The first COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 12 could be in front of Health Canada’s review team in just days, and Pfizer expects to start shipping a new pediatric formulation of its vaccine shortly after it gets the green light.
But some Canadian pharmacists are hoping Canadian authorities authorize them to just draw up pediatric-sized doses from the vials of vaccine already shipped for Canadians over the age of 12.
Pfizer submitted data from a clinical trial involving kids five to 11 years old last week, and made the formal request for it to be authorized for that age group in the U.S. Thursday.
The company’s Canadian spokeswoman said the company is working with Health Canada on the final steps before that formal request is made here.
“We are aiming to file this submission by mid-October,” said Christina Antoniou.
The vaccine was developed in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech and is now marketed under the brand name Comirnaty. It was authorized for people at least 16 years old last December, and for kids between 12 and 15 in May.
The pediatric data on kids between five and 11 showed a safe and strong immune response from two doses, which are one-third the size given to teens and adults.
More than 80 per cent of Canadians over 12 are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and as vaccines help slow infections in teens and adults, the infection rate among kids has climbed.
Kristen Watt, a pharmacist and owner of Kristen’s Pharmacy in Southampton, Ont., said she is getting lots of questions from parents about the vaccine and whether to sign their kids up when it’s time.
“We know from the questions that we’re getting that it’s going to be an uphill battle,” she said in an interview. “So getting ahead of what the plan looks like for rollout is really, really important. We really need this to be calm, straightforward, and seamless.”
She said while it’s true the disease tends to be more mild among kids in general, there are kids who get seriously ill and end up in the hospital and others who end up with long-term symptoms.
“We’ve done a lot of things to mitigate spread in kids so far so why wouldn’t we make this our top priority to continue to reduce that risk for kids,” she asked.
Watt doesn’t think there is a good reason why Canada should risk delaying getting doses into arms by waiting for Pfizer to deliver more vials specifically for kids, when pharmacies and public health clinics can easily just use the same syringes to draw the smaller doses of the vaccine.
Pfizer has delivered more than 46 million doses to Canada to date, and an analysis of the available data on administration from provincial and federal governments suggests there are more than enough Pfizer doses already in Canada to vaccinate kids between five and 11 years old.
But that’s not what Pfizer is requesting in its submission to Health Canada.
“The rollout of new formulations, including doses of our vaccine for this age group, has been incorporated into the supply agreement that Pfizer and BioNTech have with the Government of Canada,” Antoniou said.
“A delivery schedule for the pediatric formulation will be determined shortly after regulatory approval is granted with the intent of bringing doses to Canada as quickly as possible.”
Canada signed a new contract with Pfizer for pediatric doses last spring.
Watt said waiting for new deliveries will delay vaccinations, and that pharmacists could vaccinate the day after it gets approved if they can use the vials they already have. The existing vials hold six adult-sized doses, but would hold three times as many doses for kids.
She said she hopes the National Advisory Committee on Immunization weighs in soon to clarify if that can happen. She said one concern may be contamination if a vial is accessed 18 times instead of six, but that can be mitigated with adapters.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2021.
Rogers family boardroom drama unlikely to impact deal to buy Shaw
A boardroom tussle at Rogers Communications Inc is unlikely to hinder its C$20 billion ($16.16 billion) buy of Shaw Communications, analysts said, but the family drama is continuing at one of Canada’s biggest telecoms companies.
The board of Rogers on Thursday voted out Chairman Edward Rogers, son of the late founder Ted Rogers, after he tried to replace Chief Executive Officer Joe Natale with another executive.
Hours later, Edward Rogers said as chair of the Rogers Control Trust, the family-controlled entity that owns the majority of ownership shares in RCI, he would remove the five RCI board directors who acted against him.
Rogers’ move is the latest in a tumultuous period, during which he has been at odds with his sisters and mother, all of whom are also board directors and who backed Natale.
The company said on Friday that it had not received any documentation from its former chair with respect to the attempted removal of directors, and would consult with its lawyers about the legality of Edward Rogers’ move.
“The company is not aware of this mechanism ever having been utilized in respect of a public company in Canada,” Rogers Communications said in a statement.
J.P.Morgan analysts said they hoped the boardroom battle would not overshadow the timeline or approval process of the deal to buy smaller rival Shaw.
“We maintain our base case that Rogers will be able to close its transformative acquisition of Shaw in 1H22 following the divestiture of some or all of Shaw’s wireless business,” J.P.Morgan wrote in a note to investors.
While the company’s bid for Shaw would further boost its position in Canada’s highly concentrated telecoms market, it has attracted scrutiny from multiple government regulators over whether it will decrease competition.
Scotiabank analysts said they expect the deal to get regulatory approvals within the planned timeline of first half of next year.
The structure of the Rogers Control Trust is a unique feature among Canadian companies, said David Brown, a corporate governance consultant.
Normally each family member would control their individual shares, but Ted Rogers’ estate set up the trust to represent all the family members together, meaning the 97.5% of Class A ownership shares are controlled by the family trust vote as one.
The purpose seems to be to “avoid impasses (between family members) that would block any votes from getting through the organization,” Brown said, adding that the structure gives the chair of the trust “some pretty unprecedented powers.”
But, he said, Rogers is still accountable to the family.
“Edward is allowed to do what he’s doing until the rest of the family step in and stop him,” Brown said.
($1 = 1.2377 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sweta Singh and Arun Koyyur)
Walmart recalling 3,900 bottles of room spray due to possible dangerous bacteria- U.S. CPSC
Walmart Inc is recalling around 3,900 bottles of its Better Homes and Gardens-branded room spray due to the possible presence of a rare and dangerous bacteria, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said on Friday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been investigating a cluster of four confirmed cases of melioidosis including two deaths in the country, although the source of these four infections has not been confirmed, the CPSC said.
(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)
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