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

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The latest:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to offer Canadians modest hope about progress in testing and vaccine development after Canada notched an all-time high of new COVID-19 cases in a day.

Trudeau told a news conference Friday that the government is spending $214 million toward the development of COVID-19 vaccines, signing deals with two Canadian biotech firms.

But even as he touted Canada’s portfolio of potential vaccines, Trudeau warned it’s unlikely that any of these candidates will be ready to distribute to Canadians this year or early next year. It’s reasonable to expect that vaccines will start to roll out at some point in 2021, said Trudeau, but even then, supply will be limited, and high-risk populations will be prioritized for inoculation.

“We are hopeful that the vaccines will arrive yesterday, but they won’t,” said Trudeau. “There’s still a number [of] more months of work to do.”

Trudeau said his government signed a $173-million contract with Quebec’s Medicago to secure the rights to buy 76 million doses of its vaccine, should it meet health and safety standards. The funding will also be used to establish a production facility in Quebec City, he said.

Ottawa is also investing $18.2 million in a potential vaccine from British Columbia’s Precision NanoSystems. Meanwhile, the National Research Council is spending $23 million to support other Canadian vaccine initiatives, Trudeau said.

WATCH | Study casts doubt on use of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 treatment:

An Indian study is casting doubt on the effectiveness of giving patients sick with COVID-19 the blood plasma of others who have battled it, to transfer antibodies. But Canadian researchers say it could still work, if the antibody levels are tested. 3:27

The prime minister said Canada has signed six agreements with a number of companies taking part in the global race to produce a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 .

Two more American vaccine makers, Moderna and Pfizer, have asked Health Canada to review their products, which are undergoing clinical trials.


What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 5 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 211,732 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 177,879 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting rose to 9,888.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, says authorities need the public’s help to rein in infection rates through practices such as limiting in-person contacts, wearing masks and physical distancing.

“The number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase,” Tam told a media briefing Friday. “Over the past seven days, there was an average of just over 1,000 individuals with COVID-19 treated in Canadian hospitals, including over 200 in critical care.”

In Ontario, an additional 826 cases and nine more deaths were recorded, as Premier Doug Ford hinted more regions could be headed for a modified Stage 2 next week.

During his daily news conference, Ford called the situation in the Halton region “concerning” and suggested it and potentially Durham Region could join Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York regions in a modified Stage 2 in the coming days.

WATCH | Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission releases recommendations:

The first wave of COVID-19 devastated Ontario’s residents in long-term care. Now, a commission is releasing an interim report on the fatal failure at those facilities just as a second wave again threatens the province’s most vulnerable. 3:38

Modified Stage 2 means the closure of indoor dining, gyms and other fitness centres, movie theatres, casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.

Quebec on Friday reported 905 new COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths, four of which were in the past 24 hours.

There are 540 people in hospital including 99 in intensive care. In its latest projections, the province’s national health institute said hospitals will not reach full capacity in the next four weeks due to the rate of transmission having stabilized in recent days.

Premier François Legault has said it’s likely the province will have to maintain many public health restrictions currently in place in red zones past Oct. 28, including keeping restaurants and bars closed.

In Alberta, 50 inmates and five staff members at the Calgary Correctional Centre have tested positive, according to a statement from Alberta Health Services.

All inmates and staff are being tested and isolation and monitoring of the positive cases are underway. Contact tracing for anyone potentially exposed to these individuals is ongoing.

WATCH | Reduce gatherings even more, health experts urge:

British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry expressed concerns around the spread of COVID-19 at social gatherings, something that infectious diseases specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti says is being seen across the country. 1:54

Alberta reached 300 COVID-19 deaths on Friday and reported 432 new cases and 3,651 active cases.

While the premier and the province’s top doctor have called the numbers concerning, the government has reiterated it has no plans to bring in new restrictions.

“I believe we can continue to protect the health-care system without widespread disruption and lockdowns that have massive broader consequences,” Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday.

