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Canadian company urges human trials after COVID-19 vaccine in mice blocked virus – Global News

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A Canadian company is telling the government on Wednesday that its trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine on animals completely blocked the virus, but it must conduct human trials to know whether it has found a possible cure for the pandemic.

And a leading health-care expert says the findings are promising even though they haven’t been peer-reviewed.

Providence Therapeutics says it needs federal funding to move forward, but it has not heard back from the Trudeau government since May, the month after submitting a $35-million proposal to conduct first-stage human trials.

Read more:
How close are we to a coronavirus vaccine?

Providence has told the government it could deliver five million doses of its new vaccine by mid-2021 for use in Canada if it were able to successfully complete human testing, but it has heard nothing.

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Eric Marcusson, the San Francisco-based co-founder of Providence and its chief science officer, says the company has concluded testing on mice that showed its vaccine was able to block the entry of the novel coronavirus into their cells.

Successful tests in animals can provide proof of the concept behind a potential new medicine or vaccine before trials in ever-larger groups of human subjects determine how well the drug works in the body and whether it has harmful side-effects.

Trials in humans are expensive and usually time-consuming.






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Coronavirus: Tam agrees with Fauci, warns vaccine will not be a ‘silver bullet’ but there is reason for ‘cautious optimism’


Coronavirus: Tam agrees with Fauci, warns vaccine will not be a ‘silver bullet’ but there is reason for ‘cautious optimism’

Mario Ostrowski, the University of Toronto professor of medicine and immunology whose laboratory performed the animal trials, said he supports the results and says they are on par with tests of vaccine candidates from the American pharmaceutical firm Moderna and Germany’s BioNTech.

All three companies use the same new mRNA vaccine technology and last week, Moderna began a 30,000-person human trial after receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. government.

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The U.S. has also committed to pay Germany’s BioNTech and its American partner Pfizer $1.95 billion to produce 100 million doses if their vaccine candidate proves safe and effective in humans.

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The mRNA vaccine technology involves using a key fragment of genetic material instead of working with an inactive sample of live virus.

“We have been testing the prototype vaccine in animal studies,” Ostrowski told The Canadian Press. “When we give the vaccine to mice, it is safe and makes a very strong immune response and very potent antibodies.”

READ MORE: Canada’s coronavirus restrictions could last years even with vaccine, top doctors

Ostrowski said that the strength of the antibodies found in the mice appeared to neutralize the virus better than other similar vaccine candidates have at the same testing stage.

“Another point is that the Providence vaccine is very similar to the Moderna vaccine in the U.S. and the German (BioNTech) vaccines, both showing excellent results,” added Ostrowski, who practices at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Brad Wouters, the executive vice-president of the Toronto-based University Health Network, said he has seen the new Providence data and it looks promising, but it needs to be peer-reviewed.

“The fact that the vaccine has created neutralizing antibodies means that the mouse immune system is reacting to the vaccine and producing antibodies that block the ability of the virus to infect cells,” Wouters said in an emailed response to questions.

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“This suggests the results are better than even they were expecting.”






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Tam: Pandemic may last for years, even with COVID-19 vaccine


Tam: Pandemic may last for years, even with COVID-19 vaccine

But Wouters added that the Providence data needs a full peer review, and that under normal circumstances he wouldn’t even be commenting publicly on research at this stage unless it were accompanied by a published peer review.

“This is the normal and correct way for this to happen. But as you have seen, COVID-19 is breaking traditions and they (Providence) are certainly not the first to release information from experimental research in advance of publication,” said Wouters, who is also the senior scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Alberta Sen. Doug Black has urged Ottawa to fund Providence so it can develop a domestic COVID-19 vaccine to lessen the risk Canadians will have wait in line for a foreign-made pandemic cure.

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Several health-care professionals have also written to Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains to urge him to make up his mind on the Providence proposal.

The company plans to release the results publicly on Wednesday at the same time it delivers them to several relevant government departments.

Read more:
Debate begins on who gets the coronavirus vaccine first

“We’re still blocking the virus 100 per cent. Nothing gets in,” Marcusson said in a telephone interview from San Francisco, where he has been living in lockdown since March as the pandemic exploded in California.

“There’s no doubt this vaccine needs to be tested in humans because the results in mice are really that exceptional. This has the chance to be an extremely effective vaccine, but we won’t know for sure until we get into humans,” he said.

Marcusson is a 20-year veteran of the American biotechnology sector and had founded his own consultant business before meeting Providence chief executive Brad Sorenson in 2014. The two founded Providence in 2015 to develop cancer vaccines but it has pivoted to COVID-19. Marcusson said 20 per cent of his work remains outside the company as a consultant.

Black and several health experts say the government must move forward with a made-in-Canada vaccine because there have been troubling signs that a vaccine produced abroad likely wouldn’t be available to Canadians until much later.

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Coronavirus: Anti-mask and anti-vaccine theories


Coronavirus: Anti-mask and anti-vaccine theories

Canada has already funded a the partnership between China’s CanSino Biologics and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia but China has held up shipments of the vaccine that it was supposed to send to Dalhousie researchers by the end of May to start human trials.

