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Health Canada approves Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged 5-11 – The Globe and Mail

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Children aged 5 and older are now eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the first time in Canada, a key milestone that can help families return to some prepandemic ways of life, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser announced on Friday.

“Overall, this is very good news for adults and children alike. It provides another tool to protect Canadians and, to the relief of many parents, will help bring a degree of normality back to children’s lives,” Dr. Supriya Sharma said on Friday.

Pediatric COVID-19 vaccines will start to arrive in Canada on Sunday, with 2.9 million doses – enough to provide a first dose to every five- to 11-year-old in Canada – expected to be delivered by the end of next week, Public Services and Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi announced Friday. The timing on delivery of second doses has yet to be determined, Ms. Tassi said.

What to know about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged 5-11: efficacy, side effects and more

The authorization comes at a critical time in the pandemic, as the incidence rate of COVID-19 among those aged 5 to 11 is currently higher than in any other age group, said Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. While most children will fully recover from COVID-19, a small number are at risk for serious cases and long-lasting severe health problems, including multisystem inflammatory syndrome, long COVID and other issues.

Marie Tarrant, a professor in the school of nursing at the University of British Columbia, said vaccinating school-aged children could go a long way to controlling spread of COVID-19.

“There is a lot of anticipation and expectation that this will help us curb some of these outbreaks that we’ve been having,” she said.

The newly authorized mRNA vaccine, produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, is a 10-microgram dosage – which is one-third the amount used in the adult version. Children tend to produce strong immune responses, which is why a smaller dose is being used. A clinical trial showed the vaccine is about 91 per cent effective after two doses and no serious side effects were reported. Canadian regulators will closely monitor for any reports of adverse events as the vaccine is rolled out.

Health Canada authorized two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for kids 5 to 11, to be given three weeks apart – the same dosing interval used in the clinical trial.

But the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending that kids wait eight weeks between the first and second dose in order to maximize the immune response. Evidence also shows that cases of heart inflammation, a rare side effect linked to the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, are also lower when doses are spaced farther apart. Although NACI’s guidelines aren’t binding, provinces typically follow the recommendations, which are based on science and real-world evidence.

Dr. Sharma said there may be a need for more flexibility on dosing schedules. The holidays are approaching and many families want to celebrate together or enjoy travel as safely as possible. For that reason, health professionals may want to consider offering first and second doses more closely together than the eight-week timeline, Dr. Sharma said.

“I think it really is a discussion with health care practitioners,” Dr. Sharma said. “I think all of that needs to be considered as people are making their vaccination choices.”

NACI is also recommending that the COVID-19 shot not be combined with other vaccines for the time being. They say five- to 11-year-olds should not receive another vaccine for two weeks before or after their COVID-19 shot to help regulators monitor the safety of the vaccine and more easily determine if any reported side effects are linked to it.

Officials noted that it’s safe to combine vaccines, such as the flu shot and the COVID-19 shot, and there may be instances, such as during this year’s influenza season, when children are advised to receive both together.

The most common side effects linked to the newly authorized COVID-19 vaccine are soreness at the injection site, fatigue and headache.

The mRNA vaccines have been linked to rare cases of heart inflammation, or myocarditis and pericarditis, primarily in young men after the second dose. Most of the cases are mild and resolve with medication.

While no cases of heart inflammation were reported in children during the clinical trial, it’s possible some may occur, Dr. Sharma said, which is why officials will be closely watching for any side effects. She noted that the health risks of COVID-19 are much higher than any risks linked to the vaccine.

Now that the shot has been approved, provincial and local health officials across Canada are readying plans to start the largest mass vaccination campaign in children in decades.

Clinical studies with children under the age of 5 are continuing, but a COVID-19 vaccine for that age group is not expected until some time next year.

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Google delays return to office in Europe, Middle East, Africa – Business Insider

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Alphabet Inc‘s Google is postponing its return-to-office plan for offices in Europe, the Middle East and Africa on concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Business Insider reported on Thursday, citing a memo it obtained.

 

(Reporting by Deborah Sophia in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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Canada’s CIBC misses profit estimates as costs climb, TD beats

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Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) posted disappointing fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday as expenses and retail banking bad debt provisions rose, while bigger rival Toronto-Dominion Bank beat expectations.

Both banks joined rivals in announcing share buybacks and raising dividends, which they are now able to do since the financial regulator’s restriction on capital distributions was

lifted last month.

