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Medicago reports promising but preliminary results of possible COVID-19 vaccine – CBC.ca

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Canadian drug developer Medicago said Tuesday it has received promising early test results for its plant-derived vaccine for COVID-19.

The Quebec City-based company said interim results of a Phase 1 clinical trial found all subjects developed “a promising antibody response after two doses” of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Phase 1 clinical trials include about 100 volunteers and are designed to flag any immediate safety concerns and offer an initial indication of whether the shots produce an immune response.

Medicago did not disclose full safety data and said the side effects were generally mild to moderate and short in duration. The company posted the results on a preprint server and they still need to be peer reviewed by independent experts to check its validity. 

The Phase 1 clinical trial was a randomized, partially blinded study of 180 healthy people aged 18-55.

Based on the Phase 1 data, Medicago plans to proceed with a Phase 2/3 clinical trial for its plant-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, subject to regulatory approval.

World needs many vaccine suppliers, CEO says

The company said it planned to use a lower-dose version of its vaccine, along with GlaxoSmithKline’s adjuvant — a compound that enhances the body’s immune response.

The federal government has signed a deal with Medicago to secure the rights to buy 76 million doses of its vaccine. Medicago will also receive $173 million in funding from Ottawa for its vaccine research and development and for the construction of its Quebec City manufacturing facility.

Medicago’s chief executive officer, Bruce Clark, said the company is in talks with several other countries for potential deals.

“Even if you add the total number of doses that have been committed [by other companies,] you are looking at a global population of seven billion and it will require different suppliers,” Clark told Reuters.

Medicago is Canada’s most advanced domestic COVID-19 vaccine project but lags behind larger, global rivals such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, which have begun late-stage trials.

On Monday, Pfizer said initial data from its large-scale trial on more than 43,000 volunteers suggested its vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective.

Pfizer’s study has not been peer reviewed, safety data hasn’t been released and infectious disease physicians say key questions such as how well the vaccine works in blocking transmission, how long it protects and who it protects still need to be answered.

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CDC may shorten coronavirus quarantine guidelines: WSJ – Yahoo Finance

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Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Dr. Jennifer Cowart, internal medicine physician, discuss rising U.S. coronavirus cases.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: The US is recording the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus since May. Continues to average close to 200,000 new cases a day. Why is the CDC thinking about shortening the quarantine time?

JENNIFER COWART: Yes, thank you. I think it’s a really good question. Looking at it, they’re looking at the evidence that most people who become positive after an exposure to COVID-19 become positive within that seven to 10-day window or before then. So it doesn’t mean that you may not have some folks who become positive on the later end of the 10 to 14-day window, but the vast majority are going to become positive earlier in that time frame, which is one reason they’re considering shortening the timeframe.

Looks like they’re also going to recommend that there be a negative test associated with that shorter quarantine. They’re looking at it also from a pragmatic perspective because 14 days of quarantine is really difficult for many people to adhere to for a variety of reasons. They’re trying to work and go to school and do other things. So I believe they’re looking at it in the sense of, we can maintain a high degree of safety and potentially even a higher degree of adherence with quarantining with a little bit shorter quarantine, still catch the majority of cases, and encourage a negative test in that– to try to keep things as safe as they can be.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I know that you’re working at a hospital there in Jacksonville, Florida. I’m hearing reports from hospitals across the country and clinics that they’re struggling to get that PPE. What’s your situation in your hospital? And is that becoming a problem?

JENNIFER COWART: I’m really grateful that we’ve had good access to PPE through the course of this pandemic. But I know that’s not the situation in every hospital across the country. So in order to keep health care workers safe, we really do need to be sure that everybody has access to surgical masks, to N95 respirators for those high-risk encounters, gloves, gowns, face coverings or face shields or goggles. Because we do see evidence that covering the eyes, it reduces the risk of health care transmission further.

So I’m grateful that my hospital, we’ve had good access to PPE. But every hospital, every clinic needs to have that same access.

JENNIFER COWART: You know, US officials planning to release 6.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses nationwide. And its first distribution, of course, would be to frontline workers like yourself and to people who are at high risk, namely the elderly. Do you think the CDC is doing enough to prepare people for the possible side effects of these vaccines?

JENNIFER COWART: It’s a great question because it does look like this is a vaccine that, the Pfizer and Moderna versions, that produce a vigorous immune response. And so I think folks should be prepared to feel the effects of this vaccine. Not everybody will, and that does not mean the vaccine is not working. But in many patients, they will get two doses of the vaccine, and either or both doses may produce a day of feeling some mild flu-like symptoms, some headaches, some aches and pains and shells. And folks should be prepared for that.

I think it’s a positive thing because I’d rather have one day of feeling achy compared to two weeks of illness and the risk of passing it on to my friends, family, and co-workers. But I agree I would love to see all of us, myself included, getting that message out there that this vaccine may produce a vigorous response. You may not feel well for a day or so. Still, very crucial to take that second dose of vaccine because you need both doses to get the full effect of this vaccine.

JENNIFER COWART: That’s, I think, the worry, right, that you would get the first dose, you would have these side effects, you would get concerned about that and not go back for the second dose. What would that do if a large enough amount of people decided to forego the second dose?

