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Global philanthropists, experts call for COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


Published Thursday, April 30, 2020 4:01PM EDT


Last Updated Thursday, April 30, 2020 9:13PM EDT

OTTAWA – Leading philanthropists and immunization experts say the world lacks the ability to properly manufacture, finance and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine, even if one were found by the end of the year.

The good news, they say, is that if planning starts now as promising research continues, a new method can be found to ensure the vaccine goes to everyone who needs it across the world.

They say that itself would be a breakthrough in international science, business and political co-operation.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other groups are calling for new global financing tools to spool up the manufacturing capability in both developed and less developed countries.

That’s because, as of right now, there’s no equitable or practical way to distribute a new vaccine across the globe.

That means coming up with potentially tens of billions of dollars to outfit factories, train health workers, and focus research on a simple vaccine that might work.

“We need to put in place a massive amount of capacity to develop vaccines, so when and if we get a vaccine, that’s able to be developed or manufactured at a huge and unprecedented scale,” Joe Cerrell, the managing director of the Gates foundation said from London during a conference call Thursday that included participants from at least three continents.

GAVI, the world’s leading international immunization non-profit organization, and the One Campaign advocacy group are joining the Gates foundation in the push for a plan.

Cerrell said advance market commitments are a key financial tool that governments and companies need to adopt to ensure the smooth rollout of a vaccine.

An advance market commitment is essentially a guarantee offered by a government or financial institution to buy a certain amount of a product before it is ready for the market. That would allow factories everywhere to gear up and be ready for an unprecedented level of production.

“A large company may be able to do that if there’s a guaranteed purchase, but if you’re a developing-country vaccine manufacturer you may need some direct finance to be able to help you build these facilities,” said Cerrell.

Dr. Seth Berkley, the head of GAVI, said there are 89 vaccines in development around the world, seven of which are in clinical trials, and that number could double to 200. But the options need to be narrowed much sooner towards finding simpler vaccine that is the most effective, and easiest to mass-produce and administer.

“This is really going to be a challenge – getting billions of doses to the entire world, efficiently, is complex,” said Berkley, who pointed to the international co-operation on the Ebola virus as a model for how things could be done better.

Berkley and Cerrell were cautious about reports of promising research at Oxford University and elsewhere but stressed that a short list of promising projects needs to be developed.

“We don’t want to have a lot of inefficient money being thrown out there at dozens of things, most of which won’t work,” Cerrell said.

That also means breaking down barriers, including in national politics and in the competitive world of big pharma, to share the best, easiest solutions, said Gayle Smith, the head of the One Campaign, who previously served as an Obama-era National Security Council expert on the Ebola outbreaks in Africa during the last decade.

During the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, “there was a scramble for a vaccine as soon as it became available. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it was the wealthier nations that were immediately able to secure the bulk of that product,” said Smith.

The world can’t afford a repeat of that with the much broader COVID-19 crisis, she said. calling for more transparency and better sharing of information.

But scientists from Canada’s foremost vaccine research laboratory said most countries will prioritize their own citizens, and Canada is no exception.

The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre at the University of Saskatchewan has developed a prototype COVID-19 vaccine due to start clinical trials in the autumn.

While the lab has received funding in the past from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has a mandate to make sure their technologies are made available internationally, Canada will still benefit first if their prototype is successful.

“I think what we will see is that countries will try to ensure that there is access to vaccines for their citizens,” said Dr. Volker Gerdts, CEO of the lab, told the Canada’s House of Commons health committee Thursday.

He said global access strategies are currently being developed, and Canada’s vaccine, if viable, would be shared with the world.

Cerrell said the World Health Organization will play a key role in co-ordinating much of this work, and so will GAVI, which has immunized 760 million children and prevented 13 million deaths in the world’s poorest countries since 2020.

GAVI is seeking more than $8 billion in new five-year replenishments at a conference in June, while the European Union is leading the Monday kickoff of a pledging conference to support the WHO. It aims to raise more than $11 billion.

Cerrell called both those efforts “down payments” on what will ultimately be needed to discover and distribute a vaccine.

