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Human clinical trials begin for Quebec-made COVID-19 vaccine candidate – Canada News – Castanet.net

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Canadian trials have just begun for a prospective COVID-19 vaccine – but its Quebec-based manufacturer is already downplaying its potential impact.

Dr. Bruce Clark, president and CEO of the biopharmaceutical company Medicago, cautions observers against holding unrealistic expectations that his product — or any of the numerous vaccines in development globally — will bring the pandemic to a screeching halt.

“Whatever vaccine we get in this first round — unless it’s a miracle — it’s not going to be perfect,” says Clark, whose company began trials for its proposed vaccine Monday in Quebec City.

“It’s going to have to undergo development, it’s going to take probably years to come up with an understanding of the right vaccine, the right approach. It’s not the panacea.

“To assume that we can have, in 18 months, the solution to a pandemic that comes around once in a generation, is naive.”

So much is still unknown about COVID-19, notes Clark, including how it may manifest during the flu season later this year.

He suspects a more likely scenario is that a vaccine will offer only part of the solution, along with new therapeutics and ongoing public health interventions.

Medicago’s first phase of clinical trials will test a plant-based product on 180 healthy men and women, aged 18 to 55.

The randomized, partially blinded study uses technology that does not involve animal products or live viruses like traditional methods.

Clark notes that vaccine developers typically use chicken eggs to propagate a virus, but Medicago uses recombinant technology involving the genetic sequence of a virus, with living plants as the host.

The resulting virus-like particles mimic the shape and dimensions of a virus, which allows the body to recognize them and spark an immune response.

Clark says the plant-based approach is significantly faster and offers more consistent results than egg-based or cell-based methods.

While it takes five to six months to propagate a virus in eggs, the plant-based technique requires just five to six weeks, he says.

“In a pandemic, something like COVID, if you’re able to cut that much time off development, you have a substantial impact on public health.”

Meanwhile, Clark says viruses are prone to mutations as they adapt and grow in an egg, which could result in a vaccine that doesn’t exactly match the circulating virus. In contrast, “a plant is a plant,” and that makes production easily scalable.

“One plant behaves like 100,000 plants,” he says.

The trial will evaluate three different dosages alone, or with one of two adjuvants provided by GlaxoSmithKline and Dynavax. An adjuvant can boost the effectiveness of a vaccine for a better immunological response, thereby reducing the required dose, Clark adds.

He hopes to know the effectiveness of the adjuvants and dosing by October, and then kick off a second, more targeted trial phase involving about 1,000 participants.

Clark says the third phase would involve about 15,000 to 20,000 subjects, and may be a global study, depending on circumstances of the pandemic.

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Williams calls upward trend of new COVID-19 cases 'troubling' as Ontario logs 1746 new infections – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The number of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario surpassed 1,700 once again today amid a significant drop in testing over the past 24 hours.

Ontario health officials reported 1,746 new infections today, up slightly from the 1,708 confirmed one day prior but down from the record 1,855 recorded on Friday.

The new cases come as the province reports a notable drop in testing today.

After surpassing 50,000 tests per day for three consecutive days, only 39,406 tests were completed yesterday.

According to provincial health officials, the test positivity rate provincewide is now 4.6 per cent, up substantially from 3.7 per cent on Sunday but on par with the positivity rate at this point last week.

The rolling seven-day average of new cases is now 1,570, up from 1,429 one week ago.

“These trends of course remain concerning. The fact that we have had record high numbers on Friday and continued high numbers over the weekend and today is troubling,” Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference on Monday afternoon. 

“The question is will we be able to keep it there and come down or will we plateau and start going up again?”

COVID-related hospitalizations also climbed to 618 today, up from 601 on Sunday, with 168 of those patients now in intensive care.

A count of local public health units and individual hospitals puts the number of hospitalizations at 631.

Eight more virus-related deaths were recorded today, down from 24 on Sunday and the lowest single-day death toll since Nov. 20.

Two of the fatalities confirmed over the past 24 hours involve residents of long-term care facilities, the latest data from the province reveals.

Of the new infections today, 622 are in Toronto, 390 are in Peel, and 217 are in York Region.

Toronto’s total today is the highest single-day tally recorded in the city since the start of the pandemic.

Another 108 new cases were reported in Durham Region today, up from 73 one day prior.

GTA public health units account for nearly 80 per cent of all new COVID-19 cases in the province and today marks one week since Toronto and Peel Region entered a 28-day lockdown.

