Connect with us

Business

Mixed dose woes: Some Canadian cruise ship workers lost out on jobs due to their mixed vaccines – CBC.ca

Published

 on


Having a mixed COVID-19 vaccine — two shots but with different vaccines — may do more than impede your travel plans. It could hurt your chances of working abroad. 

Several countries don’t recognize people with mixed doses as being fully vaccinated.

That’s the general position in the United States where the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently doesn’t condone mixing COVID-19 vaccines. 

Canadians can fly to the U.S. without showing proof of vaccination. However, many cruise lines departing the country have vaccination requirements — which are based on CDC guidelines. 

As a result, some Canadian cruise ship workers say they lost out on jobs because they weren’t considered fully vaccinated due to their mixed vaccines. 

“It was really heartbreaking,” said dancer Rosie Harbans of Toronto who performs in cruise ship shows. “This is how I make my money. This is how I live my life. This is my livelihood.”

Last year, Harbans’ cruise ship contract was cut short after the pandemic forced the cruise industry to shut down in March 2020. 

So she was thrilled to land a job starting next month with a cruise line. But she said her joy — and her job offer — disappeared after the cruise company learned she had mixed COVID-19 doses: one Pfizer and one Moderna.

“I was very, very upset, because I thought that getting a mixed vaccine was the right thing to do,” said Harbans. 

Cruise ship dancer, Rosie Harbans of Toronto said she was heartbroken to discover she couldn’t accept a job on a cruise ship because she has a mixed COVID-19 vaccine. (Yasmin Parodi)

To protect their future employment, CBC News has agreed to not name the cruise line involved in Harbans’ case or in the case of a second cruise ship entertainer interviewed for this story. 

Both said they don’t blame the cruise lines, and that they are speaking out to encourage the Canadian government to push for the acceptance of mixed vaccines internationally. 

“Find a solution,” said Harbans. “Try and do it as quickly as possible for all of the people that took [the government’s] advice in getting a mixed vaccine.”

Since mid-July, the federal government has repeatedly said it’s working with other countries to resolve their differing vaccine policies. But Ottawa has yet to announce any progress on that front. 

No international consensus on mixed vaccines

Millions of Canadians have received mixed COVID-19 vaccines. That’s because in June, Canada updated its guidelines to recommend mixing COVID-19 vaccine doses based on emerging research that found it was both safe and effective.

But there’s currently no international consensus on mixing COVID-19 vaccines. 

For example, according to their government websites, both Ireland and the United Kingdom don’t recognize any combination of mixed COVID-19 vaccines. 

Germany and Trinidad and Tobago only recognize a mix of AstraZeneca and Pfizer or Moderna. The World Health Organization (WHO) takes the same position — with a cautionary note.

“There is currently limited data on the immunogenicity or efficacy of a ‘mix and match’ [COVID-19 vaccine] regimen,” the WHO said in a statement

Watch: Canada recommends mixing COVID-19 vaccines:

Canada OKs mixing COVID-19 vaccines

3 months ago

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization says AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines can be swapped for Pfizer or Moderna for the second dose. Limited evidence suggests the immunity from mixing doses is just as good, and may be better than two of the same. 2:00

The U.S. CDC takes the position that COVID-19 vaccines “are not interchangeable.” However, there are exceptions to the rule. The CDC says mixed doses of the two mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, are acceptable in “exceptional situations,” such as when the vaccine used for the first dose was no longer available.

As a result, some cruise lines such as Celebrity, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, don’t recognize people with any type of mixed vaccine as being fully vaccinated. Other cruise companies, such as Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Carnival, don’t recognize a mix of AstraZeneca and an mRNA vaccine. 

Several cruise lines told CBC News they’re simply following CDC protocol. “We are under the jurisdiction of CDC when operating in U.S. waters and follow its guidance as to approved vaccines and procedures,” said Holland America Line in an email.

