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Nova Scotia company waiting on Health Canada approval for rapid antigen test for COVID-19 – CTV News Atlantic



The Sona Nanotech lab in Dartmouth is making history by developing a rapid antigen test for COVID-19.

“There was a moment of tremendous pride for the entire team, as Canadians, when our evaluation results came back from both third-party laboratories and in-field trials and it showed how strongly our test preformed,” said CEO David Regan.

Here’s a simple breakdown of how the test works: After a nasal pharyngeal swab is administered, the swab is placed in a tube of solution for a few moments. Then, a sample of that is placed on a lateral flow test, like a pregnancy test. The results appear within 15 minutes.

“The Sona Nanotech test is like a pregnancy test. It’s a lateral flow test and those pregnancy tests detect the existence of a hormone, our test detects the presence of the coronavirus,” said Regan.

Sona Nanotech is the only company in Canada to come up with this technology.

“The four antigen tests that have been approved in the U.S. so far are from billion dollar companies, multi-billion dollar companies, with vast resources,” said Regan.

“This test at Sona Nanotech has been developed in the lab, here at the bays in Dartmouth based on research that was started at St. Francis Xavier University in the chemistry lab there and brought to fruition over the last nine months.”

Regan says the test could help triage people faster and free up the health-care system.

“A rapid test for COVID would be a great idea,” said Dr. Todd Hatchette, the Chief of Microbiology with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. “Having the ability to provide results within 15 or 20 minutes can be helpful in many different situations. But again, it comes back to primary concern, are these tests accurate, and are they sensitive to pick up the infection.”

Regan says it is.

“This is a screening device that can be used widespread to pick up not only the virus of those people that have symptoms but importantly, before people have symptoms,” he said. “At that stage, positives can be sent to the labs for confirmation but that will be result in much shorter turnaround times.”

Right now, it’s a waiting game for the lab as they seek approval from Health Canada.

In the meantime, the company is also working on a saliva at-home test, which is considered in the early stages of development.

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Shopify crushes third-quarter revenue, profit estimates – BNN



Shopify Inc. defied market expectations in the third quarter, posting stronger-than-expected results as the global pandemic continued to push shoppers and companies onto online platforms.

Revenue at Canada’s largest company by stock market value nearly doubled to US$767.4 million while adjusted earnings were US$1.13 per share, more than twice analysts’ estimates of 52 cents.

“The accelerated shift to digital commerce triggered by COVID-19 is continuing, as more consumers shop online and entrepreneurs step up to meet demand,” Shopify President Harley Finkelstein said in the earnings statement.

The shares initially rose in premarket trading, then fell back. Shopify was down 2.1 per cent to $1,335.88 in Toronto trading as of 9:40 a.m.

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Key Insights

  • Gross merchandise volume — a measure of product sales flowing through its platform — was $30.9 billion, an increase of 109 per cent over the third quarter of last year, reflecting strong e-commerce spending by consumers. It was the second straight quarter in which GMV more than doubled on a year-over-year basis.
  • The company continued to gain traction in new services it offers to customers. Shopify said 51 per cent of eligible merchants in the U.S. and Canada used Shopify Shipping in the third quarter of 2020, versus 45 per cent in the third quarter of 2019.

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Its lending business is growing as well. Merchants in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. received US$252.1 million in merchant cash advances and loans from Shopify Capital in the quarter, an increase of 79 per cent from the amount received by U.S. merchants in the same quarter last year.

The company expects its model to remain popular with buyers and sellers in the pandemic but cited macro risks in its decision not to provide fourth quarter or full-year guidance.

“These include unemployment, fiscal stimulus, and the magnitude and duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, all of which may impact new shop creation on our platform and consumer spending”: Shopify

Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke said in a conference call with analysts that he remains skeptical about acquisitions. “The opportunity cost of integrating is enormous,” he said. “We are trying to take a broad picture perspective. This has made us potentially more careful but I also think just more realistic.”

Founded in 2004, the Ottawa-based firm’s core business is helping retailers get online quickly and cheaply. But it has expanded to offer an ever-widening suite of services, including lending, payments and shipping solutions.

