The potential for a worldwide pandemic has kept scientists in Canada at the ready and placed them at the forefront of the global response to the outbreak of the new coronavirus, several prominent researchers say.
The outbreak of viruses with the potential to become pandemics is going to be “our new reality,” said Murthy, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s department of pediatrics and an infectious disease specialist at the B.C. Children’s Hospital.
“We just have to start getting used to this in some way (and) also be able to respond aggressively and effectively.”
Murthy is serving as co-chair of the WHO’s clinical research committee for the new virus, which is looking to establish better descriptions of COVID-19 including what causes it, who gets sick and why some individuals might become sicker.
The committee is also exploring how to help people recover from the novel coronavirus and establish how to determine whether a patient has recovered.
“I think if you were a betting person, you would say there is high risk of this continuing to spread in various parts of the world,” said Murthy, adding that it’s speculative to say how exactly it might progress.
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The good news, he said, is that global collaboration has been expedited like never before, and experts have learned a lot since severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, first broke out in 2002.
Canada was pivotal in describing SARS, largely because Ontario was hit hard by the virus, said Murthy, but at the time, research that would have helped the response to the outbreak was minimal. After SARS, researchers recognized that coronaviruses could be a problem in the future, said Murthy.
“We’ve learned quite a bit over the past 17 years.”
The Canadian Institute for Health Research — a funding body for health research in the country — has been “imperative” in helping to co-ordinate the global response to the new coronavirus as it relates to research priorities, such as the development of a preventative vaccine and therapeutic treatments, he said.
Charu Kaushic, the scientific director for the institute’s infection and immunity division, said the CIHR was able to put together a “rapid response” to COVID-19, making $6.75 million available for research into the new virus, a number she said will rise significantly when the total amount is announced in the coming days.
Kaushic agreed with Murthy that SARS was a catalyst for change in Canada.
“Since then, we’ve learned so many lessons,” said Kaushic, who also teaches in the department of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton. “We are much better prepared, both from a public health perspective, but also from a research perspective.”
Dr. Josef Penninger, who worked at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital during the SARS outbreak, said he is “totally amazed” at the speed with which scientists and some biotech companies have responded to COVID-19.
Penninger, the director of UBC’s Life Sciences Institute and Canada 150 chair in functional genetics, helped find the pathway through which SARS entered human cells and began to replicate _ the protein ACE2 _ which led to the development of a drug that could now help treat COVID-19.
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“It turns out the new coronavirus uses exactly the same mechanism,” to enter cells, he said, adding that the drug, APN01, has already been tested on humans.
“We have ample data in humans already showing this protein we made is a therapy. It does exactly as we assumed it should do.”
But APN01 must still be tested in carefully controlled clinical trials before it is approved, he said.
Penninger is part of an international team working with Austrian biotech company Apeiron Biologics, which he co-founded, to conduct a pilot clinical trial in China involving 24 patients with severe cases of COVID-19.
The drug has arrived in China, he said, and the trial could start any day now. Half of the patients will receive the drug and half will receive a placebo with the results analyzed by an international panel of exerts, said Penninger, who hopes the drug will move quickly into a larger and definitive trial.
“It was all started in Canada,” Penninger said.
But multiple preventative and therapeutic treatments will be needed for the virus, which could be here to stay, he said.
“Hopefully it won’t, but there’s epidemiologists predicting this virus will stay with us and move around the globe like the flu in the future,” he added.
Matthias Gotte, chair of the medical microbiology and immunology department at the University of Alberta, has been working with his team to find out how another drug initially developed to treat Ebola might also work against coronaviruses.
American biotechnology company Gilead Sciences developed the drug remdesivir as a response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, where it was tested in a clinical trial, said Gotte.
Results showed that several other treatments were more effective against Ebola, but testing on monkeys infected with MERS _ the Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus _ suggested the drug could be effective against coronaviruses, explained Gotte.
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The first patient diagnosed with COVID-19 in the United States received remdesivir for compassionate use, which allows the use of an unapproved drug to treat a seriously ill patient when no other treatments are available. The patient had been admitted to the intensive care unit and received the drug on the seventh day of illness, and the next day the patient showed a marked improvement and symptoms eventually disappeared altogether, Gotte said.
