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Canadian company's COVID-19 vaccine candidate begins clinical trial in Australia – CTV News



Canadian company Symvivo Corporation says it has begun clinical trials for its oral COVID-19 vaccine.

The clinical-stage biotechnology company based in Burnaby, B.C. announced on Monday the enrolment and dosing of the first healthy volunteer in its bacTRL-Spike COVID-19 Phase I clinical trial in Australia.

“We are exceptionally pleased to commence dosing of our oral DNA vaccine for COVID-19 as we continue scale-up and manufacturing activities for future clinical development,” Symvivo’s chief medical officer Eric Sievers said in a press release.

The company says bacTRL-Spike has two key advantages over other vaccines: it can be taken orally as a capsule instead of by injection, and it is stored at room temperature, bypassing cold-chain supply logistics.

Symvivo says these elements could change the COVID-19 vaccine landscape to allow for “simple, safe and fast distribution of a vaccine globally,” as individuals could self-administer the vaccine rather than requiring a trained medical professional.

“The rapidly advancing pandemic mandates innovative scientific approaches and we believe a safe, protective oral vaccine could transform the landscape of traditional vaccination approaches, eliminating the need for syringes, needles, and trained vaccinators,” Sievers said in the release.

The news of the vaccine trial comes after Symvivo said in October it was receiving up to $2.8 million from Canada’s National Research Council to support the clinical advancement of bacTRL-Spike.

According to the press release, the Phase I trial is being conducted in partnership with Nucleus Network in Brisbane, Australia. The study will evaluate safety and preliminary evidence of immunogenicity to SARS CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — in response to bacTRL-Spike among healthy volunteers.

Symvivo said preliminary data is expected in early 2021.

Symvivo CEO and founder Alexander Graves told the vaccine candidate has a scientific and compliance benefit. He explained in a telephone interview on Monday that by taking the vaccine orally, it allows for a mucosal response in the intestine that can trigger signals to eliminate viruses in the body.

He says this gene therapy platform delivers plasmid DNA that enables a patient’s own cells to produce therapeutic proteins that work to clear harmful virus particles from healthy tissues.

“Your mucosal immune response is really the first line of defense against viruses and other infectious diseases, and we have demonstrated the ability in our preclinical models to produce a mucosal response in addition to traditional systemic immune responses that other vaccines can induce,” Graves said.

As an oral capsule that can be kept at room temperature, Graves says bacTRL-Spike could actually eliminate supply logistics around a COVID-19 vaccine.

“When you could envision shipping this product [to] everybody’s home around the world so that people can take it without medical oversight, we can actually get a viable vaccine solution globally,” Graves said.

If the first phase of the clinical trials proves that bacTRL-Spike is safe to use, Graves said the company will then be able to evaluate whether an effective immune response against SARS-CoV-2 is generated.

“We’re going to be looking at the ability of the volunteer’s immune system to recognize the spike protein and mount an immune responses against it that we hope in the future can be protected against SARS-CoV-2 infection,” he said.

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Health unit reports another COVID-19 death, 33 new cases – Windsor Star



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“We must not forget that we are still in the middle of the COVID pandemic,” he said. “Just like we celebrated our Canadian Thanksgiving following the public health recommendations, it’s still important to continue to follow these measures for the American Thanksgiving.”

He encouraged those who plan to do Black Friday shopping to support local businesses and arrange for pickup or home delivery when possible instead of going to stores in large numbers.

The WECHU reported an additional 33 cases of COVID-19 in the region. Fourteen are close contacts of people who previously tested positive and four contracted the virus through community spread. Two are local health-care workers, two are health-care workers employed in Michigan, and one is related to travel outside of Canada. The remaining 10 cases are still under investigation by health unit staff.

WINDSOR, ON. Monday, Nov. 23, 2020 -- Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed speaks during the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit's virtual news conference on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. (Via Windsor-Essex County Health Unit / WINDSOR STAR)
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed speaks during the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit’s virtual news conference on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. Photo by Via Windsor-Essex County Health /Windsor Star

There are 336 active cases in the region. Since March, 3,456 residents of Windsor and Essex County have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

There are 16 local residents in hospital. Four of them are in the intensive care unit.

Five workplaces are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, an increase of two from Wednesday. A manufacturing facility in Windsor and a health-care and social assistance agency in Lakeshore now join two farms and a place of worship in Leamington on the workplace outbreak list.

