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Canadian COVID-19 vaccine maker says it can produce 50 million doses this year – Global News

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A Canadian company says it is on track to produce 50 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year, which if approved, could give the country’s vaccine supply a much-needed boost to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Calgary-based vaccine maker, Providence Therapeutics, is still in the early stages of clinical trials for its mRNA vaccine candidate, and Manitoba is the only province that has announced a deal with them.

Read more:
Domestic vaccine-makers want more help from Ottawa: ‘There’s been a real lack of leadership’


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Manitoba to buy Canadian-made COVID-19 vaccine doses upon approval


Manitoba to buy Canadian-made COVID-19 vaccine doses upon approval

“Providence can have millions of doses of messenger-RNA vaccine by this fall. We’re on that path now,” Ken Hughes, chair of the board at Providence Therapeutics, told the House of Commons on Tuesday.

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Beginning in July, the company said they have the capacity to produce 50,000 vials per day, with each vile containing 10 doses.

Our total capacity that we could produce in 2021 would be 50 million doses,” said Brad Sorenson, chief executive officer of Providence Therapeutics, during a virtual standing committee meeting.

The company said they are now receiving orders from provinces and more information on those orders will be disclosed in the coming days.


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Canadian vaccine maker hopes Alberta agrees to purchase future shots


Canadian vaccine maker hopes Alberta agrees to purchase future shots

Last week, the Manitoba government announced it had committed to purchasing two million doses of the made-in-Canada vaccine.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has also floated the idea of securing their own vaccine supply.

Read more:
Canada’s vaccinations are lagging U.S., U.K.. Why experts say that shouldn’t be the focus

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Amid delays in vaccine supplies from Pfizer and Moderna and a sluggish start to Canada’s rollout, pressure has been mounting on the federal government to ramp up domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity.

Pharmaceutical companies argue having domestic manufacturers supported by domestic governments could help insulate Canadians from global vaccine trade wars.

Never again should we have to rely upon other countries for vaccines,” said Hughes.


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Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canada on track to receive 2 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses before end of March


Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canada on track to receive 2 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses before end of March

Domestic vaccine-makers like Providence Therapeutics have urged for more help from Ottawa.

As of December 31, 2020, the company said it had received more than $2 million from the federal government, but the feds have not yet committed to securing any of its vaccine doses.

We would welcome the federal support, but … we now have the ability to go to the capital markets and to raise sufficient capital funds to carry forward our plans, regardless of whether or not we have support,” said Sorenson.

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With concerns around the growing spread of variants, Sorenson said the company aims to accelerate its work on booster doses for the variants.

A human trial for their prospective vaccine, dubbed PTX-COVID19-B, kicked off in Toronto in late January.


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Guidelines released for next stages of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout


Guidelines released for next stages of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Read more:
Hope, doubt loom as human clinical trials begin on Calgary-made COVID-19 vaccine

In a release Jan. 26, Providence said its vaccine is the first fully-made in Canada to reach the human clinical trial stage.

The biotechnology company says a group of 60 participants in the Phase I trial will be monitored for 13 months, but enough data should be gathered by April to move to a second phase of testing by May, pending regulatory approval.

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Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a tentative deal with U.S. vaccine-maker Novavax to produce its product in a new National Research Council facility going up in Montreal if the COVID-19 vaccine gets approved for use here.

But that building won’t be finished until the summer and the new doses are not likely to start being pumped out until late fall at the earliest — long after Canada expects to import enough doses to vaccinate the entire population.


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Canadian vaccine maker pioneers new technology using plants


Canadian vaccine maker pioneers new technology using plants – Jan 11, 2021

In the industry committee’s last meeting on Feb 4. Procurement Minister Anita Anand said COVID-19 vaccine makers that Canada signed contracts with last summer were asked if they could make the doses in Canada and all of them concluded they could not.

Anand told the House of Commons that her department “proactively and repeatedly approached leading vaccine manufacturers” about the matter.

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Read more:
‘Perfect storm’: Is Canada headed for a third wave of COVID-19?

After a month-long lull, Canada is expected to get a big boost in the delivery of shots from Pfizer-BioNTech this week.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said on Monday it expects the two pharmaceutical companies to deliver more than 400,000 doses this week and another 475,000 following a slowdown as Pfizer expanded a production plant in Belgium.

In total, Canada has invested more than $1 billion to have access to up to 414 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from seven different manufacturers. But only two of these vaccines — from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — have been given the greenlight by Health Canada.

— with files from the Canadian Press. 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Health Canada approves use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine – CBC.ca

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Health Canada has approved use of the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, clearing the way for millions of more inoculations in Canada.

Canada’s regulatory experts had been assessing the submission from AstraZeneca and Oxford University for safety and efficacy since October, and announced their approval Friday morning.

“AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine is indicated for active immunization of individuals 18 years of age and older for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019,” reads their website.