“A lot’s going to depend on the product characteristics of the vaccine that will come. Will it be a single dose? Will it be multiple doses?” he said. “A back-of-the-envelope (estimate) would suggest it’s $20 to $25 billion that would be needed.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2020.

– With files from Laura Osman in Ottawa

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Coronavirus: Two new cases in Winnipeg Friday brings total to 300 – Globalnews.ca

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This story will be updated as the press conference continues.

Two new cases of the novel coronavirus were announced Friday, both of them in Winnipeg.

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The latest cases include one man in his 20s, and another in his 30s, according to the province. One is a truck driver, and the other man was a close contact.

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As of Thursday an additional 671 laboratory tests for the virus were performed. The total number of tests performed since early February is now 47,372.

“Each Manitoban is going to have to decide the level of risk they’re going to take [going forward],” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial health officer.

But people who are sick should still stay home, he said.

Roussin added workplaces need to look at their policies and practices when it comes to staying home because they’re ill.

“We need to make it easy as possible … the alternative is people come to work sick.”

Lanette Siragusa reminded people that hospitals and health care centres will start allowing a designated visitor, but some may not start until Monday or later.

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Shared Health’s Chief Nursing Officer said people should call before they go.


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Safety officers heading to Manitoba beaches amid COVID-19, no new cases reported Thursday

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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COVID-19 roundup: new case reported in Owen Sound Friday – Owen Sound Sun Times

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This undated transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, also known as novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like.

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One new case of COVID-19 was reported in the region Friday according to the Grey Bruce Health Unit’s daily situation report.

The most recent case was reported in Owen Sound, according to the health unit’s data.

Eighty-eight of the region’s 98 total cases have recovered. None of the active cases are currently hospitalized, and no deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 locally.

Twenty-four cases of the disease have been reported in healthcare workers. No local long-term care or retirement homes are currently under a declared COVID-19 outbreak.

* * *

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is recommending people use virtual forms of participation such as signing petitions, donating to groups, and learning more about racism and how to address it as anti-racism protests spread throughout the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Racism is a public health issue. Racism, in its many forms, profoundly impacts the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities,” said a Grey Bruce Health Unit news release. “We recognize that, at this time, people may want to gather to march and express themselves with respect to supporting efforts to end racism.”

The release did list several considerations for people who must participate in any local rallies including spreading out to maintain proper physical distancing, staying outside, wearing a face covering, and bringing hand sanitizer.

The health unit is asking older adults, the immunocompromised, and those living with vulnerable people who are more susceptible to serious complications should they contract COVID-19, to reconsider the need to be present in a large crowd.

“The Grey Bruce Health Unit has the responsibility to identify risk associated with any public health threat, including COVID-19. We remind people that gatherings increase the risk of transmission of disease,” the release said.

* * *

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is encouraging all municipalities to adopt bylaws restricting the use of beach and waterfront spaces after rescinding the beach closure order enacted on May 14.

However, municipalities in Grey-Bruce can now open beaches fully, allow only walk-through access, or maintain a full closure of the beach.

In a bulletin on their website the health unit recommends people check with their local municipality to confirm the status of the beach, waterfront, and river access points before planning to use them.

Even if some public waterfront spaces do reopen, amenities such as public washrooms, change rooms, and water refill stations may still be closed, a health unit media release explained. Therefore, the health unit is recommending beachgoers bring their own water jug with a spigot, soap and paper towels to wash their hands – or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Public health is recommending people wear a non-medical face mask or face covering in places where proper physical distancing measures cannot be controlled. They’re also recommending people bring reusable water bottles and individual containers for food to prevent sharing, and their own garbage bags.

Public health is asking residents to be patient with visitors and tourists who do not know the local guidance information and to politely inform them what is allowed at local beaches, and the proper guidelines to follow.

“We all want to have an enjoyable summer on our beautiful beaches in the safest and most sustainable way possible. We’re in this together,” the bulletin reads.

* * *

Community lab collections at South Bruce Grey Health Centre’s Chesley and Durham sites will resume on Monday.

