However, the centre’s director cautions there’s much work to be done before a COVID-19 vaccine could be approved for use
HALIFAX — The first Canadian clinical trials for a possible COVID-19 vaccine will be conducted by a Halifax research team that also was involved in trials that eventually led to a vaccine for the Ebola virus.
Health Canada has approved trials that will be conducted at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University.
The centre’s director, Dr. Scott Halperin, says the lab was one of several in Canada and the U.S. whose work starting in 2014 eventually saw an “emergency release” of an Ebola vaccine that was used in West Africa before a third phase of clinical trials had been completed.
Halperin said each lab did slightly different studies in order to get the right type of information before quickly moving to the second phase and then the third.
“The Phase 1 studies were done and within six months the data were available and the phase three studies were started in West Africa which then helped to actually stop the epidemic,” he said in an interview.
That would be something that Health Canada and the Canadian government would have to decide whether they wanted to do that
Halperin said it’s possible the same emergency release could happen in Canada with a potential COVID-19 vaccine if it shows potential and is deemed safe, expediting a process that usually takes a number of years to complete — anywhere from five to seven years under normal circumstances.
“That would be something that Health Canada and the Canadian government would have to decide whether they wanted to do that. But it is certainly one of the options in the tool kit of things they can do to expedite the process if this or any other vaccine is looking promising.”
Halperin pointed out that despite its early use during testing, the Ebola vaccine wasn’t actually licensed as a regular marketed vaccine until late last year.
However, he cautions there’s much work to be done before a COVID-19 vaccine could be approved for use.
The Halifax researchers will be following up work by Chinese manufacturer CanSino Biologics, which is already conducting human clinical trials for the vaccine.
Halperin said the first phase trial should be underway within the next three weeks once final approval is given by the centre’s research ethics board.
Phase 1 will involve fewer than 100 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55 who will be followed over the next six months.
“We want to make sure that the vaccine is safe first in younger individuals before we go into people who may be at higher risk,” Halperin said.
The participants are given a dose of the vaccine and are clinically monitored through a series of blood tests. They are also asked to record their symptoms in a diary so the researchers can have even more information.
“We collect any type of symptoms they might have whether they think it’s related to the vaccine or not,” said Halperin.
Each participant will make between nine and 13 visits to the centre during the first phase of the study.
We collect any type of symptoms they might have whether they think it’s related to the vaccine or not
If the initial test group shows a safe immune response to the vaccine, Halperin said researchers will quickly transition into an expanded second phase study before the first phase is even completed.
That would involve hundreds of people of all ages, including those aged 65 to 85, and would be administered by several other research centres across the country that are part of the Canadian Immunization Research Network.
Halperin said the network was set up by the federal government in 2009 as part of the response to the H1N1 pandemic. He said the intent was to create the necessary infrastructure to respond rapidly to an emergency and to do early phase clinical trials so vaccines would be available in Canada.
“This is a good test of that (network),” Halperin said of clinical trials that will be the first of “many more to come.”
Canadian study of critically ill patients with COVID-19 found lower death rate – EurekAlert
A Canadian case series of all patients with COVID-19 admitted to six intensive care units (ICUs) in Metro Vancouver found patient outcomes were substantially better than reported in other jurisdictions. The paper is published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Researchers looked at outcomes for 117 patients with COVID-19 admitted to one of six hospitals in Metro Vancouver between February 21 and April 14, 2020. Patients ranged in age from 23 to 92 years, with a median age of 69 years. Two-thirds (67.5%) were male. As of May 5, 85% of patients were still alive and 61% had been discharged home. The overall mortality rate was 15%.
“The overall mortality was appreciably lower than in previously published studies, despite comparable baseline patient characteristics and a higher proportion of patients with completed hospital courses,” writes Dr. Donald Griesdale, a critical care physician at Vancouver General Hospital and associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver, BC, with coauthors.
Data from Lombardy, Italy, showed a 61% mortality rate for patients admitted to an ICU, a case study of 24 people in Seattle had a 57% mortality rate among patients in the ICU, and a case series from Wuhan, China, reported a mortality rate of 80% in patients admitted to the ICU.
Fewer patients in the Canadian series (63%) received mechanical ventilation than in Lombardy (88%), Seattle (75%) and New York (90%), but in Wuhan even fewer (42%) received mechanical ventilation. Very few patients received unproven treatments for COVID-19; one patient received hydroxychloroquine, four received tocilizumab, and none recived remdesivir.
“Despite the observed differences between patients and critical care interventions in these studies, it is unclear whether these solely account for the marked lower mortality that we report,” write the researchers. “We hypothesize that these encouraging results may be due to a broader system-level response that prevented an overwhelming surge of critically ill patients with COVID-19 from presenting to our hospitals and ICUs.”
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.
Two deaths, eight new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa – CTV News
Two more residents of Ottawa have died due to COVID-19, while eight new cases of the virus have been detected.
Ottawa Public Health announced the new cases in its daily epidemiology update on Thursday afternoon.
Since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Ottawa on March 11, there has been 1,930 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 240 deaths.
Thirty-seven residents are currently in hospital for treatment of COVID-19.
The median age of the COVID-19 cases in Ottawa is 56-years-old. The youngest case involved a four-month-old.
Recovering from COVID-19
Ottawa Public Health says 80 per cent of COVID-19 cases are now resolved.
The report shows 1,544 people have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.
There are currently 146 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa.
Source of COVID-19
Half of Ottawa’s 1,930 cases of COVID-19 are linked to an outbreak in a retirement home, long-term care home, group home, hospital or shelter.
Ottawa Public Health says 975 cases are linked to an institutional outbreak.
A total of 426 cases, 22 per cent, are linked to close contact with a known case or linked to a community outbreak.
The report shows 10 per cent of COVID-19 cases, 183 cases, are linked to community transmission of the virus.
PoCo care home latest with COVID-19 outbreak, special team sent to Langley Lodge – CityNews Vancouver
PORT COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130 — A resident at a long-term care home in Port Coquitlam has tested positive for COVID-19, while the Fraser Health Authority is taking extra measures to control further spread and deaths at Langley Lodge.
To date, 22 Langley Lodge residents have died from virus, more than at any other care home in B.C.
The first reported case of COVID-19 was at the Lynn Valley Care Centre, where 20 people died from the virus. The outbreak there involved 76 cases, but was declared over earlier this month.
Nicola Lodge, a long-term care facility in Port Coquitlam, reported its first case Thursday.
The resident is in isolation, according to Fraser Health.
The health authority has implemented enhanced control measures at the site.
Fraser Health has also appointed a director of pandemic response at Langley Lodge.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has been challenging to control at Langley Lodge due to complex factors, such as the outbreak being on a behavioral stabilization unit,” Fraser Healths says.
“We have been working very closely with Langley Lodge and this decision was made to further support the facility leadership and staff.”
As well, Fraser Health has deployed an ultraviolet germicidal irradiation machine, along with infection control specialists, and additional nurses and care staff at Langley Lodge.
According to latest update from the lodge, 10 staff members, including two from the health region, have contracted the virus, while one resident remains sick. Of all the cases, 22 people have fully recovered.
As of Wednesday, the province reported 14 outbreaks remained active in long-term care or assisted-living facilities, as well as one in an acute-care unit.
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