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Pfizer says early data indicates COVID-19 vaccine is effective – CBC.ca

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Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19, indicating the company is on track later this month to file an emergency use application with U.S. regulators. The vaccine is among seven that Canada has pre-ordered.

Monday’s announcement doesn’t mean a vaccine is imminent: This interim analysis, from an independent data monitoring board, looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the U.S. and five other countries.

Pfizer Inc. did not provide any more details about those cases, and cautioned the initial protection rate might change by the time the study ends. Even revealing such early data is highly unusual.

“We’re in a position potentially to be able to offer some hope,” Dr. Bill Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice-president of clinical development, told The Associated Press. “We’re very encouraged.”

Authorities have stressed it’s unlikely any vaccine will arrive much before the end of the year, and limited initial supplies will be rationed.

Both U.S. President Donald Trump and president-elect Joe Biden commented on the news from Pfizer early Monday.

Biden greeted the early results with enthusiasm, but warned that widespread vaccination remains months away and Americans need to continue wearing masks and maintain physical distancing.

“Today’s news is great news, but it doesn’t change that fact,” Biden said in a statement. “Today’s announcement promises the chance to change that next year, but the tasks before us now remain the same.”

Trump hailed the development on Twitter.

No serious safety concerns reported

The shots made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are among 10 possible vaccine candidates in late-stage testing around the world — four of them so far in huge studies in the U.S. Another U.S. company, Moderna Inc., also has said it hopes to be able to file an application with the Food and Drug Administration later this month.

Volunteers in the final-stage studies, and the researchers, don’t know who received the real vaccine or a dummy shot. But a week after their second required dose, Pfizer’s study began counting the number who developed COVID-19 symptoms and were confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Because the study hasn’t ended, Gruber couldn’t say how many in each group had infections. Doing the math, that would mean almost all the infections counted so far had to have occurred in people who got the dummy shots.

Pfizer doesn’t plan to stop its study until it records 164 infections among all the volunteers, a number that the FDA has agreed is enough to tell how well the vaccine is working. The agency has made clear that any vaccine must be at least 50 per cent effective.

No participant so far has become severely ill, Gruber said. He could not provide a breakdown of how many of the infections had occurred in older people, who are at highest risk from COVID-19.

U.S. vaccines must be studied in at least 30,000 people

Participants were tested only if they developed symptoms, leaving unanswered whether vaccinated people could get infected but show no symptoms and unknowingly spread the virus.

FDA has required that U.S. vaccine candidates be studied in at least 30,000 people. In addition to adequate numbers of older adults, those studies must also include other groups at high risk, including minorities and people with chronic health problems.

And it told companies they must track half their participants for side effects for at least two months, the time period when problems typically crop up. Pfizer expects to reach that milestone later this month, but said Monday no serious safety concerns have been reported.

Because the pandemic is still raging, manufacturers hope to seek permission from governments around the world for emergency use of their vaccines while additional testing continues — allowing them to get to market faster than normal but raising concerns about how much scientists will know about the shots.

The FDA’s scientific advisers last month said they worry that allowing emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine could damage confidence in the shots and make it harder to ever find out how well they really work. Those advisers said it’s critical these massive studies are allowed to run to completion.

Canada announced on Aug. 5 that it had preordered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. It later specified that it had reserved 20 million doses, with the option to purchase more. Given that the vaccine is administered as two doses, 28 days apart, Canada would initially have enough to vaccinate 10 million people if it is approved.

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Friday's list of potential COVID-19 exposure locations – HalifaxToday.ca

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NEWS RELEASE
NOVA SCOTIA HEALTH
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Nova Scotia Health Public Health is advising of potential exposure to COVID-19 at various locations across Halifax. In addition to media releases, all potential exposure notifications are now listed here: http://www.nshealth.ca/covid-exposures.
 
Anyone who worked or visited the following locations on the specified date and time to immediately visit covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. People who book testing because they were at a site of potential exposure to COVID-19 are required to self-isolate before their test and while waiting for test results. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you.

