An opportunity to test a potential COVID-19 vaccine in Canadian clinical trials is now “over” because Chinese customs did not approve it for shipment to Canada, according to the National Research Council (NRC).
The NRC confirmed to CTV News on Thursday that CanSino Biologics “does not have the authority” from the Chinese government to ship the Ad5-nCoV vaccine candidate “at this time.”
“Due to the delay in the shipment of the vaccine doses to Canada it is evident this specific opportunity is over and the NRC is focusing its team and facilities on other partners and COVID-19 priorities,” reads the emailed statement from the NRC.
Headquartered in Tianjin, China, CanSino signed an agreement with the NRC in May. After Health Canada’s review and approval, the Canadian Center for Vaccinology was preparing to start clinical trials as early as June, but progress came to a standstill after Canadian authorities said the Chinese government was stalling the shipment process.
“The agreement between the NRC and CanSino was reviewed prior to signature by CanSino’s collaborators in the Chinese Government – the Beijing Institute of Technology and the Ministry of Science and Technology – who had provided funding to CanSino,” the statement says.
“Subsequent to signing, the Government of China introduced process changes regarding shipping vaccines to other countries. The process is not clear to the NRC.”
CanSino Biologics did not respond to CTVNews.ca’s request for comment at the time this story was published.
The Ad5-nCoV vaccine candidate has already been sent to other countries including Russia, Chile, Argentina, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for Phase 3 trials or large-scale testing on humans.
Human trials of the vaccine candidate are also in Phase 3 in China, with results promising enough that the Chinese government has approved it for use in its military. The vaccine was one of the first in the world to enter the second phase of human clinical trials after it presented no major safety issues.
Normally, testing a vaccine can take five to seven years, but the anticipated Canadian clinical trials were expected to be fast-tracked through typical regulatory hurdles due to the urgency of the pandemic.
CanSino’s vaccine was developed using a cell line from the NRC that was previously used to produce an Ebola vaccine. The two organizations have worked together since 2013.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne downplayed suggestions that the vaccine partnership failed because of ongoing political tensions between Canada and China.
“I don’t necessarily think so,” Champagne told reporters Thursday. “I can only speak for the Canadian side. I would not necessarily link whether that particular opportunity is linked to anything else.”
Relations have been tense since the Chinese detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in apparent retaliation for the RCMP’s arrest of Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou on an American extradition warrant in December 2018.
Dr. Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, added that losing access to the vaccine may set Canada back in the fight against COVID-19.
“The CanSino vaccine is one of the most furthest along of any of the candidate vaccines so it would have been nice to do that study,” Halperin said. “It’s not the only vaccine that we are working with … but we certainly don’t like to lose access to any one of them because we need multiple vaccines.”
He notes that had his lab received the vaccine its study would have been “well along by now.”
“We thought the shipment would be coming any day, as did the company,” he said. “There was no bad faith on the company — they were trying everything but they could not get (Chinese) government approval to ship it. The request for shipment hasn’t been denied it just hasn’t been approved.”
Clinical pharmacologist Sabina Vohra-Miller says handing over that kind of asset without securing intellectual property rights on the vaccine was a major missed opportunity for Canada.
“This is a miss because you wouldn’t have that by-product if you didn’t have that foundational system of the cell line,” she told CTV News.ca.
“We’re trying to be the noblest citizens in terms of advancing science and making sure that there is no gatekeeping with that, and you would expect that there would be a reciprocity on that.”
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters several contracts are in the works to ensure Canada gets early access to potential COVID-19 vaccines.
“We’ve actually signed a number of deals with potential vaccine producers around the world. The issue is nobody yet has a vaccine and nobody knows who’s going to develop the vaccine so like many, many countries around the world, we’re working with a range of partners to ensure that when someone does find a vaccine Canadians will have access to it.”
The Canadian government also announced in May that it was planning a $44-million upgrade to a NRC facility in Montreal to prepare for the possibility of a large-scale Ad5-nCoV manufacturing effort should human trials be successful.
While multiple trials around the world are progressing, there is currently no accepted cure or vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
With files from CTVNews.ca’s Solarina Ho and the Canadian Press
Source: – CTV News
Restaurateurs speak out against anti-mask patrons mistreating staff – CBC.ca
Stephen Deere, owner of Modern Steak, says that when it comes to Calgary’s bylaw mandating face coverings in indoor public spaces, he thinks he jinxed himself.
“I was kind of bragging to my friends in the restaurant community that we’ve had almost no problems, at all,” Deere said. “But the last 24 to 48 hours, things have gotten worse.”
Servers at Modern Steak restaurant wear masks, as mandated by the bylaw. In response, one patron took to social media to attempt to trend #BoycottModernSteak online — but Deere said another incident was much more serious.
“Basically, it’s going to move forward in a legal fashion, that’s how bad it was. I can’t talk about it,” he said.
“But that should sound the alarm … we’re at the point that we’re having discussions, if the last 48 hours continue moving forward, we have to actually consider having security in our restaurants to keep our employees safe.”
Fines can be issued and AHS has the power to close businesses and restaurants for non-compliance.
“We’re in a democracy, and I believe you have the right to have your opinion and you have the right to protest,” Deere said. “But when you’re taking it out on the front-line workers and retail and hospitality, and they’re feeling threatened up to the point that violence could occur, it’s time to ring the alarm.
“We are not making the rules. We are following the rules.”
By and large, Ernie Tsu, owner of Trolley 5 on 17th Avenue S.W. in Calgary, said most issues relating to the bylaw are solved at the door before guests enter the brewpub.
But given his role with the Alberta Hospitality Association, he knows restaurants across Alberta have experienced issues.
“The concerns are related to the bad apples out there that refuse to follow the mandate,” Tsu said. “The people causing issues at restaurants are also the people that are causing issues in malls and any public spaces that they’re deemed to wear a mask in.”
