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New COVID-19 cases in London-Middlesex

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Four new cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed locally in London-Middlesex Saturday, one day after zero new cases were reported.

According to the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU), the new cases bring the region’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 495, which includes 48 deaths.

The death count has stayed the same compared to the day before, but the number of recoveries rose by six to 363.

As of Saturday, 458 of the region’s cases have been reported in London, where all four new cases were confirmed.

Elsewhere, there have been 20 cases in Strathroy-Caradoc, seven in Middlesex Centre, four in North Middlesex, four in Thames Centre and one each in Lucan-Biddulph and Southwest Middlesex.

It’s unclear how many cases remain active in each location.


A chart from the MLHU showing the number of cases in London and Middlesex by reported date, Jan. 24 to May 22, 2020.


Middlesex-London Health Unit

Around 20 per cent of the region’s cases have involved hospitalizations, including 5.66 per cent who have been admitted to intensive care.

A total of 17 COVID-19 patients were being treated in University and Victoria hospitals as of midnight Friday, according to London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).

The number of active outbreaks remains unchanged at seven, all of which are at local long-term care and retirement homes.

The most recent outbreak was declared on Wednesday at Henley Place, a long-term care home in London. It’s the second outbreak to be declared at the home, after an outbreak that was active from March 28 until May 17.

 

A chart from MLHU showing the number of cases in London and Middlesex by association with a long-term care home, retirement home, or other, Jan. 24 to May 22, 2020.

A chart from MLHU showing the number of cases in London and Middlesex by association with a long-term care home, retirement home, or other, Jan. 24 to May 22, 2020.


Middlesex-London Health Unit

Outbreaks remain active at Country Terrace, Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care (St. Mary’s 5th Floor), Waverly Mansion, Sisters of St. Joseph, Meadow Park Care Centre and Kensington Village (LTCH).

As of Saturday, 98 cases have been reported in long-term care homes involving 58 residents and 40 staff members, while 63 cases have been reported in retirement homes involving 43 residents and 20 staff members. Twenty-one deaths have been reported at long-term care homes, and seven at retirement homes. These numbers remain unchanged from Friday.

At least 41 staff members at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) have tested positive during the pandemic, a figure that remains unchanged from its previous update on Wednesday. It’s not clear how many cases have resolved and where the staff worked within LHSC.

Provincially, Ontario reported 412 new cases of the novel coronavirus Saturday morning, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 25,040.

The death toll increased by 27 to 2,048.

Over 19,100 cases are considered resolved, which makes up 76.5 per cent of all confirmed cases.

Just over 11,000 additional tests have been conducted, and around 5,900 cases are under investigation.

Nationally, Canada is seeing a total of 82,881 cases with 412 more Saturday, the death count rose by 27 to 6,277, and the number of recoveries increased by 379 to 42,986.

Elgin and Oxford

Numbers related to COVID-19 remain unchanged in the region compared to Friday, according to health officials.

The total number of COVID-19 cases sits at 71, with 57 recoveries — about 80 per cent — and four deaths.

 

Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) also announced an outbreak declared earlier this week at a long-term care facility in Ingersoll had worsened, with an additional six staff members having since tested positive.


In total, seven staff have been confirmed positive at Secord Trails Care Community as of Saturday morning. The outbreak was declared on May 18.

No residents have tested positive at the facility, according to SWPH.

The outbreak at Secord Trails is one of three to be declared in the region. The other two, at Beattie Manor and Caressant Care Bonnie Place, have since been resolved.

A chart from SWPH showing the per cent positivity rate of coronavirus tests in the region, April 3 to May 22, 2020.

A chart from SWPH showing the per cent positivity rate of coronavirus tests in the region, April 3 to May 22, 2020.


Southwestern Public Health

Ten cases remain active in SWPH jurisdiction, nine of them in Oxford County, including four in Ingersoll, two in Tillsonburg and Woodstock, and one in East Zorra-Tavistock.

One is located in Elgin County in Malahide, according to the health unit.

As of Saturday, 3,983 tests had been administered in Elgin and Oxford counties. Of those, 259 were awaiting results.

Huron and Perth

No new cases, recoveries or deaths have been reported in Huron and Perth counties, health officials said Saturday.

 

This keeps the total number of confirmed cases at 50, of which 44 have recovered and five have died.

The region’s lone active case was reported on Thursday. It was the first time a case had been reported by the health unit in nearly three weeks.

