Health Canada says it is still waiting on some “information and data” about Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, but expects its review to be completed “in the coming weeks.”
The health agency’s statement came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization to the vaccine on Friday. The U.S. was the first country to grant approval to Moderna.
Health Canada has been reviewing Moderna’s vaccine, which uses similar mRNA technology as the already approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, since Oct. 12. The review is being done through “rolling submissions,” where information is provided as it becomes available.
“There is still information and data to be provided by Moderna for review,” the agency said, without specifying.
“Health Canada is working hard to give Canadians access to COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible and will not compromise its safety, efficacy and quality standards.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said deliveries of as many as 168,000 doses could begin within 48 hours of the vaccine getting the green light.
Using every last drop
Meanwhile, some Canadian health officials say they are making plans to ensure not a single drop of COVID-19 vaccine is wasted.
Many regions have created standby lists of health-care workers in hospitals near vaccination clinics, so those workers can be called for any spare doses that need to be administered fast.
Across the country, some 30,000 people are getting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at 14 different sites as part of the largest mass vaccination effort in Canadian history.
Each region has varying plans to deliver their limited doses of the difficult-to-handle vaccine to high-risk recipients.
And time is of the essence. Once the vaccine is thawed and prepared, it must be used within five days.
In Manitoba, if someone does not show up for an appointment, front-line staff from a nearby hospital are brought in for the shot, said Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief provincial public health officer.
There have been a few cases this week in Ontario where people who were scheduled for vaccinations were unable to get them, said Ana Fernandes, a public affairs adviser for the University Health Network.
The Ontario government has prioritized people working in long-term care homes in its COVID-19 vaccination pilot sites and there are strict criteria for who can take it.
Fernandes said officials have created a list of people who work in emergency rooms, intensive care departments and COVID-19 units in nearby hospitals. Twice a day, if there are unused doses, calls are made to people on the list.
Lessons from these pilot sites are important, she said, so no vaccination opportunities are lost as distribution ramps up.
Another 200,000 doses are expected in Canada next week, bound for 70 distribution sites.
Health Canada has said vials may contain a bit more than the five doses they are supposed to have. If possible, clinic staff can draw an additional dose or maybe even two. But mixing from vials is not recommended as it could result in cross-contamination, loss of sterility or improper dosing.
“The bottom line is don’t throw it away,” Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday.
She said staff who are giving vaccinations should check to see if there’s enough vaccine for an extra dose in each vial.
She also said that if people forget to show up for their vaccination appointments, including for the required second dose, they should still get the shots another time.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 8:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 495,346, with 75,695 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 14,040.
New Brunswick became the final province to begin its COVID-19 vaccinations on Saturday morning. The first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in New Brunswick was administered to long-term care home resident Pauline Gauvin, 84, at the Miramichi Regional Hospital.
The province reported no new cases on Friday.
British Columbia announced 624 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths on Friday. The province also said 1,376 more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were administered to front-line health-care workers, for a total of 2,592 doses to date.
Alberta registered 1,413 new infections and 25 more fatalities on Friday. The province also said a record 141 people are in intensive care.
Saskatchewan saw 245 new cases and two additional deaths on Friday.
Manitoba announced 350 new cases and 10 new deaths on Friday.
Hamilton will move into lockdown; Brant County and Niagara Region move into the red or “control” zone; the public health unit for Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington moves into the orange or “restrict” zone on the province’s colour-coded system; and Timiskaming is moving into yellow or “protect” zone.
The restrictions take effect Monday and will remain in place until at least Jan. 4.
Quebec reported 1,773 new cases and 36 more deaths on Friday.
For the second day in a row, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations broke the 1,000 mark, with 1,011 patients in hospital, including 141 in intensive care.
The province is getting ready to ramp up its vaccination campaign by expanding it to a total of 21 sites across 15 regions starting next week.
Prince Edward Island Friday announced further easing of public health rules, saying it will relax rules for visitors inside and outside health-care centres and hospitals.
Nunavut Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said Friday an outbreak in Sanikiluaq is officially over.