Brett Ireland, CEO of Bear Hill Brewing — which operates establishments in Banff, Jasper, Calgary and Fort McMurray — said most guests have been compliant with local policies.
“We have had a number of guests who choose not to wear them because they have pre-existing conditions,” Ireland said. “That’s what they tell us, and certainly we’re not in a position to make a judgment on that.”
Ireland said whether or not patrons agree with the mask bylaws from a political standpoint, there are other reasons to comply with the bylaw.
“The other way to look at it for me is, it makes other people more comfortable and therefore more likely to participate in the economy,” Ireland said. “I just don’t see how there’s any net negative to it.”
‘Disgusted and utterly upset’
Deere said his restaurant was already having issues with staffing amidst the pandemic, and harassment from customers has exacerbated that struggle.
“In our business, many of our hostesses are younger women that are 18 to 22,” he said. “When a larger, older gentleman is threatening them, they don’t come back to work the next day.”
As a born and raised Calgarian, Deere said he was “disgusted and utterly upset” with the behaviour of some patrons — and urged those who disagreed with the bylaw to take their concerns elsewhere.
“Calgary is better than this. We have been known around the world, and definitely in Canada, as one of the friendliest cities,” he said.
“We help people out, we have a western hospitality spirit, and this is how we’re acting? It’s unbelievable that we’ve gone in this direction.”
Retail spending slows after rapid recovery – The Globe and Mail
Canadian retail sales increased by a modest 0.6 per cent in July, a sign that pent-up demand has been satisfied after blowout gains in the early weeks of reopening.
Higher sales at auto dealers and gasoline stations helped to drive July’s gain. After removing those components, retail sales fell 1.2 per cent as home-improvement and sporting-goods stores – two areas of strength during the COVID-19 pandemic – saw buying sprees fade.
Despite a slower pace of spending, further gains are expected: In a preliminary estimate, Statistics Canada said Friday that retail sales rose 1.1 per cent in August.
“While the headline gain was a bit shy of expectations, the much bigger and more important picture is that retail and wholesale activity just carved out perfect V-shaped rebounds,” said Douglas Porter, chief economist at Bank of Montreal, in a client note. “And, that rebound was maintained in August,” he added, referencing Statscan’s early estimate.
Canadian retailers have experienced a quick recovery. Retail spending fell 31 per cent between February and April as stores were forced to shutter under pandemic restrictions. What followed was record month-to-month gains in May (19 per cent) and June (24 per cent) as lockdown restrictions were eased, bringing sales above prepandemic levels.
July’s increase was more like a “normal” report, Mr. Porter said.
During the month, scorching gains for many retailers began to dissipate. Sales at building supplies and gardening stores fell 11.6 per cent in July, but were still 4.7-per-cent higher than a year earlier. Sporting goods, hobby and book stores dropped 8.8 per cent, but were 11.4-per-cent higher than the previous July. Grocery sales fell for a fourth consecutive month, but remained stronger than before the outbreak.
“The increase in restaurant activity likely accounted for the noticeable dent in food store sales,” said Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, in a client note.
The auto sector enjoyed a solid month. Vehicle dealers tallied a 3.5-per-cent gain in July, with used-car dealers rising 11.5 per cent. Gas stations were lifted 6.1 per cent because of higher fuel prices and more car trips.
Clothing stores continued their rebound, with sales rising 11.2 per cent to $2.5-billion in July. However, revenue was still weaker than before the pandemic.
Of late, the retail sector has been helped on several fronts. With more stores open, Canadians have been able to satiate any pent-up demand from earlier in the pandemic. Moreover, household disposable income surged 10.8 per cent in the second quarter because of historic transfers of emergency aid from the federal government. Further, with many service industries still heavily curtailed, Canadians have shifted some spending to goods.
Still, the outlook for consumption is somewhat uncertain.
“The continued federal government income support programs and low interest rates will remain supportive for consumer spending,” said Ksenia Bushmeneva, a Toronto-Dominion Bank economist, in a research note. “However, there are also significant headwinds, such as the still-high level of unemployment, uncertainty with respect to [loan] deferral programs, and rising COVID-19 cases.”
Timelier data from Canadian banks suggest consumer spending has levelled off or even fallen in recent weeks.
By the end of August, spending was slightly lower than at the beginning of the month, according to Royal Bank of Canada data. Transactions were “relatively stable” in early September compared with a year ago, but had dipped since mid-August, the Bank of Nova Scotia found.
“Most provinces show a decline since mid-August and the recent pickup in the number of COVID-19 cases could slow the recovery further,” the Scotiabank report said.
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Moderna Plans to Produce 20 Million Doses of Its COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate in 2020 – The Motley Fool
As the phase 3 clinical trial of Moderna‘s (NASDAQ:MRNA) COVID-19 vaccine candidate continues, the company on Friday said it expects to produce 20 million doses of it by the end of 2020.
The biotech company‘s candidate, mRNA-1273, uses messenger RNA to induce the body to create antibodies against the novel coronavirus, decreasing the chances that an inoculated person exposed to it will become infected.
In August, management announced it was slowing enrollment in the late-stage study to allow for enrollment of a more diverse population, including younger people and people with other viruses, including hepatitis.
Nevertheless, CEO Stephane Bancel still believes Moderna is on track to have gleaned enough data from the study to know by November whether or not mRNA-1273 is effective.
The company has already signed an agreement to provide the U.S. government with up to 100 million doses of mRNA-1273 for $1.525 billion, assuming it wins approval. Similarly, Moderna has said it’s in negotiations for a deal to supply the European Union with up to 160 million doses.
In total, Moderna’s manufacturing investments have it targeting the capacity to produce up to 1 billion doses in 2021.
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