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Ottawa 'losing the race' against COVID-19 variants: Etches –



Ottawa’s medical officer of health says the current provincewide shutdown is not sufficient to halt gatherings and curb the surge in COVID-19 cases, especially given the rapid rise in variants of concern.

Etches, along with her counterparts in Toronto and Peel Region, penned a letter to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams over the weekend calling for stricter measures to be implemented, including a stay-at-home order.

As of Monday, Ottawa has more than 600 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases involving variants of concern. The majority of the confirmed cases involved the B117 variant first reported in the U.K. (There is a delay between suspected and confirmed cases as it takes weeks to genetically sequence a sample to confirm which variant it is.)

“We’re losing the race against the variant of concern. We need to make sure we stay home to stop that transmission of COVID, until the vaccine is going to be in place to do that for us,” said Etches.

She said some of the regular measures used to control COVID-19 — staying two metres apart and wearing masks — will help control the spread of variants of concern.

The problem is not everyone may be as careful as they think they are, hence the need for masks.

She said on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning Monday there’s evidence people mixed households and spread COVID-19 on patios, during barbecues and playing sports two weeks ago, when temperatures reached the teens for the first time in months.

“The challenge with outdoors is sometimes people aren’t paying attention quite to the two metres, you know, you’re closer than that maybe on a sidewalk,” she said. 

“Adding in masks outdoors helps. It provides an additional barrier.”

Sultana Molla says she’s considering making her kids wear masks even when riding their bicycles to help lower the risk of them contracting COVID-19. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

“The nice weather helps a lot, to be outside,” said Sultana Molla, who was enjoying the warm temperatures with her family Monday in Andrew Haydon Park.

Yet, with the growth in the number of variants of concern, she’s considering having her kids wear masks even when playing outside.

“I would be worried about sending the kids outside just going for a bike ride right, around the neighbourhood. That they might be too close to somebody accidentally,” she said.

Etches said if the province doesn’t heed the call for more restrictive measures, she will consider implementing some locally, but said measures are more effective if done on a larger scale and wants to give the province this week to examine its options.

She said evidence suggests it’s still more harmful from a health and economic perspective to close schools than to keep them open because the spread of the coronavirus is being better managed in school settings than outside them.

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COVID cases in Ontario could spike to 30,000 per day by June



TORONTO (Reuters) – New cases of COVID-19 in Canada‘s most populous province could rise more than six fold, topping 30,000 per day by early June if public health measures are weak and vaccination rates remain flat, a panel of experts advising the province of Ontario said on Friday.

Even if measures to control the virus are “moderate,” the number of patients in Ontario ICUs could reach 2,000 in May, up from 695 on Friday.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario told doctors last week they may soon have to decide who can and cannot receive intensive care.


(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Chris Reese)

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Moderna sees shortfall in Britain COVID vaccine shipments, EU deliveries on track



ZURICH (Reuters) – U.S. drugmaker Moderna expects a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain hitting second-quarter delivery quantities for Britain and Canada, though European Union– and Swiss-bound shipments are on track, a spokesperson said.

The delays, first announced on Friday when Canada said Moderna would be delivering only about half the planned 1.2 million doses by the end of April, come as Switzerland’s Lonza ramps up three new production lines to make active ingredients for Moderna vaccine supplies outside of the United States.

“The trajectory of vaccine manufacturing ramp-up is not linear, and despite best efforts, there is a shortfall in previously estimated doses from the European supply chain,” Moderna said in a statement.

Lonza didn’t immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment on any issues in its production.


(Reporting by John Miller; editing by David Evans)

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Moderna says vaccines to Canada to be delayed due to Europe shortfall



(Reuters) -Moderna Inc said on Friday a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain will lead to a delay in deliveries to some countries including Canada.

The drugmaker would be delivering only 650,000 doses by April end as opposed to 1.2 million, Canada‘s Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in a statement.

She said one to two million doses of the 12.3 million doses scheduled for delivery by Moderna in the second quarter would be delayed until the third.

Moderna officials in Europe did not immediately comment on the reason for the delays or give the total number of countries that would be impacted.

“Vaccine manufacturing is a highly complex process and a number of elements, including human and material resources have factored into this volatility,” said Patricia Gauthier, an executive at Moderna Canada.

Canada has distributed a total of 2.82 million doses of the Moderna vaccine as of April 14 and 12.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in total.

Moderna has been aiming to deliver 700 million to 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 globally this year, including from plants in Europe and the United States.

Swiss contract drug manufacturer Lonza makes active ingredients for Moderna’s vaccine in Visp, but it was still ramping up three new production lines that once operational would be able to produce 300 million shots annually.

The current supply, demand and distribution landscape has led the drugmaker to make adjustments in the expected second-quarter deliveries, Gauthier said.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru, Allison Martell in Toronto and John Miller in Zurich; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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