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Feds sign deal with Novavax to secure up to 76M doses of vaccine candidate – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
The federal government has reached agreements with Novavax and Johnson & Johnson to secure millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

The deals hinge on Health Canada approval but if trials proceed as planned, deliveries in Canada would begin at the start of 2021. The government has also inked deals with pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Moderna for access to millions of doses of their unique candidates.

“Taken together, our vaccine agreements with Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson, will give Canada at least 88 million doses, with options to obtain tens of millions more,” said Trudeau during a press conference on Monday.

“Once a vaccine is proven to work, we’ll also need to be able to produce and distribute it here at home.”

To date, Novavax will supply 76 million doses of NVX-CoV2373, Moderna will supply 56 million of mRNA-1273, Johnson & Johnson will supply 38 million of Ad26.COV2.S, and Pfizer will supply 20 million BNT162.

Trudeau also announced the government would be spending $126 million to expand the bio-manufacturing facility at the National Research Council in Montreal, with a projected deadline of mid-2021.

“This funding will increase this facility’s ability to manufacture vaccines and will strengthen the NRC’s partnerships with vaccine developers.”

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch says the candidate still has a variety of regulatory hurdles to overcome before it gets the green light but this step indicates Canada is well positioned in the global race to find a COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s wonderful to see that the federal government is looking at vaccine candidates, looking at which ones could be successful. We appreciate that some of these might not be successful and we’re sort of hedging our bets and we’ll have access to vaccines when they become available,” he told CTV News Channel on Monday.

This follows news last week that Chinese customs halted the shipment of CanSino Biologics’ vaccine candidate to Canada, denying the opportunity to commence human trials here.

“Due to the delay in the shipment of the vaccine doses to Canada it is evident this specific opportunity is over and the NRC is focusing its team and facilities on other partners and COVID-19 priorities,” the National Research Council said in a statement on Thursday.

Trudeau responded to the move on Monday, saying he had hoped the long-standing partnership between the Canadian government and CanSino would have proved fruitful amid COVID-19 after successfully partnering with the company to combat the Ebola virus.

“Unfortunately China didn’t grant export permits for the vaccine to Canada so we’re continuing to focus on the many other paths that are very promising,” he said.

While multiple trials testing various vaccine candidates are progressing around the world, there is currently no accepted cure or vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

In a follow-up press conference on Monday, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said COVID-19 immunization will not be mandatory but Canadians can be assured that Health Canada’s regulatory process will yield a safe vaccine.

“We want to be very clear, Health Canada will not authorize a vaccine unless scientific evidence demonstrates that it is safe and effective,” she said. “Even in this accelerated environment, health-care officials are working around the clock to ensure Canada is well prepared when a safe vaccine becomes available.”

She praised Canadians for having a high degree of vaccine literacy when compared internationally, but warned of misinformation online.

“It’s so important that Canadians use credible sources when they’re looking for information about this vaccine and any other,” she said. “Including your family doctor, local public health units, or by visiting Health Canada’s website.”

VACCINE STRATEGY

Asked about which countries will get access to what and when, Minister of Procurement Anita Anand said the government’s strategy to diversify suppliers will place Canada at the “front of the line.”

“At this stage, no one knows which vaccine is going to be successful. Therefore, we need to have many options on the table for Canadians and I will assure you that we aren’t on a frolic of our own in this decision-making.”

While Canada won’t have hands on the production of these vaccine candidates, Anand said investments like that in the NRC will help bolster the country’s abilities in the longer term.

“We need to make sure just as we did with PPE that there is a Canadian answer here.”

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Half a million sharks may be killed to produce global Covid-19 vaccine – RFI English

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Issued on: 29/09/2020 – 15:18Modified: 29/09/2020 – 15:22

Conservationists in the United States are warning the race to a coronavirus vaccine may see the slaughter of half a million sharks, causing irreversible damage to our oceans’ ecosystems.

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This is because squalene, a natural oil made in the liver of sharks, is an ingredient in several of the candidate vaccines in clinical trials. 

According to the World Health Organisation, squalene is used as an adjuvant, meaning it increases the effectiveness of a vaccine by creating a stronger immune response. 

