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Clinical trials for potential coronavirus vaccine to be conducted by Halifax team – Global News

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HALIFAX — The first Canadian clinical trials for a possible COVID-19 vaccine will be conducted by a Halifax research team that also was involved in trials that eventually led to a vaccine for the Ebola virus.


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Health Canada has approved trials that will be conducted at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University.

The centre’s director, Dr. Scott Halperin, says the lab was one of several in Canada and the U.S. whose work starting in 2014 eventually saw an “emergency release” of an Ebola vaccine that was used in West Africa before a third phase of clinical trials had been completed.






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Halperin said each lab did slightly different studies in order to get the right type of information before quickly moving to the second phase and then the third.

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“The Phase 1 studies were done and within six months the data were available and the phase three studies were started in West Africa which then helped to actually stop the epidemic,” he said in an interview.


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Halperin said it’s possible the same emergency release could happen in Canada with a potential COVID-19 vaccine if it shows potential and is deemed safe, expediting a process that usually takes a number of years to complete — anywhere from five to seven years under normal circumstances.

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“That would be something that Health Canada and the Canadian government would have to decide whether they wanted to do that. But it is certainly one of the options in the tool kit of things they can do to expedite the process if this or any other vaccine is looking promising.”






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Halperin pointed out that despite its early use during testing, the Ebola vaccine wasn’t actually licensed as a regular marketed vaccine until late last year.

However, he cautions there’s much work to be done before a COVID-19 vaccine could be approved for use.

The Halifax researchers will be following up work by Chinese manufacturer CanSino Biologics, which is already conducting human clinical trials for the vaccine.

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Halperin said the first phase trial should be underway within the next three weeks once final approval is given by the centre’s research ethics board.

Phase 1 will involve fewer than 100 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55 who will be followed over the next six months.

“We want to make sure that the vaccine is safe first in younger individuals before we go into people who may be at higher risk,” Halperin said.






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The participants are given a dose of the vaccine and are clinically monitored through a series of blood tests. They are also asked to record their symptoms in a diary so the researchers can have even more information.

“We collect any type of symptoms they might have whether they think it’s related to the vaccine or not,” said Halperin.

Each participant will make between nine and 13 visits to the centre during the first phase of the study.


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If the initial test group shows a safe immune response to the vaccine, Halperin said researchers will quickly transition into an expanded second phase study before the first phase is even completed.

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That would involve hundreds of people of all ages, including those aged 65 to 85, and would be administered by several other research centres across the country that are part of the Canadian Immunization Research Network.

Halperin said the network was set up by the federal government in 2009 as part of the response to the H1N1 pandemic. He said the intent was to create the necessary infrastructure to respond rapidly to an emergency and to do early phase clinical trials so vaccines would be available in Canada.

“This is a good test of that (network),” Halperin said of clinical trials that will be the first of “many more to come.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Pandemic-related restaurant closures take an emotional and financial toll – CBC.ca

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Michael Raviele agonized for hours over how to break the news to his loyal customers before finally announcing at 4:30 a.m. ET on May 15 that he was closing Il Gatto Nero, the Toronto Italian restaurant his father first opened some six decades earlier.

“I did that road for 18 years — up and down, every single day,” said the man with a tattoo of the restaurant’s logo on his arm. “I worked there every single day.”

Restaurants across Canada — from local institutions to newer spots hustling to establish themselves — have closed permanently in recent weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged an industry already plagued by razor-thin margins. Their owners face not only the emotional loss of their business, but also often large debt, little savings and an uncertain future.

Il Gatto Nero started as an Italian social club featuring pool tables and espresso more than 60 years ago. Raviele joined the business in the early 90s and slowly added to the club’s repertoire with a pizza oven, sandwiches and other tweaks.

Attempted shift

The club moved to Toronto’s College Street about 18 years ago. At the new location, they saw a lot of success — like when Italy won the FIFA World Cup in 2006 — as well as some down times — like the 2008 recession — that prompted Raviele and his father to dip into personal savings to keep the restaurant afloat. Raviele invested more money in the business in 2014 for a renovation and expanded to a second location, a small cafe in Etobicoke, in October 2019.

When COVID-19 hit and government ordered dining rooms to close, Raviele attempted to shift to take away, but eventually stopped. Bills piled up from utility companies.

“I obviously incurred some debt …,” he said.

But uncertainty over the future of dining was the final nail in Il Gatto Nero’s coffin.

‘Don’t see a future’

Raviele speculated he might be required to remove the restaurant’s 10 bar seats and slash his 65-seat capacity in half to comply with pending physical distancing rules, which would cripple his business.

“I don’t see a future for my business or for my family,” he said. “The model for opening any restaurant is based on feeding capacity versus space, and how many people can you do over the course of a night… I mean, if you have one bad weekend, it could be disastrous for many small businesses.”

He plans to focus on the small espresso bar, add a pizza oven and hustle to keep that business going, which he said he invested his second life into.

“I’m angry, because I wanted to do something good, and now the possibility of losing both is always there.”

