OTTAWA — Health Canada approved a second COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, paving the way for the shots from U.S. biotech firm Moderna to start arriving in the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed the move during a news conference in which he also announced that Canada will receive more doses next month of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine than previously expected, after it was approved by Health Canada on Dec. 9.
Between the early doses already in the country, and the shipments now scheduled, Canada should have at least 1.2 million doses from Pfizer and Moderna delivered by Jan. 31, Trudeau said.
Eventually in 2021, enough doses will arrive from the two companies to vaccinate 30 million people, or almost the entire adult population in Canada.
But Trudeau warned of a long road still ahead.
Speaking outside his Ottawa residence, the prime minister issued a final plea before Christmas for Canadians to restrain themselves from attending or hosting large gatherings to prevent a post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases.
“Our country has been through difficult Christmases before. There have been times when our grandparents or parents couldn’t be with family or had to put traditions on hold,” said Trudeau, who marks his 49th birthday on Dec. 25.
“Well this Christmas, it’s our turn. It’s up to us to protect each other. It’s up to us to pull together to hold on and to know however dark the winter may be, spring is coming and better days will be back.”
New cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in nearly all provinces Wednesday as both Ontario and Quebec also prepared to re-enter lockdown mode in a bid to curb their record high levels of cases.
The rollout of the Moderna vaccine is expected to begin within days, with Health Canada saying it expects up to 168,000 doses to be delivered by the end of December.
“After assessing all the data, we concluded that there was strong evidence that showed the benefits of this vaccine outweigh the potential risks,” Health Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Supriya Sharma told a news conference in Ottawa.
While the Pfizer vaccine is being distributed in different cities across Canada, officials said the Moderna version will be distributed to more remote communities. That is because it does not need the same extreme-cold storage as the Pfizer version.
The first doses are prioritized for front-line health staff, residents and workers in long-term care, adults in remote Indigenous communities, and seniors over the age of 80 living in the community.
Long-term care facilities in Ontario and Quebec continue to struggle with outbreaks of COVID-19, and on Wednesday, Trudeau committed another $70 million to help the Canadian Red Cross respond.
The prime minister also announced that Canada was extending a ban on flights from Britain for another two weeks to Jan. 6 as the United Kingdom struggles with a new strain of COVID-19 that experts suggest is more contagious than other variants.
Sharma expressed confidence that the approved vaccines will remain effective against the new COVID-19 strain identified in the United Kingdom.
“We still are waiting for confirmation of the testing of these vaccines against that specific variant,” she said. “In general, we believe that they will be … effective.”
Yukon’s Health Minister Pauline Frost described the Moderna approval as the “exciting news Yukoners have been waiting for,” adding immunization clinics will begin the first week of January.
Frost said delivery of 7,200 doses will be enough to allow 3,600 residents of the territory to receive the two doses needed for immunity. A similar number will be delivered to Northwest Territories, Health Minister Julie Green said.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military officer charged with overseeing the logistical challenge of distributing vaccine doses across Canada, said the first Moderna doses will be delivered to the three territories on Monday.
He also said officials are preparing to ramp up next week from 14 vaccine delivery sites to 100 to handle the expanded influx of vaccine doses from Moderna and Pfizer.
“We’re building capacity and collaborating with our federal provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners to ensure that as many Canadians as possible can be safely immunized against COVID-19, and as quickly as possible,” Fortin said.
Canada’s deputy public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the plan remains to have all Canadians vaccinated by next September.
Canada is to get 40 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine in 2021, enough to vaccinate 20 million people, or about two-thirds of the Canadian adult population.
The vaccine is not yet recommended for use on children as tests on adolescents only began in December and tests on children younger than 12 won’t begin until next year.
People with severe allergies have been advised against getting the Pfizer vaccine after several people in Britain had reactions to the inoculation. Sharma said the same advice is being given for the Moderna vaccine and the company will have to continue to provide safety information.
Canada’s doses of the Moderna vaccine are being made in Europe.
Two more vaccines are being reviewed by Health Canada, one from AstraZeneca and the other from Johnson and Johnson, Sharma said, but more information is needed before they can be approved.
British Columbia’s top doctor said the province could receive its first doses of the Moderna vaccine as early as Monday, while more than 5,600 people have been immunized so far with the Pfizer vaccine.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday that COVID-19 cases in the province are levelling off after peaking in mid-November, though she warns now is not the time to relax public health rules.
–With files from Mia Rabson in Ottawa, Beth Leighton in Vancouver and Shawn Jeffords in Toronto.
GM, Unifor reach tentative deal to build electric delivery vans in Ontario – CBC.ca
GM Canada says it has reached a tentative deal with Unifor that, if ratified, will see it invest $1 billion to transform its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., to make commercial electric vehicles.
