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Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine candidate one step closer to approval – Canada News –



One of the vaccines in Canada’s COVID-19 arsenal is another step closer to approval, after Pfizer reported more results from its clinical trials Wednesday.

The company said new test results show its coronavirus vaccine is 95 per cent effective, is safe and also protects older people most at risk of dying — the last data needed to seek emergency use of limited shot supplies as the catastrophic outbreak worsens across the globe.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech just last week estimated the vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective after 94 infections had been counted in a study that included 44,000 people. With the new announcement, the company now has accumulated 170 infections in the study and said only eight of them occurred in volunteers who got the actual vaccine rather than a dummy shot. One of those eight developed severe disease, the company said.

“This is an extraordinarily strong protection,” Dr. Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s CEO and co-founder, told The Associated Press.

The companies have not yet released detailed data on its study, and results have not been analyzed by independent experts. Also still to be determined are important questions such as how long protection lasts and whether people might need boosters.

Pfizer said it is preparing within days to formally ask U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of the vaccine.

Pfizer applied to Health Canada for approval of the vaccine Oct. 9, and will submit the latest data to continue that process. Vaccines must be reviewed and authorized by the federal health department before they can be used in Canada. Health Canada is encouraging vaccine makers to submit for approval before their Phase 3 trials are done, so the approval process that normally takes up to a year can be finished faster.

Pfizer is also undergoing similar “rolling submissions” for approval with regulators in Europe and the United Kingdom.

AstraZeneca and Moderna have also submitted their vaccines for parallel review to Health Canada. All three are among the seven vaccine candidates Canada has contracts to buy on the understanding the doses will only be delivered if Health Canada green-lights the vaccine.

Earlier this week Moderna, Inc. announced that its experimental vaccine appears to be 94.5 per cent effective after an interim analysis of its late-stage study.

Similar results from two vaccines both made with a brand-new technology — using a snippet of the genetic code of the coronavirus to train the body to recognize if the real virus comes along — likely will add to experts’ reassurance about the novel approach.

The companies didn’t disclose safety details but said no serious vaccine side effects have been reported, with the most common problem being fatigue after the second vaccine dose, affecting about 4% of participants.

Canada has contracts to get 20 million doses from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, with options to get up to 56 million more from Pfizer and 36 million more from Moderna. All three require would require an individual to get two doses of the vaccine, several weeks apart.

Canada has contracts for four other vaccines but none of those companies have yet requested approval from Health Canada.

The timeline for when the doses will actually come has always been murky. The federal government has been saying it is likely in the first quarter of 2021 but the specific timing depends on if and when they are approved.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said in Queen’s Park Wednesday that Canada was supposed to get four million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, and two million of Moderna’s in the first three months of next year. She said Ontario is to get 40 per cent of those doses.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu refused to confirm that however, saying on Parliament Hill that Ottawa would work out distribution to the provinces to make sure every Canadian gets access.

“There are a number of steps to go through before we actually get to the point of distribution,” Hajdu said.

Canada is trying to be ready to roll out the vaccine as soon as it gets approved, including buying millions of syringes, needles, bandages and the like, and most recently signing two contracts to buy freezers to store the vaccine. Pfizer’s vaccine has to be stored at -70 C, while Moderna’s requires temperatures of at least -20 C. Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Canada is going to buy 26 freezers that can be as cold as -80 C and 100 that can be up to -20 C.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they expect to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses globally in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

U.S. officials have said they hope to have about 20 million vaccine doses each from Moderna and Pfizer available for distribution in late December. The first shots are expected to be offered to vulnerable groups like medical and nursing home workers, and people with serious health conditions.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended similar priorities be made for the first doses of vaccine here.

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Ontario reports 1,373 new COVID cases today – SooToday



Public Health Ontario has confirmed 1,373 new cases of COVID-19 today, as well as 35 deaths. 

The deaths reported today include one person between 20 and 39 years old, two people between the ages of 40 and 59 years old, eight people between the ages of 60 and 79 years old, and 26 people over the age of 80. Twenty-two of the people who died were residents at long-term care facilities. 

Since yesterday, 51 people have been hospitalized with the coronavirus and seven people have been admitted to intensive care units with COVId-19. 

Included in the 1,373 new cases reported today are 415 cases from Peel, 445 cases from Toronto, and 136 cases from York Region. 

