Connect with us


Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday –



The latest:

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.

WATCH | Will the vaccine work if you already had COVID-19?:

Infectious disease scientist Matthew MIller explains what we know about the vaccine’s effectiveness on people who have already had COVID-19 and the long-term effects of the vaccine. 1:06

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.

WATCH | Rick Hillier talks about rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario:

Rick Hillier, Canada’s former top soldier, gives the latest on the logistics around his new job: directing the rollout of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccines. Challenges include the possible threat of criminals stealing precious supplies. 3:51

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.

WATCH | Declining case numbers an early positive sign, Hinshaw says:

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, says the downward trend of new daily COVID-19 cases is a positive sign but emphasizes that the health system continues to be strained. 1:19

Saskatchewan saw 245 new cases and two additional deaths on Friday.

Manitoba announced 350 new cases and 10 new deaths on Friday.

Ontario, which reported 2,290 new cases and 40 more deaths on Friday, tightened restrictions in five regions amid mounting strain on its hospitals.

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.

WATCH | Ontario tightens COVID-19 restrictions in 5 more regions:

Ontario is in the midst of extending lockdowns in hot spots and tightening restrictions in other regions. 2:37

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.

Nova Scotia recorded seven new cases on Friday, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported five new cases.

WATCH | How N.S. kept COVID-19 from getting out of control:

Nova Scotia’s ability to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks from growing out of control has made it the envy of the country and it’s something Dr. Robert Strang attributes largely to residents focusing on the common good. 2:04

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.

City worker Ivan Cantero directs traffic as the City of Hialeah, Fla., distributes 5,000 grocery gift cards worth $250 each to people in need on Friday. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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.

A health worker prepares to take a swab sample from a boy at a COVID-19 testing centre in Chennai, India, on Saturday. (Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


BlackBerry shares soar 40% to highest level since 2011 –



Shares in Canadian technology company BlackBerry are changing hands at their highest level in almost a decade on Monday, as investor enthusiasm for the once high-flying stock has mysteriously returned.

BlackBerry shares were trading at almost $25 a share when the Toronto Stock Exchange opened on Monday, up more than $7 or more than 40 per cent from Friday’s level.

The stock has been quietly rallying for several days now, before taking off on Monday. When 2021 began, the company was worth just over $8 a share. It’s now worth about three times that.

The company has had a number of small pieces of good news in recent weeks, but nothing that would explain Monday’s rise in share price.

Last month, the company signed a deal with Amazon to work on a connected cloud software program for cars, and then in mid-January BlackBerry favourably settled a patent fight with Facebook, but Morningstar analyst William Kerwin says neither development is enough to explain Monday’s surge.

“BlackBerry’s stock movement doesn’t appear to be rooted in any fundamental firm changes, in our view,” he said in an email to CBC News.

Instead, the company has seemingly become one of many recent firms to benefit from a groundswell of retail investor enthusiasm on popular online message boards such as Reddit, regardless of whatever the Wall Street community thinks. Of the 11 analysts who cover the company, nine have a “hold” rating on the company’s shares, and two have “sell” recommendations.

None suggest buying. But that’s not stopping retail investors from doing exactly that.

“BB is moving on Reddit boards,” said Ophir Gottlieb, CEO of trading firm Capital Market Labs. “Not much else to say.”

More than 14 million of the company’s shares changed hands in Toronto on Monday. That’s more than three times the usual volume, and half the trading day is still to come.

Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist with SIA Wealth Management in Toronto, says BlackBerry is just the latest in a series of companies that have seen unexpected rises in share prices in recent weeks.

The current stock market rally has driven up the valuation of huge companies, and now investors are moving down the food chain looking for bargains.

“Smaller stocks don’t have as much liquidity or stock available to trade so a sudden stampede of cash chasing into a smaller cap stock can swamp supply and cause the kind of massive spikes on no news that have started to really pop up in the last week or so,” he said in an email to CBC News. 

“So to me, these moves are more about market sentiment, relative performance, and supply/demand issues rather than fundamental news.”

Kerwin agrees that there are no fundamental changes to BlackBerry’s business that properly explain the price surge.

“We think there’s likely a shift in market sentiment about BlackBerry, perhaps with investors getting more bullish about [their] prospects after the fact. There’s above average trading volume this morning, which might also point to [a] retail investor swell.”

Gottlieb notes that BlackBerry isn’t the only company being pushed up by the sudden trend. “This is not a single stock story, it is a behavioural story.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


These 2 oil companies say they've reached 'net-negative' emissions through carbon capture –



Banks, grocery stores, pop makers — it seems like every day, another company is pledging to become a “net-zero” emitter of greenhouse gases — at some point years or decades in the future.  

But a pair of Alberta companies say they’ve not only achieved the mark but are actually storing more emissions underground than they are producing from their operations.

