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Pfizer, BioNTech start testing COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant women – CTV News

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CHICAGO —
Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE have started an international study with 4,000 volunteers to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of their COVID-19 vaccine in healthy pregnant women, the companies said on Thursday.

Pregnant women are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19, and many public health officials have recommended some women in high-risk professions take coronavirus vaccines even without proof they are safe for them.

Last week, the U.S. National Institutes of Health called for greater inclusion of pregnant and lactating women in COVID-19 vaccine research.

Bioethicists, vaccine and maternal health experts have argued for years that pregnant women should be included early in trials of pandemic vaccines so they would not need to wait until long after a successful one emerges.

Nevertheless, pregnant women were excluded from the large U.S. trials used to obtain emergency use authorization of COVID-19 vaccines.

Drugmakers have said they first need to make sure the vaccines are safe and effective more generally. In the United States, regulators require drugmakers to conduct safety studies in pregnant animals before vaccines are tested in pregnant women to ensure they do not harm the fetus or lead to a miscarriage. The companies said those studies revealed no new risks.

Pregnant women in the United States have already received their first doses, the companies said.

The new study will test pregnant women aged 18 and older in the United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mozambique, South Africa, the UK and Spain.

Women will receive the vaccine during weeks 24-34 of gestation, getting two shots 21 days apart – the same regimen used in the larger clinical trial.

Shortly after giving birth, participants who got a placebo in the trial will be given an opportunity to get the actual vaccine, while remaining part of the study, the companies said.

Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen Editing by Bill Berkrot.

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Coronavirus: Latest developments in the Greater Toronto Area on March 1 – Global News

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Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic in the Greater Toronto Area for Monday.


Toronto’s Porter Airlines sets new tentative reopening date of May 19

Toronto’s Porter Airlines has set a new tentative reopening date again of May 19 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The airline suspended its operations in March 2020 due to COVID-19 and the restart date has since been pushed several times. The last tentative date was March 29.

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Read more:
Coronavirus: Toronto’s Porter Airlines sets new tentative reopening date of May 19


Status of cases in the GTA

Ontario reported a total of 1,023 new coronavirus cases on Monday.

Of those:

  • 280 were in Toronto
  • 182 were in Peel Region
  • 47 were in York Region
  • 34 were in Durham Region
  • 39 were in Halton Region


Ontario reports more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases, 6 more deaths

Ontario is reporting 1,023 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the provincial total to 301,839.

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The death toll in the province has risen to 6,986 as six more virus-related fatalities were reported which is the lowest single-day increase in deaths since the end of October.

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Resolved cases increased by 939 from the previous day. The government said 35,015 tests were processed in the last 24 hours

Read more:
Ontario reports more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases, 6 more deaths


Cases, deaths and outbreaks in Ontario long-term care homes

According to the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there have been 3,744 deaths reported among residents and patients in long-term care homes across Ontario which is unchanged from yesterday. Eleven virus-related deaths in total have been reported among staff.

There are 106 current outbreaks in homes, which is unchanged from the previous day.

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The ministry also indicated there are currently 80 active cases among long-term care residents and 179 active cases among staff — cases for both have stayed the same in the last 24 hours.


Cases among students and staff at Ontario schools, child care centres

Meanwhile, government figures show there have been a total of 8,563 school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario to date. This is an increase of 116 more cases in the last day — 99 student cases, 15 staff cases and two were not identified.

The COVID-19 cases are currently from 530 out of 4,828 schools in the province. Twenty schools in Ontario are currently closed as a result of positive cases, the government indicated.

There have been a total of 2,675 confirmed cases within child care centres and homes — an increase of 13 (seven new child cases and six staff cases). Out of 5,264 child care centres in Ontario, 139 currently have cases and 21 centres are closed.

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COVID-19 pandemic zaps electricity usage in Ontario as people stay home

Demand for electricity in Ontario last year fell to levels rarely seen in decades amid shifts in usage patterns caused by pandemic measures, new data show.

The decline came despite a hot summer that had people rushing to crank up the air conditioning at home, the province’s power management agency said.

In all, Ontario used 132.2 terawatt-hours of power in 2020, a decline of 2.9 per cent from 2019.

Read more:
COVID-19 pandemic zaps electricity usage in Ontario as people stay home

NOTE: This story will be updated throughout the day.