Northwest Territories health officials identified two new cases Friday — one in Yellowknife, and another in a non-resident worker at the territory’s Gahcho Kué mine, located 280 kilometres northwest of the capital.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday morning, more than 75.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 42.7 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a COVID-19 tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The global death toll stood at more than 1.6 million.
In the Americas, Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the United States were working through the weekend to complete a $900 billion US coronavirus aid bill for American individuals and businesses struggling from the economic fallout of pandemic lockdowns.
It would be the largest relief package since this spring, when Congress approved more than $4 trillion in aid. The COVID-19 pandemic has killed 311,000 Americans, by far the most in the world, and put millions out of work. Economists say growth will likely remain sluggish until vaccines are widely available in mid-2021.
In Panama, the country will next week reimpose nationwide curbs on movement by requiring men and women to carry out festive shopping on different days, the health minister said on Friday, imposing drastic measures following a surge in coronavirus cases. The restrictions are similar to what the Central American nation imposed in the worst-hit parts of the country in June. On Christmas and New Year’s Day there will be total quarantine for both genders.
In Europe, Switzerland became the latest country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Two months after receiving the application, Swissmedic granted authorization for the vaccine for people aged 16 and older after a rolling review of documents being submitted. The Swiss health agency said on Saturday a countrywide vaccination program could start from Jan. 4 with an initial batch of around 100,000 doses.
In the Middle East, Turkey said nine people were killed Saturday at an intensive care unit treating COVID-19 patients after an oxygen cylinder exploded. The state-run Anadolu news agency said the fire occurred at the privately run Sanko University Hospital unit in Gaziantep, 850 kilometres southeast of Istanbul. It cited a hospital statement identifying the victims as being between 56 and 85. The fire was quickly brought under control.
In Asia, India’s coronavirus cases have crossed 10 million with new infections dipping to their lowest levels in three months, as the country prepares for a massive COVID-19 vaccination effort in the new year. Additional cases in the past 24 hours dropped to 25,152 from a peak of nearly 100,000 in mid-September. The epidemic has infected nearly one per cent of India’s more than 1.3 billion people, second to the worst-hit United States.
In China, the country says it will soon begin coronavirus inoculations for workers in health care, transport and border control. The vice minister of the National Health Commission says the government is prioritizing those most at risk. Workers in logistics and in markets selling fresh meat and seafood would also be placed higher on the list of those receiving vaccines, along with the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.
In Australia, a quarter million people in Sydney’s northern beach suburbs were ordered on Saturday into a strict lockdown until Christmas Eve to help contain a coronavirus cluster with authorities fearing it may spread across Australia’s most populous city.
New South Wales (NSW) state government is to announce on Sunday whether further restrictions will be imposed on the rest of Sydney, home to around five million people.
“I want to make that clear, to say to greater Sydney, please, please, do not go out tonight or the next few days unless you really have to,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said at a news conference.
Canada should formally apologize for slavery, Essex historian says – CBC.ca
A Windsor-Essex historian wants the Canadian government to formally apologize for slavery, and she’s seeking the support of local municipalities in her advocacy efforts.
Elise Harding-Davis said an apology from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could bring about healing and acknowledgement of the effects of slavery.
“African-Canadians might feel a little more comfortable in their own country, the country that they fought for … the country they’ve contributed mightily to and not gotten a fair shake,” said Harding-Davis, who lives in Harrow, Ont.
Harding-Davis spoke with CBC Radio’s Tony Doucette on Windsor Morning.
Slavery was outlawed in the British Empire in 1834, more than 30 years before confederation. Even though slavery pre-dates Canada, the nation still benefited from the vestiges of it, she said, and Black people were not invited to become citizens until 1911.
“People don’t know these things,” Harding-Davis said. “There were many, many anti-Black legislations over the years.”
Harding-Davis has written to the prime minister several times advocating for the apology and was also behind a petition last year.
She’s currently seeking support from municipalities in the the Windsor-Essex region and has letters of support from the towns of Essex and Amherstburg.
