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Health Canada approves 1st COVID-19 vaccine for youngest kids – CBC News

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Nearly two million of Canada’s youngest children will soon be eligible for immunization against COVID-19 now that the federal drug regulator has approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for infants and preschoolers.

Health Canada now says the Moderna vaccine can be given to young children between the ages of six months and five years in doses one-quarter the size of those approved for adults.

Moderna’s product is the first COVID-19 vaccine approved for children under five in Canada.

“After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, the department has determined that the vaccine is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 in children between six months and five years of age,” the Public Health Agency of Canada announced on Twitter Thursday.

The agency said it will continue to keep a close eye on the safety of the vaccine and has required Moderna to provide updated data on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

In the decision posted on the Health Canada website, the agency said Phase 3 trial results for the drug show the immune response in children aged six months to five years was comparable to Moderna’s vaccine for 18- to 25-year-olds.

WATCH | Health Canada say it will continue to monitor the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness following approval

Health Canada approves Moderna vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years

6 hours ago

Duration 1:51

Health Canada adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma says the agency will continue to receive data from Moderna regarding its safety and effectiveness following its approval for use in younger children.

Trials studying the vaccine’s effectiveness in young children were conducted this past winter when the Omicron variant became dominant.

Preliminary data showed the Moderna vaccine prevented symptomatic COVID-19 at a rate of 50.6 per cent in children between 6 and 23 months old, and at a rate of 36.8 per cent in children 2 to 5 years old.

About 1.7 million kids now eligible for vaccination

The approval expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to approximately 1.7 million children in Canada. The provinces will decide where and when the vaccine will be given to kids.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said that even children already infected with COVID-19 would benefit from the vaccine’s added protection.

“COVID-19 vaccination in younger children will increase their protection against severe illness,” Njoo told a news conference. “Even if a child has been previously infected with COVID-19, vaccination is still important.”

A vial of Moderna vaccine and some cotton balls.
Vaccines administered to children between six months and five years old will be about about a quarter of the size of adult doses. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Health officials said that children who have tested positive for COVID-19 or display symptoms should wait eight weeks before starting the series of vaccinations.

The authorized interval for the two vaccine doses is four weeks, although NACI recommends a period of eight weeks between shots. It says the longer period can result in a more robust and durable immune response.

No safety concerns detected

Health Canada said there were no safety concerns identified in the study. The most common reactions were similar to the ones kids experience with other pediatric vaccines, such as pain at the injection site, sleepiness and loss of appetite.

Less common reactions included mild to moderate fever, swelling at the injection site, nausea, tender lymph nodes under the arm, headaches and muscle aches.

The advisory body noted that adverse side effects occurring at a rate of less than 6 per 100,000 likely would not have been detected during the trial.

Health Canada said there are still some uncertainties about the vaccine because it’s new and researchers don’t have long-term data yet. For example, there’s little information about the risk of very rare reactions like myocarditis — a swelling of heart tissue — although no such cases came up during the trials.

Dr. Tehseen Ladha, an Edmonton-based pediatrician, said the evidence in favour of vaccination remains overwhelming.

WATCH | Pediatrician offers vaccination advice to parents of young children

Newly approved COVID-19 vaccine for children ‘a beacon of light,’ pediatrician says

3 hours ago

Duration 6:17

Pediatrician Dr. Tehseen Ladha says Moderna’s newly approved COVID-19 vaccine for children under five is safer than potentially exposing children to the virus.

“If we’re going to weigh the risks and benefits, we’re looking at whether to give a vaccine that’s been rigorously studied … versus Covid infection, where we don’t know the long-term effects and we do know for certain that it can cause severe consequences,” Ladha told CBC News Network.

To the parents of young children, Ladha said: “I would certainly recommend going for the vaccine rather than exposing them to infection.”

There is also more to learn about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in young children with other health conditions or who are immunocompromised, NACI documents said.

The United States approved the Moderna and Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccines last month and has immunized 267,000 children in that age group as of July 8.

Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for young children between six months and five years old was submitted to Health Canada last month and is still under review.

Dr. Marc Berthiaume of the Health Canada Bureau of Medical Sciences said Canada is not aware of any ongoing studies examining the use of COVID-19 vaccines for children under six months old. He said infants of that age may benefit from antibodies against the coronavirus passed on through their mothers.

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Wolf found dead by roadside, another still missing after ‘suspicious’ B.C. zoo escape

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ALDERGROVE — One of the wolves that escaped its enclosure at the Greater Vancouver Zoo this week has been found dead on a roadside, and a second wolf is still missing, the zoo’s deputy general manager said Thursday.

Menita Prasad said both the zoo’s perimeter fence and the grey wolf enclosure were deliberately “compromised” early Tuesday, allowing the zoo’s nine adult wolves to escape while five cubs stayed inside the enclosure.

All but two of the adults were contained within the zoo’s property, she said.

The zoo in Aldergrove, B.C., has been shut for three days as workers and conservation officers searched for the wolves, while Langley RCMP investigate the incident as a suspected case of unlawful entry and vandalism.

The fences had been cut, Prasad said. An earlier statement from the zoo said the escape was “suspicious, and believed to be due to malicious intent.”

Searchers were “heartbroken” to find a three-year-old female wolf, Chia, dead by the side of 264 Street in Aldergrove on Thursday morning, Prasad told a press conference through tears.

It’s presumed Chia was hit by a car, she said.

A one-year-old female wolf named Tempest is still missing and believed to be in the vicinity of the zoo, Prasad said, adding that the animal, which was born at the facility, has a slim chance of surviving in the wild.

