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India OKs AstraZeneca and locally made COVID-19 vaccines – The Reminder

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NEW DELHI — India authorized two COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday, paving the way for a huge inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the world’s second most populous country.

The country’s drugs regulator gave emergency authorization for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca, and another developed by the Indian company Bharat Biotech.

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Drugs Controller General Dr. Venugopal G. Somani said that both vaccines would be administered in two dosages. He said the decision to approve the vaccines was made after “careful examination” by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, India’s pharmaceutical regulator.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the vaccine approval a “decisive turning point to strengthen a spirited fight.”

“It would make every Indian proud that the two vaccines that have been given emergency use approval are made in India!” Modi tweeted.

AstraZeneca has contracted Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, to make 1 billion doses of its vaccine for developing nations, including India. On Wednesday, Britain became the first country to approve the shot.

India, however, will not allow the export of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine for several months, Adar Poonawalla, Serum Institute’s CEO, said Sunday. The ban on exports means that poorer nations will probably have to wait a few months before receiving their first shots.

The move was made to ensure that vulnerable populations in India are protected and to prevent hoarding, Poonawalla said in an interview with The Associated Press.

But questions have been raised by health experts over the vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech. They point out that clinical trials began only recently, making it almost impossible for the firm to have analyzed and submitted data showing that its shots are effective in preventing illness from the coronavirus.

India has confirmed more than 10.3 million cases of the virus, second in the world behind the U.S., though its rate of infection has come down significantly from a mid-September peak. It also has reported over 149,000 deaths.

The country’s initial immunization plan aims to vaccinate 300 million people — healthcare workers, front-line staff including police, and those considered vulnerable due to their age or other diseases — by August 2021. For effective distribution, over 20,000 health workers have been trained so far to administer the vaccine, the Health Ministry said.

But the plan poses a major challenge. India has one of the world’s largest immunization programs, but it isn’t geared around adults, and vaccine coverage remains patchy. Still, neither of the approved vaccines requires the ultra-cold storage facilities that some others do. Instead they can be stored in refrigerators, making them more feasible for the country.

Although Serum Institute of India doesn’t have a written agreement with the Indian government, its chief executive, Adar Poonawalla, said India would be “given priority” and would receive most of its stockpile of around 50 million doses.

Partial results from studies for the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in almost 24,000 people in Britain, Brazil and South Africa suggest that the vaccine is safe and about 70% effective. That isn’t as good as some other vaccine candidates, and there are also concerns about how well the vaccine will protect older people.

The other vaccine, known as COVAXIN, is developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with government agencies and is based on an inactivated form of the coronavirus. Early clinical studies showed that the vaccine doesn’t have any serious side effects and produces antibodies for COVID-19. But late clinical trials began in mid-November. The second shot was to be given 28 days after the first, and an immune response prompted two weeks later.

That time frame means that it isn’t possible that the company submitted data showing that the shots are effective in preventing infection from the virus, said Dr. Gagandeep Kang, an infectious diseases expert at the Christian Medical College at Vellore.

All India Drug Action Network, a public health watchdog, issued a statement demanding greater transparency.

Somani, the regulator, said that “the vaccine has been found to be safe,” but refused to say whether any efficacy data was shared.

The Health Ministry said in a statement that permission was granted for Bharat Biotech’s shot for restricted use in the “public interest as an abundant precaution in clinical trial mode, especially in the context of infection by mutant strains.”

But Kang said that the claim that the vaccine could help against a mutant variant of the virus was “hypothetical” and without any evidence.

Indian regulators are still considering approvals for other vaccines, including one made by Pfizer.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada – Brandon Sun

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The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 26, 2021.

There are 753,011 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 753,011 confirmed cases (62,447 active, 671,326 resolved, 19,238 deaths).The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 4,630 new cases Monday from 35,801 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. The rate of active cases is 166.13 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 37,939 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,420.

There were 144 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,118 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 160. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.42 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 51.18 per 100,000 people.

There have been 17,086,340 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 398 confirmed cases (eight active, 386 resolved, four deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 186 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 78,319 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (seven active, 103 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 226 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 88,633 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,571 confirmed cases (15 active, 1,491 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 1.54 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 14 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 200,424 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 1,151 confirmed cases (349 active, 788 resolved, 14 deaths).

There were 27 new cases Monday from 1,071 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 44.93 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 178 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 25.

There was one new reported death Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people.

There have been 136,180 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 254,836 confirmed cases (16,428 active, 228,887 resolved, 9,521 deaths).

There were 1,203 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 193.61 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,488 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,498.

There were 43 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 434 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 62. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.73 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 112.21 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,695,925 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 256,960 confirmed cases (23,620 active, 227,494 resolved, 5,846 deaths).

There were 1,958 new cases Monday from 33,192 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 162.15 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16,596 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,371.

There were 43 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 413 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 59. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.41 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 40.13 per 100,000 people.

There have been 8,978,001 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 28,810 confirmed cases (3,542 active, 24,464 resolved, 804 deaths).

There were 113 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 258.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,181 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 169.

There were five new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 31 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.32 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.71 per 100,000 people.

There have been 448,638 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 22,416 confirmed cases (3,272 active, 18,890 resolved, 254 deaths).

There were 239 new cases Monday from 992 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 24 per cent. The rate of active cases is 278.6 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,854 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 265.

There was one new reported death Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 35 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.43 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 21.63 per 100,000 people.

There have been 330,694 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 121,535 confirmed cases (9,339 active, 110,622 resolved, 1,574 deaths).

There were 742 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 213.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,224 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 603.

There were 25 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 127 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.42 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.01 per 100,000 people.

There have been 3,061,844 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 64,828 confirmed cases (5,843 active, 57,831 resolved, 1,154 deaths).

There were 346 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 115.22 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,381 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 483.

There were 26 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 76 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.76 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,044,931 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 13 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,229 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 31 confirmed cases (seven active, 24 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 15.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 9,064 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 282 confirmed cases (17 active, 264 resolved, one deaths).

There were two new cases Monday from 121 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.7 per cent. The rate of active cases is 43.84 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,382 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 26, 2021.

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COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while BC cases decrease – Nanaimo News Bulletin – Nanaimo News Bulletin

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Dr. Bonnie Henry is calling it a precipice, a plateau from which the novel coronavirus could spring upwards, or decline.

New cases in B.C. have hovered around 500 per day, but on Vancouver Island, numbers have anything but plateaued.

While B.C. is showing a gradual decline in new cases, Island Health is smashing through new highs weekly. The Island took 10 months to reach 1,000 cumulative cases. Three weeks later, that total has already reached 1,458.

What’s behind the exponential increase? Vancouver Island’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick isn’t sure.

But whatever the cause, the Island is seeing double digit case counts every day in January. The region has registered 25 or more new cases 11 times. Ten of those totals came in the past three weeks.

Contact tracing teams have gone all out — as of Jan. 26, the region had 753 people isolating after being identified as close contacts, and 217 people confirmed as positive. Total cases are still manageable, hospitals are not at capacity.

In fact, Vancouver Island has been able to offer support to Northern B.C., an area that is bursting at capacity for beds.

Most of the current Island cases are within the Central Island region, between the Nanaimo hospital outbreak, some school exposures, and Cowichan Tribes which has had more than 150 cases. The First Nation’s membership is sheltering in place until at least Feb. 5.

Indigenous people are four times more likely to experience the worst effects of COVID-19, Stanwick said.

“This is open to speculation as to why, whether they are under-housed, or a is there a propensity to it? The simple fact is unfortunately they are more vulnerable to the effects,” Stanwick said.

It’s one of the reasons First Nations communities are included in priority vaccinations along with long-term care and assisted living residents and workers.

RELATED: Cowichan Tribes confirms first death from COVID-19

RELATED: COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

“The good news is that we have finished immunizing all long-term care clients who have wished to be immunized as of [Jan. 24], and are working hard to complete all of our assisted living by mid-week,” Stanwick said.

But we’re far from out of the woods, even with positive first steps.

“It’s only the first dose they’ve gotten, and this is where I cross my fingers and my toes. It takes 14 days to get a good immune response mounted by the body. So we’re still vulnerable for two more weeks. There is a possibility we could still see outbreaks in our long-term care and assisted living facilities.”

The First Nations Health Authority has set a goal of delivering vaccinations to all First Nations on the Island by the end of March. That process is well underway.

What really worries Stanwick is the rising number of people who have no clue where they contracted the virus. It makes contact tracing nearly impossible, and makes it a lot harder to control the spread.

Take the U.K. variant for example; one Central Island resident caught it while travelling. They passed it to two others, but all three people followed quarantine rules and the strain died there.

The South African variant — which has not yet been found on the Island — is of unknown origin at this time.

“It’s when it surprises us that’s where we worry the most,” Stanwick said.

Vancouver Island’s positivity rate is another concern. Dr. Henry regularly says the goal is to keep it at 1 per cent or below, but the Island is almost at 4 per cent right now.

“We’re still looking at a few months out for wide vaccinations. We are so close, I’d hate to see us backslide into the same situation as the U.K., going into full lock down,” he said.

“The orders [Dr. Henry] puts in place have worked. They’ve gotten us where we are, we’ve just got to hang in a little longer.”

In the meantime, Stanwick said Vancouver Island Health Authority is assigning environmental health officers to identify places where standards are not being met. It’s not a hunt to issue fines, he said, but an effort to help people understand what Work Safe requirements are. However, they are issuing fines to people unwilling to comply.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


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Central Island continues dominating COVID-19 case counts, active cases dip across B.C.

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There is a data discrepancy between Island Health and the province, based on the timing of COVID-19 results. NanaimoNewsNOW reports local verified data from Island Health.

A joint statement released by the provincial health officer and health minister revealed 407 new COVID-19 cases across B.C.

There number of active COVID-19 cases dropped by more than 130 to 4,260 cases are considered active in the province, a drop of 132 from the day prior.

Hospitalization rates dipped slightly, while people receiving intensive care rose by three to 71.

An additional 14 people passed away due to COVID-19 for a total of 1,168 since the pandemic began.

“Our greatest source of transmission comes from when we spend time with those outside of our household, work or school bubble. That is why staying small and equally important, avoiding all unnecessary travel, is what we need to do right now,” the joint statement read.

It announced 122,359 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., of which 4,105 are second doses.

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