Appointments will be required to ensure proper physical distancing for patient safety. Patients can begin booking appointments for June 15 and beyond by calling Patient Registration for Chesley (519-363-2340) or Durham (519-369-2340) between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

People are asked to have a health card and lab requisition ready when calling. A high volume of calls is expected and some waiting may be necessary, according to an SBGHC media release.

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Long-term care company cuts ties with executive after comments made during meeting – OttawaMatters.com

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A long-term care provider’s decision to cut ties with an executive who made disparaging remarks about the relatives of residents struck by the COVID-19 pandemic falls short of the mark, family members said Friday as they continued to push for greater accountability.

They said Sienna Senior Living’s decision to part ways with former executive vice-president of operations Joanne Dykeman does little to address their concerns about the care their relatives are receiving. Dykeman’s comments, they added, raise questions about the company’s overall commitment to residents and their families.

Sienna announced Dykeman’s departure a day after she was overheard mocking family members of seniors living at a home in Woodbridge, Ont., which has been grappling with a deadly COVID-19 outbreak.

Immediately following an online video conference to discuss the situation at Woodbridge Vista Care Community, attendees reported hearing Dykeman refer to them as litigious and blood-sucking when she thought the call had been disconnected.

Sienna declined to verify the substance of Dykeman’s comments, but said they “fell far short of our expectations” and apologized to members of the Woodbridge Vista community.

For Mike di Donato, whose 92-year-old grandmother was hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 at the home, the company’s actions weren’t good enough.

“There’s a culture problem there,” the 43-year-old said in a telephone interview. “There needs to be change.”

Di Donato said his grandmother moved to the facility last fall and received excellent care for the first several months of her residency.

He said his family did not become truly concerned until early May when the first positive cases were identified at the facility.

Di Donato said his grandmother tested positive for the virus on May 17, but he did not receive an update from Woodbridge Vista’s resident doctor until more than a week later.

That call, he said, came hours after the Ontario government released a damning military report about horrific conditions in five long-term care homes where soldiers had been deployed to provide support, including another facility owned by Sienna. The report detailed a litany of disturbing findings, including improper hygiene practices and inadequate efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Di Donato said he learned last weekend his grandmother was one of 18 Woodbridge Vista residents sent to hospital with the virus. In the days since, he said her condition has deteriorated and his family was forced to say what they fear will be their final goodbyes via video.

Dykeman’s comments, he said, came Wednesday night during a Zoom call with dozens of concerned relatives.

He described her conduct during the meeting as “callous,” saying she did not seem truly engaged with the family’s concerns and declined to answer specific questions about the ongoing outbreak.

Once the call had officially concluded, he said, he and several attendees overheard her remarks. Di Donato and others present reported hearing Dykeman refer to relatives as “blood-sucking class-action lawsuit people” and mock concerns expressed by some at the meeting.

Dykeman, who did not respond to request for comment, no longer worked for Sienna as of Thursday afternoon.

That same day, the Ontario government said management of Woodbridge Vista was being reassigned to William Osler Health System, a nearby hospital where patients were already receiving treatment. Data from the local public health authority indicated more than 20 residents had died from the virus, while more than 100 had fallen ill. More than 40 staff members were also infected.

“Despite receiving hospital support, Woodbridge Vista Care Community has been unable to contain the spread of COVID-19,” read a statement from the Ministry of Long-Term Care. “These steps will enable a rigorous management structure to help contain the spread of the disease and assist in returning their home to normal operations.”

Sienna said it has developed a six-point plan to protect residents, noting Dykeman’s remarks were not consistent with those efforts.  

“Our residents and their loved ones are deserving of our respect at all times and as a company we will ensure this respect guides our every action,” Sienna said, adding its “renewal” efforts include improving communication with families.

Di Donato said he questions Sienna’s commitment to change, but hopes the Dykeman controversy will force the company’s hand. 

“If she had disconnected properly from that Zoom call, would we be talking today? Probably not,” he said.

“They would have just kept doing what they’re doing.”

Sienna Living also owns Red Oak Retirement Homes located in Kanata.

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