In British Columbia, health officials announced 223 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Seventy-five people are in hospital, with 24 in intensive care.

Yukon’s chief medical officer,  Dr. Brendan Hanley, has reported three new cases in Watson Lake, which he says are part of a “family cluster.” They hadn’t travelled outside Yukon, so it’s not known yet where they contracted the virus.

WATCH | Manitoba’s top doctor on the increasing community spread of COVID-19:

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, explains why increasing community spread of COVID-19 makes targeted approaches to control the illness less effective. 0:48

Manitoba reported a total of 163 new infections on Friday, most concentrated in Winnipeg. The province also said a man in his 80s is the latest death linked to an outbreak at Winnipeg’s personal care home Parkview Place, where 15 residents have died of the illness.

Manitoba has announced new rules for northern Manitoba and schools in both the Winnipeg area and the north. Those measures will take effect on Monday.

Nova Scotia reported new no cases of COVID-19 on Friday, a day after the province warned residents against unnecessary travel to the Campbellton-Restigouche area of New Brunswick due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

The recommendation came after New Brunswick announced new restrictions for the Campbellton region, almost two weeks after it was pushed back to the orange phase of recovery. While Zone 5 will remain in the orange stage, people will be limited to interacting with a single household bubble, N.B. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said.

New Brunswick announced two new COVID-19 cases and eight recoveries on Friday. That brings the total number of cases the province has recorded to 324, with four deaths.

Newfoundland and Labrador announced no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The province has recorded a total of 288 cases and four deaths.


What’s happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 42.2 million. More than 1.1 million people have died, while more than 28.5 million have recovered.

More than 84,000 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 across the United States on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, a record one-day increase in infections during the pandemic as the virus surges again nationwide.

The spike of 84,218 cases — breaking the record of 77,299 set on July 16 — comes as University of Washington researchers forecast that the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could reach a total of 500,000 by February.

About 8.4 million Americans have tested positive and nearly 224,000 have died from the illness.

WATCH | Remdesivir does little to help COVID-19 patients, WHO says:

A clinical trial by the World Health Organization finds that antiviral medication remdesivir has little or no effect on length of hospital stay or mortality in COVID-19 patients. Dr. Srinivas Murthy weighs in on what this could mean for treating the virus going forward. 2:04 

The World Health Organization revealed on Friday that of the nearly 445,000 new cases of coronavirus reported worldwide in the past 24 hours, almost half were from European nations.

Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic have hit a record high, soaring to over 15,000 in one day for the first time.

The country’s health ministry says the day-to-day increase of confirmed cases in the hard-hit country reached 15,252 on Friday. The previous record of 14,968 was set on Wednesday.

A woman stretches after a morning run at the medieval Charles Bridge on Oct. 22 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images)

The record surge has continued for last two months despite tight restrictions, including limits on movement, closing stores, schools and restaurants and banning sports competitions and gatherings of more than two people. Face masks are obligatory outdoors and in cars.

The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital has surpassed 5,000 for the first time, putting the health system under pressure.

The Czech Republic has had over 238,300 confirmed coronavirus cases, including over 78,000 in the last seven days, and reported 1,971 virus-related deaths.

In Poland, President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for coronavirus, his spokesperson said on Saturday. The spokesperson, Blazej Spychalski, said on Twitter that the 48-year-old conservative leader was tested the day before and his result was positive. He said the president feels all right and is in isolation.

Duda’s diagnosis comes amid a huge surge in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths in Poland, a nation that saw only very low numbers in the spring. On Friday, the country hit another daily record of new infections — over 13,600, with 153 new deaths.

In Italy, protesters angered over new coronavirus restrictions, including a new regional curfew, clashed with police in the city of Naples on Friday night. Some threw rocks and smoke bombs, and police officers responded with tear gas. The protesters numbered several hundred, according to local media.

