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Doctors Nova Scotia, pharmacy association prepare for AstraZeneca vaccine rollout – Global News



Nova Scotia has been using both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to vaccinate people against COVID-19 for the past few months, but as Health Canada approves more vaccines, the province will have more options, and that’s already happening.

On Feb. 26, Health Canada approved the AstraZeneca vaccine. Like Moderna and Pfizer, it’s a two-dose vaccine, but it’s different because it’s a viral vector vaccine that uses a harmless virus to trigger an immune response and help the body create antibodies.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia to receive AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses next week

Based on clinical trials, it is 62 per cent effective against COVID-19, compared to Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which are both mRNA vaccines and are more than 90 per cent effective.

“We feel that difference is enough people should be able to make their own choice,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang on Friday.

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The province says that they are preparing information for Nova Scotians so that they will be able to make an informed decision before choosing between getting AstraZeneca now, or waiting for an mRNA vaccine.

That information is expected to be released this week, just as the province is already slated to receive 13,000 doses of AstraZeneca.

All of the initial doses must all be used by April 2.

So far, the province’s rollout has largely been age based — focusing first on those 80 and older with the plan to move down in increments of 5 years. But the AstraZeneca vaccine is only recommended for those under the age of 65, due to the age group tested during the clinical trials, and so the province will have to pivot its distribution plan.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Every Nova Scotian who wants to get vaccinated to receive 1st dose by end of June, Strang says'

Coronavirus: Every Nova Scotian who wants to get vaccinated to receive 1st dose by end of June, Strang says

Coronavirus: Every Nova Scotian who wants to get vaccinated to receive 1st dose by end of June, Strang says

AstraZeneca is easier to store and transport than the other COVID-19 vaccines, as it is only required to be kept between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius, which is similar to a flu vaccine. Due to this, the province has been able to turn to Doctors Nova Scotia and the pharmacy association to administer the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines to Nova Scotians between the ages of 50 and 64.

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“We’re really excited to be part of this part of the pandemic vaccine program,” said  Robyn MacQuarrie, president of Doctors Nova Scotia.

“It’s going quickly. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt (this year), it’s just that we need to be nimble.”

The initial shipment of 13,000 doses will all be used for first doses and the province will open up an online booking portal. Appointments will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis. The pharmacy association is stressing people should not be calling pharmacies to book an appointment, but rather use the provincial portal.

The doses will be divided among the two groups, and in total there will be 26 locations across the province, each offering about 300 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Both organizations are currently working with the province to chose the locations.

“Just trying to make sure there’s good representation around the province,” said Allison Bodnar, CEO of  the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia.

The two groups say there has been wide interest among doctors and pharmacies to take part, with Bodnar saying that every pharmacy in the province is willing and ready to take part in the vaccination program.

“We do a lot of immunizations, obviously we do a lot of flu shots in a short amount of time,” said Bodnar.

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“We know how to move people through the environment in a safe and effective way.”

While the timeline will be tight, with less than a month to prepare and just two weeks to administer the vaccines, Bodnar says that’s not a concern.

“We can get a lot of people vaccinated in a short amount of time,” said Bodnar.

“We’ll do our allotted volume in just over a week.”

Doctors across the province say they’re also well equipped to handle this rollout.

Click to play video 'N.S. physicians getting creative this flu season'

N.S. physicians getting creative this flu season

N.S. physicians getting creative this flu season – Oct 31, 2020

“We saw a lot of community docs be innovative in ways to distribute flu) vaccines with the restrictions of social distance,” said MacQuarrie.

“It’s good that we’ve had that experience already in administering a vaccine in social distancing settings.”

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Given recent recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which says that the time between doses can be extended from three to 16 weeks, the province is moving away from its approach of holding onto the second dose, and focusing on getting first doses to more people sooner.

However, Strang has said that right now there is no evidence that allows the mixing of vaccines, so whatever vaccine Nova Scotians receive for the first dose will be what they receive for their second dose.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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COVID cases in Ontario could spike to 30,000 per day by June



TORONTO (Reuters) – New cases of COVID-19 in Canada‘s most populous province could rise more than six fold, topping 30,000 per day by early June if public health measures are weak and vaccination rates remain flat, a panel of experts advising the province of Ontario said on Friday.

Even if measures to control the virus are “moderate,” the number of patients in Ontario ICUs could reach 2,000 in May, up from 695 on Friday.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario told doctors last week they may soon have to decide who can and cannot receive intensive care.


(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Chris Reese)

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Moderna sees shortfall in Britain COVID vaccine shipments, EU deliveries on track



ZURICH (Reuters) – U.S. drugmaker Moderna expects a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain hitting second-quarter delivery quantities for Britain and Canada, though European Union– and Swiss-bound shipments are on track, a spokesperson said.

The delays, first announced on Friday when Canada said Moderna would be delivering only about half the planned 1.2 million doses by the end of April, come as Switzerland’s Lonza ramps up three new production lines to make active ingredients for Moderna vaccine supplies outside of the United States.

“The trajectory of vaccine manufacturing ramp-up is not linear, and despite best efforts, there is a shortfall in previously estimated doses from the European supply chain,” Moderna said in a statement.

Lonza didn’t immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment on any issues in its production.


(Reporting by John Miller; editing by David Evans)

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Moderna says vaccines to Canada to be delayed due to Europe shortfall



(Reuters) -Moderna Inc said on Friday a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain will lead to a delay in deliveries to some countries including Canada.

The drugmaker would be delivering only 650,000 doses by April end as opposed to 1.2 million, Canada‘s Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in a statement.

She said one to two million doses of the 12.3 million doses scheduled for delivery by Moderna in the second quarter would be delayed until the third.

Moderna officials in Europe did not immediately comment on the reason for the delays or give the total number of countries that would be impacted.

“Vaccine manufacturing is a highly complex process and a number of elements, including human and material resources have factored into this volatility,” said Patricia Gauthier, an executive at Moderna Canada.

Canada has distributed a total of 2.82 million doses of the Moderna vaccine as of April 14 and 12.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in total.

Moderna has been aiming to deliver 700 million to 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 globally this year, including from plants in Europe and the United States.

Swiss contract drug manufacturer Lonza makes active ingredients for Moderna’s vaccine in Visp, but it was still ramping up three new production lines that once operational would be able to produce 300 million shots annually.

The current supply, demand and distribution landscape has led the drugmaker to make adjustments in the expected second-quarter deliveries, Gauthier said.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru, Allison Martell in Toronto and John Miller in Zurich; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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