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Health officials 'cautiously optimistic' a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready by early next year – CBC.ca

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Top health officials say they are “cautiously optimistic” about Canada’s odds of obtaining a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine for distribution sometime in the first quarter of 2021.

But even if that timeline is met, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam warns that doses would be in short supply at first — which would force governments to decide who gets immunized first.

“While that supply will continue to increase over time, it does mean that federal, provincial and territorial governments will have to make important decisions about how to use the initial vaccine supply,” Tam told reporters at a press conference Friday.

Tam said preliminary guidelines published earlier this week by Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), a multi-disciplinary panel of experts, should help guide decisions on who should be first in line.

Key populations identified by NACI for early immunization include seniors and people with high-risk conditions, health care workers, long-term care providers and people who can’t work virtually, such as police, firefighters and grocery staff.

“There are many conversations to be had about who gets those first doses of vaccines,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“The most vulnerable, Indigenous peoples, frontline health workers — these are the kinds of populations we’re looking at for their high degree of vulnerability. But of course, those are conversations that will be had amongst provinces and territories and including experts.”

WATCH: Dr. Howard Njoo discusses COVID vaccine approvals, now expected early next year

Canada’s deputy chief public health officer spoke with reporters at the pandemic briefing in Ottawa on Friday. 3:17

Canada betting on multiple vaccine candidates

The Government of Canada has signed deals with several teams of vaccine developers to reserve millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines in various stages of development — an effort to make sure Canadians can start getting immunized as soon as a vaccine becomes available.

While many vaccine candidates have shown promising early results, Tam warned that further research must be done in clinical trials to ensure they are safe and effective and Health Canada still needs to evaluate and approve any vaccines before they can be distributed.

Health Canada has so far received three official applications for vaccine approval, all of which are under review: from U.K.-based AstraZeneca, which is manufacturing a vaccine developed at the University of Oxford; from U.S. biotechnology firm Moderna, which launched the first Phase 3 clinical trial in the U.S. in July; and from U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech, which are collaborating on a vaccine.

“We will be receiving additional advice on prioritization based on the characteristics of each vaccine once approved,” said Tam.

WATCH: Trudeau says the first COVID vaccines are close to being approved but are tricky to handle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with reporters at the pandemic briefing in Ottawa on Friday. 2:41

Beyond deciding who will get priority, bureaucrats at all levels of government are working to ensure the infrastructure and equipment is in place to distribute vaccines once they are ready, said Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo.

That work includes procuring equipment (such as syringes) and ensuring there is cold storage infrastructure in place to store and transport vaccines — some of which need to be kept at extremely low temperatures.

Njoo pointed out that the vaccine furthest along the development phase needs to be stored at -80 C, which could pose logistical challenges for the pharmacies and doctor’s offices typically involved in vaccine distribution.

“That’s not the way most vaccines in Canada in the past … in fact, none of them have been obligated to have that kind of cold chain in terms of logistics,” said Njoo. “We have to … work out the mechanics in terms of buying the right kinds of freezers, etcetera, the transportation mechanisms, etcetera, to be able to assure that if that’s the first one out of the pipeline that get’s approved … that we’re able to do that in the most effective and efficient manner.”

Njoo said all vaccines will be free of charge to all Canadians once they become available.

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Moderna chairman says Canada near front of line for 20M vaccine doses – 680 News

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The chairman of American vaccine maker Moderna says Canada is near the front of the line to receive 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it pre-ordered.

Noubar Afeyan offered that assessment today in an interview with CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live.

Afeyan’s remarks come as the Trudeau government has come under fire this past week for its ability to deliver a timely vaccine to Canadians.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a firestorm when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated for COVID-19 because the first doses off the production lines will be used in the countries where they are made.

Afeyan was asked whether the fact that Canada committed to pre-purchase its doses before other jurisdictions means it will get its supply first.

Afeyan confirmed that was the case.

“The people who are willing to move early on with even less proof of the efficacy have assured the amount of supply they were willing to sign up to,” he said.

“In the case of Canada, that number is about 20 million doses. But the Canadian government, like others, have also reserved the ability to increase that amount. And those discussions are ongoing,” he added.

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Shares take a breather after stellar month, China data upbeat – reuters.com

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – World shares paused to assess a record-busting month on Monday as the prospect of a vaccine-driven economic recovery next year and yet more free money from central banks eclipsed immediate concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: Passersby wearing protective face masks are reflected on a stock quotation board outside a brokerage, in Tokyo, Japan November 10, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Helping sentiment was a survey showing factory activity in China handily beat forecasts in November, and the country’s central bank surprised with a helping of cheap loans. That left blue chips up 1.3% on the day and 7.4% for the month.

