EDMONTON — Alberta’s top doctor says the roughly 900 people in the province under 55 who have received a first dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine are at low risk of complications and there’s ample time to figure out what should be done for their second shot.
Alberta on Monday joined other provinces in pausing use of the vaccine in that age group. A national immunization advisory committee recommended the precaution, because of uncertainty around the potential risk of rare blood clots in younger recipients.
“I know this sort of news may cause some concern for Albertans and that is understandable,” said chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
“However, I want to assure you that this temporary pause is the result of our robust safety monitoring working the way that it should.”
The Alberta government has said that all adults who want a shot should be able to get one by the end of June. Hinshaw said that target may still be achievable even without the AstraZeneca vaccine as shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna doses ramp up.
She said the blood clots are a rare complication. Reported ranges put them between one in 25,000 in Norway and one in one million in the United Kingdom, so the chances of any of the 900 Albertans under 55 who have received the shot is vanishingly small.
The province has less than 200 doses left from its initial AstraZeneca supply of 58,500, and those have expiry dates beyond May, Hinshaw added.
Alberta began offering the AstraZeneca shot earlier this month to anyone born between 1957 and 1961 and First Nations, Metis and Inuit people born between 1976 and 1972. It was initially not recommended for those older than 65 amid concerns about its efficacy in older people that have since been dispelled.
Hinshaw said AstraZeneca has been shown to prevent severe illness from COVID-19, which itself comes with a significant risk of blood clots and other complications.
“In other words, the benefits of getting the vaccine far outweigh the small potential risks in groups more likely to have severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection, such as those age 55 and older.”
Hinshaw said with a 16-week gap between AstraZeneca shots believed to be effective, there’s time to gather more evidence around the rare blood clots.
She said health officials will also be watching clinical trials in the United Kingdom that are looking at the effectiveness of mixing and matching different vaccines for the first and second doses. That means someone who initially got an AstraZeneca shot could potentially boost immunity with a Pfizer followup jab.
The province also said Monday it is pressing ahead with the next phase of its vaccine rollout covering nearly one million Albertans with underlying health conditions. Those born in 1963 and earlier will be able to start booking appointments at pharmacies starting Tuesday. Alberta Health Services sites are to open up spots a week later for anyone born in 1959.
New birth years will be added as more supply becomes available.
Alberta has administered a total of 608,000 vaccine doses to date.
It reported 545 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. There were 288 people in hospital, 64 of them in intensive care.
More transmissible virus variants now make up 27 per cent of active cases. There were no new deaths reported, leaving that total at 1,983.
— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2021
The Canadian Press
Atos reports drop in revenue, to conduct U.S. accounting review
By Bartosz Dabrowski and Juliette Portala
(Reuters) -French IT consulting group Atos reported a drop in first-quarter revenue on Tuesday, putting further pressure on its share price which has been hit by an accounting issue in the United States.
The company, which develops solutions in hybrid cloud, big data, business applications and digital workplace, disclosed earlier this month that auditors had found accounting errors at two U.S. units, sending its shares diving 18% at the time.
On Tuesday the company said it had decided to conduct a full accounting review of the two U.S. units and would give a status update when it releases first-half results on July 28.
Atos also has a big contract to provide solutions for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and said that it was prepared for all scenarios, including a further postponement or complete cancellation of the event.
“For us, there will be no cancellation of the contract even if the Olympics were to be postponed,” head of investor relations Gilles Arditti said in a conference call.
Atos shares were down by more than 5% after the company said its revenue for January-March dropped 3.9% organically from a year earlier to 2.69 billion euros ($3.24 billion).
The company, however, maintained its full-year guidance.
“The results today are a meaningful miss (on market expectations) and likely to weigh further on sentiment,” Barclays said in a note, adding that the U.S. accounting situation was a bigger concern.
Year to date, Atos’ shares have now declined by nearly a quarter.
The company also said on Tuesday that it had acquired Canada-based Processia, UK-based Ipsotek and German firm cryptovision, as it continues with bolt-on acquisitions in a bid to boost revenue from digital, cloud, security and decarbonisation business over the medium term. It gave no financial details of the transactions.
($1 = 0.8292 euros)
(Reporting by Bartosz Dabrowski and Juliette Portala in Gdansk ; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Susan Fenton)
Rogers wireless service back for majority of users following outage
(Reuters) –Rogers Communications Inc said late on Monday its services had been restored for most of its users, following intermittent interruptions to wireless voice and data services for several hours.
“Wireless calls, SMS and data services are now restored for the vast majority of our customers”, the company said on Twitter. (https://bit.ly/32rx8HL)
The company said earlier on Monday that its residential and business wireline internet services were not impacted. (https://bit.ly/3sAqs4B)
About 11,000 users in Canada reported issues with the wireless service provider, as of 1900 GMT on Monday, according to outage monitoring website Downdetector.ca.