“The efficacy of the vaccine was estimated to be 62.1 per cent. Overall, there are no important safety concerns and the vaccine was well tolerated by participants.”

Canada has secured access to 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Some jurisdictions, notably France, have restricted the vaccine to people under the age of 65 despite the World Health Organization’s insistence that the product is safe and effective for all age groups. Health Canada said it has no immediate safety concerns for those 65 and older.

‘Potential benefit’

The regulator said the clinical trial results “were too limited to allow a reliable estimate of vaccine efficacy in individuals 65 years of age and older.”

“Efficacy in individuals 65 years of age and older is supported by immunogenicity data, emerging real world evidence and post-market experience in regions where the vaccine has been deployed, which suggest at this point in time a potential benefit and no safety concerns,” said the approval.

“Efficacy in this age group will be updated as additional data becomes available from currently ongoing trials.”

Health officials are expected to give a technical briefing on the approval at 10 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, members of his cabinet along with Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and her deputy Dr. Howard Njoo will give an update at 11:30 a.m. ET. CBC News will carry it live.

Regulator still reviewing 2 other vaccine candidates 

Earlier this week, Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, told the House of Commons health committee that the regulator has received all the necessary scientific information from the company but was still looking into questions about labelling and the product monograph — the information disseminated by Health Canada to medical professionals about how and when a vaccine should be administered and in what groups.

Health Canada has approved the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are already being rolled out in Canada.

Unlike those two shots, which are based on mRNA technology, the AstraZeneca uses more conventional viral vector technology.

Health Canada is reviewing two other vaccines: one from Johnson & Johnson and another from Novavax.

Other countries — notably Australia, the European Union and the United Kingdom —  have already authorized AstraZeneca for use in their jurisdictions.

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U.S. ticketing company's box office bust costing grassroots Canadian artists – CBC.ca

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Community theatre director Nicole Jennissen believed she did everything right staging her original play, Love in the Time of COVID, in September 2020.

It was written as a series of vignettes, keeping actors in two-or-three-person bubbles. It was performed outside obeying health guidelines. And it was completed inexpensively for non-profit Tumbleweed Theatre of Brooks, Alta.

“In fact, the only two lines on the budget were masks and hand sanitizer,” Jennissen said. 

But the romantic comedy became a tragedy.

Nicole Jennissen, left, acts in a scene from Love in the Time of COVID with fellow performer Cassandra Socchia. (Nicole Jennissen)

Tumbleweed used Seattle-based Brown Paper Tickets to handle ticketing online to avoid cash but Brown Paper is facing complaints and legal action over allegations of not paying collected ticket proceeds.

Jennissen alleged Brown Paper owes $2,030 for Love in the Time of COVID. Despite repeatedly contacting the company, she has no idea when or if Tumbleweed will be paid.

“It’s absolutely defeating,” she said. “We put all of this effort in and the money that our patrons expected to come to us is not sitting with us.”

A screenshot from Jennisson’s Brown Paper Tickets account shows the $2,030 earned from Love in the Time of Covid. (Nicole Jennissen)

Other Canadian artists and organizations alleged they too are owed money from Brown Paper or their audiences are owed refunds for events cancelled by the pandemic.

Washington State is suing, claiming it has received 583 complaints and the company owes more than $6.75 million US  across the United States. 

The state’s attorney general said 80,000 people in the U.S. may be affected by the company’s conduct.

Artists and organizations in Canada, having spent up to 11 months trying to get answers from the company, are wondering when or if they or their audiences will ever see the money they say Brown Paper collected on their behalf. 

A scene from Love in the Time of Covid, staged in a city park in Brooks, Alta. (Nicole Jennissen)

Popular with grassroots artists

CBC News called and emailed Brown Paper several times to comment on this story but received no reply.

In a September statement, the company promised better communication.

“While we can’t offer an estimated timeline for your specific refund at this moment, our team has been and continues to initiate full refunds to ticket holders… and pay event organizers,” the statement read.

“Like many businesses, we were unprepared for a crisis of this scale but we are making headway.”

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, seen here in 2017, alleged in a statement that 80,000 people in the U.S. have been impacted by Brown Paper Tickets’ conduct. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

Brown Paper is popular with smaller arts organizations for its low fees. 

Audience members purchase their ticket from Brown Paper online, then, after the event, Brown Paper passes collected money to event organizers, minus a service charge.

Jennissen said $2,030 might not seem like a lot but Tumbleweed relies solely on ticket sales for funding.

“When we can’t do a lot of shows… that’s a huge cut for us,” she said. “This is going to affect the ability for us to do shows.”

Brown Paper Tickets has posted statements online apologizing for poor communication and is blaming the inability to pay out some events on a rash of pandemic-related cancellations. (Liam Britten/CBC)

Festival hurting

Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival artistic director Robert Remington said his festival sold $20,415 of advance tickets through Brown Paper for their June 2020 jamboree on Vancouver Island. 

