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COVID-19 vaccination lessons from Canada's largest-ever mass immunization effort – CTV News

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TORONTO —
In the fall of 2009, Canada launched its largest-ever vaccination campaign to protect against an outbreak of influenza A, or H1N1, with varying degrees of success. There were delays in production, supply shortages, and difficulties administering the new vaccine.

According to Statistics Canada, by April 2010, the majority of Canadians (59 per cent or 16.5 million people) had not been vaccinated against the H1N1 virus, which was also known as the “swine flu.”

The government agency said that a total of 428 Canadians died from H1N1 and thousands more were infected. Worldwide, there were more than 18,000 deaths from the virus. 

There were a number of reasons why there were delays in the rollout of the vaccine in Canada – timing being a key one – as the H1N1 virus spread in the spring of 2009 and the vaccine wasn’t ready until months later, in the fall, when health-care providers were trying to administer seasonal flu shots.

Earl Brown, a virologist and a former member of Canada’s H1N1 Pandemic Vaccine Task Group, added that manufacturers were also preoccupied with creating a vaccine for avian influenza H5N1, or the “bird flu,” when they were forced to suddenly turn their attention to the new swine flu outbreak.

“It was a real rush because they wanted the vaccine for the winter, which they got, so that the pandemic started in the spring and then they had the vaccine for the fall,” he told CTVNews.ca during a telephone interview from Ottawa on Thursday.

While Canada’s ambitious vaccination program for H1N1 may have had some hiccups along the way, the experience may provide some valuable lessons for the administration of future vaccines, such as those already in the works to combat against COVID-19.

MANUFACTURING

During the H1N1 pandemic, the federal government was criticized for relying on only one domestic vaccine supplier, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), to manufacture the vaccine.

Brown said countries often prefer to produce their own vaccines domestically, in case there are border closures or what he called “vaccine nationalism.” However, the dependence on only one supplier comes with its own risks because any disruptions or interruptions in the production line can cripple the whole’s country’s supply.

In the case of GSK, Brown said there were difficulties bottling the vaccine at their Quebec plant, which caused delays.

An internal review of the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada’s response to the H1N1 pandemic addressed the government’s use of a sole vaccine supplier. The review stated that, at the time, there was only one manufacturer “interested in establishing sufficient domestic capacity to manufacture enough vaccine to inoculate the entire population in the event of an influenza pandemic.”

 Brown said that Canada’s manufacturing capacity for vaccines is actually quite limited.

“We really don’t have the vaccine companies to do the work here in Canada, we could do some of it, but then you’re restricting yourself too on that,” he said. “We require somewhat international companies.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown said the Canadian government has taken a proactive approach and has already secured contracts with at least four vaccine makers in the U.S. to distribute their product once it’s developed and approved by Health Canada.

“The resources being what they are, you really don’t want to restrict yourself just to the one Canadian resource, you have to reach out more, it’s just the facts of the matter,” he said.

DISTRIBUTION

The rollout of the H1N1 vaccine in the fall of 2009 was not without problems as some provinces and territories experienced long waits to receive the vaccine or were not able to inoculate people due to a lack of manpower in the health-care sector.

In the internal review of the government’s response, they noted there were delays in the beginning of the vaccine campaign due to several factors. 

They included Canada’s limited vaccine manufacturing capacity, which meant the seasonal flu vaccine had to be completed first, before work could begin on one for H1N1. The review also said production was briefly interrupted when GSK had to develop a separate vaccine for pregnant women in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) guidance.

Due to the production delays, provinces and territories faced some initial shortages and were asked to prioritize the administration of the vaccine to segments of the population most at risk, such as health-care workers, seniors, pregnant women, children, and those vulnerable to complications. That resulted in some confusion, according to the review.

In preparation for a vaccine for the coronavirus, Brown said the Canadian government has already been pre-ordering supplies, such as vials and syringes, and working on logistics to store and transport the vaccine once it is ready.

“You have to be ready to get, store, distribute that vaccine and so that is something the public health addresses and they will have to be ready to achieve that,” he said.

Brown said it’s a considerable undertaking with respect to Canada’s population of more than 35 million people.

“Not everyone will want a vaccine, not everyone will get it, but in broad numbers, 35 million vaccines would be needed or 20 million, and then if you need two doses, that’s double that,” he said. 

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Bank of Canada sees lingering weakness in business sentiment – BNN

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Business sentiment in Canada improved over the summer but remains near historical lows as uncertainty around the path of the virus curbs demand and sales prospects, according to the Bank of Canada.

The results from the autumn Business Outlook Survey show businesses report conditions have improved as warmer weather and lower Covid-19 case counts encouraged consumers to go out and buy goods and services. However, businesses are still worried about future demand and sales prospects with some economic restrictions still in place.

“Firms reported their sales prospects are limited by weak demand and precautionary health guidelines, and that their investment and hiring plans remain Modest due to elevated uncertainty,” the central bank said in the survey, which took place between Aug. 24 and Sept. 16.

The tone of the survey is consistent with the Bank of Canada’s view that a full recovery will be long and difficult. The economy rebounded more quickly than expected in the summer as containment measures were lifted but the second phase of the recovery — known as the “recuperation” phase — will be uneven and protracted.

The composite gauge of sentiment rose to -2.2 in the third quarter, from a decade-low of -6.9 last quarter. While that’s a substantial improvement, the reading is still the second-lowest since 2016.