Harding-Davis appeared before Lakeshore town council on Tuesday to deliver a presentation on the topic, and council agreed to send a letter of support to Ottawa.
2017 UN report calls on Canada to apologize
Harding-Davis’ concerns reflect mounting criticism that the legacy of slavery within Canada has gone unacknowledged.
A 2017 report from a working group of the United Nations Human Rights Council noted that the enslavement of Black people in what’s now Canada began in the 16th century.
“Canada’s history of enslavement, racial segregation and marginalization of African Canadians has left a legacy of anti-Black racism and had a deleterious impact on people of African descent, which must be addressed in partnership with the affected communities,” the report’s authors stated.
The report called on Canada to apologize for the enslavement of Black Canadians, consider reparations and take steps to preserve the history of slavery in Canada, as well as the contributions of Black Canadians.
Prime Minister Trudeau asked about slavery apology
Last June, in the midst of the global reckoning on anti-Black racism sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, Trudeau was asked about the UN report and an apology for slavery.
He did not provide a direct answer but said the government has worked closely with the community to support Black Canadians and acknowledged more needs to be done.
Reached for comment on Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s Office referred CBC News to the office of Bardish Chagger, the minister responsible for diversity and inclusion as well as youth.
A statement from a spokesperson did not say whether the government would move ahead with an apology, but referenced the government’s recognition of the International Decade for People of African Descent and a 2020 private members’ motion to recognize Emancipation Day, which marks the abolition of slavery.
“Recognizing Emancipation Day at the federal level would be another step forward in acknowledging the multi-generational harms caused by slavery and the contributions peoples of African descent in Canada have made throughout generations,” the spokesperson said in an email.
The spokesperson went on to say that more needs to be done to tackle anti-Black racism and bring about awareness of Black history — “which is why we are committed to do the work.”
Over the years, Trudeau and his predecessors have formally apologized for historical injustices against various groups.
Among the official apologies include several to Indigenous peoples, an apology over the Chinese head tax and an apology for sending Japanese-Canadians to internment camps during the Second World War.
Windsor Morning6:23Slavery apology
How the spread of coronavirus variants could completely change the pandemic in Canada – CBC.ca
This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.
More contagious strains of the coronavirus have rapidly spread to more than 50 countries around the world, raising concerns that they may already be silently driving spikes in cases in Canada that threaten to overwhelm the healthcare system.
Variants recently identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil are transmitting much more easily than the original strain, with the first estimated to be at least 56 per cent more transmissible.
But while early research shows the variants don’t necessarily lead to an increase in severe illness, health experts are growing more concerned about the effect the more transmissible variants could have on our already strained hospitals.
“We’re already at a breaking point,” said Dr. Susy Hota, an infectious disease specialist at the University Health Network and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.
“It’s happening at a time when the system’s already stressed to the point of potentially being overwhelmed.”
Dr. Eric Topol, a U.S. physician, scientist and clinical trials expert who heads the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California, said he’s “deeply concerned” about the spread of the new variants globally.
“If a strain is more infectious, substantially more, that means more deaths, more hospitalizations, more ‘long COVID,'” he told CBC News.
“We keep hearing it doesn’t cause worse illness. Well, it doesn’t have to — it just causes more people to have that same illness.”
Topol said the variant first found in the U.K., also known as B117, exhibits changes in the spike protein — a key component of how the coronavirus binds to human cells. He said that those changes are likely behind its higher transmission, with the altered spike protein potentially allowing the coronavirus to infect cells more easily.
“A virus that was substantially more fit to infect more people was the last thing we needed right now, and we’ve got it and it’s not going away,” he said.
“The only thing we can do is slow its spread.”
How bad is the situation with variants in Canada?
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday officials “continue to monitor” the spread of the variants in Canada, with at least 25 known cases to date.
Ontario has already identified 14 cases of B117, three of which have no known link to international travel. That prompted concerns from officials it could already be driving spread more than detected in hard-hit regions of the province.
“If that’s confirmed, we have evidence then of community transmission and that is a very serious concern that the vaccine will not be able to address quickly enough,” Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said this week. “It’s very likely that we have more that we’re not aware of.”
Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, dean of the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and co-chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table, said if B117 continues to spread in Ontario the rate of new cases could rise to “scary,” “almost near-vertical” levels.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if by the time we prove that there is community transmission definitively, it’s already spread like wildfire,” said Hota. “It’s just the nature of the beast.”
Brown added the variant could already be driving “a very dramatic growth in cases” in certain parts of the province, similar to the way it did in the United Kingdom despite strict public health restrictions.
WATCH | Ontario issues stay-at-home order amid dire COVID-19 projections:
“What we’re detecting is likely only the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont. “We absolutely cannot discount the possibility that it is here and it’s already having some kind of influence on the spread.”
British Columbia identified its first case of the variant first found in South Africa on Thursday, in addition to four previously discovered cases of B117.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday officials are investigating how the latest case became infected with the variant, due to the fact that they also had no known link to travel.
“It is, of course, concerning we don’t know where this arose,” she said, signalling the variants could be spreading more widely in the community.
Five cases of B117 have also been confirmed in Alberta, along with one case of the variant first discovered in South Africa, but officials say all of those cases are travel-related.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said during a press conference Thursday that the mutation of the coronavirus is “normal” and that the “emergence of variants is not unusual or unexpected.”
WATCH | WHO says new U.K. studies confirm variant of COVID-19 more transmissible:
He added that while Canada initially stopped all flights from the UK over fears the variant could spread here, that ban was lifted last week in favour of mandating all travellers into the country present a negative COVID-19 test.
On Friday, scientists with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released modelling data that warned by March, B117 could become the dominant strain in the United States.
Jason Kindrachuk, an assistant professor of viral pathogenesis at the University of Manitoba and Canada Research Chair of emerging viruses, said he’s concerned Canada may be unprepared for cases of the variant increasing “underneath the surface.”
“We can’t judge when there’s going to be that sudden rise,” he said.
“You get a sense of the storm that could be coming and you’re watching that tsunami warning getting louder and louder — we need to be ready for this.”
Kindrachuk says the fact B117 took over as a main circulating strain in Ireland, England and Denmark in just a matter of weeks is “gravely concerning” for Canada because of the risk it could spread more widely here.
“The increases in cases we’re seeing right now are already concerning, but that’s not due to the variants,” he said. “So what happens when the variants start to take hold in different regions?”
Saskatchewan is the only province that currently says all of its COVID-19 testing will detect the B117 variant, while other provinces said that they only send positive test samples for further scrutiny if the context warrants.
“We’re not necessarily picking up on the cases of the known variants,” said Hota. “There may be other variants that are evolving as well under our noses.”
“The bottom line is, you don’t want to be stuck in a situation where by the time you have that information, it’s already your dominant strain.”
While efforts are underway to find a quicker way to test for variants, the current “deep sequencing” required is both expensive and time consuming — taking days to over a week to get results, said Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ont.
What can be done to prevent the spread of variants?
While many of the public health guidelines recommended to stop the spread of the coronavirus are thought to be effective against the variants, experts say we should be doubling down on them and avoiding risky situations.
“Think of it this way, we don’t need to do more of the same — we need to do better of the same,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the CDC told CBC News. “It’s all about limiting risk.”
Physical distancing, mask wearing, hand hygiene and avoiding crowds are all effective, but Frieden says people should also reduce their time spent indoors with those they don’t live with, wear better quality masks such as N95s or surgical masks and have as few in-person interactions with others as possible.
WATCH | What scientists know about the new coronavirus variant (Jan. 8):
Frieden said that means, if possible, spending a few minutes in the grocery store to pick up essential items, or ordering online, as opposed to going in for an extended period to shop.
“In the past, with the earlier strain it was harder to get infected with it — you might have been in the same room, you might have been the same distance, and you would have evaded it,” said Topol. “But now, this has a more aggressive ability to infect.”
Frieden said at a population level, countries like Canada should focus on vaccinating as many people as they can as quickly as possible — especially older age groups and long-term care residents.