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U.S. economy notches record growth in 3rd quarter –



The U.S. economy grew at an unrivalled pace in the third quarter as the government poured out more than $3 trillion US worth of pandemic relief that fuelled consumer spending, but the deep scars from the COVID-19 recession could take a year or more to heal.

Gross domestic product rebounded at a 33.1 per cent annualized rate last quarter, the Commerce Department said in its advance estimate on Thursday. That was the fastest pace since the government started keeping records in 1947 and followed a historic shrinkage rate of 31.4 per cent in the second quarter.

The GDP report — one of the last major economic scorecards before next week’s presidential election — will do little to mitigate the human tragedy inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, with tens of millions Americans still unemployed and more than 222,000 dead.

With five days remaining to Election Day, President Donald Trump, trailing in most national opinion polls, will probably seize on the stunning rebound in GDP as a sign of recovery. But U.S. output remains below its level in the fourth quarter of 2019, a fact Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden is almost certain to highlight along with signs that the growth spurt is fast petering out.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the economy expanding at a 31 per cent rate in the July-September quarter. The economy slipped into recession in February.

“We expect minimal growth in [the fourth quarter] as consumer and business anxiety can only increase amid rising virus infections,” BMO senior economist Sal Guatieri said in a commentary.

With no further U.S. government aid in sight this year, Goldman Sachs has slashed its growth forecast for the current fourth quarter to a three per cent annual rate from six per cent.

Unemployment benefits claims down

The government’s rescue package provided a lifeline for many businesses and the unemployed, juicing up consumer spending, which on its own powered the surge in GDP. But government funding has been depleted with no deal in sight for another round of relief. New COVID-19 cases are spiralling across the country, forcing restrictions on businesses like restaurants and bars.

Slightly more than half of the 22.2 million jobs lost during the pandemic have been recouped, and layoffs persist.

A separate report from the Labour Department on Thursday showed 751,000 people filed for state unemployment benefits in the week ending Oct. 24, compared to 791,000 in the previous period. Though claims have dropped from a record 6.867 million in March, they remain above their 665,000 peak seen during the 2007-09 recession.

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US economy turns in record Q3 growth, but crisis is not over – Al Jazeera English



The United States economy grew at its fastest pace on record in the third quarter, rebounding at an annual rate of 33.1 percent, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said on Thursday.

The blockbuster reading follows on from a record-shattering 31.4 percent contraction in the second quarter – and a negative 5 percent hit in the first quarter – when the economy officially entered a recession in February.

The balance signals that though the economy is crawling out of the deep hole dug by COVID-19, it still has a way to go to recapture its pre-pandemic strength.

Put simply, the economic crisis is not over.

Moreover, some sectors of the economy are recovering faster than others and those disparities are rippling through the fabric of American society in the form of deepening inequalities.

Those with a job and assets like stock portfolios and homes are doing well, while those who are jobless or own a business ravaged by virus restrictions are falling further behind. Racial wealth and income disparities are widening.  Women are dropping out of the workforce at an alarming rate as the demands of jobs and looking after children learning remotely force tough choices on parents.

Thursday’s report on gross domestic product (GDP) is the last major economic data release before the November 3 US presidential election.

Though the headline number may be seized upon as a bragging point for President Donald Trump, it is unlikely to dramatically influence his re-election prospects, given that more than 75 million Americans have already voted, according to the US Elections Project.

But there is a world of uncertainty that lies ahead – both for the election and the economy.

If the results of the election are contested, it could lead to further hold-ups with a new round of virus relief aid as the White House and Democrats in Congress fail to find common ground.

The stakes could not be higher.  Aid from the federal government such as enhanced employment benefits, lifelines for small businesses, and one-off cash payments to households helped the economy bounce back in the third quarter. But those stimulus effects are fading.

There is a mounting body of data that points to a downshifting recovery in the fourth quarter. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has warned that more government spending is needed to keep the recovery on track.

Now surging COVID-19 infections are raising the spectre of more business-sapping restrictions.

An unprecedented recession, a slowing recovery

The COVID-19 recession is a far different beast from previous post-war contractions.

