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COVID-19 vaccine questions answered by experts – CTV News

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As with other aspects of the COVID-19 vaccine process, the approval process has been sped up, said Chagla. Normally, pharmaceutical companies would send completed data sets to Health Canada for approval. Now, analysis of data that would typically be under embargo at this stage is happening in “real time,” he said.

U.S. health officials are expected to meet on Dec. 10 to determine emergency authorization for the Pfizer vaccine candidate, in which case distribution could begin on Dec. 11. Chagla doesn’t expect Canada to take much longer for the approval process, and thinks a vaccine could “start drizzling in at the end of the year.”

“I don’t think Canada is going to let themselves fall that far behind, noting that hopefully most of that data or some of that data is already being fed back to Health Canada right now and it’s really just crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s,” he said. “This is a global emergency that’s shutting down society and relatively so, this is probably the biggest intervention to date that might actually reduce some of the burden in our communities.”

The Canadian government assembled a team of experts and officials months ago to prepare for vaccine rollout, including logistics and prioritization. From an operations standpoint, a Canadian military general is heading the rollout. From a prioritization standpoint, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), a long-established body that includes public health, infectious disease, and immunization policy experts, created a vaccine prioritization framework, released in early November. The framework determined that people and staff at long-term care facilities should be immunized first, then other health care workers and vulnerable populations, and finally the general population.

It’s possible that vaccination could be required in certain education, health care and travel circumstances, said Chagla, and there is precedent for it.

In parts of South America and Africa, travellers are required to present a “yellow fever vaccination certificate” to prove they are immune from the virus and won’t set off an outbreak. In Canadian schools, some provinces require children and adolescents to be immunized from a variety of illnesses before they can attend school, unless they have a medical exemption.

“I think you’re going to see some fairly forward-facing industries like travel industries, health care, schools, where this is probably going to be part of the mandate,” said Chagla, noting that mandatory vaccinations get “dicey” when it comes to employment law.

While no one can be forced to get an eventual COVID-19 vaccine, ethicists have urged for more clarity around what the rollout of vaccines will mean, including for millions of people who may choose not to get one.

“That is an ethical concern because what will likely happen to people within that group is more and more opportunities may slowly be shut off to them,” Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine, told CTV National News.

Common side-effects will have already been identified since most adverse events associated with vaccines occur within a day of receiving the shot, said Bogoch, the most common of which is a sore arm.

“There are certain rare vaccine side effects that can occur two to four weeks after vaccination. They’re not very common at all,” he said, adding that early data suggests the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine candidates, which use a relatively new mRNA technology, have not resulted in any notable side effects other than people feeling “fatigued or a little unwell” in the day following vaccination.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both “messenger RNA” or mRNA vaccines, which is a new kind of vaccine technology that is like “giving an instruction booklet for your cells to make antigens,” said Chakrabarti in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca last month. In the absence of the coronavirus, a person’s cells would still be programmed to develop the antibodies that fight the virus off.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, developed by Oxford University scientists in England, uses a more well-established approach that introduces a cold virus common in chimpanzees. The vaccine alters the chimp virus, called a modified adenovirus vector, to mimic COVID-19 and thereby produce an immune response in the human body.

Probably not. While study participants represented a wide spectrum of ages and ethnicities, they were also all generally healthy people, said Chagla in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca in November. In the past, when vaccines for other illnesses rolled out, they may have had strong data from clinical trials too. “But they’re not necessarily as good as patients get more complex, as their medications get more complex and their immune system diseases are more complex,” he said, so defining the efficacy of a vaccine after rollout becomes a difficult task. “More surveillance, more data, once it comes to the market, will probably tell us what the real life efficacy of these vaccines are,” he said. “I would suggest it will probably be a little less than this 95 per cent.”

It’s too early to know. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, separated by two weeks, but the second is not considered a “booster” shot, which are given to prevent immunity from waning.

“We don’t have a clue how long immunity will last,” said Bogoch over the phone with CTVNews.ca in November. “We’ll have clues about this longer-term after people are vaccinated to see how long immunity will last.”

Booster shots are typically given several years after the first, though children will often receive them earlier to provide a more “robust immune response,” said Chagla. “For most adult vaccinations you have a series [of doses], and things like the pneumonia shot or tetanus shot you do at five, 10-year intervals after getting it just knowing that immunity wanes in some of the older populations,” he said.

The Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccine candidates all have different requirements for transportation and storage. Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be kept at -70 C during those stages to remain effective, but it is not administered into someone’s veins at that temperature, assured Bogoch.