JENNIFER COWART: Right. And I think the vaccine has tested and known to be effective with both doses. So I think the risk would be that folks would be in completely protected if they get one dose and not the second dose. So I think we need to be very clear in saying, from the vaccine trials, the experience is that both doses are needed and that you can have a response, that you may not feel great for a day, that you need to take some acetaminophen or some ibuprofen, maybe take the day off of work if you need to.

But it’s better to have one day of feeling achy after the vaccine, means you’re getting a good robust response. And then you need to do both times to get that in order to have that full protection. And that’s the best way to keep the COVID-19 from continuing to spread, devastating our communities, working on our economy in negative ways. The best way to keep us all safe and back to work is both doses. And it may make you feel not great for a day, but it’s still better than getting COVID-19.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And real quickly, doctor, your advice to people who are going to be seeing family over this Thanksgiving.

JENNIFER COWART: Absolutely. So I think of everything in terms of risk and benefit and harm reduction. So if you need to travel, if you need to see your family, ways to keep it safer would be limit the size of your gathering, so not very many people in a room, eat outside if you’re able to, if the weather is nice, go outdoors, have your Thanksgiving meal outside where folks can take their masks off for a moment to eat and eat outside. Third, as I just mentioned, masks.

I know it may not feel comfortable to have masks on around our family members, but that’s the best way that if you need to have a gathering, keep it small, wear your masks, and be outdoors as much as possible. If you do decide to get a COVID test before your trip, I think that’s a great way to show that if you have a negative test, maybe your risk right this second is lower. But do not take that negative test as a license to think, great, I’ll take my mask off, and I’ll have a massive gathering of 50 people where we all share the mashed potatoes.

The way to use that test is if you take that test and it’s positive, you cancel your trip. You don’t go meet with family if you have a positive test. If you have a negative test, it means you’re still going to wear your mask, you’re going to limit the size of your gathering, and you’re going to go outside as much as possible.

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BMO, CIBC extend work from home to April as Canada cases surge – BNN

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Signage is displayed outside the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) in the financial district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. Canadian stocks declined with global markets, as authorities struggled to keep the coronavirus from spreading more widely outside China. However, investors flocking to safe havens such as gold offset the sell-off in Canada's stock market.

A recent surge in COVID-19 cases is derailing Canadian banks’ plans to bring employees back to offices, with one lender even asking some workers who had already returned to go back home.

Canada is now facing about 5,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, prompting provinces and cities including Toronto — home to the country’s five biggest banks — to implement new restrictions to limit the virus spread. Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently returned to working from home in an attempt to set a national tone of caution.

Bank of Montreal and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce are extending work-from-home plans for some employees until at least April. Toronto-Dominion Bank hasn’t set a firm date for a return, but said in a memo last week that most people working from home won’t come back “until at least the spring.”

Royal Bank of Canada even encouraged employees who had gone back to offices to return to working from home as of Nov. 16, according to a memo from Chief Human Resources Officer Helena Gottschling. Canada’s second-largest lender by assets said it will continue pre-screening and requiring masks and distancing for those who can’t work remotely.

“For those in critical roles that cannot be done from home and who are working on premises today, please continue to work on site,” Gottschling said in the Nov. 12 memo. “Our ongoing protocols will continue to protect employees’ health and safety in the workplace.”

The bank hasn’t set a firm time for employees to return. Royal Bank also delayed plans to have employees retrieve personal items from work sites in and around Toronto until further notice.

Bank of Nova Scotia also hasn’t set a specific time for office employees to return because of “uncertainty around how the COVID-19 pandemic will unfold in the coming months,” according to a spokesman. Canada’s third-biggest bank said workers will receive at least four weeks notice before being asked to return.

Bank of Montreal doesn’t “foresee any broad-based changes for employees who are currently working from home any sooner than April 2021, unless a specific business need exists,” the company said in an emailed statement. The country’s fourth-largest lender previously said workers would remain out of the office until the end of this year. The bank will give employees 30 days notice before asking them to return.

Most CIBC employees who are already working off-site will continue to do so until at least April, Sandy Sharman, the executive who oversees human resources, said Wednesday in a memo to staff. The bank originally advised employees they’d be working from home until at least the end of the year.

CIBC, Canada’s fifth-largest lender, said it will give workers at least four-weeks’ notice before asking them back, Sharman said in the memo. The bank had planned to start relocating employees to its freshly built new headquarters at CIBC Square by the end of the year.

“With the majority of our team members working from home seamlessly, we have the flexibility to align our decisions and timing around our long-term real estate plans, including CIBC Square, and the guidance we receive from local governments and public health authorities,” she said.

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Ontario to release updated COVID-19 projections after locking down Toronto, Peel – CityNews Toronto

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Ontario health officials are expected to release new COVID-19 projections on Thursday.

It will be the first time they have released such data since sending the province’s two biggest virus hot spots — Toronto and Peel Region — into lockdown earlier this week.

Two weeks ago, the province unveiled modelling that showed Ontario could see as many as 6,500 new daily cases of COVID-19 by mid-December unless steps are taken to limit the spread of the virus.

It said the province would reach 2,500 new daily cases by that time if the growth rate was at three per cent, or 6,500 if the growth rate was at five per cent.

At the time, Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, one of the experts behind the projections, said a five per cent growth rate was “slightly optimistic.”

Premier Doug Ford announced he would lower thresholds for imposing stricter COVID-19 measures under the province’s colour-coded restrictions system the following day.

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