CANMORE, ALTA. —
The emergence of a new coronavirus variant has fuelled concerns of a fifth wave of COVID-19 in Canada, prompting renewed interest in both vaccine availability and therapeutic treatments for those who fall ill.
Several different types of therapies for COVID-19 have been approved for use in Canada, including a number of treatments that are being experimented with as part of clinical trials across the country.
Here are some of the treatments that are available in Canada.
In July 2020, Health Canada authorized the use of remdesivir, an antiviral medication originally used to help treat Ebola, to treat COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms such as pneumonia, or those who require extra oxygen to breathe.
It was the first drug authorized to treat COVID-19 in Canada.
According to Health Canada, remdesivir is recommended for use in Canadians aged 12 years and older who weigh at least 40 kilograms. The treatment is to be administered through an IV and be used only in health-care facilities where patients can be closely monitored.
“This is a medication that works to inhibit the virus itself; many of the other therapeutics we’ve seen used or attempted for use in the treatment of COVID-related disease have been around the immune system,” infectious disease expert Dr. Lisa Barrett of Dalhousie University in Halifax explained to CTV News Channel at the time.
“However, this one is designed to directly inhibit the virus itself, and has been used or tested for use in other viral infections previously.”
In November 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its ongoing guidance on COVID-19 medications to advise against the use of remdesivir, citing a lack of evidence to suggest that the drug affects the risk of dying from COVID -19 or needing mechanical ventilation. However, this did not affect Health Canada’s decision to authorize the use of the drug.
Some of the latest research into remdesivir, published in April 2021, suggest that it appears to be as safe and effective for use in children with COVID-19 as in adults, with a low incidence of serious adverse events.
Approved for use by Health Canada in November 2020, bamlanivimab was the first monoclonal antibody approved in Canada for use in treating COVID-19.
The drug mimics the immune system’s ability to fight off the virus and was developed by AbCellera Biologics Inc. in Vancouver with the support of the federal government.
It is recommended for treating adults and children aged 12 and older who weigh at least 40 kg. It’s used to treat those who are at high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19 complications or hospitalization, but not those with severe respiratory disease.
However, in April 2021, Health Canada issued a warning about the “potential risk of treatment failure” for the Canadian-made drug, saying it may not protect against infection from some variants.
According to Health Canada, bamlanivimab “exhibited reduced activity against SARS-CoV-2 variants” with the E484K and L452R mutations. This includes the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa, the P.1 variant first found in Brazil, the B.1.427/B.1.429 variant reported in California, and the B.1.526 variant first identified in New York.
While countries around the world have been using the drug, almost none of Canada’s 26,000 doses have been used. Doctors say this is because a plan on how to administer the drug was never made due to the fact that it must be administered intravenously within the first 10 days of infection.
CASIRIVIMAB AND IMDEVIMAB
In June 2021, Health Canada authorized the use of casirivimab and imdevimab to be administered together as a monoclonal antibody therapy. Similar to bamlanivimab, the drugs are used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and children aged 12 and older who are at high risk for hospitalization or COVID-related complications.
The WHO has backed the use of the antibodies in select high-risk patients and they are used widely in the U.S. to treat COVID-19. But the use in Canada has been spotty.
Quebec received a small delivery of the monoclonal antibody cocktail in October.
Doctors in Hamilton, Ont. are also piloting the province’s first monoclonal antibody therapy clinic for outpatients using casirivimab and imdevimab, referencing data that shows the therapy reduced hospitalization by 71 per cent and death by seven per cent in high-risk COVID-positive patients.
Another monoclonal antibody treatment, sotrovimab, was approved for use in Canada in July 2021. The injectable drug is used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and children aged 12 and older who are at high risk for hospitalization or COVID-related complications.
On Wednesday, health officials in Alberta revealed they have been administering sotrovimab to COVID-19 patients aged 65 and older who are unvaccinated.
“The treatment is being rolled out across the province in a phased approach, starting with those with the highest risk of severe outcomes, like hospitalization,” the province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said during a press conference.
“Let me stress that sotrovimab is not a replacement for COVID-19 vaccines… as vaccines are the most effective method to prevent serious outcomes from the disease.”
This comes amid news that lab tests and a study on hamsters suggest the sotrovimab antibody cocktail works against viruses that were bio-engineered to carry a number of hallmark mutations of the newly discovered Omicron variant.
Health Canada says it is still reviewing data regarding an experimental pill from drug maker Merck, which the company says can reduce hospitalizations and deaths by half in patients sick with COVID-19.
Molnupiravir, a twice-daily oral antiviral agent taken within five days after the onset of symptoms, has shown modest benefits and potential safety issues in trials. Most experts backing the treatment stress that it shouldn’t be used by anyone who is pregnant and suggest extra precautions before the drug is prescribed, such as pregnancy tests for women of child-bearing age.
The drug targets an enzyme the coronavirus uses to reproduce itself, inserting errors into its genetic code that slow its ability to spread and take over human cells – leading some independent experts to question whether the drug could potentially cause mutations leading to birth defects or tumours.