Last week, Gilead Sciences announced two clinical studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of remdesivir in about 1,000 adults diagnosed with COVID-19. The company said the randomized studies will begin this month in countries across Asia and in other countries where COVID-19 has been diagnosed in higher numbers.
Gotte said no matter the results of the studies, his team will examine how the drug interacts with the new virus.
“Once we know how it works, we can make the drugs better.”
© 2020 The Canadian Press
UK’s Kendal Nutricare to deliver 2 million cans of baby formula to the US by June
London, United Kingdom (UK)- Will McMahon, the commercial director of Kendal Nutricare, has said the company will deliver 2 million cans of baby formula to the United States (US) by June this year.
Baby formula shortages began to take hold in the US last year amid supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the situation deteriorated in February when Abbott Laboratories, one of the country’s main manufacturers, with a 40 percent market share, recalled some of its products and shut down a manufacturing plant after four babies who had been fed formula made at the facility contracted a rare bacterial infection (Cronobacter sakazakii) with two of them later dying.
“The bigger opportunity here is as a company we have been in touch with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and working with them for over five years with the aim of bringing a product into the US. There is enormous curiosity and demand for Kendamil in the States, so we are hopeful that we will have everything in place with the FDA to be able to continue to supply legitimately well beyond November,” said McMahon.
More so, the US normally produces 98 percent of the infant formula it consumes, with imports mainly coming from Mexico, Ireland and the Netherlands but last week, the White House eased import requirements and announced an effort to transport baby formula from abroad dubbed Operation Fly Formula.
Nevertheless, the FDA said it is doing everything in its power to make sure there is enough baby formula for parents and caregivers who need it adding that it is in discussions with other manufacturers and suppliers about bringing other baby formulas to the US.
“Our recent steps will help further bolster the supply of infant formula, including through the import of safe and nutritious products from overseas based on our increased flexibilities announced last week.
Importantly, we anticipate additional infant formula products may be safely and quickly imported into the US in the near-term based on ongoing discussions with manufacturers and suppliers worldwide,” said FDA Commissioner, Dr. Robert Califf.
Trudeau cancels appearance at Surrey fundraiser over protest-related safety concerns – CBC.ca
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled plans to attend a Liberal party fundraising dinner in Surrey on Tuesday evening as a result of safety concerns over a large gathering of protesters outside the event.
Protesters allegedly harassed and hurled racial slurs at attendees and volunteers, many of whom were South Asian, according to Surrey Centre MP Randeep Sarai.
The fundraiser was being held at Aria banquet hall.
Sarai says that a group of protesters were stationed outside the front gates of the event, eventually growing to around 100 people.
“They just started swearing, yelling, screaming at anyone that was going through,” said Sarai.
“We had a lot of South Asian volunteers… that were harassed, sworn at, called towel head, rag head, you’re all immigrants.”
He says it’s unclear what the group was actually protesting.
Surrey RCMP confirmed in a statement that there were several vehicles and larger trucks towing trailers that were travelling “in a convoy style loop around the roadway.”
“Due to the size and composition of the protest group and for the safety of everyone in attendance, a decision was made that it was not safe for the prime minister to attend the location,” said Cpl. Vanessa Munn.
Trudeau did not enter the building and spoke to a crowd for about three minutes by Zoom instead of making a speech in person. Trudeau said he would return to see his supporters in Surrey in the future.
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Wednesday, at an event in Saskatoon, Trudeau addressed what happened at the fundraiser in Surrey, adding that nobody should be intimidated for supporting a political party.
“The safety of Canadians choosing to make their voices heard in politics should never be in question as it was last night,” he said.
“The fundamental freedoms we have as a country, and we enjoy as Canadians, need to be defended, need to be protected.”
Protesters swore at Prime Minister
Protesters used expletives as they chanted against Trudeau and honked horns outside the convention centre. About half a dozen RCMP officers stood by watching the crowd.
