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Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine not recommended for seniors, Canadian committee says – CBC.ca

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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. 

A nurse prepares a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a nursing home in Goyang, South Korea, on Friday. Multiple groups worldwide are looking at the same data on the vaccine’s effectiveness in people over 65 and coming to different conclusions. (Lee Jin-man/The Associated Press)

“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.

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Citigroup lawyer says another bank made bigger payment error than Revlon

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – A lawyer for Citigroup Inc told a U.S. judge on Friday he was aware of another large bank that recently made a bigger payment error than Citigroup made last August when it sent $894 million of its own money to Revlon Inc lenders.

Neal Katyal, the lawyer, made the disclosure at a hearing in Manhattan federal court, where Citigroup urged U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman to extend a freeze on $504 million that it has been unable to recoup from the Revlon lenders.

Katyal did not identify the bank, the size of the payment error, or whether the error was fixed.

Citigroup is appealing Furman’s Feb. 16 decision that 10 asset managers, whose clients include Revlon lenders, could keep its mistaken payments.

Furman accepted the asset managers’ argument that Citigroup, as Revlon’s loan agent, paid what they were owed, and they had no reason to think a sophisticated bank would blunder so badly.

Citigroup has said the lenders received a “windfall,” and Furman’s decision could steer banks away from doing wire transfers in a “finders, keepers” marketplace.

Katyal is a partner at Hogan Lovells and former Acting U.S. Solicitor General. Citigroup hired him for its appeal.

 

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Diane Craft)

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Canada aims to raise safety along notorious “Highway of Tears” with cell phone service

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By Moira Warburton

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Canadian authorities will help fund mobile phone service to increase safety along a remote stretch of highway in British Columbia known as the “Highway of Tears” for the number of women who have gone missing on the route, most of them indigenous.

Indigenous groups recommended the move in 2006 in a report on disappearances and murders of women along the highway between the cities of Prince Rupert and Prince George, roughly 800 km (500 miles) north of Vancouver.

The recommendation was endorsed by a provincial government-mandated commission several years later.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating 13 cases of murdered women and five who disappeared on or near the Highway of Tears, although no new cases have been added since 2007. Advocates believe the number of homicides and missing is significantly higher.

Lisa Beare, British Columbia’s minister of citizens’ services, called the project “a critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies along this route.”

Cell phone plans in Canada are among the most expensive in the world, according to government data, and the cost and lack of coverage in rural areas was a top issue in the last election.

The provincial and federal governments will contribute C$4.5 million towards the C$11.6 million ($9.24 million) cost for Rogers Communications to install 12 cell phone towers, the British Columbia government said on Wednesday.

Lorraine Whitman, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, applauded the plan but said it was only one step in making the area safer for indigenous women.

“This truly is a blessing for the women,” she said. “But not all women have a phone. These towers are being put up, but it makes no use to the person that has no cell phone.”

($1 = 1.2558 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Canadian fertilizer producer Nutrien to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030

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By Rod Nickel and Rithika Krishna

(Reuters) –Canada‘s Nutrien Ltd, the world’s largest fertilizer producer by capacity, said on Thursday it aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% by 2030, in a plan costing the company up to $700 million.

Agricultural companies, including Mosaic and Corteva, have set carbon emissions targets as climate-conscious investors push firms to become more environmentally friendly.

Nutrien plans to spend $500 million to $700 million to meet the carbon emissions target, which includes cutting emissions from nitrogen production by 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by the end of 2023.

“We’re in a really unique spot to address two big societal challenges – food security, and in a way that reduces our environmental footprint,” said Mark Thompson, Nutrien’s chief corporate development and strategy officer, in an interview.

Synthetic fertilizers account for 12% of global emissions from agriculture, according to a 2016 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report.

Nutrien’s target includes Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which reflect direct operations and electricity use. Nutrien is addressing Scope 3 emissions – those related to on-farm activity – with a program that encourages growers to adopt sustainable practices that generate monetary credits.

The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company plans to deploy wind and solar energy at four potash plants by the end of 2025, replacing electricity generated by coal and natural gas.

It also plans to expand its sequestration of carbon emissions from nitrogen fertilizer production and to invest in technology to capture nitrous oxide gas from its facilities.

Nutrien estimates that its carbon credit program could directly amount to $10 to $20 per acre for farmers, and it expects to benefit financially itself as well.

“If we can provide agronomic value and the value of the carbon credit over time, we’ll have customer loyalty – we anticipate that we’ll be a preferred supplier,” Thompson said.

(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Steve Orlofsky)

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