‘Shot ourselves in the foot’

Cruise ship entertainer, Michael Harrison of Windsor, N.S., says having a mixed vaccine is hurting his livelihood. 

“It’s pretty important that this gets sorted,” said Harrison who has spent 25 years performing as a comedy ventriloquist on cruise ships.

“It’s [my] employment. It’s a career that I had for my whole life.”

Ventriloquist Michael Harrison says he has yet to return to full-time cruise ship work due to having two doses of different COVID-19 vaccines. The U.S. doesn’t recognize people with mixed vaccines as being fully vaccinated. (Michael Harrison/funnyguy.ca)

Both Harrison and his fiancée, who works as his assistant, each got a mix of AstraZeneca and Moderna.

Harrison said that over the past two months, the duo was offered jobs with two different cruise lines — with the first gig starting this month. But Harrison said when he learned that the cruise companies don’t recognize people with a mix of AstraZeneca and Moderna as being fully vaccinated, the couple had to reluctantly decline the job offers. 

“We had no clue that it wouldn’t be recognized,” said Harrison’s fiancée, Jennifer Giesbrecht. “Here we think we’re doing a good thing and we just shot ourselves in the foot.”

Some cruise workers consider getting third dose

Last week, the federal government announced it plans to create a standardized proof-of-vaccination passport for international travel by early fall.

The announcement included no resolution on the mixed vaccine issue, which Ottawa said is still a work in progress. 

“The Government of Canada continues to work with the World Health Organization and its international partners to share data proving the efficacy of a mixed vaccine schedule,” said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in a statement.

Worried they’re running out of time, Harrison and Giesbrecht are investigating getting a third vaccine dose, so they have two doses of the same vaccine. 

However, in Canada, only Quebec and Saskatchewan have announced they’re offering third doses to people travelling abroad. Quebec and Saskatchewan each told CBC News that, at this time, only people living in the province can apply. 

On Wednesday, the U.S. announced it plans to start offering COVID-19 booster shots to all adult Americans next month as an added layer of protection. Although Canada is exploring the efficacy of third doses, it’s not recommending them at this time.

“We don’t really know the exact impacts of adding another dose to the existing schedule,” said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam at a news conference earlier this month. 

She also suggested it could be some time before the mixed vaccine problem gets resolved.

“It is going to be a bit confusing and complicated in the next months ahead.”

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

Big gap between Pfizer, Moderna vaccines seen for preventing COVID hospitalizations – Yahoo News Canada

Published

 on


Los Angeles , CA - May 14: Alma Sevilla preparers Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine vial at a mobile vaccine clinic held at Roosevelt Park on Friday, May 14, 2021 in Los Angeles , CA. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is readied at a mobile vaccine clinic in Los Angeles. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Amid persistent concerns that the protection offered by COVID-19 vaccines may be waning, a report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that America’s workhorse shot is significantly less effective at preventing severe cases of disease over the long term than many experts had realized.

Data collected from 18 states between March and August suggest the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduces the risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19 by 91% in the first four months after receiving the second dose. Beyond 120 days, however, that vaccine efficacy drops to 77%.

Meanwhile, Moderna’s vaccine was 93% effective at reducing the short-term risk of COVID-19 hospitalization and remained 92% effective after 120 days.

Overall, 54% of fully vaccinated Americans have been immunized with the Pfizer shot.

The surprising findings came as a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended against offering booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine to all Americans ages 16 and older. In a striking rebuke, 16 of 18 experts told the agency it had not mustered enough data to make a third shot the norm.

In lengthy briefings to the panel, representatives from Pfizer pointed to clinical trial results involving 306 mostly healthy participants to argue that a booster “restores” the 95% vaccine effectiveness rate seen earlier in the pandemic.

Company officials also touted evidence from Israel, which rolled out boosters after seeing a rise in hospitalizations among people who were fully vaccinated. Those hospitalizations dropped dramatically after third doses were given, Israeli scientists have said.