Downdetector tracks outages by collating status reports from a series of sources, including user-submitted errors on its platform. The outage could have affected a larger number of users.
(Reporting by Nivedita Balu, Rithika Krishna and Nandakumar D in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Shounak Dasgupta)
Canada’s Telesat takes on Musk and Bezos in space race to provide fast broadband
By Steve Scherer
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s Telesat is racing to launch a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation to provide high-speed global broadband from space, pitting the satellite communications firm founded in 1969 against two trailblazing billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
Musk, the Tesla Inc CEO who was only a year old when Telesat launched its first satellite, is putting the so-called Starlink LEO into orbit with his company SpaceX, and Amazon.com Inc, which Bezos founded, is planning a LEO called Project Kuiper. Bezos also owns Blue Origin, which builds rockets.
Despite the competition, Dan Goldberg, Telesat’s chief executive officer, voices confidence when he calls Telesat’s LEO constellation “the Holy Grail” for his shareholders – “a sustainable competitive advantage in global broadband delivery.”
Telesat’s LEO has a much lighter price tag than SpaceX and Amazon’s, and the company has been in satellite services decades longer. In addition, instead of focusing on the consumer market like SpaceX and Amazon, Telesat seeks deep-pocketed business clients.
Goldberg said he was literally losing sleep six years ago when he realized the company’s business model was in peril as Netflix and video streaming took off and fiber optics guaranteed lightning-fast internet connectivity.
Telesat’s 15 geostationary (GEO) satellites provide services mainly to TV broadcasters, internet service providers and government networks, all of whom were growing increasingly worried about the latency, or time delay, of bouncing signals off orbiters more than 35,000 km (22,200 miles) above earth.
Then in 2015 on a flight home from a Paris industry conference where latency was a constant theme, Goldberg wrote down his initial ideas for a LEO constellation on an Air Canada napkin.
Those ideas eventually led to Telesat’s LEO constellation, dubbed Lightspeed, which will orbit about 35 times closer to earth than GEO satellites, and will provide internet connectivity at a speed akin to fiber optics.
Telesat’s first launch is planned in early 2023, while there are already some 1,200 of Musk’s Starlink satellites in orbit.
“Starlink is going to be in service much sooner … and that gives SpaceX the opportunity to win customers,” said Caleb Henry, a senior analyst at Quilty Analytics.
Starlink’s “first mover” advantage is at most 24 months and “no one’s going to lock this whole market up in that amount of time,” Goldberg said.
Telesat in 2019 signed a launch deal with Bezos’ aerospace company Blue Origin. Discussions are ongoing with three others, said David Wendling, Telesat’s chief technical officer.
They are Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Europe’s ArianeGroup , and Musk’s SpaceX, which launches the Starlink satellites. Wendling said a decision would be taken in a matter of months.
Telesat aims to launch its first batch of 298 satellites being built by Thales Alenia Space in early 2023, with partial service in higher latitudes later that same year, and full global service in 2024.
The Lightspeed constellation is estimated to cost half as much as the $10 billion SpaceX and Amazon projects.
“We think we’re in the sweet spot,” Goldberg said. “When we look at some of these other constellations, we don’t get it.”
Analyst Henry said Telesat’s focus on business clients is the right one.
“You have two heavyweight players, SpaceX and Amazon, that are already pledging to spend $10 billion on satellite constellations optimized for the consumer market,” he said. “If Telesat can spend half that amount creating a high-performance system for businesses, then yeah, they stand to be very competitive.”
Telesat’s industry experience may also provide an edge.
“We’ve worked with many of these customers for decades … That’s going to give us a real advantage,” Goldberg said.
Telesat “is a satellite operator, has been a satellite operator, and has both the advantage of expertise and experience in that business,” said Carissa Christensen, chief executive officer of the research firm BryceTech, adding, however, that she sees only two to three LEO constellations surviving.
Telesat is nailing down financing – one-third equity and two-thirds debt – and will become publicly traded on the Nasdaq sometime this summer, and it could also list on the Toronto exchange after that. Currently, Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Loral Space & Communications Inc are the company’s main shareholders.
France and Canada’s export credit agencies, BPI and EDC respectively, are expected to be the main lenders, Goldberg said. Quebec’s provincial government is lending C$400 million ($317 million), and Canada’s federal government has promised C$600 million to be a preferred customer. The company also posted C$246 million in net income in 2020.
Executing the LEO plan is what keeps Goldberg up at night now, he said.
“When we decided to go down this path, the two richest people in the universe weren’t focused on their own LEO constellations.”
($1 = 1.2622 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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