The province has also reported 162 new school-related cases today, including 138 student cases and 24 staff cases. There have been 1,193 school-related cases reported in the last 14 days and 4,269 school-related cases reported to date. 

There are 688 schools in the province with one or more reported COVID-19 cases and four schools are closed because of cases. 

Today, there are 23 new cases of COVID-19 reported in licensed child care settings. Eleven of the cases are children and 12 are staff/care providers. Five centres and one home are closed because of COVID-19 cases. 

The province reported 1,476 recoveries today, bringing the total number of active cases down.

There are currently 12,779 active, lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, which is down from 12,917 active cases yesterday. There are 523 people hospitalized with the coronavirus, which is down from 523 yesterday. There are 159 COVID patients in intensive care units and 106 COVID patients on ventilators. 

Since yesterday’s report, Ontario’s public health labs have processed 36,076 COVID-19 tests and those results produced a 4.7 per cent positivity rate. There are 44,950 COVID tests awaiting processing. 

To date, the province has confirmed 107,883 cases of COVID-19 and has reported 91,550 recoveries and 3,554 deaths. 

In Northern Ontario, all but two of the health unit regions are currently classified as green under the province’s new regional restrictions. It means the areas are permitted the broadest allowance of Stage 3 activities.

Public Health Sudbury and District and Thunder Bay District Health Unit are in the yellow (protect) restriction level.

Since yesterday, five of the seven Northern Ontario health units reported a total of 31 new cases. There are 128 known active cases.

The breakdown of Public Health Ontario data for the rate of cases for Northern Ontario health units is:

  • Algoma Public Health: 58 cases, rate of 50.7 per 100,000 people. The health unit has reported 60 cases. There are three known active cases. The last case was reported Nov. 24.
  • North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit: 66 cases, rate of 50.9 per 100,000 people. The health unit has reported 68 cases. There are nine known active cases. The last cases were reported Nov. 24.
  • Porcupine Health Unit: 106, rate of 127 per 100,000 people. There are three known active cases. The last case was reported Nov. 20.
  • Public Health Sudbury and Districts: 222 cases, rate of 111.5 per 100,000 people. The health unit has reported 224 cases. There are 14 known active cases. The last case was reported Nov. 24.
  • Timiskaming Health Unit: 18 cases, rate of 55.1 per 100,000 people. There is one known active case. The last case was reported Nov. 15.
  • Northwestern Health Unit: 108 cases, rate of 123.2 per 100,000 people. The health unit has also reported two probable cases. There are 23 known active cases. The last case was reported Nov. 24.
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit: 248 cases, rate of 165.4 per 100,000 people. The health unit has reported 252 cases. There are 75 known active cases. The last cases were reported Nov. 25.

The Ontario rate of infection is 725.8.

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Saskatchewan suspends sports, expands masking as COVID-19 numbers rise – Saskatoon StarPhoenix



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Restrictions will be revisited by chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab on Dec. 17.

While the province is no longer seeing “super-spreader” events, Shahab said Saskatchewan has reported an average of more than 200 new cases per day over the past week, quadruple what it saw approximately a month ago.

“Some of the measures we’ve made in the last few weeks have made a difference, but the difference has not been enough to bring our numbers down,” Shahab said.

U of S epidemiologist Dr. Cordell Neudorf said the latest set of restrictions is positive, but warned they might not be sufficient given the extent of community transmission.

His advice is to hunker down and support local businesses via curbside pickup or delivery, he said. 

“The danger is that all we’re going to do is affect the slope, and the cases are just going to keep going up, and that might be enough to take our hospitals over capacity in the coming weeks. That’s the danger in this kind of move.”

Moe said the government is considering financial relief for businesses affected by new restrictions, but would not say which businesses may received it, or when further details might be provided.

He said the new measures are “significant” and expressed confidence they will reduce the infection rate.

However, he did not rule out further steps in the weeks ahead.

“Had (previous measures) worked perfectly, we wouldn’t be here today,” he said.

The province reported a record 111 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 19 in intensive care. Seventy-nine people were reported to have recovered.

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Global National: Nov. 25, 2020 | Ontario receives scathing pandemic response report – Global News



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Global National: Nov. 25, 2020 | Ontario receives scathing pandemic response report  Global News

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