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Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot lowers disease severity: study – CTV News

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TORONTO —
New research into the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot suggests getting a third dose significantly reduces the risk of disease-related hospitalization and death.

Conducted by Israel’s Clalit Research Institute in collaboration with researchers at Harvard University, the study compared data from 728,321 individuals age 12 and older who received a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine with the same number of people who received only two doses at least five months prior.

According to the study, receiving the Pfizer booster shot reduced COVID-related hospitalization by 93 per cent, COVID-related death by 81 per cent, and severe COVID-19 illness by 92 per cent, compared with receiving just two doses.

“These results show convincingly that the third dose of the vaccine is highly effective against severe COVID-19-related outcomes in different age groups and population subgroups, one week after the third dose,” said Ran Balicer, senior author of the study and director of the Clalit Research Institute, in a press release.

The study took place in Israel from July 30 through Sept. 23. Researchers looked at the number of COVID-19-related hospital admissions, deaths and severity of disease based on criteria from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The study also found that a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of COVID-19 infection by 88 per cent.

“To date, one of the main drivers of vaccine hesitancy has been a lack of information regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine,” said Ben Reis, director of the Predictive Medicine Group at Harvard Medical School and the Boston Children’s Hospital Computational Health Informatics Program, in the press release. “This careful epidemiological study provides reliable information on third-dose vaccine effectiveness, which we hope will be helpful to those who have not yet decided about vaccination with a third dose.”

Researchers, however, do note that the rate of COVID-19 hospitalization and severe disease among those age 16 to 39 was too small to determine the booster’s effectiveness. The study also did not include health-care workers, those living in long-term care facilities or people medically confined to their homes. These groups are often more vulnerable to contracting the disease, and likely to be targeted early to receive a booster shot.

At the time of the study, Israel was undergoing its fourth wave largely driven by the Delta variant, which continues to be a concern in Canada today.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization suggested on Oct. 29 that provinces offer mRNA vaccine booster shots to Canadians who are aged 70 and up, along with people who received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine or one dose of the Janssen vaccine and adults in First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, at least six months after their primary vaccine course. Provinces across Canada have already begun outlining their third-dose policy for immunocompromised people.

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TD raising dividend, plans to buy back up to 50 million shares – BNN

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TD Bank Group kept pace with its peers in dishing out rewards to its shareholders on Thursday.

The bank announced it will raise its quarterly dividend 13 per cent to $0.89 per share, effective Jan. 31. It also said it’s seeking regulatory approval to repurchase up to 50 million of its shares. 

All five of the big Canadian lenders that have reported this week announced similar moves after the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions recently ended its ban on buybacks and dividend hikes. Bank of Montreal, the last of the Big Six banks to report earnings, will announce its results on Friday. 

TD’s full-year profit climbed to $14.3 billion compared to $11.9 billion in 2020, the bank also announced on Thursday. In the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Oct. 31, net income fell to $3.8 billion from $5.1 billion a year earlier when it got a $1.4-billion lift from the sale of its stake in TD Ameritrade. 

On an adjusted basis, TD earned $2.09 per share in the most recent quarter. Analysts, on average, were expecting $1.96.

TD’s American unit was the primary driver in the fiscal fourth quarter, as the division’s net income surged 66 per cent year-over-year to US$1.09 billion. Stripping out an investment in Charles Schwab, profit for the core U.S. retail banking operations soared 123 per cent to US$897 million as revenue climbed and US$62 million was freed up after previously being set aside for loans that could go bad. 

In Canada, TD’s retail banking division saw profit rise 19 per cent year-over-year to $2.14 billion. Similar to the U.S., revenue rose year-over-year and credit quality improved. However, those factors were partially offset by an eight per cent rise in expenses — which TD said was due to higher variable compensation and investments in technology. 

Meanwhile, the bank’s wholesale division — which comprises activities like capital markets and investment banking — was a drag on profit as net income from that unit slid 14 per cent to $420 million. TD said its trading revenue in the quarter fell to $510 million from $761 million a year earlier. 

