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Officials insist Canada still on track for 4M Pfizer doses by March despite planning data – Global News



Come hell or high water, the Prime Minister’s Office insists the country will get the promised four million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine by the end of March.

It comes after a chaotic morning of questions prompted by planning data sent by the federal government to provinces, who promptly raised the alarm at the numbers showing they could receive only 3.5 million doses rather than four million.

But officials insisted those numbers are only “minimums” and come amid a push by Pfizer to get Health Canada to approve squeezing an extra dose out of each vial of vaccine.

Read more:
Pfizer pushes Health Canada to stretch vaccine doses per vial as demand mounts

“Pfizer certainly intends on fulfilling their contractual obligations,” Gen. Dany Fortin, who is overseeing logistical planning for Canada’s vaccine distribution efforts, told reporters in Ottawa on Thursday.

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“We are providing as much visibility as possible to the provinces and territories.”

Sources from multiple premiers’ offices told Global News Thursday that data provided to them by federal officials showed that Canada’s goal of four million vaccines by March had been reduced to 3.5 million.

One source told Global News that Alberta’s total shipments under that timeline could be 13 per cent less than previously expected.

Click to play video 'Pfizer wants to relabel COVID-19 vaccine vials from 5 to 6 doses'

Pfizer wants to relabel COVID-19 vaccine vials from 5 to 6 doses

Pfizer wants to relabel COVID-19 vaccine vials from 5 to 6 doses

Fortin said the data was for provinces to “plan against” and was “a baseline” provinces can build on while sorting out vaccination logistics.

“The numbers are accurate in terms of planning, but we know those numbers will grow to meet the target of four million doses by the end of March,” Fortin said.

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“There’s a number of variables still at play.”

The key variable is whether Health Canada approves a request from the company to boost the number of doses it extracts from each vial of the vaccine from five to six.

It would allow the company to send fewer vials to Canada, while still meeting its contractual obligations.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Over 902,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered across Canada, says federal health official'

Coronavirus: Over 902,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered across Canada, says federal health official

Coronavirus: Over 902,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered across Canada, says federal health official

A source from the Prime Minister’s Office tells Global News that it is expected Health Canada will change the doses from five to six. When that happens, Canada will hit its four million target with the same number of trays of vials being shipped by Pfizer.

However, if Health Canada does not give the green light, the source said Pfizer will increase the shipments of vials to fulfill its contractual obligation of four million, nonetheless.

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As it stands, federal officials are “doing the math” with five doses per vial, Fortin said, while Pfizer is doing so with six doses.

“That decision (by Health Canada) has not been made yet, so that decision reflects in the data,” Fortin said.

“Planning figures can be misleading, but we will assure we have good, meaningful, bilateral discussions to assure them of what we’re currently thinking.”

Read more:
How can we get more vaccines faster? Experts say ‘it’s just not that easy’

The reduction stems, in part, from a production delay at Pfizer’s factory in Europe. The company is scaling up its manufacturing capacity in Belgium — a move it said would impact the vaccine’s production for a “short period.”

Canadian officials have maintained that the reduction in shipments for January and February would be made up when deliveries “ramp up” in March.

Fortin told reporters on Jan. 15, the day the European production delay was announced, that shipments would be reduced by an average of 50 per cent over four weeks.

He did, at the time, acknowledge that the brunt of the delivery reduction would be felt in late January.

“But Pfizer assures us they will recover from that quite significantly and rapidly,” he said at Thursday’s press conference.

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Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Anand says despite Pfizer delay, Canada to have about 20 million doses available by June'

Coronavirus: Anand says despite Pfizer delay, Canada to have about 20 million doses available by June

Coronavirus: Anand says despite Pfizer delay, Canada to have about 20 million doses available by June

Fortin and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have both said they were confident the delays would be “temporary” and that Canada would still receive four million doses of Pfizer’s shot by the end of March

To date, Canada has received about 1,122,450 doses of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, according to a vaccine tracker by the University of Saskatchewan. A tally by the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the total number of vaccines delivered as 1,119,225.

Pfizer has indicated to Canada that vaccine deliveries would also be impacted through February. The next two weeks will be lower than initially planned, Fortin said, with 79,000 doses next week and approximately 70,000 the second week of February.