“They’ve already been burned a couple of times with masks not getting across the border from the U.S. and a vaccine that they helped fund not getting into the country because it was held up at customs in China,” said Marcusson.

“So, this is a vaccine that can be made in Canada for Canadians,” he added. “It would be nice if that wasn’t important, but it is important, and they need to realize this and fund a Canadian solution to this problem.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Tesla Driver Caught Going 100 MPH While Fast Asleep – CarBuzz

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“Nobody was looking out the windshield to see where the car was going,” RCMP Sgt. Darrin Turnbull told CBC News. “I’ve been in policing for over 23 years and the majority of that in traffic law enforcement, and I’m speechless. I’ve never, ever seen anything like this before, but of course the technology wasn’t there.”

When the officer tried to pull the Model S driver over, traffic cleared out of its lane, causing the car to automatically accelerate up to 150 kph (93 mph). Needless to say, pulling him over was an uphill battle.

Eventually, though, the officer managed to issue a ticket for speeding and suspend the driver’s license for 24 hours for fatigue. Further investigation led to the driver being charged with dangerous driving and being summoned to court in December.

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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, Sept. 20 – CBC.ca

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The latest:

  • No new numbers will be released by the province today. Numbers from Saturday and Sunday will be released on Monday.
  • Alberta has identified its first likely case of COVID-19 transmission within a school, with two cases at an elementary school in Edmonton. Transmission within a school “was not unexpected and is not a cause for alarm,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, at an early afternoon news conference Friday.
  • Alberta reported 107 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to 16,381.
  • There were 1,424 active cases across the province, according to the latest update, down 59 from the day before.
  • As of Friday morning across the province, there have been 78 instances of someone with COVID-19 attending school while infectious. Currently, 57 of the 2,415 schools in Alberta have reported an infectious person who attended the school.
  • The Alberta Teachers’ Association released a survey Friday outlining how teachers and school leaders feel about how the pandemic has been handled in schools.
  • Alberta is starting to see a similar case load to Ontario and Quebec, which concerns experts because it has a much lower population. The number of new cases daily have gone up by about 55 per cent in the last month and the province is facing widespread community transmission.
  • Across Canada, provinces say people are flouting provincial rules around gathering size limits, leading officials to impose new restrictions as COVID-19 infections climb across the country. 
  • With COVID-19 case counts rising in many communities, kids back in schools and more people returning to work, many public health experts agree that the “social circles” or “social bubbles” that worked as a safe approach in the early days of the lockdown now come with more risk.
  • Alberta will no longer recommend asymptomatic testing for the general population with fall flu season looming.
  • One new death was reported Friday, a woman in her 50s from the North zone not linked to any outbreak.
  • A total of 255 people have died of COVID-19 in Alberta.
  • As of Thursday afternoon, there had been 10 schools in Alberta classified as having outbreaks, with one Calgary school under a “watch” (defined as five or more cases where the disease could have been acquired or transmitted in the school) and the rest with fewer cases.
  • The City of Edmonton announced Thursday it’s cancelling a mask exemption card program.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

Alberta said Friday that the province’s first likely case of COVID-19 transmission within a school had been confirmed, at a public elementary school in Edmonton, Waverley School

Hinshaw said both individuals were infectious within the school and that one of them “seems to have been the source for the other.”

With the province’s school relaunch strategy weeks underway, the Alberta Teachers’ Association released a survey Friday that outlines how teachers and school leaders feel about how the pandemic has been handled in schools.

Alberta is starting to see a similar case load to Ontario and Quebec, which is concerning as the prairie province has a much lower population, said Dr. Stephanie Smith, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. 

For the first 15 days of September in Alberta, the province has reported an average of 137 new cases of COVID-19 per day. That’s up from an average of 88 cases for that same period in August, meaning that cases have gone up by about 55 per cent in the last month.

(CBC)

The province is also facing widespread community transmission of COVID-19, rather than the disease appearing in a few specific hotspots, like a long-term care facility, said Smith.

While some of the increase in Alberta cases could be attributed to more testing in September, with upwards of 30,000 people tested per day, these jumps in case counts are still concerning, said Smith.

With fall influenza season looming, Alberta will prepare for an expected surge in demand for laboratory tests by scaling back asymptomatic testing — the practice of conducting COVID-19 tests on people without symptoms, the province announced Thursday.

“In addition to potentially contracting COVID-19, Albertans will have a greater chance of catching a cold or flu, which have very similar symptoms to COVID-19,” Hinshaw said.

“More people with symptoms means that we will see more people needing to be tested. Our labs need to support cases of both COVID-19 and influenza.”

Hinshaw said those with symptoms who were in close contact with confirmed cases and those linked to an outbreak will still be tested.

Provincial labs completed 13,003 COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, the province said Thursday. 

In Calgary, drop-in COVID-19 testing is now being provided at the Bow Trail assessment centre, which is located inside the old Greyhound bus terminal. The Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Centre now offers COVID-19 testing by appointment only.