The virus is blamed for killing more than 37,000 people in Italy since the start of the pandemic.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Naples, Italy late Friday to denounce coronavirus restrictions, including a curfew in the Campania region, imposed ahead of the weekend in response to a spiralling second wave of infections that saw nearly 20,000 new cases detected in the last 24 hours. (Carlo Hermann/AFP via Getty Images)

In Britain, bars, restaurants and most shops have closed across Wales for 17 days, starting Friday night, in the U.K.’s strictest lockdown to curb surging coronavirus cases.

Most businesses had to close, high school students will be taught online and people must avoid non-essential journeys.

The U.K. has Europe’s deadliest coronavirus numbers, with more than 44,500 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths. There have been 1,756 deaths in Wales, which has a population of about 3 million.

In Turkey, the mayor of Istanbul has tested positive for COVID-19, a spokesperson for the city municipality said Saturday.

Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu has undergone treatment in hospital and his condition is good, spokesperson Murat Ongun tweeted.

Authorities in Sri Lanka on Saturday closed at least two fishery harbours and many stalls on Colombo’s outskirts after a surge of 609 cases linked to the country’s main fish market. Hundreds of traders and fishermen are being tested. The government also widened the curfew in parts of Colombo.

India, meanwhile, has reported 53,370 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking the overall tally past 7.8 million.

A man rides a scooter through a market, a day before the Hindu festival of Dussehra in Mumbai, India on Saturday. (Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters)

The country’s health ministry on Saturday also reported 650 deaths, driving the country’s toll to 117,956.

The highest number of new infections is coming from Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka states. They’re also reporting the maximum number of daily recoveries.

Last month, India hit a peak of nearly 100,000 cases in a single day, but since then daily infections have fallen by about half and deaths by about a third, even as testing has remained consistent.

Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca

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Canada still on track for January 2021 vaccine rollout, despite domestic dose disadvantage: Feds – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
The federal government is still eyeing January 2021 as the start date for when people in Canada will begin to receive COVID-19 vaccines, despite frustration and concerns levelled at the Liberals by the opposition on Wednesday about Canada’s position in the queue to receive doses.

“At the beginning of next year, in January of 2021, assuming those approvals are given… Canadians will be able to start being vaccinated,” Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc said in an interview on CTV’s Power Play.

The approvals he is referencing are Health Canada approvals, which will be required before vaccine doses are doled out.

LeBlanc wouldn’t say what specifically the contracts say in terms of licensing and schedules for delivery, but disputed that Canada is at the back of the line and said that the number of doses coming to Canada will increase over time.

“We will start to receive the first millions of doses early part of 2021… those contracts are in place and that distribution will be made very effectively with provinces and territories,” he said.

In a separate segment on CTV’s Power Play, Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner cast doubt on the timeline, saying there is no publicly available evidence to substantiate the government’s January 2021 target will be attainable.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to temper Canadians’ expectations around the timing and rollout of an eventual vaccine or vaccines to immunize against the novel coronavirus, acknowledging that Canada is at a “disadvantage” because Canada “no longer has any domestic production capability” to make our own and is relying on other nations.

While there has been promising news about some vaccine candidates that Canada will receive millions of doses early next year— to be distributed on a priority basis—several other nations are making plans to begin administering vaccines next month.

Among the promising candidates so far are Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, all of which Canada has begun the domestic approval process for. However, Trudeau said that the countries where these pharmaceutical companies are based, including the United States, will “obviously” prioritize vaccinating their citizens before shipping doses internationally.

This caused a flurry of questions levelled at Trudeau during question period on Wednesday, with the opposition slamming the government’s handling of vaccine procurement.

“Why did this prime minister sign deals that placed Canadians months behind Americans for getting a COVID-19 vaccine?” asked Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“The announcement of vaccines gave people hope, but when the prime minister said we’re not able to produce it in Canada people were afraid… They need to know that there’s a clear plan with dates,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh during question period.

In a press conference, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said it was “unacceptable” that vaccines could still be months away from arriving in Canada, saying the federal government should have moved sooner to secure manufacturing rights and to ramp up production capacity at home.

