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No sign Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots: Canadian health authorities – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canadian health authorities are keeping a watchful eye on European investigations of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after reports of blood clots following inoculations, but say there is no evidence they were caused by the vaccine.

At least nine European countries hit pause on their use of AstraZeneca’s doses — some entirely, and others only on specific batches — pending further investigation of blood clots, though none suggested there is a link between the clots and getting the vaccine.

Canada’s first 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca are being put to use just this week, and officials in several provinces said Thursday they don’t intend to stop the rollout. 

“At this time, we have no information to suggest that this vaccine poses more risks than any other,” said Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of public health in Quebec.

Carlo Mastrangelo, the head of corporate affairs, communications and sustainability at AstraZeneca Canada, said the company has completed a new safety review of 10 million patients who received the vaccine. He said it uncovered “no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country” with its COVID-19 vaccine.

“In fact, the observed number of these types of events are significantly lower in those vaccinated than what would be expected among the general population,” said Mastrangelo.

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease doctor at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, said he has been inundated with calls from family doctors who are supposed to start inoculating patients this weekend, wondering if there was reason to be concerned.

Chagla said he will give the vaccine to patients this weekend as planned, because he trusts that Health Canada, which is constantly monitoring safety reports, would step in if there was any concern.

“Health Canada, they are working 24-7,” he said. “Their role is if there’s anything that goes on, you know that they essentially put a halt to it.”

Health authorities in Denmark, which halted AstraZeneca vaccinations Thursday after an undisclosed number of blood clots were reported, and one patient died, said they stopped using the vaccine to be extra cautious, not because there was an expected connection.

The European Medicines Agency is probing the issue itself but says 30 blood clots in more than five million patients who received the vaccine is not out of step with the normal rate of blood clots in the general population.

Chagla said the normal incidence of blood clots is about one in 1,000 patients over the course of a year. When vaccinating millions of people, it is not unusual to see some of them develop blood clots.

The question is whether they could have had the clot without the vaccine. Chagla said these kind of investigations are totally normal in the rollout of any new pharmaceutical.

“This is what I think the European Union is going through,” he said. “Now they’re trying to say, ‘Hey, is this an issue with the vaccine or are these people that we’re just going to have blood clots regardless?’ And you know, if it was the same thing as being struck by lightning, we would very easily say, ‘Well, OK, the vaccine has nothing to do with people being struck by lightning.”‘

Chagla said if a link is found, it may also be specific to one batch of the vaccine, which also has to be examined. Canada’s doses, he noted, are currently coming from the Serum Institute of India, while Europe is getting its doses from facilities there.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said on Twitter that the blood clots are “extremely rare events in an area that is using a lot of this vaccine.”

“There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these events and the actions these countries have taken is out of an abundance of caution,” she said. “We will continue watching closely and monitoring every dose of the vaccine in Alberta.”

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province won’t discontinue AstraZeneca but is working with Health Canada to follow the evidence.

“We are continuing with our AstraZeneca inoculations and we know that several million doses have already been administered around the world with no adverse effects,” she said.

This latest setback for AstraZeneca’s vaccine came just after concerns about its efficacy in seniors started to wane. Several European nations reversed earlier decisions not to give it to people over 65 because there weren’t enough seniors in the clinical trials.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended seniors be prioritized for the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which had more evidence of how they work on seniors.

The chair of the committee, Dr. Caroline Quach, told The Canadian Press the board met Wednesday to discuss newer evidence of how the AstraZeneca vaccine worked for seniors in “real-world” use, and expects an updated statement on the vaccine in Canada “in the next few days.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2021.

With files from Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal and Shawn Jeffords in Toronto.

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Canadian Business During the Pandemic

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In 2019 the world was hit by the covid 19 pandemic and ever since then people have been suffering in different ways. Usually, economies and businesses have changed the way they work and do business. Most of which are going towards online and automation.

The people most effected by this are the laymen that used to work hard labors to make money for there families. But other then them it has been hard for most business to make such switch. Those of whom got on the online/ e commerce band wagon quickly were out of trouble and into the safe zone but not everyone is mace for the high-speed online world and are thus suffering.

