There’s growing consensus that offering the COVID-19 vaccine to as many people as possible may have more impact than holding back supplies to give recipients their second dose — but in Ontario, officials still plan to maintain the two-dose timeframe to ensure immunity.
The push for a change in approach comes after two vaccines have been approved to roll out in Canada.
Pfizer-BioNTech’s version, approved first by Health Canada, is already being offered to tens of thousands of health-care workers.
A second option from Moderna, just approved on Wednesday, is now slated to roll out as well with nearly 170,000 doses expected to arrive in Canada by the end of the year.
Both require a two-dose approach, and original recommendations involved using half the available vaccine supplies while reserving a second dose in case supply chain issues disrupted the timeline, explained Toronto-based infectious disease specialist Dr. Allison McGeer, a member of Canada’s COVID-19 immunity task force.
“That consensus is changing now,” she added.
The two-dose regime involves injections given 21 days apart for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and 28 days apart for the Moderna version.
The latest findings suggest a single dose did provide solid protection against COVID-19 “in the short term,” McGeer said.
U.S. FDA data shows 1st shot efficacy
Data released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December showed that some level of protection from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine begins quickly after the first shot, with efficacy of a little more than 52 per cent — which spikes to roughly 95 per cent a week after the second dose.
A briefing note on the Moderna vaccine showed around 50 per cent efficacy after a first shot within the first two weeks, and beyond that timeframe, efficacy of more than 92 per cent even before someone received their second dose.
“In a setting in which we are seeing more cases every day, and we really want to do something as quickly as possible, it probably makes more sense to get everybody a dose now — knowing that there’s going to be enough vaccine coming,” said McGeer.
“And if that means some doses come a week late, that’s probably fine.”
Yet-to-be-published modelling from the University of Toronto, first reported by the Globe and Mail and obtained in a draft form by CBC News, shows taking a more flexible approach — by withholding fewer doses to vaccinate more people quickly — could avoid 34 to 42 per cent of symptomatic infections.
WATCH | Some provinces won’t hold back COVID-19 vaccine doses for 2nd shot:
“If we could get more vaccines in the arms of long-term care residents and long-term care workers, this could potentially avert a lot of the potential infections in the coming weeks,” said Ashleigh Tuite, an infectious disease epidemiologist and mathematical modeler at the university’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table is now preparing to make a formal recommendation to the province on whether to hold back the second doses, based on the research from Tuite and her team, the Globe reported.
Ontario to monitor, assess vaccine rollout
Ontario, however, isn’t committing to changing its current approach, and officials say no formal recommendation has yet been made.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health did say in a statement that the province’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force will continue to closely monitor and assess the vaccine rollout.
“While some individuals may have good COVID-19 immunity after only one dose, it’s not guaranteed and a second dose is necessary,” reads the statement provided to CBC News.
“We will continue to administer second doses to patients, ensuring they have optimal immunity from the vaccine, while continuing to vaccinate a growing number of new patients as additional doses of the vaccine are delivered.”
Several provinces, including Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and British Columbia, are already aiming to do the opposite by providing available vaccine doses widely.
“We aren’t holding back doses because we want to protect as many people as possible, as quickly as possible,” Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s chief medical officer of health, recently said.
But Matthew Miller, an infectious disease specialist from McMaster University, cautioned against drifting away from the strict two-dose timeframes before the vaccines’ long-term efficacy is clear — particularly during the early phase of immunization campaigns targeting those at a high-risk of infection.
“I do think it’s imperative to ensure we have the doses on hand to be able to guarantee that they’re to experience the most efficacy possible,” he said.
‘We know it can save lives’
Advocates for more widespread vaccinations aren’t calling for an end to the two-dose regimen, but McGeer stressed there’s now less need to hold back doses based on emerging information on the stability of the supply chain.
The debate is playing out while a growing number of Canadians say they want to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available to them.
Close to half of respondents said they would take the shot if it became available, according to a December online survey from the Angus Reid Institute, up from 40 per cent of respondents the month before.
Tuite said her stance on dispersing available doses more widely doesn’t need to be a long-term strategy, since maintaining the tight two-dose timeframe will become easier as more shipments arrive in the months ahead.
“But right now, when a vaccine is scarce, and when we know it can save lives, I think it’s important to think about how we can maximize that,” she said.
