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Electronic Arts, NHL, NHLPA extend their partnership with multi-year deal –



TORONTO — Like the NHL, EA Sports was forced to adapt to the pandemic.

While the league opted to finish out its season in a bubble, the video game developer moved to remote production.

“It’s been interesting,” said Sean Ramjagsingh, executive producer of EA Sports’ made-in-Vancouver NHL franchise. Since March we’ve all moved to work from home, seemingly overnight.

“Which presented some initial challenges, to figure out how to get the team sort of up and running and running efficiently. So that part we managed through. And then once from an execution perspective we were up and running at home and we figured out the hardware and the software considerations, the next piece for us was really how do we deliver quality?”

Ramjagsingh’s concern was that much of the creative process comes from a producer or designer sitting next to an artist, engineer or animator, bouncing ideas off each other or tweaking the game “until it looks and feels correct.”

He credits his team “for thinking outside the box in terms of how to figure out different ways for us to still drive strong communication and iteration, to drive and deliver the game at quality.”

“It’s been a very very interesting and fascinating ride.”

NHL 21 was released Oct. 16, with Capitals star Alex Ovechkin its cover athlete. It was later than the normal September release, but nothing has been normal this year. The NHL season ended in late September with the Tampa Bay Lightning hoisting the Stanley Cup in the bubble.

There will be more games to come, on and off the ice. On Thursday, Electronic Arts, NHL and NHL Players Association announced a multi-year renewal to their video game partnership.

Much has happened in the world since 1991 when the first version of the NHL game was released. But this year has been unique, with video games providing both an escape from the real world and a chance to connect to sports on hiatus.

“The past eight months illustrates how EA is a critical extension to real-world sports, as fans turned to EA Sports NHL to play and watch hockey while we temporarily paused during the pandemic,” Brian Jennings, the NHL’s chief brand officer and senior executive vice-president, said in a statement.

“Our shared approach for competitive gaming has enabled the league to create a touchpoint to younger fans who may experience the NHL for the first time through EA Sports NHL. Sustained connection that enhances fandom is what EA delivers and we look forward to continuing the incredible partnership.”’

Like finishing the season, just finishing the game was a challenge. But quality not delivery was the goal.

“Just getting the game out of the door would have been an accomplishment for sure” Ramjagsingh said. “But (it) would not have been our expectation of delivering the game at quality for players.”

The EA game continues to deliver authenticity, albeit in a non-COVID world. There is no bubble option in the game, just real arenas with fans in the stands.

But the video game continues to reflect what’s happening on the ice. A new generation of stars, growing up with YouTube and video game controllers, come equipped with an arsenal of slick tricks.

The NHL video game has added such signature moves.

“I’ve been working on this NHL franchise since 2008,” Ramjagsingh said. “All of these kids that you’re seeing playing in the NHL have pretty much grown up with our game and don’t know a world without our video game. For a lot of people, our game is the first touchpoint to the sport of hockey which is really real exciting.”

So gamers can try to pull off flamboyant lacrosse-move goals or the no-deke deke by Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov.

EA will have to continue to adapt with a new season possibly starting in January.

“It’s all sort of flux, all up in the air right now as we try to figure out how the world’s going to play out over the next little bit here,” Ramjagsingh said.

That includes the next-generation PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles out later this month. “NHL 21” can be played on the new consoles, although the game was not specifically designed for them.

EA also announced Thursday a new multi-year partnership with the UFC to continue making its MMA video game.

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Health Matters: Two Alberta toddlers finally receive expensive, life-saving drug Zolgensma | Watch News Videos Online –



Health Matters December 3: Two Edmonton-area children, suffering from spinal muscular atrophy Type 1 and in need of a $2.8 million life-saving Zolgensma treatment, have finally received it — thanks to a twist of fate. And the winner of the Mighty Millions Lottery grand prize is revealed. Su-Ling Goh reports.

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What you need to know about COVID-19 antibody tests – Kingston News – Kingstonist



Photo: Karolina Grabowska

A COVID-19 antibody test is now generally available to Kingston residents, with a doctor’s requisition. The medical laboratory chain Life Labs began offering the Health Canada approved serology test on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. Currently available in British Columbia and Ontario, the test costs $75.