A Calgary teacher working at a public high school where a COVID-19 outbreak has been declared says he doesn’t feel safe at work because of the sheer number of people he comes in contact with each day. 

“I feel that I have the most dangerous job as a teacher in the province,” said the Lester B. Pearson High School instructor, who CBC News agreed not to name because he fears professional retribution. 

St. Wilfrid Elementary School in Calgary is the only school under the “watch” category, which Alberta Health defines as an outbreak with five or more cases where the disease could have been acquired or transmitted in the school.

There are also 12 schools in the province with outbreaks of two to four cases. 

  • Notre Dame High School, Calgary.
  • Lester B. Pearson High School, Calgary.
  • Henry Wise Wood High School, Calgary.
  • Auburn Bay School, Calgary.
  • Crescent Heights High School, Calgary.
  • Chris Akkerman School, Calgary.
  • Ross Sheppard High School, Edmonton.
  • Centre High, Edmonton. 
  • McNally School, Edmonton.
  • Waverley School, Edmonton.
  • Chinook High School, Lethbridge.
  • Foothills Composite High School, Okotoks.

The City of Edmonton is cancelling a mask exemption card program introduced in early August, interim city manager Adam Laughlin told council Thursday. 

Cards already issued will be honoured, Laughlin said, but no new cards will be issued. 

Here’s the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Friday:

  • Calgary zone: 450, down from 470 on Thursday.
  • Edmonton zone: 711, down from 751.
  • North zone: 197, up from 193.
  • Central zone: 24, down from 29.
  • South zone: 38, unchanged.
  • Unknown: 4, up from 2.

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean

A snapshot of the active cases by neighbourhood in Calgary as of Sept. 17. (CBC)

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 10 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 142,776 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 124,187 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,251.

The Quebec government is expected to announce new restrictions today, including reducing the size of private gatherings and imposing new restrictions on bars and restaurants in Montreal and Quebec City after an increase in COVID-19 infections.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and his wife Nancy Déziel both tested positive for COVID-19. The party confirmed that both will be in isolation until the end of September.

Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also had a COVID-19 test come back positive on Friday and is now isolating.

Ontario public health officials say they can’t trace how roughly half of the latest COVID-19 patients got infected.

The data suggests that many Ontarians are contracting COVID-19 through unmemorable interactions with others in the course of their daily lives. Experts are worried that failing to track the source of so many new infections will hamper efforts to rein in the spread of the virus. 

B.C, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec have also all reported a bump in cases throughout September, and some have paused their reopening plans as a result. 

Those under 40 are driving the spread in most provinces. In Ontario, health officials have identified smaller, indoor gatherings as the culprit. Younger people may also be working in precarious jobs where their exposure is increased, or where sick days may not be readily available. 

Some of Canada’s biggest cities are seeing a surge in household waste thanks to myriad COVID-related trends, including the re-emergence of disposable goods, a summer full of home renovations and the continuous growth of online shopping.

Face masks, like these ones in a Halifax garbage can, are just some of the disposable items Canadians are increasing their household waste with during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Robert Short/CBC)

Early figures from the cities of Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax reveal that the amount of residential garbage collected has increased significantly since the start of the pandemic.

Canadians yearning to travel abroad — despite the COVID-19 pandemic — can now get medical insurance to cover costs if they get sick with the coronavirus while travelling. 

More than six months into the global pandemic, the Liberal government is being accused of failing to meet the needs of the Canadians with disabilities who are among those hardest-hit by the public health crisis.

Marie-Claude Landry, chief commissioner of the Canada Human Rights Commission, said COVID-19 has “expanded the circle of vulnerability” in Canada — but people with disabilities still aren’t getting the support they need.

Self-assessment and supports:

Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19, but testing is open to anyone, even without symptoms. 

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services’ latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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'A heartbreak': Ranchman's searching for new owner amid COVID-19 pandemic – Calgary Herald

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Article content continued

“With everything happening and the Calgary downtown being almost completely empty, it’s created sort of the perfect storm for restaurant killing and hospitality killing.”

Ranchman’s has been synonymous with Calgary cowboy culture for nearly 50 years after it first opened its doors April 27, 1972.

The country nightclub was a popular spot during the Calgary Stampede and throughout the rest of the year, being named the “Country Club of the Year” by the Canadian Country Music Association 11 times.

The venue temporarily shut its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 17, and it has remained closed since. Nightclubs such as Ranchman’s are not permitted to reopen until Stage 3 of Alberta’s relaunch, and public-health officials have said there is currently no timeline for when that might happen.

The bar was founded by Harris Dvorkin and Kevin Baker but ownership traded hands in 2017, following Dvorkin’s death. Calgary bar scene mainstay Doug Rasberry purchased the property alongside a group of local business owners.

Members of the Ranchman’s ownership group did not respond to numerous requests for comment from Postmedia.

Campbell said owners were only talking to “a select few people” about the situation.

“This was a heartbreak for him. Doug (Rasberry) was the first guy, when I took Ranchman’s to the market three and a half years ago, Doug lit up like a kid at Christmas. He was so excited to have an opportunity to take this history on,” he said.

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