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Ontario officials provide update on who will be next in line to receive COVID-19 vaccine – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Ahead of the anticipated arrival of more COVID-19 vaccine doses in the coming weeks, the province has now confirmed who will be prioritized next for its vaccination program.

In a memo sent out to local medical officers of health and hospital CEOs on Sunday, provincial officials said staff and essential caregivers in long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care homes, along with any residents in these settings who have not yet received a first dose, are an “immediate priority” for vaccination.

“The provincial target of providing a first dose offer of vaccine to residents of all long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes is arriving at completion. This includes work underway to make vaccinations available to First Nations elder care homes across the province,” the memo read.

“At this time, we are pleased to report that residents at all long-term care homes across the province have been given an opportunity for their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.”

The groups that should be next in line, according to the province, include Indigenous adults in northern remote and higher risk communities and health-care workers with the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19.

The province has broken down health-care workers into four categories: highest priority, very high priority, high priority, and moderate priority.

Highest-priority health-care workers include all hospital and acute care staff in frontline roles with COVID-19 patients or those with a high-risk of exposure, including workers who perform “aerosol-generating procedures.”

Other workers identified in the highest priority group include “all patient-facing health-care workers involved in the COVID-19 response,” medical first-responders, including paramedics and firefighters, and community health-care workers serving specialized populations, including those who work at needle exchange or supervised consumption sites.

The province has identified “very high priority” health-care workers as those who work in acute care and other hospital settings not already identified in the previous category, along those who work in congregate and community care settings, including community health centres, birth centres, dentistry clinics, pharmacies, and walk-in clinics.

High priority health-care workers include those who work in community care settings with a lower risk of exposure, including mental health and addiction services and campus health-care workers.

Non-frontline health-care workers, including those who work remotely and do not require personal protective equipment, have been placed in the “moderate priority” category, the memo states.

The province said it has broken down health-care workers into these four categories due to the fact that demand for the vaccine will “initially exceed available supply,” which may result in the need to decide who gets the vaccine first. Highest priority health-care workers and very high priority health-care workers have been identified as groups who should be vaccinated “immediately.”

“When all reasonable steps have been taken to complete first-dose vaccinations of all staff, essential caregivers and residents of long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care homes, first-dose vaccinations may be made available to the remainder of the Phase One populations,” the province said in its memo.

People in this category include all adults ages 80 and over as well as staff, residents, and caregivers in all retirement homes and other congregate care settings for seniors. All Indigenous adults, adult recipients of chronic home care, and health-care workers in the “high” priority level are also included in Phase One.

“To ensure equity and integrity in vaccine delivery, public health units and vaccination clinics should implement processes to fill last-minute cancellations, ‘no-shows’ and end-of-day remaining doses with people who are in groups identified in this memo as immediate and next priority for vaccination, and only to Phase One priority populations,” the memo read.

This directive comes after the head of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine task force admitted that hospitals gave some doses of the vaccine to non-frontline staff, including people working from home, because it was better to do that than to let the doses expire when people did not show up for their shot.

The province has also confirmed that in an effort to increase the number of first doses it administers during this “supply-limited time,” second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be administered no later than 42 days after the first shot.

This applies to all who receive their first dose with the exception of residents of long-term care, high-risk retirement and First Nations elder care homes, those 80 and older, and residents in other types of congregate care homes for seniors. Those groups will receive the second dose between 21 and 27 days after their first.

Only two COVID-19 vaccines, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines produced in Europe, are approved for use in Canada and both companies have come up short in their recent shipments to the country.

About 922,234 people in Canada have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, approximately 2.43 per cent of the country’s population.

But the federal government has indicated that Canada expects to ramp up its vaccination effort this spring when the country receives an influx in vaccines next month.

Pfizer has promised to deliver on its goal to ship four million doses to Canada by the end of March.

In Ontario, an estimated 467,626 doses have been administered and 174,643 people are now fully vaccinated.

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Trudeau 'very optimistic' vaccine rollout can be accelerated and move closer to U.S. goals – National Post

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Trudeau held to his September target, but said with vaccine deliveries being moved up and new candidates being approved, the timeline could be moved up

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OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday morning he was hopeful Canada’s vaccine timelines could be moved up, but offered no assurance the vaccine rollout here won’t be completed months after the United States.