While more than 200 potential vaccines around the world are in development, fewer than 10 have advanced to late-stage clinical trials. 

The British pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline, which already uses shark squalene in flu vaccines, has said it would manufacture a billion doses of the adjuvant for potential use in vaccines to fight Covid-19.

Push for plant squalene

However Shark Allies, a California-based advocacy group, has launched a petition against the use of squalene from sharks for making coronavirus vaccine, calling on the industry to further explore the use of sustainable, non-animal squalene alternatives.

Some 3,000 sharks are needed to extract one tonne of squalene and, in the event a vaccine is produced globally and everyone on the planet receives two doses, Shark Allies says more than half a million sharks would need to be killed.

“Harvesting something from a wild animal is never going to be sustainable, especially if it’s a top predator that doesn’t reproduce in huge numbers,” the group’s founder, Stefanie Brendl, told The Telegraph, in London.

“There’s so many unknowns of how big and how long this pandemic might go on, and then how many versions of it we have to go through, that if we continue using sharks, the numbers of sharks taken for this product could be really high, year after year after year.”

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Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine Won't Be Available Before Election Day, CEO Says – The Motley Fool

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Dealing a blow to President Trump’s hope to have a vaccine before Election Day, Moderna‘s (NASDAQ:MRNA) CEO said the company’s coronavirus vaccine won’t be ready by Nov. 3.

Speaking at a Financial Times-organized biotech and pharmaceutical conference, Stephane Bancel said that “November 25 is the time we will have enough safety data to be able to put into an EUA [Emergency Use Authorization] file that we would send to the FDA — assuming that the safety data is good, i.e., a vaccine is deemed to be safe.”

Image source: Getty Images.

An Emergency Use Authorization is fast-track, limited approval the FDA grants for medications or vaccines that can treat or prevent diseases that post a significant enough threat to the population. 

Moderna has leapt to prominence with its MRNA-1273, considered one of the leading coronavirus vaccine candidates, if not the overall leader. It has done extremely well in early stage testing and is currently undergoing a phase 3 clinical trial.

On the hope that it would boost his popularity in the run-up to the election, Trump has promoted the idea that a safe and effective vaccine will be on the market in the very near future. A great many public health experts and pundits say that will happen next year at the earliest, however.

While biotech and pharmaceutical companies are developing a host of vaccine candidates, none has yet finished its clinical testing, and no major regulatory authority has approved any of them.

Investors didn’t react too strongly to Bancel’s pronouncement, as it’s likely few of them were expecting MRNA-1273 to finish testing and win approval over the next couple of weeks. The company’s shares inched up on Wednesday, not quite reaching the S&P 500 Index’s gain on the day. 

 

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Americans got richer than ever during the pandemic, but Canadians haven’t followed suit

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The reason for the apparent paradox, experts suggest, has more to do with economics than the epidemic itself.

Part of the explanation is the drag of Canadian consumer debt, which began the quarter at 164 per cent of household income, about 30 per cent higher than the comparable debt level in the U.S., he said.

In the second quarter, the ratio in Canada decreased to 146.4 per cent.

Canadians, typically conservative, spent less during lockdown, choosing instead to pay down their debts, said Peter Miron, senior vice-president of Environics Analytics Group in Toronto.

“People in Canada were paying off their plastic for lack of opportunity to buy things,” Miron noted, adding that many were also building their savings as a precautionary measure.

People in Canada were paying off their plastic for lack of opportunity to buy things

Peter Miron

That’s part of the reason why Canada’s recovery from the bottom of the virus-driven recession has been less dramatic than that in the U.S.

While U.S GDP is expected to produce an overall decline of 4.0 per cent this year, comparable Canadian data shows a 5.6 per cent expected GDP contraction, TD Economics found in a Sept. 18 analysis. That is reflected in the difference in unemployment rates forecast by TD’s economics unit:  8.5 per cent in the U.S. vs. 9.7 per cent for Canada.

Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist for CIBC in Toronto, notes that government support programs in both Canada and the U.S. provided more income to households than was lost in the epidemic and market meltdown.

Source: – Financial Post

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