The drug has not been tested in those who are vaccinated.
On Nov. 30, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration backed the use of the drug in adults with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who face greater risk of complications, including older people and those with conditions like obesity and asthma. The U.K. has also authorized its use.
Health Canada has offered no timeline for completion of the review process.
Pfizer also recently submitted clinical data to Health Canada regarding an oral medication it is hoping can be used to treat mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 in adults.
Similar to molnupiravir, the pill is designed to block the activity of an enzyme in the COVID-19 virus that is essential to its replication. Part of the pill uses ritonavir, an existing drug that has been used in combination with other antiviral medications before.
The drug maker said that in a randomized, double-blind study of more than 380 patients, there was an 89 per cent reduction in the risk of being hospitalized or dying of COVID-19 in patients that received Pfizer’s pill within three days of displaying COVID-19 symptoms, compared to the study group that received a placebo.
It’s unclear how long it could be before Health Canada passes judgement on whether or not Pfizer’s pill meets their standards or not.
– With files from Alexandra Mae Jones, Brooklyn Neustaeter, The Canadian Press and The Associated Press
Canada pledges non-lethal support for Ukraine, extends training mission
Canada on Wednesday said it would send non-lethal equipment to Ukraine, and help the Eastern European country gather intelligence and counter cyber attacks as Russia builds up its military presence on its borders.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said his government would extend for three years and double the size of a mission to train the Ukrainian military called Operation Unifier.
Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops near its border with Ukraine but denies planning to attack its neighbor. The United States and Britain have started sending more arms to Ukraine.
“With rising tensions, and unwarranted Russian aggression, Canada will be there to provide ongoing support to Ukraine so that it can defend itself,” Trudeau told reporters.
Canada will also set up a task force and expand its diplomatic capacity – including in Kyiv – to coordinate support for Ukraine, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said.
“Diplomacy is the only viable path forward for Russia. Any further aggression will have serious consequences including coordinated sanctions, and Canada is prepared,” Joly said.
Defense Minister Anita Anand will visit Latvia and Ukraine “in the coming days” to visit Canadian forces in both countries, Trudeau said.
Some 200 Canadian military personnel are already in Ukraine as part of the training mission, which has been provided to “over 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers”, Anand said.
Trudeau said the training mission would be extended by three years, at a cost of C$340 million ($268.5 million), with 60 additional Canadian soldiers leaving within days. Ultimately as many as 400 Canadian trainers may be sent, the prime minister said.
Trudeau said the non-lethal equipment would include things like “body armor, optics and scopes”. Anand said it would include surveillance equipment.
Canada also said it would provide up to C$50 million in development and humanitarian aid, adding to a loan of up to C$120 million promised last week.
Canada, with a sizeable and politically influential population of Ukrainian descent, has taken a strong line with Russia since its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
($1 = 1.2661 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Ismail Shakil; editing by Richard Pullin)
The Best Casino Restaurants in Canada
In the past, gaming establishments that were not under the jurisdiction of the government or other related agencies have not found favour with the Canadian populace. Laws permitting single-game sports betting were passed only in August of 2021, with many people now anticipating that the day will not be far off when gambling in Canada will be allowed throughout the country.
As the world comes out of the explosive trend of playing casino games online and starts visiting land-based casinos again, one other thing has entered the public mindset. Something that the online casino experience can’t match: food. Land-based casinos come with restaurants, and in this article, Kevin N. Cochran lists out every casino in Canada that tantalizes the palettes of culinary experts worldwide. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
With its luxury hotel next to the gambling facility, Caesars Windsor is clearly one of Canada’s top destinations. They boast a large selection of slots, including several progressives with jackpots in the six-figure bracket, as well as a variety of table games. The hotel itself boasts 700 rooms, allowing it to accommodate a large number of people.
A steakhouse, like many other casinos in Canada, is the best place to eat. Neros is a high-end restaurant, yet the costs are more reasonable than you may expect. While some steakhouses charge upwards of $50 and $60 per entrée, most things are priced between $29 and $41. When you start looking at premium cuts like bison tenderloin and 20-ounce dry-aged tomahawk ribeye, you’ll start to see prices above $50.
Fallsview offers a veritable feast of dining alternatives, with over 20 different establishments to choose from. Ponte Vecchio, which got the 2019 Diners’ Choice, TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and the Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence, is our favourite. This restaurant, named after a historical bridge in Florence, Italy, is, as you might expect, an Italian eatery.
Consider starting with the wine list, which is wonderful. After that, the choices can take you in a variety of wonderful directions. Authentic plates of pasta are always a fantastic choice. The Osso Buco veal shank is always a classic, but the Agnello Arrosto is the one true champion. A maple-dijon-coated rack of lamb is served with truffle polenta, tomato ragu, lamb jus, and rapini to balance out the richness.
One of Canada’s newest gaming venues, Parq Vancouver, is a behemoth. There is roughly 72,000 square feet of gaming space in Vancouver, albeit not all of it is dedicated to the casino. There are over 600 slot machines, as well as a variety of table games such as Baccarat, Blackjack, and Jade Salons for private gaming.
