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Five more test positive in COVID-19 outbreak tied to Kingston, Ont., nail salon –



KINGSTON, ONT.—Five more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak related to a nail salon in Kingston, Ont.

The Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health unit says a total of 27 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus are linked to the salon.

Dr. Kieran Moore, the region’s medical officer of health, says that most of the cases related to the outbreak are showing minimal symptoms and no one has been hospitalized.

He also reports that all of the people who have tested positive are self-isolating at home.

Moore also says that nearly 3,000 people have been tested in the area in the past week.

On Friday, the City of Kingston made wearing a face mask mandatory in all indoor public places following the outbreak at the nail salon.

Mayor Bryan Paterson said that means people will have to wear a mask to enter places including grocery stores, retail stores, restaurants and hair and nail salons.

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Push to bring coronavirus vaccines to the poor faces trouble – NEWS 1130 – News 1130



LONDON — An ambitious humanitarian project to deliver coronavirus vaccines to the world’s poorest people is facing potential shortages of money, cargo planes, refrigeration and vaccines themselves — and running into skepticism even from some of those it’s intended to help most.

In one of the biggest obstacles, rich countries have locked up most of the world’s potential vaccine supply through 2021, and the U.S. and others have refused to join the project, called Covaxe.

“The supply of vaccines is not going to be there in the near term, and the money also isn’t there,” warned Rohit Malpani, a public health consultant who previously worked for Doctors Without Borders.

Covax was conceived as a way of giving countries access to coronavirus vaccines regardless of their wealth.

It is being led by the World Health Organization, a U.N. agency; Gavi, a public-private alliance, funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which buys immunizations for 60% of the world’s children; and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, another Gates-supported public-private collaboration.

Covax’s aim is to buy 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, though it isn’t yet clear whether the successful vaccine will require one dose or two for the world’s 7.8 billion people. Countries taking part in the project can either buy vaccines from Covax or get them for free, if needed.

One early problem that emerged: Some of the world’s wealthiest nations negotiated their own deals directly with drug companies, meaning they don’t need to participate in the endeavour at all. China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.S. don’t intend to join.

And so many rich countries bought vaccines from manufacturers — before the shots have even been approved — that they have already snapped up the majority of the vaccine supply for 2021.

The European Union has contributed 400 million euros ($469 million) to support Covax, but the 27-country bloc won’t use Covax to buy vaccines, in what some see as a vote of no-confidence in the project’s ability to deliver. Instead, the EU has signed its own deals to buy more than 1 billion doses, depriving Covax of the bulk negotiating power of buying shots for the continent.

Gavi, WHO and CEPI announced in September that countries representing two-thirds of the world’s population had joined Covax, but they acknowledged they still need about $400 million more from governments or elsewhere. Without it, according to internal documents seen by The Associated Press before the organization’s board meeting this week, Gavi can’t sign agreements to buy vaccines.

Covax did reach a major agreement this week for 200 million doses from the Indian vaccine maker Serum Institute, though the company made clear that a large portion of those will go to people in India.

By the end of next year, Gavi estimates, the project will need $5 billion more.

Covax said negotiations to secure vaccines are moving forward despite the lack of funds.

“We are working with the governments who have expressed interest earlier to ensure we receive commitment agreements in the coming days,” Gavi’s Aurelia Nguyen, managing director of Covax, said in an email. She added that nothing similar has ever been attempted in public health.

Covax “is a hugely ambitious project,” she said, “but it is the only plan on the table to end the pandemic across the world.”

Still, the project is facing doubts and questions from poor countries and activists over how it will operate and how effective it will be.

Dr. Clemens Auer, who sits on WHO’s executive board and was the EU’s lead negotiator for its vaccine deals, said there is a troubling lack of transparency about how Covax will work.

“We would have no say over the vaccines, the price, the quality, the technical platform or the risks,” Auer said. “This is totally unacceptable.”

He said WHO never consulted countries about its proposed vaccine strategy and called the health agency’s goal of vaccinating the world’s most vulnerable people before anyone else a “noble notion” but politically naive.

As part of Covax, WHO and Gavi have asked for countries to first prioritize front-line health workers, then the elderly, with the goal of vaccinating 20% of the world’s population.

One expensive hurdle is that many of the vaccine candidates need to be kept cold from factory to patient, according to internal documents from Gavi. Industry has signalled that “air freight for COVID vaccines will be a major constraint,” and a “significant and urgent ramp-up of cold chain capacity” may be needed.

Another obstacle: Many of the leading vaccine candidates require two doses. That will mean twice as many syringes, twice as much waste disposal, and the complications involved in ensuring patients in remote corners of the world receive the second dose on time and stay free of side effects.

“Because of the fact that we’re looking at trying to get vaccines out as quickly as possible, we’re looking at limited follow-up and efficacy data,” said Gian Gandhi, who runs logistics from UNICEF’s supply division in Copenhagen.

