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Misinformation online plays role in COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy: Tam – Kitimat Sentinel

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Canada’s chief public health officer is warning against the spread of online untruths about vaccines, as a new survey suggests some Canadians are worried about getting inoculated against COVID-19.

Dr. Theresa Tam made the comments during a news conference Tuesday while responding to the Statistics Canada survey, which found nearly one-quarter of respondents unlikely or unsure whether they would get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Many experts and political leaders have touted the successful development and widespread rollout of a vaccine as essential for an eventual return to normalcy, including the full reopening of economies and ending physical distancing.

More than 76 per cent of respondents in the Statistics Canada survey indicated they would likely get inoculated if and when a vaccine is ready. Yet 14 per cent said they were somewhat or very unlikely to do so. Nine per cent remained unsure.

Those who indicated they were unlikely to get a vaccine were asked to identify the reasons for their reluctance. More than half cited a lack of confidence in its safety while a similar number said they were worried about potential risks and side effects.

About one-quarter of respondents, who were allowed to give more than one answer, said they did not consider it necessary to get the vaccine while about 10 per cent indicated they did not believe in vaccines at all.

More than one-third said they would likely just wait until the vaccine seemed safe.

The survey also indicated younger Canadians and those who don’t have a university degree are more likely to be hesitant or nervous about a vaccine than those who are older and more educated.

The crowd-sourced survey of around 4,000 Canadians was conducted between June 15-21. It cannot be given a margin of error because the participants do not represent a random sample.

Asked about the survey, Tam underscored the importance of “vaccine confidence,” describing it as integral to the successful rollout of vaccine.

She went on to promise that regulators won’t take any shortcuts with safety despite the government agreeing to several changes to the clinical-trial process to get a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed faster.

“Just because it’s an accelerated process to get vaccines for Canadians does not mean we’re going to shortchange anything on safety and effectiveness,” Tam said. “I do have confidence in our regulatory system.”

Tam also took aim at the spread of falsehoods about vaccines online.

“I do think social media and internet companies do have responsibilities in terms of their role in the space,” she said.

“So I would look towards different partners, different government departments also coming together to look at how we better address some of the misinformation that’s in that space.”

READ MORE: 30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

She is not the first to speak out on this issue, as some have blamed the growing number and influence of anti-vaccination groups online for a resurgence in childhood diseases such as measles.

Facebook announced last year that it would be cracking down on so-called “anti-vaxxer” groups, which included labelling posts deemed as containing false information about vaccines. The social media giant now being sued by one such group in California.

Josh Greenberg, a communications professor at Carleton University who has been studying Canadians’ attitudes towards a COVID-19 vaccine, said safety concerns aren’t unexpected, given the pressure governments and industry are facing to get something working fast.

Yet he said it is essential that Ottawa push back against misinformation campaigns, which have been growing in numbers and influence even as governments around the world have been slow to react.

“When you look at issues like COVID-19 and the campaign to ready or prepare the public for the eventual release of a vaccine, you’re talking about a battle for both hearts and minds,” Greenberg said.

“It’s not just an information battle of trying to make sure that people have accurate information, but that you are persuading them in such a way that they trust the veracity of the information you’re providing and they also trust the source of that information.”

While the world is rushing to find a vaccine for COVID-19, new reports of several people having been reinfected with the novel coronavirus after testing positive once before raise concerns that it might be a moving target.

Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the cases in Hong Kong, Belgium and the Netherlands highlight ongoing questions about immunity to COVID-19 and the need for an effective vaccine.

READ MORE: Canada signs deals with Pfizer, Moderna to get doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


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COVID-19: Etches says 'second wave' has begun but can be controlled; City readying more test centres, mayor says – Ottawa Citizen

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Article content continued

Watson said he’s been told by health officials that up to 90 per cent of people in the lines have no symptoms.

Watson said Ottawa Public Health has stepped up to help, but the primary responsibility for testing is with the hospital network.

“To their credit now, and I’ve talked to all four hospital presidents, they understand the urgency and frustration and they have to get this problem fixed.”

While the city remains in an emergency situation, Watson said there’s no need for logistical assistance from the military as there are no additional sites yet to set up testing facilities.

Meanwhile, two schools in Ottawa will be visited by mobile COVID-19 testing sites this weekend, with tests made available only for staff and students with symptoms or those at the school who’ve been identified as high-risk contacts of a confirmed case and haven’t yet been tested.

One of the pop-up sites appears to be Collège catholique Franco-Ouest, a French Catholic high school in Nepean where the province has reported three cases of COVID-19 among students.

The second site, for staff and students at De La Salle High School, has been set up at Jules Morin Park and will also operate Friday through Sunday, according to an OPH notice to families. Two people associated with De La Salle, including one staff member, have tested positive for COVID-19 according to provincial data.

In a statement to this newspaper, Ontario Health explained that three mobile testing teams have been deployed to Ottawa “to targeted areas with known prevalence,” including some schools where students have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Ottawa Public Health is supporting these teams by working with the schools and families to determine who might need a test at the schools. It’s important that the public do not seek out these pop-ups as they have a limited capacity and are focused on targeting the school population.”

The location of these mobile teams “could change in the coming days and weeks depending on need; they may continue to target schools or other specific centres with known prevalence – or they may set up near an assessment centre that’s experiencing very high volumes in order to better support a broader population.”

Ontario Health will be working with local partners to “identify new places that might benefit from these teams,” the statement noted.

The third team appears to have set up Friday at the Heron Road care clinic to add additional testing capacity at this location.

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One-hour British DnaNudge COVID-19 test is accurate, study finds – Reuters UK

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LONDON (Reuters) – A British COVID-19 test known as DnaNudge that gives results in just over an hour and which requires no laboratory was accurate in almost all cases, an academic review in the Lancet has found.

Slideshow ( 3 images )

Faster testing could allow more people to return to work or permit testing on entry to hospital, thus slowing a second spike in coronavirus infections.

The new test, based on the design of a DNA test developed by a professor at Imperial College London, received approval for clinical use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) at the end of April after successful trials.

In a study in The Lancet Microbe, the test was found to have an average sensitivity – the ability to correctly identify those with COVID-19 – of 94.4% and a specificity – correctly identifying those without the disease – of 100%.

“These results suggest that the CovidNudge test, which can be performed at a patient’s bedside without the need to handle any sample material, has comparable accuracy to standard laboratory testing,” Professor Graham Cooke, lead author of the study from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London, said.

The Lancet paper described the test, which requires one nostril swab, as “a sensitive, specific, and rapid point of care test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 without laboratory handling or sample pre-processing”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told LBC radio that Britain was rolling out the tests across hospitals.

“The critical thing in terms of usefulness is that the machine doesn’t need to be in a lab – it is about the size of a shoebox – therefore you can put one, say, in an A&E (accident and emergency) department and they can know whether people coming in have got the coronavirus or not,” Hancock said.

Hancock said the machines could also be deployed at other locations such as schools.

Each box can run one test at a time so could process about 16 tests per day, said a spokeswoman for the company that produces the tests.

For the text of the Lancet paper: here

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Kate Holton and Gareth Jones

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Nine deaths linked to COVID-19 at Ottawa long-term care home – CTV Edmonton

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OTTAWA —
Nine residents of an Ottawa long-term care home have died due to COVID-19 in the most serious outbreak of novel coronavirus in Ottawa in months.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, West End Villa confirms that nine residents have passed away from complications related to COVID-19.

“As of (Friday), there have been 52 cases of COVID-19 among residents, and 26 cases among staff, including one agency employee,” said Kelly Keeler, Administrator at West End Villa.

“All employee who have testing positive are isolating at home. Three residents are being treated in hospital and four resident cases have been resolved.”

Keeler says West End Villa is working with Ottawa Public Health and will remain in “close contact” with family members.

Earlier this week, West End Villa said a second round of COVID-19 surveillance testing had been conducted to help ensure cohorting efforts are as effective as possible.

Ottawa Public Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak at West End Villa on Aug. 30. 

The first novel coronavirus outbreak at West End Villa in May saw one staff member test positive for novel coronavirus. 

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