Mohammed Bin Yahya, co-founder and chief executive at Plentea, found the coronavirus to be “just like the knockout punch” for his Toronto tea bar.

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Dreams of growing

Before the pandemic, the company was struggling to pay some $5,000 in rent. When they shifted to takeaway to abide by health regulations amid the pandemic, foot traffic dropped dramatically.

The tea shop, which Bin Yahya opened in 2015 with dreams of growing to multiple locations, will close at the end of the month.

“The numbers. Straight up, the numbers don’t lie,” he said.

The company had to pay penalties when closing some of their accounts with cleaning companies, internet and phone providers, and others, he said.

“We are in debt,” he said, estimating they’ll owe some $40,000 in the end.

For now, he’s trying to minimize his expenses, and said he may have to find a side job and move in with family to help pay back the loans.

Cajun-and-Creole

But he’s keeping the dream alive. Plentea will continue selling tea online, he said, and — for now — he’ll keep the equipment in storage with the hopes of opening again.

With nearly four decades in the food industry, 77-year-old Frances Wood’s retirement plan relied heavily on the Cajun-and-Creole food restaurant she co-owns, Southern Accent in Toronto.

After 34 years in one location, Wood dipped into her nest egg to help cover a move to a new spot about three years ago. It took some time to build up a new customer base and Wood noticed in recent years, lucky restaurants made 10 per cent in profit.

Still, at the start of this year, she started seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel” in making the new location work.

She debated selling the restaurant after her five-year lease ended. But with about 1½ years to go, COVID-19 hit.

Southern Accent also attempted takeaway and delivery, but found with high delivery app fees, it was losing money each day it stayed open.

‘A miracle’

Wood and her co-owner decided to close permanently in April and have about $60,000 in loans and bills to pay back between them.

In what Wood called “a miracle,” their landlord released them from their roughly $10,000 monthly lease early, Wood said.

“I don’t know what we would have done. We would have to go personally bankrupt, I guess” had that not happened, she said.

The next phase of the septuagenarian’s life “doesn’t look very good.” Wood didn’t draw a salary for the past several years, but the restaurant did pay some of her expenses. She collects Old Age Security, the Canada Pension Plan and has some personal savings, but that hardly covers her monthly expenses.

“My livelihood, what I was expecting to have at the end of 37 years in the restaurant business was some money from the restaurant when I sold it to help with my senior years.”

She planned to sell the name and recipes, and help set the buyer up for success. She even kept the restaurant’s 1940s bar in case a buyer emerges. It’s tucked away in the garage.

Still, she considers herself lucky all things considered.

“I think, ‘OK, I’m lucky. I have my health.”‘

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Global stocks buoyant, dollar slips as economies start to unlock – Reuters

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – World stocks hovered near three-month highs and safe-haven government bonds inched lower as signs that Europe’s economic downturn has bottomed boosted risk appetite, despite worries over violent protests in the United States and unease over Washington’s standoff with Beijing.

President Donald Trump left a trade deal with China intact Friday despite moving to end Washington’s special treatment for Hong Kong in retaliation for Beijing seeking to impose new security legislation on the city.

China has asked state-owned firms to halt purchases of soybeans and pork from the United States in response, two people familiar with the matter said.

“The Trump rhetoric against China and trade impediments against Hong Kong could have been a lot worse, hence the performance of those markets this morning, which has helped the risk backdrop,” said Chris Bailey, European strategist at wealth manager Raymond James.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.29% following broad gains in Asia and Europe. The index .MIWD00000PUS is up more than 35% from its March lows.

In morning trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 114.39 points, or 0.45%, to 25,268.72, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 11.9 points, or 0.39%, to 3,032.41 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 24.20 points, or 0.25%, to 9,465.68.

Signs of a rebound from the global coronavirus lockdown helped bolster global equities and push safe haven assets lower. France’s manufacturing activity rose in May as the country began to emerge from a nearly two-month coronavirus lockdown, pulling the sector out of a nosedive that had seen activity hit a record low a month earlier, a survey showed on Monday.

An official business survey from China showed its factory activity grew at a slower pace in May but momentum in the services and construction sectors quickened.

Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last fell 10/32 in price to yield 0.677%, from 0.644% late on Friday.

Bond investors suspect economies will need massive amounts of central bank support long after they reopen and that is keeping yields super low even as governments borrow much more.

FILE PHOTO – The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Staff

“Current unemployment numbers go far beyond what has been experienced in any post-war recession,” Barclays economist Christian Keller wrote in a note. “To the extent that some sectors may never return to pre-pandemic business-as-usual.”

A weekend of violent U.S. protests over race and policing could present another setback for the economy which was only just emerging from the steepest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Following poor data on spending and trade out on Friday, the Atlanta Federal Reserve estimated economic output could drop a staggering 51% annualized in the second quarter.

The May jobs report due out on Friday is forecast to show the unemployment rate surged to 19.8%, smashing April’s record 14.7%. Payrolls are expected to drop by 7.4 million, on top of the 20.5 million jobs lost the previous month.