Sarai says the protesters turned the event into a hostile environment.
“This is not reflective of Surrey at all,” he said.
“Surrey is a very diverse city, a very friendly city, a very welcoming city.”
And while he respects the public’s right to protest, he says “you should never spew hate and use the vulgarity that was being used there.”
Protests against party leaders
Earlier this month, police began investigating after a video circulated on social media showed people hurling verbal abuse at NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh during a protest in Peterborough, Ont.
The federal NDP leader had dropped by the campaign office of an Ontario NDP candidate running in the provincial election.
A video shows Singh encountering protesters as he left the campaign office, and they can be heard shouting expletives at him and calling him a “traitor”‘ as he gets inside a vehicle.
Singh later told reporters he found the experience “intense, threatening [and] insulting”‘ but that he is more worried about what it means for politics in general.
The latest on the French-language Conservative leadership debate in Laval
LAVAL, Que. — Conservative leadership hopefuls are squaring off — in French — in the second official debate of the race, which is being held in Laval, Que.
Here are the latest developments. All times eastern:
Conservative leadership candidates Patrick Brown and Leslyn Lewis took turns attacking rival Pierre Poilievre for his embrace of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as a solution to inflation.
Lewis, who is often reading from her notes during the French-language debate in Laval, Que., said Poilievre’s position was wrong.
At one point, Brown said Poilievre’s position on Bitcoin was similar to that of the leadership in El Salvador, which adopted Bitcoin as legal tender.
The International Monetary Fund urged the Central American country to drop Bitcoin as its official currency earlier this year, citing its volatility.
Former Quebec premier Jean Charest says Canada must renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States.
He says that is how he would deal with “illegal immigration,” such as migrants entering the country through the unofficial border crossing at Roxham Road south of Montreal.
Candidates were asked about immigration as the first question in the debate.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown used the question to say he was trying to build an inclusive party and attacked Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre for not publicly condemning the “white replacement” conspiracy theory espoused by Pat King, a leader of the Ottawa convoy protest.
Poilievre responded by saying he has in fact condemned King’s remarks and that people couldn’t believe anything Brown says.
While answering a question about public safety, Poilievre said the country needs to better deal with guns illegally brought into Canada.
Charest said Poilievre has no businesses talking about law and order when he supported the Ottawa convoy, which he called an illegal blockade.
The room then erupted into a mix of cheers and boos.
Candidates took to the stage and began by outlining one by one what legacy they wanted to leave behind as leaders.
Pierre Poilievre says he wants his legacy to be making Canada the freest country in the world, including by making sure people don’t feel forced to get vaccinated and that young people are able to afford a home.
Patrick Brown says he can win in urban areas, which the party needs, and has what it takes to build a party that can succeed in a general election.
Roman Baber, an Independent member of the Ontario legislature, introduced himself to the crowd.
He says he knows Canada is bilingual and has taken lessons, but still asked those watching to forgive his French.
The Conservative party’s leadership organizing committee announced before the debate began that it will announce the results of the leadership race at a downtown Ottawa convention centre on Sept. 10.
The party’s president, Robert Batherson, says it will be the first time since 2018 that members will gather together at a national event.
The party held a convention in Halifax in 2018.
House music issued from amplifiers as Conservatives of all ages began to take their seats ahead of tonight’s leadership debate.
Several hundred attendees, who were not wearing masks, crowded the ballroom of the Chateau Royal venue north of Montreal, seated between television cameras and the stage.
The six contenders are slated to appear at their podiums at 8 p.m.
Conservative leadership candidates filed in for the race’s only French-language debate, being held at a reception hall north of Montreal.
The suburban venue in Laval, Que., saw scores of federal Tories and onlookers mingling in the foyer before the six contenders take the stage.
Former Quebec premier Jean Charest greeted a handful of supporters with kisses, while Ontario MP Scott Aitchison chatted with party members amid sign-up booths for each candidate.
Bookending the stage beneath ballroom chandeliers were a bank of speakers and 14 flags — six with the Fleur-de-lis, eight with the Maple Leaf.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022
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