  • Agricola Street Brasserie (2540 Agricola St, Halifax) on Nov. 16 between 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.; Nov. 17 between 2:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.; Nov. 18 between 2:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.; Nov. 21 between 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and between 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.; Nov. 22 between 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.; Nov. 23 between 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 7.
  • *Corrected time* Orange Theory Fitness (6140 Young Street, Halifax) on Nov. 17 between 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Nov. 18 between 9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.; Nov. 19 between 8:15 a.m.-9:15 a.m.; Nov. 20 between 8:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.; Nov. 21 between 7:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.; Nov. 22 between 8:15 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 6. 
  • Two Doors Down (1533 Barrington St, Halifax) on Nov. 20 between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 4. 
  • Wendy’s Restaurant (720 Sackville Dr, Sackville) on Nov. 20 between 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 4. 
  • Antojos (1667 Argyle St, Halifax) on Nov. 21 between 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 5. 
  • Bicycle Thief (1475 Lower Water St, Halifax) on Nov. 21 between 7:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 5. 
  • Lion’s Head Tavern (3081 Robie Street, Halifax) on Nov. 22 between 12:45 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 6. 
  • A&W Restaurant (1748 Bedford Highway, Bedford) on Nov. 22 between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 6. 
  • Fit4Less (1535 Dresden Row, Halifax) on Nov. 23 between 3:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.; and Nov. 25 between 6:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 9.

Please remember:
Do not go directly to a COVID-19 assessment centre without being directed to do so.
 
Currently, anyone travelling to Nova Scotia from outside of the Atlantic Provinces is expected to self-isolate alone for 14 days after arriving. If a person travelling for non-essential reasons enters Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada, then everyone in the home where they are self-isolating will have to self-isolate as well.
 
When Nova Scotia Health Public Health makes a public notification it is not in any way a reflection on the behaviour or activities of those named in the notification.
 
All Nova Scotians are advised to continue monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms and are urged to follow Public Health guidelines on how to access care. Up to date information about COVID-19 is available at novascotia.ca/coronavirus
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9 new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, 1 at Bedford school – CBC.ca

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Nova Scotia reported nine new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, including one case at a Bedford school for children in pre-primary to Grade 4. 

The student from Bedford South School is self-isolating, the Health Department said in a news release. Everyone in a class that a confirmed case attended will be tested and is required to self-isolate for 14 days. 

The school was closed Friday for cleaning and contact tracing, and is expected to remain closed until at least Dec. 2.

All cases identified Friday are in the Central Zone. There are now 119 active cases of COVID-19 in the province.

One of the new cases announced Friday is a student at Bedford South School. (Patrick Callaghan/CBC)

Nova Scotia labs completed 3,109 Nova Scotia tests on Thursday.

Rapid-testing pop-ups

An additional 1,142 tests were completed at the rapid-testing pop-up site Thursday in downtown Halifax, finding four positive results. Those people were told to self-isolate and have been referred for a standard test.

The provincial state of emergency has also been renewed. The order will take effect Sunday and extend to noon on Sunday, Dec. 13, unless government terminates or extends it.

Another rapid-testing site was held Friday for those without symptoms at the Alderney Gate Public Library in Dartmouth from 1:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

More than 2,700 rapid tests have been completed in the province since the first rapid-testing pop-up site last weekend.

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, reminded people Friday that rapid testing is an important part of the province’s testing strategy, but it does not replace the need for a standard lab test.

Including standard lab tests and rapid tests, the province has conducted more than 13,000 tests in the last six days.

Premier Stephen McNeil said a vast majority of those tests were young people in the 18-35 age group, the demographic representing the most COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia’s second wave.

“I want you to know how grateful I am,” he said Friday. “By showing up and stepping up, you’re protecting everyone around you and your community and that’s the best example of leadership. I want to sincerely thank you.”

