Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is expected to recommend today a pause in the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine on those under the age of 55 because of safety concerns, sources told CBC News.
The updated guidelines will be issued later today, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The expected change comes following reports of rare blood clots in some immunized patients.
Canada is expected to receive 1.5 million doses of this product from the U.S. on Tuesday.
Officials from NACI will provide an update to reporters at 3:10 p.m. ET. CBCNews.ca will carry the remarks live.
Meanwhile, Health Canada — which approved the vaccine for use in Canada in February — said its regulators would be adding “additional terms and conditions on the authorizations” for AstraZeneca and a biologically identical version of the drug manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, which has been branded Covishield.
The manufacturers will be required to conduct a “detailed assessment of the benefits and risks of the vaccine by age and sex in the Canadian context,” information that could lead to “additional regulatory actions.”
“This information will support the ongoing evaluation of these rare blood clotting events, and allow Health Canada to determine if there are specific groups of people who may be at higher risk,” the department said in a press release.
The AstraZeneca shot has not been widely used in people under the age of 55 in this country. Some jurisdictions, such as P.E.I., have been using some of their supply to immunize young people who work in public-facing sectors like grocery and convenience stores. In New Brunswick, the shot was made available to first responders and some teachers last week.
A spokesperson for P.E.I.’s health department confirmed use of the vaccine had been suspended for those 18 to 29 years of age.
Speaking to reporters in Niagara Falls, Ont., Ontario Premier Doug Ford said today that the province would follow NACI’s guidance and reserve the current supply of AstraZeneca for those in the older cohort.
He said there have been reports of blood clots in younger women in other places.
“I won’t hesitate to cancel that in half a heartbeat. If it’s going to put anyone in harm, we just won’t use it, simple as that,” he said, adding he didn’t want to “roll the dice” by using AstraZeneca on a group that may have an outsized chance of developing complications.
“The guidance from the federal government is that it is safe for people over 55,” Ford said. “I’m talking about younger people taking it, 35 years of age and in that range, that’s where the problem is.”
After a review, the European Union’s drug watchdog, the European Medicines Agency, found the vaccine is not linked to an increase in the overall risk of blood clots.
The EMA said, however, that it could not definitively rule out a link between the vaccine and rare types of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia, or low levels of blood platelets.
Specifically, it pointed to 18 cases of an extremely rare type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), a condition that is much more common in women than men. Most of the cases occurred within 14 days of receiving the AstraZeneca shot, and the majority were in women under the age of 55.
Dr. Joss Reimer, the medical lead on Manitoba’s vaccine implementation task force, said that the province also would pause its deployment of the vaccine among people under 55 because of a “very rare subtype, one specific type of blood clot.”
She said that while there have been no complications reported in Canada, “out of an abundance of caution” Manitoba will restrict the shot to people 55 to 64, for now.
Reimer said it’s not known yet how common this rare blood clot side effect is but early data out of Europe suggest it could be an outcome for 1 out of 100,000 AstraZeneca shots deployed, or even more than that — the science isn’t settled, she said.
“This is a pause while we wait for more information to better understand what’s happened in Europe. This is an important and evidence-based change,” she said, adding this sort of shift is a testament to Canada’s robust vaccine monitoring system.
Reimer said it’s “probably” fine to use the vaccine on all groups — but she’s not comfortable with just “probably” and wants to wait to see more data from Europe.
Last week, the Public Health Agency of Canada said it’s “possible” the vaccine may be associated with “very rare but serious cases of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia.” Health Canada has maintained that the benefits of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine continue to outweigh the risks.
Health Canada has said it is aware that researchers in Europe have indicated that they have identified a possible cause for these very rare events, but says little information is available about the findings.
“We have been discussing the rare reports of blood clots and low platelet counts with the European Medicines Agency and other regulators,” Dr. Supriya Sharma, Canada’s chief medical adviser, said on Thursday. “Health Canada will make decisions for Canada based on the science and evidence.
“This is just the latest issue the company has faced over the last three months.
Earlier this year, a number of European countries halted vaccinations in response to questions about the AstraZeneca product’s efficacy in people over the age of 65, only to restart them after new evidence emerged.
After Health Canada approved the shot for all adults, NACI recommended the product be used only on people under the age of 65, citing a dearth of clinical trial data on the vaccine’s effectiveness in older people.
NACI changed course earlier this month after reviewing three “real-world studies,” saying the two-dose viral vector vaccine can and should be used on seniors.
Last week, the U.S. Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), which keeps an eye on clinical trials, found “outdated information” may have been reported by the company when it released data on U.S. trials.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and the head of the NIAID, said the monitoring board was surprised by the the better-than-expected efficacy results published by AstraZeneca.
Canadian Business During the Pandemic
In 2019 the world was hit by the covid 19 pandemic and ever since then people have been suffering in different ways. Usually, economies and businesses have changed the way they work and do business. Most of which are going towards online and automation.
