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Feds strike deal with pharmaceutical firms for millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
The federal government is partnering with biopharmaceutical and biotechnology giants Pfizer and Moderna to help secure millions of vaccine doses to be ready for distribution across Canada in 2021.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said on Wednesday that the deal with the two multinational corporations will help position Canada at the front of the line when a vaccine is made available.

“Pfizer is evaluating at least four experimental vaccine candidates and is currently undergoing clinical trials. These trials are occurring in various countries including Germany and the United States and they’re already exhibiting promising results,” said Anand during a press conference in Toronto on Wednesday.

The minister didn’t provide detail on how many doses would be developed, or the exact dollar amount of the contract, pointing to ongoing, sensitive negotiations with other suppliers. Pfizer and Moderna’s candidates will require Health Canada approval.

“We have to remember that these suppliers are at various stages of vaccine development. It is important for Canadians to know that we are taking an approach to contractual negations that builds in flexibility for us to be able to increase orders,” Anand said.

“In the weeks to come, I will hope to be disclosing further information.”

There are currently 55 potential COVID-19 drugs, including vaccine candidates, that are currently being investigated in clinical trials authorized by Health Canada.

To be approved for use, any potential vaccine must move through a well-established testing process that involves three phases of human trials. The first and second phases focus on monitoring whether the drug produces the desired response from the human immune system. The third phase involves far more test subjects and aims to determine whether the vaccine candidate is actually able to stop the virus from infecting a body.

Moderna was among the first to develop a vaccine candidate – it was shipped to the U.S. government in February and human testing began in March. The company has said that mRNA-1273 is able to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus in a lab setting, and 30,000 volunteers were given the potential vaccine starting July 27 as part of the final phase of human trials.

Pfizer doses were given to human test subjects in Germany in April and in the U.S. in May. Company CEO Albert Bourla said a few weeks later that one vaccine candidate could be ready by October “if things go well, and the stars are aligned.” Phase III trials began in late July.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, who joined Anand for the announcement Wednesday, underlined the government’s efforts to diversify therapies, which he said will addressed at one of two task forces the Liberals have established.

“Until we immunize all Canadians, we must also focus on producing treatments for those who contract the virus,” he said. “[The task force] will be co-chaired by Nancy Harrison, director and past-chair of LifeSciences B.C. and Cedric Bisson, partner at Teralys Capital.”

Bains also announced $56 million to bolster vaccine development in Canada through Variation Biotechnologies Inc. (VBI).

“Through the Strategic Innovation Fund the government will support VBI’s work on preclinical studies and clinical trials. More investments will follow,” he said.

Both Bains and Anand said they will be working closely with Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam on a vaccine rollout plan, which will include decision-making on whether to make vaccination mandatory or voluntary.

On Tuesday, Tam tried to temper expectations that development of a vaccine would mean the coronavirus threat disappears.

“We’re planning, as a public health community, that we’re going to have to manage this pandemic certainly over the next year, but certainly it may be planning for the longer term on the next two to three years during which the vaccine may play a role. But we don’t know yet,” Tam told reporters during a routine COVID-19 press briefing.

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said a vaccine won’t act as a “silver bullet.”

Anand echoed her colleagues’ comments on Wednesday, stating there is no single solution that will transition Canadians entirely out of the pandemic.

“Multiple efforts on multiple fronts must be made and followed,” she said. “We all want a silver bullet but unfortunately that’s not the case. So the approach of the Government of Canada and particularly us in contracting has been to say, ‘Look, we need multiple contracts over multiple periods of time,'” she said.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CTV News Channel the announcement signals the government is taking an aggressive and proactive approach to the recovery stage of the pandemic.

“The other interesting thing that Canada is doing is we’ve already purchased 37 million vials to administer a vaccine that we don’t even have just yet so you can just see them taking the steps to really reduce the time from having a successful vaccine trial and approval from health regulatory bodies to administering the vaccine to the population,” he said.

In mid-July the government announced it was ordering more than 75 million syringes, alcohol swabs, and bandages to prepare for an eventual vaccine.

Bogoch added that he suspects health officials to prioritize vaccinating Canadians at greatest risk of contracting the virus, like those in long-term care facilities or those in congregate settings, and those who are likely to experience the virus most severely.

With files from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello and Ryan Flanagan

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Tesla Driver Caught Going 100 MPH While Fast Asleep – CarBuzz

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“Nobody was looking out the windshield to see where the car was going,” RCMP Sgt. Darrin Turnbull told CBC News. “I’ve been in policing for over 23 years and the majority of that in traffic law enforcement, and I’m speechless. I’ve never, ever seen anything like this before, but of course the technology wasn’t there.”

