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Joint vaccine trial 'not terminated'; Chinese virologists worry data safety in Canada – Global Times



A medical worker shows the inactivated COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by SinoPharm at the company’s vaccine candidate production plant on April 10. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese vaccine developer CanSino Biologics said on Thursday that its collaboration with a Canadian research team on late-stage clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate “has not been terminated,” refuting reports by Canadian media which said the cooperation was called off for rising tensions between the two countries.

CanSino sent an English clarification announcement to the Global Times on Thursday night, in which it said the collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has not been terminated. None of the management of the company has accepted any interview in relation to the clinical trials for Ad5-nCoV in Canada.

CanSino also said in the Thursday announcement that it noticed misleading media reports related to the clinical trials for the vaccine candidate in Canada. 

Canadian media CBC News on Wednesday reported that the cooperation of the two sides which was announced in May was “abandoned amid rising tensions between the two countries.” The report quoted an emailed statement from the NRC as saying that the Chinese Customs had not approved the vaccine candidate, named Ad5-nCoV, to be sent to Canada.

CanSino said on August 18 that the Phase III clinical trials with Canada had not yet started.

Canadian media even called the delayed shipments as an “apparent retaliation” from China for the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

Aside from saying it is currently driving the international multi-center phase III clinical trial for Ad5-nCoV with several countries, CanSino did not provide further details on the cooperation with the NRC in the announcement and NRC has not responded to a Global Times request as of press time.

However, some virologists reached by the Global Times believe that scientific, elements may have played a role in the twists and turns of the collaboration, though Canada’s damage to legal and diplomatic relations may also be a factor.

The types of COVID-19 that have spread in North America are different from those in Asia or Europe, making Canada a less ideal place for clinical trials of this China-based vaccine, said Yang Zhanqiu, a professor at the pathogen biology department of Wuhan University.

“Also, the number of infected patients in Canada is fewer than many other countries,” Yang told the Global Times on Thursday, saying that made Canada a less favorable destination for clinical trials of a recombinant vaccine that requires a large group of volunteers facing a higher risk of infection.

Canada has reported more than 128,000 cases of COVID19 so far, with a downward trend since early May. 

Another Beijing-based virologist who asked not to be named said that property rights disputes or other legal concerns may also put obstacles to the cooperation, as media reported the Ad5-nCoV used a piece of Canadian technology – a cell line modified by the NRC – which the NRC had provided to CanSino for use in Ebola vaccine R&D in 2014 and coronavirus vaccine research in 2020.

The twists of the cooperation deal may have also reflected China’s possible doubts about the safety of conducting trials in Canada over concerns Chinese vaccine R&D data may be leaked under outside pressure. Canada has already betrayed Chinese companies due to US pressure, Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based immunological expert, told the Global Times on Thursday.

China, along with other countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, has made progress in Phase III trials cooperation of the COVID-19 vaccine, Tao said.

Volunteers of joint China-Russia trials on the same vaccine candidate are scheduled to be all vaccinated by the end of September, and the results will be released by late fall, the Global Times learned on Sunday from Petrovax, a leading Russian pharmaceutical products developer.

“China has long rejected vaccine nationalism or politicization of coronavirus vaccines, as can be seen in its extensive cooperation with other countries,” Tao added.


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OPEC in trouble as oil outlook worsens – RT



OPEC has worked vigilantly to bring the oil market into balance, but with demand recovering more slowly than expected, the cartel may be out of options.

Just when they thought they had rebalanced the oil market, OPEC members were served an unpleasant surprise from exempted fellow Libya. The country’s warring factions reached a ceasefire, and some long-shuttered oil ports have been reopened, along with the fields that feed them. By the end of the month, the National Oil Corporation plans to boost the average daily output of the nation from less than 100,000 bpd to 260,000 bpd. Meanwhile, OPEC+ has relaxed its production cuts by 2 million bpd.  The market, according to Mercuria chief executive Marco Dunand, cannot handle this.

In an interview for Bloomberg, Dunand said demand was still weaker than previously expected, and any additional oil flowing into markets would fail to be absorbed. This means a looming build in floating storage as this month, global inventories rose by between 500,000 bpd and 1 million bpd—and that’s excluding the Libyan restart— while drawdowns over the final quarter were seen at 1 million bpd.

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In his bearish outlook for the immediate term, Mercuria’s head is in sync with the head of another commodity trading major, Trafigura. The third super trader, however, is surprisingly optimistic. Also in an interview with Bloomberg, Vitol’s chief executive said earlier this month he expected global crude oil inventories to shrink considerably by the end of the year. While both the heads of Trafigura and Mercuria expect stocks to build first before starting to decline, Vitol’s chief said he expected a drawdown of some 250-300 million barrels by the end of the year.

Reports emerged earlier this month that commodity traders—including the Big Three—were chartering more tankers to store crude oil offshore, sparking concern we could see something like a repeat of this spring when hundreds of millions of barrels of unsellable oil had to be dumped on tankers because onshore storage was full. After the lockdowns ended, demand began improving. This moderate demand boost, however, fell short of pretty much all expectations.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia refuses to learn from its two FAILED oil price WARS

One particularly worrying trend is the slow rate of economic recovery among emerging countries—the main drivers of oil demand growth. Except for China, most are still battling the coronavirus and its effects on their economies. India is a good case in point: its oil demand is seen to be the worst affected by the coronavirus as the country itself suffers the second-highest total case count in the world.

Some analysts believe, however, that demand in China is about to start slowing down soon. It will be a long-term trend, according to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, and a result not just of Covid-19 but of Beijing’s emission-reduction goals. Over the next 20 years, the energy research organization said, China’s oil demand was likely to grow at an annual pace of 3 to 4 million bpd, after growing by double-digit rates in the past few years.

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According to Mercuria’s Dunand, oil demand during the fourth quarter will average 95 million bpd. That’s down from a market consensus of 97 to 98 million bpd, made in spring. And the rate at which excessive inventories will be drawn is seen weaker than previously expected. Add to this a dramatic build in diesel inventories because refiners, Dunand noted to Bloomberg, are dumping jet fuel into the diesel pool, and Libya’s restart of production and the outlook for prices once again becomes grim. 

According to the head of Mercuria, the biggest problem on the oil market is the diesel stock oversupply. With many countries in Europe restricting movement again, whatever improvement there had been in fuel demand—especially jet fuel—will likely slow down further now, if not reverse if a full-blown second wave of infections hits the continent. And the problem will persist.

Meanwhile, OPEC is out of options. The cartel and its partners in OPEC+ will discuss the next steps later this year, with the original plan involving a further relaxation of the cuts, by 2 million bpd, from January 2021. The way prices are moving now and likely to move during the final quarter, this may become a topic of arguments within the group, as some members need oil revenues more urgently than others.

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Amazon looks to fill 3,000 jobs at newest Vancouver tech hub – Vancouver Sun



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Online retail giant Amazon will be filling 3,000 new jobs at its latest tech hub, in the former downtown Vancouver post office.

Almost to 800 positions are already available, while the rest are expected to be filled when construction at The Post, between Georgia and Dunsmuir at Homer Street, nears completion in 2023, said Jesse Dougherty, an Amazon-vice president and Vancouver lead, in a statement.

“Amazon’s investment has tangible benefits for the broader economy and community — from the people we employ, to the small businesses we empower, to the charities we support, to the academic opportunities we fund. We’re proud to reaffirm our commitment to Canadian cities at this critical time,” said Dougherty.

The jobs span several departments across the company, including Alexa, Amazon advertising, retail and operations technology, and include roles such as software development engineers, user experience designers, speech scientists working to develop Alexa, cloud computing solutions architects, and sales and marketing executives.

It was previously reported that Amazon would be the sole corporate tenant at The Post, with plans to occupy 18 floors in the complex’s north tower and 17 floors in the south tower.

“The city of Vancouver is so excited to see Amazon creating an additional 3,000 well-paying jobs for people who want to work and live in our city,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart in a statement. This “highlights the strength of our tech sector and shows that Vancouver is where companies want to establish themselves and grow.”

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Ford announces $1.8 billion investment to produce ‘fully battery electric vehicles’ in Canada –



Ford announced today that it is investing $1.8 billion CAD to produce “fully battery electric vehicles” in Canada.

The announcement is part of a deal between Ford and Unifor, an important general trade union in Canada, on a new national labour agreement.

The deal includes several new benefits for Ford employees in Canada:

  • Competitive alternative work schedules to maximize production flexibility
  • Enhanced temporary employee program
  • 2.5% wage increase twice over the life of the agreement
  • C$7,250 ratification bonus for full-time permanent employees and $500 for temporary employees
  • Reduced grow-in period for new hires from 11 years to eight years

But they also negotiated a deal that should help bring some job security with a new deal to “transform Ford’s Oakville Assembly Complex from an internal combustion engine (ICE) site to also become a BEV manufacturing facility.”

They plan to invest $1.8 billion CAD ($1.35 billion USD) to start producing all-electric vehicles at the factory in Ontario, Canada:

“Based on the collective agreement ratified by employees today, Ford is committing to transform its Oakville Assembly Complex from an internal combustion engine (ICE) site to also become a BEV manufacturing facility, starting in 2024, as well as introducing a new engine program at its Windsor operations.”

Dean Stoneley, president and CEO of Ford of Canada, commented on the deal:

“Working collaboratively with Unifor, and as discussions continue with both the federal and provincial governments, this agreement is an important step toward building a stronger future for our employees, our customers and our communities. By introducing battery electric vehicle production at Oakville Assembly Complex, we are cementing our Canadian operations as a leader in advanced automotive manufacturing.”

The automaker didn’t confirm which electric vehicles it plans to produce in Canada.

Ford employs 3,600 people at the Oakville plant, where it produces the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus.

Until recently, it was also producing the Ford Flex (2009–2019) and the Lincoln MKT (2010–2019).

In terms of electric vehicles, Ford produces the new Mustang Mach-E in Mexico and it plans to start production of the Ford F-150 Electric in Michigan in 2022.

Last month, Ford started construction on a new factory for its electric F-150 pickup truck at its current production site in Dearborn, Michigan.

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