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How should provinces handle the rollout of two-dose vaccines? – CTV News

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TORONTO —
When a vaccine requires two doses, how should provinces handle their shipments of vaccines — set aside the second dose and commit to a slower rollout, or deliver shots to as many people as possible and risk a delay in shipments of the second dose?

It’s a question that is preoccupying officials and the public.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 83 thousand vaccine doses had been administered in Canada, roughly 0.2 per cent of the population.

With the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was the first to be approved in Canada, the second dose is taken 21 days after the first. Since vaccine doses started to be given out in mid-December, the soonest that those people would start receiving their second shots is early next week.

The first shipments of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Canada last Thursday. Those who receive this vaccine will get their second dose around a month after the first.

SHOULD PROVINCES HOLD ONTO THE SECOND DOSE?

Both Moderna and Pfizer require two doses of the vaccine to ensure immunity, a system which has spurred two different strategies for the vaccine rollout.

Some provinces, such as British Columbia and Manitoba, have chosen to give as many people their first shot as possible — using up their first shipments of vaccines to give a greater number of people partial protection and relying on further shipments coming within the waiting period to make up the second shots those people will require.

Other provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, have chosen to do the math to set aside the second dose for each person that they vaccinate, in order to ensure that those people will get that second dose even in the event of a delay in further shipments of the vaccine.

Alberta is one province that held back doses at first, but pledged this week to reverse the policy after falling far short of their goal to deliver 29,000 shots by the end of the year.

Federal officials were asked in Ottawa today if they intend to publish guidelines on how provinces should handle the vaccine rollouts. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc emphasized that “provinces have the responsibility of vaccinating their own populations, and as soon as possible.”

Major General Dany Fortin, who is overseeing the process of delivering vaccines to jurisdictions across the country, said Wednesday that “vaccine producers do recommend that we keep a second dose,” adding that this was the advice given when the additional shipments coming in January had not been confirmed.

“Now, things are confirmed, we will be receiving our shipments,” he said.

However, he pointed out that “provinces and territories do have to manage possible risks” regarding the timing of shipments.

“When it comes to our level of confidence in shipments, well, we have a lot of remote regions, there could be issues with winter weather and other logistical challenges,” Fortin said. “A given province or territory might decide to vaccinate a higher number of people now and then use a future shipment as second doses for those same people. We respect provincial and territorial responsibilities, and that is a provincial and territorial responsibility.”

WHICH STRATEGY IS BEST?

Opinions vary, even among experts.

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist with McMaster University, explained the thinking behind each strategy to CTVNews.ca last week, saying B.C.’s strategy of not holding back the second dose is based on a trust in the supply chain.

“[B.C.’s thinking is] we’re fine. We’ll get the doses,” he said. “Let’s just get more people vaccinated to provide some safety. In the worst case scenario, we can delay it by a couple of weeks. It’s not the end of the world.”

Ontario’s approach of holding back the second dose is more “careful,” he said, especially in anticipation of possible manufacturing delays. He also notes this approach could be more prudent in the long run.

“In the grand context, this is a marathon and not a sprint,” Chagla said. “We should probably be focusing on making sure that the people who are vaccinated have the most robust vaccine series rather than just saying let’s spray it out as much as possible and hope that we get the second dose.”

However, some experts point out that the partial protection offered by even one dose of these vaccines could make a serious difference in slowing down the transmission of the virus if more people are given their first shot quickly.

“Many of us believe that we should be giving one dose to everyone rather than keeping a second dose behind,” Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist, told CTV News Channel on Monday. “That’s how we’re going to get this under control.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine efficacy is 52 per cent after just one shot, with protective effects kicking in around 12 days after receiving the shot. That efficacy rose to 95 per cent seven days after the second dose.

This means that those who have received only one shot can still feasibly get COVID-19 — but that the likelihood has significantly decreased.

