OTTAWA, ON, March 28, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create stress and anxiety for many Canadians, particularly those who do not have ready access to their regular support networks. Through the Wellness Together Canada online portal, people of all ages across the country can access immediate, free and confidential mental health and substance use supports, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
/CNW/ – It has been yet another productive week on the vaccine front in Canada, as close to 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Canada, and roll-out continues to ramp up across the country. It seems fitting that as the first signs of spring emerge around us, and the days get longer, there is more hope and optimism to fill the air. Our vaccination program is moving forward, to a point that the majority of us now have someone close to us who has been vaccinated. It is an incredible feeling to know that a loved one who is at higher risk for COVID-19 is now safer.
Through this process, we are also learning many new things about vaccines. However, with so much information coming at us, and much of it evolving at a rapid pace, this can also create gaps in our understanding, cause confusion, and even, in some cases, lead to distrust.
I know that many of you are curious to know more about vaccine safety and how adverse events following immunization (AEFIs) are monitored in Canada. That is why, in today’s Sunday Edition, I would like to explore this process by providing you with a bird’s eye view of the vaccine safety monitoring process from vaccine development through to post-marketing surveillance.
Ensuring Vaccine Safety at Every Step of the Vaccine Life Cycle
Vaccine safety assessment and monitoring is not something that takes place in a single, fixed step. Rather, it is an ongoing and continual process that is carried out throughout a vaccine’s life cycle, spanning all phases from development, to market authorization, administration, and post-marketing surveillance.
Here is brief description of how safety (and effectiveness) are evaluated at each step of the vaccine life cycle:
Pre-approval review and approval process
Vaccine testing starts in the lab with preclinical studies, which are carried out using cell cultures (in vitro studies) and animal models (in vivo studies). These studies provide preliminary information on vaccine effectiveness and safety.
If the vaccine is shown to be safe and effective in the lab and in animals, studies in people, known as clinical trials, are conducted next. These assess safety, including safe dose range, and efficacy, starting with a small number of healthy volunteers, and moving up to 1,000 or more participants by phase 3 trials. Importantly, every AEFI noted in these studies is investigated carefully and assessed to determine whether the vaccine is the cause.
In order for a manufacturer to receive regulatory approval for a new vaccine, they are required to submit all preclinical, clinical and manufacturing data to the Biologic and Radiopharmaceutical Drugs Directorate, the group responsible for approving vaccines at Health Canada, for their own independent review. Scientific and medical reviewers from this group then conduct an in-depth assessment of all the data they receive. A vaccine is only authorized for use in Canada if it meets the regulatory requirements for safety, efficacy, and quality set by Health Canada.
The Biologic and Radiopharmaceutical Drugs Directorate will also review detailed chemistry and manufacturing information to ensure consistent quality of the vaccine product, which is another important facet related to safety. This may include an on-site evaluation of the manufacturing process, as well as a lot release program, which tests vaccine samples from different lots. Vaccine manufacturers must also adhere to current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), or recognized international quality standards, a process which is ensured by Health Canada’s Regulatory Operations and Enforcement Branch.
Once a vaccine is approved, it continues to be monitored and any safety signals are investigated. Canada has a strong vaccine safety monitoring system that remains in place for as long as the vaccine is used. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) share the responsibility for ongoing monitoring in collaboration with provincial, territorial and local public health authorities, health care professionals, vaccine manufacturers, and the public. This ongoing process is important as it alerts public health authorities to changing trends or unusual AEFIs that were not previously reported. These are adverse events that occur too rarely to be detected even in a large clinical trial; they can only be identified once millions of people receive a vaccine. This is why when serious, unusual or unexpected AEFIs occur, they need to be taken very seriously and investigated very carefully, in order to determine whether they are indicative of a safety issue related to the vaccine that has emerged unexpectedly.
Manufacturers are also required to report AEFIs that they become aware of in Canada, or internationally, to the Canada Vigilance Program, Health Canada’s post-market surveillance program that collects and assesses reports of suspected adverse reactions to health products marketed in Canada. As part of a “risk management plan”, manufacturers may also be required to provide data on the safety of the vaccine for specific groups of people or conduct additional studies.