But panel members made clear that despite Pfizer’s aggressive stance, it had not gathered enough evidence that a third shot was safe for young people and for those at lesser risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19.

“We need age-specific data” on the safety and protective benefits of a further booster, said Dr. Ofer Levy, a panel member who directs the Precision Vaccines program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

FDA clearance for booster shots for everyone 16 and older would be seen as something “close to a mandate,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, a panel member and infectious-disease expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Rubin worried that such a move could redefine what it takes to be considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“None of us are there yet,” he said.

But others apparently are. Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s top advisor on vaccines, has come out strongly in favor of booster shots, saying before Friday’s vote that a failure to endorse the shots “would be a mistake.”

And in mid-August, Biden himself said his administration would begin making booster shots available the week of Sept. 20 to those vaccinated for at least eight months.

Biden cautioned at the time that his plan was contingent on FDA approval. But his announcement stoked concerns of political meddling in a matter that required the unhindered evaluation of scientists.

“This should demonstrate to the public that the members of this committee are independent of the FDA,” Dr. Archana Chatterjee, dean of the Chicago Medical School, said after the vote. “In fact, we do bring our voices to the table when we are asked to serve on this committee.”

The panel unanimously agreed that a third shot of the vaccine now sold under the brand name Comirnaty should be offered to select groups: individuals 65 and older, people at risk of developing severe disease, and those, including healthcare workers, whose occupations put them at high risk of infection.

Dr. Peter Marks, who leads the FDA’s evaluation of drugs and vaccines, told panel members that the agency could give its blessing to booster shots with an emergency use authorization — a regulatory step that falls short of the full approval Pfizer had sought.

The company issued no statement Friday in response to the panel’s vote.

Researchers in the United States have been warning for months that the immunity afforded by COVID-19 vaccines might be waning. The CDC reported that in late July, close to three-quarters of the 469 people swept up in a Massachusetts outbreak were fully vaccinated. And the agency has launched several studies aimed at detecting changes in vaccine effectiveness in healthcare workers and others who were vaccinated early.

But virtually all of those infections appeared to be mild. And health officials eager to induce vaccine skeptics to step up for their shot — including Fauci and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — have repeatedly praised the vaccines for keeping most fully vaccinated people out of hospitals.

The new report on waning vaccine efficacy challenges that expectation.

Vials of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 sit on a tray at a vaccination clinic.Vials of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 sit on a tray at a vaccination clinic.

Vials of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 sit on a tray at a mass vaccination clinic in Ontario, Calif. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Researchers from around the country found striking differences between two mRNA vaccines long thought to be interchangeable.

When the Moderna vaccine received emergency use authorization in December, the company reported that 30 people in its clinical trial developed severe cases of COVID-19, including nine who required hospitalization. All 30 patients were in the placebo group, resulting in a vaccine efficacy against severe disease of 100%.

Ten people in Pfizer’s initial clinical trial developed severe cases of COVID-19. Nine of them were in the placebo group, including seven who were hospitalized, resulting in a vaccine efficacy against severe disease of 88.9%.

Once the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were rolled out to the public, their records of preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations in the first four months were neck and neck — 93% and 91% effective, respectively. But the degree of protection diverged after that.

When they focused specifically on the period 120 days beyond the second dose, the study authors found that the Moderna vaccine remained 92% effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations. But the equivalent figure for the Pfizer vaccine was 77%.

The results were published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on mRNA technology, which delivers temporary instructions to the body’s muscle cells that help it learn to recognize the spike protein, a key part of the coronavirus’ structure. But “they’re actually not necessarily interchangeable,” said Dr. Timothy Brewer, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at UCLA.

Each vaccine is formulated and administered differently, Brewer said, and those differences could affect the strength and duration of the two vaccines’ protection.

Moderna’s shot contains 100 micrograms of vaccine, more than three times the 30 micrograms in the Pfizer shot. And Pfizer’s two doses are given three weeks apart, while Moderna’s two-shot regimen is administered with a four-week gap.

Brewer also pointed to evidence that the Moderna vaccine seemed to elicit higher levels of a key antibody than the Pfizer vaccine.

“We know from other studies the neutralizing antibody levels will decay over time, so starting at a higher level will mean that you have farther to go before you decay to a point where efficacy drops off,” he said.

Dr. Robert Murphy, who directs Northwestern University’s Institute for Global Health, said the Pfizer vaccine’s reduced protection against severe disease may bolster the case for boosters for all who got the vaccine, not just the specific groups identified by the FDA advisory panel.

“Based on the data I have seen, persons who received the Pfizer vaccine would benefit from a booster dose at this time,” he said. “I don’t see why we have to wait until the younger people get sick and become hospitalized.”

But Dr. Arnold Monto, who chairs the FDA advisory panel, applauded the agency’s willingness to withhold a full-throated call for boosters until a stronger case can be made. And he suggested that as more evidence accumulates, boosters for all might still get the nod.

“That’s the beauty of the emergency use authorization,” said Monto, an epidemiologist at University of Michigan. “It can be changed based on changing data.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

CN Rail to slash capital spending, resume stock buybacks as shareholder battle looms – The Globe and Mail

Published

 on


CN’s announcement came less than a day after its second-largest investor, TCI Fund Management, gave the company 21 days to call a shareholder meeting at which TCI plans to oust CN’s chairman, chief executive officer and two directors.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Canadian National Railway Co. has moved to fend off a battle for control of the company’s boardroom, rolling out a list of investor-friendly plans Friday that includes share buybacks, layoffs and reduced spending.

CN unveiled the changes, including the sale of non-rail businesses and other steps intended to boost profit and improve productivity, as it defended its actions in the failed takeover of U.S. railway Kansas City Southern.

CN’s announcement came less than a day after its second-largest investor, TCI Fund Management, gave the company 21 days to call a shareholder meeting at which TCI plans to oust CN’s chairman, chief executive officer and two directors.

Mathieu Gaudreault, a CN spokesman, said the company received TCI’s meeting requisition notice and will respond later.

British billionaire Chris Hohn, who owns TCI, said CN is poorly run by people with little or no rail experience. Mr. Hohn said the failed attempt to buy Kansas City Southern underlined CN’s “flawed decision making” and “a basic misunderstanding of the railroad industry and regulatory environment.”

Ben Walker, a partner in TCI, dismissed CN’s Friday announcement as “reactive” and said it does not change the plans to wage a boardroom fight. The dissatisfaction with CN’s leadership precedes the failed KCS bid, he said, pointing to CN’s underperformance in recent years compared with its rivals.

“A lot of the things they’re doing should have been done already as part of a continuous improvement plan and efficiency optimization,” Mr. Walker said by phone. “We’re hopeful that shareholders will vote for our slate of independent, high-quality nominees.”

KCS agreed to a cheaper bid from rival Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. and is awaiting regulatory approval.

On a conference call with analysts Friday, CN executives defended their handling of the KCS bid and said the company’s management and board were the best people to lead the company.

“We have the right leadership team and management team to execute our strategic plan, both in the short term and the long term,” said Jean-Jacques Ruest, CN’s chief executive officer. “We have a vision for the industry which is forward-looking, not backward-looking.”

Mr. Ruest said the non-rail businesses that could be sold or shut down include its Great Lakes commodity ships, freight forwarding business and Winnipeg trucking company TransX Group, which CN bought in 2019.

“There is no sacred cow at CN,” Mr. Ruest said on the call. “Do they fit in the long-term strategy? Do they also contribute to feeding the beast or bringing business to the railroad?”

CN said it will eliminate 650 management jobs and 400 unionized positions in train operations.

Walter Spracklin, a Royal Bank of Canada stock analyst, said CN’s “strategic refocus” was inevitable.

“It is clear to us that CN’s operating efficiency has deteriorated over the past several years and the company has gone from industry leader to industry laggard,” Mr. Spracklin said. “That said, as an early pioneer of [precision scheduled railroading], we believe the company has the potential to achieve … efficiency levels that are among the best in the industry.”

TCI’s nominees to CN’s board include former CN and Union Pacific Railroad executive Jim Vena as CEO.

The US$40-billion hedge fund, launched in 2003 by Mr. Hohn, owns more than 5 per cent of CN’s shares, worth about $4-billion. TCI is also the largest owner of CP shares, at 8 per cent, and owns almost 3 per cent of Union Pacific.

In 2008, TCI led a boardroom fight at U.S. railway CSX Corp., replacing four of 12 directors.

Among the steps CN announced Friday:

  • Resuming share repurchases to reach $1.1-billion by the end of January, 2022;
  • Increasing shareholder returns, including share buybacks of $5-billion for 2022;
  • Replacing two directors in 2022, including chairman Robert Pace, whose planned retirement was previously announced;
  • Improving the operating ratio, which compares sales with costs, to 57 per cent; and
  • Increasing train length and speed.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

US FDA panel okays COVID-19 booster jabs for people over 65 – Al Jazeera English

Published

 on


Recommendation comes after science advisory panel rejects Pfizer proposal to provide booster jabs to most people.

A United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel has given approval to a booster jab of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people over the age of 65 and others at high risk of the disease.

But the influential FDA panel of scientists on Friday rejected widespread delivery of boosters to most Americans, delivering a surprise blow to the Biden administration’s plan to combat the highly contagious Delta variant by rolling out third jabs of the vaccine next week.

Members of the FDA’s panel of outside experts voted unanimously to support boosters for older Americans and at-risk people after rejecting Pfizer’s proposal to provide boosters of the vaccine to the general public.

The FDA’s move to clear the way for booster jabs only for older and at-risk people came as President Joe Biden planned to host a COVID-19 summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.

The US has been pushing partner nations to increase the availability of vaccines worldwide. The World Health Organization has urged the US to hold off providing boosters to its citizens until more of the worldwide population has received an initial inoculation.

“We will be asking participants to commit to a higher level of ambition” on a “common vision for defeating COVID-19 together”, White press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

During several hours of discussion, the FDA panel of scientific advisers voiced frustration that Pfizer had provided little data on the safety of extra doses. And they complained information provided by Israeli researchers about their booster campaign was not useful for predicting the US experience.

Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech, as well as rival vaccine maker Moderna Inc, have presented analyses of clinical trials showing that the effectiveness of the vaccines wanes over time.

As a result, people who were vaccinated earlier on in the pandemic are now more vulnerable to infections, particularly in the face of the fast-spreading Delta variant of coronavirus.

Booster doses help restore the waning levels of antibodies produced by the original inoculation, the drugmakers have said.

Top FDA members have been split on the necessity of the boosters, with interim head Janet Woodcock backing them but some of the agency’s top scientists arguing they are not needed yet.

Members of the advisory panel said the Pfizer and the FDA request for approval for people as young as 16 years old is too broad. Most of them said they would support boosters for older Americans, but did not think they were needed yet for younger adults.

Many vaccine experts said the data so far only suggested a need for boosters in older adults and people with compromised immune systems. The critics include two FDA scientists who resigned as the Biden administration announced its booster shot plans.

A separate panel advising the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet next week to recommend which groups should get them.

The White House said it was ready to roll out boosters next week if health officials approve the plan. That programme now is likely to be narrowed in light of the advisory panel’s views and the FDA’s partial approval of the use of boosters.

A report published in The Lancet medical journal on September 13 concluded that even with the threat of the more contagious Delta variant, “booster doses for the general population are not appropriate at this stage in the pandemic.”

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending