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COVID-19 vaccine remains months away but officials look to speed up approval process – Global News

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OTTAWA — Health Canada is in talks with all of the vaccine developers that signed supply deals with the federal government to kick-start the approval process and get COVID-19 vaccines to Canadians as soon as possible.

Read more:
University of Waterloo research considers who should get COVID-19 vaccine first

In the last two months, Public Services and Procurement Canada has signed deals with the makers of six COVID-19 vaccines, that will see Canada spend more than $1 billion to get guaranteed access to between 20 million and 76 million doses of each one if they are approved.

All have to complete clinical trials and be deemed both safe and effective at preventing or lessening the effect of COVID-19, but before they can be used here, Health Canada also has to decide they meet its standards as well.

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Normally the Health Canada review would happen after all trials are over, but Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said given the heightened need for a COVID-19 vaccine, Health Canada is trying to get the regulatory process done at the same time as the final trials are being completed.

“We’re still talking about months not weeks in terms of timeline and really the ultimate length of the review depends on the data,” she said.

“It’s always grounded in the scientific assessment.”






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When can Canadians expect a COVID-19 vaccine?


When can Canadians expect a COVID-19 vaccine?

Still, she says normally the regulatory process takes more than a year, and with added resources and expedited timelines, she thinks the first vaccine will be approved in Canada in “months, not years.”

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Thus far AstraZeneca is the only company that has applied for Canadian approval, submitting the application and its first scientific results on Oct. 2.

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“We are in discussions with other companies about whether or not they’re ready to submit as well,” she said.

Five of the six, including AstraZeneca’s candidate, are now in the third and final phase of clinical trials, and most are expecting their results by the end of the year.

Read more:
How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

AstraZeneca, Moderna, NovaVax, Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer are also in Phase 3 trials, while GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi’s vaccine is in Phase 2.

No vaccine has completed Phase 3 trials yet anywhere in the world.

New vaccines or drugs go through multiple stages of trials on humans, looking first to see if they are safe and cause no serious adverse reactions. Each phase adds more people, with usually fewer than a dozen to start, rising to tens of thousands by Phase 3.

Sharma said the international consensus, with which Health Canada agrees, is that no vaccine will be approved unless it is at least 50 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19.


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Canada signs new coronavirus vaccine deals


Canada signs new coronavirus vaccine deals

She said, however, the results of the trials of the most promising vaccines show much higher effectiveness than that.

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A recommendation on which Canadians would be prioritized to get vaccinated first is expected in a few weeks from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

Ultimately provinces and territories will decide who they will prioritize for the vaccine, as it is provincial and territorial health systems that will run vaccination programs in their jurisdictions.

Sharma said to be effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19, between 60 and 70 per cent of Canadians will need immunity, either naturally because they have had COVID-19, or because of a vaccine.

It is not yet known yet how long immunity lasts for people who have been infected with COVID-19.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Quibi app to shut down – Entertainment News – Castanet.net

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Movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile streaming service, Quibi, is shutting down, six months after it launched with original series and films featuring Anna Kendrick and Sophie Turner.

Katzenberg and his partner Meg Whitman are expected to confirm their decision to wind down the short-form video service this week after speaking with investors, according to Deadline.

The service launched in April just after COVID-19 shut down Hollywood.

Initial pay-to-view items on the service included projects directed by heavyweights Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, and Antoine Fuqua, while Kendrick’s series Dummy and Kiefer Sutherland’s remake of The Fugitive became quick hits. The service also produced the Emmy-winning series #FreeRayshawn.

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Quibi is shutting down just six months after launching – MobileSyrup

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Surprise: Quibi is dead.

Quibi, a short form mobile-focused video streaming service that struggled to find an audience amid a global pandemic where many people are working from home, is shutting down, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Given the platform was available for only six months, this makes it one of the shortest-lived streaming services ever.

Several factors likely played into Quibi’s untimely demise, including that a mobile-focused streaming service doesn’t make sense when people are home, that none of its content was really compelling enough to attract returning subscribers, and the fact that you can watch short-form video content on platforms like YouTube and TikTok entirely for free.

It’s unclear what will happen to Quibi’s lineup of celebrity-filled content. The Information initially reported co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is also the former Walt Disney Studios chairman, attempted to sell Quibi’s content to Facebook and NBCUniversal, but ultimately failed.