Enhance Energy and Whitecap Resources both use carbon capture technology to stash emissions far below the surface.

For Enhance, the company buys the CO2 from a refinery and a fertilizer plant in central Alberta. The CO2 is transported through a pipeline to its facility north of Red Deer, where it is pumped into an old oil reservoir. The CO2 helps to free up more oil and increase the amount of crude produced at the site, a process known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR). 

The private Calgary-based firm began operations last fall. So far, executives say about 4,000 tonnes of CO2 is stored underground every day, which they say is the equivalent of taking 350,000 vehicles off the road — a point of pride for the company. 

Because they’re getting the CO2 from the two large plants but only extracting a small amount of oil at this point, on balance, they say they’re burying more CO2 than their oil will produce.

“I get a warm feeling when I come on site and see that injection well,” said chief executive Kevin Jabusch. “That’s very rewarding. It makes the 10-year effort to put this project together worth it.”

Federal goal is net zero by 2050

Many in the industry, as well as some environmental groups, support the development of carbon capture technology, although there are concerns about how emission reductions are calculated and whether capturing carbon disincentivizes industries from taking action to produce fewer emissions in the first place.

The federal government has set a target of reaching net zero by 2050 and released a blueprint to achieve that goal in December, including hiking the carbon tax from the current price of $30 per tonne to $170 by 2030.

The world should be looking for the cheapest, lowest-carbon source of energy.– Kevin Jabusch, Enhance Energy

Instead of calling Enhance an oil company, Jabusch describes it as a “carbon mitigation company” and said if the carbon tax rises as expected, the day might come when Enhance no longer will need to produce oil anymore to be profitable.

Currently, the company generates revenue from oil production and from selling the carbon credits it gets for sequestering emissions. Alberta charges a carbon tax on heavy industrial emitters, but the province also has a system for companies to earn credits by reducing or storing emissions.

Jabusch said the Alberta government’s carbon tax program for large industrial emitters measures and monitors the carbon they sequester, but that data is not available publicly.

Injecting CO2 to increase output

Production from Enhance’s Clive field is around 200 barrels of oil per day, but with CO2 injection, the company expects output to gradually grow to between 4,000 and 5,000 barrels per day over the next five years.

“We’re very negative today over the full cycle of our of our operation,” said Jabusch, “and in the long term, we think it would be very close to zero.

“Where carbon pricing is headed, we think there’s going to be a strong incentive to maximize the amount of CO2 we put in the ground.”

Enhance Energy is part of the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line project, which takes emissions from the Nutrien Redwater fertilizer factory and the North West Redwater Sturgeon refinery northeast of Edmonton to Enhance’s oil reservoirs near Clive. (CBC News Graphics)

Whitecap has a similar, but much larger, carbon capture project in Saskatchewan. Emissions from a coal power plant in the province and from a coal gasification facility in neighbouring North Dakota are transported to an oilfield near Weyburn, south of Regina.

In each of the last two years, about two million tonnes of CO2 were injected and stored, executives said. The figures are currently being audited. 

The Weyburn facility has operated since 2000 and was acquired by Whitecap in 2017. With growing focus on sustainability and climate change, investor interest in the project has intensified over the last year, said chief executive Grant Fagerheim.

“We’re starting to get some of the bigger funds, not just from Canada, but in the U.S. for sure, and around the world,” he said.

Unlike Enhance, Whitecap does not account for the emissions that will be generated from the eventual use of its oil, saying it has no control over how it is used, making it difficult to calculate.

Enhance Energy says it currently produces about 200 barrels of oil per day, but with the help of carbon capture technology, plans to expand to 4,000 or 5,000 barrels a day. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

Varying definitions of ‘negative’ emissions

How a company determines whether it claims net-zero or net-negative status varies across the industry and can depend on the emissions that a given company is counting, which are often broken into three groups, or scopes:

  • Scope 1 includes direct emissions from the activities of an organization, such as its industrial operations or the heating of its buildings.
  • Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions, such as if the company uses electricity from a CO2-generating source, such as a gas-fired power plant.
  • Scope 3 also includes indirect emissions, but ones that are out of the organization’s control. For an oil company, Scope 3 includes tailpipe emissions from vehicles or when oil is converted into plastics. The combustion of fuel is often the largest source of emissions from a barrel of oil, compared to production, transportation and refinery activity.

For Enhance, the company said it is net negative on Scope 1, 2 and 3 while Whitecap said it’s net negative on Scope 1 and 2.

By that definition, Whitecap expects to remain net negative even as its oil production increases by an estimated 65 per cent this year following deals to acquire Torc Oil & Gas and NAL Resources Management.

“We will still be a net-negative emitter,” he said. “It is nice to be in this position at this particular time.”

Projects can carry hefty price tag

Fagerheim says he would like to build new carbon capture facilities but that they can be complex projects requiring a large capital investment and new infrastructure, including pipelines.

