Drug giant AstraZeneca updated its data on how well its coronavirus vaccine works, saying late Wednesday the vaccine showed 76 per cent efficacy against symptomatic coronavirus disease and 100 per cent efficacy against severe or critical disease or the need for hospitalization.
The vaccine was 85 per cent effective in preventing symptoms in volunteers 65 and older, the company said.
The numbers are not terribly different from data the company released in a statement Monday. As with Monday’s data, the company has released them via news release and not in a peer-reviewed report or as a formal submission for US Food and Drug Administration review.
“The primary analysis is consistent with our previously released interim analysis, and confirms that our COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in adults, including those aged 65 years and over. We look forward to filing our regulatory submission for Emergency Use Authorization in the US and preparing for the rollout of millions of doses across America,” Mene Pangalos, executive vice president for biopharmaceuticals research for the company, said in a statement.
On Tuesday, the independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) that reviews data from multiple COVID-19 vaccine candidates expressed concern over AstraZeneca’s announcements on its latest findings, and, unusually, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases publicly announced those concerns.
“The DSMB expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data,” the NIAID, which has helped AstraZeneca run trials in the U.S., said.
“We urge the company to work with the DSMB to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible.”
On Monday, AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 vaccine showed 79% efficacy against symptomatic disease and 100% efficacy against severe disease and hospitalization.
The trial of 32,449 volunteers in the U.S., Peru and Chile showed people who got the vaccine were 76% less likely to have any symptoms of coronavirus compared to the one-third of participants who got placebo. The vaccine is given as two doses, four weeks apart.
As with other vaccine trials, the company was looking to see how many vaccinated people got COVID-19 symptoms as compared to unvaccinated people.
“There were 190 cases in the primary analysis. There are 14 additional possible or probable cases to be adjudicated so the total number of cases and the point estimate may fluctuate slightly,” the company said.
“AstraZeneca will also submit the primary analysis for peer-reviewed publication in the coming weeks.”
And as with other coronavirus vaccine trials, the volunteers were not regularly tested for COVID-19, so it’s not known how many may have gotten asymptomatic infections.
“A key secondary endpoint, preventing severe or critical disease and hospitalization, demonstrated 100% efficacy. There were eight cases of severe COVID-19 observed in the primary analysis with all of those cases in the placebo group,” the company said.
“The vaccine was well tolerated, and no safety concerns related to the vaccine were identified.”
NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci earlier this week called the company’s release of premature data an “unforced error” — a sports term meaning it was their own mistake.
He told ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday that the AstraZeneca vaccine “is very likely a very good vaccine,” and this situation does nothing but cast doubt about the vaccines and maybe contribute to vaccine hesitancy.
Fauci said that this was not necessary and that the data are “really quite good, but when they put it into the press release, it wasn’t completely accurate.”
AstraZeneca, which developed the vaccine with Britain’s University of Oxford, has struggled for acceptance of its vaccine.
It was the first immunization out of the gate in the western world, going into the arms of volunteers on Jan. 4. But AstraZeneca’s development of the vaccine has hit multiple bumps, from news that two volunteers developed neurological symptoms last fall to a stall in the rollout of the vaccine in several European countries amid fears it might have caused blood clots.
The European Medicines Agency has since said there’s no evidence the vaccine can cause blood clots.
Source:- CTV News
Bitcoin price hits all-time high, one day after U.S. ETF debut – Global News
The world’s leading cryptocurrency was up 3.30 per cent, trading at US$66,364.72, after reaching a record of US$67,016.50, topping the US$64,895.22 hit on April 14 this year.
Tuesday was the first day of trading for the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF — a development market participants say is likely to drive investment into the digital asset.
The ETF closed up 2.59 per cent at US$41.94 from its opening price of US$40.88 on Tuesday and continued its ascent on Wednesday, last up 3.76 per cent at US$43.52.
The Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF, expected to debut on the Nasdaq Wednesday, appeared to be delayed after its prospectus was amended in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A person familiar with the matter said the Nasdaq expects the ETF to launch on Thursday, but that has not been confirmed yet.
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Trading appeared to be dominated by smaller investors and high-frequency trading firms, analysts said, noting the absence of large block trades indicated that institutions were likely staying on the sidelines.
James Quinn, managing partner at Q9 Capital, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency private wealth manager, said the launch of the new product was “meaningful” for bitcoin.
