The latest case numbers, exposure alerts and guidelines: Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C.
Canadian trials have just begun for a prospective COVID-19 vaccine but its Quebec-based manufacturer is already tempering expectations.
Bruce Clark, president and CEO of the biopharmaceutical company Medicago, cautions observers against holding unrealistic assumptions that his product — or any of the numerous vaccine hopefuls in development globally — can bring the pandemic to a screeching halt if proven viable.
Clark notes more than 120 companies are trying to come up with a COVID-19 vaccine, many of which have never been in the vaccine space before.
He doesn’t doubt that “something’s going to come out of this,” but he questions how effective it may be.
“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.”
Canada’s deputy public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo expressed similar cautions Tuesday, while acknowledging the need to develop viable vaccines and therapies.
“Lots of different steps are still ahead of us before we might even anticipate that there might be a safe, effective vaccine that would be available for use in the general population,” said Njoo.
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 the safety of 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.
It’s the same method Medicago has used for a proposed seasonal flu vaccine that Clark says is currently being reviewed by Health Canada. If approved, Clark says it would be the first plant-based vaccine in the world.
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 safety of the product, as well as effectiveness of the adjuvants and dosing by October. Based on that, researchers would kick off a second, more targeted trial phase involving about 1,000 participants.
If that’s successful, Clark says a third phase would involve about 15,000 to 20,000 subjects, include older cohorts, and may be a global study, depending on circumstances of the pandemic by then.
If the vaccine proves effective, Clark points to another uncertainty.
Because the company’s commercial plant is across the border in Durham, N.C., he says there’s no guarantee of a Canadian supply.
“‘Guarantee’ is a strong word,” says Clark. “Strange things happen to borders in the context of a pandemic.”
Such border complications were made clear to Canadians in April when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau complained about problems with incomplete or non-existent deliveries of critical COVID-19 supplies. At the time, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered U.S. producers to prioritize the domestic market.
Clark suggests similar hurdles could impact vaccine distribution, putting immediate pressure on Medicago to complete construction of a large-scale manufacturing facility in its home base of Quebec City.
“Certainly, we need a facility in Canada,” Clark says.
“There’s no guarantee on the easy flow of materials back and forth across the border should we have a successful vaccine. We have to keep the focus on completing the Canadian facility so that we have domestic capacity. I think this is what most countries are concerned about.”
By the end of 2023, the Quebec City plant is expected to be able to produce up to one billion doses of a COVID-19 vaccine annually.
Until then, Medicago says it expects to be able to make approximately 100 million doses by the end of 2021, assuming its trials are successful.
Clark says countries must temper any nationalist agendas that might emerge with a viable vaccine and acknowledge that the fight against COVID-19 is global.
Meeting that demand would require multiple manufacturers, multiple distribution routes, and lots of co-operation, he says, possibly through the World Health Organization.
“There has to be some ability to share those around and distribute, whether that’s through an entity like the WHO, or something equivalent.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2020.
COVID-19 update for Nov. 26: B.C. records deadliest day so far in pandemic with 13 deaths – Standard Freeholder
Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for Nov. 26, 2020.
We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on in B.C. right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen.
Check back here for more updates throughout the day. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.
B.C.’S COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS
As of the latest figures given on Nov. 25:
• Total number of confirmed cases: 29,086 (7,616 active)
• New cases since Nov. 24: 738
• Hospitalized cases: 294
• Intensive care: 61
• COVID-19 related deaths: 371 (13 new)
• Cases under public health monitoring: 10,270
• Recovered: 19,814
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 63
LATEST NEWS on COVID-19 in B.C.
3 p.m. – Health officials are set to share latest figures on COVID-19 in B.C.
Health officials are expected to update the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries across the province.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday that a further 738 people tested positive for COVID-19 and an additional 13 people have died from the respiratory disease. It was the pandemic’s deadliest day so far in British Columbia.
Of the new cases, 443 were recorded in the Fraser Health District, while 169 tested positive in Vancouver Coastal Health.
There are 294 people being treated in hospital with 61 in critical care.