A chart from HPPH showing cumulative totals of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and recoveries from early March to May 22, 2020. The health unit notes the graph uses symptom onset date for cumulative confirmed cases. If the person does not have symptoms, the date of the swab test is used.

A chart from HPPH showing cumulative totals of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and recoveries from early March to May 22, 2020. The health unit notes the graph uses symptom onset date for cumulative confirmed cases. If the person does not have symptoms, the date of the swab test is used.


HPPH

Health officials say the new case involves a resident of Maitland Manor, a long-term care home in Goderich, which has declared an outbreak — the region’s seventh and only active outbreak.

The resident is in stable condition and contract tracing is ongoing, the health unit said in a statement Friday.

Six other outbreaks have been declared over.

Nearly half of all cases reported in Huron and Perth, 23, are linked to the outbreaks, health unit figures show.



 

Of the region’s five deaths, four have been linked to the resolved outbreak at Greenwood Court in Stratford. The home saw 10 staff infections and six resident infections.

Stratford itself has seen 25 of the region’s reported cases.

As of Saturday, the health unit says 2,707 tests have been administered in Huron and Perth. Of those, 88 were awaiting test results.

 

Sarnia and Lambton

According to regional health officials, one more person has died due to COVID-19 and two more have tested positive. The number of recoveries remains unchanged.

As of late Friday night, the area is seeing 245 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 20 deaths and 173 recoveries — about 71 per cent of cases.

One of the cases is linked to Vision Nursing Home, a long-term care facility in Sarnia, which has had an active outbreak of COVID-19 since April 23.

It’s the fourth day in a row that cases have been confirmed at the facility, which has now seen a total of 20 residents and 19 staff test positive — one more from the day before.

Four residents of this facility have also died.

A chart from Lambton Public Health showing the number of confirmed cases in the county by reported date, March 24 to May 22, 2020.

A chart from Lambton Public Health showing the number of confirmed cases in the county by reported date, March 24 to May 22, 2020.


Lambton Public Health

The facility is home to one of three active outbreaks.

The other two, at Marshall Gowland Manor and Village on the St. Clair, have seen one resident test positive and two residents test positive, respectively. Both outbreaks were declared active on May 15.

It’s unclear how many cases linked to the three outbreaks remain active.

Three other outbreaks at Landmark Village, Lambton Meadowview Villa and Sumac Lodge have since been declared over

 

Landmark Village remains the worst outbreak to be seen in the county, with 30 resident and 10 staff cases, and six resident deaths. It was declared over May 6.

Health unit figures show long-term care and retirement home residents make up nearly a quarter of all cases, 22 per cent, while health-care workers make up 17 per cent.

Sarnia’s Bluewater Health was treating five confirmed COVID-19 patients as of Saturday morning, in addition to eight patients who were suspected positive or awaiting tests — eight less from Friday.

— With files from Global News’ Ryan Rocca and Matthew Trevithick 

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Coronavirus vaccine: ICMR aims to launch COVAXIN by August 15 – Moneycontrol

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This is as per a letter written as internal communication by ICMR to Bharat Biotech asking for fast-tracking of the indigenous vaccine with an aim to launch by August 15.

Representative Image (Source: Reuters)

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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Thursday said that it aims to launch the Coronavirus vaccine being developed in partnership with Hydereabad-based Bharat Biotech for public health use by August 15.

This is as per a letter written as internal communication by ICMR to Bharat Biotech asking for fast-tracking of the indigenous vaccine with an aim to launch by August 15.

“It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by 15th August 2020 after completion of all clinical trials. BBIL is working expeditiously to meet the target, however, final outcome will depend on the cooperation of all clinical trial sites involved in this project,” the letter says.

PM Modi had recently held a high-level meeting to take stock on the indigenous vaccine efforts.

related news

Bharat Biotech, the company to whom the letter is addressed, has refused to comment on the matter.

ICMR sources confirm authenticity of the letter but say it was meant for internal communication.

Moneycontrol couldn’t independently verify the letter.

The indigenous vaccine being developed in India is one of the top-priority projects which is being monitored at the top-most level of the government, the statement further read. 

“You have been chosen as a clinical trial site of the BBV152 COVID Vaccine. In view of the public health emergency due to COVID-19 pandemic and urgency to launch the vaccine, you are strictly advised to fast track all approvals related to the initiation of the clinical trial and ensure that the subject enrollment is initiated no later than 7th July 2020,” ICMR’s statement read.