1,058 ongoing investigations

When a person tests positive in the lab, Public Health employees investigate each close contact of that confirmed COVID case. There are 1,058 ongoing investigations in the province.

A week ago, that number was 276.

Strang said each positive case has an average of seven close contacts, but many cases have had considerably more than that.

Because of the work involved to complete contact tracing, it takes time for close contacts of positive cases to be contacted by Public Health.

A Nova Scotia health worker prepares to administer a nasal swab at a rapid-testing site in Halifax on Tuesday. Another testing site will be set up in Dartmouth on Friday. (Robert Short/CBC)

“I ask for people’s support and patience during this. Public Health will get to you,” Strang said. “While you’re waiting, if you believe you’re a close contact, just stay isolated at home. We need your help on this.”

Strang said he’s “relieved” to see relatively low case numbers in the last few days, but expects to continue to see high numbers of new daily cases in the next week to 10 days.

“We’re just Day 2 into implementing our tight restrictions in the Halifax area. We’re by no means out of the woods yet,” he said.

There have been no positive COVID-19 cases linked to a recent party in downtown Halifax with close to 60 people in attendance, Strang said, but cases are coming from people socializing in groups.

Even when people follow the rules, the COVID-19 virus can be easily spread through social activities because many people are not symptomatic or have mild symptoms.

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Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Wellness asked anyone who was at a bar or restaurant in the Halifax area past 10 p.m. to arrange for testing. Strang said nearly 8,000 people have come forward for a test since then.

In the event a test is necessary, a person can fill out the self-assessment tool on the province’s website.

Staff or patrons of bars or restaurants who were there after 10 p.m. do not need to self-isolate while awaiting a test.

But if a person was at one of the more than 100 recent exposure sites on any of the listed dates and times, they need to self-isolate while awaiting a test. On Friday night, the Nova Scotia Health Authority issued eight new notices for the Halifax area.

Essential travel only

Although the province has not changed its self-isolation rules for travellers from other Atlantic provinces, Nova Scotians are still being urged to only travel for essential purposes, including accessing health care and attending work or school.

“I’m sorry to say, shopping is not an essential purpose,” McNeil said.

Strang added to buy local, and buy online, if shopping needs to be done to help contain the second wave of COVID, which began Oct. 1.

“Wave 2 is clearly here in Halifax, and we’re trying to keep it in Halifax,” he said.

Truro police said in a Facebook post Friday they’ve received numerous calls from the public asking police to take action against people they believe travelled from the Halifax area to their community in Colchester County.

“While we appreciate concerns about the spread of COVID-19, this travel restriction isn’t in Public Health orders and cannot be directly enforced by police,” the post said.

Researchers in Wolfville, meanwhile, have detected the virus that causes COVID-19 in the town’s wastewater. Strang said it could be a signal the virus has entered that community although the research is experimental and the results may not be definitive.

Strang said the province is going to increase capacity at the primary assessment centre in Wolfville and is planning to have pop-up rapid-testing sites in place in that community early next week.

Rapid testing in long-term care

As of Friday, ongoing voluntary testing is being introduced in long-term care homes. Volunteers, designated caregivers, and employees who provide direct care to residents will be tested every two weeks.

The testing will start at three locations: Northwood, Ocean View, and St. Vincent’s. It will expand to six more facilities over the next two weeks.

Northwood is one of three long-term care facilities that currently has rapid testing in place for volunteers, staff, and designated caregivers. (Robert Short/CBC)

“This is part of our effort to monitor, reduce, and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. None of us need a reminder of how important that is,” Strang said.

With the federal government saying Canadians could start getting vaccinated in early 2021, Strang said it’s important to remember none of the vaccines is licensed by Health Canada yet and there is no certainty on the availability or the amount of doses.

“I need to be clear, we are expecting very small amounts to begin with … We’ll have to tightly control the supply and [have] very strict prioritization of who that vaccine needs to go to,” he said.

New restrictions for restaurants, gyms

On Thursday, new restrictions came into effect in most of the Halifax area and parts of Hants County.

