The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) has recommended against using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in people aged 65 and older, although Health Canada has authorized it to be used in adults of all ages.
The committee, which makes recommendations to governments on the use of newly approved vaccines for humans, said in documents posted Monday it does not recommend the vaccine for those 65 and older “due to limited information on [its] efficacy” in that age group.
NACI said its recommendations are based on independent advice and reflect the best current available scientific knowledge.
Health Canada authorized the vaccine on Friday as the third option to protect against COVID-19 along with those from Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna.
One infectious disease specialist says he was taken aback by the different takes of Health Canada and NACI.
The vaccine has had positive results preventing hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, says Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, a specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont.
“We’ve seen real-world usage in the U.K., for example, and the results were really good including for people who are even 80 years of age and older. So I’m not certain what to make of this, it’s still approved for people 18 and over, and I just want to see how this plays out. But I would not hesitate to recommend it,” Chakrabarti said on CBC News Network.
Chakrabarti also said it is possible NACI may end up updating its recommendation.
‘Science in real time’
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and member of Ontario’s COVID-19 immunization task force, said not having enough data isn’t the same as saying a vaccine isn’t effective.
He said provinces and their health authorities will ultimately have the final say about which vaccines are administered in their areas.
“This is science in real time,” Bogoch said. “You can have multiple groups look at the exact same data and come to different conclusions.”
People over age 65 are disproportionately at risk of dying or being hospitalized from COVID-19.
“We know that any vaccine that’s currently available in Canada will help now,” he said.
Alyson Kelvin, a virologist working on COVID-19 vaccine candidates at VIDO-InterVac in Saskatoon, said some countries in Europe have been hesitant about approving the vaccine for older individuals.
“I think it’s really important that if a vaccine is available one takes it and that we don’t concentrate too much on small differences in effectiveness between vaccines,” Kelvin said.
Health Canada also said Monday that “the best vaccine for a Canadian is the one they can get. All COVID-19 vaccines authorized by Health Canada will help reduce severe disease, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.”
In a statement to CBC News, Health Canada noted regulators have taken different approaches to the authorization of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but most have granted unrestricted use of the vaccine for adults.
There were no safety concerns for using the vaccine in those over 65 in clinical trials or among the thousands in that age group vaccinated with it so far in other countries, Health Canada said.
More clinical trial data on AstraZeneca’s vaccine is also expected in the coming weeks from the U.S.
NACI’s recommendations also include that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be offered to those aged 12 to 15.
Health Canada said it is not uncommon for NACI to provide advice that promotes or restricts the use of some vaccines compared with others after Health Canada independently assesses if a vaccine meets the bar for safety, efficacy and manufacturing quality.
IRCC: Canada welcomed over 35,000 new immigrants in June – Canada Immigration News
Canada recorded its strongest month for new permanent resident arrivals during the pandemic in June 2021, according to the office of Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
In a recent Globe and Mail article, the minister says “We are going to make good on our commitment to land 401,000 new permanent residents.”
Under its Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023, the Canadian government is seeking to welcome at least 401,000 new immigrants annually, beginning this year. Prior to the pandemic, this target was set at 341,000 newcomers.
The plan is the most ambitious in Canada’s history. Only once has Canada welcomed over 400,000 immigrants in a year. This took place in 1913, but Canadian immigration plummeted immediately after due to the onset of the First World War.
The minister’s office estimates that Canada welcomed over 35,000 new permanent residents in June. In follow up email correspondence with CIC News, the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said its preliminary figures show Canada welcomed 35,700 immigrants last month. This figure is significantly higher than Canada’s totals in recent months.
Canada got off to a strong start to the year. It welcomed 24,680 new immigrants in January but lost momentum in the months to follow. The country then welcomed 23,395 in February, 22,425 in March, and 21,155 in April, and 17,100 in May.
Altogether Canada has welcomed some 143,000 new permanent residents through the first six months of 2021 which remains well short of the pace it needs to welcome 401,000 newcomers by the end of this year.
In order to achieve this newcomer target, Canada needs to land another 258,000 immigrants — an average of 43,000 per month — over the rest of the year.
Welcoming this volume of immigration over the remaining six months will be difficult but there is an outside chance it can be achieved.
Prior to the pandemic Canada welcomed an average of 25,000 to 35,000 newcomers per month. Immigration levels tend to be higher in the warmer months as more newcomers arrive during favourable weather conditions and leading up to the start of the academic and business calendar in September.
In 2019, levels were stronger in the second half of the year compared to the first as Canada welcomed 180,000 newcomers between July and December.
Assuming Canada welcomes that same level in the second half of 2021, it will conclude the year at just over 320,000 new permanent residents which is still below its target.
However there are several tailwinds remaining that could propel Canada closer to its newcomer goal.
Some 23,000 additional Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) holders are now eligible to move to Canada after restrictions on them were eased on June 21st.
Anyone else newly approved for permanent residence can also immediately move to Canada as a result of this easing.
IRCC also introduced six new permanent residency streams that will enable some 90,000 international student graduates and essential workers to remain in Canada. The department’s goal is to process some 40,000 of these applications by the end of this year.
The third tailwind is also from the domestic pool of permanent residence candidates. IRCC has been breaking various Express Entry records throughout the year as it prioritizes Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates.
Draw sizes are larger than ever while cut-off scores are at record lows. According to IRCC, some 90 per cent of CEC candidates currently reside in Canada so it is easier for the department to transition them to permanent residence amid the pandemic than candidates abroad. IRCC has already issued nearly 100,000 Express Entry invitations this year which is almost double the invitations it issued at the same point in 2020. A significant portion of those invited during the pandemic should complete their permanent residence landing by the end of 2021.
The minister’s office told the Globe that the 45,100 permanent residence applications IRCC processed in June were the highest ever, which suggests that IRCC has the capacity to process and finalize the necessary number of applications to achieve its levels goal.
There are risks along the way that could disrupt IRCC’s plans. The global coronavirus situation remains volatile and things such as increased case levels and travel restrictions could get in the way. For example, Canada continues to restrict flights from its main newcomer source country, India.
A prolonging of this restriction could get in the way of IRCC’s goal. Further delays to COPR holder arrivals is another risk. IRCC is currently seeking to correspond with thousands of expired COPR holders to arrange their landing in Canada. This is a time-consuming process as IRCC needs to individually contact each COPR holder to ensure they have all the necessary documents to complete the immigration process.
Nonetheless, the coming months should see immigration levels remain high. There also remains a strong chance that monthly immigration totals will hit record highs by the end of the year due to the combination of more overseas arrivals and in-Canada applicants completing their landings.
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Sask. softball gets boost with Team Canada's bronze finish – CTV News Saskatoon
Members of the Saskatchewan softball community say Team Canada’s bronze medal win will help the future of the sport.
“Watching the Olympics, seeing Team Canada, seeing players that they recognize and names they recognize. It sets a drive for them to compete at the sport, and train hard, and have a goal and a dream of playing in the Olympics,” said Bryan Kosteroski, president of the Saskatoon Amateur Softball Association.
One of the names on Team Canada’s roster that stood out for Kosteroski was Jennifer Gilbert, who was born in Saskatoon.
“Now you look at Jennifer Gilbert, she was born in Saskatoon and has that Saskatchewan connection, they’re going to look at that and they’re going to say to themselves ‘you know what? I’m going to train, and I’m going to train hard. I want to be at the Olympic games in the future,” Kosteroski said.
“That’s the goal with all of these young ladies, that’s why they’re playing the sport, and that’s their drive, to play in the Olympics.”
Guy Jacobson, executive director for Softball Saskatchewan, said exposure coming to the sport of softball is always a good thing, and Team Canada’s win should have a big impact.
“It gives young players, especially young female players aspiring to maybe go further in the sport, an opportunity to think that there’s some great things down the path for them,” Jacobson told CTV News.
Disney to close almost all of its stores in Canada by next month – CBC.ca
Disney is planning on closing down almost all of its retail stores in Canada by next month.
The iconic chain announced in March that it planned to close 60 locations across North America this year, but had no specific comment on its Canadian locations, which at the time numbered 18.
“While consumer behaviour has shifted toward online shopping, the global pandemic has changed what consumers expect from a retailer,” the company’s statement at the time said. “Disney will remain flexible in its approach and continue to evolve its retail strategy to best meet the needs of consumers when and where they want.”
Since then, two stores in B.C. and one in Ontario have closed. It now appears as though almost all the remaining stores are slated to close down within weeks.
The chain currently has three locations in Vancouver, two in Calgary, two in Edmonton, one in Winnipeg, one in Ottawa five in the Greater Toronto Area and two elsewhere in Ontario. According to the store locator map on the company’s Canadian website, all but two of the GTA stores say they will be closed as of Aug. 18.
A spokesperson for Disney did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the fate of the two GTA stores not apparently slated for closure according to the chain’s website: one in the Eaton Centre downtown, and one in Scarborough in the eastern end of the city.
Shift to online
Retail analyst Bruce Winder says Disney has likely found more efficient ways to drive its brand and merchandise.
He says he expects the company will eventually connect its e-commerce platform shopDisney to its subscription streaming service Disney+.
The closure of Disney stores in Canada is part of sweeping changes hitting the retail industry and malls, Winder says.
“Malls are going to change considerably in terms of what they do and how they operate and what kind of stores are in there,” he says.
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