Trudeau sought to defend his government’s handling, noting that it was under the previous Conservative administrations that Canada’s domestic capacity dwindled away.

Canada has begun funding domestic vaccine production capacity but Trudeau has said it will take “years” to get in place and likely won’t help Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine situation, but will be in place should there be future pandemics.

On Wednesday, LeBlanc suggested that should there be a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine required, or subsequent booster shots in years to come, the domestic ability to produce the vaccines could be ready.

Canada does produce some vaccines, but not the kind so far looking promising for COVID-19. Pharmaceutical companies Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline make protein-based vaccines, but the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, for example, are mRNA vaccines, which use messenger ribonucleic acid to produce an immune response.

“One is like making wine, one’s like making Coke,” Andrew Casey, the CEO of BioteCanada, told The Canadian Press Wednesday. “Yes, they both grow in bottles. Yes, you can drink both out of a glass. But the manufacturing processes used for the two is so completely different. You can’t just say well, we’ll shut down the protein one, and we’ll switch over to the mRNA.”

On Friday the Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed to MPs that the country is on track to receive an initial six million doses by March, four million from Pfizer and two million from Moderna.

In total, Canada has signed deals with seven vaccine manufactures, securing more vaccines per capita than other countries. The deals include an agreement with Canadian-based Medicago, whose vaccine candidate remains the farthest away from approval of those Canada has contracts with.

With files from The Canadian Press

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2 Perfect Holiday Gift Ideas for the Pregnant Woman in Your Life

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To say that this past year has been erratic would be an understatement. From the global pandemic to a tumultuous political and economic climate, 2020 is a year that will go down in the history books. While many people’s daily lives are much different from what they were a year ago, people have also reacquainted themselves with the value of friendship and partnerships. You may have heard the phrase, “we’re all in this together” a hundred times by now, but the truth is, we are. Relationships have become stronger as we pull together through thick and thin.

Some people wouldn’t be getting through these dark days without their partner by their side. You love the woman in your life very much. You hate to think about what this year would have been like without her. She’s the first person you see in the morning; she’s there to hold your hand when you need — she’s the love of your life. And what’s more exciting is that she’s pregnant!

With the holidays coming up next month, you want to surprise her with the perfect gifts — a token of appreciation to tell her how much you love her. For unique ideas on showing her how much she means to you, check out these perfect holiday gifts for the woman (and baby) in your life.

A Boudoir Photography Session

How many times have you looked at your partner and wanted to capture her beauty, forever, in a photograph? Of course, you can whip out your mobile phone to take a snap, but have you ever considered consulting a professional boudoir photographer?

A boudoir photographer in Niagara will elegantly capture your partner’s inner and outer beauty during this exciting time of your lives in customized images that will last a lifetime. When some people hear the term “boudoir,” they immediately think of tantalizing, sassy photographs of women in lingerie. While this aesthetic is one type of element to boudoir photography, there’s more to it than that. It’s all about empowerment and feeling beautiful while pregnant in a comfortable setting. The images are supposed to enhance your partner’s confidence and become a memory for both of you to look back on for years to come. Mention the idea to your loved one to see how she feels about it. We bet that she’ll jump at the opportunity to experience a day to feel gorgeous, sexy, and loved.

A Matching Sweatsuit

Many people spend most of their time inside these days because of the cold weather and the COVID-19 virus. Why not get comfortable while spending so much time in the house? Your lady would love a matching sweatsuit, especially as she’s carrying that baby — the perfect outfit to work from the couch or to snuggle up in for movie night. Look for soft, warm materials such as cotton, fleece, or terry cloth to keep her warm all winter long, and find the right one in her favourite colour.

This year, you want the love of your life to forget about the world’s events for a day or two with a couple of heartfelt gifts. Remind her of her natural beauty with a sophisticated boudoir photoshoot. And when she comes home, surprise her with a cozy outfit to slip into and relax. Such thoughtful gifts will mean so much to her, and your actions will show precisely how strong your relationship truly is.

