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Doctors say the kids' COVID-19 vaccine is a booster for mental health –



Diana Grimaldos keeps getting the same questions from her kids. 

“Is the virus gone? Has the virus gone away?”

Her seven-year-old daughter, Katalina, has always been an anxious child — but it got much worse during the pandemic. 

“She worries,” said Grimaldos, who lives in Toronto.

Katalina’s anxiety was especially high during lockdown. Although seeing her parents get their COVID-19 vaccines helped, along with going back to school in person, “she’s still very fearful,” said her mother.

The meteoric rise in mental health issues among children throughout the pandemic is all too familiar for many parents — backed up by study after study and reflected in the practices of health-care providers across Canada.

The best medicine for many children, pediatric experts say, is to restore normalcy in their lives, while staying safe from COVID-19 infection. 

Now that Health Canada has approved Canada’s first coronavirus vaccine for kids aged five to 11, many parents and children’s health-care providers see light at the end of the tunnel. 

Diana Grimaldos, pictured with her husband Richard Ferreira, daughter Katalina and son Emiliano, says her kids keep asking if the ‘virus’ is gone. (Diana Grimaldos)

‘Vaccine is the way that we can get there’

The pandemic’s effect on kids extends beyond the threat of COVID-19 making them sick, said Dr. Eddsel Martinez, a pediatrician in Winnipeg and member of the Canadian Paediatric Society’s public advisory committee.

The public health measures that had to be taken to save lives have led to isolation, economic insecurity and parental stress, which are all “terrible for mental health,” he said.

“We’ve seen an increase in all sorts of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance use and abuse.”

Children, in general, are resilient, Martinez said. For many, a return to regular activities, including school, birthday parties, sleepovers and visits with grandparents will do wonders. 

“All those things are extremely important for mental health,” he said. “The vaccine is the way that we can get there.”

Dr. Eddsel Martinez, a pediatrician in Winnipeg and member of the Canadian Paediatric Society’s public advisory committee, says the children’s COVID vaccine will help restore mental wellness for many children by getting them back to normal activities. (Andrew Mahon)

Many kids are also acutely aware of the fact that they can carry the COVID-19 infection and make someone they love ill, both parents and doctors say. 

Grimaldos’s husband is immunocompromised and Katalina worries about making her dad sick, especially when there’s a COVID outbreak at her school. 

Her mother tries to reassure her and “remove that guilt.”

But even at outdoor family gatherings where all the adults are vaccinated, “she feels more comfortable with the mask than without it,” Grimaldos said. 

That’s a big emotional burden for a child to carry, said Dr. Anna Banerji, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. 

The children’s vaccine can not only reduce the risk of kids getting really sick, but also address “the worry about COVID and what’s going to happen next,” Banerji said. 

“‘Am I going to get sick? Am I going to transmit this to my family members?’ That’s a huge stress,” she said. 

‘Collateral harms’

When Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) decide whether or not to approve a vaccine, the key questions they must answer are whether the vaccine is safe and effective and whether the benefits outweigh any risks. 

In the case of COVID-19, mental health has to be part of that discussion, said Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist and medical microbiologist at Chu Ste. Justine in Montreal. 

“What you have to look at is the burden of illness. And the burden of illness includes not only the medical complications but also all the cross-collateral damages that occur,” said Quach-Thanh, who is also a former chair of NACI. 

The recommendations released by NACI on Friday concluded that Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine was not only safe and effective in protecting children from illness, but also said that children are “at risk of collateral harms of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prolonged schooling disruptions, social isolation, and reduced access to academic and extra-curricular resources have had profound impact on the mental and physical well-being of children and their families.” 

WATCH | Health Canada approves Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11:

Health Canada approves Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11

Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is the first one approved for use in children ages five to 11 in Canada. The federal government says there’ll be enough vaccine shipments to provide a first dose to every child. 3:36

The U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came to similar conclusions when they approved Pfizer’s vaccine for American children — a move that was applauded by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

“The numbers are trickling in now that [show] the COVID pandemic has really resulted in significant psychosocial stressors on children and families,” said Dr. Arwa Nasir, professor of pediatrics at University of Nebraska Medical Center and member of the AAP. 

“We have numbers now to indicate an increase in the number of emergency room visits for mental health issues, suicide attempts,” she said.   

That data backs up what pediatricians feared, Nasir said. 

 “We knew that the stressors associated with the pandemic, all the way from, you know, the illness itself, the death of family members, the quarantine, the interruption of school … we knew that this is not going to be good.” 

Surge in ER visits

The alarming rise in mental health issues so severe that they require a trip to the hospital is also happening on this side of the border, said Dr. Michael Cheng, a child psychiatrist at CHEO in Ottawa (formerly the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario).

“We are overloaded in terms of mental health issues,” Cheng said. “Kids have gotten more stressed, anxious, depressed, suicidal during the pandemic and now they’re just to the point they’re presenting to emerg,” Cheng said. 

Part of that is due to the interruption of health-care services during the pandemic, so people delayed getting treatment for both physical and mental health problems and they got worse, he said. The other part is an increase in children experiencing psychological distress. 

“Our wait lists have exploded,” Cheng said. 

The good news, he said, is that if kids can get back to normal life, many will recover and be OK.  

“Whenever you have a stress on a population … most people will recover from that stress,” he said. “Hopefully 80, 90 per cent of people will manage to move on.”

A child arrives with her parent to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Wheeling, Ill., on Wednesday. (Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press)

In the U.S., children have been getting COVID-19 vaccinations for a couple of weeks. While Nasir has been providing information to many families who are hesitant to get the vaccine, she’s also families with kids who are “just so happy” to get the shot. 

“This is a happy, empowering, good adjustment feeling that … can be very helpful to their mental health,” Nasir said. 

“[Kids feel like] ‘I’m not like a victim to this. I’m doing something about it … and I’m participating not only in my wellness but also in the community’s wellness.'”

That’s how Diana Grimaldos hopes her daughter will feel when she gets her vaccine soon. 

“I think it will give her a sense of security, for sure.”

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Google delays return to office in Europe, Middle East, Africa – Business Insider



Alphabet Inc‘s Google is postponing its return-to-office plan for offices in Europe, the Middle East and Africa on concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Business Insider reported on Thursday, citing a memo it obtained.


(Reporting by Deborah Sophia in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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Canada’s CIBC misses profit estimates as costs climb, TD beats



Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) posted disappointing fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday as expenses and retail banking bad debt provisions rose, while bigger rival Toronto-Dominion Bank beat expectations.

Both banks joined rivals in announcing share buybacks and raising dividends, which they are now able to do since the financial regulator’s restriction on capital distributions was

lifted last month.

TD, Canada‘s second-biggest bank, posted lower margins in Canada, but it surprised with a 5 basis-point margin expansion in its U.S. retail business from the prior quarter. It also released C$123 million ($96 million) of reserves previously set aside to cover loan losses.

CIBC, the country’s fifth-largest bank, reported 10% revenue growth, but that was clouded by a 13% increase in expenses. It also took C$78 million of provisions, higher than expected, as a 36% jump in money set aside in its Canadian banking unit offset releases in other divisions.

CIBC said it expects expense growth in fiscal 2022 to rise to the mid-single digits, but aims to deliver positive medium-term operating leverage, with revenue growth outpacing expense expansion.

“While we may have periods of negative operating leverage earlier in the year, we will target positive operating leverage across our business through the course of next year,” Chief Financial Officer Hratch Panossian said on an analyst call.

TD shares jumped 3.8% to C$95.48 in morning trading in Toronto, while CIBC fell 2.5% to C$137.61. The broader stock benchmark rose 0.9%.

TD said it would increase its dividend by 12.7%, and would buy back up to 50 million, or 2.7%, of outstanding shares.

CIBC will raise its dividend by 10.2$ to C$1.61 per share and said it would buy back up to 10 million shares, about 2.2% of outstanding stock.

Canadian banks have largely posted better-than-expected earnings in past quarters, but have faced pressures from low margins and higher variable compensation costs this quarter, with some of the boost from their capital markets businesses and reserve releases in prior periods receding.

The recovery in Canadian non-mortgage lending that investors had been hoping for is materializing, albeit at different rates.

Canadian credit card lending at both banks rose 3.1% from the prior quarter. TD’s business lending grew 2.6% from the previous quarter, the same pace as mortgage growth. CIBC’s corporate lending grew a more muted 0.85%, compared with a 3.4% increase in home loans.

TD said adjusted net income rose to C$2.09 a share from C$1.60 cents, a year earlier, compared with the average analyst estimate of C$1.96 a share.

CIBC said profit excluding one-off items rose to C$3.37 per share from C$2.79 a year earlier, versus the average analyst estimate of C$3.53.

($1 = 1.2817 Canadian dollars)


(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Additional reporting by Sohini Podder and Mehnaz Yasmin; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Jan Harvey, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Jane Merriman)

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CIBC Misses Analysts’ Estimates as Expense Gains Accelerate – Yahoo Canada Finance



(Bloomberg) — Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is seeing costs rise as the lender ramps up spending to boost businesses in the U.S. and domestically.

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Non-interest expenses rose 7.4% from the third quarter to C$3.14 billion ($2.5 billion), the Toronto-based bank said Thursday in a statement. That’s an acceleration from the previous 5.9% quarter-over-quarter gain it reported in August. Overall profit trailed analysts’ estimates.

CIBC has been spending to expand its franchise in the U.S. as well as its Canadian personal and business banking unit to sustain the growth in mortgages and client retention it has seen in recent quarters. But those investments haven’t been cheap as labor costs rise and banks battle to retain talent, driving up CIBC’s salary costs 5% from the third quarter and increasing performance-based compensation 20% for the year.

Chief Financial Officer Hratch Panossian said CIBC will keep spending to help drive revenue gains.

“Our strategy is to generate positive operating leverage, but to do so through top-line growth rather than containing expenses or under-investing,” Panossian said on the company’s earnings call.

CIBC slid 4.1% to C$135.44 at 9:40 a.m. in Toronto. The shares have advanced almost 25% this year, compared with a 27% gain for the S&P/TSX Commercial Banks Index.

The lender also raised its quarterly dividend 10% to C$1.61 a share, and announced a plan to buy back 10 million shares, or about 2.2% of outstanding shares. At the current share price, that would cost about C$1.4 billion. Canada’s banks last month were released from restrictions on dividend increases and share buybacks that regulators put in place early in the pandemic to protect the financial system.

Also in the statement:

  • Net income rose 42% to C$1.44 billion, or C$3.07 a share, in the three months through Oct. 31. Excluding some items, profit was C$3.37 a share. Analysts estimated C$3.54, on average.

  • CIBC took C$78 million in provisions for credit losses. Analysts estimated C$125.4 million, on average.

  • Canadian banking profit rose 1.2% from a year earlier to C$597 million.

(Updates with CFO’s comments starting in fourth paragraph.)

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