TORONTO – Major North American indexes advanced Thursday as news emerged about an upcoming COVID-19 vaccine trial.
“Markets are headline-driven as they always are, and this seems to be the latest one and it’s positive,” said Erik Bregar, head of FX strategy at the Exchange Bank of Canada.
The S&P/TSX composite index gained 29.38 points to 16,606.76.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average advanced 46.85 points to 27,739.73. The S&P 500 index moved up 10.66 points to 3,385.51, while the Nasdaq composite added 118.49 points to 11,264.95.
Markets moved up after headlines said Johnson & Johnson would be soon starting a trial of a vaccine.
The company expects to start a Phase 3 trial on an estimated 60,000 participants on Sept. 5, according to a filing on ClinicalTrials.gov, a database of public and private clinical studies.
“Markets tend to really love these vaccine headlines,” said Bregar, noting this one reads positive on the surface.
“Everything’s kind of been up ever since that,” he said, noting it’s a contrast to early-morning trading when markets were down after disappointing economic data out of the U.S.
After two weeks of declines, the number of workers applying for unemployment in the United States moved up over one million, according to a government report.
That soured investor sentiment for a few hours before the vaccine-related news boosted markets, Bregar said.
The Canadian dollar traded for 75.79 cents US compared with 75.92 cents US on Wednesday.
The October crude contract lost 29 cents to US$42.82 per barrel and the September natural gas contract declined by about seven cents to US$2.35 per mmBTU.
The December gold contract shed US$23.80 to US$1,946.50 an ounce and the September copper contract fell nearly five cents to roughly US$2.98 a pound.
Two more nooses found at construction site at Michael Garron Hospital – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Friday, September 25, 2020 11:43AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 25, 2020 12:27PM EDT
Two more nooses were found at a construction site at Michael Garron Hospital on Thursday, prompting its president and CEO to release a statement expressing her shock and anger at what she says is clearly “a systematic problem.”
There have been at least four separate incidents so far this summer in which nooses have been left hanging at construction sites in the city, including another one at the Michael Garron worksite in June.
The incidents prompted Mayor John Tory to holds a series of meetings with executives and union leaders from the construction industry earlier this summer in which he challenged them to take action to address anti-Black racism within the sector.
The latest incident, however, casts a shadow over those efforts.
“This pattern indicates a systemic problem. Although we have been reassured by the efforts made by EllisDon and others to address racism in the construction industry, it is clear that they need to do better,” Michael Garron Hospital President and CEO Sarah Downey said in a statement issued Friday. “I am committed to addressing systemic and overt racism within our organization and the health sector and will hold EllisDon and all of our partners accountable to do the same.”
Downey said that the latest “despicable acts of racism” at the work site are particularly disheartening given the efforts the hospital went to in June to help the community recover, which included the staging of a “healing ceremony” before the final structural beam was erected in its new building.
She said that viewed through that lens, what happened on Thursday can only be described as “an overt attempt to dismantle the reconciliation work our community and our hospital has done to heal.”
For its part, EllisDon told CP24 in a statement that it immediately contacted police after becoming aware of the latest incident and will also be conducting its own investigation.
As well, the company says that members of its senior leadership team will be visiting the site today to “address the project team and condemn these actions.”
“We strongly condemn all acts of racism and we stand by our Black employees, subtrade workers and local community members,” the statement reads.
In a series of messages posted to Twitter on Friday morning Mayor John Tory said that he is “deeply concerned” with the latest incidents at the Michael Garron worksite, noting that “this blatant hatred and threat of violence, has no place in our city.”
Tory said that he will also continue to work with the construction industry to address anti-Black racism, as he has throughout the summer.
As part of that work, EllisDon has already taken a number of actions, including the creation off three employee-led leadership teams focused on anti-racism, inclusion and gender equality.
It has also created an Alliance of Black Employees Experience and Leadership (ABEEL) group.
Canada signs deal to obtain 20M doses of Oxford coronavirus vaccine candidate – MSN Canada
The vaccine is being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
It’s one of several potential vaccines that the government has signed deals to procure in the event they are successful.
Agreements were previously reached with major pharmaceutical companies including Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.
“Canadians must have access to a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 as quickly as possible, no matter where it was developed,” Trudeau said during a press conference in Ottawa on Friday.
Trudeau also announced that Canada is joining an international coalition on vaccine distribution.
Canada will contribute $440 million toward the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, known as COVAX.
Canada is joining both parts of the initiative: one which secures access to millions of doses of vaccines for Canada, and the other which has wealthier nations pooling their funds to help lower and middle-income countries secure doses as well.