Ontario reports 1,958 new coronavirus cases; 43 new deaths – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Ontario’s top public health official says that the transmission of COVID-19 appears to be a on the wane after a worrisome spike in cases following the holidays.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams made the comment during a briefing on Monday, hours after the Ministry of Health reported 1,958 new COVID-19 cases and 43 more deaths.
The seven-day average of daily cases fell from 2,460 to 2,371 over the last 24 hours. That is down from 3,074 at this point last week and 3,394 on Jan. 11.
“A lot of the health units their numbers per 100,000 are coming down pretty well across the board, there’s a few sort of plateauing and levelling off, but it tells us that we’re going in the right direction and that you’re doing the right things you need to do,” Williams said, while acknowledging that the trend should still be taken with “a grain of salt” due to the circulation of a new, more contagious variant that originated in the United Kingdom.
Provincial labs processed about 36,000 test specimens in the past 24 hours, generating a positivity rate of at least 5.4 per cent.
There have been 5,846 deaths and 227,494 recoveries from coronavirus infection since Jan. 25, 2020.
Another 23,620 active cases remain in Ontario, and that number is down approximately 2,000 in the past week.
Twenty-seven of the deaths reported on Monday involved residents of the long-term care system.
There were at least 1,425 patients receiving care in Ontario hospitals on Monday, according to local public health units and hospital networks, and the Critical Care Services of Ontario report from Sunday said there were 415 adult patients in intensive care across Ontario, along with one child.
ICU occupancy has held roughly steady for the past two weeks.
About 283 people were breathing with the help of a ventilator.
Michael Garron Hospital intensivist Dr. Michael Warner said that admissions to hospital appear to be stabilizing, but the situation could worsen dramatically because of the highly infectious B.1.1.7 variant from the United Kingdom.
“I think it is great that case numbers are coming down, we can’t dispute that, and ICU admissions are stable around 415 for the past week or so. I guess that is good but we can’t let our guard down. And we really have no idea how much B117 and other variants are circulating in Ontario or Canada,” he said.
On Sunday, officials in Simcoe-Muskoka said they detected another what was believed to be the 21st case of the B.1.1.7 variant, in a retail store worker who had contact with residents of a Bradford long-term care home.
Williams, however, said during Monday’s briefing that the total confirmed number of cases involving the variant is actually 34, up from 15 last week.
Public Health Ontario is conducting a “point-prevalence study” of all positive samples collected on a given day last week to see how many cases of the UK variant are circulating in the community.
Of the new cases confirmed on Monday, 727 are in Toronto, 365 are in Peel, 157 are in York, 62 are in Durham, 55 are in Hamilton and 54 are in Halton.
Meanwhile, supply restrictions continue to limit the number of additional COVID-19 vaccinations administered per day.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said about 6,000 more doses were administered on Sunday, bringing the total to about 292,000 injections to date.
Ford wants more COVID-19 testing at Pearson Airport as hundreds of travellers test positive – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Ontario Premier Doug Ford wants anyone who lands at Toronto Pearson International Airport to take a COVID-19 test as more than 100 travellers tested positive for the disease after arriving into the country within a two-week time frame.
The premier made the comments at a news conference held Monday afternoon.
“I can’t stress this enough,” he said. “We have to test every person that comes in to Pearson, and any other land crossing. It’s absolutely critical. We need to put barriers up every which way we can.”
“Every time I look up in the sky I’m thinking how many cases are coming in. This has to stop.”
According to the federal government, at least 156 flights have landed in Canada between Jan. 10 and Jan. 23 that had passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in the country.
The majority of the flights landed in Toronto (76), Montreal (40), and Calgary (24).
There were also 70 domestic flights that had a passenger later test positive for the novel coronavirus.
The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travel since March, with the latest extension set to expire on Feb. 21. Travellers must show a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their travel date, and must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently urged Canadians to cancel all non-essential trips abroad.
“No one should be taking a vacation right now. If you’ve got one planned, cancel it,” Trudeau said last week. “If you are thinking of traveling across the country for spring break – now is not the time.”
The Ontario government also announced a pilot program earlier this month offering voluntary COVID-19 testing for anyone landing at Pearson Airport. It’s not yet clear how many people have used the program.
Despite the regulations and the availability of testing, it appears that COVID-19-positive cases are still being traced back to travel, causing concern by local politicians trying to curb the spread of the disease.
On Monday, the mayors and chairs of the 11 largest municipal governments across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area released a statement calling for stricter travel measures.
“The federal government is urged to adopt increased quarantine enforcement mechanisms including technology which do not rely on local officials who are already hard pressed,” the news release said.