TD, Canada‘s second-biggest bank, posted lower margins in Canada, but it surprised with a 5 basis-point margin expansion in its U.S. retail business from the prior quarter. It also released C$123 million ($96 million) of reserves previously set aside to cover loan losses.

CIBC, the country’s fifth-largest bank, reported 10% revenue growth, but that was clouded by a 13% increase in expenses. It also took C$78 million of provisions, higher than expected, as a 36% jump in money set aside in its Canadian banking unit offset releases in other divisions.

CIBC said it expects expense growth in fiscal 2022 to rise to the mid-single digits, but aims to deliver positive medium-term operating leverage, with revenue growth outpacing expense expansion.

“While we may have periods of negative operating leverage earlier in the year, we will target positive operating leverage across our business through the course of next year,” Chief Financial Officer Hratch Panossian said on an analyst call.

TD shares jumped 3.8% to C$95.48 in morning trading in Toronto, while CIBC fell 2.5% to C$137.61. The broader stock benchmark rose 0.9%.

TD said it would increase its dividend by 12.7%, and would buy back up to 50 million, or 2.7%, of outstanding shares.

CIBC will raise its dividend by 10.2$ to C$1.61 per share and said it would buy back up to 10 million shares, about 2.2% of outstanding stock.

Canadian banks have largely posted better-than-expected earnings in past quarters, but have faced pressures from low margins and higher variable compensation costs this quarter, with some of the boost from their capital markets businesses and reserve releases in prior periods receding.

The recovery in Canadian non-mortgage lending that investors had been hoping for is materializing, albeit at different rates.

Canadian credit card lending at both banks rose 3.1% from the prior quarter. TD’s business lending grew 2.6% from the previous quarter, the same pace as mortgage growth. CIBC’s corporate lending grew a more muted 0.85%, compared with a 3.4% increase in home loans.

TD said adjusted net income rose to C$2.09 a share from C$1.60 cents, a year earlier, compared with the average analyst estimate of C$1.96 a share.

CIBC said profit excluding one-off items rose to C$3.37 per share from C$2.79 a year earlier, versus the average analyst estimate of C$3.53.

($1 = 1.2817 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Additional reporting by Sohini Podder and Mehnaz Yasmin; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Jan Harvey, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Jane Merriman)

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CIBC Misses Analysts’ Estimates as Expense Gains Accelerate – Yahoo Canada Finance

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(Bloomberg) — Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is seeing costs rise as the lender ramps up spending to boost businesses in the U.S. and domestically.

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Non-interest expenses rose 7.4% from the third quarter to C$3.14 billion ($2.5 billion), the Toronto-based bank said Thursday in a statement. That’s an acceleration from the previous 5.9% quarter-over-quarter gain it reported in August. Overall profit trailed analysts’ estimates.

CIBC has been spending to expand its franchise in the U.S. as well as its Canadian personal and business banking unit to sustain the growth in mortgages and client retention it has seen in recent quarters. But those investments haven’t been cheap as labor costs rise and banks battle to retain talent, driving up CIBC’s salary costs 5% from the third quarter and increasing performance-based compensation 20% for the year.

Chief Financial Officer Hratch Panossian said CIBC will keep spending to help drive revenue gains.

“Our strategy is to generate positive operating leverage, but to do so through top-line growth rather than containing expenses or under-investing,” Panossian said on the company’s earnings call.

CIBC slid 4.1% to C$135.44 at 9:40 a.m. in Toronto. The shares have advanced almost 25% this year, compared with a 27% gain for the S&P/TSX Commercial Banks Index.

The lender also raised its quarterly dividend 10% to C$1.61 a share, and announced a plan to buy back 10 million shares, or about 2.2% of outstanding shares. At the current share price, that would cost about C$1.4 billion. Canada’s banks last month were released from restrictions on dividend increases and share buybacks that regulators put in place early in the pandemic to protect the financial system.

Also in the statement:

  • Net income rose 42% to C$1.44 billion, or C$3.07 a share, in the three months through Oct. 31. Excluding some items, profit was C$3.37 a share. Analysts estimated C$3.54, on average.

  • CIBC took C$78 million in provisions for credit losses. Analysts estimated C$125.4 million, on average.

  • Canadian banking profit rose 1.2% from a year earlier to C$597 million.

(Updates with CFO’s comments starting in fourth paragraph.)

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