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Canadian scientists make COVID-19 research breakthrough, isolating virus

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TORONTO —
A group of Canadian scientists has successfully isolated and grown copies of the novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, paving the way for a potential vaccine.

Researchers say isolating the virus will help develop treatments, vaccines and tests for the virus and allow them to conduct long-term research to understand the biology of COVID-19.

“We need key tools to develop solutions to this pandemic,” Dr. Samira Mubareka, microbiologist and infectious diseases physician at Sunnybrook, said in a statement.

“While the immediate response is crucial, longer-term solutions come from essential research into this novel virus.”

The team, made up of scientists from Sunnybrook Hospital, McMaster University and the University of Toronto, used samples taken from two Canadian COVID-19 patients to replicate the virus in a level three containment facility at the University of Toronto in a matter of weeks.

Mubareka says having access to the virus will allow researchers to start working on potential solutions to the pandemic before the outbreak peaks in Canada.

Meanwhile, Quebec-based biotech Medicago says it has taken the first step towards a vaccine by producing a virus-like particle of the novel coronavirus, which will now undergo testing for safety and efficacy.

As of Friday morning, there were 159 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including the prime minister’s wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.

The virus, declared a pandemic earlier this week by the World Health Organization, has infected 135,318 people worldwide and killed 4,981. However, 69,642 people have recovered from the virus.

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COVID response offers chance to shift direction of Canadian economy: experts – CTV News

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The end of the COVID-19 pandemic may be a long way off, but analysts are already looking ahead to how Canada could hasten its recovery and position itself for a low-carbon economy.

“The main thing we need to be doing right now is protecting Canadians’ health and well-being,” said Josha MacNab of the Pembina Institute.

“Within that context, we’re starting to turn our minds to what does economic recovery look like.”

Downturns like the one being caused by the global pandemic routinely reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In the past, they’ve always recovered as economies rebuild.

This time, many are asking how the economy can be restored without greenhouse gases tagging along. Open letters on the issue have already been signed by hundreds of thousands of Canadians, from academics to church groups.

Groups such as the World Resources Institute in the United States are calling for clean energy tax credits, programs to increase the energy efficiency of public buildings and a switch from diesel to electric transit buses. It notes similar measures after the 2009 crash saw 900,000 jobs supported.

Pembina has its own list: funding and training for jobs more resilient to market swings, incentives for switching to electricity, support for industries that produce lower-carbon goods.

“We see this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a down payment on a resilient economy and a healthier future,” MacNab said.

Once the immediate crisis has passed, the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices wants any upcoming stimulus package to focus on making the country more resilient to climate-related shocks such as wildfires or floods.

“These are what we perceived as (remote) risks in the past,” said the group’s economist, Dave Sawyer. “Suddenly, they’re happening all the time.”

The long-term response to COVID-19 could be a chance to do things the Canadian economy will have to do anyway, he said, such as retrain workers from high-carbon industries.

“We know that some industries under this low-carbon future will shed workers,” Sawyer said.

“Where do these workers go? There has been a growing trend to think about transitions for workers.”

Not everyone thinks a post-pandemic green stimulus is appropriate.

“Maybe, to some extent,” said Mark Jaccard, an energy economist at Simon Fraser University.

He suggests the need for relief is going to be so great that governments will at first simply try to restore normalcy.

“Governments are going to pour the money in, short-term, to where workers are already skilled and to regions where they’re already working,” he said. “So it’s going to be in to fossil fuel-endowed areas.”

The real challenge, Jaccard said, will be to not let COVID-19 derail policies already planned or in place.

“It isn’t government spending that will lead to a decarbonized economy. It’s policies.”

Groups such as the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation and the federal Conservatives have already called for the planned increase in the federal carbon tax to be delayed. The increase, to $30 per tonne, has gone ahead.

Still, Keith Stewart of Greenpeace said that once the immediate dangers of the novel coronavirus have passed, the upset it will leave behind is a chance for a reset.

“It’s a shock to the system that makes things that once seemed natural and inevitable seem unnatural and avoidable.”

Stewart said any money that does go to companies must be accompanied by promises of change — much as car manufacturers promised fuel efficiency improvements in accepting their 2009 bailout.

Once initial needs of public health and well-being are funded, government spending should have an eye to the future, said Stewart.

“That investment could entrench existing systems or it could be an investment in the clean-energy economy.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2020.

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Canada’s coronavirus response can shift economy’s direction to low-carbon: experts – Global News

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The end of the COVID-19 pandemic may be a long way off, but analysts are already looking ahead to how Canada could hasten its recovery and position itself for a low-carbon economy.

“The main thing we need to be doing right now is protecting Canadians’ health and well-being,” said Josha MacNab of the Pembina Institute.

“Within that context, we’re starting to turn our minds to what does economic recovery look like.”


READ MORE:
Global stocks drift higher after China’s economy shows signs of rebound

Downturns like the one being caused by the global pandemic routinely reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In the past, they’ve always recovered as economies rebuild.

This time, many are asking how the economy can be restored without greenhouse gases tagging along. Open letters on the issue have already been signed by hundreds of thousands of Canadians, from academics to church groups.

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Groups such as the World Resources Institute in the United States are calling for clean energy tax credits, programs to increase the energy efficiency of public buildings and a switch from diesel to electric transit buses. It notes similar measures after the 2009 crash saw 900,000 jobs supported.

