COVID-19 vaccine makers told the United States Congress on Tuesday to expect a big jump in the delivery of doses over the coming month, and the companies insist they will be able to provide enough for most Americans to get inoculated by summer.
By the end of March, Pfizer and Moderna expect to have provided the U.S. government with a total of 220 million vaccine doses, up sharply from the roughly 75 million shipped so far.
“We do believe we’re on track,” Moderna president Stephen Hoge said, outlining ways the company has ramped up production. “We think we’re at a very good spot.”
That’s not counting a third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, that’s expected to get a green light from regulators soon. The Biden administration said Tuesday that it expects about two million doses of that vaccine to be shipped in the first week, but the company told lawmakers it should provide enough of the single-dose option for 20 million people by the end of March.
Looking ahead to summer, Pfizer and Moderna expect to complete delivery of 300 million doses each, and J&J aims to provide an additional 100 million doses. That would be more than enough to vaccinate every American adult, the goal set by the Biden administration.
Two other manufacturers, Novavax and AstraZeneca, have vaccines in the pipeline and anticipate eventually adding to those totals.
Asked pointedly if they face shortages of raw materials, equipment or funding that would throw off those schedules, all of the manufacturers expressed confidence that they had enough supplies and had already addressed some of the early bottlenecks in production.
“At this point I can confirm we are not seeing any shortages of raw materials,” said Pfizer’s John Young.
U.S. vaccination campaign ramping up
The hearing by a House subcommittee came as U.S. vaccinations continue to accelerate after a sluggish start and recent disruptions caused by winter weather. More than 44 million Americans have received at least one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and about 1.4 million per day got a first or second dose over the past seven days, according to the CDC.
But state health officials say demand for inoculations still vastly outstrips the limited weekly shipments provided by the federal government.
“The most pressing challenge now is the lack of supply of vaccine doses,” Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, said as she opened the hearing. “Some of the companies here today are still short of the number of doses they promised to initially deliver when they last testified before this subcommittee in July.”
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Both Pfizer and Moderna failed to meet delivery quotas for the initial doses of their vaccines late last year. That’s prompted Congress to scrutinize the companies’ plans for vaccine development and delivery, which they noted benefited from $16 billion in federal funding.
“A significant amount of American tax dollars were invested to be able to produce the vaccine immediately upon approval,” said Rep. David McKinley, a West Virginia Republican, who questioned executives on why they were still unable to meet demand for the vaccines.
Nearly 14 per cent of Americans have received at least an initial dose of the two-shot regimen vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
The Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed focused most of its efforts on racing vaccines through research, development and manufacturing. But little planning or funding went to co-ordinating vaccination campaigns at the state and local levels. That effort is now picking up speed with plans for mass vaccination sites and an increasing supply distributed to chain pharmacies.
Rep. Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, questioned J&J vice-president Richard Nettles on why the company has fallen behind on the schedule outlined in its federal contract, which included delivering 12 million doses by late February.
Nettles said only that the company has faced “significant challenges” due to its “highly complex” manufacturing process. But he noted the company is partnering with drugmaker Sanofi to further expand production.
“This has been an unprecedented effort to scale up manufacturing for a vaccine against a disease that didn’t even exist more than a year ago,” Nettles told lawmakers.
What’s happening across Canada
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As of 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had reported 852,276 cases of COVID-19, with 30,679 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,762.
In Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The province, which reported 372 active cases, had five COVID-19 patients in hospital.
In Quebec, health officials reported 739 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 13 additional deaths linked to the pandemic. Hospitalizations stood at 680, with 120 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.
Ontario reported 975 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 12 more deaths from the virus. Hospitalizations stood at 718, with 283 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 76 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and no additional deaths. In neighbouring Saskatchewan, health officials reported 126 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths. Alberta, meanwhile, reported 267 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths.
In British Columbia, health officials reported 559 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death on Tuesday. The province is expected to start informing people over age 80 about their vaccinations for COVID-19 starting next week as the province prepares to open mass clinics while doing more in-depth testing for variants.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. is in a phase of “vaccine hope and pandemic reality,” but an age-based immunization plan will remain in place despite some calls to prioritize essential workers.
Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut or Yukon. Health officials in the Northwest Territories reported two more cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, saying one was an “out-of-territory worker related to the Gahcho Kué Mine outbreak” and the other was an “out-of-territory seasonal worker in Yellowknife.”