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'We took our eye off the ball': How Canada lost its vaccine production capacity – CTV News

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TORONTO —
In the race to develop and produce a COVID-19 vaccine, Canada is on the sidelines despite its once notable status as a global source for life-saving injections.

Canada lost that standing long ago, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explained this week, which means even if the country had developed its own novel coronavirus vaccine, there would be no means to produce it on the scale required.

“We used to have [production capacity] decades ago but we no longer have it,” Trudeau said Tuesday in Ottawa.

How did it get to this point? Canadian administrations simply took their “eye off the ball,” said Earl Brown, an infectious disease expert and a former member of the H1N1 vaccine task group in Canada. After that pandemic, a review found that vaccine production capacity was “right at the top” of the list of problems, he said. It wasn’t always that way.

“We had great vaccine producers in Canada — world leaders essentially — 50 years ago,” he told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday. There was Connaught Laboratories in Toronto, which was known for producing insulin to treat diabetes and inoculants for diphtheria and polio, and Institut Armand Frappier in Montreal that produced vaccines, including one for tuberculosis, he noted.

“The problem was they had a poor business model,” said Brown. “These were vaccine companies spun off from universities, so there was indirect funding and they had a model of not making so much profit.”

So they were eventually sold, Montreal’s Frappier lab to British multinational GlaxoSmithKline and Connaught, through a series of mergers, to French multinational Sanofi Pasteur​ after Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative government’s program of privatization​. The labs now have a “tighter production line and not so much capacity,” said Brown.

The inability to mount a domestic production campaign means that the Canadian government must rely on purchase agreements with top U.S. and European pharmaceutical brands, including Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, to produce and provide the shots to Canadians once the vaccines are approved by Health Canada. In the absence of a domestic candidate, Ottawa has ordered as many as 414 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates from seven different companies.

‘A MAJOR GLITCH’

There are some promising vaccine candidates in development across Canada, including Quebec’s Medicago and Saskatchewan’s VIDO-InterVac, but the companies lack the means to produce them here. What would that mean for rollout should those candidates be successful? 

“That’s a major glitch,” said Brown. “You’re going to have to get a partner, somebody who’s got the ability to do that and then you have to get them onside, tuned up, send them your vaccine, get it produced and bottled. Not the best way to do it.”

For those Canadian companies to mount production campaigns on their own will take time — and a lot of it, they have said. VIDO-InterVac said it has plans to build a facility in one year, but that it would take another still to get it in operating shape. “That’s not the time frame you like,” said Brown.

In the meantime, Canadians will have to rely on speedier countries with approved COVID-19 vaccines to provide doses, but Canadians won’t be prioritized ahead of their own people. “Countries like the United States, Germany and the U.K. do have domestic pharmaceutical facilities, which is why they’re obviously going to prioritize helping their citizens first,” Trudeau said on Tuesday in Ottawa.

To help Canadians first, the federal government should set up a Crown corporation to produce vaccines, suggests Joel Lexchin, a professor emeritus with York University’s School of Health Policy and Management. 

“It’s one thing if we give up the ability to domestically make something like laundry detergent. We can all live without laundry detergent. But when it comes to medications and vaccines, those are critical for the health of Canadians and we should be able to make them ourselves,” he told CTV National News. “Not only will the ability to domestically produce them ensure that Canadians get the care that they need, but we can also fulfill our human rights obligations by exporting them at low cost to low- and middle-income countries.”

‘GROSS INCOMPETENCE’

The reliance on other countries and private companies is upsetting critics of Trudeau, who said Tuesday that his administration has begun funding domestic vaccine production capacity because “we never want to be caught short again.” 

“This is gross incompetence that’s going to cost Canadians their lives and their jobs,” said Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner on Tuesday from Parliament Hill.

But criticism toward one government’s inaction may often easily be directed at another with hindsight, countered Brown on Your Morning.

“When you have the problem, you look back and say ‘We should have done something, shouldn’t we?’” he said.

With files from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello and CTV National News correspondents Glen McGregor and Avis Favaro 

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