Although the survey was completed recently, economic conditions have changed as Covid-19 cases rapidly rose, particularly in the country’s two largest provinces. Ontario and Quebec reimposed containment measures on some businesses and activity in recent weeks in response to the second wave which will keep a lid on demand and hamper economic activity through the fall and winter.

More Highlights:

  • Recovery remains uneven across industries: One third of firms reported sales were mostly unaffected or positively affected by COVID‑19; a second third of firms indicated sales have already fully recovered or will recover within the next 12 months; final third either expect their sales won’t return for at least 12 months or are unsure when sales will fully rebound
  • Businesses that say sales won’t recover within a year typically linked to tourism and related industries where physical distancing is difficult
  • Meanwhile, businesses linked to real estate, infrastructure and natural resources have largely recovered or see themselves recovering within a year
  • Capacity constraints appear to be back to historical averages, but the central bank says most firms facing constraints see them as temporary or not broad-based
  • Despite the rebound in the capacity gauge, BOC concludes: “Results for capacity and labor pressures suggest that the economy continues to have excess capacity and labor slack, although these have narrowed since the summer survey”
  • Investment intentions improved from previous quarter, but remain weak — below historical averages
  • Employment intentions have also rebounded, though they remain slightly below historical averages. It’s an uneven trend. “Almost one-third of businesses — generally those that are dependent on tourism or facing weak demand — expect their workforce levels to remain lower than before the pandemic for at least the next 12 months or to never fully return”
  • Wage growth is expected to slow, the survey found
  • Firms expect input prices to grow at a slightly faster pace over the next 12 months, driven by increases in commodity prices, difficulty sourcing inputs, or higher operating costs due to health guidelines
  • Businesses have slightly higher inflation expectations, with 11 per cent of firms expecting inflation above 3 per cent

–With assistance from Erik Hertzberg.

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Oil Prices Fall As OPEC Discusses Demand Developments – OilPrice.com

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Oil Prices Fall As OPEC+ Discusses Demand Developments | OilPrice.com

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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    Oil prices were slightly down early on Monday as an OPEC+ panel is meeting virtually to discuss the latest supply and demand developments, while underwhelming economic data from China and stricter measures to fight COVID-19 in Europe weighed on oil market sentiment.

    As of 08:32 a.m. EDT on Monday, WTI Crude was down 0.20 percent at $40.78 and Brent Crude traded down 0.26 percent on the day at $42.81.

    Prices held relatively steady in the morning as investors await the outcome of the monthly meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) at which several OPEC+ ministers are discussing the latest market developments amid speculation whether the group should proceed with easing the cuts as of January, considering that the second COVID-19 wave sweeping through Europe and threatening to derail economic and oil demand recovery. The JMMC panel is not expected to take any action, but comments during and after the meeting could swing oil prices in either direction.

    “Given the JMMC is made up of just a handful of OPEC+ members, we will likely have to wait for the full group meetings on the 30 November and 1 December for any concrete decision, though that does not mean that there won’t be plenty of noise around what OPEC+ might do,” ING strategists Warren Patterson and Wenyu Yao said on Monday.

    Economic data out of China was not constructive for oil prices today, as economic growth in the third quarter—while accelerating from Q2—missed analyst expectations.

    “With prices stuck in the low $40’s and global coronavirus cases spiking again, the group – despite Russian wishes to increase production – needs to tread carefully. The potential for a U.S. relief package remains alive, but the impact, given rising coronavirus cases, may be limited. Brent is currently stuck in a $41.50/b to $43.50/b range,” John Hardy, Head of FX Strategy at Saxo Bank, said on Monday.

    By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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      Ford government reveals proposed changes to blue box recycling program – CBC.ca

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      The Ontario government has released a new proposal to dramatically change how recycling is handled in the province — one that transfers responsibility for dealing with waste to producers.

      The concept, called extended producer responsibility (EPR), would replace the current blue box system with the goal of ensuring that producers take on the full financial and operational responsibility for the end-of-life management of what they sell to Ontarians.

      “The government’s intention is for producers to be responsible for designated products and packaging, including compostable materials,” the proposed plan states. 

      The government also wants to expand the list of materials accepted in the blue box to include items like paper and plastic cups, as well as other single-use plastic items.

      You can find the full set of proposed changes here.

      The City of Toronto, which has indicated its desire to join the program, has said in reports that EPR would mark a “fundamental change” in how it deals with waste and it will also affect what homeowners pay.

      It’s still unclear how much solid waste bills would change as a result.

      Jeff Yurek, Ontario’s environment minister, has previously said the change will save municipalities millions of dollars and encourage the industry to minimize and improve packaging. The government pegs the savings to all municipalities at $135 million per year.

      Environmental groups, however, have urged the government to get the change right and are already suggesting they have concerns. 

      “The thinking at this point is really focusing exclusively on residential waste — it’s potentially going to see some Ontarians not receiving recycling service, and we have some concerns about the way the recycling targets have been established,” Ashley Wallis, the plastics program manager at Environmental Defence, recently told CBC Toronto

      Monday’s announcement comes as Canada starts marking waste reduction week.


      CBC News has done a series of stories looking at the successes and failures of recycling and waste management. You can find more here on our “Rethink Recycling” page.

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