“Vaccines are enormously important. They’re the single most powerful tool that we have,” he said, “but a vaccination program is going to take a long time to go out.”
“The more we don’t take precautions, the more we can see explosive exponential spread.”
To read the entire Second Opinion newsletter every Saturday morning, subscribe by clicking here.
Canada records over 6,800 new COVID-19 cases as officials announce vaccine delay – Global News
Canada added over 6,800 new cases of the novel coronavirus Friday as federal officials revealed that vaccine shipments to the country would be delayed for four weeks over production issues.
In a press conference Friday, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said that only half of Pfizer-BioNTech’s promised COVID-19 vaccine doses would arrive in the next month.
The delay, which would impact production for a “short period” according to her, would be made up by the end of March and was due to the company scaling up its manufacturing capacity for European countries.
“This expansion work means that Pfizer is temporarily reducing deliveries to all countries receiving vaccine manufactured at its European facility — and that includes Canada,” said Anand, who reassured that the setback would not impact Canada’s long-term vaccination plan.
How will I know it’s my turn to get the vaccine? Your COVID-19 questions answered
Several provincial leaders including Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, B.C.’s Health Minister Adrian Dix and Ontario Premier Doug Ford have since raised concern over the delay, as a second shot of the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be administered within 21 days of the first for it to achieve maximum efficacy.
News of the delay also comes amid new federal COVID-19 modelling that showed the country was on track to surpass 10,000 new cases of the virus a day by February if Canadians kept maintaining the “current number of people we contact each day.”
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, who presented the modelling at a media conference, said that the rise in new infections was largely due to Canadians gathering during the holidays.
According to her, current measures would have to be “further intensified” in order to curb the virus’ spread.
According to the modelling, virus cases could potentially surge past 30,000 a day if Canadians increased their current contacts each day by February.
“If we ease measures too soon the epidemic will resurge even more strongly,” said Tam.
Coronavirus: Canada’s deliveries of Pfizer vaccine hit by ‘temporary delay,’ Anand says
As of Friday evening, cases of COVID-19 in Canada floated at just under the 700,000 mark, though a total of 601,000 people have since recovered. Deaths linked to COVID-19 now stand at 17,729 after another 192 fatalities were reported.
To date, more than 20,238,921 tests have been administered and at least 765,100 doses of the vaccine have been distributed across Canada.
Ontario reported the highest number of infections Friday with another 2,998 cases as well as 100 deaths, though 46 of those deaths were reported to have occurred earlier in the pandemic.
Quebec added another 1,918 cases Friday as well as another 62 deaths. More than 8,900 deaths have now been recorded in the province, which is the hardest hit in Canada.
Health officials in B.C. announced another 500 lab-confirmed cases Friday as well, pushing the province’s official caseload to 59,583. Another 534 cases are considered “epi-linked,” which are cases that displayed symptoms and were in close contacts of confirmed cases but were never tested.
Nine of those epi-linked cases were included Friday’s count.
Another nine people were reported to have died from the virus there, with the province’s current death toll standing at 1,047.
Coronavirus: Hajdu says Health Canada would need to approve change in Pfizer manufacturing site
Alberta added another 785 cases Friday, pushing its total caseload to 115,370. The province’s death toll from the virus also stands at 1,402 after 21 more deaths were announced.
Saskatchewan reported another 386 cases and four more deaths, while Manitoba recorded 191 infections and five more fatalities.
Several provinces in Atlantic Canada also reported new cases of the virus Friday.
New Brunswick added another 25 cases, Nova Scotia two more and Newfoundland and Labrador another infection. P.E.I. did not report any new cases Friday.
In Canada’s North, only the Northwest Territories reported one case of the virus.
Coronavirus: Trudeau comments on strengthening COVID-19 travel measures
The country’s increase in cases also comes amid another grim milestone as over two million people worldwide were reported to have succumbed to the virus since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.
To date, more than 93,751,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, with the U.S., India and Brazil continuing to lead in both infections and deaths.
— With files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Rachel Gilmore and Katie Dangerfield.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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