India has over 6 lakh reported cases of coronavirus with over 19,000 deaths until July 2.

First Published on Jul 3, 2020 08:26 am

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What social science says about convincing people to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic – CBC.ca

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Mandating, not just recommending, the use of non-medical masks will help convince more Canadians to wear them as the economy reopens, just as wearing seatbelts is now the norm, some social scientists and physicians say.

In Canada’s largest city, wearing non-medical masks is now mandatory for people riding with the Toronto Transit Commission, with certain exemptions, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. A bylaw extending the rule to indoor public spaces goes into effect on July 7. Similarly, mayors in Peel Region, which includes Mississauga and Brampton, west of Toronto, and York Region to the north also plan to introduce such bylaws.

In Quebec, Premier François Legault announced that public transit users in the province will be required to wear masks starting on July 13.

Governments are passing laws that require the wearing of masks, but they’re difficult to enforce. That’s why behavioural scientists say it’s so important for the public to get on board with many health authorities who now consider face coverings a necessity.

Kim Lavoie, a professor of psychology in behavioural medicine at the University of Quebec at Montreal, is among the experts calling for governments in Canada to consult social scientists on preventive measures like wearing masks as lockdowns lift in the absence of vaccines or effective treatments for COVID-19.

“Wearing a mask is something we control. Washing our hands, staying home, skipping that party are all things we control,” Lavoie said.

“People forget that the virus isn’t more powerful than our collective will to get rid of it, and there are things we can do. But right now, they’re behavioural.”

Many aspects of the pandemic are beyond our control. Wearing a mask isn’t one of them, experts say. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Dr. David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said masks could help more people get back to business and “regular life.”

“We think it’s sort of low-hanging fruit and a no-brainer,” Fisman said.

Why? Layering on masks on top of hand hygiene, avoiding touching your face and physical distancing helps reduce transmission in small case reports, observational studies and a preliminary model.

“Me wearing a mask protects you. If I have COVID, you wearing a mask also protects you from breathing in my virus,” Fisman said.

While Fisman called Canada “a country of rule followers,” there are people who oppose mandating masks, saying it impinges on individual rights and freedoms.

But with COVID-19, one person’s behaviour affects the next person — the basis for secondhand smoke laws.

“It’s no more [an infringement] than asking you to wear a seatbelt,” Lavoie said. “You’re not free to drink yourself under the table and then get behind the wheel. If you don’t have a PCR test at your house to test yourself negative, then you have to consider the possibility that you might be infected and not know it and be putting us all at risk.”

Protecting yourself a major motivator

Lavoie is one of the researchers behind a large study called iCARE (International assessment of COVID-19-related attitudes, concerns, responses and impacts). Together with collaborators from Johns Hopkins University’s project on cases and Oxford’s policy tracker, they’re regularly surveying Canadians and people around the world on how they feel about and adhere to policies.

The goal of the research is to disentangle what motivates people of different ages and socioeconomic backgrounds to change their behaviour to inform health-care policy and messaging.

Awareness, motivation and confidence are important to changing behaviour, says Kim Lavoie, a professor of psychology in behavioural medicine at the University of Quebec at Montreal. (Submitted by Kim Lavoie)

Based on 50,000 responses since the end of March, Lavoie said the findings to this point suggest that concern about getting infected with the virus is a major motivator.

“One thing people don’t realize is how contagious it is,” she said.

Most people recover at home, but people of all ages have also been severely sickened, some for months, says the Public Health Agency of Canada. Patients say long-term symptoms and consequences such as heart damage are coming to the fore.

An urgent need

While making mask wearing the norm would help prevent transmission, Fisman said mixed messaging and “dithering” by Ontario’s government have hindered mask use from becoming commonplace.

“Once the signal comes from our public health leaders that this is the expectation and this is how we’re going to move forward, I think people will fall in line pretty fast,” he said.

A woman wears a protective face mask as she waits to enter a bank in downtown Vancouver on June 2. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Wearing masks could be considered a behaviour that needs to be adopted urgently and collectively, Lavoie said.

She pointed to how behavioural change boils down to three factors:

  • Awareness of the need to wear masks.
  • Motivation, such as protecting yourself, loved ones or neighbours who may be vulnerable to serious complications.
  • Confidence in the ability to execute the behaviour.

Cost can be a barrier. That’s why Alberta’s government is distributing 20 million non-medical masks at drive-thru restaurants.