— With files from The Canadian Press.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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India giving COVID-19 vaccines to more people as cases rise – Kamsack Times

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NEW DELHI — India is expanding its coronavirus vaccination drive beyond health care and front-line workers, offering the shots to older people and those with medical conditions that put them at risk. Among the first to receive a vaccine on Monday was Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Those now eligible include anyone older than 60, as well as those over 45 who have ailments such as heart disease or diabetes that make them vulnerable to serious COVID-19 illness. The shots will be given for free at government hospitals and will also be sold at over 10,000 private hospitals at a fixed price of 250 rupees, or $3.40, per shot.

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But the rollout of one of the world’s largest vaccination drives has been sluggish. Amid signs of hesitancy among the first groups offered the vaccine, Modi, who is 70, got a shot at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Science. He received the vaccine produced by Indian vaccine maker Bharat Biotech — which has been met with particular skepticism. He appealed for all to get vaccinated, tweeting afterward, “together, let us make India COVID-19 free!”

The drive, which began in January in the country of 1.4 billion people, has recently taken on even more urgency, since new infections have begun to increase again after months of consistent decline, and scientists have detected worrisome variants of the virus that they fear could hasten infections or render vaccines or treatments less useful.

Scores of elderly people started lining up outside private hospitals on Monday morning. Sunita Kapoor was among them, waiting for a vaccine with her husband. She said that they had been staying at home and not meeting people for months to stay safe from the virus — and were looking forward to being able to socialize a bit more. “We are excited,” said Kapoor, 63.

Many said that they had struggled with the online system for registering and then waited in line for hours before receiving the vaccine — problems that other countries have also experienced.

Dr. Giridhar R. Babu, who studies epidemics at the Public Health Foundation of India, said that long waits for the elderly were a concern since they could pick up infections, including COVID-19, at hospitals. “The unintended effect might be that they get COVID when they go to get the vaccine,” he said.

Even though India is home to the world’s largest vaccine makers and has one of the biggest immunization programs, things haven’t gone according to plan. Of the 10 million health care workers that the government had initially wanted to immunize, only 6.6 million have gotten the first shot of the two-dose vaccines and 2.4 million have gotten both. Of its estimated 20 million front-line workers, such as police or sanitation workers, only 5.1 million have been vaccinated so far.

Dr. Gagangdeep Kang, an infectious diseases expert at Christian Medical College Vellore in southern India, said the hesitancy by health workers highlights the paucity of information available about the vaccines. If health workers are reticent, “you seriously think that the common public is going to walk up for the vaccine?” she said.

Vaccinating more people quickly is a major priority for India, especially now that infections are rising again. The country has recorded more than 11 million cases, second in the world behind the United States, and over 157,000 deaths. The government had set a target of immunizing 300 million people, nearly the total U.S. population, by August.

The spike in infections in India is most pronounced in the western state of Maharashtra, where the number of active cases has nearly doubled to over 68,000 in the past two weeks. Lockdowns and other restrictions have been reimposed in some areas, and the state’s chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray, has warned that another wave of cases is “knocking on our door.”

Similar surges have been reported from states in all corners of the massive country: Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir in the north, Gujarat in the west, West Bengal in the east, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in central India, and Telangana in the south.

Top federal officials have asked authorities in those states to increase the speed of vaccinations in districts where cases are surging, and to track clusters of infections and monitor variants.

“There is a sense of urgency because of the mutants and because cases are going up,” said Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India.

He said that the consistent dip in cases over months resulted in a “reduced threat perception,” leading to vaccine hesitancy. “The (vaccination) drive began when perception was that the worst was over, so people were more hesitant,” Reddy said.

Others have also pointed out that the reticence to get vaccinated was amplified, at least in part, by the government’s opaque decision making while greenlighting vaccines.

But experts say that allowing private hospitals to administer the shots — which began with this new phase of the campaign — should improve access. India’s health care system is patchy, and in many small cities people depend on private hospitals for their medical needs.

Still, problems remain. India had rolled out online software to keep track of the shots and recipients, but the system was prone to glitches and delays.

The federal government will decide which hospitals get which vaccine and people will not have a choice between the AstraZeneca vaccine or the Bharat Biotech one, confirmed Dr. Amar Fettle, the nodal COVID-19 officer for southern Indian state Kerala. The latter got the go-ahead by Indian regulators in January before trials testing the shot’s effectiveness at preventing illness were completed.

But opening up the campaign to private hospitals may allow the rich to “shop” around for places that are providing the AstraZeneca vaccine — an option that poorer people wouldn’t have, said Dr. Anant Bhan, who studies medical ethics.

India now hopes to quickly ramp up vaccinations. But the country will likely continue to see troughs and peaks of infections, and the key lesson is that the pandemic won’t end until enough people have been vaccinated for the spread of the virus to slow, said Jishnu Das, a health economist at Georgetown University who advises West Bengal state on the virus response.

“Don’t use a trough to declare success and say it’s over,” he said.

___

Associated Press journalists Krutika Pathi and Rishabh Jain contributed to this report.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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COVID-19 in Ottawa: Fast Facts for March 1, 2021 – CTV News Ottawa

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OTTAWA —
Good morning. Here is the latest news on COVID-19 and its impact on Ottawa.

Fast Facts:

  • The city of Ottawa will unveil details today on how people 80 and older can register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Ottawa’s active COVID-19 case count is above 500 for the first time in nearly a month
  • Ontario surpasses 300,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic
  • Algonquin College cancels all on-campus events until the end of August due to COVID-19

COVID-19 by the numbers in Ottawa (Ottawa Public Health data):

  • New COVID-19 cases: 55 new cases on Sunday
  • Total COVID-19 cases: 14,705
  • COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (previous seven days): 33.8
  • Positivity rate in Ottawa: 2.0 per cent (Feb. 19 to Feb. 25)
  • Reproduction Number: 0.98 (seven day average)

Testing:

Who should get a test?

Ottawa Public Health says there are five reasons to seek testing for COVID-19:

  • You are showing COVID-19 symptoms. OR
  • You have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by Ottawa Public Health or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app. OR
  • You are a resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by Ottawa Public Health. OR
  • You are eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care. OR
  • You have traveled to the U.K., or have come into contact with someone who recently traveled to the U.K., please go get tested immediately (even if you have no symptoms).

Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Ottawa:

There are several sites for COVID-19 testing in Ottawa. To book an appointment, visit https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/shared-content/assessment-centres.aspx

  • The Brewer Ottawa Hospital/CHEO Assessment Centre: Open Monday to Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • COVID-19 Drive-thru assessment centre at National Arts Centre: Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • The Moodie Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • The Heron Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • The Ray Friel Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

COVID-19 screening tool:

The COVID-19 screening tool for students heading back to in-person classes can be found here.

Symptoms:

Classic Symptoms: fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath

Other symptoms: sore throat, difficulty swallowing, new loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, pneumonia, new or unexplained runny nose or nasal congestion

Less common symptoms: unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, headache, delirium, chills, red/inflamed eyes, croup

Mayor Jim Watson says “this is a big week for us in Ottawa” in the fight against COVID-19.

At 1 p.m., the city will announce how eligible residents living in seven communities can book an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. On Friday, people over 80 living in high-risk neighbourhoods will begin receiving the vaccine during pop-up clinics.

According to the city, only residents who were born in or before 1941, or who are adult recipients of chronic home care, and who live in the following communities will be able to book appointments:

  • Emerald Woods
  • Heatherington
  • Ledbury
  • Heron Gate
  • Ridgemont
  • Riverview
  • Sawmill Creek

Watson tells CTV News Ottawa that residents will need to enter their health card information and postal code into the booking system to prove they’re eligible to receive the vaccine.

Ottawa COVID-19 vaccine

Ottawa Public Health reported 55 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Sunday, and no new deaths linked to the virus.

Since the first case of COVID-19 on March 11, there have been 14,705 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 439 deaths.

Ottawa’s active cases rose above 500 on Sunday, the first time the number has been that high since Feb 2. There are 504 active cases of COVID-19 in the community.

Ontario marked a grim milestone on Sunday.

Public Health Ontario reported the province has logged more than 300,000 cases of COVID-19 since January 2020.

There were 1,062 new cases of COVID-19 across Ontario on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases of the virus to 300,816.

A total of 283,344 people have recovered since the start of the pandemic.

More than 6,900 Ontarians have died due to COVID-19.

Ontario COVID-19 cases

There will be no on-campus events at Algonquin College until at least September, while the college is also preparing to focus on virtual learning through the fall term.

In a letter to students and faculty, President and CEO Claude Brule says the college has decided to extend the cancellation of all on-campus events until Aug. 31.

“Public health officials continue to underscore the high-risk associated with large gatherings, and we want to give everyone advanced notice so people can plan accordingly.”

On Feb. 17, Algonquin told students and faculty that the current model of limited on-campus and primarily remote course delivery will continue through the spring and fall terms.

Algonquin College

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