From there, Fortin expects things to still scale up to meet the four million target.

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But it’s a “long game,” Fortin added.

Canada has set a goal to obtain enough approved vaccines for anyone who wishes to be vaccinated by the end of September. Fortin maintained Thursday that he is confident that goal will be met.

Read more:
How can we get more vaccines faster? Experts say ‘it’s just not that easy’

Several provinces have already used up nearly all their vaccine supply and have been forced to push back their vaccination schedules.

This week, Ontario announced it would pause vaccinations of long-term care staff and essential caregivers due to upcoming delivery delays. Saskatchewan announced Sunday it had exhausted all the doses it had received so far, while Quebec said it had used up more than 90 per cent of its supply.

Concerns about the slow pace of the vaccine rollout are rising in Canada and around the world.

Click to play video 'Canada ranks 18th on world stage for vaccine rollout'

Canada ranks 18th on world stage for vaccine rollout

Canada ranks 18th on world stage for vaccine rollout

A recent analysis from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) suggested Canada may not be on track for widespread vaccination by September 2021, which is when Trudeau has vowed everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one.

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The researchers predict widespread vaccination won’t happen in Canada until mid-2022.

“Every government around the world has promised its population that they would get access to coronavirus vaccines soon. However, our index shows that this is not a realistic pledge,” Agathe Demarais, global forecasting director of the EIU and author of the report, told Global News in an email.

“Based on a host of indicators, including supply deals, production constraints, vaccine hesitancy, the size of the population, and the availability of healthcare workers, we believe that the immunization of 60-70% of the Canadian population will be completed in early 2022.”

Read more:
Canada’s September vaccine target could hinge on other approvals

The report ranked countries by their vaccine timelines to date and the assessed likelihood that they will hit those.

Canada came up on par with Brazil, while the United States and Europe were all on track for widespread vaccination by the end of this year.

Demarais notes that Canada’s unique and vast territory will be a “specific hurdle,” making it hard for vaccines to reach remote regions. Production delays, like the ones unfolding in Belgium, will also be part of the constraint, she said.

— with files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ David Akin, Rachel Gilmore and Amanda Connolly 


© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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World shares sink after inflation driven retreat on Wall St – Business News –



Shares declined in Europe and Asia on Thursday after a broad retreat on Wall Street triggered by worries over the impact of persistent high inflation on corporate profits and consumer spending.

U.S. futures were lower, while oil prices advanced.

Germany’s DAX lost 2% to 13,731.64 and the CAC 40 in Paris declined 1.9% to 6,234.78. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 1.7% to 3,537.99. The future for the S&P 500 was 1% lower while the future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 0.9%.

The Dow industrials sank more than 1,100 points, or 3.6% on Wednesday, and the S&P 500 had its biggest drop in nearly two years, shedding 4%. That was its steepest decline since June 2020. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 4.7%.

The benchmark index is now down more than 18% from the record high it reached at the beginning of the year. That’s just shy of the 20% decline that’s considered a bear market.

“The sentiment in the market is highly negative as traders and investors are largely concerned about an economic downturn and soaring inflation,” Naeem Aslam of Avatrade said in a commentary.

The Federal Reserve is trying to temper the impact from the highest inflation in four decades by raising interest rates. Many other central banks are on a similar track. But the Bank of Japan has stuck to its low interest rate policy and the gap between those benchmark rates of the world’s largest and third-largest economies has pushed the dollar’s value up against the Japanese yen.

Japan reported a trade deficit for April as its imports ballooned 28%. The shift reflects surging energy costs amid the war in Ukraine and a weakening of the yen against the U.S. dollar.

Japan’s exports grew to 8.076 trillion yen ($63 billion) last month, up 12.5% from the previous year, according to Ministry of Finance data released Thursday. Imports totaled 8.915 trillion yen ($70 billion) in April, up from 6.953 trillion yen in April 2021, and the highest since comparable numbers began to be taken in 1979.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 1.9% to 26,402.84 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 2.5% to 20,120.60. In South Korea, the Kospi shed 1.3% to 2,592.34, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gave up 1.7% to 7,064.50.

The Shanghai Composite index reversed earlier losses, gaining 0.4% to 3.096.96.

