U.S. distribution of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine began on Saturday, with more than 3,700 sites due to start receiving and administering shots as soon as Monday, vastly widening the rollout started last week by Pfizer Inc.
Amid record coronavirus infections and deaths, Moderna has already moved vaccine supplies from its manufacturing plants to warehouses operated by distributor McKesson Corp.
Workers on Saturday were packing vaccines into containers and loading them on trucks, U.S. Army General Gustave Perna said during a news conference. Trucks will set out on Sunday and shipments will start reaching healthcare providers as soon as Monday, he said.
Doses of vaccine must travel with security guards, including U.S. Marshals, and will be stored in locked refrigerators. U.S. plans call for at-risk groups such as elderly people in nursing homes and medical workers to receive injections first.
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved an emergency use authorization for Moderna’s vaccine, the second COVID-19 vaccine to receive approval.
Moderna said a panel of outside advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Saturday to recommend its vaccine for use in people aged 18 and older. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices panel voted 11-0 in favor of the vaccine.
The jab developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE was authorized Dec. 11.
Pharmaceutical services provider Catalent Inc’s facility in Bloomington, Indiana, is filling and packaging vials with Moderna vaccine and handing them to McKesson. The company is shipping them from its facilities including those in Louisville, Kentucky and Memphis, Tennessee, which are close to air hubs for United Parcel Service Inc and FedEx Corp .
Pfizer organized its own distribution system. The U.S. government’s vaccine program, dubbed Operation Warp Speed, is in charge of logistics for Moderna’s distribution under Perna.
Perna apologized to U.S. governors for confusion on the vaccine’s availability after the U.S. government reduced the number of doses states would receive in the upcoming week.
States including Oregon and Washington, which are ramping up to get frontline healthcare workers vaccinated as quickly as possible, said their allocation had dropped by as much as 40%.
Perna said he made an error estimating the number of doses that would actually be cleared by regulators for shipment, which was fewer than the number of doses produced.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said 7.9 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines would be delivered nationally this week.
The Moderna delivery system will have some of the same players as Pfizer’s but will differ in key ways.
Transportation companies UPS and FedEx are giving priority to vaccines on planes and trucks that are moving holiday gifts and other cargo. Their drivers will handle the bulk of the last-mile Moderna vaccine deliveries. They are going directly to vaccination sites, unlike Pfizer’s which was sent to large hubs and redistributed.
“We added a lot of aircraft, a lot of temporary workers. (Vaccines) are a very small fraction of total volumes,” said Wes Wheeler, a UPS executive in charge of vaccine shipments.
Moderna’s vaccine is available in quantities as small as 100 doses and can be stored for 30 days in standard-temperature refrigerators, while the inoculations from Pfizer come in boxes of 975 doses, must be shipped and stored at -70 Celsius (-94 F), and can be held for only five days at standard refrigerator temperatures.
Initial doses were given to health professionals. Programs by pharmacies Walgreens and CVS to distribute the Pfizer vaccine to long-term care facilities are expected to start on Monday. A CDC advisory panel on Sunday will consider which groups should get vaccinated next.
Perna said the United States is on track to have enough doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of the year to inoculate 20 million people, as the government projected, but deliveries of those doses may continue into first week of January. Healthcare experts forecast it will take well into 2021 for a significant portion of Americans to be inoculated.
Both vaccines were about 95% effective at preventing illness in clinical trials that found no serious safety issues.
Couple who chartered plane to get COVID vaccine in Yukon misled about jobs, locals say. Now they face charges — and fury – Caledon Enterprise
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- Couple who chartered plane to get COVID vaccine in Yukon misled about jobs, locals say. Now they face charges — and fury Caledon Enterprise
- Former casino CEO, actress identified as couple who flew to Yukon, got COVID-19 vaccines CBC.ca
- Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine Yukon News
- Vancouver CEO and actress charged after sneaking into COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Yukon Vancouver Sun
- Great Canadian Gaming CEO, wife ticketed after allegedly flying to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine Global News
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Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being charged in Yukon over attempt to get COVID-19 vaccine – The Globe and Mail
The chief executive officer of Great Canadian Gaming Corp. has stepped down after he and his wife were charged under Yukon’s emergency measures act with breaking quarantine rules and misleading authorities after they were accused of posing as motel workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Court documents say Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker, an actor, were charged under the territory’s Civil Emergency Measures Act on Jan. 21. The Vancouver couple were each fined $575 for failing to self-isolate for 14 days and for failing to behave in manner consistent with declaration.
“We had not been imagining that someone would go to this sort of length to mislead or deceive the [vaccination] team,” Yukon Minister of Community Services John Streicker said in an interview.
The gambling and entertainment company announced Mr. Baker’s resignation on Monday, ending a tenure that began in 2011. He also stepped down from the company’s board of directors.
“Great Canadian’s board of directors has no tolerance for actions that run counter to the company’s objectives and values,” read a statement from Chuck Keeling, the company’s vice-president of stakeholder relations.
“Any such actions whatsoever that run contrary to the company’s core values, that do not comply with GCGC’s strict compliance policies in regards to travel, and ensure that the company and its employees follow all health guidance and directions, will not be tolerated.”
The company did not disclose terms of severance for Mr. Baker, who stands to receive more than $28-million from a private-equity fund that is acquiring Great Canadian.
Mr. Streicker said local administrators of the vaccine effort and others told him that a few days before the clinic, two people arrived from outside the territory, where they were obliged to self-isolate for 14 days. The couple checked into a hotel in Whitehorse.
“Fast forward to Thursday the 21st, two days later. What I am told is they chartered a flight. They flew to Beaver Creek. They showed up at the clinic. What they said at the clinic is that they were employed at the local motel,” he said.
The remote hamlet on the Alaskan border has one health clinic staffed by a nurse and a receptionist. A six-person medical team flew in to run the vaccination clinic.
Chief Angela Demit of the White River First Nation in Beaver Creek said the community was chosen to get the vaccine because of its remoteness, elderly and high-risk population, and limited access to health care.
“These vaccines are for our community members, our citizens here,” Chief Demit said. “It’s alarming and disappointing that something like this happened.”
Rita Luxton, manager of the 1202 Motor Inn, where the two people told clinic staff they worked, expressed anger about the events.
“I risk my life every day to serve [travelling] Americans … but that’s a risk that we take – not a risk that somebody enforces upon us because they’re too ignorant,” she said.
Clinic staff knew something was off last Thursday, Ms. Luxton said.
“They phoned over here and asked if those people work here, which they don’t,” Ms. Luxton said. “I don’t think a $500 fine is going to give any kind of justice to anybody because the guy can obviously afford to charter a Goddamned plane.”
Caulene May said the pilot of the small charter plane radioed in to her tiny airstrip saying he was landing there in about 10 minutes because it was too foggy to continue north.
The pilot sat in her small lounge while the two passengers caught a short ride into town, Ms. May said. Two hours later, they trudged the kilometre back to the airfield and the plane took off for Whitehorse, she said.
Mr. Streicker said the two people asked if someone could take them to the airport after they were vaccinated, which “raised flags” with the vaccination team. They called the enforcement unit for the Civil Emergency Measures Act.
Members of the unit found the charter flight from Beaver Creek at the Whitehorse airport and went to the hotel where the couple were staying. On learning the pair had checked out, they returned to the airport and found them waiting for a flight to Vancouver.
“They found these two individuals in the boarding lounge, and that’s when they got charged,” he said.
The Bakers did not respond to several attempts by The Globe to contact them. A call on Monday to Ms. Baker’s personal cell and an e-mail account listed on her IMDb page were not answered. Her agent in Toronto said she would pass along The Globe’s request for comment.
Ms. Baker had a small role in an action comedy starring Alec Baldwin released last year and had a larger role in a crime drama with Morgan Freeman listed as in production, according to her IMDb page.
Mr. Baker had a $900,000 annual salary as of 2019, according to the most recent disclosure from Great Canadian Gaming. From Dec. 31, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2020, stock-trading records showed he made a profit of $45.9-million exercising 1.45 million Great Canadian Gaming options.
The Toronto-based company operates 25 casinos in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
With a report from David Milstead
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Ontario reports 1,958 new coronavirus cases; 43 new deaths – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Ontario’s top public health official says that the transmission of COVID-19 appears to be a on the wane after a worrisome spike in cases following the holidays.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams made the comment during a briefing on Monday, hours after the Ministry of Health reported 1,958 new COVID-19 cases and 43 more deaths.
The seven-day average of daily cases fell from 2,460 to 2,371 over the last 24 hours. That is down from 3,074 at this point last week and 3,394 on Jan. 11.
“A lot of the health units their numbers per 100,000 are coming down pretty well across the board, there’s a few sort of plateauing and levelling off, but it tells us that we’re going in the right direction and that you’re doing the right things you need to do,” Williams said, while acknowledging that the trend should still be taken with “a grain of salt” due to the circulation of a new, more contagious variant that originated in the United Kingdom.
Provincial labs processed about 36,000 test specimens in the past 24 hours, generating a positivity rate of at least 5.4 per cent.
There have been 5,846 deaths and 227,494 recoveries from coronavirus infection since Jan. 25, 2020.
Another 23,620 active cases remain in Ontario, and that number is down approximately 2,000 in the past week.
Twenty-seven of the deaths reported on Monday involved residents of the long-term care system.
There were at least 1,425 patients receiving care in Ontario hospitals on Monday, according to local public health units and hospital networks, and the Critical Care Services of Ontario report from Sunday said there were 415 adult patients in intensive care across Ontario, along with one child.
ICU occupancy has held roughly steady for the past two weeks.
About 283 people were breathing with the help of a ventilator.
Michael Garron Hospital intensivist Dr. Michael Warner said that admissions to hospital appear to be stabilizing, but the situation could worsen dramatically because of the highly infectious B.1.1.7 variant from the United Kingdom.
“I think it is great that case numbers are coming down, we can’t dispute that, and ICU admissions are stable around 415 for the past week or so. I guess that is good but we can’t let our guard down. And we really have no idea how much B117 and other variants are circulating in Ontario or Canada,” he said.
On Sunday, officials in Simcoe-Muskoka said they detected another what was believed to be the 21st case of the B.1.1.7 variant, in a retail store worker who had contact with residents of a Bradford long-term care home.
Williams, however, said during Monday’s briefing that the total confirmed number of cases involving the variant is actually 34, up from 15 last week.
Public Health Ontario is conducting a “point-prevalence study” of all positive samples collected on a given day last week to see how many cases of the UK variant are circulating in the community.
Of the new cases confirmed on Monday, 727 are in Toronto, 365 are in Peel, 157 are in York, 62 are in Durham, 55 are in Hamilton and 54 are in Halton.
Meanwhile, supply restrictions continue to limit the number of additional COVID-19 vaccinations administered per day.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said about 6,000 more doses were administered on Sunday, bringing the total to about 292,000 injections to date.
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