In commodity markets, gold added 0.5% to $1,735 an ounce XAU=. [GOL/]

Tensions between the U.S. and China weighed on oil prices. U.S. crude CLc1 recently fell 2.73% to $34.52 per barrel and Brent LCOc1 was at $37.70, down 0.37% on the day.

FILE PHOTO: A passerby wearing a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, walks past an electronic board showing the graphs of the recent movements of Japan’s Nikkei share average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan March 6, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

(Graphic: Global assets – tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl)

(Graphic: Global currencies vs. dollar – tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh)

(Graphic: Emerging markets – tmsnrt.rs/2ihRugV)

(Graphic: MSCI All Country Wolrd Index Market Cap – tmsnrt.rs/2EmTD6j)

Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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At the open: TSX starts flat as oil prices drop – The Globe and Mail

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Canada’s main stock index opened lower on Monday, dragged down by energy stocks on falling oil prices, as fears of low demand for crude offset OPEC and Russia considering extended production cuts.

At 9:30 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 15.22 points, or 0.1%, at 15,177.61.

U.S. stocks opened lower on Monday after a strong showing last month, as investors turned cautious amid country-wide protests over race and a flare-up in tensions between Washington and Beijing.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 40.12 points, or 0.16%, at the open to 25,342.99. S&P 500 fell 11.46 points, or 0.38%, at 3,032.85.

The S&P 500 opened lower by 3,044.31 points, or 100.00%, at 0.00. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 18.45 points, or 0.19%, to 9,471.42 at the opening bell.

World stocks hovered near three-month highs and the dollar was flat on Monday as optimism over economies opening up again boosted risk appetite, despite worries over mass protests in the United States and unease over Washington’s standoff with Beijing.

Having risen a whopping 35% from a late March trough, stocks looked set to kick off June with more gains. The MSCI world stocks index has recovered two-thirds of the losses it incurred in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak.

Investors were also relieved that President Donald Trump left a trade deal with China intact despite moving to end Washington’s special treatment for Hong Kong in retaliation for Beijing seeking to impose new security legislation on the city.

China has asked state-owned firms to halt purchases of soybeans and pork from the United States, two people familiar with the matter said, following Washington’s move over Hong Kong.

In Europe, stock markets were up 0.8% led by virus-hit sectors such as travel & leisure, banks and miners but volumes were subdued as Germany, Switzerland and Austria were closed for holidays.

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“The Trump rhetoric against China and trade impediments against Hong Kong could have been a lot worse, hence the performance of those markets this morning, which has helped the risk backdrop for the European open,” said Chris Bailey, European strategist at wealth manager Raymond James.

In Asia, stocks closed higher, led by China on signs that parts of the domestic economy were picking up. Hong Kong managed to rally 3.4%, while Chinese blue chips put on 2.7%.

An official business survey from China showed its factory activity grew at a slower pace in May but momentum in the services and construction sectors quickened.

Japan’s Nikkei added 0.8% to also reach a three-month peak.

The safe-haven dollar, meanwhile, hit an 11-week low dented by risk-on mood among investors and protests in major U.S. cities over race and policing.

“I agree the riots are not good but the perception is that this is a local issue…and the uncertainty has spilled over into a lower dollar,” Bailey added.

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In Philadelphia, one of the cities that had instituted a curfew due to protests there, Nasdaq Inc said it postponed Monday’s planned reopening of its PHLX options trading floor, which had been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The turmoil in the U.S. was a fresh setback for the economy which was only just emerging from a downturn akin to the Great Depression. Following poor data on spending and trade out on Friday, the Atlanta Federal Reserve estimated economic output could drop a staggering 51% annualised in the second quarter.

The May jobs report due out on Friday is forecast to show the unemployment rate surged to 19.8%, smashing April’s record 14.7%. Payrolls are expected to drop by 7.4 million, on top of the 20.5 million jobs lost the previous month.

“Current unemployment numbers go far beyond what has been experienced in any post-war recession,” Barclays economist Christian Keller wrote in a note. “To the extent that some sectors may never return to pre-pandemic business-as-usual.”

Bond investors suspect economies will need massive amounts of central bank support long after they reopen and that is keeping yields super low even as governments borrow much more.

Yields on U.S. 10-year notes were trading steady at 0.66% having recovered from a blip up to 0.74% last month when the market absorbed a tidal wave of new issuance.

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German bund yields were stuck near minus 0.42%.

In currency markets, the euro was last up at $1.1114, after climbing 1.8% last week. The Australian dollar hit a four-month high.

Much of the dollar’s recent decline has come against the euro which has been boosted by plans for an EU stimulus package. The European Central Bank is also widely expected to say on Thursday that it will raise its asset buying by around 500 billion euros to 1.25 trillion.

In commodity markets, gold added 0.5% to $1,735 an ounce .

Brent crude futures were off 8 cents at $37.76 a barrel, while U.S. crude fell 35 cents to $35.14

Reuters

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