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LILLEY: Trudeau makes Canada 'vaccine pirate,' stealing from poor nations – Toronto Sun

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Canada is being described as a “vaccine pirate” after the latest announcement of COVID vaccine approvals showed we will be getting our doses from a facility funded to provide vaccines for the developing world.

On Friday, Health Canada announced that they had approved two related but distinct products, the AstraZeneca vaccine developed in collaboration with Oxford University and COVISHIELD, a version of the AstraZeneca recipe manufactured by Serum Institute of India.

The problem is that Canada will be getting its doses, starting as early as Wednesday, from the Serum Institute, an organization funded to produce vaccine doses for low- and middle-income countries.

Like the announcement that the Trudeau government will take 1.9 million doses from COVAX, this makes it look like Canada is taking vaccines meant for poorer countries.

In a news release last June announcing the deal that would allow the SII to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine, the company specifically said it was “to supply 1 billion doses for low-and-middle-income countries” In September, a donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation allowed the program to expand by an extra 100 million doses.

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“This is vaccine manufacturing for the Global South, by the Global South, helping us to ensure no country is left behind when it comes to the race for a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO Gavi, the alliance to ensure poor countries have access to vaccines.

Now Canada has found its way to the front of that line.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand confirmed on Friday that of the 3.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccines that we will see delivered before the end of June, 2 million will come from the Serum Institute and 1.9 million from COVAX.

The move has led one former Canadian health bureaucrat who now works internationally to accuse the Trudeau government of turning Canada into a “global vaccine pirate.” It’s a view held by many people paying attention to the details of our latest vaccine announcement.

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Amir Attaran, a professor with the School of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Ottawa, accused the Trudeau government of poaching these doses from developing countries.

“How many people in other lands will this kill? ‘Sunny ways’ it isn’t,” Attaran said on Twitter.

Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an infectious disease specialist with the B.C. Children’s Hospital, said that Canada was taking doses away from LMICs or low and middle-income countries.

“This is much more anger-inducing than the COVAX conversation weeks ago. The Serum Institute of India was funded by CEPI and GAVI to produce vaccines for LMICs. Canada, because of diplomacy and money, is skipping that line and taking doses meant for LMICs,” Dr. Murthy said.

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When the Trudeau government announced at the beginning of February that we would be taking vaccines from COVAX, the move was blasted by a broad range of organizations including Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.

“Canada should not be taking the COVAX vaccine from poor nations to alleviate political pressures at home,” Oxfam said at the time.

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Yet, that is exactly what Trudeau was doing in early February and it is what he is doing now. Canadians are upset at seeing Americans, Brits, Italians, Serbians and Barbadians vaccinated much fast than we are, and they are rightly blaming the federal government.

Even the record 643,000 doses received across the country last week is less than the Americans use before lunch each day.

Justin Trudeau campaigned on improving Canada’s reputation on the world stage, now we are taking vaccines meant for developing countries. It is nothing short of a national embarrassment.

The Trudeau government owes Canadians an explanation on his latest moves; let’s hope he faces the tough questions he should later this week.

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Robinhood Flirts With Worst Debut Ever for IPO of Its Size – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Robinhood Markets Inc. wanted to make history with its initial public offering, and now it might — for the wrong reason.

Shares in the broker behind the meme-stock revolution fell as much as 12% below the IPO price in the company’s first trading session. That puts the stock in the running to rank as the worst debut on record among U.S. firms that raised as much cash as Robinhood or more, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares rebounded and were last trading 1% lower at $37.52 mid-afternoon in New York.

Robinhood must finish Thursday’s session at $34.90 or higher, or else it will replace the 2007 IPO by another brokerage, MF Global Holdings Ltd., as the worst debut among qualifying firms. MF Global ended its first day down 8.2%.

Read more: Robinhood Loses More Ground in Trading Debut After Muted IPO

The stock opened at the $38 initial public offering price. For an IPO of Robinhood’s size and larger, that’s the weakest opening trade since Uber Technologies Inc. in May of 2019 among U.S. firms. Uber finished its debut session down 7.6%.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Google and Facebook will require U.S. workers to be vaccinated to return to the office – CBC.ca

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Google is postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened.

The more highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is driving a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Google’s announcement Wednesday was shortly followed by one from Facebook, which also said it will make vaccines mandatory for U.S. employees who work in offices. Exceptions will be made for medical and other reasons.

“With regards to our Canadian offices, we don’t have specifics to share yet,” a spokesperson for Facebook told CBC News. “We will be evaluating our approach in other regions as the situation evolves.”

In an email sent to Google’s more than 130,000 employees worldwide, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is now aiming to have most of its workforce back to its offices beginning Oct. 18, instead of its previous target date of Sept. 1.

The decision also affects tens of thousands of contractors who Google intends to continue to pay while access to its campuses remains limited.

“This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it,” Pichai wrote.

Pichai disclosed that once offices are fully reopened, everyone working there will have to be vaccinated. The requirement will be first imposed at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters and other U.S. offices, before being extended to the more than 40 other countries where Google operates.

‘The stuff that needs to be done’

Google has extensive operations in Canada, but the company did not immediately reply to a request for comment as to when such a policy may be implemented for its Canadian work force. Pichai’s letter, however, makes it clear that it is not just a U.S. policy.

“We’re rolling this policy out in the U.S. in the coming weeks and will expand to other regions in the coming months,” he said.

WATCH | How social media is helping spread misinformation like a virus:

U.S. officials say misinformation has plagued the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and case counts across the country are rising. 2:02

Public health experts are lauding the move.

“This is the stuff that needs to be done, because otherwise we are endangering workers and their families,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University and a former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore.

“It is not fair to parents to be expected to come back to work and sit shoulder-to-shoulder with unvaccinated people who could be carrying a potentially deadly virus.”

Because children under the age of 12 aren’t currently eligible to be vaccinated, parents can bring the virus home to them from the office if they are around unvaccinated colleagues, Wen said.

Various government agencies already have announced demands for all their employees to be vaccinated, but the corporate world so far has been taking a more measured approach, even though most lawyers believe the mandates are legal.

Most employers hesitant to require vaccines

Delta and United airlines are requiring new employees to show proof of vaccination. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are requiring their employees to disclose their vaccination status, but are not requiring staffers to be vaccinated.

Less than 10 per cent of employers have said they intend to require all employees to be vaccinated, based on periodic surveys by the research firm Gartner.

Although the vaccination policy is only in effect in the U.S. for now, Google makes it clear it plans to expand it to other countries where it operates too. (Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)

While other major technology companies may follow suit now that Google and Facebook have taken stands on vaccines, employers in other industries still may be reluctant, predicted Brian Kropp, chief of research for Gartner’s human resources practice.

“Google is seen as being such a different kind of company that I think it’s going to take one or two more big employers to do something similar in terms of becoming a game changer,” Kropp said.

Google’s vaccine mandate will be adjusted to adhere to the laws and regulations of each location, Pichai wrote, and exceptions will be made for medical and other “protected” reasons.

“Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead,” Pichai explained.

The rapid rise in cases during the past month has prompted more public health officials to urge stricter measures to help overcome vaccine skepticism and misinformation.

It’s unclear how many of Google’s workers still haven’t been vaccinated. In his email, Pichai described the vaccination rate at the company as high.

Remote work still going strong

Google’s decision to extend its remote work follows a similar move by another technology powerhouse, Apple, which recently moved its return-to-office plans from September to October, too.

The delays by Apple and Google could influence other major employers to take similar precautions, given that the technology industry has been at the forefront of the shift to remote work triggered by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Even before the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March 2020, Google, Apple and many other prominent tech firms had been telling their employees to work from home.

WATCH | Business travel particularly slow to bounce back:

A recent study from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company predicts that business travel won’t return to pre-pandemic levels for years. Many companies and business travellers are finding that they can cut costs by switching to virtual events and meetings, which could hurt businesses which rely on corporate travel. 1:59

This marks the third time Google has pushed back the date for fully reopening its offices.

Google’s vaccine requirement also could embolden other employers to issue similar mandates to guard against outbreaks and minimize the need to wear masks in the office.

While most companies are planning to bring back their workers at least a few days a week, others in the tech industry have decided to let employees do their jobs from remote locations permanently.

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TSX closes at all-time high, U.S. markets up after big jump in commodities prices – CBC.ca

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Canada’s main stock exchange closed at an all-time high as commodities like gold and oil benefited from a weaker U.S. dollar on Thursday.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 81.38 points at 20,311.78.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 153.60 points at 35,084.53. The S&P 500 index was up 18.51 points at 4,419.15, while the Nasdaq composite was up 15.68 points at 14,778.26.

The Canadian dollar traded for 80.32 cents US compared with 79.58 cents US on Wednesday.

The September crude oil contract was up $1.23 US at $73.62 US per barrel and the September natural gas contract was up 9.2 cents at nearly $4.06 US per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was up $31.20 US at $1,835.80 US an ounce and the September copper contract was up nearly 4.2 cents at $4.52 US a pound.

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