada on March 23 and April 23, much work is underway at NRC … to certify our facility … and expand production,” the NRC stated. “These enhancements to the facility will support a broad range of partners and clients with research, scale-up support, and the manufacturing of vaccines and therapeutics.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
TSX joins global stock market sell off as coronavirus fears refuse to go away – CBC.ca
The TSX joined stock markets around the world in a new round of selling off Monday, as surging cases of the coronavirus reignited concerns that the economic impact of the pandemic is still far from over.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index was down by almost 400 points or more than 2.5 per cent nearing midday, as health-care companies, energy companies, mining companies, banks and even tech names were all lower.
Losses began in Asia as soon as trading opened for the week, and they accelerated in Europe on worries about the possibility of tougher restrictions there to stem rising coronavirus counts.
In New York, the broad S&P 500 was down by 84 points or 2.5 per cent, while the Dow Jones fared even worse, down almost 1,000 points or 3.5 per cent.
Bank stocks had sharp losses Monday morning after a report alleged that several of them continue to profit from illicit dealings with criminal networks despite being previously fined for similar actions.
Shares in technology companies have been on fire for the past six months, as pandemic lockdowns have caused booming demand for online services such as Amazon, Netflix, Apple and Facebook.
But tech companies have been selling off of late on fears that they have risen too far, too fast.
“Stock markets around the world are trading lower to start the week amid mounting uncertainty,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist with SIA Wealth Management in Toronto. “Growing uncertainty and volatility in world markets has sparked a move of capital.”
Global banks hit by new corruption allegations. Why authorities are unlikely to act this time – MarketWatch
Shares of European banks fell sharply on Monday, after the release by BuzzFeed and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists of thousands of documents seemingly showing that some $2,000 billion worth of illicit funds were moved and laundered through the U.S. financial system over two decades.
– The papers show that five global banks — JPMorgan
HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank
and Bank of New York Mellon — kept doing business with “oligarchs, criminals and terrorists” even after being fined by U.S. authorities for earlier failures to clamp down on dirty money. The banks themselves said they could not comment on specific transactions due to bank secrecy laws. Their statements can be found here.
– The reports are based on leaked suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by banks and other financial firms with the U.S. Department of Treasury.
– Shares in British-Asian giant lender HSBC
and the U.K.’s Standard Chartered
fell 6% and 5%, respectively, marking 20-year lows in London mid trading. HSBC said in a statement that “all of the information provided (…) is historical.”
The outlook: The report, based mostly on past behavior already fined and sanctioned by U.S. authorities, is unlikely to trigger new punishments by governments or regulators. Especially not in a moment in the deepest of the coronavirus recession, when authorities are trying to convince and subsidize banks so they can keep lending to businesses and households. And even if legal grounds did exist in a few cases for authorities to act, regulators everywhere are likely to decide that punishment by markets is enough for now.
HSBC shares plunge to 25-year low on banks report, China fears – Aljazeera.com
HSBC Holdings Plc slumped below its financial crisis low set more than a decade ago as pressures mount on several fronts including a potential threat to its expansion plans in China.
The London-based bank’s Hong Kong shares on Monday slid below their closing low for March 2009, hitting as low as HK$29.60, as they extended this year’s plunge to about 50%. Echoing a decline in London on Friday, its Hong Kong shares are trading at the lowest since 1995.
Europe’s largest bank is a possible candidate for China’s “unreliable entity list” that aims to punish firms, organizations or individuals that damage national security, the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper reported Saturday. A day later, HSBC was among global banks named in a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on lenders that “kept profiting from powerful and dangerous players” in the past two decades even after the U.S. imposed penalties on the institutions.
“If the company is listed as a unreliable company by China, which looks certain since it’s a Global Times article, the bank will be facing lots of difficulties to do business in China,” Banny Lam, head of research at CEB International Investment Corp., said by phone Monday. “They may have trouble expanding the mainland business, after investing so much there over the past few years.”
The bank has rankled China over its participation in the American investigation of Huawei Technologies Co. Penalties include restrictions on trade, investments and visas on companies, countries, groups or persons that appear on the list.
HSBC declined to comment on the Global Times article. In a statement Monday in response to the ICIJ report it said that “starting in 2012, HSBC embarked on a multi-year journey to overhaul its ability to combat financial crime across more than 60 jurisdictions. HSBC is a much safer institution than it was in 2012.”
Standard Chartered Plc, which was also mentioned in the ICIJ report, declined as much as 3.8% in Hong Kong. “We take our responsibility to fight financial crime extremely seriously and have invested substantially in our compliance programs,” the bank said Monday in a statement.
HSBC now risks being caught in deepening turmoil after a swirl of trouble over the past year amid political unrest and an economic slump in its biggest market, Hong Kong. It also faces difficulties in navigating low interest rates and surging loan losses sparked by the global pandemic.
HSBC Chief Executive Officer Noel Quinn, who took over as the bank’s permanent head in March, last month issued a stark warning about tough times ahead while reporting that first-half profit halved and predicting loan losses could swell to $13 billion this year. Quinn said the bank would attempt to hasten a shakeup of its global operations, accelerating a further pivot into Asia as its European operations lose money.
Struggling to boost returns, the lender has come under fire both in the West and in China as it attempts to steer through political tension. HSBC was lambasted in the U.S. and the U.K. over its support for China’s new security legislation on Hong Kong.
A jump in income from its markets business has failed to make up for broader shortcomings, unlike at some Wall Street and European competitors. HSBC stock has fallen more steeply than most big rivals this year, with Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. posting declines of 44% and 29%, respectively.
To make matters worse, HSBC sparked anger in Hong Kong earlier this year, alienating some of its most loyal investors, after scrapping its dividend in response to the pandemic. The bank is the worst performer on the benchmark Hang Seng index so far this year.
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