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Ontario Health says mixing vaccines is safe after WHO chief scientist comments – CityNews Toronto

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Health officials are reassuring Ontarians that mixing COVID-19 vaccines is safe and effective against the virus, following some confusion about messaging from the World Health Organization that seemed to say there is not enough data on the practice yet.

At the WHO’s Monday coronavirus briefing, chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan warned against mixing vaccines, as part of a longer discussion about booster doses.

It was later clarified that she was referring to booster doses for fully vaccinated people and warned against individuals “vaccine shopping” outside of public health regulations or deciding for themselves about a third or fourth shot in countries where there is ample supply of vaccines. Rather, she said people should rely on public health agencies to make that decision based on available data.

On Tuesday, Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe attempted to clear up the confusion and said taking a combination of any of the two mRNA vaccines, Pfizer or Moderna, as well as taking an mRNA vaccine following the AstraZeneca shot is still being recommended in the province.

“We are following the advice of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), which recommends it is safe to mix these vaccines, based on studies from the U.K., from Spain, from Germany,” she said. “They have found that mixing these vaccines is very safe and produces a strong, effective immune response.”

Dr. Yaffe added that Ontario Health will continue to follow studies and data closely and work with NACI as well as the federal government on the issue.

Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Keiren Moore, once again reiterated the importance of getting fully vaccinated and warned that the Delta variant “will want to surge and return in September if not earlier,” as the risk of spread is heightened with indoor activities and cold weather.

“The Delta strain will seek out unvaccinated individuals and so becoming immunized as soon as possible will ensure that you are not on that path of least resistance for the virus,” he said, adding that the highest incidence of infection over the last three months have been seen among those who are unvaccinated.

Dr. Yaffe said that since it was declared a variant of concern, Ontario has had over 20 outbreaks where Delta was the dominant strain. They usually involved gatherings where people were in close contact, without a mask and had low vaccination rates. Over 88.6 per cent of the current COVID-19 cases in the province are from the Delta variant.

She said mixing of the vaccines will allow people to get both shots of the vaccine sooner and help stem the spread of the variant.

Note: This article was edited to better reflect the comments made by Dr. Soumya Swaminathan in the correct context.

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Early Robinhood investor Jason Calacanis on trading app's imminent IPO – CNBC Television

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Robinhood Flirts With Worst Debut Ever for IPO of Its Size – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Robinhood Markets Inc. wanted to make history with its initial public offering, and now it might — for the wrong reason.

Shares in the broker behind the meme-stock revolution fell as much as 12% below the IPO price in the company’s first trading session. That puts the stock in the running to rank as the worst debut on record among U.S. firms that raised as much cash as Robinhood or more, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares rebounded and were last trading 1% lower at $37.52 mid-afternoon in New York.

Robinhood must finish Thursday’s session at $34.90 or higher, or else it will replace the 2007 IPO by another brokerage, MF Global Holdings Ltd., as the worst debut among qualifying firms. MF Global ended its first day down 8.2%.

Read more: Robinhood Loses More Ground in Trading Debut After Muted IPO

The stock opened at the $38 initial public offering price. For an IPO of Robinhood’s size and larger, that’s the weakest opening trade since Uber Technologies Inc. in May of 2019 among U.S. firms. Uber finished its debut session down 7.6%.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Google and Facebook will require U.S. workers to be vaccinated to return to the office – CBC.ca

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Google is postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened.

The more highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is driving a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Google’s announcement Wednesday was shortly followed by one from Facebook, which also said it will make vaccines mandatory for U.S. employees who work in offices. Exceptions will be made for medical and other reasons.

“With regards to our Canadian offices, we don’t have specifics to share yet,” a spokesperson for Facebook told CBC News. “We will be evaluating our approach in other regions as the situation evolves.”

In an email sent to Google’s more than 130,000 employees worldwide, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is now aiming to have most of its workforce back to its offices beginning Oct. 18, instead of its previous target date of Sept. 1.

The decision also affects tens of thousands of contractors who Google intends to continue to pay while access to its campuses remains limited.

“This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it,” Pichai wrote.

Pichai disclosed that once offices are fully reopened, everyone working there will have to be vaccinated. The requirement will be first imposed at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters and other U.S. offices, before being extended to the more than 40 other countries where Google operates.

‘The stuff that needs to be done’

Google has extensive operations in Canada, but the company did not immediately reply to a request for comment as to when such a policy may be implemented for its Canadian work force. Pichai’s letter, however, makes it clear that it is not just a U.S. policy.

“We’re rolling this policy out in the U.S. in the coming weeks and will expand to other regions in the coming months,” he said.

WATCH | How social media is helping spread misinformation like a virus:

U.S. officials say misinformation has plagued the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and case counts across the country are rising. 2:02

Public health experts are lauding the move.

“This is the stuff that needs to be done, because otherwise we are endangering workers and their families,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University and a former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore.

“It is not fair to parents to be expected to come back to work and sit shoulder-to-shoulder with unvaccinated people who could be carrying a potentially deadly virus.”

Because children under the age of 12 aren’t currently eligible to be vaccinated, parents can bring the virus home to them from the office if they are around unvaccinated colleagues, Wen said.

Various government agencies already have announced demands for all their employees to be vaccinated, but the corporate world so far has been taking a more measured approach, even though most lawyers believe the mandates are legal.

Most employers hesitant to require vaccines

Delta and United airlines are requiring new employees to show proof of vaccination. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are requiring their employees to disclose their vaccination status, but are not requiring staffers to be vaccinated.

Less than 10 per cent of employers have said they intend to require all employees to be vaccinated, based on periodic surveys by the research firm Gartner.

Although the vaccination policy is only in effect in the U.S. for now, Google makes it clear it plans to expand it to other countries where it operates too. (Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)

While other major technology companies may follow suit now that Google and Facebook have taken stands on vaccines, employers in other industries still may be reluctant, predicted Brian Kropp, chief of research for Gartner’s human resources practice.

“Google is seen as being such a different kind of company that I think it’s going to take one or two more big employers to do something similar in terms of becoming a game changer,” Kropp said.

Google’s vaccine mandate will be adjusted to adhere to the laws and regulations of each location, Pichai wrote, and exceptions will be made for medical and other “protected” reasons.

“Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead,” Pichai explained.

The rapid rise in cases during the past month has prompted more public health officials to urge stricter measures to help overcome vaccine skepticism and misinformation.

It’s unclear how many of Google’s workers still haven’t been vaccinated. In his email, Pichai described the vaccination rate at the company as high.

Remote work still going strong

Google’s decision to extend its remote work follows a similar move by another technology powerhouse, Apple, which recently moved its return-to-office plans from September to October, too.

The delays by Apple and Google could influence other major employers to take similar precautions, given that the technology industry has been at the forefront of the shift to remote work triggered by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Even before the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March 2020, Google, Apple and many other prominent tech firms had been telling their employees to work from home.

WATCH | Business travel particularly slow to bounce back:

A recent study from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company predicts that business travel won’t return to pre-pandemic levels for years. Many companies and business travellers are finding that they can cut costs by switching to virtual events and meetings, which could hurt businesses which rely on corporate travel. 1:59

This marks the third time Google has pushed back the date for fully reopening its offices.

Google’s vaccine requirement also could embolden other employers to issue similar mandates to guard against outbreaks and minimize the need to wear masks in the office.

While most companies are planning to bring back their workers at least a few days a week, others in the tech industry have decided to let employees do their jobs from remote locations permanently.

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