Canada also has several other post-market vaccine safety surveillance systems in place to detect any serious adverse events that may occur following immunization. These include the Canadian Adverse Events Following Immunization Surveillance System (CAEFISS), a federal, provincial and territorial collaborative surveillance system that is supported by PHAC. CAEFISS continuously monitors the safety of vaccines in Canada through various reporting processes. Health care professionals are asked to report all serious adverse reactions, such as those that may require hospitalization, result in persistent or significant disability or incapacity or be life-threatening, to CAEFISS. Anyone who experiences an adverse event is encouraged to inform their healthcare professional so they can report it.
Another component of the vaccine safety surveillance system involves proactively inquiring about adverse events from vaccine recipients or searching adverse events in clinical or administrative records. The Canadian Vaccine Safety Network (CANVAS) is a national network of sites across Canada that conducts vaccine safety surveillance during implementation of immunization campaigns. It can provide rapid information early on in vaccination campaigns, including for COVID-19. CANVAS is currently conducting a large, national, web-based vaccine safety study to monitor health events that may occur after COVID-19 vaccinations.
Approaches used in Canada align with good practices put forward by the World Health Organization in their COVID-19 vaccine Safety Surveillance Manual. If any serious side effects are identified, an investigation will take place and this information will be rapidly communicated to Canadians. The Canadian Immunization Guide provides specific information on management of selected AEFI and/or special populations. AEFI expert assessment is available via several avenues. For example, all serious AEFIs are reviewed by medical specialists at PHAC and Health Canada. Where needed, experts in specific fields of study are consulted. The Canadian Immunization Research Network’s Special Immunization Clinic (SIC) Network, established across Canada in 2013 by infectious disease specialists and allergists, provides expert advice to patients who have experienced adverse events following immunization and those who have medical conditions that may affect their immunizations. For more information on AEFI management, you can refer to the SIC Network’s Managing Adverse Events Following Immunization: Resource for Public Health.
It is important to note that post-approval vaccine monitoring is a process that is similarly carried out in many countries around the world, and Canada’s systems are linked with international networks, allowing us to share and access important safety information from other countries where the same vaccine is also in use. These networks include the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) which was created by the World Health Organization (WHO) and enables quick and efficient responses to vaccine safety issues of global importance.
In the case of COVID-19 vaccine monitoring, we are seeing even greater international collaboration and communication on vaccine safety. Regulatory and public health authorities in Canada are actively collaborating and regularly exchanging information with international partners such as the WHO, in order to detect and discuss any emerging safety signals as well as how any potential risks may be mitigated. Regulators are also working closely together to share information.
Instilling confidence in our vaccination program
I hope that the information that I’ve provided today will help to shed some more light on the vaccine monitoring process we have in place in Canada. Ensuring that all vaccines authorised for use in Canada are safe and effective is a priority for health authorities at every level, who continue to monitor, investigate and report through Canada’s vaccine safety surveillance systems.
For additional information on vaccine safety, you can visit the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccines and treatment portal. You can also keep track of any adverse effects reported in Canada with the COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Report which is updated on a weekly basis.
With fewer infections in those over 80 years of age, along with decreased outbreaks in long-term care settings, we are seeing the real-world benefits of COVID-19 vaccinations. As these vaccines work to protect more and more Canadians, let’s play our part by staying strong and helping each other – follow public health advice, keep up with individual practices, and prepare to take your place in the queue when the time comes for you to be vaccinated.
SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada
View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/March2021/28/c5860.html
Delta variant of COVID-19 now makes up nearly 4 in 10 cases in B.C., data shows – Global News
New data from the BC Centre for Disease control shows that the highly-transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 has grown to nearly four in 10 cases in the province, up from fewer than one in 10 just two weeks before.
The data comes as the province reported more than 100 new cases in a 24-hour period for the first time in five weeks.
The BCCDC released the data Friday, which covers the week of July 11 to July 15.
B.C. reports 112 new COVID-19 cases, four new deaths
Out of 376 cases recorded that week, the Delta variant, first identified in India, made up 39 per cent of cases, while the Gamma variant, first identified in Brazil, made up 40 per cent. The Alpha variant, first identified in the U.K., made up 17 per cent of cases.
Last week, the BCCDC reported the Delta variant made up 33 per cent of cases, while the week before it was just eight per cent.
Research has found that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the Delta variant, but only when people receive both doses.
Partially vaccinated people remain at a much greater risk of contracting it or becoming seriously ill.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Friday that 96 per cent of new cases reported in B.C. between June15 and July 15 were among people who weren’t fully vaccinated.
As of Friday, more than 2.68 million people — 58.1 per cent of those eligible and 52.2 per cent of the population — have been fully vaccinated.
