The advisory committee recommended those over 70 be first in line for the vaccine, followed by health care professionals and then essential workers
OTTAWA – Ending COVID-19’s assault on Canada will require an effective vaccine and the government has already decided who will get it first and is looking to set up a massive logistics operation to deliver it across the country.
Earlier this week, the arm’s length National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended elderly people, specifically those over 70, be first in line for the vaccine, followed by health care professionals and then essential workers like police, firefighters and grocery store employees.
It also suggests making sure the vaccine is available early to people in close quarter facilities, like meat-packing facilities, prisons and homeless shelters where the virus has been able to spread quickly.
In a statement this week, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said she was confident that Canadians will understand that some people have to be at the front of the line.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have seen people come together to protect those most at risk,” she said. “We know Canadians will understand the need to prioritize some groups during the early weeks of COVID-19 vaccine roll-out until there is enough vaccine for everyone who wants it.”
The advisory committee also recommended the government take into account how quickly and where the virus is spreading when the vaccines become available and whether some vaccine candidates may be more effective in certain populations.
Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist in Hamilton, Ont., said given their mortality rates to the virus, putting the elderly first makes sense.
“If you’re gonna put bang for the buck, for the people that are gonna deal with the brunt of the disease that need an intervention now, it’s going to be that,” he said.
He said vaccinating everyone in long-term care homes for example won’t solve the problem, but it will be a major benefit to the people living there.
“Anything is better than nothing and if you roll it out correctly, even a small supply can have very profound implications for a locked-off population,” he said.
The advisory committee also recommends considering potentially targeting people with specific conditions, like obesity and heart disease, for early vaccination, but says there is still a need for more evidence before settling on a policy like that.
Chagla said they know that older, obese people often do poorly with the virus, but it is not universal.
“We still don’t know why one 50-year-old who’s obese goes to the ICU and the other 50 year old doesn’t,” he said.
He said one thing that could be worth considering as a vaccine rolls out is targeting people that have been identified as potential superspreaders. He said early research has shown most infected people spread the virus in a limited fashion, while others spread it aggressively, so called superspreaders.
Our anticipated delivery schedules are in line with the EU, Japan, Australia, and other jurisdictions
He said prioritizing those people might do a lot to bring down overall cases.
“if you prioritize that group, even though it seems counterintuitive, because they’re the healthiest? Would you get a significant amount more of community control.”
Through one-off deals and the government involvement in the COVAX facility, an international partnership, Canada potentially has access to a dozen vaccine candidates, but no vaccine has so far cleared clinical trials.
The logistical challenge of shipping millions of doses of vaccine are also on the government’s mind and companies have until Monday to respond to a tender for the project with the government planning to award a contract before the end of the month.
Monday’s deadline is for companies to indicate how they will meet the government’s demands, with further negotiations on price to come if the firms can prove they can actually do the job.
The scale of the project is immense with more than 300 million potential vaccine doses set to be sent to the provinces and territories beginning as soon as January and running well into 2022. The rollout of the flu vaccine this month in Ontario has led to shortages as more people than normal seek a shot.
Some of the vaccines will be delivered to Canada, while others have to be picked up from pharmaceutical companies in Europe. The government wants the winning bidder to have warehouse space all over the country, enough to be able to quickly move the vaccine to places where it is needed.
The government said it is confident Canadians will be getting deliveries on the same timeline as our allies provided the vaccines meet Health Canada’s approval.
“Canada’s proactive approach to securing access to a diversity of COVID-19 vaccine candidates has put us in a strong position, with first deliveries on track to arrive during the beginning of 2021,” said Procurement Minister Anita Anand in a statement. “Our anticipated delivery schedules are in line with the EU, Japan, Australia, and other jurisdictions.”
All of the vaccine candidates have to be kept cold adding another layer of complexity to the process. Up to 20 million doses of one Pfizer’s vaccine candidate for example have to be kept below -80C, while the company is handling distribution of that vaccine the government is arranging regular deliveries of dry ice to keep it cold.
Another 56 million doses of vaccine will have to be kept frozen at around -20C and then an additional 200 million doses need to be kept between 2C and 8C. The government is looking for the winning bidder to be able to provide refrigerated warehouses and a detailed inventory tracking system to handle it all.
Prashant Yadav, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and an expert on health care logistics, said the challenge of distributing the COVID-19 vaccine will be unlike anything governments have had to deal with.