Shift from self-consciousness to the norm

Mitsutoshi Horii, a professor of sociology at Chaucer College in Canterbury, England, studied the uptake of masks in Japan during the 1918 flu pandemic. The practice continues in Japan during flu and hay fever season, as well as during COVID-19.

Horii said when the 1918 flu pandemic hit, the Japanese government prohibited traditional folk rituals around health as part of its efforts to promote modernization and to avoid colonization.

“Then the mask came in and that gave people a sense of direction. When you’re facing uncertainty, you want to do something. By doing something, we establish a sense of control,” he said.

WATCH | Canada’s patchwork of mask measures:

Federal government and health officials are reluctant to make wearing a mask mandatory in Canada, citing a focus on education and issues with enforcement. 1:58

Horii contrasts that with his experience in the U.K. now, where wearing masks is not common.

“Personally, I still feel embarrassed to wear a mask” in the U.K., Horii said, even though they’re now compulsory on public transit in England and will soon be required in stores in Scotland.

He said he thinks changing the rules would encourage him and others to overcome self-consciousness.

“At the same time, I bought some masks and we’re ready to wear [them] at any time. We just need a bit of a push to do it.”

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How Moderna executives are cashing in on COVID-19 vaccine stock speculation – Reuters

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(Reuters) – Biotech firm Moderna Inc could reap tens of billions of dollars in sales and stock appreciation if it wins the race for a COVID-19 vaccine. If it loses, the early-stage company’s value could crash.

FILE PHOTO: A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Inc, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyde

In the meantime, the firm’s chief executive is pocketing millions of dollars every month by selling shares that have tripled in price on news of Moderna’s development progress, a Reuters analysis of corporate filings shows. The sales – by CEO Stéphane Bancel, his childrens’ trust and companies he owns – amount to about $21 million between January 1 and June 26, including $6 million in May.

The company’s chief medical officer, Tal Zaks, has cashed out the majority of his available stock and options, netting over $35 million since January, the filings show.

The lucrative liquidations highlight the unusually powerful incentives for biotech executives to highlight development milestones for drugs that often never get approved or sold, according to interviews with seven executive-compensation experts. Optimistic corporate statements on coronavirus vaccines, they said, could cause investors to overpay for company shares or create false hope among the public and health officials seeking new weapons to fight the pandemic.

Bancel set a fixed schedule for his share sales – known as a 10b5-1 plan – long before the pandemic hit. Such executive share-sale plans are meant to guard against insider trading, avoiding the potential for executives to sell in advance of bad news they know is coming, or to put off selling until after a positive announcement.

Zaks sharply increased the pace of his sales with a new plan he put in place on March 13. That was three days before Moderna announced it had dosed the first human with a vaccine candidate, news that sent its stock price up 24% and signaled that future development milestones might push the shares higher.

The sales give the firm’s executives an unusual opportunity to lock in big profits on what could be fleeting market optimism, said Jesse Fried, a Harvard Law School professor who wrote a book about executive compensation.

“This may be their one shot at making a boatload of money if the vaccine doesn’t work out,” Fried said. Executives have wide discretion in releasing information, he said, and Moderna’s chiefs have a powerful motivation to “keep the stock price up.”

Reuters found no evidence that Bancel, Zaks or Moderna has exaggerated the company’s vaccine progress.

Many news outlets have reported sales by Moderna executives in the wake of positive news on its vaccine efforts. Reuters is the first to report that Bancel and affiliated entities are selling 90,000 shares every month and that Zaks moved to sharply increase his sales in March, three days before Moderna released market-moving news.

A Moderna spokesman said that Bancel is liquidating only a small portion of his holdings and that “substantially all of his family’s assets remain invested in Moderna.” This stakeholding reflected Bancel’s “long-term commitment” to the firm, the spokesman said. Bancel, his companies and his children’s trust own more than 24 million Moderna shares, making him the second largest stockholder, owning about 8% of the firm, down slightly from the beginning of the year.

Zaks did not respond to requests for comment, and Moderna did not comment on his share sales.

The high frequency, volume and profits of Bancel’s transactions – at about 90,000 shares monthly – are unique among the CEOs of 26 companies identified by Reuters as developing COVID-19 vaccines or treatments and that regularly publish information on executive trades of company shares.

