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Moderna may be superior to Pfizer against Delta; breakthrough odds rise with time – Yahoo News Canada

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(Reuters) – The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. 

  Moderna’s vaccine may be best against Delta 

  The mRNA vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech may be less effective than Moderna’s against the Delta variant of the coronavirus, according to two reports posted on medRxiv on Sunday ahead of peer review. In a study of more than 50,000 patients in the Mayo Clinic Health System https://bit.ly/37Btmhf, researchers found the effectiveness of Moderna’s vaccine against infection had dropped to 76% in July – when the Delta variant was predominant – from 86% in early 2021. Over the same period, the effectiveness of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had fallen to 42% from 76%, researchers said. While both vaccines remain effective at preventing COVID hospitalization, a Moderna booster shot may be necessary soon for anyone who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines earlier this year, said Dr. Venky Soundararajan of Massachusetts data analytics company nference, who led the Mayo study. 

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  In a separate study, elderly nursing home residents in Ontario https://bit.ly/3sb9pHJ produced stronger immune responses – especially to worrisome variants – after the Moderna vaccine than after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The elderly may need higher vaccine doses, boosters, and other preventative measures, said Anne-Claude Gingras of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto, who led the Canadian study. When asked to comment on both research reports, a Pfizer spokesperson said, “We continue to believe… a third dose booster may be needed within 6 to 12 months after full vaccination to maintain the highest levels of protection.” 

  Breakthrough COVID-19 more likely months after vaccination 

  People who received their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine five or more months ago are more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than people who were fully vaccinated less than five months ago, new data suggest. Researchers studied nearly 34,000 fully vaccinated adults in Israel https://bit.ly/3Cucp6O who were tested to see if they had a breakthrough case of COVID-19. Overall, 1.8% tested positive. At all ages, the odds of testing positive were higher when the last vaccine dose was received at least 146 days earlier, the research team reported Thursday on medRxiv ahead of peer review. Among patients older than 60, the odds of a positive test were almost three times higher when at least 146 days had passed since the second dose. Most of the new infections were observed recently, said coauthor Dr. Eugene Merzon of Leumit Health Services in Israel. “Very few patients had required hospitalization, and it is too early to assess the severity of these new infections in terms of hospital admission, need for mechanical ventilation or mortality,” he added. “We are planning to continue our research.” 

  Ovarian egg sacs not harmed by COVID-19 antibodies 

  The sacs in the ovaries where eggs are stored are not harmed by COVID-19 antibodies, whether those antibodies are the result of infection or vaccination, a small study https://bit.ly/3jFVCoQ suggests. Israeli researchers analyzed fluid from ovarian sacs, or follicles, from 32 women who were having their eggs retrieved to be fertilized by sperm in a test tube. Fourteen women had not been vaccinated against the coronavirus nor infected with it. The others had either recovered from COVID-19 or received the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine, and in these two groups the researchers saw antibodies against the virus in follicle fluid. There was no difference among the groups in the follicles’ ability to make female sex hormones, nourish and nuture the egg so it will form a good quality embryo, and release the egg during ovulation. There was also no difference in “the rate of good quality embryos” from the eggs retrieved from each patient,” said Dr. Yaakov Bentov of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem, who coauthored a report published on Saturday in Human Reproduction. 

  Click for a Reuters graphic https://tmsnrt.rs/3c7R3Bl on vaccines in development. 

  (Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Tiffany Wu) 

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Gold price firmer as bulls work to stabilize market – Kitco NEWS

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  1. Gold price firmer as bulls work to stabilize market  Kitco NEWS
  2. Gold rebounds but holds below $1,900 on Fed fears, firm dollar  Financial Post
  3. Gold Price Forecast – Gold Markets Attempt to Stabilize  FX Empire
  4. Gold SWOT: The Dollar and Treasury Yields extended declines last week, pushing gold higher  Kitco NEWS
  5. Gold Price Forecast: XAU/USD Awaits Fedspeak after Absolute Blowout Jobs Report  DailyFX
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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Turning empty offices into housing is a popular idea. Experts say it's easier said than done – CBC.ca

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Turning empty offices into housing is a popular idea. Experts say it’s easier said than done  CBC.caView Full Coverage on Google News

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Tiny wines find home in B.C.’s market, as Canadians consider reducing consumption

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VANCOUVER — Wine lovers have growing options on the shelf to enjoy their favourite beverage as producers in B.C. offer smaller container sizes.

Multiple British Columbia wineries over the last several years have begun offering their product in smaller, single-serve cans and bottles.

Along with making wine more attractive to those looking to toss some in a backpack or sip on the golf course, the petite containers leave wineries with options for a potential shift in mindset as Canadians discuss the health benefits of reducing alcohol consumption.

Vancouver-based wine consultant Kurtis Kolt said he’s watched the segment of the wine industry offering smaller bottles and cans “explode” over the last several years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were meeting outdoors in parks and beaches and looking for something more portable to take with them.

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“You’re not taking a hit on quality, you know? In fact, if someone is only going to be having a glass or two, you’re cracking a can and it’s completely fresh, guaranteed,” he said.

It’s also an advantage for people who want to drink less, he said.

“It’s much less of a commitment to crack open a can or a small bottle or a smaller vessel than it is to open a bottle,” he said.

“Then you have to decide how quickly you’re going to go through it or end up dumping some out if you don’t finish it.”

Last month, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released a report funded by Health Canada saying no amount of alcohol is safe and those who consume up to two standard drinks per week face a low health risk.

That’s a significant change from the centre’s 2011 advice that said having 15 drinks per week for men and 10 drinks per week for women was low risk.

Health Canada has said it is reviewing the report.

Charlie Baessler, the managing partner at Corcelettes Estate Winery in the southern Interior, said his winery’s Santé en Cannette sparkling wine in a can was released in 2020 as a reduced alcohol, reduced sugar, low-calorie option.

“We’ve kind of gone above and beyond to attract a bit of a younger, millennial-type market segment with a fun design concept of the can and sparkling, low alcohol — all these things that have been recently a big item on the news,” he said.

Santé en Cannette is a nine per cent wine and reducing the alcohol was a way to reduce its calories, he said. The can also makes it attractive for events like a picnic or golf, is recyclable, and makes it easier for restaurants that might want to offer sparkling wine by the glass without opening an entire bottle.

At the same time, the lower alcohol content makes it an option for people who might want a glass of wine without feeling the same effect that comes from a higher alcohol content, he said.

“So the health is clearly one incentive, but I think more importantly, so was being able to enjoy a locally made product of B.C. from a boutique winery, dare I say, with a mimosa at 11 o’clock and not ruin your day,” he said.

Baessler said the winery has doubled production since the product was first released to about 30,000 cans a year, which they expect to match this year.

He said there’s naturally a market for the product but he doesn’t expect it to compete with the higher-alcohol wine.

“So this isn’t our Holy Grail. This is something that we do for fun and we’ll never compete, or never distract, from what is our core line of riper, higher-alcohol wine,” he said.

Jeff Guignard, executive director of B.C.’s Alliance of Beverage Licensees, which represents bars, pubs and private liquor stores, said the industry has seen a shift in consumers wanting options that are more convenient.

“It’s not a massive change in consumer behaviour but it is a definitely a noticeable one, which is why you see big companies responding to it,” he said.

Guignard said the latest CCSA report is creating an increased awareness and desire to become educated about responsible consumption choices, which is a good thing, but he adds it’s important for people to look at the relative risk of what they’re doing.

“If you’re eating fast food three meals a day, I don’t think having a beer or not is going to be the single most important determinant of your health,” he said.

“But from a consumer perspective, as consumer preferences change, of course beverage manufacturers respond with different packaging or different products, the same way you’ve seen in the last five years, a large number of low-alcohol or no-alcohol beverages being introduced to the market.”

While he won’t predict how much the market share could grow, Guignard said non-alcoholic beverages and low-alcoholic beverages will continue to be a significant piece of the market.

“I don’t know if it’s reached its peak or if it will grow. I just expect it to be part of the market for now on.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2023.

 

Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press

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