The rush to risk has also benefited oil and industrial commodities while undermining the safe-haven dollar and gold.

“November looks set to be an awesome month for equity investors with Europe leading the charge at a country/regional level,” said NAB analyst Rodrigo Catril.

Many European bourses are boasting their best month ever with France up 21% and Italy almost 26%. The MSCI measure of world stocks is up 13% for November so far, while the S&P 500 has climbed 11% to all-time peaks.

Early Monday, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.4%, to be up almost 11% for the month in its best performance since late 2011.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 eased 0.4%, but was still 15.4% higher on the month for the largest rise since 1994.

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 dipped 0.4%, and EUROSTOXX 50 futures 0.6%.

“Markets are overbought and at risk of a short term pause,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital.

“However, we are now in a seasonally strong time of year and investors are yet to fully discount the potential for a very strong recovery next year in growth and profits as stimulus combines with vaccines.”

Cyclical recovery shares including resources, industrials and financials were likely to be relative outperformers, he added.

The surge in stocks has put some competitive pressure on safe-haven bonds but much of that has been cushioned by expectations of more asset buying by central banks.

Sweden’s Riksbank surprised last week by expanding its bond purchase program and the European Central Bank is likely to follow in December.

DOLLAR IN DECLINE

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies to Congress on Tuesday amid speculation of further policy action at its next meeting in mid-December.

As a result U.S. 10-year yields are ending the month almost exactly where they started at 0.84%, a solid performance given the exuberance in equities.

The U.S. dollar has not been as lucky.

“The idea that a potential Treasury Secretary (Janet) Yellen and Fed chair Powell could work more closely to shape and coordinate super easy monetary policy and massive fiscal stimulus that could drive a rapid post pandemic recovery saw the dollar under pressure,” said Robert Rennie, head of financial market strategy at Westpac.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar index was pinned at 91.771 having shed 2.4% for the month to lows last seen in mid-2018.

The euro has caught a tailwind from the relative outperformance of European stocks and climbed 2.7% for the month so far to reach $1.1967. A break of the September peak at $1.2011 would open the way to a 2018 top at $1.2555.

The dollar has even declined against the Japanese yen, a safe-haven of its own, losing 0.7% in November to reach 103.89 yen, though it remains well above key support at 103.16.

Sterling stood at $1.3334, having climbed steadily this month to its highest since September, as investors wagered a Brexit deal would be brokered even as the deadline for talks loomed ever larger.

One major casualty of the rush to risk has been gold, which was near a five-month trough at $1,771 an ounce having shed 5.6% so far in November.

Oil, in contrast, has benefited from the prospect of a demand revival should the vaccines allow travel and transport to resume next year. [O/R]

Some profit-taking set in early Monday ahead of an OPEC+ meeting to decide whether the producers’ group will extend large output cuts. Brent crude futures fell 52 cents to $47.66, while U.S. crude eased 60 cents to $44.93 a barrel.

Editing by Lincoln Feast & Simon Cameron-Moore

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Alberta reports 1,608 new cases of COVID-19, second highest number during pandemic – CBC.ca

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Alberta reported 1,608 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths on Sunday.

The total number of active cases in Alberta grew to 15,692, according to the province. There are 435 people in the hospital and 95 in intensive care. 

According to the province there is a “brief delay in a death being reported to Alberta Health or in a death being confirmed post-mortem as having COVID-19 as a contributing cause”.

The nine deaths brings the provincial total to 533. Five of which are linked to the outbreak at the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre in Edmonton. They include a man and woman, both in their 80s who died on Nov. 25. They had underlying conditions along with COVID-19. A man in his 70s who died on Nov. 26 who also had underlying conditions. Another man and woman in their 90s who died on Nov. 27 also had one or more additional conditions.

The remaining deaths include a man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at Westlock Continuing Care Centre in North Zone. The province did not confirm if he had underlying conditions. Another man in his 90s in south zone who died on Nov. 28 also with underlying conditions. 

Another man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Laurel Heights Retirement Residence in Edmonton Zone who died on Nov. 28, and a man in his 80s who died on Nov. 29 due to the outbreak at Clifton Manor in Calgary Zone. The province could not confirm underlying conditions for either. 

A regional breakdown of cases as of Saturday shows the impact of COVID-19 in different parts of the province:

  • Calgary zone: 5,756 active cases

  • South zone: 642 active cases

  • Edmonton zone: 7,230 active cases

  • North zone: 857 active cases

  • Central zone: 1,101 active cases

  • Unknown: 106 active cases

The majority of people in the hospital and ICU are from the Edmonton zone. There are 222 people hospitalized in Edmonton and 50 in intensive care. In comparison, Calgary has 138 people in hospital and 33 in intensive care. The remaining zones’ hospitalizations are in double digits.

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