“God, that would suck. You’d get frostbite. That would cause tremendous damage,” he said. “The Pfizer vaccine is stable for about five days in a conventional refrigerator. The Moderna vaccine needs to be stored at -20 C but it’s stable in a refrigerator for about 30 days.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine candidate can be stored between 2 C and 8 C, which experts consider a major logistical advantage for areas of the country that don’t have access to ultra-cold freezers.

The specifics of the rollout are still being developed or have not yet been announced to Canadians, but experts expect there to be a variety of methods by which people will be vaccinated. Where someone lives may determine which vaccine they receive by which method.

“It’s going to depend on what vaccine is locally available, what resources are in that region to actually administer them,” said Chagla, noting the different storage temperatures required of the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca candidates.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of different models. You’re going to see family doctor models, drive-thru models, hospital models, models where people are going into long-term care facilities and plastering it among patients and staff,” he said. “You might get other ways of administering it, like mass vaccination clinics.”

Recent lessons from the administration of influenza vaccines may be informing how a COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out, said Chagla, who expects there to be less reliance on lining up at local pharmacies.

“We can’t have people standing in long lineups, particularly in the era of COVID-19,” he said. “People getting COVID waiting for a COVID vaccine seems like fairly poor optics in that sense.”

If someone is vaccinated and they come into contact with the virus, one of two things is going to happen, said Bogoch: “You’re either going to get the infection, or you’re not.”

Early data from COVID-19 vaccine trials suggests that the probability of getting the infection is significantly lower in vaccinated people than in unvaccinated people. Similarly, the early data suggests severe illness is also less common in people who are vaccinated.

“It’s extremely important to note that we don’t have the data available, and we’re only going by the snippets of data that we do have available,” he added.

Yes. While a minority of people get sick and die from COVID-19, that small group of people can still overwhelm the hospital system, said Chakrabarti.

“Once that happens, there’s a ripple affect that has effects on everybody’s health,” he said, noting cancer screening appointments are cancelled and elective operations are postponed. As of Dec. 1, some of the largest hospitals in Canada were nearing capacity, threatening widespread cancellations of non-emergency surgeries that would further extend a health care backlog.

While some have suggested protecting the elderly and letting the virus “rip” through society to allow for natural herd immunity, Chakrabarti says it’s very difficult to protect all vulnerable people and the consequences of such a strategy can’t be understated.

“The cost of doing that is that you would overrun hospitals and there would be all sorts of collateral damage,” he said.

Maybe, but it’s unlikely that individual people will get each of the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines, or some other combination of vaccines, during the first rollout, said Chakrabarti.

“This stuff will be honed in the coming years as we start to get to know more and more. There is a precedent for using vaccines of slightly different mechanisms to give you a synergistic type of effect,” he said, noting that high-risk populations are inoculated with both pneumonia vaccines on the market for a more powerful affect.

There’s also added benefit to having multiple vaccines on the market, whether or not an individual person receives multiple shots. The differences in the storage requirements alone provide important benefits, particularly to the developing world, noted Chagla.

“Right now it’s just a race to get a vaccine on the market rather than necessarily saying ‘What’s the optimal strategy?’” he said. “As things go on, we’re probably going to get more and more data to say which one is better in kids, which one is better in the elderly, which one is better in certain settings, or with certain medications. That’s the benefit fo having multiple on the market.”

While some experts expect a feeling of “normal” to return at some point next year, a complete return to normal might not come until 2022.

“The rollout of the vaccine is a gargantuan task,” said Chakrabarti. “I do completely expect that things will be back to normal sometime in 2022. I think 2021 will be a gradual and stepwise improvement in our daily lives and the case count.”

Chagla expects people will begin to “step off the break” once the most vulnerable populations are vaccinated in the early months of 2021. Summer could be close to normal, he added. “We’re going to see ‘normal’ starting to show up more and more and more as some of those higher-risk settings get more and more vaccinated,” he said.

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7 Reasons Why America Loves Doing Business with Canada

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Canada is one of the United States’ most important trading partners. According to the United States Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the US exports over $300B worth of goods and services to Canada annually. It also imports over $300B worth of goods and services from the country every year.

In fact, the trade relationship between the two North American countries is the biggest in the world. The two nations have traded for over 100 years. And a strong trade relationship is prosperous for both countries.

So, what makes Canada such an excellent trading partner for the United States? Here are a few good reasons:

1. Geographical Location

Canada shares a large border with the United States. Trading with Canada is easy by road, boat, or air. Most of the economic hotspots in Canada like Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary are just a short flight away from an American city.

2. Manufacturing Strengths

Canada has some exceptional exports thanks to its vast manufacturing strengths. Here are a few of its two products:

  • Non-renewable Energy: Canada’s non-renewable energy exports like oil and gas are a significant part of its economy. Although falling gas prices have impacted this sector, Canada continues to depend on its gas and oil exports.
  • Composite Manufacturing: You’ll find plenty of world-class options if you’re looking for advanced composite manufacturing in Canada regardless of your industry. The Canadian composite manufacturing industry serves many national and international clients in sectors such as defence, transportation, marine, aerospace, medical, industrial, energy, home appliances, construction, and more.
  • Vehicle: Canada has a renowned automotive sector, producing light trucks, crossovers, SUVs, etc., with its technologically advanced factories. 95% of Canada’s automotive exports go to the United States.
  • Aluminum: The Great White North produces some of the best quality aluminum in the world. The United States happens to be Canada’s biggest importer of aluminum.
  • Meat and Dairy: Canada produces meat, beef, poultry, and dairy known for its quality. Unlike some countries, Canada doesn’t use harmful hormones in its meat industry.

3. Good Tax Treaties

Canada has many provisions that make business favourable for American companies. For example, a non-resident corporation that does not otherwise have a permanent establishment (PE) in Canada may do business without paying income tax on its profits. Canada also offers favourable corporate taxes, especially compared to the United States.

Aside from federal incentives, many provinces offer provincial incentives to do business in Canada. For example, many American films and TV shows are shot in Toronto because of lucrative tax enticements.

4. Favourable Exchange Rates

Not only is the Canadian dollar stable, but it usually hovers 20% lower than the United States. The favourable exchange rate makes it cost-effective for the United States to import goods and services from Canada.

However, the exchange rate isn’t so low that it discourages Canadians from travelling to the United States or buying American products. Many economists consider the exchange rate to be in the sweet spot.

5. Similar Culture

Canada speaks the same language, eats the same food, plays the same sports, and consumes the same entertainment. A similar coculture without language barriers makes it easier for Americans to do business with Canada.

Of course, there are some parts of Canada where French is the most popular language. Likewise, Spanish is more prevalent in certain places in the United States. However, these issues are easily overcome with business cards, translators, and technology.

6. Prominent Tech Industry

Many American technology companies are doing business with Canada because of the country’s prominence on the tech stage. For example, Toronto produces more tech occupations than the Bay Area, New York, and even Silicon Valley.

Toronto also has over 2,000 startups and over 14,000 tech companies. In the MaRS Center, Canada also has one of the world’s largest innovation hubs. Canada is also the first nation in the world to develop a national AI strategy. There are over 500 international AI firms in the country. The world’s biggest concentration of AI startups is in Canada.

Besides the national AI strategy, there is plenty of other support for tech development in the country that’s attractive to the United States. Canada invested $900m in high-tech innovation and funded startup incubators in 2015.

Additionally, Canada offers many tax breaks to companies for research and development. It also provides special visa programs for investors and entrepreneurs in the tech industry.

7. Qualified Labour Pool

Canada has the second-highest tertiary education levels worldwide for people between the ages of 25 and 34, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Canada’s highly skilled workforce stands at nearly 1.5 million people. Canada’s tech talent is also ranked highly for diversity.

These are just some of the many reasons why the United States enjoys doing business with Canada. Even with the economic climate changing, you can expect the partnership between the two countries to stand the test of time.

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10 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out in 2021 – Part 2

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Last week I provided 5 suggestions on how you can make your LinkedIn profile, which in 2021 is a non-negotiable must-have for job seekers, to stand out. The suggestions were:

 

  1. Add a headshot
  2. Create an eye-catching headline
  3. Craft an interesting summary
  4. Highlight your experience
  5. Use visual media

 

I’ll continue with my next 5 suggestions:

 

  1. Customize your URL

 

Your LinkedIn URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the web address for your profile. The default URL will have your name and some random numbers and letters (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nick-kossovan-647e3b49). Customizing your profile URL (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickkossovan/) makes your profile search engine friendly; therefore, you’re easier to find. As well a customized URL invites the person searching to make some positive assumptions about you:

 

  • You’re detail oriented.
  • You’re technologically savvy.
  • You understand the power of perception (Image is everything!).

 

James Wooden, one of the most revered coaches in the history of sports, is to have said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

 

To change your profile URL, go to the right side of your profile. There you’ll find an option to edit your URL. Use this option to make your URL concise and neat.

 

  1. Make connections

 

The more connections you have increases the likelihood of being found when hiring managers and recruiters, looking for potential candidates with your background, search on LinkedIn. Envision your number of connections as ‘the amount of gas in your tank.’

 

At the very least, you should aim to get over 500 connections. Anything below 500 LinkedIn will indicate your number of connections as an exact number (ex. 368). Above 500 connections, LinkedIn simply shows you have 500+ connections. Getting to 500 implies you’re a player on LinkedIn.

 

As much as possible, connect with individuals you know personally, have worked with, met in a professional capacity (tradeshow, conference), is in your city/region and industry/profession. If you’d like to connect with someone you haven’t met, send a note with your request explaining who you are and why you’d like to connect. (This’ll be my topic in next week’s column.)

 

  1. Ask for recommendations and skill endorsements

 

This is vital to making your profile stand out! Employers want to know that others think of your work.

 

When asking for a recommendation, or skill endorsements, think of all the people you’ve worked the past. Don’t just think of your past bosses; also think of colleagues, vendors, customers — anyone who can vouch for your work and professionalism.

 

Instructions on how to ask for, and give, a recommendation, can be found by going to the LinkedIn ‘Help’ field (Located by clicking on the drop-down arrow below the ‘Me’ icon in the upper right-hand corner.) and typing ‘Requesting a recommendation.’ Do the same for skill endorsements.

 

TIP: It’s good karma to write recommendations, and endorse skills, in return and to give unsolicited.

 

  1. Keep your profile active

 

LinkedIn is not simply an online resume — it’s a networking social media site. To get the most out of LinkedIn, you need to be constantly active (at least 3 times per week). Write posts and articles. Check out what is being posted, especially by your connections. Like and share posts that resonate with you. Engage with thoughtful comments that’ll put forward your expertise.

 

Join groups that align with your industry and professional interests. Groups are an excellent way to meet like-minded professionals with whom to network and share ideas and best practices.

 

  1. Check your LinkedIn profile strength

 

It’s in LinkedIn’s interest that you’re successful using their platform. Therefore, they’ve created a ‘Profile Strength Meter’ to gauge how robust your profile is. Basically, this gauge tells you completion level of your profile. Using the tips, you’ll be given, keep adding to your profile until your gauge rates you “All-Star.” For instructions on how to access your ‘Profile Strength Meter,’ use the LinkedIn’ Help’ field.

 

The 10 tips I offered is a starting point for building a LinkedIn profile that WOWs! Jobseekers need to make the most of their profile to stand out in a sea of candidates, sell their skills, and validate their accomplishments. Make it easy for the reader to get a feel for who you are professionally.

_________________________________________________

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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Canadian National beats Canadian Pacific with $33.6 billion Kansas City bid

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U.S. railway operator Kansas City Southern said on Thursday that it had accepted Canadian National Railway Co’s $33.6 billion acquisition offer, upending a $29 billion deal with its competitor Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.

The development, first reported by Reuters, gives Canadian Pacific five business days to make a new offer for Kansas City Southern. Were Canadian Pacific to table a new offer, a bidding war could ensue.

Canadian Pacific had previously announced a deal to buy Kansas City Southern on March 21, before Canadian National said it had submitted a higher bid on April 20. The headline price in Canadian National’s cash-and-stock bid remains $325 per share as originally announced, though the company offered more of its shares to compensate for a decline in its stock price.

Canadian National has offered to cover the $700 million break-up fee Kansas City Southern will owe Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. It will also pay Kansas City Southern $1 billion if the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) rejects a voting trust structure it has put forward to complete the deal.

“We believe that Canadian Pacific’s negotiated agreement with Kansas City is the only true end-to-end Class I combination that is in the best interests of North American shippers and communities,” a Canadian Pacific spokeswoman said.

Canadian Pacific and larger rival Canadian National are in a race to take over the U.S. railroad operator, which would create the first direct railway linking Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Either of them acquiring Kansas City Southern would create a North American railway spanning the United States, Mexico and Canada, as supply chains recover from COVID-19 pandemic-led disruptions.

The acquisition interest in Kansas City Southern also follows the ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement last year that removed the threat of trade tensions, which had escalated under former U.S. President Donald Trump.

The STB last week approved the voting trust for Canadian Pacific’s proposed acquisition. Canadian National has offered an identical arrangement.

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Aurora Ellis and Richard Chang)

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