Pfizer-BioNTech says it will ask the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a booster dose, or a third shot, of its COVID-19 vaccine within the next month.
The drugmaker said on Thursday this step is based on evidence of greater risk of reinfection six months after two-dose treatment and due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, now prevalent in several counties including Canada.
“While protection against severe disease remained high across the full 6 months, the observed decline in efficacy against symptomatic disease over time and the continued emergence of variants are key factors driving our belief that a booster dose will likely be necessary to maintain highest levels of protection,” Pfizer said in a statement.
Israel’s health ministry, a country that saw an increase in infections as a direct result of the Delta variant, said vaccine effectiveness in preventing both infection and symptomatic disease fell to 64 per cent in June.
Hours after Pfizer issued its statement, the FDA and Centers for Disease and Control issued a joint statement saying Americans do not need booster shots yet.
“Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time,” the CDC and FDA said in the statement.
“We continue to review any new data as it becomes available and will keep the public informed. We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed.”
Speaking on Thursday, Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten said while the Pfizer vaccine is highly effective against the Delta variant, after six months “there likely is the risk of reinfection as antibodies, as predicted, wane.”
Dolsten however did say that data from Israel and the U.K. suggests that even with decreasing or lower antibody levels, the vaccine remains around 95 per cent effective in protecting against severe disease.
“While we believe a third dose of BNT162b2 has the potential to preserve the highest levels protective efficacy against all currently known variants including Delta, we are remaining vigilant and are developing an updated version of the Pfizer-COVID-19 vaccine that uses a new construct based on the B.1.617.2 lineage, first identified in India and also known as the Delta variant,” Pfizer and BioNTech added.
The vaccine, developed with German partner BioNTech, showed 95 per cent efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in clinical trials conducted within the last year.
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in early May that a booster for his company’s vaccine would also likely be needed in the fight against transmissible variants.
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been widely distributed across Canada and its many provinces as the country’s vaccine rollout have greatly improved in recent months.
Canada’s top public health official says the country is “within reach” of fully vaccinating four out of every five eligible Canadians against COVID-19.
Dr. Theresa Tam says more than 40-million doses have been given so far, with 78 per cent of those 12 and older receiving at least one dose.
Robinhood Flirts With Worst Debut Ever for IPO of Its Size – BNN
(Bloomberg) — Robinhood Markets Inc. wanted to make history with its initial public offering, and now it might — for the wrong reason.
Shares in the broker behind the meme-stock revolution fell as much as 12% below the IPO price in the company’s first trading session. That puts the stock in the running to rank as the worst debut on record among U.S. firms that raised as much cash as Robinhood or more, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Shares rebounded and were last trading 1% lower at $37.52 mid-afternoon in New York.
Robinhood must finish Thursday’s session at $34.90 or higher, or else it will replace the 2007 IPO by another brokerage, MF Global Holdings Ltd., as the worst debut among qualifying firms. MF Global ended its first day down 8.2%.
Read more: Robinhood Loses More Ground in Trading Debut After Muted IPO
The stock opened at the $38 initial public offering price. For an IPO of Robinhood’s size and larger, that’s the weakest opening trade since Uber Technologies Inc. in May of 2019 among U.S. firms. Uber finished its debut session down 7.6%.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Google and Facebook will require U.S. workers to be vaccinated to return to the office – CBC.ca
Google is postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened.
The more highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is driving a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Google’s announcement Wednesday was shortly followed by one from Facebook, which also said it will make vaccines mandatory for U.S. employees who work in offices. Exceptions will be made for medical and other reasons.
“With regards to our Canadian offices, we don’t have specifics to share yet,” a spokesperson for Facebook told CBC News. “We will be evaluating our approach in other regions as the situation evolves.”
In an email sent to Google’s more than 130,000 employees worldwide, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is now aiming to have most of its workforce back to its offices beginning Oct. 18, instead of its previous target date of Sept. 1.
The decision also affects tens of thousands of contractors who Google intends to continue to pay while access to its campuses remains limited.
“This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it,” Pichai wrote.
Pichai disclosed that once offices are fully reopened, everyone working there will have to be vaccinated. The requirement will be first imposed at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters and other U.S. offices, before being extended to the more than 40 other countries where Google operates.
‘The stuff that needs to be done’
Google has extensive operations in Canada, but the company did not immediately reply to a request for comment as to when such a policy may be implemented for its Canadian work force. Pichai’s letter, however, makes it clear that it is not just a U.S. policy.
“We’re rolling this policy out in the U.S. in the coming weeks and will expand to other regions in the coming months,” he said.