But late on Wednesday afternoon, a national panel of vaccine experts recommended extending the interval between the two doses of a COVID-19 shot when faced with a limited supply.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s updated guidance is for the administration of all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in Canada. It says extending the dose interval to four months will create opportunities to protect the entire adult population against the virus within a shorter timeframe.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday evening America would have enough vaccines delivered to cover the entire population by late May. The rollout of those vaccines into arms will follow, but America is still likely to be able to vaccinate its entire population months ahead of Canada.

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Trudeau’s long-held timeline is to have all Canadians vaccinated by the end of September. He held to that target at his Wednesday morning press conference, but said with vaccine deliveries being moved up and new candidates being approved, it is possible the timeline could be moved up.

“We’re very optimistic that we’re going to be able to accelerate some of these timelines,” he said. “We’re going to continue to do everything we can to allow our population to get through this challenge as quickly as possible,” he said.

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Trudeau said COVID has had a much more devastating impact on the U.S. and that will have a significant impact on the recovery.

“Obviously, the pandemic has had a very different course in the United States with far greater death tolls and case counts and that has had its own impact on the American economy,” he said.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner, the party’s health critic, said the government should be providing a clearer, more detailed explanation of its vaccine plan, to help businesses have confidence about what comes next.

“We don’t have any of that data. We don’t actually know what the realistic time horizon is for delivery of vaccines,” she said.

With Canada set to be months behind the U.S., United Kingdom and potentially other countries in the rollout, Rempel Garner said the government should be offering information about what else it will do to ease the pandemic in the meantime.

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“I think we’ll have a problem on compliance and certainty for business reopening, so this is why we’re saying look, be honest with Canadians, and then let’s work together to come up with a plan B,” she said. “COVID fatigue is a real thing. There’s a lot of frustration.”

Trudeau announced that both the government’s rent subsidy for small business and the wage subsidy will be extended into June as the pandemic continues. The extension of the rent subsidy is forecasted to cost an additional $2.1 billion and the wage subsidy will cost the government an additional $13.9 billion.

Finance Minister Chyrstia Freeland said the government would continue to support businesses with the goal of keeping the economy moving so it can resurge quickly when restrictions are lifted.

“Our government will continue to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to help Canadians through this bleak time, to prevent economic scarring and invest in a way that allows us all to come roaring back,” she said.

Biden moved up his timeline to May, from what had been the end of July, after announcing the U.S. government had approved a third vaccine candidate from Johnson and Johnson. Canada is expected to approve that vaccine soon.

Canada received 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the first shipment in a total of two million doses expected before mid-May, on top of a further 20 million doses expected between April and September.

Despite all the recent vaccine announcements, Trudeau said it was too early to formally move up the deadline, because there could still be issues with manufacturing or deliveries.

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“These are new processes for new vaccines that are being manufactured in the millions and even billions in order to cover everyone on Earth,” he said. “We’ll be facing continued challenges, which is one of the reasons why we made such a deliberate effort to sign more deals with more different companies than many of our fellow countries.”

While the Biden administration has said it won’t ship vaccines from the U.S. to other countries until all Americans are vaccinated, Trudeau said Biden knows the challenge is global.

“It was very clear that they understand, like us, we know that you don’t get through this pandemic, anywhere, not fully, until you get through it everywhere.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

• Email: rtumilty@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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Nova Scotia to accept shipment of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine – HalifaxToday.ca

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Nova Scotia has decided to receive its first shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Next week, the province will get 13,000 doses of the third COVID-19 vaccine approved for use by Health Canada.

They don’t have a long shelf life and must be used by April 2.

Because of that, even though it is a two dose vaccine, the province announced today it plans to administer all of the supply as first doses. They will be going into the arms of Nova Scotians between the ages of 50 and 64 at 26 locations throughout the province on a first-come, first-served basis.

Earlier this week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended the Oxford-AstraZeneca only be used for people between the ages of 18 and 64.

“AstraZeneca is different than the two vaccines we’re using now,” explained the province’s chief medical officer of health at Tuesday’s briefing. “The Pfizer-BioNtech and the Moderna are mRNA vaccines, which have been shown to be 94 to 95 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 illness.”

