Connect with us

Business

Federal government pushing two million vaccines to provinces in coming days – National Post

Published

 on


Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin said ‘despite the bumps,’ Canada’s vaccine effort is going well now with deliveries set to continue at large volumes into the spring

Article content

OTTAWA – Provinces will receive two million doses of desperately needed vaccines in the days ahead, as the federal government pushes out the last of 9.5 million doses Canada has received so far.

The Liberals’ first target for the rollout was six million doses by the end of the first quarter, which it then increased to 9.5 million earlier this month. Pfizer has met its total and on Thursday the government was shipping 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca that arrived from the United States to provinces. Nearly 600,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine that were originally set to arrive last week, were set to land in Canada on Friday morning and be sent to provinces over the weekend.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin said Canada’s vaccine effort is going well now with deliveries set to continue at large volumes into the spring.

“Despite the bumps Canada has seen over the last three months, it’s important to note some great successes along the way,” he said. “By the end of this week, we can expect to have distributed approximately 9.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses across the country.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Government officials speaking on background said the government was paying a premium to its shipping companies to get the newly arriving vaccines out quickly over the holiday weekend.

Announcing a one-month lockdown for his province that begins Saturday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford was less critical of the federal government’s rollout than he has been recently.

He said he was confident millions of doses would arrive in his province in the coming months and the province had to close down so the vaccines could catch up.

“We need more time for our vaccine program to take hold,” he said. “We need more runway to let our vaccination rollout get to where we need it.”

  1. The latest controversy over AstraZeneca “presents an enormous challenge for vaccine risk communication,” a Canadian professor says.

    AstraZeneca COVID shots could test Canadians’ vaccine hesitancy: ‘There is no way they can downplay that risk’

  2. The Ontario government has released a new COVID-19 modelling report.

    Ontario imposes four-week provincewide ‘shutdown’ to combat spike in COVID-19 cases

Fortin announced 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine would also be arriving next week, through the COVAX facility. COVAX is an international partnership that has developing countries purchase vaccines for both themselves and the developing world. Canada is one of a few developed nations to actually draw on the facility.

There are another 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca coming from the Serum Institute, an Indian manufacturer. A million of those doses were set to arrive in mid-April, and another 500,000 in May.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Joelle Paquette, a director general with Public Services and Procurement Canada said they were expecting a delay, but could not provide any more details on that shortage.

“We’re working with the company on determining when the doses will arrive. We are expecting a delay in the shipment, but they are committed to meeting their contractual obligations,” she said.

As COVID-19 resurges in India, the country’s government has been less willing to see doses leave the country.

Paquette said they were also working with Johnson and Johnson to determine a delivery schedule for its one-dose vaccine. Procurement minster Anita Anand said she earlier this week they expected the first shipments in late April, but the company suffered a manufacturing setback on Wednesday.

Paquette said they don’t believe that issue will impact Canada’s shipments, but she did not have a specific date for deliveries.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is now limited to people over the age of 55 due to new evidence the vaccine can cause potentially fatal blood clots in younger people.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer said Canada has seen no incidents of the rare blood clots and is limiting the vaccines use purely as a precaution due to evidence in Europe.

He said he understands why Canadians in the approved age group could be hesitant to take the vaccine, but he encouraged people to see it as the system working.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“I encourage you to recognize this latest adjustment to guidance in the vaccine administration, what it is an outcome of our robust safety monitoring system and ongoing global collaboration,” he said.

Njoo said the vaccine is safe and effective and prevents hospitalizations and deaths. He said any Canadian offered it should take it.

“I have no hesitation in saying that, if the vaccine was offered to me tomorrow I would take it. Certainly this vaccine along with the other three approved vaccines have all been shown to be very effective in preventing serious illness and death.”

• Email: rtumilty@postmedia.com | Twitter:

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

CANADA STOCKS – TSX falls 0.14% to 19,201.28

Published

 on

* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.14 percent to 19,201.28

* Leading the index were Stantec Inc <STN.TO​>, up 3.4%, Imperial Oil Ltd​, up 3.3%, and Corus Entertainment Inc​, higher by 2.9%.

* Lagging shares were Aphria Inc​​, down 14.2%, Village Farms International Inc​, down 9.9%, and Aurora Cannabis Inc​, lower by 9.4%.