The Great Recession of 2008-2009 was triggered by a massive build-up of debt, mostly due to the housing bubble.  When it burst, loans soured, house prices crashed, credit markets seized, wealth was wiped out, unemployment skyrocketed and demand for finished goods and services – what economists call “aggregate demand” – suffered a massive blow.

That devastated industries like construction and manufacturing and sent the Federal Reserve scrambling to create new tools to pull the US and global economies back from the brink of collapse. Congress dithered and eventually stepped up with a $787bn stimulus package in 2009.

But subsequent rounds of federal spending were not forthcoming, leaving the Fed to carry the recovery ball with the blunt tool of monetary policy. Many economists believe this led to a more protracted recovery.

The COVID-19 recession, by contrast, was triggered by lockdowns designed to contain the spread of the disease. Entire sectors of the economy ground to a halt virtually overnight, delivering an unprecedented supply shock that quickly turned into a demand shock as 22 million people were thrown out of work in March and April.

Customer-facing service industries, like restaurants, that employ a disproportionate number of low-wage workers, as well as minorities and women, were gutted.

This time around, the Fed acted much faster with bold and decisive action, such as slashing interest rates to near zero, resuming bond buying to keep borrowing costs at rock bottom and making trillions of dollars of lending available to keep credit markets from freaking out.

Congress also moved far more quickly on the spending front, approving some $3 trillion in virus relief aid to help small businesses keep workers on payrolls, laid-off workers remain afloat and state and local governments cope with the public health crisis.

The combined efforts of the Fed and Congress helped power the economy in the third quarter – putting money in people’s pockets to help unleash pent-up demand as lockdown restrictions were rolled back.

That is clear from Thursday’s numbers. Consumer spending – which drives roughly two-thirds of US economic growth – was indeed the hero of third-quarter GDP.

Businesses, such as car dealers building up inventories, exports and a red-hot housing market were also key drivers.

But federal stimulus programmes including the lifeline to small businesses and the $600 federal weekly top-up to state unemployment benefits expired at the end of July – and that waning stimulus is manifesting in metrics that signal the recovery is now shifting into low gear.

In August, personal income in the US declined 2.7 percent – a fall the US Department of Commerce said was “more than accounted for” by the expiration of the federal weekly jobless benefit supplement.

Disparities are also widening. Again – monetary policy is a blunt instrument.

While basement-level borrowing costs helped keep credit flowing to businesses and households – essential for keeping the economy healthy – they have also rewarded asset owners.

Record-low mortgage rates for example, helped drive sales of previously owned homes to a 14-year high in September, while investors chasing bigger returns from risker assets helped US stock indexes recover from the COVID crash earlier this year. The S&P 500 hit a new all-time high at the start of September.

That means many Americans who own their own home and are invested in the stock market and who still have a job are not only doing well, many of them are better off than before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, those who are out of work and who do not own appreciating assets are struggling.

Nearly one in three renters in the US did not pay their rent fully on time in the first week of October, while one in 10 started the month owing back rent, according to a housing payments survey by Apartment List.

Layoffs remain widespread. Some 751,000 Americans filed for state unemployment benefits last week. That is 40,000 fewer than the previous week, but still far above February’s average of just over 200,000 initial weekly jobless claims.

And though the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent in September – a little less than half of its pandemic high in April – it is still miles from February’s unemployment rate of 3.5 percent.

Only 11.4 million of the 22 million jobs lost during lockdowns have been recovered. Many temporary layoffs are turning into permanent job losses.

Federal Reserve chiefs are not exactly known for their plain-talking ways, but Powell was pretty blunt when he laid out the case earlier this month for more fiscal stimulus from Congress: “Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses,” he said.

But more relief hinges on Congress and the White House overcoming their differences to pass another aid package.

Looming over this backdrop of partisan political acrimony is the ever-present threat of COVID-19.

Infections are surging in parts of the US, raising the spectre of more growth-sapping containment measures. In Europe, where cases are spiralling, France and Germany have ordered partial lockdowns.

The course of the virus, the outcome of the election and plateauing recovery are launching the US down an uncertain path.  One that could lead to longer economic recovery.

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