When the officer tried to pull the Model S driver over, traffic cleared out of its lane, causing the car to automatically accelerate up to 150 kph (93 mph). Needless to say, pulling him over was an uphill battle.

Eventually, though, the officer managed to issue a ticket for speeding and suspend the driver’s license for 24 hours for fatigue. Further investigation led to the driver being charged with dangerous driving and being summoned to court in December.

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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, Sept. 20 – CBC.ca

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The latest:

  • No new numbers will be released by the province today. Numbers from Saturday and Sunday will be released on Monday.
  • Alberta has identified its first likely case of COVID-19 transmission within a school, with two cases at an elementary school in Edmonton. Transmission within a school “was not unexpected and is not a cause for alarm,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, at an early afternoon news conference Friday.
  • Alberta reported 107 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to 16,381.
  • There were 1,424 active cases across the province, according to the latest update, down 59 from the day before.
  • As of Friday morning across the province, there have been 78 instances of someone with COVID-19 attending school while infectious. Currently, 57 of the 2,415 schools in Alberta have reported an infectious person who attended the school.
  • The Alberta Teachers’ Association released a survey Friday outlining how teachers and school leaders feel about how the pandemic has been handled in schools.
  • Alberta is starting to see a similar case load to Ontario and Quebec, which concerns experts because it has a much lower population. The number of new cases daily have gone up by about 55 per cent in the last month and the province is facing widespread community transmission.
  • Across Canada, provinces say people are flouting provincial rules around gathering size limits, leading officials to impose new restrictions as COVID-19 infections climb across the country. 
  • With COVID-19 case counts rising in many communities, kids back in schools and more people returning to work, many public health experts agree that the “social circles” or “social bubbles” that worked as a safe approach in the early days of the lockdown now come with more risk.
  • Alberta will no longer recommend asymptomatic testing for the general population with fall flu season looming.
  • One new death was reported Friday, a woman in her 50s from the North zone not linked to any outbreak.
  • A total of 255 people have died of COVID-19 in Alberta.
  • As of Thursday afternoon, there had been 10 schools in Alberta classified as having outbreaks, with one Calgary school under a “watch” (defined as five or more cases where the disease could have been acquired or transmitted in the school) and the rest with fewer cases.
  • The City of Edmonton announced Thursday it’s cancelling a mask exemption card program.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

Alberta said Friday that the province’s first likely case of COVID-19 transmission within a school had been confirmed, at a public elementary school in Edmonton, Waverley School

Hinshaw said both individuals were infectious within the school and that one of them “seems to have been the source for the other.”

With the province’s school relaunch strategy weeks underway, the Alberta Teachers’ Association released a survey Friday that outlines how teachers and school leaders feel about how the pandemic has been handled in schools.

Alberta is starting to see a similar case load to Ontario and Quebec, which is concerning as the prairie province has a much lower population, said Dr. Stephanie Smith, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. 

For the first 15 days of September in Alberta, the province has reported an average of 137 new cases of COVID-19 per day. That’s up from an average of 88 cases for that same period in August, meaning that cases have gone up by about 55 per cent in the last month.

(CBC)

The province is also facing widespread community transmission of COVID-19, rather than the disease appearing in a few specific hotspots, like a long-term care facility, said Smith.

While some of the increase in Alberta cases could be attributed to more testing in September, with upwards of 30,000 people tested per day, these jumps in case counts are still concerning, said Smith.

With fall influenza season looming, Alberta will prepare for an expected surge in demand for laboratory tests by scaling back asymptomatic testing — the practice of conducting COVID-19 tests on people without symptoms, the province announced Thursday.

“In addition to potentially contracting COVID-19, Albertans will have a greater chance of catching a cold or flu, which have very similar symptoms to COVID-19,” Hinshaw said.

“More people with symptoms means that we will see more people needing to be tested. Our labs need to support cases of both COVID-19 and influenza.”

Hinshaw said those with symptoms who were in close contact with confirmed cases and those linked to an outbreak will still be tested.

Provincial labs completed 13,003 COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, the province said Thursday. 

In Calgary, drop-in COVID-19 testing is now being provided at the Bow Trail assessment centre, which is located inside the old Greyhound bus terminal. The Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Centre now offers COVID-19 testing by appointment only.

A Calgary teacher working at a public high school where a COVID-19 outbreak has been declared says he doesn’t feel safe at work because of the sheer number of people he comes in contact with each day. 

“I feel that I have the most dangerous job as a teacher in the province,” said the Lester B. Pearson High School instructor, who CBC News agreed not to name because he fears professional retribution. 

St. Wilfrid Elementary School in Calgary is the only school under the “watch” category, which Alberta Health defines as an outbreak with five or more cases where the disease could have been acquired or transmitted in the school.

