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Europe to pay less than US for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine – Al Jazeera English

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The EU has struck a deal to initially pay less for Pfizer’s vaccine candidate, an official source tells Reuters News Agency.

The European Union has struck a deal to initially pay less for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate than the United States, an EU official told Reuters News Agency as the bloc announced on Wednesday it had secured an agreement for up to 300 million doses.

The experimental drug, developed in conjunction with Germany’s BioNTech, is the frontrunner in a global race to produce a vaccine, with interim data released on Monday showing it was more than 90 percent effective at protecting people from COVID-19 in a large-scale clinical trial.

Under the EU deal, 27 European countries could buy 200 million doses, and have an option to buy another 100 million.

The bloc will pay less than $19.50 per jab, a senior EU official involved in talks with vaccine makers told Reuters, adding that partly reflected the financial support given by the EU and Germany for the drug’s development.

The official requested anonymity as the terms of the agreement are confidential.

The United States agreed to pay $19.50 per jab for 100 million doses, a smaller volume than the EU. But it has an option to buy a further 500 million under terms to be negotiated separately, and the price it will pay is unclear.

BioNTech signalled this week that order size would affect the per-dose price in the developed world and said it would differentiate pricing between countries or regions for its potential vaccine.

The EU official said the EU had agreed upon a price that was closer to $20 than to $10 but declined to give a precise figure.

Pfizer and BioNTech declined to comment on the pricing. A spokesman for the EU Commission, which negotiates vaccine agreements on behalf of EU states, also declined to comment.

Medical staff move a patient suffering from COVID-19 to a plane during a transfer operation from Lille-Lesquin airport in France to Muenster airport in Germany [File: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters]

In June, the European Investment Bank, the EU’s financial arm, granted a 100-million-euro ($118m) loan to BioNTech for the development and manufacturing of its COVID-19 vaccine, which was followed in September by another 375-million-euro funding by Germany’s research ministry.

“With this fourth contract we are now consolidating an extremely solid vaccine candidate portfolio, most of them in advanced trials phase,” the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said, announcing the Pfizer deal.

The EU has already signed supply deals with AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson for their experimental COVID-19 jabs, and is talking with Moderna, CureVac and Novavax to secure their vaccines.

Under the EU’s deals with vaccine makers, the bloc offers a non-refundable down payment to companies in exchange for the right to book doses which EU states could buy at a pre-agreed price if the vaccine is approved as effective and safe by the EU drug regulator.

The Commission did not disclose the down payment made to Pfizer and BioNTech.

‘No copy-paste’ on liability terms

The prices agreed by the EU in previous deals with vaccine makers have partly been influenced by liability terms, which could cause large additional legal costs if inoculated people developed unexpected conditions because of the treatment.

A man receives a coronavirus test distributed by the Wisconsin National Guard at the United Migrant Opportunity Services centre, as cases spread in the Midwest, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US [File: Alex Wroblewski/Reuters]

Asked about liability clauses in the Pfizer contract, which have been a bone of contention between EU negotiators and drugmakers, the EU official said conditions were different from those the EU agreed with other companies, and also different from those Pfizer had with the US government.

There was “no copy-paste” on liability terms from previous contracts, the official said.

French drugmaker Sanofi, which is working with GlaxoSmithKline as a partner, has agreed with the EU a price of about 10 euros ($11.8) per dose and did not get any liability waiver, while AstraZeneca would pay claims only up to a certain threshold if something goes wrong with its vaccine in exchange for a price of 2.5 euro per dose, an official told Reuters in September.

Bad side-effects after a vaccine is approved are rare but are considered more likely in this emergency because of the unprecedented speed with which vaccines are being developed.

The US has granted immunity from liability for COVID-19 vaccines that receive regulatory approval.

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Potential COVID-19 exposure identified at six locations in the Halifax area – HalifaxToday.ca

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NEWS RELEASE
NOVA SCOTIA HEALTH
*************************
Nova Scotia Health Public Health is advising of potential exposure to COVID-19 at various locations across Halifax. In addition to media releases, all potential exposure notifications are now listed here.

Anyone who visited the following locations on the specified date and time to immediately visit covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. People who book testing because they were at a site of potential exposure to COVID-19 are required to self-isolate before their test and while waiting for test results. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you.

  • Stillwell (1672 Barrington St, Halifax) on Nov. 20 between 6 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 4.
  • Bearly’s House of Blues and Ribs (1269 Barrington St, Halifax) on Nov. 20 between 8:30 p.m. and 2 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 4.
  • Highwayman (1673 Barrington St, Halifax) on Nov. 21 between 7:30 p.m. and 12 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 5.
  • Gahan House (5239 Sackville St, Halifax) on Nov. 21 between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 5.
  • Princess Nails (1475 Bedford Highway, Bedford) on Nov. 21 between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. It is anticipated anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the above date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 5.
  • Boston Pizza Dartmouth Crossing (111 Shubie Dr, Dartmouth) on Nov. 20 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Nov. 22 between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 6.

Please remember:
Do not go directly to a COVID-19 assessment centre without being directed to do so.

Currently, anyone travelling to Nova Scotia from outside of the Atlantic Provinces is expected to self-isolate alone for 14 days after arriving. If a person travelling for non-essential reasons enters Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada, then everyone in the home where they are self-isolating will have to self-isolate as well.