“The AstraZeneca is slightly different. It’s called a viral-vector vaccine and it’s been shown to be about 62 per cent effective against preventing symptomatic illness.”

Because of that, Dr. Robert Strang said it won’t be used for any group considered to be a high risk for severe disease and/or exposure.

Unlike the mRNA vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine does contain a virus, however the province says it isn’t the one that causes COVID-19. It’s a “different, harmless virus that triggers an immune response.”

The vaccine also doesn’t need the cold or ultra-low cold storage that the other two require. It can be stored between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius, which is similar to the standard flu vaccine.

Doctors Nova Scotia and the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia will be handling the launch.

“This vaccine provides another tool in our fight against COVID-19 and builds on the roll-out that is already underway in our province as we work to vaccinate all Nova Scotians,” said Premier Iain Rankin in a news release. “We have to move fast as we are mindful of the fact that we have a short window to use it given that they will expire in a month.”

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Redacted Novavax COVID-19 vaccine contract for Canada released in U.S. regulatory filings – National Post

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All of Canada’s seven vaccine contracts have been kept confidential since they were signed last year and the government has fought against their disclosure

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OTTAWA – Canada’s agreement with COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Novavax has been released in regulatory filings, showing the drug maker has set delivery schedules, but also has broad leeway to miss them for a variety of reasons.

Novavax was the fifth vaccine maker to submit their COVID-19 vaccine to Health Canada for regulatory approval and could be given the green light as early as April. The company has a deal to provide at least 52 million doses and as many as 76 million doses of its two-dose vaccine to Canada.

All of Canada’s seven vaccine contracts have been kept confidential since they were signed last year and the government has fought moves in parliament to force the disclosure of the contracts. The released contract is still heavily redacted, with all the details on price, deliveries and penalties for missed timelines for Novavax blacked out.

The contract, filed with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, does specifically acknowledge there are many problems that could prevent the company from making its deliveries on time.

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“Customer acknowledges that the delivery schedule may change due to several variables. Including but not limited to speed of clinical trial enrolment and accrual of events, manufacturing delays and/or timing of regulatory approval,” reads the contract. It also specifies the delivery schedule is an “estimate only.”

Under the deal, Novavax is set to deliver vaccines monthly to Canada and like other vaccine manufacturers has quarterly targets, though the specifics of those targets are redacted from the deal. The government agreed to pay up front for the vaccines, in part because the company agreed to manufacture doses ahead of regulatory approval so they can be moved out quickly after the vaccine is approved.

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The company’s CEO has said they could produce as many as 150 million doses per month starting in May. They have also signed deals with the United Kingdom, United States and several other countries, but Canada is one of the biggest orders.

If Novavax misses targets it has the opportunity to catch up and if they continue to fail Canada has the ability to cancel the agreement. Canada paid an upfront payment, but it is unclear how much Canada would be out if it cancelled the contract.

The deal does specify the company has to make “commercially reasonable efforts” to deliver on the contract, a phrase, which also exists in the company’s contracts with U.K. and Australia, though its specific definition is redacted.

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On deliveries, the U.K. and Australia’s contract includes similar language, but the U.K deal includes lots of specifics on the company’s commitment to attempt to manufacture the vaccine in British facilities.

Medical lab scientists work on samples collected in the Novavax phase 3 COVID-19 clinical vaccine trial at Harborview Medical Center on February 12, 2021 in Seattle, Washington.
Medical lab scientists work on samples collected in the Novavax phase 3 COVID-19 clinical vaccine trial at Harborview Medical Center on February 12, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images

The company has also signed a deal to produce its vaccine on Canadian soil, at the National Research Council’s under construction facility in Montreal, but that was not part of the original agreement.

The Montreal facility is expected to take until late December to actually produce doses, and Canada’s first shipments are expected to come from other countries.

The regulatory documents include the detail that the company is committed to go further and will expand its presence in Canada

“The MOU also includes a broader intention for the Government of Canada and us to work together to increase our Canadian presence,” reads the filling. “We will explore a range of partnership opportunities for us to expand vaccine production in Canada, including partnerships with Canadian contract manufacture.”

• Email: rtumilty@postmedia.com | Twitter:

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

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