“In addition to the recently instituted three-day advance testing requirement for travellers arriving in Canada, the mayors and chairs urged the federal government to consider additional testing measures at the airports to detect the presence of viral variants.”
Ford renewed that same call for more COVID-19 testing and stricter regulations, adding that he will be going to Pearson Airport on Tuesday.
“Let’s make sure that we test every single person that comes into our country, rather than having 750 people flying into Pearson that are positive.”
“It just doesn’t make sense whatsoever.”
No further details were provided about the reason for the premier’s visit to Pearson Airport.
Why BlackBerry's stock has been skyrocketing – Yahoo Canada Finance
An All-Stock $31.2 Million Transaction Agreed to at Significant Premium of $2.00 Per Share of GreenBox POS Common Stock Transaction is Immediately Accretive Adding Approximately $14 Million in EBITDA and $500 Million Annually in Processing Volume SAN DIEGO, CA, Jan. 25, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — GreenBox POS (OTCQB: GRBX) (“GreenBox” or “the Company”), an emerging financial technology company leveraging proprietary blockchain security to build customized payment solutions, has entered into a non-binding MOU to acquire ChargeSavvy LLC, a financial technology company specializing in payment processing and POS systems, for total consideration of $31.2 million in restricted GreenBox POS common stock. The transaction, reflecting $2.00 per share of GreenBox stock is expected to be immediately accretive. The all-stock transaction is subject to the completion of an audit of ChargeSavvy’s financial statements and customary closing conditions. The Company believes that ChargeSavvy’s high-margin, state-of-the-art point of sale system and back-end technology perfectly complements GreenBox’s payment solutions, while also bringing a complete agent management portal for streamlined underwriting, onboarding and monitoring of retail and ecommerce merchants. ChargeSavvy’s primary focus is on retail, in-person transactions, but it is also ideally suited for the ecommerce market. In 2020, ChargeSavvy processed payments of over $500 million, generating revenues of over $30 million and an EBITDA of almost $14.0 million. “ChargeSavvy’s large footprint across multiple verticals, most specifically retail, makes for an ideal opportunity to grow together,” said Jeff Nickel, Chief Operating Officer of ChargeSavvy. “Combining GreenBox’s Gen-3 proprietary block-chain technology with our expansive processing portfolio presents significant opportunities for cross-selling our solutions, as well as the ability to further penetrate the massive retail and e-commerce industries.” Based on pre-determined profitability performance metrics over the next 12 months, the total maximum consideration for the transaction could reach $52.0 million. “If completed, this accretive acquisition would mark a pivotal moment in GreenBox’s history by adding over $500 million in processing volume to our Gen-3 platform and propelling us into the massive retail industry, as well as several other industries that we believe are ideally suited for our solutions,” said Fredi Nisan, Chief Executive Officer of GreenBox POS. “By leveraging our stock, which was priced at a significant premium of $2.00 per share, we expect to deliver a significant amount of shareholder value in the immediate term while cross-selling services and moving into other high-value, high-margin markets. We look forward to working together with the entire ChargeSavvy team as our technologies work together to disrupt the entire payment solutions market as we know it.” About GreenBox POS GreenBox POS (OTCQB: GRBX) is an emerging financial technology company leveraging proprietary blockchain security to build customized payment solutions. The Company’s applications enable an end-to-end suite of turnkey financial products, reducing fraud and improving the efficiency of handling large-scale commercial processing volumes for its merchant clients globally. For more information, please visit the Company’s website at www.greenboxpos.com. About ChargeSavvy ChargeSavvy is a global Fintech company focused on payment processing and software within the merchant services industry. The Company’s proprietary point of sale product provides niche retail merchants an all-in-one solution to manage client transactions with added tools to protect against chargebacks and fraud. The company also offers e-commerce and delivery transactions software technology. For more information, please visit the company’s website at www.chargesavvy.com to learn more. Forward-Looking Statements Disclaimer This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain as they are based on current expectations and assumptions concerning future events or future performance of the Company. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which are only predictions and speak only as of the date hereof. In evaluating such statements, prospective investors should review carefully various risks and uncertainties identified in this release and matters set out in the Company’s SEC filings. These risks and uncertainties could cause the Company’s actual results to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements. Investor Relations Contact Mark Schwalenberg MZ Group – MZ North America 312-261-6430 GRBX@mzgroup.us www.mzgroup.us
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