Restaurants are closed for in-person dining for two weeks, but can do takeout and delivery. Gyms, libraries, museums and casinos are also closed.

A list of what’s open and closed in Halifax can be found here.

COVID cases in the Atlantic provinces

New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island have all brought back mandatory 14-day self-isolation for travellers. As of Thursday evening, Nova Scotia is still not requiring anyone travelling from the Atlantic provinces to quarantine.

The latest numbers from the Atlantic provinces are:

Symptoms

Anyone with one of the following symptoms should visit the COVID-19 self-assessment website or call 811:

  • Fever.
  • Cough or worsening of a previous cough.

Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is also asked to visit the website or call 811:

  • Sore throat.
  • Headache.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Runny nose.
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Manitoba health officials to update on COVID-19 cases – CTV News Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG —
A deadly trend of COVID-19 continued in Manitoba on Friday, as health officials announced a near record-breaking number of deaths.

On Friday, Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer announced 14 more people have died of COVID-19. This is among Manitoba’s highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day.

“We continue to announce these deaths every day, we continue to announce higher numbers than what we can sustain,” Roussin said, adding in total, 280 people have died due to COVID-19 in Manitoba.

Along with these deaths, the province reported 344 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in Manitoba since March to 15,632. These cases push the five-day test positivity rate in the province to 14.5 per cent.

The majority of the cases announced were in the Winnipeg region, which had 178 cases, and a test positivity rate of 14.2 per cent.

The other cases announced on Friday include:

  • 15 cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region;
  • 73 cases in the Northern health region;
  • 13 cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region; and
  • 65 cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region.

INTENSIVE CARE NOW OPERATING AT 152 PER CENT CAPACITY

The province reported 310 more people have been listed as recovered, which brings the total number of recoveries to 6,487. Hospitalizations jumped by 15 on Friday, with a total of 322 people in hospital.

Lanette Siragusa, the chief nursing officer for Shared Health, said as of midnight, the province’s intensive care units were operating at 152 per cent of its normal pre-COVID capacity. She said 46 people out of the 110 patients in ICU have COVID-19.

To free up inpatient beds, as well as redeploy staff to help with the surge of COVID-19 patients, the province has postponed 1,136 surgeries in the past month, Siragusa said.

While daily case numbers are no longer dramatically climbing, Roussin said they are staying at a level the province cannot maintain much longer.

ROUSSIN URGES MANITOBANS TO STAY HOME THIS WEEKEND

“The message has been clear and it’s been unwavering – it’s to stay home,” Roussin, asking Manitobans to stay home as much as possible this weekend.

He said there should not be any gatherings this weekend – including faith-based gatherings.

READ MORE: Defiance of church near Steinbach, Man., coming at a cost to neighbouring church

“The weekend is coming up, and so there is always those urges to get together with others, or to run non-essential errands,” Roussin said. “My ask to you is to stay home – stay home this weekend. Connect with people virtually, only out for essential reasons, don’t leave the province to go shopping, don’t do any non-essential activities.”

The deaths reported on Friday include:

  • A man in his 50s and a man in his 70s from the Winnipeg health region;
  • A man in his 50s and a man in his 70s from the Interlake-Eastern health region;
  • A man in his 70s from the Southern Health region;
  • Two women in their 80s, and a woman in her 100s from Winnipeg, whose deaths are linked to the outbreak at the Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre;
  • Two men in their 90s from Winnipeg, whose deaths are linked to the outbreak at Golden Links Lodge;
  • A woman in her 90s from the Prairie Mountain Health region, whose death is linked to the outbreak at Fairview Home;
  • A man in his 90s from the Southern Health region, whose death is linked to the outbreak at the Rest Haven Nursing Home;
  • A woman in her 70s from Winnipeg whose death is linked to the outbreak at Parkview Place; and
  • A man in his 90s from Winnipeg whose death is linked to the outbreak at the St. Norbert Personal Care Home.

This is a developing story. More to come.

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