The health unit continues to manage outbreaks at two locations in the general community: Riverplace Residence and Victoria Manor.

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Potential COVID-19 exposure identified at six locations in the Halifax area –



Nova Scotia Health Public Health is advising of potential exposure to COVID-19 at various locations across Halifax. In addition to media releases, all potential exposure notifications are now listed here.

Anyone who visited the following locations on the specified date and time to immediately visit to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. People who book testing because they were at a site of potential exposure to COVID-19 are required to self-isolate before their test and while waiting for test results. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you.

  • Stillwell (1672 Barrington St, Halifax) on Nov. 20 between 6 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 4.
  • Bearly’s House of Blues and Ribs (1269 Barrington St, Halifax) on Nov. 20 between 8:30 p.m. and 2 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 4.
  • Highwayman (1673 Barrington St, Halifax) on Nov. 21 between 7:30 p.m. and 12 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 5.
  • Gahan House (5239 Sackville St, Halifax) on Nov. 21 between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 5.
  • Princess Nails (1475 Bedford Highway, Bedford) on Nov. 21 between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. It is anticipated anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the above date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 5.
  • Boston Pizza Dartmouth Crossing (111 Shubie Dr, Dartmouth) on Nov. 20 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Nov. 22 between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 6.

Please remember:
Do not go directly to a COVID-19 assessment centre without being directed to do so.

Currently, anyone travelling to Nova Scotia from outside of the Atlantic Provinces is expected to self-isolate alone for 14 days after arriving. If a person travelling for non-essential reasons enters Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada, then everyone in the home where they are self-isolating will have to self-isolate as well.

When Nova Scotia Health Public Health makes a public notification it is not in any way a reflection on the behaviour or activities of those named in the notification.

All Nova Scotians are advised to continue monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms and are urged to follow Public Health guidelines on how to access care. Up to date information about COVID-19 is available at


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Macklem says bond-buying program about lowering rates, not financing feds – BNN



OTTAWA – Canada’s top central banker gave MPs a detailed defence of the Bank of Canada’s buying spree of government debt Thursday, saying it is aimed at lowering borrowing costs across the country.

The Bank of Canada has launched an unprecedented bond-buying program that effectively lowers borrowing costs for the federal government as its racks up a historic deficit.

It now holds just under one-third of federal debt, with the bank believing it can scale up those purchases before throwing a wrench into credit markets.

But the purchases have put Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem in a political hot seat, with Conservatives on Parliament Hill warning the central bank about appearing too cosy with the governing Liberals.

During an appearance at the House of Commons finance committee Thursday, Macklem said the bank isn’t financing the federal government, but is reducing the cost to borrow for households and businesses.

He said the central bank will stop buying government bonds once the recovery is well underway, which is likely to happen before inflation gets back to the Bank of Canada’s two per cent comfort zone.

“Our actions by lowering interest rates and by buying government bonds are lowering the cost of financing the government. In fact, they’re lowering the cost of borrowing for everybody,” Macklem said.

“We’re not financing the government.”

The bond-buying program is the central bank’s first foray into what’s known as quantitative easing, which is a way for central banks to pump more money into the economy.

The central bank started the program as it dropped its trendsetting policy rate to 0.25 per cent to drive down interest rates. The purchasing program was designed to drive down rates even more on things like mortgages.

What the bank has done is buy up government bonds to spur demand and time lower interest rates, particularly for borrowers using terms of between three and 10 years like homeowners, homebuyers and businesses.

The bank’s balance sheet has swelled since March and now holds about $344 billion in government debt, or roughly 30 per cent of federal debt, after purchasing about $163 billion in bonds.

Macklem said central banks generally can hold between 50 and 70 per cent of debt before it begins to impair credit markets.

The bank has taken its foot off the gas recently for its purchasing program as the market conditions have improved, allowing it to reduce its total minimum weekly purchases to $4 billion.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre argued the purchases were inflating financial assets, and enriching the mostly affluent people who own them to push up inflation.

“Inflationary costs are borne disproportionately by the poor and the disadvantaged,” Poilievre said. “So you’re effectively transferring an enormous sum of wealth to those who have financial assets, while diluting the wages of working-class people.”

Pressed by Conservatives on the committee for a date when the buying will come to end, Macklem said the uncertain path of the pandemic prevents him from being able to circle a day on the calendar.

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