“I believe that people will see the light of day, but ultimately, we’re doing what’s best for ourselves, and carbon capture utilization and storage is potentially a way into the future,” he said.

The two largest carbon capture projects in Alberta, including the Carbon Trunk Line that Enhance is part of, cost more than $1 billion to develop, and both required hundreds of millions of dollars in government support.

There’s growing interest in carbon capture projects. Last week, Tesla chief and billionaire Elon Musk promised a $100 million US prize for development of the “best” technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions.

In Canada, one of the challenges with investing in a carbon capture project is the uncertainty about the level of carbon tax in the future since the approach to carbon pricing varies by political party.

WATCH | Is carbon capture a solution for the oil industry and climate change?

There are differing viewpoints on the technique to capture carbon emissions and use the CO2 to produce more oil from aging reservoirs. 2:50

Environmental concerns 

Environmental leaders have often had mixed feelings about carbon capture facilities because while harmful emissions are stored underground, the technology may just be enabling industries to maintain the status quo and not focus enough on reducing the use of fossil fuels.

“The science is fairly clear: we are going to need carbon capture in order to tackle the climate crisis,” Jan Gorski, an analyst with the Pembina Institute, a non-profit organization that produces research, analysis and recommendations on policies related to Canadian energy.

“Enhanced oil recovery is a way to ramp up carbon capture and drive down the costs and improve the technology as we work to eventually deploy that to tackling these more challenging sources where we really don’t have a great way to deal with the emissions right now.”

Knowledge gained from carbon capture projects operating now could eventually help reduce emissions in tougher-to-tackle industries such as cement plants and steel production, he said.

Jan Gorski with the Pembina Institute sees developing carbon capture and storage technology as beneficial, especially to eventually help with hard-to-decarbonize industries such as cement and steel production. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

Some environmental groups suggest the investment in carbon capture facilities would be better spent elsewhere, such as building renewable energy projects. For example, a company could slash emissions in producing the oil, but consumers would still pump out emissions when they use it as a fuel for transportation or heating.

‘The devil is really in the details’

There is also the issue of double counting. Experts say it’s important for any action toward reducing emissions to be properly assessed. For instance, if the emissions from a power plant are used by an oil company to increase the production of an oilfield, both companies can’t take credit for the carbon-capture project.

“I think the key thing is to be clear-eyed about the end goal,” said David Keith, a Harvard University professor of applied physics and public policy based in Canmore, Alta.

Keith also founded and sits on the board of Carbon Engineering, which aims to capture emissions directly from the atmosphere. 

“For me anyway, the end goal has to be driving emissions down to zero to protect us from climate disaster and also doing it in a way that does the least damage to our economy and, in Alberta, trying to find a way forward to provide good jobs for people,” he said.

“Enhanced oil recovery can play some role, but I doubt if it’s going to be very big.”

If oil can actually be entirely net neutral or net negative from its production all the way to its end use, such as powering a vehicle, that would truly be fantastic, said Keith, but “whether or not those companies are doing it, I don’t know. The devil is really in the details.” 

Both companies see a strong future for carbon capture and EOR technologies, especially as demand for oil remains robust around the globe.

“The world should be looking for the cheapest, lowest-carbon source of energy, and we believe we compete very well with that,” said Jabusch, with Enhance.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Ontario Premier, COVID-19 vaccine team to speak as Pfizer dose deliveries slow to halt – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



Ontario Premier Doug Ford and members of his cabinet and vaccine distribution task force will speak Monday as the province enters the week without any new deliveries of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

Pfizer, the larger of two suppliers of two approved COVID-19 vaccines to Canada, said last week it would drastically reduce deliveries to the EU and Canada in February as it retools a manufacturing plant in order to boost its annual output by 700 million doses.

As a result, Canada will receive no Pfizer vaccine doses this week and between 66- 80 per cent fewer than expected doses for much of February.

However, the federal government says Ontario will receive more than 81,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine by Feb. 7.

News of the delivery slowdown has prompted the province to narrow its vaccination effort to long-term care homes and high risk retirement residences.

It has also prompted federal officials to allow a doubling of the gap between doses of the vaccine in certain circumstances.

Ford will be joined by Ret. Gen. Rick Hillier, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones at Queen’s Park this afternoon.

Ford has taken to assorted insults and threats to vent his frustration over the Pfizer delivery slowdown, calling the company’s official excuse about retooling a Belgian manufacturing plant “crap.”

When speaking about the delays last week, Ford, in reference to an unnamed Pfizer executive, said that he’d be “up that guy’s ying-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn’t know what hit him.”

He has repeatedly publicly appealed to U.S. President Joe Biden to send Ontario one million of its Pfizer doses as a stop gap measure.

CP24 will broadcast Ford’s comments live at 1 p.m.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading