Health Canada has approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children aged five to 11, saying it’s more than 90 per cent effective against COVID-19 in younger kids.
“After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, the department has determined that the benefits of this vaccine for children between five and 11 years of age outweigh the risks,” Health Canada wrote in a release Friday morning.
“This is the first COVID-19 vaccine authorized in Canada for use in this age group and marks a major milestone in Canada’s fight against COVID-19.”
Pfizer-BioNTech’s pediatric vaccine is delivered in doses one-third the size of those given to adults and kids 12 and older. Health Canada authorized a two-dose regimen to be administered three weeks apart.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), however, is recommending that the spacing between doses be increased to at least eight weeks, as evidence has been growing that a longer interval generates a more robust immune response. The longer spacing might also help to decrease even further the risk of the rare side effect of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), NACI said.
Health Canada said clinical trials showed the vaccine was 90.7 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 in children five to 11 years of age and that no serious side effects were identified.
In a statement Friday, Pfizer said the new doses would be shipped “imminently.”
The provinces and territories are responsible for administering the vaccine. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province’s booking system should be ready as early next week for parents to make appointments for their children.
Everyone benefits: doctor
Dr. Michelle Barton-Forbes is an associate professor at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry in London Ont., who specializes in pediatric infectious disease. She said this could be a game-changer for Canada’s pandemic response.
“So ultimately, not only will we help to keep kids from acute COVID-19 and its consequences, we will keep kids healthy and we will also keep them happy as they are allowed to do in-class learning and extracurricular activities,” she said.
“This would also help reduce new adult cases in the community resulting from children with school acquisition who go home and infect their parents and grandparents. It could also help to limit COVID-19-related hospitalizations at a time when other viruses are already driving pediatric hospitalizations and ICU admissions.”
Caroline Quach, the former chair of NACI and a pediatric infectious diseases expert at the University of Montreal, said that while it’s normal for parents to question vaccines for children, the trials show the vaccine is effective and less reactogenic — meaning the percentage of children aged five to 11 who received the vaccine and experienced fever, fatigue and myalgia is lower than the percentage of vaccine recipients 16 to 25 years old who experienced similar reactions.
“There were enough children in the Pfizer study to know this with confidence,” she said.
“It is brilliant that we have this vaccine for kids,” said Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious diseases specialist and microbiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.
Although COVID-19 isn’t usually as serious in children as it is in older adults, she said, it is a “non-trivial disease. It’s something most parents will want their children well protected from.”
“Whatever proportion of kids get vaccinated will create a significant reduction in transmission and just let us all get back to something closer to normal,” McGeer said.
The Canadian Paediatric Society also issued a statement saying it “welcomes” the vaccine’s approval.
As part of its approval, Health Canada is requiring Pfizer-BioNTech to continue providing information to Health Canada on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in the younger age group.
“This will provide the department with more data from ongoing studies and real-world use to ensure that the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh any risks, as well as to detect any potential new safety signals in any age group,” said the department.
“Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will continue to closely monitor the safety of this vaccine and will take action if any safety concerns are identified.”
Designer Virgil Abloh remembered at Fashion Awards
Designers and celebrities paid tribute to Virgil Abloh at the Fashion Awards in London on Monday, where the late Louis Vuitton and Off-White creative force was honoured as a leader of change within the industry.
Abloh, the American-born son of Ghanaian immigrants, who became fashion’s highest-profile Black designer, died on Sunday https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/louis-vuitton-designer-virgil-abloh-dies-2021-11-28 following a two-year battle with a rare form of cancer.
The 41-year-old, who also worked as a DJ and visual artist, had been menswear artistic director at luxury label Louis Vuitton since March 2018.
“Genius, disruptor … (he) will be missed tremendously by all,” veteran designer Tommy Hilfiger said on the red carpet. “He inspired designers as well as the public.”
Designer and television personality Tan France called Abloh “incredible and a visionary … (who) has done the most beautiful work.”
Abloh, who founded label Off-White, was known for mixing streetwear with high-end suits and gowns while at Vuitton. His influences included graffiti art and hip hop.
“Everyone here is going to be talking about Virgil, everyone here has been impacted by his brilliance,” actor Gabrielle Union said.
At the awards, where Abloh’s photo was projected on stage, the designer was among 15 individuals and brands named leaders of change for their actions in the past year helping the environment, people and creativity.
Others on the list included Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, and Kim Jones, artistic director for Fendi womenswear and couture as well as menswear designer at Dior. Jones was also named designer of the year at the awards.
Michele also won the trailblazer award, while Hilfiger received the outstanding achievement award.
“I’m absolutely grateful, appreciative, humbled by it, but happy to be here and happy to still keep the business rolling,” Hilfiger, 70, said.
Demi Moore, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Dua Lipa were among the celebrity guests attending the event, a fundraiser for British Fashion Council charities.
(Reporting by Hanna Rantala and Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Karishma Singh)
Bank of Canada to work with Indigenous groups on reconciliation
The Bank of Canada will work with Indigenous groups to understand the wounds caused by decades of discrimination and determine how reconciliation can create a more inclusive and prosperous economy for all, Governor Tiff Macklem said on Monday.
Macklem, opening a symposium on Indigenous economies, said Canadians could work to correct some of the consequences of those “ugly periods.”
Ottawa forcibly removed thousands of Indigenous children from their communities and put them in residential schools in an effort to strip them of their language and culture, a practice that continues to scar families and individuals.
“The Bank of Canada will be working with a broad spectrum of Indigenous groups to set out what reconciliation means for what we do,” Macklem said.
“Together, we’ll define what reconciliation means for the work of the Bank of Canada — toward a more inclusive and prosperous economy for everyone,” he said.
Canada‘s Truth and Reconciliation Commission called the residential school system “cultural genocide” in 2015, as it set out 94 “calls to action” to try to restore Canada‘s relationship with its Indigenous people, including economic reconciliation.
“We can’t go back and change what’s happened. But we can try to correct some of the consequences,” said Macklem, adding that it is the central bank’s job to create conditions for opportunity for all Canadians.
“Taking concrete steps toward economic reconciliation is our responsibility too. And it’s incumbent upon us to take the time to do this well,” said Macklem.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Dan Grebler)
Canada’s Trans Mountain still ‘days away’ from restarting pipeline
Canada‘s Trans Mountain said on Monday it was “still days away” from restarting the key oil pipeline at a reduced capacity as heavy rains continue to impede restoration efforts.
The pipeline, owned by the Canadian government, ships 300,000 barrels a day of crude and refined products from Alberta to the Pacific Coast. It was temporarily shut down as heavy rains and flooding caused widespread disruption in parts of British Columbia.
The operator said assessments of the impacts from the latest storm are being undertaken with a focus on the Coldwater and Coquihalla regions.
Work was interrupted at some sites on Sunday due to high water accumulation or lack of access, the company added.
The company on Friday had said it was working toward restarting the oil pipeline at a reduced capacity this week.
(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Krishna Chandra Eluri)
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