Prasad described Tempest as a “shy wolf” who poses no threat to public safety, though she said she could not say what the wolf might do if a person approached her. She urged anyone who sees the animal not to approach her and instead call authorities to report the location.

The wolf’s prime motivation would be to get back to her family, she said.

“As a result of this senseless act, our wolf pack has lost two family members,” Prasad said. “We watched these wolves grow up. We consider the animals at the zoo a part of our family.”

She said the “search and rescue operation” would continue and is asking for the public’s help “to reunite Tempest with her family.”

“She is a small wolf with grey brown puppy fur and white markings on her muzzle and her brow,” Prasad said.

Anyone who spots Tempest is asked contact the Greater Vancouver Zoo, Langley RCMP or the BC Conservation Officer Service by calling 1-877-952-7277.

The zoo, which is about 55 kilometres outside Vancouver, is set to reopen on Saturday, Prasad said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in Canada stable, but higher than past summers – Global News

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COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths and confirmed case counts across Canada are relatively stable after an early summer wave, but they remain far higher than past years, data shows.

As of Wednesday, Canada is seeing an average of 3,475 lab-confirmed cases and 44 deaths per day, according to provincial and territorial data compiled by Global News. Currently, 5,158 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 305 patients who are in intensive care.

While those numbers are down slightly from the brief wave of infections in June and July, they remain far higher than the rates seen during the summers of 2020 and 2021.

In past years, there was an average of roughly 350 patients in hospital per day during the summer months. Even as hospitalizations climbed in August 2021 and into September of that year, they peaked at half the current rate.

The current death rate has also vastly eclipsed past summers, when the average number of deaths per day was in the single digits.

Previous evidence pointed to the summer months as predictable lulls in the pandemic, as people spend more time in outdoor spaces where there is less transmission of the virus.

But the more infectious Omicron variant upended that thinking, and further mutations — including the current BA.5 subvariant and its predecessor, BA.2 — have led to more waves of infections this year than in the past.

Read more:

‘We cannot live with 15,000 deaths a week’: WHO warns on rise in COVID fatalities

The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that BA.5’s dominance has led to a 35 per cent increase in reported COVID-10-related deaths globally over the past four weeks.

In the last week alone, 15,000 people died from COVID-19 worldwide, according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“There is a lot of talk about learning to live with this virus, but we cannot live with 15,000 deaths a week. We cannot live with mounting hospitalizations and deaths,” he said at a press conference.

“We cannot live with inequitable access to vaccines and other tools. Learning to live with COVID-19 does not mean we pretend it’s not there. It means we use the tools we have to protect ourselves and protect others.”


Click to play video: 'COVID guidelines for fall: Expert urges Canadians to look out for flu as well'



1:14
COVID guidelines for fall: Expert urges Canadians to look out for flu as well


COVID guidelines for fall: Expert urges Canadians to look out for flu as well

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam has said the country is in a period of pandemic transition that will likely lead to further waves this year, warning back in June that COVID-19 “has not left the stage.”

Public health officials have shifted their focus toward a potential serious wave in the fall and winter. Planning is underway to provide vaccine booster doses to all adults that request one, while ensuring vulnerable populations receive an extra dose.

Experts say the boosters are important, as current vaccines do not sufficiently protect against Omicron and its subvariants, allowing for “breakthrough cases” and even reinfections among vaccinated people.

“However, there is evidence that if you have the vaccine, more than likely you don’t end up in the hospital,” said Dr. Horacio Bach, an infectious disease researcher and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia.

“People (infected with COVID-19) will say, ‘It’s just kind of a flu, that’s okay, I’ll stay home.’ That is the result of the vaccines.”


Click to play video: 'Expert says Canada can expect a spike in COVID-19 variants cases during fall and winter'



1:43
Expert says Canada can expect a spike in COVID-19 variants cases during fall and winter


Expert says Canada can expect a spike in COVID-19 variants cases during fall and winter

The Public Health Agency of Canada notes that between June 6 and July 3 of this year, unvaccinated cases were three times more likely to be hospitalized and four times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to vaccinated cases.

Tedros urged everyone who has access to a booster dose to get one, and to continue to wear masks when it is impossible to keep distance from others.

As of Monday, 86.1 per cent of the Canadian population has received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, while 82.4 per cent have received at least two doses. Yet just under half — 49.7 per cent — have gotten at least one more booster dose.

Despite hospitalizations nationally remaining relatively stable, signs are emerging that more patients are being admitted with symptoms.

Hospitalizations are on the rise in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, according to the most recent updates. Most provinces besides Quebec have shifted to reporting data weekly, while Saskatchewan is due to release its first monthly report on Thursday.

To date, provinces and territories have confirmed more than 4,125,000 cases of COVID-19 including 43,471 deaths.

— With files from Rachel Gilmore

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Commercial bankruptcies rising in Canada, says business lobby group – CBC News

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A small business lobby group says commercial bankruptcies are rising in Canada and even more small businesses are at risk of closure.

Statistics Canada data shows small business insolvencies have been on an upward trend since May 2021.

But the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says its own survey data indicates only 10 per cent of Canada’s small business owners would file for bankruptcy if their business was no longer solvent.

It says 46 per cent of business owners say they would simply stop operating rather than go through the bankruptcy process.

The CFIB also says more than one in six Canadian small business owners say they are currently considering going out of business.

The lobby group wants government support to help Canada’s small business sector get through the next few months and deal with challenges like pandemic-related debt and supply chain issues.

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