The likelihood of contracting COVID-19 is even smaller after one dose of the Moderna vaccine. The vaccine demonstrated an 80 per cent efficacy after just one dose in Moderna’s clinical trials — but as all of the participants received a second shot a month after the first, at which point the efficacy rose to 94 per cent, there is no data on whether or not receiving one shot by itself provides immunity that lasts past 28 days.

NARROWING THE VACCINE TO ONE DOSE ALONE?

The increased efficacy of Moderna’s vaccine based on a single shot has prompted some to suggest we simply forget about the second shot.

Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, the head of Canada’s vaccination program, asked this week if Health Canada could look into the possibility of the Moderna vaccine being delivered in only one dose — something that health officials at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) rejected Wednesday.

“From a scientific, public health, medical perspective, it’s all with a two-dose regime, and that’s what Health Canada has approved,” Howard Njoo, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer at PHAC, said Wednesday. “There’s no data there to look at in terms of if there was a one-dose regime, what that would have in terms of an impact on either the duration of immunity or the efficacy over the long-term.”

Dr. Ronald St. John, former and first Director General of the Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response at PHAC, told CTV News Channel on Wednesday that we need to “trust the science.”

The vaccines currently being approved have gone through the standard three phase process to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, he said, and the results show that it takes two doses to achieve a 94-95 per cent effectiveness.

“One dose might give you 50 per cent, but the person who is vaccinated doesn’t know whether they’re going to be in the 50 per cent protected or 50 per cent unprotected,” he said. “So you may have somebody who feels ‘oh, I’ve been vaccinated, and I’m fine,” but they may still be totally susceptible to the virus.” 

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TD Bank CFO Ahmed to head securities unit, move seen as CEO succession play

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TD Bank Group on Thursday named Chief Financial Officer Riaz Ahmed chief executive of its securities unit and head of wholesale banking, a move some investors interpreted as a sign he will succeed CEO Bharat Masrani.

For Ahmed, 58, the change marks a return to his TD roots. He began his career at the bank in 1996 as an investment banker in the securities division, following which he served as its CFO and chief administrative officer. He has been part of TD Bank‘s executive team for nine years, and CFO for over five.

“Cross-training in the capital markets role … increases the likelihood of (Ahmed) succeeding Masrani when he retires, but I doubt it would be soon, as that would create unnecessary turnover atop TD Securities,” said Brian Madden, portfolio manager at Goodreid Investment Counsel.

“Maybe Masrani announces his retirement next year (or the following) and leaves early in 2023” or 2024.

Masrani’s compensation arrangements anticipated his retirement in 2020, TD said in its 2019 shareholders meeting proxy circular. But he was granted stock options worth C$1.9 million ($1.5 million), vesting in five years, on the condition that he remain available to serve as CEO throughout that period.

Ahmed replaces Bob Dorrance, who will retire on Sept. 1 after about 16 years at the bank, Canada’s second-biggest lender by market value said in a statement.

When asked about TD’s succession plans, a spokesperson said: “Today we are celebrating Bob Dorrance’s incredible career and accomplishments, and the appointment of top executives to critical, leadership roles.”

At a time when diversity, particularly in executive and board ranks, has come under increased scrutiny, Ahmed’s appointment as CEO would mean TD, the only one of Canada’s six biggest lenders to have a non-Caucasian at its helm, would retain that aspect.

Ahmed’s appointment comes after TD’s wholesale banking unit recorded an 8% revenue decline in the second quarter from a year ago, contributing to the bank’s overall underperformance versus some rivals.

Kelvin Tran, currently executive vice president for enterprise finance, will replace Ahmed as finance chief.

Dorrance, who has headed TD Securities since 2005, will stay on as chairman of TD Securities and serve as special adviser to Masrani.

TD shares were flat at C$87.12 on Thursday afternoon, compared with a 0.2% gain in the Toronto stock index. The shares are up 21% this year, versus a 15% gain in the benchmark.