“It is like setting up Amazon Prime type of daily delivery capabilities nationwide, but not over a four-year planning horizon,” he said.
Proposal documents show the government is looking to have a contract with one entity to handle the full process, leaving the potential for companies to team up into consortiums.
A briefing for the project was attended by airlines like WestJet and Air Canada, shipping firms like FedEx and Purolator and pharmacies like Shoppers Drug Mart. The government wants whoever wins the bid to be ready to go by Dec. 15. and to have systems in place to track deliveries.
Yadav said it will be difficult for a single company to have the tools and expertise for the whole process and he suspects companies will work together.
“Those are the kinds of mixes and matches that need to happen and the combinations of how people will come together to offer the best solution.”
Prairie Harm Reduction temporarily closing due to COVID-19 case – Global News
The closure, which also affects the safe consumption site, will last for two weeks.
The Saskatoon-based organization posted on its Facebook page Monday morning that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
PHR said the decision to close is the safest option.
The organization added that it allows for the quickest return to normalcy.
PHR’s safe consumption site, the first of its kind in Saskatchewan, opened its doors last month.
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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
2 more New Brunswick schools confirm cases of COVID-19 – CBC.ca
Two more schools in New Brunswick have confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to four since last week, and nine since the school year began.
Education Minister Dominic Cardy said administrators at Montgomery Street School in Fredericton and Centreville Community School, north of Hartland, issued notices to parents over the weekend.
The two schools are now working with New Brunswick Public Health to identify students and school personnel who might have been exposed to the virus.
Over the weekend, one case of COVID-19 was confirmed at Simonds High School in Saint John and another at Hampton Middle School. Harbour View High School in Saint John confirmed a possible exposure to the illness.
Students in Grade 7 at Hampton Middle School will start virtual learning this week
But public schools won’t close as they did this past spring, when COVID-19 first made an appearance in New Brunswick, Cardy told Information Morning Fredericton. Early in the pandemic, not as much was known about the coronavirus, but things are different now and such a broad shutdown of schools isn’t considered necessary.
“The goal could never be to have everything completely shut down indefinitely,” Cardy said.
“It was always to be as safe as possible and operating as close to normally as possible.”
Cardy said there is a single COVID-19 contact at Montgomery Street School, and everyone in the school has been notified. Letters to parents have also been sent out.
“That person is being isolated. We don’t believe there’s a further risk at this time.”
Cardy said he is trying to be as transparent as possible. And if parents haven’t received any emails from their child’s school or district, that’s a good sign.
“When you hear from Public Health … don’t panic. Just listen to what they have to say. And follow the steps.”
Cardy made it clear that schools will move to online learning right away if there are any risks to students or if the number of cases increases.
He said his department has been working in conjunction with Public Health, which is ” constantly looking at the data” related to COVID-19.
“We’ll be ready to move on a moment’s notice if they give us the word that we have to make a shift.”
In July, Cardy announced all high school students in New Brunswick would have to use their own electronic devices. A $7 million subsidy program to help low- and middle-income families buy computers was launched July 31.
But Cardy also said there could be challenges with the new online system.
“Anything brand new … I’m sure there will be issues with it.”
COVID-19 in schools
Cardy said he will continue working with districts and the New Brunswick Teachers’ Union and representatives of other workers in the school system.
“Making sure those communication lines are working as smoothly as possible,” he said.
“You’ve got a lot of moving pieces here.”
More cases of COVID-19
New Brunswick officials announced six new cases of COVID-19 in the province Sunday.
The new cases bring the total of active infections in the province to 77. One person is in hospital related to the virus.
That announcement follows a significant rise in the Moncton and Saint John regions, including a single-day high for the province on Saturday when 23 cases were reported.
The Moncton and Saint John regions returned to tighter restrictions under the orange phase last week.
“We are not through COVID yet,” he said.
Makeshift graveyard constructed outside of Alberta health minister's office – CTV Toronto
Rows of cardboard grave markers lined the grass across the street from Health Minister Tyler Shandro’s office in southwest Calgary Monday morning.
The signs, erected in the grass on the west side of Macleod Trail, criticized the province’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and placed blame on the provincial government for the recent spike in confirmed cases.
The individual or group responsible for the makeshift graveyard has not been identified.
The province announced 1,584 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday, continuing Alberta’s four-day streak of establishing record highs for new case counts. Alberta’s new case count was the most amongst all provinces.
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