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Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective – CBC.ca

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For the second time this month, there’s promising news from a COVID-19 vaccine candidate: Moderna said Monday its shots provide strong protection, a dash of hope against the grim backdrop of coronavirus surges in the United States and around the world. The vaccine is among those Canada has preordered for its population.

Moderna said its vaccine appears to be 94.5 per cent effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s still-ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the United States.

Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president, welcomed the “really important milestone,” but said having similar results from two different companies is what’s most reassuring.

“That should give us all hope that actually a vaccine is going to be able to stop this pandemic and hopefully get us back to our lives,” Hoge told The Associated Press.

“It won’t be Moderna alone that solves this problem. It’s going to require many vaccines” to meet the global demand, he said.

A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases topped 11 million in the U.S. over the weekend — one million of them recorded in just the past week. The pandemic has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, more than 245,000 of them in the U.S.

Still, if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows emergency use of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s candidates, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year. Both require people to get two shots, several weeks apart. Moderna expects to have about 20 million doses, earmarked for the U.S., by the end of 2020. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech expect to have about 50 million doses globally by year end.

Moderna’s vaccine, created with the National Institutes of Health, is being studied in 30,000 volunteers who received either the real vaccination or a dummy shot. It’s very unusual for results to be analyzed and released before a clinical trial is complete. Despite that, on Sunday, an independent monitoring board examined 95 infections that were recorded starting two weeks after volunteers’ second dose — and discovered all but five illnesses occurred in participants who got the placebo.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC’s Today on Monday that Moderna’s finding, along with Pfizer’s, “is something that foretells an impact on this outbreak.”

“So now we have two vaccines that are really quite effective, so I think this is a really strong step forward to where we want to be about getting control with this outbreak,” Fauci said.

Interim analysis suggests COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna will work, but final results, expected later this year, are necessary to confirm, says epidemiologist Dr. Christopher Labos.   5:40

Protection rate may change

Moderna’s study is continuing, and the company acknowledged the protection rate might change as more COVID-19 infections are detected and added to the calculations. Also, it’s too soon to know how long protection lasts. Both cautions apply to Pfizer’s vaccine as well.

But Moderna’s independent monitors reported some additional promising tidbits: all 11 severe COVID-19 cases were among placebo recipients, and there were no significant safety concerns.

The main side effects were fatigue, muscle aches and injection-site pain after the vaccine’s second dose, at rates that Hoge characterized as more common than with flu shots but on par with others such as the shingles vaccine.

Moderna shares rocketed higher on the announcement and appeared to be headed for an all-time high Monday. The Cambridge, Mass., company’s vaccine is among 11 candidates in late-stage testing around the world, four of them in huge studies in the U.S.

Confidence boost

“This news from Moderna is tremendously exciting and considerably boosts optimism that we will have a choice of good vaccines in the next few months,” said Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London.

“This latest press release is based on a study of 30,000 U.S. adults, including many high-risk or elderly persons. This gives us confidence that the results are relevant in the people who are most at risk of COVID-19.”

Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said, “We will need much more data and a full report or publication to see if the benefit is consistent across all groups, notably the elderly, but this is definitely encouraging progress.”

Both Moderna’s shots and the Pfizer-BioNTech candidate are so-called mRNA vaccines, a brand-new technology. They aren’t made with the coronavirus itself, meaning there’s no chance anyone could catch it from the shots. Instead, the vaccine contains a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the spiked protein on the surface of the virus.

“It’s a completely different and completely new way to make a vaccine, but it seems to work and it seems to be highly effective,” Dr. Christopher Labos, a Montreal-based epidemiologist, told CBC News Network on Monday. “It looks as if both these vaccines are going to work and very likely both these vaccines are going to be rolling out early 2021.”

The strong results were a surprise. Scientists have warned for months that any COVID-19 shot may be only as good as flu vaccines, which are about 50 per cent effective.

Another steep challenge: distributing doses that must be kept very cold. Both the Moderna and Pfizer shots are frozen but at different temperatures. Moderna announced Monday that once thawed, its doses can last longer in a refrigerator than initially thought, up to 30 days. Pfizer’s shots require long-term storage at ultra-cold temperatures, while Moderna says regular freezer temperatures will suffice for its vaccine.

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Canada will not be doing another repatriation amid coronavirus pandemic: Champagne – Global News

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The federal government will not be repatriating any more travelling Canadians as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world, the country’s foreign affairs minister said.

Francois-Philippe Champagne made the remarks ahead of Question Period on Monday, saying that the government’s “travel advisory is very clear.”

“You know you see COVID around the world, you see second waves in many places and we’ve been very clear to Canadians. I think the (Prime Minister) has spoken, (and) has been very, very clear: We are not going to be doing another repatriation,” he said.

Read more:
How risky is going home for the holidays amid coronavirus? There’s a tool for that

Champagne said people should “be thinking twice [about] whether they have insurance coverage, where they’re going,” and what the COVID-19 situation is at their destination.

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“If COVID has taught us anything over the last six to nine months it’s that things can change rapidly and dramatically,” he continued.

“I think Canadians this year should really take extreme caution, and the best way is to follow, obviously, public health advice.”

Champagne said he doesn’t think travelling this year is “appropriate,” adding that staying home is the “right thing to do when you’re looking at the COVID situation around the world.”


Click to play video 'Canada’s prime minister and top doctor warn of massive spike in COVID-19 cases'



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Canada’s prime minister and top doctor warn of massive spike in COVID-19 cases


Canada’s prime minister and top doctor warn of massive spike in COVID-19 cases

Travel Canada has for months been advising Canadians to “avoid all non-essential travel” outside of the country and avoid travelling on cruise ships “until further notice.”

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

“As foreign governments implement strict travel restrictions and as fewer international transportation options are available, you may have difficulty returning to Canada or may have to remain abroad for an indeterminate period,” the advisory reads.

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The agency’s website says there are “no plans to offer additional repatriation flights.”

“Should you decide to travel despite our advisories, know that you might have to remain abroad longer than you expected.”

Read more:
Coronavirus Christmas: Canadians should celebrate outdoors, virtually, experts say

The agency also says it may have “limited capacity” to offer consular services to those abroad.

In the first few months of the pandemic, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) coordinated with commercial airlines and the leaders of other countries to repatriate Canadians who found themselves stranded outside of the country due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Global News reached out to GAC to determine the total number of Canadians who have been repatriated as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but did not hear back by time of publication.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: New projection says Canada could see 20,000 daily cases by end of December'



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Coronavirus: New projection says Canada could see 20,000 daily cases by end of December


Coronavirus: New projection says Canada could see 20,000 daily cases by end of December

Champagne’s remarks come as the country continues to struggle to contain the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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By 5:30 p.m. ET, on Monday, the country had seen a total of 335,320 confirmed cases of the virus. 

To date, 11,500 have died in Canada after testing positive for the respiratory illness. 

Meanwhile, globally, the total number of COVID-19 infections has topped 59 million.

Since the virus was first detected, it has claimed 1,393,886 lives around the world.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for Nov. 23 – CBC.ca

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Aarhus in Denmark is placing 100 waste bins around the city that can hold about 3,000 face masks. The containers have a clamped lid, which ensures that neither birds nor wind can spread the waste. (Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix/Reuters)

P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador hit pause on Atlantic travel bubble

Residents of the four Atlantic provinces have been able to travel relatively freely across each other’s borders without quarantining, but that came to a halt on Monday after announcements from Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island. Both provinces cited rising cases in recent days in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

“The Atlantic bubble has been a source of pride … but the situation has changed,” Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey said in announcing a two-week pause from unfettered travel.

Travel to and from Newfoundland and Labrador will only be for essential reasons, Furey said.

P.E.I. said it will re-evaluate on Dec. 7, but beginning Tuesday, those arriving on the island from the other Atlantic provinces will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

“Over the last number of days, it has become apparent that our neighbours in Atlantic Canada, especially Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, are experiencing a second wave,” said Dr. Heather Morrison, the province’s chief public health officer. “I’m concerned it may already be here with some people,” she added.

Those coming to the province from the other three Atlantic provinces will once again need to apply for entry, and students who return to P.E.I. will need to self-isolate for two weeks.

Click below to watch more from The National

Canadians’ fears about contracting COVID-19 kept many people from going to the emergency room. New data shows ER visits were down by nearly one million and there is concern about the impact on the patients who didn’t get the care they needed. 1:59

IN BRIEF

Workplace compensation claims reflect COVID-19 toll on Canadian workers

CBC News has reached out to provincial workers’ compensation boards across the country and found that more than 26,000 claims have been filed by people who contracted COVID-19 at work, the first concrete indication — though not fully complete — of how many workers are getting COVID-19.

Jeffrey Freedman, who was among those 26,000, felt he had no choice earlier in the pandemic but to work at his tile company despite the risk of infection. Freedman spent 44 days in hospital and still can’t work or drive a vehicle due to lingering health effects.

“I have brain fog. I have permanent damage to my vocal cords from the ICU and tubing for 33 days. I have constant neck and bicep pains,” he said.

In Ontario and British Columbia, the data shows that most claims have come from workers in health-care facilities and agriculture.

A quarter of workers in Ontario are not covered at all by the workers’ compensation system, compared with B.C., where all workers have coverage. In addition to variations across the provinces in terms of eligibility, data collection is a challenge as there is no standard accounting of how many people have fallen sick while at work due to a patchwork of provincial and federal tracking. What’s more, the system does not capture COVID-19 cases among workers who are ineligible.

Read more about what the claims tell us

National grief strategy needed for COVID-19 losses, advocacy group says

With over 11,000 Canadians dead from COVID-19, an organization called the Canadian Grief Alliance has been pushing the federal government for a national strategy to help people cope with the increased loss society is facing. The alliance hopes the government will invest $100 million over three years.

Shelly Cory, executive director of Canadian Virtual Hospice and one of the founders of the alliance, says the pandemic’s impact on Canada and the number of people who are grieving is “astounding.” The alliance is calling for a national consultation to help understand the impact and scope of the issue.

“We’ve never dealt with grief from a pandemic. We need to understand where the pressure points are and where we need to provide resources to suffering Canadians,” said Cory, who noted that grief during the pandemic doesn’t involve dealing with the death of a loved one only.

Health Canada says it has funded Wellness Together Canada, a portal that provides Canadians with access to free, credible information and supports to help reinforce mental wellness and address mental health and substance use issues.

The agency also said it has received the proposal from the Canadian Grief Alliance, and officials have been engaging with the organization to discuss its proposal.

Read more about the initiative

Distribution, national registry key issues in COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The past two weeks have provided encouraging news on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, including on Monday from AstraZeneca, but there will be challenges in distributing and tracking vaccine usage in a country as vast as Canada.

In an interview on Rosemary Barton Live, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister called for “national criteria” to guide the country’s distribution efforts.

“Vulnerable people, and, of course, front-line workers, are going to get it first. We all agree with that. But we need to also come to a national agreement on those criteria because it isn’t going to be here all at the same time,” said Pallister.

The head of the committee advising the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) on the use of vaccines also spoke to Barton. Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh says another challenge, aside from prioritizing who gets the vaccine, is that there is no national registry to oversee and track vaccination records.

“I think that most provinces have registries so that they’re able to follow up on who gets what, and it’s now the time to really be able to use it,” said Quach-Thanh.

Co-ordination and communication between levels of government will be critical. Even in the first few days after positive news regarding the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, there appeared to be confusion between some provinces and the feds on how many doses were being allocated.

Read more about the distribution challenges

(CBC News)

Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data.

THE SCIENCE

University of Guelph researchers look for answers regarding COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’

Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario are trying to determine why months after infection with COVID-19, some people are still battling crushing fatigue, lung damage and other symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

Jackie Loree, a respiratory nurse in Kitchener, Ont. is a COVID-19 long-hauler. She tested positive for coronavirus in April, and eight months later she is still experiencing its effects.

“My circulation is poor. I still have bouts of nausea. I lost a great deal of my hair throughout this process, and every day is different,” she told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo’s The Morning Edition. “I always have symptoms every day and it’s very difficult.”

Dr. Melanie Wills, director at the G. Magnotta Lyme Disease Research Lab at the university, said when the pandemic hit in early spring, they saw a potential similarity between COVID-19 and Lyme disease — some patients just don’t seem to get better.

“It’s like a snowball rolling down a hill with COVID now, and so my question is: if we are seeing a chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia syndrome emerging from the COVID, is that finally going to shine a spotlight on these types of diseases that have been really ignored to our own peril?” said Wills.

What researchers find will be crucial in treating those with lasting symptoms and trying to prevent new infections from lingering.

AND FINALLY…

Consistency key to adopting new fitness routines during pandemic, researchers say

A jogger runs on a track at Bear Creek Park in Surrey in June 2020. ((Ben Nelms/CBC))

With several provinces entering a more restrictive phase of lockdown that often affects gyms and recreation centres, health researchers in B.C. say it’s important to fight against apathy and still find ways to incorporate a regular fitness routine.

“It’s not something to sort of push off,” says University of Victoria Prof. Ryan Rhodes, who studies health psychology and how people approach and do exercise. “We have to accept that this is a new reality and find new routines to get our physical activity going,” he said.

Rhodes and Guy Faulkner from the University of British Columbia worked on different studies looking at how Canadians were exercising during the initial response to the pandemic. They found a noticed drop-off even among regular exercisers.

Early in the pandemic, it was learned that people with dogs more easily kept up with exercise by walking their pets. People who had exercise equipment at home, bought new equipment or even turned to YouTube for exercise videos also fared better in keeping up with a routine.

Some tips: exercising at the same time of day to build a routine; emphasizing the activities you like most; and taking a walk in the morning and at the end of the working day as a sort of faux commute.

Read more exercise and motivation tips here

Find out more about COVID-19

Still looking for more information on the pandemic? Read more about COVID-19’s impact on life in Canada, or reach out to us at covid@cbc.ca if you have any questions.

If you have symptoms of the illness caused by the coronavirus, here’s what to do in your part of the country.

For full coverage of how your province or territory is responding to COVID-19, visit your local CBC News site.

To get this newsletter daily as an email, subscribe here

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CRA warns 213,000 Canadians that they might have to pay back CERB overpayments – CBC.ca

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The Canada Revenue Agency says it’s warning about 213,000 Canadians who may have been paid twice through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program that they could be called upon to repay the money.

But repayment isn’t required right away, says the agency. The CRA has suspended collection of debts for the duration of the pandemic emergency.

“The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has issued letters to individuals who may have applied for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) from both Service Canada and the CRA, and who may be required to repay an amount to the CRA,” a CRA spokesperson said in an email. “The letters did not require immediate payment; rather they informed the taxpayer that there may be a requirement to repay amounts received.

“We will resume collections activities when it is responsible to do so, including collection of debts related to CERB payments,”

The CRA was responding to CBC’s question about individuals being asked to repay pandemic benefits. The agency says it is still recommending that people pay back any CERB funds to which they’re not entitled by the end of the year, warning that if they don’t, the sum will appear on T4A tax slips and will need to be reported as income on next year’s tax return.

‘An honest mistake’

In emails to CBC News about possible repayments, CRA was careful to avoid suggesting that all those who received letters warning they might have to repay CERB money had been caught in any kind of unethical behaviour.

A CRA spokesperson noted that “applicants may make an honest mistake when applying” for CERB.

It’s also possible that some of those who have received letters about repayment already had returned the money voluntarily, or had incorrectly repaid the money to Service Canada instead of the CRA, the spokesperson said.

According to the latest figures, 945,000 pandemic benefit repayments — including for CERB and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit — have been conducted through the CRA’s My Account online portal. The large number has been blamed on confusion over how to apply for the benefits in the early days of the pandemic.

Last week, a Conservative MP raised concerns about CRA figures indicating more than 800,000 non-tax filers had received CERB payments. But several economists were quick to point out that Canadians can qualify for CERB even if they haven’t previously filed taxes — and only people who owe money to the CRA are required to file a return.

For Canadians who do have to return some pandemic benefits, the CRA says it can come up with individual arrangements based on their ability to pay.

In cases where the CRA can’t come to such an arrangement with a taxpayer, it would turn to collections measures. Those measures remain on hold during the pandemic but they could include taking away future tax credits and refunds or garnishing wages, a spokesperson said.

The CRA also has warned Canadians to be aware of CERB repayment scams, including texts, emails or phone calls that appear to come from the CRA and ask for money or personal information.

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