The people most effected by this are the laymen that used to work hard labors to make money for there families. But other then them it has been hard for most business to make such switch. Those of whom got on the online/ e commerce band wagon quickly were out of trouble and into the safe zone but not everyone is mace for the high-speed online world and are thus suffering.
More than 200,000 Canadian businesses could close permanently during the COVID-19 crisis, throwing millions of people out of work as the resurgence of the virus worsens across much of the country, according to new research. You can only imagine how many families these businesses were feeding, not to mention the impact the economy and the GDP is going to bear.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said one in six, or about 181,000, Canadian small business owners are now seriously contemplating shutting down. The latest figures, based on a survey of its members done between Jan. 12 and 16, come on top of 58,000 businesses that became inactive in 2020.
An estimate by the CFIB last summer said one in seven or 158,000 businesses were at risk of going under as a result of the pandemic. Based on the organization’s updated forecast, more than 2.4 million people could be out of work. A staggering 20 per cent of private sector jobs.
Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s senior director of national research, said it was an alarming increase in the number of businesses that are considering closing.
“We are not headed in the right direction, and each week that passes without improvement on the business front pushes more owners to make that final decision,”
He said in a statement.
“The more businesses that disappear, the more jobs we will lose, and the harder it will be for the economy to recover.”
In total, one in five businesses are at risk of permanent closure by the end of the pandemic, the organization said.
The new sad research shows that this year has been horrible for the Canadian businesses.
“The beginning of 2021 feels more like the fifth quarter of 2020 than a new year,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the CFIB, in a statement.
She called on governments to help small businesses “replace subsidies with sales” by introducing safe pathways to reopen to businesses.
“There’s a lot at stake now from jobs, to tax revenue to support for local soccer teams,”
“Let’s make 2021 the year we help small business survive and then get back to thriving.”
The whole world has suffered a lot from the pandemic and the Canadian economy has been no stranger to it. We can only pray that the world gets rid of this pandemic quickly and everything become as it used to be. Although I think it is about time, we start setting new norms.
Shopify shares edge up after falling on executive departures
By Chavi Mehta
(Reuters) -Shopify Inc shares edged higher on Thursday, recovering partially from the previous day’s fall, with analysts saying the news of planned senior executive departures may have limited impact due to the company’s deep talent pool.
Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday the company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all leave their roles.
“We remain confident it (Shopify) can continue to execute at a high level, despite the departures,” Tom Forte, analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co said, pointing to the company’s “deep bench of talented executives.”
Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the past year as many businesses went virtual during the COVID-19 lockdowns, turning it into Canada‘s most valuable company.
Shopify declined to comment further on Lutke’s statement suggesting current company leaders would step in to fill the three roles. After chief product officer Craig Miller left in September, Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.
The Ottawa-based company is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.
Jonathan Kees, analyst at Summit Insights Group, called the timing of the departures “a little alarming” but said the specific roles make it less concerning, given that the executives leaving are “more back-office roles.”
Lutke said each one of them had their individual reasons to leave, without giving details.
“I am willing to give Tobi’s explanation the benefit of the doubt,” Kees added.
Toronto-listed shares of Shopify were up 3.5% at C$1526.41 on Thursday, giving it a market value of C$188 billion ($150 billion). It ended down 5.1% on Wednesday.
“While we would refer to the departure of three high-level executives as ‘significant,’ we would not refer to it as a ‘brain drain,'” Forte added.
($1 = 1.2541 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Dan Grebler)
Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company: CEO
By Moira Warburton
(Reuters) – Three of e-commerce platform Shopify’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, chief executive officer and founder of Canada‘s most valuable company Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday.
The company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all transition out of their roles, Lutke said, adding that they have been “spectacular and deserve to take a bow.”
“Each one of them has their individual reasons but what was unanimous with all three was that this was the best for them and the best for Shopify,” he said.
The trio follow the departure of Craig Miller, chief product officer, in September. Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.
Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the last year as many businesses went virtual during COVID-19 lockdowns. It has a market cap valuation of C$182.7 billion ($146 billion), above Canada‘s top lender Royal Bank of Canada.
It is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.
“We have a phenomenally strong bench of leaders who will now step up into larger roles,” Lutke said, but did not name replacements.
Shopify said in February revenue growth would slow this year as vaccine rollouts encourage people to return to stores and warned it does not expect 2020’s near doubling of gross merchandise volume, an industry metric to measure transaction volumes, to repeat this year.
Chief talent officer, Brittany Forsyth, was the 22nd employee hired at Shopify and has been with the company for 11 years. She said on Twitter that post-Shopify she would be focusing on Backbone Angels, an all-female collective of angel investors she co-founded in March.
Shopify shares fell 5.1% while the benchmark Canadian share index ended marginally down.
($1 = 1.2515 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Aurora Ellis)