Canadians will need to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated in large numbers to finally corral COVID-19 before life can return to a semblance of its pre-pandemic state, Canada’s top public health officers said Tuesday.
“Widespread vaccine uptake is the best shot Canadians have in regaining some of what we’ve lost and returning to things that we cherish – things like holding family and friends closely, having community events and living our lives without the fear of contracting the disease,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s chief medical officer.
Tam and her deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo, offered that assessment one day after the Trudeau government announced the latest instalment in its plan to pre-buy tens of millions of doses of potential vaccines, signing deals with two American firms.
The newest deals will allow Canada to buy as many as 76 million doses of a vaccine candidate from Maryland-based biotech company Novavax, and up to 38 million doses of the vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical company Janssen Inc.
Last month, the government signed similar deals with U.S. companies Pfizer and Moderna that would give Canada access to up to 76 million more doses.
Njoo said it is not clear what percentage of Canadians will need to get vaccinated to achieve broad immunity but “the more Canadians that take advantage, the better.”
Both physicians evoked the dark days of forced quarantines, school closures and bans on public gatherings during the measles and polio outbreaks of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.
“Most of us are lucky. We have not had to live through these types of measures because of safe and effective vaccines for these diseases,” said Tam.
“What Canada and the world needs to have for the best shot at normalcy is safe and effective vaccines.”
Tam suggested that the threshold for effective immunization is a moving target because understanding the science around COVID-19 is itself a work in progress.
For regulatory purposes, she said, that level has to be continuously evaluated.
“The international consensus is that we should at least look at around the 50 per cent vaccine efficacy mark,” said Tam, adding that there simply isn’t a “yes or no” answer.
More will be known when the data from ongoing Phase 3 clinical trials become available, she said.
“It’s a matter of remaining open to the evidence and being flexible.”
Right now, there appears to be low immunity to the disease around the world, “so getting a high enough vaccine uptake is going to be quite important,” said Tam.
Njoo said a vaccine could be available sometime in 2021, perhaps as early as the spring.
“We’re very optimistic here in Canada and because there are number of vaccine candidates being evaluated,” said Njoo.
“There could be an effective and safe vaccine, perhaps in 2021. We don’t know exactly when. Perhaps in the spring, maybe a little bit later. But it’s a very good thing to stay optimistic.”
As for whether such a vaccine should be mandatory, Njoo said it is better for people to educated about the benefits of immunization rather than have it forced upon them because that’s the best way to increase the number of vaccinations.
“I think it is more important to maybe change people’s attitudes who may be more reticent about getting vaccinated rather than having regulations to make vaccination mandatory,” Njoo said.
While vaccines have never been made compulsory in Canada, the practice in hospitals and long-term care facilities that have had outbreaks of respiratory illnesses has been for health-care workers to be vaccinated before being allowed to return to work, he noted.
As for testing for COVID-19, Njoo said the gold standard remains the so-called PCR test, or polymerase chain reaction testing which relies on a sample collected from a person’s nose or throat.
Asked about the possibility of a home test for the disease, Njoo said: “It’s quite complicated but the bottom line is: we’re open to examining all types of testing technologies because the more tools we have in the toolbox in terms of different types of tests available to use in different types of contexts, the better.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2020.
J&J Coronavirus vaccine candidate – induced immune response, showed acceptable safety profile – ForexLive
Johnson & Johnson’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine phase 1/2 trial findings have provided some encouragement.
- induced immune responses in most people who received the shot
- displayed an acceptable safety profile
Now for some caveats. These are from a small early-stage trial. They are interim, posted on online preprint server medRxiv. The report is not yet peer-reviewed, not yet published in medical journals.
J&J have said that they’ll now carry on with a larger late-stage study of up to 60,000 people that will provide more definitive evidence.
- The vaccine — called Ad26.COV2.S — uses the same technology used for Johnson & Johnson’s Ebola, Zika, HIV and RSV vaccines.
COVID-19 pandemic taking toll on mental health, Alberta survey says – CBC.ca
An online survey of Albertans who reached out for help over COVID-19 suggests the pandemic is taking a toll on mental health, with increased signs of obsessive behaviour, stress and depression.
Vincent Agyapong, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Alberta, has just published results of a survey he took of people who subscribed to Text-4-Hope, a government service that provides a daily reassuring text message.
He found abut 60 per cent of respondents had become worried about dirt, germs and viruses since the COVID outbreak.
About 54 per cent had begun washing their hands “very often or in a special way,” which could be considered a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder.
Nearly 50 per cent were considered likely candidates for anxiety disorders, and more than 40 per cent were likely clinically depressed.
And almost 85 per cent of respondents reported moderate to high stress.
Agyapong cautions the sample isn’t representative and that some level of stress and unusual behaviour is understandable in the current situation.
But he says his findings suggest the pandemic is affecting the public’s mental health.
WATCH: 'Virtual' Rotaryfest 2020 at 7 pm – SooToday
Despite an unprecedented year of obstacles, one of Sault Ste. Marie’s longest-running traditions returns in a brand new format. The Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie is present Virtual Rotaryfest, streaming on SooToday.
“Our Rotary Club has been celebrating Rotaryfest for almost 100 years – so when it became clear it couldn’t happen in the way it always has, we knew we had to find a creative way to still bring some of the fun of the festival to Sault Ste. Marie,” shared Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie President, Megan Wigmore. “With the virtual format this year, not only do we get to see some of our favourite local bands and performers that have become festival fixtures; we get to bring in some former Saultites to join the party as well!”
One of those former Saultites is Crystal Shawanda. The JUNO Award winning Canadian songstress will headline the virtual event with a Rotaryfest-exclusive performance. The online celebration of music will also include performances from crowd favourites Jay Case and Frank Deresti, Jackson Reed, Mustang Heart, Kelly MacGillivray, Kt Antler & Kyle McKey, Bone Yard, and Tyson Hanes.
This year’s Virtual Rotaryfest has been made possible through the generous support of OLG, SooToday, and Canadian Heritage.
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