Pembina has its own list: funding and training for jobs more resilient to market swings, incentives for switching to electricity, support for industries that produce lower-carbon goods.






2:20
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says Canada working with G20 nations to contain COVID-19


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says Canada working with G20 nations to contain COVID-19

“We see this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a down payment on a resilient economy and a healthier future,” MacNab said.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Once the immediate crisis has passed, the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices wants any upcoming stimulus package to focus on making the country more resilient to climate-related shocks such as wildfires or floods.

“These are what we perceived as (remote) risks in the past,” said the group’s economist, Dave Sawyer. “Suddenly, they’re happening all the time.”

The long-term response to COVID-19 could be a chance to do things the Canadian economy will have to do anyway, he said, such as retrain workers from high-carbon industries.

“We know that some industries under this low-carbon future will shed workers,” Sawyer said.


READ MORE:
Canada’s carbon tax increasing April 1 despite coronavirus economic crunch

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“Where do these workers go? There has been a growing trend to think about transitions for workers.”

Not everyone thinks a post-pandemic green stimulus is appropriate.

“Maybe, to some extent,” said Mark Jaccard, an energy economist at Simon Fraser University.

He suggests the need for relief is going to be so great that governments will at first simply try to restore normalcy.






2:24
Coronavirus outbreak: Finance Minister says Canada is coordinating with international counterparts to protect the economy


Coronavirus outbreak: Finance Minister says Canada is coordinating with international counterparts to protect the economy

“Governments are going to pour the money in, short-term, to where workers are already skilled and to regions where they’re already working,” he said. “So it’s going to be in to fossil fuel-endowed areas.”

The real challenge, Jaccard said, will be to not let COVID-19 derail policies already planned or in place.

“It isn’t government spending that will lead to a decarbonized economy. It’s policies.”

Groups such as the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation and the federal Conservatives have already called for the planned increase in the federal carbon tax to be delayed. The increase, to $30 per tonne, has gone ahead.


READ MORE:
Farmers frustrated with federal decision to move forward with carbon tax increase amid pandemic

Still, Keith Stewart of Greenpeace said that once the immediate dangers of the novel coronavirus have passed, the upset it will leave behind is a chance for a reset.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s a shock to the system that makes things that once seemed natural and inevitable seem unnatural and avoidable.”

Stewart said any money that does go to companies must be accompanied by promises of change _ much as car manufacturers promised fuel efficiency improvements in accepting their 2009 bailout.

Once initial needs of public health and well-being are funded, government spending should have an eye to the future, said Stewart.

“That investment could entrench existing systems or it could be an investment in the clean-energy economy.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Canada to recruit volunteers, offer jobs to reservists amid COVID-19: Trudeau – Global News

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Canada has put a call out for volunteers to support frontline healthcare workers and is offering full-time jobs to Canadian Forces reservists, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced during an update to the country’s coronavirus response on Sunday.

“For those of you with specialized skills looking to help our frontline workers, we do want to hear from you,” said Trudeau, who spoke to reporters from Rideau Cottage where he is self-isolating.

According to the prime minister, Health Canada will be building “an inventory of specialized work volunteers” that provinces and territories can draw on, and that some of the work may include tracking COVID-19 cases and tracing contacts.


READ MORE:
Coronavirus: Canada to receive ‘millions’ of masks from China, Trudeau says

Trudeau also said that reservists in the Canadian Armed Forces would also be offered full-time jobs over the coming months, with the same pay and benefits as regular enlisted members.

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“Bolstering the military’s ranks will help offset some of the economic consequences of COVID-19 and ensure that our communities are well-supported,” Trudeau said.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Volunteer applications will be open until at least April 24, while reservists across the country are going to be contacted directly by the Canadian government.

On Saturday, Trudeau announced “millions” of medical masks would be arriving in Canada from China within 48 hours.

Ottawa is expecting between seven and eight million surgical masks. included in that order are supplies for hard-hit Quebec.

Canada has also leased a warehouse in China to collect and distribute additional supplies “as quickly as possible,” he said.

According to Trudeau, officials are working “day and night” to secure additional, desperately needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers.

And, while Canada continues to source the PPE from international suppliers, Trudeau said the government is also working with domestic manufacturers.






2:17
Trudeau won’t retaliate over Trump’s order to ban N95 mask exports to Canada


Trudeau won’t retaliate over Trump’s order to ban N95 mask exports to Canada

The prime minister’s comments came a day after U.S. President Donald Trump asked Minnesota-based company 3M to stop exporting N95 masks to Canada.

Asked about the move, Trudeau said the dialogue was ongoing with U.S. officials, and that he planned to speak with Trump.

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“We are continuing to engage in constructive discussions with different levels within the administration to highlight that the U.S. will be hurting itself as much as Canada will be hurting if we see an interruption of essential goods and services flow back and forth across the border,” he said. “We continue to demonstrate that this is a good thing for both of our countries and we look to continue to ensure that essential supplies get across the border.”

Trudeau said, though, that Canada was not planning any retaliatory measures against the U.S.


READ MORE:
Canada not looking to retaliate after U.S. restricts coronavirus mask exports: Trudeau

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, by 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, more than 13,800 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Canada.

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Canada’s chief medical officer, Dr. Theresa Tam said currently Canada’s healthcare system is not overwhelmed by serious cases of COVID-19, but cautioned that the situation could change at any time.

Tam urged Canadians to continue practising physical distancing, and to heed the advice of medical authorities.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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