“We  ended the  year  in  a  position  of  strength,  with a  growing  base of  customers  across  highly  competitive  and  diversified  businesses  and  a  robust capital  position, enabling  us  to increase  our  dividend  and providing us  with a strong  foundation  upon which to  continue  building  our  business  in  2022,” said TD President and Chief Executive Bharat Masrani in a release.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story incorrectly presented the dividend increase as being 11 per cent. We regret the error.

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Tentative deal between union workers and beef producer Cargill struck | CTV News – CTV News Calgary

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With less than a week to go before workers were set to go on strike at Cargill’s High River, Alta. beef processing plant, the company says a tentative deal has been reached.

The company announced the development on Wednesday and says it is “encouraged by the outcome” of recent talks.

“After a long day of collaborative discussion, we reached an agreement on an offer that the bargaining committee will recommend to its members. The offer is comprehensive and fair and includes retroactive pay, signing bonuses, a 21 per cent wage increase over the life of the contract and improved health benefits,” Cargill wrote in a statement to CTV News via email.

The company adds it also “remains optimistic” a deal can be finalized before the strike deadline.

“(We) encourage employees to vote on this offer which recognizes the important role they play in Cargill’s work to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. While we navigate this negotiation, we continue to focus on fulfilling food manufacturer, retail and food service customer orders while keeping markets moving for farmers and ranchers,” it wrote.

The United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union (UFCW) Local 401 was expected to go on strike on Dec. 6.

It rejected the most recent attempt at a deal on Nov. 25 by a 98 per cent margin.

‘FAIR OFFER’

According to a statement from UFCW Local 401, the negotiating team engaged in “a marathon day” of talks with the company on Tuesday.

“Late in the evening, our bargaining committee concluded that they were in receipt of a fair offer and that they were prepared to present that offer to their coworkers with a recommendation of acceptance,” it wrote in a statement.

The union says the tentative deal will “significantly improve” the lives of Cargill workers and will be the ‘best food processing contract in Canada.”

Highlights from the deal include:

  • $4,200 in retroactive pay for many employees;
  • $1,000 signing bonus;
  • $1,000 COVID-19 bonus;
  • More than $6,000 total bonuses for workers three weeks before Christmas;
  • $5 wage increase for many employees;
  • Improved health benefits; and
  • Provisions to facilitate a new culture of health, safety, dignity and respect in the workplace

While UFCW Local 401 president Thomas Hesse calls the deal “fair,” he will support workers on the picket line if they decide to reject the proposal.

“If they do accept it, I’ll work with them every day to make Cargill a better workplace,” Hesse said in a statement. “I will do as our members ask me to do.

“I respect all of the emotions that they feel and the suffering that they have experienced.”

Employees are expected the vote on the new deal between Dec. 2 and 4.

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Afterpay delays vote on $29 billion buyout as Square awaits Spain’s nod

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Afterpay Ltd will delay a shareholder meet to approve Square Inc’s $29-billion buyout of the Australian buy now, pay later leader, as the Jack Dorsey-led payment company awaits regulatory nod in Spain.

The investor meet was set for Dec. 6, but Afterpay said it would likely take place next year as Square, which has rebranded itself to Block Inc, is likely to get an approval from the Bank of Spain only in mid-January.

The delay is unlikely to impact the completion of Australia‘s biggest deal, which is set for the first quarter of 2022, Afterpay said.

“We continue to believe the risks of the transaction closing are minimal,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Chami Ratnapala said in a brief client note.

Meanwhile, Twitter Inc co-founder Dorsey is expected to focus on Square after stepping down as chief executive of the social media platform as it looks to expand beyond its payment business and into new technologies like blockchain.

Afterpay shares fell more than 6%, far underperforming the broader Australian market, tracking Square’s 6.6% drop overnight in U.S. market on worries over the Omicron variant.

 

(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian, Sameer Manekar and Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Rashmi Aich and Arun Koyyur)

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