Here’s a look at what’s happening across Canada:
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 6:30 a.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
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As of early Wednesday morning, more than 112.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 63.3 million cases listed as recovered on a tracking site maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at well over 2.4 million.
In the Americas, the presidents of Mexico and Argentina pressed the United Nations and the world’s richest countries to improve poorer nations’ access to vaccines.
Brazil has fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech SE vaccine, though a dispute over a supply deal means it has none to start an immunization program with.
Colombia has approved the emergency use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
In Africa, South Africa’s government advisers had organized vaccines into three groups and those considered for “immediate use” were the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna shots.
Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive vaccines acquired through the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative with a delivery of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India. The vaccines, delivered by UNICEF, arrived at Accra’s international airport early Wednesday and are part of the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines being sent by COVAX, an international co-operative program formed to make sure low- and middle-income countries have fair access to COVID-19 vaccines.
In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea’s top infectious disease experts warned that vaccines will not bring the disease to a quick end and called for continued vigilance in physical distancing and mask wearing as the country prepares to give its first shots on Friday.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, said Wednesday it would take a “considerably long time” before the mass vaccination campaign brings the virus under control.
The country aims to vaccinate more than 70 per cent of the population by November. But a safe return to a life without masks is highly unlikely this year, considering various factors including the growing spread of virus variants, said Choi Won Suk, an infectious disease professor at the Korea University Ansan Hospital.
“We are concerned that people might drop their guard as vaccination begins, triggering another massive wave of the virus,” Jeong said.
Jeong spoke as South Korea began transporting the first vaccines rolled off a production line in the southern city of Andong, where local pharmaceutical company SK Bioscience is manufacturing the shots developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.
The country will kick off the vaccination on Friday starting with residents and employees at long-term care facilities.
Separately, some 55,000 doctors, nurses and other health professionals treating COVID-19 patients will begin receiving the shots developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Saturday.
Thailand, meanwhile, received its first batch of vaccines, with inoculations set to begin in a few days.
— India will start inoculating people above 60, and those with underlying health problems above age 45 in the second phase of its massive vaccination drive from March 1.
India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar says the vaccinations will be done in 10,000 public and 20,000 private hospitals. Javadekar told reporters on Wednesday that vaccine shots in government hospitals will be free, but did not say how much it will cost in private hospitals.
India started inoculating health workers beginning on Jan. 16. The country is home to the world’s largest vaccine makers. The government has authorized emergency use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and a homegrown vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech.
Cases of COVID-19 are increasing in some parts of India after months of a steady nationwide decline. In many cities, markets are bustling, roads are crowded and restaurants are nearly full. The country is reporting about 11,000 to 13,000 new cases a day, compared to a peak of nearly 100,000. in September.
In the Middle East, the World Bank threatened to suspend its multimillion-dollar financing for Lebanon’s vaccinations over politicians jumping the line.
In Europe, the Czech prime minister said the pandemic situation in his country, one of the hardest-hit in the European Union, is “extremely serious” and his government will have to impose more restrictions to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the measures are needed to prevent “a total catastrophe” in hospitals that have been coming close to their limits.
The government will decide those measures later Wednesday. Babis says they will be similar to those in place last spring, when the borders and schools were completely closed. He also mentioned possible restrictions to limit the movement of people.
Sweden is preparing new measures to try to curb a resurgence in cases.
European Union government leaders will agree to maintain curbs on non-essential travel within the EU despite the bloc’s executive asking six countries to ease border restrictions.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 9 a.m. ET
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Thursday, July 22 – CBC.ca
- Ottawa reported nine more COVID-19 cases on Thursday.
- Ontario reported 185 new cases of COVID-19, the most on a single day in two weeks.
- Does your doctor or dentist have to tell you if they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19? Technically, no.
- Escapade festival holds pop-up clinic to vaccinate concertgoers before show.
- Volunteers share how it feels to administer 200,000 doses.
- State of emergency has ended in Ottawa.
What’s the latest?
Ottawa Public Health reported nine more cases of COVID-19 Thursday, and no new deaths, but key indicators are on the rise.
Thursday’s provincial case count is up somewhat from one week ago when the province logged 143 further infections.
Some health-care workers may choose not to tell their patients their vaccine status because they value their privacy or have a medical condition that’s preventing them from getting vaccinated, and they don’t want to face stigma, a bioethicist told CBC.