WATCH | How social media is helping spread misinformation like a virus:
Public health experts are lauding the move.
“This is the stuff that needs to be done, because otherwise we are endangering workers and their families,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University and a former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore.
“It is not fair to parents to be expected to come back to work and sit shoulder-to-shoulder with unvaccinated people who could be carrying a potentially deadly virus.”
Because children under the age of 12 aren’t currently eligible to be vaccinated, parents can bring the virus home to them from the office if they are around unvaccinated colleagues, Wen said.
Various government agencies already have announced demands for all their employees to be vaccinated, but the corporate world so far has been taking a more measured approach, even though most lawyers believe the mandates are legal.
Most employers hesitant to require vaccines
Delta and United airlines are requiring new employees to show proof of vaccination. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are requiring their employees to disclose their vaccination status, but are not requiring staffers to be vaccinated.
Less than 10 per cent of employers have said they intend to require all employees to be vaccinated, based on periodic surveys by the research firm Gartner.
While other major technology companies may follow suit now that Google and Facebook have taken stands on vaccines, employers in other industries still may be reluctant, predicted Brian Kropp, chief of research for Gartner’s human resources practice.
“Google is seen as being such a different kind of company that I think it’s going to take one or two more big employers to do something similar in terms of becoming a game changer,” Kropp said.
Google’s vaccine mandate will be adjusted to adhere to the laws and regulations of each location, Pichai wrote, and exceptions will be made for medical and other “protected” reasons.
“Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead,” Pichai explained.
The rapid rise in cases during the past month has prompted more public health officials to urge stricter measures to help overcome vaccine skepticism and misinformation.
It’s unclear how many of Google’s workers still haven’t been vaccinated. In his email, Pichai described the vaccination rate at the company as high.
Remote work still going strong
Google’s decision to extend its remote work follows a similar move by another technology powerhouse, Apple, which recently moved its return-to-office plans from September to October, too.
The delays by Apple and Google could influence other major employers to take similar precautions, given that the technology industry has been at the forefront of the shift to remote work triggered by the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Even before the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March 2020, Google, Apple and many other prominent tech firms had been telling their employees to work from home.
WATCH | Business travel particularly slow to bounce back:
This marks the third time Google has pushed back the date for fully reopening its offices.
Google’s vaccine requirement also could embolden other employers to issue similar mandates to guard against outbreaks and minimize the need to wear masks in the office.
While most companies are planning to bring back their workers at least a few days a week, others in the tech industry have decided to let employees do their jobs from remote locations permanently.
TSX closes at all-time high, U.S. markets up after big jump in commodities prices – CBC.ca
Canada’s main stock exchange closed at an all-time high as commodities like gold and oil benefited from a weaker U.S. dollar on Thursday.
The S&P/TSX composite index was up 81.38 points at 20,311.78.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 153.60 points at 35,084.53. The S&P 500 index was up 18.51 points at 4,419.15, while the Nasdaq composite was up 15.68 points at 14,778.26.
The Canadian dollar traded for 80.32 cents US compared with 79.58 cents US on Wednesday.
The September crude oil contract was up $1.23 US at $73.62 US per barrel and the September natural gas contract was up 9.2 cents at nearly $4.06 US per mmBTU.
The December gold contract was up $31.20 US at $1,835.80 US an ounce and the September copper contract was up nearly 4.2 cents at $4.52 US a pound.
Saskatoon economy recovering but IMF warns of inflation, vaccine inequality – Global News
Robinhood Flirts With Worst Debut Ever for IPO of Its Size – BNN
Northern Canada may be a popular destination at the end of the world – CTV News
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Science19 hours ago
890 million-year-old fossils may be oldest sign of animal life on Earth, Canadian geologist says – The Washington Post
Art16 hours ago
QC: Art feeds the soul for Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway – Regina Leader-Post
Sports23 hours ago
Zach Hyman is exactly what was missing in the Edmonton Oilers top-six – Edmonton Sun
Business13 hours ago
N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 4 new cases, 66.1% of eligible population fully vaccinated – CBC.ca
Economy12 hours ago
U.S. Economy Grew 1.6% in Second Quarter – The New York Times
Health12 hours ago
Amid pushback, Alberta health minister defends plan to ease COVID-19 isolation, masking, testing rules – Globalnews.ca
Sports14 hours ago
Filmer, Janssens capture bronze in women’s rowing pair at Tokyo Olympics – CityNews Toronto
Health20 hours ago
Do you support the local COVID-19 restrictions in the Central Okanagan? – Castanet.net