Unifor national president Jerry Dias said along with the significant investment, the agreement between the company and union will mean new products, new jobs and job security for workers.
In a statement, Dias said that more details of the tentative deal will be presented to Unifor Local 88 members at an online ratification meeting scheduled for Sunday.
He said the results of the ratification vote are scheduled to be released on Monday.
Details of the agreement were not released Friday night, but the Ontario government issued a statement on Saturday praising the deal as “good news.”
“Unifor and General Motors have worked together to reach a tentative deal that will further strengthen Ontario’s world-class auto sector for its workers, their families and the communities they live in,” a joint statement from Premier Doug Ford and Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli said.
FedEx lined up to buy electric delivery vans
A GM spokesperson said in a statement that the plan is to build BrightDrop EV 600s — an all-new GM business announced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show that will offer a cleaner way for delivery and logistics companies to move goods more efficiently. The growth of online shopping has increased demand for electric vans.
BrightDrop’s first customer is FedEx, which will begin receiving GM’s EV600 electric vans later this year.
The Ingersoll plant currently makes Chevrolet Equinox SUVs.
Unifor said the contract would bring total investment negotiated by the union to nearly $6 billion after new agreements were ratified with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler in 2020 that included support from the federal and Ontario governments.
It said the Ford deal reached in September included $1.95 billion to bring battery electric vehicle production to Oakville, Ont., and a new engine derivative to Windsor, Ont., while the Fiat Chrysler agreement included more than $1.5 billion to build plug-in hybrid vehicles and battery electric vehicles.
Unifor said in November that General Motors agreed to a $1.3 billion investment to bring 1,700 jobs to Oshawa, Ont., plus more than $109 million to insource new transmission work for the Corvette and support continued V8 engine production in St. Catharines, Ont.
GM to invest C$1 billion in Canada plant to manufacture electric vans – Reuters
(Reuters) – General Motors Co and labor union Unifor said on Friday they have reached a tentative deal for the automaker to invest nearly C$1 billion ($785.42 million) in its CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, to manufacture commercial electric vans.
Under the tentative deal, which is yet to be ratified by the union workers, GM has agreed to begin large-scale commercial production of EV600, an electric van, at its CAMI plant, Unifor said in a statement.
The Detroit automaker said in a separate statement that work would begin immediately at the plant.
The new deal builds upon recent investments by GM in Canada, which in November had agreed to invest C$1 billion in its Oshawa plant to expand production of its full-size pickup trucks.
The Canadian government welcomed the deal and said it would confirm its support as soon as the union members ratified the deal.
“We await the results of the ratification vote,” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said in a statement.
Unifor, the union representing hourly workers in Canada, said more details of the deal would be presented to local members of the union at an online ratification meeting scheduled for Jan. 17, the results of which are scheduled to be released a day later.
($1 = 1.2732 Canadian dollars)
Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru with additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore
Ontario to delay 2nd vaccine dose until 42 days due to Pfizer shipment delivery pause – Global News
Long-term care residents, staff and essential caregivers who have received their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine will now receive their second dose within 21 to 27 days, Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said in a release. Everyone else will receive their second dose after 21 days and before 42 days.
They added the 28-day dose schedule for the Moderna vaccine will remain the same. Federal officials told Global News that Canada had received 171,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week and is expecting 230,400 more doses in the first week of February.
“Vaccination of residents, staff and essential caregivers of all long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes in Ontario will continue, with the goal of having the first dose administered in all homes no later than mid-February,” the release said.
“In the meantime, we are working to expand the number of vaccination sites to prepare for the demand for vaccination during Phase Two.”
This includes ensuring that the province’s approximately 61,500 long-term care residents, staff and essential caregivers, in Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex are inoculated by Jan. 21, the provincial government said.
The news comes one day after the federal government announced Pfizer would be reducing deliveries to all countries receiving its COVID-19 vaccine while it expands its European manufacturing facility.
Ottawa reassures Canadians after announcement of COVID-19 vaccine delay
Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the temporary delay would have no impact on Canada’s long-term vaccine target, which aims to have enough doses for everyone in Canada who wishes to be vaccinated by the end of September.
The change in supply is expected to last the next four weeks, and could see deliveries reduced by at least half for Canada in the coming weeks. The Ontario government said they were working with the Public Health Agency of Canada to determine “the exact timing and amount of these reductions.”
These vaccine dose adjustments are in line with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines, which has indicated that some provinces may delay administering the second dose if there is a vaccine shortage, “preferably within 42 days of receipt of the first dose.”
As of Friday, the Ontario government said more than 189,000 vaccine doses have been administered in the province.
More to come.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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