When Nova Scotia Health Public Health makes a public notification it is not in any way a reflection on the behaviour or activities of those named in the notification.

All Nova Scotians are advised to continue monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms and are urged to follow Public Health guidelines on how to access care. Up to date information about COVID-19 is available at novascotia.ca/coronavirus

*************************

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Macklem says bond-buying program about lowering rates, not financing feds – BNN

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OTTAWA – Canada’s top central banker gave MPs a detailed defence of the Bank of Canada’s buying spree of government debt Thursday, saying it is aimed at lowering borrowing costs across the country.

The Bank of Canada has launched an unprecedented bond-buying program that effectively lowers borrowing costs for the federal government as its racks up a historic deficit.

It now holds just under one-third of federal debt, with the bank believing it can scale up those purchases before throwing a wrench into credit markets.

But the purchases have put Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem in a political hot seat, with Conservatives on Parliament Hill warning the central bank about appearing too cosy with the governing Liberals.

During an appearance at the House of Commons finance committee Thursday, Macklem said the bank isn’t financing the federal government, but is reducing the cost to borrow for households and businesses.

He said the central bank will stop buying government bonds once the recovery is well underway, which is likely to happen before inflation gets back to the Bank of Canada’s two per cent comfort zone.

“Our actions by lowering interest rates and by buying government bonds are lowering the cost of financing the government. In fact, they’re lowering the cost of borrowing for everybody,” Macklem said.

“We’re not financing the government.”

The bond-buying program is the central bank’s first foray into what’s known as quantitative easing, which is a way for central banks to pump more money into the economy.

The central bank started the program as it dropped its trendsetting policy rate to 0.25 per cent to drive down interest rates. The purchasing program was designed to drive down rates even more on things like mortgages.

What the bank has done is buy up government bonds to spur demand and time lower interest rates, particularly for borrowers using terms of between three and 10 years like homeowners, homebuyers and businesses.

The bank’s balance sheet has swelled since March and now holds about $344 billion in government debt, or roughly 30 per cent of federal debt, after purchasing about $163 billion in bonds.

Macklem said central banks generally can hold between 50 and 70 per cent of debt before it begins to impair credit markets.

The bank has taken its foot off the gas recently for its purchasing program as the market conditions have improved, allowing it to reduce its total minimum weekly purchases to $4 billion.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre argued the purchases were inflating financial assets, and enriching the mostly affluent people who own them to push up inflation.

“Inflationary costs are borne disproportionately by the poor and the disadvantaged,” Poilievre said. “So you’re effectively transferring an enormous sum of wealth to those who have financial assets, while diluting the wages of working-class people.”

Pressed by Conservatives on the committee for a date when the buying will come to end, Macklem said the uncertain path of the pandemic prevents him from being able to circle a day on the calendar.

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Macklem says bond-buying program about lowering rates – BNN

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OTTAWA – Canada’s top central banker gave MPs a detailed defence of the Bank of Canada’s buying spree of government debt Thursday, saying it is aimed at lowering borrowing costs across the country.

The Bank of Canada has launched an unprecedented bond-buying program that effectively lowers borrowing costs for the federal government as its racks up a historic deficit.

It now holds just under one-third of federal debt, with the bank believing it can scale up those purchases before throwing a wrench into credit markets.

But the purchases have put Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem in a political hot seat, with Conservatives on Parliament Hill warning the central bank about appearing too cosy with the governing Liberals.

During an appearance at the House of Commons finance committee Thursday, Macklem said the bank isn’t financing the federal government, but is reducing the cost to borrow for households and businesses.

He said the central bank will stop buying government bonds once the recovery is well underway, which is likely to happen before inflation gets back to the Bank of Canada’s two per cent comfort zone.

“Our actions by lowering interest rates and by buying government bonds are lowering the cost of financing the government. In fact, they’re lowering the cost of borrowing for everybody,” Macklem said.

“We’re not financing the government.”

The bond-buying program is the central bank’s first foray into what’s known as quantitative easing, which is a way for central banks to pump more money into the economy.

The central bank started the program as it dropped its trendsetting policy rate to 0.25 per cent to drive down interest rates. The purchasing program was designed to drive down rates even more on things like mortgages.

What the bank has done is buy up government bonds to spur demand and time lower interest rates, particularly for borrowers using terms of between three and 10 years like homeowners, homebuyers and businesses.

The bank’s balance sheet has swelled since March and now holds about $344 billion in government debt, or roughly 30 per cent of federal debt, after purchasing about $163 billion in bonds.

Macklem said central banks generally can hold between 50 and 70 per cent of debt before it begins to impair credit markets.

The bank has taken its foot off the gas recently for its purchasing program as the market conditions have improved, allowing it to reduce its total minimum weekly purchases to $4 billion.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre argued the purchases were inflating financial assets, and enriching the mostly affluent people who own them to push up inflation.

“Inflationary costs are borne disproportionately by the poor and the disadvantaged,” Poilievre said. “So you’re effectively transferring an enormous sum of wealth to those who have financial assets, while diluting the wages of working-class people.”

Pressed by Conservatives on the committee for a date when the buying will come to end, Macklem said the uncertain path of the pandemic prevents him from being able to circle a day on the calendar.

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