During the lockdown, restaurants can only remain open for takeout and delivery and non-essential retailers are only permitted to offer curbside pickup and delivery.

Gyms, casinos, and movie theatres have also been closed.

Residents are being advised to only gather with members of their household and only go out for essential purposes.

Tougher public health measures were introduced in five more Ontario regions today, including Windsor-Essex, which was placed in the province’s “red” zone.

Task force working on plan for vaccine rollout

Last week, the province released details of its COVID-19 vaccine task force, which will be responsible for the distribution of vaccines when they are approved and arrive in Canada.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott previously said she expects Ontario to receive a total of 2.4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the first three months of 2021.

Recipients of the vaccine will require two doses 28 days apart, which means the first shipment Ontario receives will likely only be enough to inoculate 1.2 million residents.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that he expects most Canadians who want to be vaccinated will be able to do so by September 2021.

“I really think that if we have these vaccines landing on Canadian soil some time in very early 2021, like if it is the month of January, even in early February, I think this would be considered a huge success,” Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist, told CP24 on Monday morning.

“We are not making these vaccines here. We are really relying on companies in other countries to produce this and send it to us.”

He said early rollout of the vaccine in Canada will go a long way to protecting the most vulnerable.

“Even with that very first early batch of vaccines that are coming… you can do so much good with that. If we just vaccinate target populations, like people in long-term care facilities… right off the bat, you are going to just decrease the probability of so many people getting very, very sick, coming to hospital, and sadly dying,” he said.

“We can alleviate that, we can alleviate tremendous suffering at an individual level but we can also take off tremendous pressure from our health-care system… Even well before September we can do some tremendous good.”

New cases in the GTHA today:

Toronto: 622

Peel Region: 390

York Region: 217

Durham Region: 108

Halton Region: 35

Hamilton: 54

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Ontario reports 1,746 new cases of COVID-19 as Toronto sees new one-day high – CityNews Toronto

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Ontario is reporting 1,746 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, an increase from Sunday’s 1,708 new cases.

Most of the new cases are in Toronto (622), followed by Peel Region (390) and York Region (217).

The 622 new cases mark a new one-day high for the City of Toronto.

Another eight new deaths were reported, bringing the total number of people who have died from the virus in the province to 3,656.

In total, 618 people are hospitalized in the province due to COVID-19, including 168 in intensive care.

The province is also reporting that 108 people are on ventilators in the hospital.

Labs across the province completed 39,400 tests on Sunday and 98,639 cases are considered resolved.

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Ontario reports slight increase in COVID-19 cases, record high for Toronto – 680 News

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Ontario is reporting 1,746 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

This is only a slight increase from the 1,708 cases reported a day earlier, however it comes with a much lower number of completed tests.

The province completed over 50,000 tests the previous three days. This number dropped to 39,400 completed tests reported Monday.

The provinces seven-day average reached a new high with Monday’s report.

There were 8 new deaths reported. This is a significant drop as the number has hovered around 20 in the past week.

There are 1,320 more resolved cases.

There is now a total of 116,492 confirmed cases in the province since the onset of the pandemic with 3,656 deaths. 98,639 cases have been resolved.

The number of COVID related hospitalizations in the province spiked to over 600.

Among active cases, 618 people are currently in the hospital compared to 586 the day before. Among the hospitalized, 168 are in the ICU and 108 are currently on ventilators.

Over the past week there’s been an average of just over 2,000 patients being treated in hospitals across the country. That number has nearly doubled since the end of October.

New modelling suggests that the number of Canadians hospitalized with COVID-19 will soon surpass the peak of the first wave.

Locally, Toronto reported over a third of all cases. The 622 new cases represents a single-day record for the city.

All regions in the GTA reported an increase except for Peel. After four straight days of over 500 cases Peel reports 390 on Monday.

York Region increased to 217 from 185. Durham is up to 108 from 73, a new single-day high. Halton reports 35 compared to 31 the day prior.

Ottawa saw a significant drop, reporting 29 cases compared to 79 a day earlier.

COVID-19 in schools

Ontario is reporting 102 new cases in schools.

Among the cases in schools, 86 are related to students, while 15 are linked to staff.

RELATED: 19 cases of COVID-19 discovered at Thorncliffe Park PS after asymptomatic testing

670 schools in the province currently have a reported case. Four schools in Ontario are currently closed as a result of COVID-19.

You can find which schools are reporting cases on the province’s website, when it is updated daily at 10:30 a.m.

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