Theoretically, any licensed brokerage firm in the United States which wants to take on this ETF can do so as easily as any other ETF, which “should make it available to a lot of folks,” said Quinn.
While the ETF is based on bitcoin futures, Quinn said the trades and hedges underpinning the ETF means activity will flow into the spot market and the bitcoin price.
Crypto ETFs have launched this year in Canada and Europe amid surging interest in digital assets. VanEck is also among fund managers pursuing U.S.-listed ETF products, although Invesco on Monday dropped its plans for a futures-based ETF.
Ether, the world’s No. 2 cryptocurrency, was up 3.63 per cent on the day at US$4,018.75, after hitting a high of US$4,080, nearing its record high of US$4,380 reached on May 12.
© 2021 Reuters
Failure to attract capital for energy transition puts jobs at risk: report – The Globe and Mail
Hundreds of thousands of jobs could be at risk if Canada fails to attract sufficient private capital to transform its industries for life in a low-carbon global economy, a study by a federally supported climate think tank says.
As many as 800,000 jobs are dependent on sectors vulnerable to disruption in such a transition, including oil and gas, mining, heavy industry and auto manufacturing, according to the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices.
Those industries account for almost 70 per cent of Canada’s exports and generated more than $300-billion in export revenue and investment in 2019.
Effective policy and regulations, targeted public spending and corporate disclosure of climate risks will be key to attracting private capital and keeping the country competitive in the coming decades, the institute said.
“Canada is at a pivotal moment, when global markets are changing and governments and businesses face a choice of whether to take action to transform the economy to succeed in new market realities or watch our competitive position in the world erode,” said Rachel Samson, the organization’s clean growth research director and lead author of the report.
It is being released a little more than a week before a UN conference in Glasgow to discuss strengthening national commitments to reduce emissions. The financial sector will play a major role in the talks.
Governments and businesses will have to invest as much as $2-trillion to retool Canada’s economy to get emissions to net zero by 2050, according to a report by RBC Economics released Wednesday. The money will be required for a range of things, including modernizing and greening the power grid to allow the mass adoption of electric vehicles and retrofitting buildings to make them energy-efficient.
Ms. Samson said it would be wrong to consider the required spending as costs that would just disappear into the financial system; instead, it is an investment in cleaner economic growth. “So, in terms of thinking about the price tag, I think we have to think about the overall impact on the well-being of Canadians,” she said.
The researchers designed the study, called “Sink or Swim,” as a stress test for the economy as climate considerations take on a greater role and investors seek assets they deem sustainable. This is where competitiveness is key, they said.
Investors around the world will redirect trillions of dollars away from high-carbon sectors as countries try to meet net-zero targets. That will shift trade patterns, transform demand and put businesses that are slow to adapt in jeopardy, the study said.
Every Canadian province and territory has workers in sectors that are vulnerable to disruption in the transition to clean energy, the study said. Alberta, with its large oil and gas and energy service sectors, has the highest proportion of such workers, at 9.1 per cent of the work force, followed by the Northwest Territories at 7 per cent, Saskatchewan at 6 per cent and Newfoundland and Labrador at 5.8 per cent.
The institute argues that climate strategies have to encompass more than reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A coal mine with low emissions, for example, will still face financial issues as power generators and steelmakers move away from coal-fired facilities in response to pressure from their own governments or investors. One solution for such a business would be to switch to the minerals required for renewable energy sources or EV batteries, it said.
The report said establishing ambitious national climate targets would mean a far smaller hit to gross domestic product by 2050 than acting slowly or maintaining the status quo. With aggressive action, the economy would experience a small increase to GDP from the transition by 2050 and a loss of about 2 per cent from physical climate risk, whereas maintaining the status quo would cut GDP by almost 5 per cent and provide no uplift from the transition, it said.
Ms. Samson said mustering the political will to set policies for getting to net zero is less of a stumbling block than it was in previous years.
“It’s not only about political will anymore. Markets are developing momentum of their own,” she said. “Investors are now actively seeking ways to reduce their carbon-related risks, and unions as well have shifted toward advocating for companies to take greater action to improve their transition readiness. They see it as the way to have a future that has secure jobs.”
Jeffrey Jones writes about sustainable finance and the ESG sector for The Globe and Mail. E-mail him at email@example.com.
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