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Manitoba looking to improve COVID-19 variant screening – CTV News Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG —
Manitoba is looking into the steps involved in discovering and confirming COVID-19 variant cases in the province, after 18 days passed between the initial positive test to when the case of the B117 variant, which was first observed in the United Kingdom, was reported to the public.

The traveller arrived in Winnipeg on January 19th.

The province said in the bulletin reporting the case that on January 22, the initial test results from the traveller were received and the sample was sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory for DNA sequencing.

A spokesperson for the National Microbiology Lab told CTV News that it didn’t receive the sample until February 4. Two of the four days the sample was processed on fell on a weekend, and the results were known on February 8. The variant case was reported to the public on Feb. 9.

On Friday, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, said the whole process from sample collection to transport is being looked at.

“Just like any of our ongoing quality improvement that we do continually, we’ll look at all those factors,” said Dr. Roussin.

Roussin also said the province has since added the ability to screen for variants of concern at Cadham Provincial Lab, and the initial goal is to have that process complete within 48 hours of receiving a sample.

University of Manitoba biological sciences professor Jeffrey Marcus said in his experience, genetic sequencing can take six days to two weeks – depending on if the samples need to be transported to a different lab.

He said would expect better when dealing with a highly contagious virus.

“You would expect that everybody would be particularly diligent and do everything that they can to remove all the delays from the system,” Marcus said.

However, Marcus’ greater concern is the province isn’t tapping to the expertise and equipment available on university and college campuses to scale up the screening and sequencing abilities.

“It’s unfortunate, we have this sort of war on COVID and we are not treating it like a war,” he said. “We are not marshalling all (of) our resources we have available to achieve our goals.”

A part of this pattern, he said, is the 18 days it took to screen, sequence and report the first B117 variant case in the province. He said nothing involved with sequencing genetic material should take that long.

He also said Cadham Lab and the National Microbiology Lab are less than one block apart, so transport should not be a big issue.

“Which leads me to believe it was sitting in a freezer for about a week,” he said. 

Right now in Manitoba, about five per cent of screened samples are being sequenced for the three known variants of concern and the province is planning to do more.

When asked if the province would partner with universities or colleges, Roussin said that the Canadian COVID-19 Genomic Network has been up and running for quite some time.

“It is at par with any place in the world with the sequencing it does,” Roussin explained. “It’s a collaboration throughout the world, so the province has that expertise, and that expertise has been utilized.”

Roussin also noted the traveller in this first B117 case was returning from international travel.

“They had to isolate for 10 days,” he said. “And so that was done, it was done appropriately in this case, and we haven’t seen secondary transmission of it.”

Roussin said all of the close contacts for the case have since been tested twice; none have come back positive.  

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Modified COVID-19 vaccines for variants to be fast-tracked Français – Canada NewsWire

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Future vaccine modifications that respond to new variants of COVID-19 to be made available quickly to Canadians without compromising safety, efficacy or quality   

OTTAWA, ON, March 4, 2021 /CNW/ – Health Canada announces new guidance issued today by the Access Consortium—a coalition of regulatory authorities from Canada, the U.K., Australia, Singapore and Switzerland. The guidance, developed by Health Canada in consultation with its Access partners, lays out what information regulators would need to approve any modifications to authorized COVID-19 vaccines, should virus mutations make them less effective at preventing COVID-19. With this guidance, authorized COVID-19 vaccines that are modified in response to new variants will need to be reviewed and authorized.

According to the guidance, vaccine manufacturers would need to provide evidence that the modified vaccine produces an immune response in a sufficient number of people, but clinical studies would not be needed since they do not add to the regulatory understanding of a vaccine’s safety, efficacy or quality. 

This is because researchers are now better able to measure protection by looking at antibodies in the blood following vaccination, reducing the need to determine whether people in a trial develop the disease. This would reduce the length of time needed for a modified vaccine to be ready for use. 

Along with data on the immune response, the vaccine manufacturer would also be expected to provide evidence of the modified vaccine’s safety and quality. Data from the original clinical trials and the ongoing studies on real-world use in millions of people can be used to support any decision by the regulators.   

