U.S. health advisers endorsed a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson on Friday, putting the nation on the cusp of adding an easier-to-use option to fight the pandemic.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to quickly follow the recommendation and make J&J’s shot the third vaccine authorized for emergency use in the U.S. Vaccinations are picking up speed, but new supplies are urgently needed to stay ahead of a mutating virus that has killed more than 500,000 people in the country.
After daylong discussions, the FDA panellists voted unanimously that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks for adults. If the FDA agrees, shipments of a few million doses could begin as early as Monday.
“There’s an urgency to get this done,” said Dr. Jay Portnoy of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. “We’re in a race between the virus mutating and new variants coming out that can cause further disease and stopping it.”
Health Canada is still reviewing the vaccine. Canada has ordered 10 million doses from Johnson & Johnson with options for up to 28 million more, if necessary. Most of those shots are expected to arrive by the end of September.
WATCH | Canada’s procurement minister discusses Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine:
More than 47 million people in the U.S., or 14 per cent of the population, have received at least one shot of the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which FDA authorized in December. But the pace of vaccinations has been strained by limited supplies and delays due to winter storms.
While early J&J supplies will be small, the company has said it can deliver 20 million doses by the end of March and a total of 100 million by the end of June.
J&J’s vaccine protects against the worst effects of COVID-19 after one shot, and it can be stored up to three months at refrigerator temperatures, making it easier to handle than the previous vaccines, which must be frozen.
Strong protection against worst outcomes
One challenge in rolling out the new vaccine will be explaining how protective the J&J shot is after the astounding success of the first U.S. vaccines.
“It’s important that people do not think that one vaccine is better than another,” said panellist Dr. Cody Meissner of Tufts University.
The two-dose Pfizer and Moderna shots were found to be about 95 per cent effective against symptomatic COVID-19. The numbers from J&J’s study are not that high, but it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. One dose of the J&J vaccine was 85 per cent protective against the most severe COVID-19. After adding in moderate cases, the total effectiveness dropped to about 66 per cent.
Some experts fear that lower number could feed public perceptions that J&J’s shot is a “second-tier vaccine.” But the difference in protection reflects when and where J&J conducted its studies.
J&J’s vaccine was tested in the U.S., Latin America and South Africa at a time when more contagious mutated versions of the virus were spreading. That wasn’t the case last fall, when Pfizer and Moderna were wrapping up testing, and it’s not clear if their numbers would hold against the most worrisome of those variants.
Importantly, the FDA reported this week that, just like its predecessors, the J&J shot offers strong protection against the worst outcomes, hospitalization and death.
While J&J is seeking FDA authorization for its single-dose version, the company is also studying whether a second dose boosts protection.
Panel member Dr. Paul Offit warned that launching a two-dose version of the vaccine down the road might cause problems.
“You can see where that would be confusing to people thinking, ‘Maybe I didn’t get what I needed,”‘ said Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It’s a messaging challenge.”
New cases increasing
J&J representatives said they chose to begin with the single shot because the World Health Organization and other experts agreed it would be a faster, more effective tool in an emergency.
Cases and hospitalizations have fallen dramatically since their January peak that followed the winter holidays. But public health officials warned that those gains may be stalling as more variants take root in the U.S.
“We may be done with the virus, but clearly the virus is not done with us,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said, speaking at the White House on Friday. She noted that new COVID-19 cases have increased over the past few days.
While it’s too early to tell if the trend will last, Walensky said adding a third vaccine “will help protect more people faster.” More vaccines are in the pipeline.
On Sunday, a CDC panel is expected to meet to recommend how to best prioritize use of the J&J vaccine.
Other parts of the world already are facing which-is-best challenges. Italy’s main teachers’ union recently protested when the government decided to reserve Pfizer and Moderna shots for the elderly and designate AstraZeneca’s vaccine for younger, at-risk workers. AstraZeneca’s vaccine was deemed to be about 70 per cent effective in testing.
Canada became the latest country Friday to allow use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
COVID-19 in Ottawa: Fast Facts for Aug. 1, 2021 – CTV Edmonton
Good morning. Here is the latest news on COVID-19 and its impact on Ottawa.
- Pfizer and Moderna vaccines now available at all Ottawa vaccination clinics
- Ottawa sees single-digit COVID-19 case numbers on Saturday
- Gee-Gees student-athletes must receive COVID-19 vaccine to compete on teams this season, uOttawa says
COVID-19 by the numbers in Ottawa (Ottawa Public Health data):
- New COVID-19 cases: Four new cases on Saturday
- Total COVID-19 cases: 27,815
- COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (previous seven days): 4.0
- Positivity rate in Ottawa: 0.5 per cent (seven day average)
- Reproduction Number: 1.12 (seven day average)
Who should get a test?
Ottawa Public Health says you can get a COVID-19 test at an assessment centre, care clinic, or community testing site if any of the following apply to you:
- You are showing COVID-19 symptoms;
- You have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by Ottawa Public Health or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app;
- You are a resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by Ottawa Public Health;
- You are a resident, a worker or a visitor to long-term care, retirement homes, homeless shelters or other congregate settings (for example: group homes, community supported living, disability-specific communities or congregate settings, short-term rehab, hospices and other shelters);
- You are a person who identifies as First Nations, Inuit or Métis;
- You are a person travelling to work in a remote First Nations, Inuit or Métis community;
- You received a preliminary positive result through rapid testing;
- You are a patient and/or their 1 accompanying escort travelling out of country for medical treatment;
- You are a farm worker;
- You are an educator who cannot access pharmacy-testing; or
- You are in a targeted testing group as outlined in guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Long-term care staff, caregivers, volunteers and visitors who are fully immunized against COVID-19 are not required to present a negative COVID-19 test before entering or visiting a long-term care home.
Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Ottawa:
There are several sites for COVID-19 testing in Ottawa. To book an appointment, visit https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/shared-content/assessment-centres.aspx
- The Brewer Ottawa Hospital/CHEO Assessment Centre: Open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- COVID-19 Drive-Thru Assessment Centre at 300 Coventry Road: Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- The Moodie Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- The Ray Friel Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- North Grenville COVID-19 Assessment Centre (Kemptville) – 15 Campus Drive: Open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Centretown Community Health Centre: Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Sandy Hill Community Health Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 pm.
- Somerset West Community Health Centre: Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday
COVID-19 screening tool:
The COVID-19 screening tool for summer camp children and staff. All campers and staff must complete the COVID-19 School and Childcare screening tool daily.
Classic Symptoms: fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath
Other symptoms: sore throat, difficulty swallowing, new loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, pneumonia, new or unexplained runny nose or nasal congestion
Less common symptoms: unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, headache, delirium, chills, red/inflamed eyes, croup
The city of Ottawa says it has an “ample supply” of both Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines available if you want to get your COVID-19 vaccine this weekend.
Residents 12 and older are invited to walk-in to Ottawa’s four vaccination clinics to receive a first dose or a second dose of the vaccine.
“Certainly, we’ve done really, really well,” said Anthony Di Monte, Ottawa’s general manager of emergency and protective services.
“We’re seeing a slowing down, that’s why we’re shutting down some of our clinics but we’re leaving four open and anybody who hasn’t had a first dose or wants a second dose can just walk in without an appointment. We have both Moderna and Pfizer available, so I’d encourage anybody please come and get vaccinated.”
Ottawa is currently operating four community clinics. You can drop in between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. to get a vaccine at the following locations:
- Eva James Community Centre
- Nepean Sportsplex
- Orleans YMCA
- Ottawa City Hall
Ottawa Public Health reported four new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, one day after the capital saw a double-digit case increase for the first time in three weeks.
No new deaths were reported.
Since the first case of COVID-19 in Ottawa in March 2020, there have been 27,815 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 593 deaths.
In Ottawa, the five new cases comes one day after Ottawa saw double-digit single day COVID-19 case numbers for the first time since July 4. There were 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and eight new cases on Thursday.
University of Ottawa student-athletes must provide proof they have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine today to be eligible for the upcoming season..
The university has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy for all Gee-Gees varsity sports for the 2021-22 season.
According to the vaccination policy on the Gee-Gees website, student-athletes are required to have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Aug. 1, 2021. Vaccination verification information will be required to be submitted as part of the annual medical pre-participation form that is submitted by a student-athlete.
All Gee-Gees student-athletes must receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1.
'It's nice to see everyone's faces again': N.B. no longer under mandatory order, despite concerns from experts – CTV News Atlantic
The Boyce Farmer’s Market, a Fredericton favourite, was a busy spot Saturday morning hours after New Brunswick’s mandatory order was lifted, and with it, all of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Capacity limits no longer apply, and neither do mandatory masks. Many were embracing it.
“This is our happy place. We usually come all the time, and for the longest time it was just a weird, uncomfortable vibe,” said Tyler Wood.
“It’s just amazing to see everyone coming out, seeing the big crowds and seeing people hugging and smiling and just really enjoy the day. It’s just amazing to be back and feel normal.”
The end of the mandatory order also means anyone can visit the province, including Canadians who are unvaccinated. The border checks at the Quebec-New Brunswick border are no longer staffed by the department of public safety.
People can also choose to wear a mask.
Brian MacDonald decided to continue wearing one on his market visit “just to err on the side of caution.”
“I kind of have mixed feelings about New Brunswick opening up to the extent that it is with the Delta variant,” he said. “I hope that the masklessness isn’t a disaster.”
Experts are also expressing their concerns with the decision, warning that it will lead to an increase in cases.
“It does seem to be a little quick,” said Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist in Halifax.
“It is a bit of an experiment, not as much as Alberta, but a bit of an experiment that didn’t need to happen as quickly as it has. Do I anticipate a massive number of hospitalizations all of a sudden? No, but are there going to be some people who get sick and maybe very sick, who didn’t need to? That’s almost a certainty over the next number of weeks. I’m not certain that that’s okay at this point.”
But Premier Blaine Higgs says he’s confident and comfortable with the decision, even though the province hasn’t reached its 75 per cent vaccination target yet.
Higgs also said his government has made the vaccines very accessible, with mobile and after-hours clinics across the province.
“There are those that have no real reason to be unvaccinated and have chosen not to be, and yes, they’re at risk,” he said.
“They will continue to be at risk, so their fate is in their hands in that sense because the opportunity is there. There’s nothing more I can do. We don’t have a mandatory vaccination policy and I don’t see that coming anytime soon.”
Higgs said he’ll be using his own discretion on wearing a mask.
The end of the mandatory order also effectively stops the need for the all-party COVID-19 cabinet committee.
Since last March, the group saw New Brunswick’s four political parties sit at the same table, making pandemic-related decisions together.
Higgs said meetings could be scheduled if necessary in the future, but for now, no further meetings are planned.
Infectious disease expert calls N.B. plan to lift restrictions 'risky' – HalifaxToday.ca
As of midnight, COVID-19 restrictions will lift in New Brunswick, eliminating mask mandates, provincial border controls and gathering limits in that province.
However, a local infectious disease expert believes the move is coming too soon.
“Clearly we don’t have a lot of cases in the Atlantic right now, but we haven’t quite hit our vaccination targets yet,” said Dalhousie University’s Dr. Lisa Barrett.
“I don’t expect catastrophe, but do I think it’s necessary to get rid of all masks in all places all the time, and to open up with other measures at the same time? It’s probably a little more risky than I was expecting.”
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs had said pandemic restrictions would only lift when 75 per cent of the province’s eligible population had received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine, however as of Friday, only 66.7 per cent of those 12 and older are fully vaccinated.
Barrett says mask requirements are a cheap and easy way to reduce transmission of the virus, and she doesn’t see the advantage of getting rid of them at this stage.
“This really isn’t just a common cold, there are a lot of people who have, even after a mild infection with COVID, some long term side effects,” she told NEWS 95.7 fill-in host Todd Veinotte.
Although Barrett isn’t necessarily expecting cases to surge out of control in our neighbouring province, she said removing restrictions could result in people unnecessarily contracting COVID-19, especially as the more transmissible Delta variant spreads throughout the country.
“We’re not at vaccine targets, vaccines aren’t perfect and we don’t know exactly what the virus does,” she explained. “I just think it’s a little fast, and don’t forget, these experiments, when they go wrong, they’re not cases, they’re people.”
“That means somebody else that’s out there is going to have potentially longer term effects from this or get severely ill,” Barrett added. “So if we have easy things that we can keep doing that still allow us to socialize, and still allow us to go out and still allow the economy to open, why would we get rid of them right away? I don’t understand that part.”
Nova Scotia tracks its vaccination rate differently than New Brunswick. While our neighbours calculate how much of their eligible population has received the shots, we keep count of how many in our overall population have been immunized. COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been approved for those under the age of 12.
As of July 30, 76 per cent of Nova Scotians have had one or more doses, while 62.5 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Our province’s chief medical officer of health has said more restrictions will be lifted here once 75 per cent of our entire population has had both doses of vaccine.
In Nova Scotia, there have been 4,200 cases from March 15 to July 27, 2021. Of those:
- 28 (0.7 per cent) were fully vaccinated
- 235 (5.6 per cent) were partially vaccinated
- 3,937 (93.7 per cent) were unvaccinated
There were 254 people hospitalized. Of those:
- 2 (0.8 per cent) were fully vaccinated
- 28 (11 per cent) were partially vaccinated
- 224 (88.2 per cent) were unvaccinated
Twenty-seven people died. Of those:
- 1 (3.7 per cent) was fully vaccinated
- 3 (11.1 per cent) were partially vaccinated
- 23 (85.2 per cent) were unvaccinated
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