There is also concern that the fear of lawsuits could scuttle deals. According to the internal documents, Gavi told countries that drug companies will probably require assurances that they won’t face product liability claims over deaths or other side effects from the vaccine.

Dr. Nakorn Premsi, director of Thailand’s National Vaccine Institute, said officials there are reviewing whether that condition is acceptable. Thailand so far has only signed a nonbinding agreement with Covaxe.

If anything, some critics say, Gavi isn’t ambitious enough. The pandemic won’t end — and the world can’t reopen its borders — until there is herd immunity well beyond the rich nations that have secured their own doses, said Eric Friedman, a scholar of global health law at Georgetown University who is generally supportive of Covax.

“If we want to achieve herd immunity and get rid of this, 20% is not going to do it,” he said. “What’s the end game?”

Alicia Yamin, an adjunct lecturer on global health at Harvard University, said she fears the “window is closing” for Covax to prove workable. She said it is disappointing that Gavi, WHO and their partners haven’t pushed pharmaceutical companies harder on issues like intellectual property or open licenses, which might make more vaccines available.

With little evidence of such fundamental change in the global health world, Yamin said it’s likely that developing countries will have to rely on donated vaccines rather than any equitable allocation program.

“I would say that poor countries probably will not get vaccinated until 2022 or 2023,” Yamin said.


Lori Hinnant reported from Paris.


Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at and

Maria Cheng And Lori Hinnant, The Associated Press

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Oxford-Astra Covid vaccine review to start in Europe – Hindustan Times



European regulators are set to start an accelerated review of a Covid-19 vaccine front-runner from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, in a sign the shot could be the first to seek approval in the region.

The European Medicines Agency is expected to announce the “rolling review” as soon as this week, according to the person, who didn’t want to be identified because the decision is still private. Such assessments are used in emergencies to allow regulators to see trial data while the development is ongoing to speed up approvals of drugs and vaccines that are urgently needed.

The move would be a key step forward for the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot after trials were halted earlier this month due to concerns about a participant in the U.K. study who became ill. The partners, along with companies such as Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., are sprinting ahead with experimental shots as governments look for a way out of the global crisis.

The death toll from the disease exceeded 1 million this week, while the infection rate has rapidly picked up again in Europe.

While the British regulator cleared the Oxford-Astra trial to restart less than a week after it was paused and studies in South Africa, Brazil and India have resumed, U.S. authorities have yet to give the go-ahead.

Late Wednesday, Reuters reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had widened its investigation of the incident that led to the trial halt, citing people familiar with the matter.

The EMA’s head of vaccines, Marco Cavaleri, said in July the agency would start rolling reviews of potential candidates after the summer. The approach means that a final approval could be granted a matter of days after the review period ends. Cavaleri said at the time the first approval of a vaccine could come by the end of the year.

In a normal environment, drugmakers submit trial data to the regulator for a review that can take many months. Once that’s complete, an opinion is given on whether the product should be authorized for use, which must be signed off by the European Commission.

In emergencies like a pandemic, a rolling review avoids delays so that an EMA recommendation and approval from the European Commission can be sought as quickly as possible. The agency started such an evaluation of remdesivir to treat Covid-19 in April, while trials were ongoing, and the drug was given conditional approval three months later.

AstraZeneca declined to comment. A spokesperson for the EMA declined to comment on the review.

“EMA has always stated that it will communicate the start of a rolling review for Covid-19 treatments or vaccines,” it said in a statement. “We have not made such an announcement for a vaccine.”

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Coronavirus Waterloo Region: 15 new cases of COVID-19 reported – CTV Toronto



Region of Waterloo Public Health officials reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the region’s total to 1,737.

There were another 12 cases of the disease that are considered resolved, bringing that total to 1,461.

Since the pandemic began, 120 people in the region have died from COVID-19. That leaves 156 active cases in the region, of which one is hospitalized. To date, 252 people have been hospitalized with the disease at some point.

One of the region’s six outbreaks was declared over on Thursday. Three child-care settings had declared outbreaks after a case was identified at each of them, but the region’s online COVID-19 dashboard shows that one of those outbreaks is over.

There are still five active outbreaks in the region: one at a congregate setting, with four total cases, one at a food and beverage service, which has four total cases, one at Kitchener Collegiate Institute, which has two cases, and two child-care settings, which each have one case.

Across Ontario, public health officials reported 538 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 52,248. Most of those were reported in Toronto-Area health units, including 229 new cases in Toronto, 101 in Peel Region and 43 in York Region. Sixty-six new cases were also reported in Ottawa.

There are currently 162 patients in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19. Of those 162 patients, 37 are being treated in an intensive care unit, while 17 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

Ontario’s latest COVID-19 modelling data shows that Ontario is now doubling its new cases every 10 to 12 days, and the province could be recording 1,000 new cases per day in a matter of weeks.

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