Twenty-one of the firms have seen their stock rise since the end of January, just before coronavirus spread globally, and ten of those, including Moderna, have seen share prices at least double. But just four of the CEOs of those firms, including Bancel, have sold company stock. Only one – Chad Robins of Adaptive Biotech – made substantial, regular sales under a 10b5-1 plan, like Moderna’s Bancel. Adaptive Biotech, however, has seen a far smaller recent stock-price increase – about 50% – than Moderna. During May and June, Robins sold about $12 million in stock after Adaptive’s stock price rose on news that it is researching antibody therapies and a coronavirus test that delivers faster results.

Adaptive Biotech declined to comment and referred to a company filing that said Robins sold the stock to diversify his investments.

Most of Bancel’s sales have been carried out through plans in place since December 2018, the filings show. The transactions started in November 2019, when a trust belonging to his children began selling 11,046 shares each week. This January, Bancel and two companies he controls started selling stock regularly. Since then, they have collectively sold about 90,000 Moderna shares each month.

HIGH RISKS, REWARDS

Such scheduled sales are more common at early-stage biotech companies such as Moderna – which face intense risk-reward scenarios – than at more established and diversified drug firms, where executives frequently hold their equity until they leave the company.

Executives’ ongoing sales are an effective hedge against the bigger downside risk faced by companies like Moderna. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the firm has more than 20 therapies and vaccines in development – but none near approval. Investors view the firm as a frontrunner in creating a COVID-19 vaccine, but it faces 17 serious competitors with candidates in clinical evaluations and 129 others in earlier development stages, according to the World Health Organization. Only a very small number of companies are expected to get vaccines to market, biotech executives and health experts say.

If Moderna successfully launches its coronavirus vaccine and a dozen other of its most promising trial medicines, its stock price could rise to $279 based on the new revenues, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. That would yield Bancel a fortune of about $10 billion including currently unvested share options, the Reuters analysis shows.

The firm’s stock has soared from $18 in late February – just before it announced it had shipped its vaccine candidate to the U.S. government for trials – to close at $56.57 on July 2, down 5%, after a report that the start of its large vaccine trial would be delayed. That gives the company a market capitalization of nearly $23 billion. The stock hit a high of $80 in May.

But Morgan Stanley also has a “bear case,” in which the company would be worth only as much as the cash on its balance sheet if all of its vaccine and drug candidates don’t make it to market.

‘SCIENCE BY PRESS RELEASE’

Bancel and Zaks have been bullish on Moderna’s prospects in public statements.

Bancel calls the mRNA technology the company uses for all vaccine development the “software of life,” with potential to create “a new class of medicines.” He has also said Moderna’s process can create vaccines much faster and with a better chance of “technical success” – and, by implication, regulatory approval – than other firms.

“We are not aware of anybody else who can do this at this scale, with this focus, at this speed,” he told investors on June 2. Earlier, in a May 7 earnings call, Bancel said he had “never been as excited and optimistic about the future of Moderna.”

Many investors and analysts are optimistic as well but say it is difficult to evaluate Moderna’s prospects given the early stages of trials.

The company drew criticism from scientists for releasing incomplete data from a trial being conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). On May 18, Moderna announced that its vaccine candidate had produced protective antibodies in a small subset of healthy trial volunteers. The news pushed Moderna stock up 20% to its peak of $80.

Some scientists suggested Moderna should have held off publishing until it had all test subjects’ results. “This was science by press release,” said Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Without complete data, he said, “you’re left to read the tea leaves.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci – the nation’s top infectious disease expert – shared the test results with U.S. governors, Vice President Mike Pence said in a Twitter post the day of Moderna’s announcement. But Fauci – who is running the Moderna trial – later said he didn’t like the company’s early release of incomplete data, according to an interview published by the STAT health news service. A spokeswoman for Fauci’s agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, did not comment beyond what Fauci said in the interview.

Bancel told investors at a June conference that Moderna’s leadership worried the information had been seen by too many people, including at the NIH. He said the company made the partial findings public because it worried the data would get leaked – and it considered the incomplete results material information that all investors should receive at the same time. A company spokesman told Reuters the company believed it needed to release the information to comply with Securities and Exchange Commission rules.

The day after the May 18 announcement, Zaks sold 125,000 shares – netting him nearly $10 million – at a price of $78, up from $66 on the Friday before the Monday press release. Company filings show the sale was executed in accordance with the plan that Zaks put in place on March 13.

Reporting by Tom Bergin and Robin Respaut; Editing by Tom Lasseter and Brian Thevenot

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