* On the TSX 91 issues rose and 134 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 24 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 228.0 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Royal Bank Of Canada and Suncor Energy Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 0.32 points, or 0.3%, while the financials sector climbed 2.46 points, or 0.7%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 0.52%, or $0.31, to $59.63 a barrel. Brent crude  rose 0.4%, or $0.25, to $63.2 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.1% for the year.

Continue Reading

Business

Air Canada signs C$5.9 billion government aid package, agrees to buy Airbus, Boeing jets

Published

 on

By David Ljunggren and Allison Lampert

OTTAWA/MONTREAL (Reuters) -Air Canada, struggling with a collapse in traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reached a deal on Monday on a long-awaited aid package with the federal government that would allow it to access up to C$5.9 billion ($4.69 billion) in funds.

The agreement – the largest individual coronavirus-related loan that Ottawa has arranged with a company – was announced after the airline industry criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government for dawdling. The United States and France acted much more quickly to help major carriers.

Canada‘s largest carrier, which last year cut over half its workforce, or 20,000 jobs, and other airlines have been negotiating with the government for months on a coronavirus aid package.

In February, Air Canada reported a net loss for 2020 of C$4.65 billion, compared with a 2019 profit of C$1.48 billion.

As part of the deal, Air Canada agreed to ban share buybacks and dividends, cap annual compensation for senior executives at C$1 million a year and preserve jobs at the current level, which is 14,859.

It will also proceed with planned purchases of 33 Airbus SE 220 airliners and 40 Boeing Co 737 MAX airliners.

Chris Murray, managing director, equity research at ATB Capital Markets, said the deal took into account the “specific needs of Air Canada in the short and medium term without being overly onerous.”

He added: “It gives them some flexibility in drawing down additional liquidity as needed.”

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the government was still in negotiations with other airlines about possible aid.

Canada, the world’s second-largest nation by area, depends heavily on civil aviation to keep remote communities connected.

Opposition politicians fretted that further delays in announcing aid could result in permanent damage to the country.

Air Canada said it would resume services on nearly all of the routes it had suspended because of COVID-19.

‘SIGNIFICANT LAYER OF INSURANCE’

The deal removes a potential political challenge for the Liberals, who insiders say are set to trigger an election later this year.

The government has agreed to buy C$500 million worth of shares in the airline, at C$23.1793 each, or a 14.2% discount to Monday’s close, a roughly 6% stake.

“Maintaining a competitive airline sector and good jobs is crucially important,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters, adding the equity stake would allow taxpayers to benefit when the airline’s fortunes recovered.

The Canadian government previously approved similar loans for four other companies worth up to C$1.billion, including up to C$375 million to low-cost airline Sunwing Vacations Inc. The government has paid out C$73.47 billion under its wage subsidy program and C$46.11 billion in loans to hard-hit small businesses.

Michael Rousseau, Air Canada‘s president and chief executive officer, said the liquidity “provides a significant layer of insurance for Air Canada.”

Jerry Dias, head of the Unifor private-sector union, described the announcement as “a good deal for everybody.”

Unifor represents more than 16,000 members working in the air transportation sector.

But the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents roughly 10,000 Air Canada flight attendants, said the package protected the jobs of current workers rather than the 7,500 members of its union who had been let go by the carrier.

($1=1.2567 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler and Peter Cooney)

Continue Reading

Business

U.K. advises limiting AstraZeneca in under-30s amid clot worry

Published

 on

LONDON —
British authorities recommended Wednesday that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine not be given to adults under 30 where possible because of strengthening evidence that the shot may be linked to rare blood clots.

The recommendation came as regulators both in the United Kingdom and the European Union emphasized that the benefits of receiving the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for most people — even though the European Medicines Agency said it had found a “possible link” between the shot and the rare clots. British authorities recommended that people under 30 be offered alternatives to AstraZeneca. But the EMA advised no such age restrictions, leaving it up to its member-countries to decide whether to limit its use.

Several countries have already imposed limits on who can receive the vaccine, and any restrictions are closely watched since the vaccine, which is cheaper and easier to store than many others, is critical to global immunization campaigns and is a pillar of the UN-backed program known as COVAX that aims to get vaccines to some of the world’s poorest countries.

“This is a course correction, there’s no question about that,” Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said during a press briefing. “But it is, in a sense, in medicine quite normal for physicians to alter their preferences for how patients are treated over time.”

Van-Tam said the effect on Britain’s vaccination timetable — one of the speediest in the world — should be “zero or negligible,” assuming the National Health Service receives expected deliveries of other vaccines, including those produced by Pfizer and Moderna.

EU and U.K. regulators held simultaneous press conferences Wednesday afternoon to announce the results of investigations into reports of blood clots that sparked concern about the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The EU agency described the clots as “very rare” side effects. Dr Sabine Straus, chair of EMA’s Safety Committee, said the best data is coming from Germany where there is one report of the rare clots for every 100,000 doses given, although she noted far fewer reports in the U.K. Still, that’s less than the clot risk that healthy women face from birth control pills, noted another expert, Dr. Peter Arlett.

The agency said most of the cases reported have occurred in women under 60 within two weeks of vaccination — but based on the currently available evidence, it was not able to identify specific risk factors. Experts reviewed several dozen cases that came mainly from Europe and the U.K., where around 25 million people have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The reported cases of unusual blood clotting following vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine should be listed as possible side effects of the vaccine,” said Emer Cooke, the agency’s executive director. “The risk of mortality from COVID is much greater than the risk of mortality from these side effects.”

Arlett said there is no information suggesting an increased risk from the other major COVID-19 vaccines.

The EMA’s investigation focused on unusual types of blood clots that are occurring along with low blood platelets. One rare clot type appears in multiple blood vessels and the other in veins that drain blood from the brain.

While the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks, that assessment is “more finely balanced” among younger people who are less likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19, the U.K’s Van-Tam said.

“We are not advising a stop to any vaccination for any individual in any age group,” said Wei Shen Lim, who chairs Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization. “We are advising a preference for one vaccine over another vaccine for a particular age group, really out of the utmost caution rather than because we have any serious safety concerns.”

In March, more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, suspended their use of AstraZeneca over the blood clot issue. Most restarted — some with age restrictions — after the EMA said countries should continue using the potentially life-saving vaccine.

Britain, which relies heavily on AstraZeneca, however, continued to use it.

The suspensions were seen as particularly damaging for AstraZeneca because they came after repeated missteps in how the company reported data on the vaccine’s effectiveness and concerns over how well its shot worked in older people. That has led to frequently changing advice in some countries on who can take the vaccine, raising worries that AstraZeneca’s credibility could be permanently damaged, spurring more vaccine hesitancy and prolonging the pandemic.

Dr. Peter English, who formerly chaired the British Medical Association’s Public Health Medicine Committee, said the back-and-forth over the AstraZeneca vaccine globally could have serious consequences.

“We can’t afford not to use this vaccine if we are going to end the pandemic,” he said.

In some countries, authorities have already noted hesitance toward the AstraZeneca shot.

“People come and they are reluctant to take the AstraZeneca vaccine, they ask us if we also use anything else,” said Florentina Nastase, a doctor and co-ordinator at a vaccination centre in Bucharest, Romania. “There were cases in which people (scheduled for the AstraZeneca) didn’t show up, there were cases when people came to the centre and saw that we use only AstraZeneca and refused (to be inoculated).”

Meanwhile, the governor of Italy’s northern Veneto region had said earlier Wednesday that any decision to change the guidance on AstraZeneca would cause major disruptions to immunizations — at a time when Europe is already struggling to ramp them up — and could create more confusion about the shot.

“If they do like Germany, and allow Astra Zeneca only to people over 65, that would be absurd. Before it was only for people under 55. Put yourself in the place of citizens, it is hard to understand anything,” Luca Zaia told reporters.

The latest suspension of AstraZeneca came in Spain’s Castilla y Leon region, where health chief Veronica Casado said Wednesday that “the principle of prudence” drove her to put a temporary hold on the vaccine that she still backed as being both effective and necessary.

French health authorities had said they, too, were awaiting EMA’s conclusions, as were some officials in Asia.

On Wednesday, South Korea said it would temporarily suspend the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in people 60 and younger. In that age group, the country is only currently vaccinating health workers and people in long-term care settings.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said it would also pause a vaccine rollout to school nurses and teachers that was to begin on Thursday, while awaiting the outcome of the EMA’s review.

But some experts urged perspective. Prof Anthony Harnden, the deputy chair of Britain’s vaccination committee, said that the program has saved at least 6,000 lives in the first three months and will help pave the way back to normal life.

“What is clear it that for the vast majority of people the benefits of the Oxford AZ vaccine far outweigh any extremely small risk,” he said. “And the Oxford AZ vaccine will continue to save many from suffering the devastating effects that can result from a COVID infection.”

Source: – CTV News

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending