Seven new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the province Friday, following news that a suspected fourth case of the coronavirus variant first reported in the U.K. has been detected in New Brunswick.
In an interview Friday morning, Premier Blaine Higgs said he doesn’t know where the variant case was located, but he was told a fourth one was found this week. This comes after the province announced Tuesday that it detected three variant cases.
“The cases that are known are isolating,” he said. “And they have had very limited contact with anyone.”
Higgs expects more cases of the variant will be detected, and he’s unsure how well it can be contained.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell did not mention the suspected fourth case at Thursday’s COVID-19 news briefing. A Health Department spokesperson said the case is related to one of the first three variant cases.
“A close contact of a previous U.K. variant confirmed case has tested positive for COVID-19 and it is suspected they have the variant as well,” Bruce Macfarlane said in an emailed statement Friday morning.
He said a sample for sequencing is being sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for confirmation. In the meantime, the individual is being treated as if they have the variant.
Russell has said the arrival of the variant in New Brunswick is expected lead to larger outbreaks moving faster. It can become the dominant strain within three months. Age is the biggest risk factor.
Seven new cases reported, in three zones
Public Health will not hold a live-streamed briefing Friday, but in a news release it said seven new cases have been recorded. The cases break down in this way:
Moncton region, Zone 1, one case:
- an individual 80-89
Fredericton region, Zone 3, one case:
- an individual 50-59
Edmundston region, Zone 4, five cases:
- an individual 20-29
- an individual 30-39
- three people 70-79
There are now 228 active cases in the province, and the number of confirmed cases so far in the pandemic is 1,325. Since Thursday, 35 people have recovered for a total of 1,078 recoveries.
There have been 18 deaths.
Six patients are in hospital, and three are in intensive care. A total of 207,738 tests have been conducted, including 1,819 since Thursday’s report.
New testing clinic opens in Campbellon
A new COVID-19 testing clinic has opened in the Campbellton Regional Hospital.
The new clinic will help with the increased demand in the region because of the mandatory weekly screening for travellers and people from border communities who are entering New Brunswick, Vitalite Health Network said in a news release Friday.
Tests are available by appointment only, by calling Tele-Care (811) or by filling out an online form on the gnb.ca website.
Vaccination of everyone could take until end of 2021
Premier Blaine Higgs says it could take until the end of 2021 for everyone in New Brunswick who wants a COVID-19 vaccine to get one.
But the premier still remains hopeful the province will see herd-immunity by September and that more vaccines will be approved before the end of the year.
“I have a degree of confidence,” he said during an interview with Information Morning Fredericton.
“Am I 100 per cent confident? No I’m not.”
Higgs spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other premiers at a meeting Thursday night where they discussed the vaccine’s availability.
Higgs said the premiers were told the country could expect to receive six million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines by the end of March.
But they were still left wondering about the exact timing of distribution, which Higgs says is concerning.
“We just want accuracy so we can communicate it,” he said.
Professor studies long-term effects of COVID-19
A biology professor at Mount Allison University is researching the long-term effects of COVID-19.
Vett Lloyd and her partners are asking people who have had COVID to take an online survey about their experiences.
The survey is available to everyone but is targeted at people from Ontario and New Brunswick.
Lloyd hopes the study will shed light on so called “long-haulers,” whose symptoms continue long after they contract the virus.
“It’s been coming out that some people, instead of fully recovering, remain ill to various extents . … So we’re trying to find out what their experiences are, what experiences or what it feels like to get COVID and then still be affected by it weeks, months later.”
More than 200 people have responded to the survey in its first few days.
Public exposure notification for Zone 3
Public Health has issued the following exposure notification for the Fredericton region, Zone 3:
- Carrington & Company, the gift shop at the Delta hotel at 225 Woodstock Rd., Fredericton, on Jan. 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Feb. 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What to do if you have a symptom
People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online.
Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included:
A fever above 38 C.
A new cough or worsening chronic cough.
New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.
In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.
People with one of those symptoms should:
EU regulator backs month-long storage of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in fridges
Europe’s drug regulator on Monday recommended extending the storage time for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at normal fridge temperatures to 31 days from five days, easing logistical challenges during rollouts in the region.
The change is applicable to unopened vials, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said, adding that the advice by its human medicines committee came after assessing additional stability study data submitted by Pfizer and BioNTech.
“EMA is in continuous dialogue with the marketing authorisation holders of COVID-19 vaccines as they seek to make manufacturing improvements to enhance vaccine distribution in the EU,” the watchdog said.
The EU has allowed for ramped-up production of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the region and is eyeing a new deal to secure more doses of the shot after the bloc was hit by cuts in the supply of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
Vaccine deliveries were also slower initially under the EU’s centralised procurement strategy.
U.S. authorities in February had approved storage and transport of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at standard freezer temperatures of -15 to -25 degrees Celsius for up to two weeks instead of the ultra-cold temperatures between -80 to -60 degrees Celsius it usually requires.
The EU storage change also comes as the U.S. and German drugmakers are seeking approval of the vaccine for inoculating adolescents aged 12 to 15 years. The United States and Canada have started vaccinating this group with the shot, which uses the brand name Comirnaty.
The two-dose vaccine, similar to the one developed by Moderna, uses new mRNA technology to deliver instructions to the human body to build immunity against COVID-19.
With 200 million vaccine doses delivered overall, the EU is on track to achieve its goal of inoculating 70% of its adult population by summer, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted on May 9.
(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. and Alex Richardson)
Sanofi-GSK report positive interim results for their COVID-19 shot
An experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline showed a robust immune response in early-stage clinical trial results, enabling them to move to a late-stage study, the French drugmaker said on Monday.
Sanofi and Britain’s GSK said a global Phase III trial would start in the coming weeks and involve more than 35,000 adults, with the hope of seeing the vaccine approved by the fourth quarter after having initially targeted the first half of this year before a setback.
Sanofi and GSK last December were forced to restart their trial when the vaccine showed a low immune response in older adults as a result of a weak antigen formulation.
Sanofi and GSK shares were little changed in early trading.
“The Phase II interim results showed 95% to 100% seroconversion following a second injection in all age groups and across all doses, with acceptable tolerability and no safety concerns,” Sanofi said.
Seroconversion refers to the vaccine’s ability to prompt the body to produce antibodies against the coronavirus, as measured by blood readings. Later mass trials will be based on real infections.
“Interestingly, we also observed that our vaccine generated a higher antibody response in those with previous COVID-19 infection, we are analysing this further as it may suggest our vaccine could serve as a potential booster, regardless of what vaccine someone may have received (beforehand),” Su-Peing Ng, Sanofi’s global head of medical for vaccines, told reporters.
Ng said the vaccine had not been tested against so-called variants in the Phase II trial but that the Phase III study would be assessing it against various strains including a virus lineage known as B.1.351 first detected in South Africa.
But Sanofi, Ng said, has conducted parallel studies evaluating its vaccines against variants, with results expected to be published soon.
GSK and Sanofi’s vaccine candidate uses the same technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the shot, made by GSK.
‘QUITE A POTENTIAL’
Some 162.75 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019, while economies have taken a hit and restrictions have turned daily life upside down.
The United States and Europe have embarked on mass vaccinations programmes in the past months, raising hopes of a gradual reopening, although the virus is still in circulation in many regions, with variants causing concern.
Last month, the European Union executive’s President Ursula von der Leyen said protein-based COVID-19 vaccines such as the one developed by Sanofi and GSK offered “quite a potential”, a positive signal as the bloc develops its purchasing strategy for the next two years.
Sanofi’s shot, however, even if approved, will come long after ones from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which have produced efficacy results of more than 90%.
So far, Sanofi has purchasing agreements with the United States, the EU, Britain and Canada, as well as with the World Health Organization-backed COVAX facility.
The company has pledged to help other drugmakers this year, striking “fill and finish” deals for vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
In addition to its vaccine project in collaboration with GSK, Sanofi is working on a mRNA candidate with U.S. company Translate Bio for which it has started clinical trials.
(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely)
Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 161.42 million, death toll at 3,488,751
More than 161.42 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 3,488,751 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/2FThSv7 in an external browser.
Eikon users can click for a case tracker.
The following table lists the top 50 countries by the number of reported cases. A complete list is available with the above links.
COUNTRIES AND TOTAL DEATHS CONFIRMED DEATHS PER
TERRITORIES CASES 10,000
United States 584,768 32,926,288 17.9
India 262,317 24,046,809 1.94
Brazil 430,417 15,433,989 20.55
France 107,423 5,848,154 16.04
Turkey 44,301 5,095,390 5.38
Russia 254,590 4,922,901 17.62
United Kingdom 127,668 4,446,824 19.21
Italy 123,927 4,146,722 20.51
Spain 79,339 3,604,799 16.95
Germany 85,903 3,579,871 10.36
Argentina 69,254 3,242,103 15.56
Colombia 79,760 3,067,879 16.06
Poland 71,311 2,849,014 18.78
Iran 76,433 2,732,152 9.34
Mexico 219,901 2,375,115 17.43
Ukraine 47,620 2,143,448 10.67
Peru 65,316 1,873,316 20.02
Indonesia 47,823 1,734,285 1.79
Czech Republic 29,857 1,651,178 28.09
South Africa 55,012 1,605,252 9.52
Netherlands 17,423 1,589,282 10.11
Canada 24,825 1,312,408 6.7
Chile 27,520 1,266,601 14.69
Iraq 15,910 1,134,859 4.14
Philippines 18,958 1,131,467 1.78
Romania 29,413 1,070,605 15.11
Sweden 14,275 1,037,126 14.03
Belgium 24,645 1,026,473 21.56
Pakistan 19,384 873,220 0.91
Portugal 16,999 841,379 16.53
Israel 6,379 839,076 7.18
Hungary 29,041 796,390 29.71
Bangladesh 12,102 779,535 0.75
Jordan 9,203 722,754 9.24
Serbia 6,646 705,185 9.52
Switzerland 10,179 679,510 11.96
Japan 11,396 673,821 0.9
Austria 10,455 635,780 11.83
United Arab Emirates 1,626 543,610 1.69
Lebanon 7,569 534,968 11.05
Morocco 9,091 514,670 2.52
Malaysia 1,822 462,190 0.58
Nepal 4,669 439,658 1.66
Saudi Arabia 7,134 431,432 2.12
Bulgaria 17,194 413,320 24.48
Ecuador 19,442 405,783 11.38
Slovakia 12,168 387,162 22.34
Greece 11,322 373,881 10.55
Belarus 2,681 373,351 2.83
Panama 6,288 369,455 15.05
Source: Reuters tally based on statements from health ministries and government officials
Generated at 10:00 GMT.
(Editing by David Clarke)
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