This approach is based on established regulatory processes used for seasonal flu vaccines, for which annual modifications are needed to match the strains circulating each year.  

The Access Consortium began as the Heads of Agencies Consortium in 2007. Health Canada was a founding member of this group. The Consortium’s goal is to maximize international cooperation between partners in the Consortium, reduce duplication and increase each agency’s capacity to ensure patients have timely access to high quality, safe and effective therapeutic products, including vaccines, drugs and medical devices.  

SOURCE Health Canada

For further information: Media Relations, Health Canada, 613-957-2983, [email protected]; COVID-19 public enquiries: 1-833-784-4397

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EU to extend vaccine export control measures to end of June, sources say – Global News

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The European Union is planning to extend its export authorization scheme for COVID-19 vaccines to the end of June, two EU sources told Reuters on Thursday, in a move that could reignite tensions with countries who rely on shots made in the EU.

The mechanism was set up at the end of January as a reaction to vaccine makers’ announcements of delays in the deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to the EU.

Read more:
EU to propose ‘digital green pass’ as proof a person has been vaccinated

It is due to expire at the end of March, but the European Commission wants to extend it through June, the two officials said.

“The Commission will propose its extension into June. And that was greeted by the member states with approval, not necessarily enthusiasm, but there is a feeling that we still need that mechanism,” one senior EU diplomat said.

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The second official added that at a meeting with EU diplomats on Wednesday, many countries supported the measure, including heavyweights Germany and France.

The EU Commission was not immediately available for comment.






1:15
Coronavirus: Canada received ‘strong assurances’ from EU leadership on vaccine deliveries, Trudeau says


Coronavirus: Canada received ‘strong assurances’ from EU leadership on vaccine deliveries, Trudeau says – Feb 2, 2021

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has also called for sanctions on companies that do not respect their contractual obligations with the EU.

When the EU’s export control mechanism was introduced in late January it triggered an outcry from importing countries who feared their vaccine supplies might have been hampered.

Under the scheme, companies must get authorization before exporting COVID-19 shots and may have export requests denied if they do not respect their supply commitments with the EU.

However, the EU has authorized all requests for export since the scheme’s debut on Jan. 30 to Feb. 26, which amounted to 150 requests for millions of shots to 29 countries, including Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Canada, an EU Commission spokeswoman said.

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Read more:
AstraZeneca backtracks, says it will meet EU supply for Q2 after reporting shortfall

She added, however, that at least one request was withdrawn by an exporting company. She declined to elaborate.

Export requests mostly concern the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which is manufactured in Belgium. AstraZeneca and Moderna shots have also been exported from the EU.

Since Jan. 30 more than eight million vaccines were shipped from the EU to Britain, a third EU source said.


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Coronavirus: Trudeau questioned on EU export controls over vaccine production


Coronavirus: Trudeau questioned on EU export controls over vaccine production – Feb 2, 2021

Britain has so far prevented the export of AstraZeneca vaccines to the EU, using a U.K.-first clause in its supply contract with the Anglo-Swedish firm, EU officials have said.

The United States also has regulations that effectively ban vaccine exports, the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference last week.

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A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Thursday, March 4, 2021 – Yahoo News Canada

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The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 77,572 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,091,700 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,519.103 per 100,000.

There were 129,330 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,611,680 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 80.09 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. There were 1,800 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 35,620 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 966 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 12,596 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 79.405 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.6 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 6,054 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 35,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 36.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.94 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 17,382 new vaccinations administered for a total of 472,710 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.245 per 1,000. There were 100,620 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 27,398 new vaccinations administered for a total of 754,419 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 51.359 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 83.52 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 1,966 new vaccinations administered for a total of 80,171 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 58.221 per 1,000. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 116,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 8.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 1,361 new vaccinations administered for a total of 81,597 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 69.20 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 109.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 10,229 new vaccinations administered for a total of 255,283 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 57.992 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting 6,627 new vaccinations administered for a total of 289,809 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 56.476 per 1,000. There were 18,720 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 382,740 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting 990 new vaccinations administered for a total of 18,158 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 435.12 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 96.07 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting 5,327 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,393 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 345.84 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 56.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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