Escapade Music Festival is holding a pop-up vaccine clinic this weekend with Ottawa Public Health, to make sure its concertgoers will be fully protected before attending its September event.
A team of volunteers shared their experiences administering 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Horticulture building at Lansdowne as the clinic closed this week.
After nearly sixteen months, the municipal state of emergency in the City of Ottawa has lifted as of 12:01 a.m. today.
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How many cases are there?
As of Thursday, 27,761 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 34 known active cases, 27,134 cases considered resolved, and 593 cases where people have died.
Public health officials have reported more than 50,300 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 49,200 resolved cases.
Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 197 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 215.
Akwesasne has had nearly 700 residents test positive and 10 deaths between its northern and southern sections.
What are the rules?
Ontario is in Step 3 of its reopening plan.
The latest step allows for indoor dining, with capacity limits based on everyone being able to keep an acceptable distance.
Gyms, movie theatres and museums are able to reach a capacity of 50 per cent inside.
Larger general gathering limits have risen to 25 people inside and 100 people outside. Those limits are even higher for organized events, leading to the resumption of summer festivals and professional sports.
A detailed plan for the next school year is in the works, according to the education minister.
Ten people are allowed to gather inside private residences and 20 people outdoors — which increases to 50 if playing sports. Organized games are permitted outdoors again and gyms are open.
People can eat both indoors and outdoors at restaurants and bars.
Personal care services and non-essential businesses can open. As many as 3,500 people can gather in a large theatre or arena and at outdoor festivals.
What can I do?
This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future like staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don’t live with, even with a mask on.
Vaccines curb the spread of all types of the coronavirus.
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There’s federal guidance for what vaccinated people can do in different situations.
The federal government has announced fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents living there would be able to visit Canada without having to quarantine starting Aug. 9, while tourists from all other countries would be allowed as of Sept. 7.
Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands.
Canada’s task force says people can wait up to 16 weeks between doses. There are factors pushing provinces to drastically speed up that timeline, including supply and the more infectious delta variant.
That same task force says it’s safe and effective to mix first and second doses.
There is evidence giving a second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine offers better protection for people who got a first AstraZeneca-Oxford shot. Both Ontario and Quebec are giving people who got a first AstraZeneca dose the option to get a second of the same kind.
More than 2.8 million doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including more than 1.36 million in Ottawa and more than 450,000 in western Quebec.
Ontario is vaccinating anyone age 12 or older.
People can look for provincial appointments opening up online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900. Pharmacies continue to offer vaccines through their own booking systems, as do some family doctors.
Local health units have flexibility in the larger framework, including around booking, so check their websites for details. They offer standby lists for doses on short notice and recently, more walk-in options.
Check out this weeks <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19Vaccine?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19Vaccine</a> walk-in clinic schedule. These walk-in clinics are available to RCD residents 12 years of age and older! <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/IGotTheShot?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#IGotTheShot</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/VaccinesWork?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#VaccinesWork</a><br><br>You can find this schedule by visiting our <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19Vaccine?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19Vaccine</a> Rollout Webpage here: <a href=”https://t.co/OhXjNC74WM”>https://t.co/OhXjNC74WM</a> <a href=”https://t.co/9G4mUIHqbT”>pic.twitter.com/9G4mUIHqbT</a>
Vaccine bookings depend on the supply being sent to health units, which generally aren’t reporting the supply problems of previous months.
People may have to show proof of being fully vaccinated to access certain services if there is an autumn surge of cases.
Symptoms and testing
COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Recently, a runny nose and headache have become more common.
Children tend to have an upset stomach and/or a rash.
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
In eastern Ontario:
Anyone seeking a test should make an appointment. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.
Ontario recommends only getting tested if you fit certain criteria, such as having symptoms, exposure or a certain job.
Staff, caregivers and visitors who have been fully-immunized and show no symptoms of the coronavirus no longer need to be tested before entering a long-term care facility.
Travellers who need a test have a few more local options to pay for one.
In western Quebec:
Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.
Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis:
First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or someone travelling to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for a test in Ontario.
Akwesasne has COVID-19 vaccine clinics, with information online or at 613-575-2341. Anyone in Tyendinaga who’s interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and should watch the website for dedicated vaccine clinics.
Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.
The last day for Ottawa’s Indigenous vaccination clinic is July 29.
For more information
Wildfires are causing the price of lumber to spike again – CBC.ca
The price of lumber rose at its fastest pace in more than a year on Thursday, after timber companies warned that wildfires in Western Canada are hurting their business.
The price of a lumber futures contract jumped by more than 10 per cent, triggering circuit breakers designed to halt trading. Late in the day on Thursday, a contract for 1,000 board-feet of lumber was going for $647 US, up by more than $60 from the previous day’s close.
Prices are spiking because lumber companies in B.C. and elsewhere are scaling back operations because of wildfires.
Vancouver-based Canfor said it will produce about 115 million fewer board-feet of product this quarter because wildfires have damaged the rail network on which it depends. CN lost the use of at least one rail bridge on its line into Vancouver, and CP is facing similar bottlenecks.
“Canadian rails will … face pressure from wildfires in British Columbia as volumes may take several more weeks to fully recover,” Bloomberg Intelligence railway analyst Adam Roszkowski said in a note to clients on Thursday.
That means it’s harder to move just about anything to market, so Canfor is going to take its foot off the gas.
Canfor’s anticipated production drop of 115 million board-feet of wood is less than 1 per cent of what the industry normally cranks out every quarter. But Bank of Montreal analyst Mark Wilde said he expects more companies will also have to reduce production in the next little while.
“We expect more announcements of reduced shifts/hours over the next two to three weeks,” he said in a note to clients Thursday.
Like many industries, the lumber business slowed down at the start of the pandemic as workers were sent home and facilities idled. But demand for lumber unexpectedly exploded, mainly due to booming demand for home renovations.
At one point in May, the price of lumber hit an all-time high of more than $1,600 US per 1,000 board-feet or about five times what it was at the start of the pandemic. Builders reported that higher lumber prices were adding as much as $30,000 to the cost of constructing a standard home and lumber yards across the country were selling out.
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But things changed in a hurry. Those astronomical prices caused demand to crater once again, leading to inventory piling up at lumber yards as people shelved their do-it-yourself construction plans. Big box retailers in the U.S. such as Home Depot have reported that demand for lumber is down by almost half since May.
“After a year of chasing inventory, the market is now struggling with bulging inventories at many mills in the U.S. and Canada,” Wilde said.
The see-saw went so far in the other direction that Wilde said a number of B.C. sawmills were likely recently selling lumber for less than the cost of production.
“At those levels, some B.C. mills may need a snorkel,” he said of when the price dipped as low as $435 US. “It would be crazy to simply return all that cash to the market by overproducing during a weak market.”
TD analyst Sean Steuart also thinks that more shutdowns in Western Canada’s lumber industry are coming.
“We believe that production curtailments in this region are inevitable, but they have been slow to arrive so far,” he said in a note to clients.
Global outage affecting websites of airlines, banks, tech firms now fixed – Globalnews.ca
Several airlines, banks and technology websites were coming back online on Thursday afternoon after a brief outage, the third such widespread incident noted in just a span of two months, raising alarms across social media.
Websites of Delta Air Lines, Costco Wholesale Corp , American Express and Home Depot were down, displaying domain name system (DNS) service errors.
Some Canadian companies also said that their websites and services were fully operational again after they experienced technical difficulties or outages this afternoon.
Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal and PC Financial all told customers on Twitter that their websites are back up after earlier informing people that they were aware of technical issues and working to resolve them.
Monitoring website Down Detector showed a sharp increase in reported technical difficulties on the three companies’ websites after 12 p.m. Eastern time, along with Bank of Nova Scotia and Air Canada.
Cloud services provider Akamai Technologies had given an alert on its “Edge DNS” service incident, noting a “partial outage” on its website.
“We have implemented a fix for this issue, and based on current observations, the service is resuming normal operations,” it said later in a tweet.
Oracle Corp said it was monitoring the global issue related to a cloud-based DNS solution provider impacting access to many internet resources, including its own cloud services.
Rogers, Fido service outage impacting many Canadian customers
DNS is a service that translates readable domain names to machine readable IP addresses, connecting it to a server and delivering the requested page on the user’s phone or laptop.
In June, multiple outages hit social media, government and news websites across the globe, with some reports pointing to a glitch at U.S.-based cloud computing service providers.
About 3,500 users reported issues with Airbnb’s website, while nearly 1,500 Home Depot users reported problems, according to outage tracking website Downdetector.
— With files from The Canadian Press
© 2021 Reuters
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