Thousands of COVID-19 vaccines are set to expire in Canada this week, with pharmacists in Ontario raising concern about wastage amid hesitancy to mix different doses.
In Ontario alone, “several thousand” doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will expire on Aug. 6, said Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA).
“It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances,” he said in an interview with Global News on Monday.
The vaccine supplies come in their frozen state each week and once they are delivered to a pharmacy and thawed, there is a 30-day window for the doses to be used — or they have to be disposed of.
Bates said they were looking at transferring some doses to pharmacies in other parts of the health-care system so they don’t have to throw them away.
“We’re going to use every tool we have to avoid wastage, but the reality is that we’re going to see some wastage starting Aug. 6.”
Expiry date for thousands of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses extended
Meanwhile, thousands of expired AstraZeneca vaccine doses have already gone to waste in provinces in Atlantic Canada after demand dried up in June and July.
The government in Newfoundland and Labrador was able to transfer 1,400 doses of AstraZeneca to Ontario in mid-May for use there as they neared their expiry date. However, the province had 2,848 doses of the vaccine expire at the end of June. Nearly 2,900 doses were wasted in July.
Prince Edward Island also disposed of 3,200 expired doses of AstraZeneca, the province announced last month.
But the national wastage rate so far has been “very minimal and far below initial estimates,” according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
As of July 12, less than 0.05 per cent of total doses delivered by the federal government have been wasted, PHAC told Global News.
The boost in vaccine supply coupled with dropping vaccination rates has left unused doses nearing expiration data, said Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious diseases specialist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.
“We’re now into that smaller group, which … has been a little bit reluctant (to get vaccinated) up until now,” he said.
Bates said there has been a steep decline in demand for the Moderna shots over the last two weeks in Ontario.
“We’ve seen that in public health clinics where people are turning away when they find out it’s Moderna or not showing up,” he said.
Hesitancy around the Moderna vaccine and mixing doses has led to a lot of cancellations and no-shows at pharmacies, said Bates, adding that people demand Pfizer over Moderna.
Since June, several provinces have been mixing COVID-19 vaccines under the recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).
According to NACI, people who have received a first dose of an mRNA vaccine should be offered the same vaccine for their second dose, but mRNA vaccines can be interchangeable if the same product is not readily available for the second dose.
Health officials allay concerns about mixing mRNA vaccines
The so-called “brand hesitancy” is also present in Alberta, where an Edmonton pharmacist said that he’s noticed roughly 40 per cent of customers have turned down the Moderna vaccine after a first dose of Pfizer.
“Once they hear that we’re giving Moderna, there’s been a little bit of a pushback,” pharmacist Eddie Wong told Global News in a previous interview.
Evans said while both the mRNA vaccines are equally effective, Pfizer has done a “really good job of branding itself.”
“It’s not so much that Moderna has a bad name, it’s just that Pfizer has really dominated the market in mRNA vaccines.”
As for mixing doses, he said there was evidence in several studies that backed the strategy used by Canada and in Europe, adding it “was not an inferior approach.”
How to prevent wastage?
Amid wastage concerns, Evans said Canada should look towards either donating vaccines to other countries facing financial issues or other constraints.
Selling them to nations like Australia, which has seen a spike in cases recently and is short on vaccine supply, is another option.
“If we have large quantities like that, we should be right now talking to other countries.”
Provinces should also try to send doses that haven’t been thawed yet to other regions where there is a shortage in supply, he said.
Bill Campbell, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Health, told Global News on Monday that the province was “working with federal partners to explore vaccine donation opportunities in the future”.
Will Canadians need third COVID-19 vaccine dose?
According to Bates, one strategy to avoid wastage would be to start offering a third booster dose to seniors, high-risk populations of morbidities and immunocompromised people.
“That’s a scenario that we’re asking the Ministry of Health to explore and move on quickly,” he said.
But some experts are skeptical about the lack of clinical evidence when it comes to booster shots.
Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer of Canada, told reporters during a virtual news conference on July 30, that even though the evidence is quickly “evolving,” there’s “not enough data” to support it quite yet – despite countries like Israel pushing ahead with a vaccination top-up.
“There’s not enough data to suggest that in Canada we would go into boosting as of yet,” she said. “But it is something that we’re watching very carefully.”
— with files from Global News’ Sean O’Shea, Chris Chacon and the Canadian Press.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Oil Prices Jump As Crude, Fuel Inventories Continue To Fall – OilPrice.com
The American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday reported a draw in crude oil inventories of 6.108 million barrels for the week ending September 17.
It exceeded the analyst expectations who had estimated a loss of 2.400 million barrels for the week.
In the previous week, the API reported a draw in oil inventories of 5.437 million barrels—a larger loss than the 3.903 million barrel draw that analysts had predicted.
Oil prices rose on Tuesday leading up to the data release, with U.S. crude oil inventories falling weekly, OPEC+ production that is not as strong as the market had anticipated, and depressed oil production in the United States as a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
WTI rose 0.31% on Tuesday afternoon leading up to the data release.
Oil inventories in the United States have drawn down considerably so far in 2021, shedding more than 76 million barrels according to API data, and below pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, the EIA’s latest data suggests that crude oil inventories in the United States are now 7% under the five-year average for this time of year, at 417.4 million barrels.
Most recently, U.S. oil production has been down more than a million bpd over the last couple of weeks, sitting at just 10.1 million bpd for week ending September 10 as Hurricane Ida continued to shut in oil producers in the Gulf of Mexico. 16.64% of GoM oil production is still shut in today, according to the BSEE.
The API reported a draw in gasoline inventories of 432,000 barrels for the week ending September 17—compared to the previous week’s 2.761-barrel draw.
Distillate stocks saw a decrease in inventories this week of 2.720 million barrels for the week, compared to last week’s 2.888-million-barrel decrease.
Cushing inventories fell this week by 1.748 million barrels after last week’s 1.345-million-barrel decrease.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:
Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.
B.C. preparing to offer COVID-19 vaccine to 6- to 11-year-olds once approved – Globalnews.ca
British Columbia is “actively preparing” to provide the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children aged six to 11, if and when it receives Health Canada approval.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday there is optimism around approvals as phase two and phase three studies are finishing up.
The information from the studies will be part of data package being submitted over the next few weeks on how well the vaccines work and how safe they are, Henry said.
Study finds Pfizer vaccine safe and effective for children 5 to 11 years-old
“I think that’s very good news,” she told a news conference.
“That gives us just one more tool to be able to protect younger children against this virus.”
But she was reluctant to put a timeline on when children may be eligible for the shot. In previous statements, Henry has pointed anywhere from the fall to the end of 2021.
On Monday, Pfizer said its research shows its product works for children aged five to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon.
But Henry said Tuesday they are looking at children between six and 11 being eligible.
Pfizer says their vaccine works for children 5-11
Health Canada has said several studies on children are underway by various vaccine makers, and that it expects them to provide data in the next few months.
Pfizer studied a lower dose of its two-dose vaccine in more than 2,200 kindergartners and elementary school-aged kids, mostly in the United States and Europe.
Preparing the vaccine at a lower dose could have some logistical challenges, however.
“We do know that there may be some delays before the manufacturing process,” Henry said.
“This means the vaccine will be available to children in B.C., but we are preparing so that we’re ready to offer it and we have all of the information that parents will need to make those decisions about whether their children should be immunized, and I think this will be very important, especially as we are into the school year again.”
– with files from the Canadian Press
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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