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P.E.I. suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine for those younger than 55 – CTV News Atlantic

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HALIFAX —
The province of Prince Edward Island has suspended use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for people under the age of 55.

Early Monday afternoon, a senior government source confirmed to CTV News that the NACI will recommend pausing administration of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to those under the age of 55.

In a live COVID-19 update later in the afternoon, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison announced the province would hault AstraZeneca doses for that age group as well.

“The term given to this presentation is called the VIPIT, vaccine induced pro thrombotic immune thrombocytopenia,” said Dr. Morrison. “Serious side effects from vaccines are very rare and VIPIT is a rare presentation occurring anywhere from one in every 125,000 to one in a million people. It’s important to note that no such blood clotting abnormalities or VIPIT have been reported in Canada.”

“This pause will allow the manufacturer to conduct a detailed assessment of the benefits and risk of the vaccine by age and gender in the Canadian context, its information along with further international evidence will be used to determine if additional regulatory actions are necessary,” Morrison added.

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King added assurance to those who have already received the AstraZeneca vaccine on the island.

“For those Islanders who have been vaccinated, to date using AstraZeneca, 1680 of them. I understand this news would be a little bit disturbing to hear this,” said King. “But, I do want to reiterate and Dr. Morrison will further reiterate that the risk of developing a serious problem after being immunized is very very low. To date there have been no reported cases of any of these issues in P.E.I., or Canada.”

King says all islanders will still be able to receive at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June.

The new federal recommendation is expected to be made official later Monday.

Several provinces have already announced plans in line with this expected recommendation, P.E.I. being the first.

Manitoba and Quebec announced later in the day that they were halting vaccinations using AstraZeneca doses for anyone under the age of 55.

Earlier Monday, P.E.I. spokesperson Samantha Hughes sent the following information to CTV News in an email, indicating they would hault AstraZeneca shots for those 18-29:

“Appointments at pharmacies for AstraZeneca vaccine for those 18-29 are on hold pending anticipated further information from Health Canada and NACI. We expect more information on this later today.”

Last Tuesday, Health Canada said the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe and will continue to be recommended for use despite criticism from U.S. health officials of the drugmaker’s analysis of the shot’s efficacy, health officials said.

“The message is that the efficacy and the safety of the vaccine have been shown,” senior Health Canada official Marc Berthiaume told reporters on March 23. “It continues to be beneficial for Canadians to prevent COVID-19.”

In early March, Denmark and other European countries suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports of blood clots. Norway and Sweden also have paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Also on Tuesday, Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief medical officer said most of the 2,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine received on the island had been administered to people 18-29 working in the service industry, and reaffirmed Health Canada’s stance on the Astrazeneca vaccine, saying it is safe and effective, and encouraging any islanders who are offered it, to take it.

“I ask employers and business owners in these areas to encourage their staff age 18-29 to be immunized,” said Morrison on March 23. “And, if possible, please offer to assist with transportation and eliminating any other barriers that may be preventing staff from being vaccinated.”

The province had expanded the AstraZeneca eligibility to any 18-29 year olds who cannot work virtually. Initially the vaccines were opened to 18-29 year olds who work in the food and beverage sector.

This is a developing story. It will be updated throughout the day.

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Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company: CEO

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By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) – Three of e-commerce platform Shopify’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, chief executive officer and founder of Canada‘s most valuable company Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all transition out of their roles, Lutke said, adding that they have been “spectacular and deserve to take a bow.”

“Each one of them has their individual reasons but what was unanimous with all three was that this was the best for them and the best for Shopify,” he said.

The trio follow the departure of Craig Miller, chief product officer, in September. Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the last year as many businesses went virtual during COVID-19 lockdowns. It has a market cap valuation of C$182.7 billion ($146 billion), above Canada‘s top lender Royal Bank of Canada.

It is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

“We have a phenomenally strong bench of leaders who will now step up into larger roles,” Lutke said, but did not name replacements.

Shopify said in February revenue growth would slow this year as vaccine rollouts encourage people to return to stores and warned it does not expect 2020’s near doubling of gross merchandise volume, an industry metric to measure transaction volumes, to repeat this year.

Chief talent officer, Brittany Forsyth, was the 22nd employee hired at Shopify and has been with the company for 11 years. She said on Twitter that post-Shopify she would be focusing on Backbone Angels, an all-female collective of angel investors she co-founded in March.

Shopify shares fell 5.1% while the benchmark Canadian share index ended marginally down.

($1 = 1.2515 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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CANADA STOCKS – TSX falls 0.14% to 19,201.28

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* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.14 percent to 19,201.28

* Leading the index were Stantec Inc <STN.TO​>, up 3.4%, Imperial Oil Ltd​, up 3.3%, and Corus Entertainment Inc​, higher by 2.9%.

* Lagging shares were Aphria Inc​​, down 14.2%, Village Farms International Inc​, down 9.9%, and Aurora Cannabis Inc​, lower by 9.4%.

* On the TSX 91 issues rose and 134 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 24 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 228.0 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Royal Bank Of Canada and Suncor Energy Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 0.32 points, or 0.3%, while the financials sector climbed 2.46 points, or 0.7%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 0.52%, or $0.31, to $59.63 a barrel. Brent crude  rose 0.4%, or $0.25, to $63.2 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.1% for the year.

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Air Canada signs C$5.9 billion government aid package, agrees to buy Airbus, Boeing jets

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By David Ljunggren and Allison Lampert

OTTAWA/MONTREAL (Reuters) -Air Canada, struggling with a collapse in traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reached a deal on Monday on a long-awaited aid package with the federal government that would allow it to access up to C$5.9 billion ($4.69 billion) in funds.

The agreement – the largest individual coronavirus-related loan that Ottawa has arranged with a company – was announced after the airline industry criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government for dawdling. The United States and France acted much more quickly to help major carriers.

Canada‘s largest carrier, which last year cut over half its workforce, or 20,000 jobs, and other airlines have been negotiating with the government for months on a coronavirus aid package.

In February, Air Canada reported a net loss for 2020 of C$4.65 billion, compared with a 2019 profit of C$1.48 billion.

As part of the deal, Air Canada agreed to ban share buybacks and dividends, cap annual compensation for senior executives at C$1 million a year and preserve jobs at the current level, which is 14,859.

It will also proceed with planned purchases of 33 Airbus SE 220 airliners and 40 Boeing Co 737 MAX airliners.

Chris Murray, managing director, equity research at ATB Capital Markets, said the deal took into account the “specific needs of Air Canada in the short and medium term without being overly onerous.”

He added: “It gives them some flexibility in drawing down additional liquidity as needed.”

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the government was still in negotiations with other airlines about possible aid.

Canada, the world’s second-largest nation by area, depends heavily on civil aviation to keep remote communities connected.

Opposition politicians fretted that further delays in announcing aid could result in permanent damage to the country.

Air Canada said it would resume services on nearly all of the routes it had suspended because of COVID-19.

‘SIGNIFICANT LAYER OF INSURANCE’

The deal removes a potential political challenge for the Liberals, who insiders say are set to trigger an election later this year.

The government has agreed to buy C$500 million worth of shares in the airline, at C$23.1793 each, or a 14.2% discount to Monday’s close, a roughly 6% stake.

“Maintaining a competitive airline sector and good jobs is crucially important,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters, adding the equity stake would allow taxpayers to benefit when the airline’s fortunes recovered.

The Canadian government previously approved similar loans for four other companies worth up to C$1.billion, including up to C$375 million to low-cost airline Sunwing Vacations Inc. The government has paid out C$73.47 billion under its wage subsidy program and C$46.11 billion in loans to hard-hit small businesses.

Michael Rousseau, Air Canada‘s president and chief executive officer, said the liquidity “provides a significant layer of insurance for Air Canada.”

Jerry Dias, head of the Unifor private-sector union, described the announcement as “a good deal for everybody.”

Unifor represents more than 16,000 members working in the air transportation sector.

But the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents roughly 10,000 Air Canada flight attendants, said the package protected the jobs of current workers rather than the 7,500 members of its union who had been let go by the carrier.

($1=1.2567 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler and Peter Cooney)

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