However, internal medical expert Dr. Gerald Evans advises that the results of a COVID-19 antibody tests are not always straightforward. He said he can’t think of many clinical circumstances when a doctor would request this information.

“Really it has very little utility in the general practice of medicine,” he said. “Right now the only use that we have for an antibody test, based on the guidelines that are issued, is to use it to investigate children who present with a multi inflammatory syndrome (IMSC)…. That’s really the only clinical utility we have for it,” he said.

He also explained that not everybody who gets COVID-19 exhibits the exact same antibody response, which makes the virus different from others such as measles or chickenpox.

“Most people get something, but some people are what we call ‘low-level responders,’ meaning the levels of antibodies that they get could be below a detection level that we’re looking for.”

“So if you wanted to do this test because you’re saying ‘I recall being ill and I think it was COVID,’ you do an antibody test. If it’s negative, it doesn’t really say that you didn’t have a COVID-19 infection. It may mean that you were one of these people that had a very mild infection and didn’t get a big antibody response.”

He also explained that humans make three different types of antibodies in response to a virus — IgG, IgA, IgM.

“IgM antibodies disappear very quickly. If you’re more than a couple of months out from your infection, you won’t find them. IgA antibodies are super tricky because they go up and down, they disappear, and some people don’t make them at all.”

The IgG antibody, which he said believes the Life Labs antibody tests are based on, is much more stable.

Life Labs CEO Charles Brown called antibody testing “another piece of the puzzle to better understand COVID-19.”

The company also explains on their website that a negative result might mean a person has been infected, but that antibody levels were too low for the test to detect. They note that you might receive a negative result, even after being infected, if not enough time has lapsed since the infection, to allow for antibodies to develop.

“Antibody response varies from person-to-person and can take up to three to four weeks post-onset of symptoms or post-exposure to be reliably detectable by antibody assays,” the company said.

Both Dr. Evans and Life Labs note that the test cannot be used to determine a current infection.

“It doesn’t really help in the diagnosis of COVID-19. Antibodies are made after you’re infected or when you’re in that recovery phase,” Dr. Evans said.

COVID-19 antibodies do not mean immunity

Dr. Evans said that typically, the IgG antibodies for the measles can be detected by a test in anyone that has ever had, or been inoculated against, the virus, even years later. They also indicate immunity. In the case of COVID-19, he said, it’s not the same thing.

“We still don’t quite have the exact test that tells us that those antibodies we’re measuring are at a high enough level or are responsible for neutralizing the virus, which would then predict that you’re immune,” he said.

“We’ve found people that even have these antibodies, they may not be in sufficient quantity. Or, it may not be the right antibody that actually protects them and gives them immunity. That’s the big problem.

“You could imagine somebody saying: ‘I’m going to get the test done to show that I’m immune,’ and that’s not really what it’s telling you.”

Life Labs website states that a positive test result does not infer immunity. They recommend getting the blood test three to four weeks after the onset of symptoms, adding that it’s possible to detect antibodies up to four months post-exposure.

“We look forward, to continue building our support for the healthcare system’s response to the pandemic, where Canadians have access to more important COVID-19 information to help them make informed decisions about their health,” Brown said.

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Westland Insurance marks 40th anniversary with charity campaign – Insurance Business Canada



In celebration of its 40 years of business, Westland Insurance Group will be handing out grants to various charities across Canada – specifically local charities in the communities the broker operates in.

The broker’s “40 Weeks of Giving” campaign will see Westland support a cause every week for the next 40 weeks. The campaign began last week, and two charities have already received donations from Westland – the first recipient being the Burns Bog Conservation Society, which works to protect Canada’s fragile ecosystems; and the second recipient being the Canadian Mental Health Association, which works to reduce the impact of mental illness and addiction.

Westland Insurance, founded in 1980, has over 150 locations across five provinces – BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.

Read more: Westland Insurance Group acquires Diamond Insurance Agencies

Recently, it acquired Calgary-based Diamond Insurance Agencies. The acquired brokerage focuses on residential, auto, life, travel, recreation, farm, and commercial insurance services.

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