There has been total of 29,066 positive tests and 371 COVID-19 related deaths in B.C. since the start of the pandemic. There have been more than 100 deaths in November alone.
There are 7,615 active cases in B.C.
B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS
LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information
Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.
–with files from The Canadian Press
Vancouver doctor, patient raising awarness about dangerous condition linked to COVID-19 – CTV News Vancouver
There’s a dangerous complication from COVID-19 you might not know about.
But 29-year-old Jordan Hoey and doctors at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver are trying to raise awareness about what it is and how serious it can be.
“Honestly, I was terrified. It was nothing I was expecting when I first got that positive diagnosis,” Hoey said in an interview with CTV News.
Last May, Hoey ended up testing positive for COVID-19 .
“My partner works in health care. There was an outbreak in her workplace,” he explained. “I was pretty scared. It was quite shocking, for sure.”
He battled the virus, but just as he thought he was turning a corner in the right direction, his health took a turn for the worse.
“A couple days after the fevers ended, I started getting a bit of chest pain and then noticing a little bit of red when I was coughing.”
And it didn’t improve.
“I coughed, filled the whole inside of the mask with blood. We knew it was time to go to the emergency room right away,” he said.
At St. Paul’s Hospital, he says, a CT scan revealed multiple pulmonary embolisms.
Dr. Anna Rahmani of the hospital’s thrombosis clinic said they’ve been seeing an increase in blood clots associated with COVID-19 infections.
The doctor told CTV News that while incidents of blood clots are higher in COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized, they are also seeing the condition in patients like Hoey who are young and otherwise healthy.
“Blood clots don’t really discriminate. They can affect any age, race,” Rahmani explained.
She said it’s crucial that people know the warning signs.
“Signs and symptoms of blood clot in the leg include tenderness, redness, increased swelling and pain,” Rahmani said.
But she said there are other signs people might be less familiar with.
“Symptoms and signs of blood clot in the lung (like Hoey experienced) include increasing shortness of breath, cough, bloody cough. Some people even experience dizziness and light headedness,” she said, urging anyone with symptoms to seek medical help right away.
Meanwhile, Hoey has only recently returned to working from home on a part-time basis as he continues to recover.
“I’m getting better but I’m not what I used to be yet,” he said.
“People need to be more aware of the serious side effects and serious complications of COVID itself. It’s not just a flu. It will take you out.”
On Thursday, Nov. 26 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., the thrombosis clinic at St. Paul’s will be presenting a free public Zoom session. You can find out more information here.
Manitoba Human Rights Commission reports increased calls from mandatory mask opponents – CBC.ca
Manitoba’s attempt to cut rising COVID-19 numbers appears to be paying off, officials say, but it’s leading to some public anger and a sharp rise in complaints to the province’s human rights commission.
“I would say our office is dealing with anywhere between 50 to 100 calls per month on the mask issue, from individuals who are telling us that they’re being denied access to retail premises or being asked to wear a mask for some reason or other,” Karen Sharma, the commission’s acting executive director, said Wednesday.
Overall call volumes are running about 30 per cent above normal, Sharma said.
“We tell people that the province’s current mask mandate, from a human rights perspective, is generally not an issue unless … that person does have a disability-related need not to wear a mask, in which case they might require some form of accommodation.”
Manitoba has implemented a series of increasingly tough restrictions over the last two months as COVID-19 numbers have spiked. The most recent orders mandate mask use in all indoor public areas, require restaurants and bars to close except for takeout and delivery, and forbid people from having guests in their home with some exceptions.
The public health orders also require that when someone has come into close contact with a known COVID-19 case, that person must self-isolate, even from other members of his or her household.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said nurses and others who call known contacts of COVID-19 cases often face abuse.
“We are again hearing reports from public health contact tracers … of very angry people on the other end of the telephone line when they’re advising them that they’re contacts or cases and need to self-isolate,” Roussin said.
“When someone is isolating … the whole purpose is that should you become a case, which a certain proportion do, you’re going to have zero contacts. There’s not anyone you could have passed (the virus) to.”
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