($1 = 1.2303 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather in Toronto; Additional reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in BengaluruEditing by Nick Zieminski and Matthew Lewis)

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AIB agrees to life and pensions joint-venture with Canada Life

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Allied Irish Banks on Wednesday said it would form a joint venture with Canada life as it seeks to plug gaps in its life, savings and wealth products.

The joint venture will be equally owned by Canada Life, a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco Inc.

“The move to create this joint venture is aligned with AIB’s stated ambition to complete its customerproduct suite and diversify income,” AIB said in a statement.

“Through this strategic initiative AIB intends to offer customers a range of life protection, pensions, savings and investment options enhanced by integrated digital solutions withcontinued access to our qualified financial advisors.”

The Irish lender highlighted Canada Life’s “deep experience” of the Irish bancassurance market through Irish Life Assurance, which is also a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco.

AIB currently operates under a tied agency distribution agreement with Irish Life, and will enter into a new distribution agreement with the new joint venture company.

Chief Executive Colin Hunt highlighted the need to plug gaps in AIB’s life, savings and wealth products when he set out the bank’s medium-term targets last December.

AIB expects its equity investment in the joint venture will be around 90 million euros ($107.51 million), equating to around 10bps of CET1.($1 = 0.8372 euros)

(Reporting by Graham Fahy;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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Interac: Canada’s Latest Payment Solution Phenomenon

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Few can argue that digital payment methods aren’t central to modern-day society. In recent times, increasing numbers of payment solutions have come to the forefront, offering consumers more choice regarding their transaction preferences. Canada, in particular, has embraced a wide-ranging selection of secure, forward-thinking options. Of those available throughout the country, Interac has piqued the interests of local consumers the most. So, let’s look at why this payment solution is an especially popular option throughout Canada. 

Usable Across Various Markets 

It speaks volumes about Interac’s versatility in that it’s usable across a variety of different industries. Since being founded in 1984, the Canadian interbank network has become integral to numerous markets, including local air travel. Air Canada, which has been operating since 1937, has expanded their accepted payment methods, and now passengers can pay for their flights using Interac. According to the airline’s official website, the Interac Online service lets consumers pay for their tickets via the internet directly from their bank account. 

Not only that, but Interac is also available at Walmart. In November 2020, the two organizations partnered together to expand in-store and online payment options. Walmart has adapted well to the digital trend, with American Banker reporting that they’ve opened Interac Flash sale points throughout their stores. 


Source: Unsplash

Aside from the above, Interac has also taken the digital world by storm. Following its rapid rise to prominence, the solution has also altered the online casino industry, with platforms like Genesis Casino now accepting the transaction type. The provider, which features Interac Canadian casino options, uses the popular payment method to enhance transaction speeds of deposits and withdrawals, as well as security. Players can use Interac Online and Interac e-Transfer to make deposits or withdrawals from their desktops or mobiles as the platform is fully optimized. 

A Reflection of Modern-Day Society 

In recent times, Interac recorded a 55 percent increase in transactions between April and August 2020 compared to the same period the previous year, as per BNN Bloomberg. These figures somewhat reflect the current state of e-Commerce and modern consumerism. Following the rise of Interac and other payment methods, it’s now less troublesome for consumers to complete in-store and online purchases. 


Source: PxHere

There’s an ever-growing perception that land-based businesses need to adapt within the digital era and accept forward-thinking payment methods. According to Cision, Interac is of utmost importance to the Canadian economy, and a year-on-year increase in Interac Debit payments of 333 percent reflects that. Not only that, but Interac e-Transfer payments are growing at 52 percent each year. This Interac-oriented trend appears unlikely to fade over the coming years, with the network being selected as the country’s provider for a new real-time payment system, as per Lexology. 

Consumer Habits are Changing 

There can be no doubt that consumerism has changed drastically over the past decade. The popularity of Interac suggests that a cashless future may be on the horizon, with increasing numbers of shoppers enjoying the security of online payment methods. While it’s currently unclear if that will happen, Interac appears to be prevalent for the long run.

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