Could Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination drive slowdown fuel another surge?
There were strong regional variances in the prevalence of Delta.
In the Vancouver Island Health Region, all of the 14 cases reported over the week in question were found to be the Delta variant.
In the Interior Health Region, which has seen growing case numbers and lagging vaccination rates, Delta made up a whopping 74 per cent of the 122 cases over the week reported.
More than half of the new cases reported on Friday were in the Interior Health region.
Vancouver Coastal Health had the second highest prevalence of Delta, at 33 per cent, followed by the Fraser Health region at 15 per cent.
Officials said 97 per cent of all samples tested were at least one of the known variants of concern.
The BCCDC cautions that the data reported on Friday is subject to change due to a lag in sequencing some samples.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
COVID-19 in Ottawa: Fast Facts for July 24, 2021 – CTV Edmonton
Good morning. Here is the latest news on COVID-19 and its impact on Ottawa.
- The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa continues to creep up as vaccination slows
- A new outbreak in Barry’s Bay has led to nearly two-dozen close contacts and forced businesses to close
- Ontario reported 192 new cases on Friday as the seven-day average jumped slightly
COVID-19 by the numbers in Ottawa (Ottawa Public Health data):
- New COVID-19 cases: Seven new cases on Friday
- Total COVID-19 cases: 27,768
- COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (previous seven days): 3.9
- Positivity rate in Ottawa: 0.5 per cent (seven day average)
- Reproduction Number: 1.28 (seven day average)
Who should get a test?
Ottawa Public Health says you can get a COVID-19 test at an assessment centre, care clinic, or community testing site if any of the following apply to you:
- You are showing COVID-19 symptoms;
- You have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by Ottawa Public Health or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app;
- You are a resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by Ottawa Public Health;
- You are a resident, a worker or a visitor to long-term care, retirement homes, homeless shelters or other congregate settings (for example: group homes, community supported living, disability-specific communities or congregate settings, short-term rehab, hospices and other shelters);
- You are a person who identifies as First Nations, Inuit or Métis;
- You are a person travelling to work in a remote First Nations, Inuit or Métis community;
- You received a preliminary positive result through rapid testing;
- You require testing 72 hours before a scheduled (non-urgent or emergent) surgery (as recommended by your health care provider);
- You are a patient and/or their 1 accompanying escort travelling out of country for medical treatment;
- You are an international student that has passed their 14-day quarantine period;
- You are a farm worker;
- You are an educator who cannot access pharmacy-testing; or
- You are in a targeted testing group as outlined in guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Ottawa:
There are several sites for COVID-19 testing in Ottawa. To book an appointment, visit https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/shared-content/assessment-centres.aspx
- The Brewer Ottawa Hospital/CHEO Assessment Centre: Open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- COVID-19 Drive-Thru Assessment Centre at 300 Coventry Road: Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- The Moodie Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- The Ray Friel Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- North Grenville COVID-19 Assessment Centre (Kemptville) – 15 Campus Drive: Open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Centretown Community Health Centre: Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Sandy Hill Community Health Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 pm.
- Somerset West Community Health Centre: Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday
COVID-19 screening tool:
The COVID-19 screening tool for summer camp children and staff. All campers and staff must complete the COVID-19 School and Childcare screening tool daily.
Classic Symptoms: fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath
Other symptoms: sore throat, difficulty swallowing, new loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, pneumonia, new or unexplained runny nose or nasal congestion
Less common symptoms: unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, headache, delirium, chills, red/inflamed eyes, croup
The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa is back above 40 for the first time in two weeks, as the city’s vaccine administration pace slows down.
Ottawa Public Health reported seven new cases of the virus in Ottawa on Friday. There were no new resolved cases for the second straight day, so the number of active cases has climbed to 41.
It’s the most since July 9, when there were 43 active cases in the city.
A new outbreak of COVID-19 in Barry’s Bay, Ont. has resulted in two closed businesses and nearly two-dozen high-risk contacts.
The Renfrew County health unit is reporting three new confirmed cases that started with a visit from southern Ontario.
Twenty-one high-risk contacts now have to isolate, a fresh example that Canada is not yet out of the pandemic.
Ontario is reporting another jump in the number of new COVID-19 cases as health officials log just over 190 new infections and the seven-day average rises.
The province confirmed 192 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, which comes after officials logged 185 new infections on Thursday.
Before that, the province reported case numbers below the 150 mark for three days.
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