On Wednesday, retailer Target lost a quarter of its value after reporting earnings that fell far short of analysts’ forecasts. Inflation, especially for shipping costs, dragged its operating margin for the first quarter to 5.3%. It had been expecting 8% or higher.

The company warned that its costs for freight this year would be $1 billion higher than it estimated just three months ago.

The report comes a day after Walmart said its profit took a hit from higher costs. The nation’s largest retailer fell 6.8%, adding to its losses from Tuesday.

Target and Walmart each provided anecdotal evidence that inflation is weighing on consumers, saying they held back on purchasing big-ticket items and changed from national brands to less expensive store brands.

The weak reports stoked concerns that stubbornly rising inflation is putting a tighter squeeze on a wide range of businesses and could cut deeper into their profits.

Other big retailers also have racked up hefty losses.

The data are not entirely consistent. On Tuesday, the market cheered an encouraging report from the Commerce Department that showed retail sales rose in April, driven by higher sales of cars, electronics, and more spending at restaurants.

Investors worry the Fed could trigger a recession if it raises interest rates too high or too quickly. Worries persist about global growth as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine puts even more pressure on prices for oil and food while lockdowns in China to stem COVID-19 cases worsens supply chain problems.

In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 56 cents to $110.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped $2.81 to $109.59 on Wednesday.

Brent crude, the basis for pricing for international trading, climbed $1.19 to $110.30 per barrel.

The dollar fell to 128.14 Japanese yen from 128.20 yen late Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.0481 from $1.0464.

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Gold prices holding at session highs as U.S. existing home sales fall 2.4% in April – Kitco NEWS



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(Kitco News) – The gold market continues to trade near session highs, supported by more disappointing economic data. Rising interest rates continue to cool down the U.S. housing market as fewer consumers purchased home last month, according to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Existing home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted and annualized rate of 5.61 million units last month, down 2.4% compared to March’s annualized rate of 5.75 million homes, the NAR said on Thursday. Market consensus projections called for existing home sales to fall only slightly to 5.65 million.

For the year, home sales are down 5.9%, the report said.

The gold market has seen some renewed technical buying momentum, which has been supported by weaker-than-expected economic data. June gold futures last traded at $1,842.40 an ounce, up nearly 1.5% on the day.

The U.S. housing sector has faced some challenging headwinds as the Federal Reserve looks to aggressively raise interest rates, which in turn is pushing mortgage rates higher.

“Higher home prices and sharply higher mortgage rates have reduced buyer activity,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “It looks like more declines are imminent in the upcoming months, and we’ll likely return to the pre-pandemic home sales activity after the remarkable surge over the past two years.”

Yun noted that the falling sales space is helping to boost the supply of existing homes. The report said that the inventory of homes for sale totaled 1,030,000 in April, representing a 2.2-month supply.

Although sales are down, Yun said that home prices still remain elevated.

“The market is quite unusual as sales are coming down, but listed homes are still selling swiftly, and home prices are much higher than a year ago,” he said.

The report said the median existing-home price for all housing types in April was $391,200, up 14.8% from April 2021.

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Ford recalling 350,000 SUVs due to unexplained engine fires, including some sold in Canada – CBC News



Ford is asking the owners of 350,000 SUVs from the 2021 model year to take them to dealers for repairs because the engines can catch fire.

Ford says in U.S. government documents posted Thursday that it doesn’t know what’s causing fires in some Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs from the 2021 model year.

2863 of the vehicles were sold in Canada: 2,354 Expeditions, and 509 Navigators.

Owners are being advised to park them outside if possible because engine fires have been reported even when the vehicles were not in use.

Ford has reports of 16 fires under the hood, 12 of which started when the engine was off. One person was burned.

Trying to notify customers

So far it hasn’t developed a repair for the fires, which appear to start at the back of the engine compartment on the passenger side.

Ford says it’s treating the recall urgently and will use apps and mail to notify customers as soon as it develops a list of vehicle owners and addresses.

“We are working around the clock to determine the root cause of this issue and subsequent remedy so that customers can continue to enjoy using their vehicles,” Jeffrey Marentic, general manager of Ford passenger vehicles, said in a statement.

Ford began investigating fire reports on March 24. It says the fires appear to be limited to SUVs built from Dec. 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. The company says it has no fire reports from vehicles built before or after those dates.

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