There are also 12 schools in the province with outbreaks of two to four cases. 

  • Notre Dame High School, Calgary.
  • Lester B. Pearson High School, Calgary.
  • Henry Wise Wood High School, Calgary.
  • Auburn Bay School, Calgary.
  • Crescent Heights High School, Calgary.
  • Chris Akkerman School, Calgary.
  • Ross Sheppard High School, Edmonton.
  • Centre High, Edmonton. 
  • McNally School, Edmonton.
  • Waverley School, Edmonton.
  • Chinook High School, Lethbridge.
  • Foothills Composite High School, Okotoks.

The City of Edmonton is cancelling a mask exemption card program introduced in early August, interim city manager Adam Laughlin told council Thursday. 

Cards already issued will be honoured, Laughlin said, but no new cards will be issued. 

Here’s the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Friday:

  • Calgary zone: 450, down from 470 on Thursday.
  • Edmonton zone: 711, down from 751.
  • North zone: 197, up from 193.
  • Central zone: 24, down from 29.
  • South zone: 38, unchanged.
  • Unknown: 4, up from 2.

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean

A snapshot of the active cases by neighbourhood in Calgary as of Sept. 17. (CBC)

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 10 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 142,776 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 124,187 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,251.

The Quebec government is expected to announce new restrictions today, including reducing the size of private gatherings and imposing new restrictions on bars and restaurants in Montreal and Quebec City after an increase in COVID-19 infections.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and his wife Nancy Déziel both tested positive for COVID-19. The party confirmed that both will be in isolation until the end of September.

Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also had a COVID-19 test come back positive on Friday and is now isolating.

Ontario public health officials say they can’t trace how roughly half of the latest COVID-19 patients got infected.

The data suggests that many Ontarians are contracting COVID-19 through unmemorable interactions with others in the course of their daily lives. Experts are worried that failing to track the source of so many new infections will hamper efforts to rein in the spread of the virus. 

B.C, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec have also all reported a bump in cases throughout September, and some have paused their reopening plans as a result. 

Those under 40 are driving the spread in most provinces. In Ontario, health officials have identified smaller, indoor gatherings as the culprit. Younger people may also be working in precarious jobs where their exposure is increased, or where sick days may not be readily available. 

Some of Canada’s biggest cities are seeing a surge in household waste thanks to myriad COVID-related trends, including the re-emergence of disposable goods, a summer full of home renovations and the continuous growth of online shopping.

Face masks, like these ones in a Halifax garbage can, are just some of the disposable items Canadians are increasing their household waste with during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Robert Short/CBC)

Early figures from the cities of Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax reveal that the amount of residential garbage collected has increased significantly since the start of the pandemic.

Canadians yearning to travel abroad — despite the COVID-19 pandemic — can now get medical insurance to cover costs if they get sick with the coronavirus while travelling. 

More than six months into the global pandemic, the Liberal government is being accused of failing to meet the needs of the Canadians with disabilities who are among those hardest-hit by the public health crisis.

Marie-Claude Landry, chief commissioner of the Canada Human Rights Commission, said COVID-19 has “expanded the circle of vulnerability” in Canada — but people with disabilities still aren’t getting the support they need.

Self-assessment and supports:

Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19, but testing is open to anyone, even without symptoms. 

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services’ latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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'A heartbreak': Ranchman's searching for new owner amid COVID-19 pandemic – Calgary Herald

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Article content continued

“With everything happening and the Calgary downtown being almost completely empty, it’s created sort of the perfect storm for restaurant killing and hospitality killing.”

Ranchman’s has been synonymous with Calgary cowboy culture for nearly 50 years after it first opened its doors April 27, 1972.

The country nightclub was a popular spot during the Calgary Stampede and throughout the rest of the year, being named the “Country Club of the Year” by the Canadian Country Music Association 11 times.

The venue temporarily shut its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 17, and it has remained closed since. Nightclubs such as Ranchman’s are not permitted to reopen until Stage 3 of Alberta’s relaunch, and public-health officials have said there is currently no timeline for when that might happen.

The bar was founded by Harris Dvorkin and Kevin Baker but ownership traded hands in 2017, following Dvorkin’s death. Calgary bar scene mainstay Doug Rasberry purchased the property alongside a group of local business owners.

Members of the Ranchman’s ownership group did not respond to numerous requests for comment from Postmedia.

Campbell said owners were only talking to “a select few people” about the situation.

“This was a heartbreak for him. Doug (Rasberry) was the first guy, when I took Ranchman’s to the market three and a half years ago, Doug lit up like a kid at Christmas. He was so excited to have an opportunity to take this history on,” he said.

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