Quibi launched in Canada on April 6th for $6.99 per month for a subscription tier that featured ads and $9.99 per month to remove ads. The platform forged a partnership with Bell that included exclusive sports and news content from CTV News and TSN. Bell’s Quibi initiatives will likely be cancelled entirely. MobileSyrup has reached out to Bell for more information.

It’s also worth noting the report of Quibi’s shutdown comes just two days after Bell Media president Randy Lennox announced that he’s departing the company. Lennox was reportedly the driving force behind Bell’s investment in Quibi.

Quibi allowed viewers to watch content in both landscape and portrait mode. While the platform was initially off to a strong start, it struggled to keep subscribers around after it’s free trial ended. Some reports indicated that Quibi lost 92 percent of its early users following the end of the platform’s free trial.

The service eventually launched apps for Apple TV, Android TV and Apple TV, moving beyond its mobile-focused Android and iOS apps.

Notable content included Let’s Roll with Tony Greenhand, a show about a man that rolls ornate marijuana spliffs for celebrities, Bad Ideas with Adam Devine, 50 States of Fright, Chrissy’s Court with Chrissy Teigen and several more.

For a complete list of Quibi’s content, follow this link.

It remains unclear when Quibi will remain operational until or what will happen to users that have paid a subscription fee. MobileSyrup has reached out for more information from Quibi.

Update 10/21/2020 6:43pm: Quibi has confirmed that it’s shutting down in a press release. It says that “following the company’s wind down and satisfaction of all liabilities, the remaining funds will be returned to its investors as specified in the company’s operating agreement. ”

“We have assembled a world-class creative and engineering team that has created an original platform fueled by groundbreaking technology and IP, enabling consumers to view premium content in a whole new way. The world has changed dramatically since Quibi launched and our standalone business model is no longer viable. I am deeply grateful to our employees, investors, talent, studio partners and advertisers for their partnership in bringing Quibi to millions of mobile devices,” said Katzenberg in the press release.

Quibi says that it’s working with “legal and financial advisors” to “identify a suitable buyer or buyers for its assets.”

Regarding subscribers, Quibi says that it’s sending out notifications regarding the final date they will be able to access the platform.

Further, Bell says that it’s “in touch with Quibi management and discussing next steps.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal 

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WestJet to start refunding flights cancelled amid COVID-19 pandemic – Global News

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WestJet will be offering refunds to WestJet and Swoop passengers whose flights were cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WestJet is the first Canadian airline to provide cash refunds for all flights. It had previously offered refunds for specific flights only, with future flight credit available for the majority of cancelled flights.

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In an emailed statement, the airline said starting Monday, Nov. 2, eligible passengers will be contacted “proactively,” a process that will start with those whose flights were cancelled by the airline at the start of the pandemic, starting with trips booked for March.

“The refund process is expected to take six to nine months to work through eligible requests,” WestJet said.

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The airline said it also expects an “administrative backlog” as the process gets underway, and asked customers to be patient, and wait to be contacted rather than contacting the airline themselves.

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Those looking for refunds for trips booked through WestJet Vacations are asked to continue following the process already in place.

Read more:
Airline passengers voice frustrations after WestJet cuts services, refunds with vouchers

“We are an airline that has built its reputation on putting people first,” WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims said in a news release.

“We have heard loud and clear from the travelling public that in this COVID-19 world, they are looking for reassurance on two fronts: the safest possible travel environment; and refunds.

“We have been delivering on a safe environment through our Safety Above All program since the onset of the pandemic and as of Monday, Nov. 2, we will proactively provide refunds to original form of payment to itineraries cancelled by WestJet and Swoop.”






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WestJet suspends most of its operations in Atlantic Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic


WestJet suspends most of its operations in Atlantic Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic

In a blog post on the WestJet website, Sims said the airline has been faced with a 95 per cent drop in demand, adding that for 72 days in a row, cancellations outnumbered bookings — a first in the company’s 25-year history.

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Now, bookings are once again higher than cancellations, WestJet said, but still not on par with what they were before the pandemic hit.

Read more:
Latest WestJet layoffs affect 3,333 employees as COVID-19 cripples airline industry

More than 140 of WestJet’s 181 planes are currently parked, Sims said, and more than 4,000 employees have been laid off.

The airline also suspended its service in Atlantic Canada earlier this month, citing the coronavirus pandemic as making the service “unviable.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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