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Federal government has plans on how to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine and who gets it first – West Lorne Chronicle

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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.

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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.”


Canada potentially has access to a dozen vaccine candidates, but no vaccine has so far cleared clinical trials.

Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

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.”

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Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 161.42 million, death toll at 3,488,751

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More than 161.42 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 3,488,751​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/2FThSv7 in an external browser.

Eikon users can click  for a case tracker.

The following table lists the top 50 countries by the number of reported cases. A complete list is available with the above links.

COUNTRIES AND TOTAL DEATHS CONFIRMED DEATHS PER

TERRITORIES CASES 10,000

INHABITANTS

United States 584,768 32,926,288 17.9

India 262,317 24,046,809 1.94

Brazil 430,417 15,433,989 20.55

France 107,423 5,848,154 16.04

Turkey 44,301 5,095,390 5.38

Russia 254,590 4,922,901 17.62

United Kingdom 127,668 4,446,824 19.21

Italy 123,927 4,146,722 20.51

Spain 79,339 3,604,799 16.95

Germany 85,903 3,579,871 10.36

Argentina 69,254 3,242,103 15.56

Colombia 79,760 3,067,879 16.06

Poland 71,311 2,849,014 18.78

Iran 76,433 2,732,152 9.34

Mexico 219,901 2,375,115 17.43

Ukraine 47,620 2,143,448 10.67

Peru 65,316 1,873,316 20.02

Indonesia 47,823 1,734,285 1.79

Czech Republic 29,857 1,651,178 28.09

South Africa 55,012 1,605,252 9.52

Netherlands 17,423 1,589,282 10.11

Canada 24,825 1,312,408 6.7

Chile 27,520 1,266,601 14.69

Iraq 15,910 1,134,859 4.14

Philippines 18,958 1,131,467 1.78

Romania 29,413 1,070,605 15.11

Sweden 14,275 1,037,126 14.03

Belgium 24,645 1,026,473 21.56

Pakistan 19,384 873,220 0.91

Portugal 16,999 841,379 16.53

Israel 6,379 839,076 7.18

Hungary 29,041 796,390 29.71

Bangladesh 12,102 779,535 0.75

Jordan 9,203 722,754 9.24

Serbia 6,646 705,185 9.52

Switzerland 10,179 679,510 11.96

Japan 11,396 673,821 0.9

Austria 10,455 635,780 11.83

United Arab Emirates 1,626 543,610 1.69

Lebanon 7,569 534,968 11.05

Morocco 9,091 514,670 2.52

Malaysia 1,822 462,190 0.58

Nepal 4,669 439,658 1.66

Saudi Arabia 7,134 431,432 2.12

Bulgaria 17,194 413,320 24.48

Ecuador 19,442 405,783 11.38

Slovakia 12,168 387,162 22.34

Greece 11,322 373,881 10.55

Belarus 2,681 373,351 2.83

Panama 6,288 369,455 15.05

Source: Reuters tally based on statements from health ministries and government officials

Generated at 10:00 GMT.

 

(Editing by David Clarke)

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Canada plots course to fully vaccinated return to gatherings in fall

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Canada on Friday said there would be a gradual return to a world with indoor sports and family gatherings as more people get vaccinated, but it did not go as far as the United States in telling people they could eventually ditch their masks.

Canada has administered one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to just over half its adult population, and the country may be over the worst of its current third wave of infections, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places, guidance the agency said will allow life to begin to return to normal.

On Friday, Canada‘s public health agency offered guidelines to the 10 provinces, which are responsible for public health restrictions.

The agency says once 75% of Canadians have had a single dose and 20% are fully vaccinated, some restrictions can be relaxed to allow small, outdoor gatherings with family and friends, camping, and picnics.

Once 75% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in the fall, indoor sports and family gatherings can be allowed again.

“I think masks might be the last layer of that multi-layer protection that we’ll advise people to remove,” Tam told reporters, noting that in Canada colder temperatures meant people would start spending more time indoors in the fall.

“We are taking a bit of a different approach to the United States,” she added. While in most of Canada masks are not required outdoors, they are mandatory indoors.

Less than 4% of Canada‘s adult population has been fully vaccinated compared to more than 36% of Americans.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has promised that everyone who wants to can be fully vaccinated by September, this week spoke of a “one-dose summer” and a “two-dose fall” without explaining what that might look like.

 

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Delayed 2nd Pfizer/BioNTech shot boosts antibodies in elderly; COVID-19 obesity risk higher for men

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The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Delaying second Pfizer/BioNTech dose boosts antibodies in elderly

Delaying the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine beyond the originally recommended three-week gap used by the companies in clinical trials appears to induce a stronger antibody response in the elderly, UK researchers found. Shortly after the vaccine became available, UK health officials advised that the second dose should be given 12 weeks after the first to allow more people to get protected by a first dose early on. In a new paper seen by Reuters and expected to appear on medRxiv on Friday ahead of peer review, researchers found that among 175 people ages 80 to 99, those who got their second dose at 12 weeks had antibody responses that were 3.5 times higher than those who got it after three weeks. Antibodies are only one part of the immune system, and vaccines also generate T cells that fight infections. The peak T cell responses were higher in the group with a three-week interval between doses, and the authors cautioned against drawing conclusions on how protected individuals were based on which dosing schedule they received. (https://reut.rs/3wjPK9B)

Impact of obesity on COVID-19 risks may be greater in men

The known increased risk of severe COVID-19 and death linked to obesity may be even more pronounced for men than women, new data suggest. Researchers studied 3,530 hospitalized COVID-19 patients with an average age of 65, including 1,469 who were obese. In men, moderate obesity was associated with a significantly higher risk of developing severe disease, needing mechanical breathing assistance and dying from COVID-19. (The threshold for moderate obesity is a body mass index (BMI) of 35. In an 5-foot, five-inch tall (1.65 m) adult, that would correspond to a weight of 210 pounds (95 kg). In women, however, only a BMI of 40 or higher, indicating severe obesity, was linked with the increased risks. In a report published in European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, the researchers note that while obesity is known to be linked with body-wide inflammation, patients’ levels of inflammatory proteins did not appear to explain the association between obesity and severe illness. For now, they conclude, “particular attention should be paid” to protecting patients with obesity from the coronavirus, “with priority to vaccination access, remote work, telemedicine, and other measures given the higher risk of adverse outcomes once they are diagnosed with COVID-19.” (https://bit.ly/3eO6GiA)

COVID-19 testing rates low among symptomatic Americans

Sick Americans appear to be passing up opportunities to get tested for coronavirus and thus are likely unknowingly spreading the infection throughout their communities, new research shows. Among 37,000 adults across the United States who participated in a smartphone app survey between March and October 2020, nearly 2,700 reported at least one episode of fever and chills. But according to a report published in JAMA Network Open, only a small fraction reported receiving a COVID-19 test result within seven days of the onset of illness. At first, as tests became more accessible, the numbers improved. In early April 2020, less than 10% of survey participants reporting illness with fever received test results within a week. By late July, that proportion had increased to 24.1%. Throughout the summer and fall, as tests became easier to find, the number of sick participants who reported getting tested remained flat. By late October, only 26% reported receiving a test result within a week of febrile illness. “It’s shocking to me that when people have a fever they’re still not getting tested,” said coauthor Dr. Mark Pletcher of the University of California, San Francisco. “Tests are easy to come by. People might have coronavirus, might be spreading it to their friends and neighbors, and they’re not getting tested.” (https://bit.ly/2QUyMzf)

Open  in an external browser for a Reuters graphic on vaccines in development.

 

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid, Alistair Smout and Ronnie Cohen; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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