In April 2020, the pandemic forced the festival to cancel. Organizers told Brown Paper to issue refunds, which should have taken two to six weeks.

Omie Wise performs at the 2019 Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival. Remington says money lost due to the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 festivals might impact the growing festival’s lineups going forward. (Robert Remington)

Almost 11 months later, no one has been paid back, Remington said, so the festival is reimbursing ticket holders from its own contingency fund.

“We just feel an obligation to our fans to take care of them,” Remington said. “For an all-volunteer, community-run festival… $20,000 is a lot of money.”

Refunding the tickets might mean a scaled-back festival going forward.

Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival artistic director Robert Remington says the festival will be back but might have to hire fewer headliners. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

‘It’s really frustrating’

Victoria-based roots rocker Stephen Fearing was to play a gig in March 2020. Brown Paper sold tickets online.

The show was cancelled over the pandemic. His promoter told Brown Paper to refund ticket buyers.

Some fans passed on a refund to donate $2,200 to Fearing but he still hasn’t seen a cent.

Musician Stephen Fearing said he is amazed by the generosity of his fans but angry he never received their donation. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

“Their generosity never got to me,” Fearing said. “It’s really frustrating.”

Marc Jenkins, another Victoria-based musician, had two Bob Dylan tribute shows at Herman’s Jazz Club in May 2020.

The shows were cancelled with $700 of tickets sold through Brown Paper. No refunds have yet been given.

Musician Marc Jenkins said any donations from his cancelled shows in Victoria would be helpful. The band is made up of independent musicians who have struggled for work since the pandemic started. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

“The most frustrating part is just being left in the dark and having to answer emails from folks,” Jenkins said. 

“I never got the money from them in the first place. I’m just standing in the middle getting yelled at.”

Jenkins said some of his audience members wanted to donate their money as well but he hasn’t been able to confirm how many and he hasn’t received any cash.

“It might not seem like a lot of money… but it is important,” Jenkins said. “It’s tough when there’s not many gigs coming in.”

Marc Jenkins said his cancelled shows at Hermann’s Jazz Club have led to numerous angry emails from would-be audience members unable to get a refund. (CHEK News)

Legal action

The lawsuit filed by Washington State is presently in the discovery stage, a spokesperson from the attorney general’s office said this week.

While individuals are not eligible to join in attorney general enforcement actions, the spokesperson said, the attorney general’s office “routinely” seeks court orders for financial restitution for all impacted consumers under the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

At least two separate class action lawsuits have been filed in the U.S., but CBC hasn’t seen any that are certified.

Pittsburgh-based law firm Carlson Lynch is behind one.

“It’s sort of like musical chairs… when the music stopped, they were holding all this money,” said lawyer Jamisen Etzel.

“Where did the money go?”

CBC Vancouver’s Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email impact@cbc.ca.

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Head of Canada's largest pension plan received COVID-19 vaccine in Dubai: memo – CTV News

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TORONTO —
The head of Canada’s largest pension fund received a COVID-19 vaccination while on a “very personal” trip to Dubai, he told staff in an email Thursday night.

Mark Machin disclosed the information in an internal memo after the Wall Street Journal reported he flew to the United Arab Emirates earlier this month, where he received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and is awaiting the second dose.

Machin said in the email viewed by The Canadian Press that he remains in Dubai with his partner “for many reasons, some of which are deeply personal.”

“This was a very personal trip and was undertaken after careful consideration and consultation,” the memo reads.

CPP Investments did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday evening.

The federal government is actively discouraging Canadians from travelling abroad and recently implemented strict quarantine measures for those returning home.

Machin told staff he followed all travel protocols related to his role as head of the pension fund while on the trip.

“This trip was intended to be very private and I am disappointed it has become the focus of public attention and expected criticism,” he wrote.

Several politicians and health-care officials have become high profile flashpoints of public anger in recent months for leaving the country despite public health advice to the contrary.

Among them, the former CEO of the London Health Sciences Centre is now embroiled in litigation after his travel to the U.S. prompted the hospital to terminate his contract.

Rod Phillips, Ontario’s former finance minister, resigned from his post in late December after taking a personal trip to St. Barts.

CPP Investments, which had $475.7 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31, invests money on behalf of retired and active employees covered by the Canada Pension Plan.

A spokeswoman for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said that while CPPIB is an independent organization, the revelation is “very troubling.”

“The federal government has been clear with Canadians that now is not the time to travel abroad,” Katherine Cuplinskas said in an emailed statement.

“We were not made aware of this travel and further questions should be directed to the CPPIB on this matter.”

Machin, who has been in his current role since 2016, joined CPP Investments in 2012. Prior to joining the pension fund manager, he spent 20 years at investment bank Goldman Sachs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021.

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