There are a few good restaurants here, but we’ll start with The Victor, which serves a steak and seafood fusion. While that may sound like most steakhouses, this isn’t the case because this is a modern dining room with sushi, caviar, and ceviche on the seafood side and bone marrow, porterhouse, and wagyu on the meaty side.
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon is the place to go if you’re seeking one of Montreal’s greatest casino restaurants and want to have a unique experience. Robuchon, who regrettably passed away two years ago, was one of the world’s most celebrated chefs. A visit to L’Atelier, which means ‘workshop,’ is a wonderful experience.
The tasting menu is the way to go if you’ve hit it big at the tables or have some cash to spend. The complete trademark tasting menu is $200 per person, making it pricey. On a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, though, you may complete a four-course menu for $85.
Honey Salt is a wonderful option at the Parq Vancouver if you’re searching for something a little more informal yet still stylish. This restaurant takes a farm-to-table approach and has a strong local focus. Consider it a hip neighbourhood hangout that’s still enjoyable but a little more toned down than a steakhouse.
This is the place to go if you want a golden-seared scallop. These delicate jewels are covered with a truffle jus and served with roasted or pureed cauliflower. It’s flavourful, and it’s only one of the menu’s many fascinating selections.
Restaurants in casino towns are often the most top-tier establishments of their ilk in that area, so if you’re planning to splurge in a casino, you might as well take a detour to get some quality grub. At the end of the day, casinos are all about having a good time, and food is probably the best medium to achieve that. So, go crazy, and feast like kings! We’ve all deserved it after the last couple of years.
Researchers achieve milestone on path toward nuclear fusion energy
U.S. government scientists said on Wednesday they have taken an important step in the long trek toward making nuclear fusion – the very process that powers stars – a viable energy source for humankind.
Using the world’s largest laser, the researchers coaxed fusion fuel for the first time to heat itself beyond the heat they zapped into it, achieving a phenomenon called a burning plasma that marked a stride toward self-sustaining fusion energy.
The energy produced was modest – about the equivalent of nine nine-volt batteries of the kind that power smoke detectors and other small devices. But the experiments at a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory facility in California represented a milestone in the decades-long quest to harness fusion energy, even as the researchers cautioned that years of more work are needed.
The experiments produced the self-heating of matter in a plasma state through nuclear fusion, which is the combining of atomic nuclei to release energy. Plasma is one of the various states of matter, alongside solid, liquid and gas.
“If you want to make a camp fire, you want to get the fire to hot enough that the wood can keep itself burning,” said Alex Zylstra, an experimental physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – part of the U.S. Energy Department – and lead author of the research published in the journal Nature.
“This is a good analogy for a burning plasma, where the fusion is now starting to become self-sustaining,” Zylstra said.
The scientists directed 192 laser beams toward a small target containing a capsule less than a tenth of an inch (about 2 mm) in diameter filled with fusion fuel consisting of a plasma of deuterium and tritium – two isotopes, or forms, of hydrogen.
At very high temperatures, the nucleus of the deuterium and the nucleus of the tritium fuse, a neutron and a positively charged particle called an “alpha particle” – consisting of two protons and two neutrons – emerge, and energy is released.
“Fusion requires that we get the fuel incredibly hot in order for it to burn – like a regular fire, but for fusion we need about a hundred million degrees (Fahrenheit). For decades we’ve been able to cause fusion reactions to occur in experiments by putting a lot of heating into the fuel, but this isn’t good enough to produce net energy from fusion,” Zylstra said.
“Now, for the first time, fusion reactions occurring in the fuel provided most of the heating – so fusion is starting to dominate over the heating we did. This is a new regime called a burning plasma,” Zylstra said.
Unlike burning fossil fuels or the fission process of existing nuclear power plants, fusion offers the prospect of abundant energy without pollution, radioactive waste or greenhouse gases. Nuclear fission energy comes from splitting atoms. Fusion energy comes from fusing atoms together, just like inside stars, including our sun.
Private-sector ventures – dozens of companies and institutions- also are pursuing a fusion energy future, with some oil companies even investing.
“Fusion energy is the holy grail of clean limitless energy,” said Annie Kritcher of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, lead designer for the experiments conducted in 2020 and 2021 at the National Ignition Facility and first author of a companion paper published in the journal Nature Physics.
In these experiments, fusion produced about 10 times as much energy as went into heating the fuel, but less than 10% of the total amount of laser energy because the process remains inefficient, Zylstra said. The laser was used for only about 10 billionths of a second in each experiment, with fusion production lasting 100 trillionths of a second, Kritcher added.
Zylstra said he is encouraged by the progress.
“Making fusion a reality is an enormously complex technological challenge, and it will require serious investment and innovation to make it practical and economical,” Zylstra said. “I view fusion as a decadal-scale challenge for it to be a viable source of energy.”
(Reporting by Will Dunham, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)
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