More than 200,000 Canadian businesses could close permanently during the COVID-19 crisis, throwing millions of people out of work as the resurgence of the virus worsens across much of the country, according to new research. You can only imagine how many families these businesses were feeding, not to mention the impact the economy and the GDP is going to bear.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said one in six, or about 181,000, Canadian small business owners are now seriously contemplating shutting down. The latest figures, based on a survey of its members done between Jan. 12 and 16, come on top of 58,000 businesses that became inactive in 2020.

An estimate by the CFIB last summer said one in seven or 158,000 businesses were at risk of going under as a result of the pandemic. Based on the organization’s updated forecast, more than 2.4 million people could be out of work. A staggering 20 per cent of private sector jobs.

Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s senior director of national research, said it was an alarming increase in the number of businesses that are considering closing.

We are not headed in the right direction, and each week that passes without improvement on the business front pushes more owners to make that final decision,”

He said in a statement.

The more businesses that disappear, the more jobs we will lose, and the harder it will be for the economy to recover.

In total, one in five businesses are at risk of permanent closure by the end of the pandemic, the organization said.

The new sad research shows that this year has been horrible for the Canadian businesses.

 

The beginning of 2021 feels more like the fifth quarter of 2020 than a new year,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the CFIB, in a statement.

She called on governments to help small businesses “replace subsidies with sales” by introducing safe pathways to reopen to businesses.

There’s a lot at stake now from jobs, to tax revenue to support for local soccer teams,”

Jones said.

Let’s make 2021 the year we help small business survive and then get back to thriving.”

The whole world has suffered a lot from the pandemic and the Canadian economy has been no stranger to it. We can only pray that the world gets rid of this pandemic quickly and everything become as it used to be. Although I think it is about time, we start setting new norms.

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Shopify shares edge up after falling on executive departures

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By Chavi Mehta

(Reuters) -Shopify Inc shares edged higher on Thursday, recovering partially from the previous day’s fall, with analysts saying the news of planned senior executive departures may have limited impact due to the company’s deep talent pool.

Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday the company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all leave their roles.

“We remain confident it (Shopify) can continue to execute at a high level, despite the departures,” Tom Forte, analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co said, pointing to the company’s “deep bench of talented executives.”

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the past year as many businesses went virtual during the COVID-19 lockdowns, turning it into Canada‘s most valuable company.

Shopify declined to comment further on Lutke’s statement suggesting current company leaders would step in to fill the three roles. After chief product officer Craig Miller left in September, Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

The Ottawa-based company is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

Jonathan Kees, analyst at Summit Insights Group, called the timing of the departures “a little alarming” but said the specific roles make it less concerning, given that the executives leaving are “more back-office roles.”

Lutke said each one of them had their individual reasons to leave, without giving details.

“I am willing to give Tobi’s explanation the benefit of the doubt,” Kees added.

Toronto-listed shares of Shopify were up 3.5% at C$1526.41 on Thursday, giving it a market value of C$188 billion ($150 billion). It ended down 5.1% on Wednesday.

“While we would refer to the departure of three high-level executives as ‘significant,’ we would not refer to it as a ‘brain drain,'” Forte added.

($1 = 1.2541 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Dan Grebler)

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Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company: CEO

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By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) – Three of e-commerce platform Shopify’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, chief executive officer and founder of Canada‘s most valuable company Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all transition out of their roles, Lutke said, adding that they have been “spectacular and deserve to take a bow.”

“Each one of them has their individual reasons but what was unanimous with all three was that this was the best for them and the best for Shopify,” he said.

The trio follow the departure of Craig Miller, chief product officer, in September. Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the last year as many businesses went virtual during COVID-19 lockdowns. It has a market cap valuation of C$182.7 billion ($146 billion), above Canada‘s top lender Royal Bank of Canada.

It is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

“We have a phenomenally strong bench of leaders who will now step up into larger roles,” Lutke said, but did not name replacements.

Shopify said in February revenue growth would slow this year as vaccine rollouts encourage people to return to stores and warned it does not expect 2020’s near doubling of gross merchandise volume, an industry metric to measure transaction volumes, to repeat this year.

Chief talent officer, Brittany Forsyth, was the 22nd employee hired at Shopify and has been with the company for 11 years. She said on Twitter that post-Shopify she would be focusing on Backbone Angels, an all-female collective of angel investors she co-founded in March.

Shopify shares fell 5.1% while the benchmark Canadian share index ended marginally down.

($1 = 1.2515 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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