The deal will give Canada the option to buy up to 15 million doses, Trudeau said.
Joining the program will allow Canada to help ensure the successful vaccine is distributed “quickly and fairly” around the world, according to the prime minister.
“This pandemic cannot be solved by any one country alone because to eliminate the virus anywhere, we need to eliminate it everywhere,” he said.
–With files from The Canadian Press
Video: COVID vaccine tested, experts say no corners cut (The Canadian Press)
Canada signs deal to obtain 20M doses of Oxford coronavirus vaccine candidate – Global News
The coronavirus is continuing to mutate, and a recent study believes one of the lastest strains could be more contagious.
The study out of Houston was published Wednesday on the preprint server MedRxiv. It has not been peer-reviewed, meaning the research has yet to be evaluated and should not be used to guide clinical practice.
The research found the mutation did not make COVID-19 deadlier, but with the spike in coronavirus cases across the U.S. and Canada, the virus has had opportunities to change and become more infectious.
David Morens, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Washington Post, that the findings could mean COVID-19, through its mutations, is responding to public health interventions, such as mask-wearing and social distancing.
“Wearing masks, washing our hands, all those things are barriers to transmissibility or contagion, but as the virus becomes more contagious, it statistically is better at getting around those barriers,” Morens said.
But he stressed that this is still a new study and the research should not be over-interpreted.
The pandemic virus is mutating, but there’s no need to panic
About the study
The study’s researchers said they sequenced the genomes of 5,085 strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and examined it over the two pandemic waves in Houston, an ethnically diverse region with seven million residents.
The first coronavirus wave took place from March 5 to May 11. The second was from May 12 to July 7.
The authors said many different strains of the virus entered Houston initially. But when the city went from a small first wave in March to a much larger second one in late June, almost every coronavirus sample contained a particular mutation on the virus’s surface.
The research found that “virtually all strains” in the second wave have a “Gly614 amino acid replacement in the spike protein,” which is linked to increased transmission and infection.
Strains with the Gly614 amino acid variant represented 71 per cent of SARS-CoV-2 sequenced in March (the early part of wave one), 82 per cent a few weeks later and then 99.9 per cent in the second wave, the study found.
People infected with the mutated strain had higher loads of the virus in their upper respiratory tracts, a potential factor in making the strain spread more effectively, the authors said.
They added that the severity of each case depended on whether the patient had underlying health conditions.
The rise of this contagious strain of COVID-19 may have contributed to a spike in cases in the Houston area, the study concluded.
Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces
Levon Abrahamyan, a virologist at the University of Montreal, said the study is “very important” as there are a large number of samples to examine.
However, he said, it has limitations.
“It’s hard to take into account variables like ethnic background, age, economic status, medical care … All of this can have an influence on the outcome,” he explained.
So, what does this mean?
Morens said if the findings turn out to be correct, the mutation may have implications for a vaccine.
If someone receives a coronavirus vaccine, there is a “possibility” that the virus will find a way to get around the immunity, he said.
Abrahamyan said if the virus does have the ability to transmit or infect more easily, this could mean that, on a global level, we would be dealing with a strain of the coronavirus that may change every few years, like influenza.
“Every year we may have a new strain, which means we may have to have a new vaccine and change it every few years,” he said.
Ever since COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China last year, thousands of mutations have been observed, scientists said.
“It’s absolutely normal for a virus to mutate. They do so at a very high rate, too, which is why they are so adaptable; they have the ability to adapt to new situations and new hosts. This is why we have this new coronavirus,” Abrahamyan said.
He added that even though the coronavirus mutates quite frequently, it still does not do so as fast as other viruses like influenza and HIV.
Winnipeg’s influenza epidemic of 1918-1919
“This is not the first report about this mutation. A change in a spike protein is important for the virus to bind to the host cell,” Abrahamyan said.
Abrahamyan said what could make this coronavirus mutation different is that scientists are speculating the coronavirus could have a higher “fitness,” meaning, it can increase its chance to attach and enter the human body or multiply.
But in terms of its ability to get through a mask, he said he doesn’t buy it.
“I don’t believe in that speculation. It can’t change its ability to get through a mask — the size is still the same.,” he said. “(Instead) we’re talking about its higher fitness level for this mutant strain of coronavirus … Its mobility could be higher.”
Abrahamyan stressed until there is a safe vaccine available, wearing a mask, washing your hands and practising physical distancing is still the best way to safeguard against spreading COVID-19.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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