Connect with us

Business

Pharmacies ready to help administer COVID-19 vaccines across Canada, association says – CBC.ca

Published

 on


Local pharmacies are ready to help out with a national COVID-19 vaccine rollout once supply becomes available, says the head of an organization that represents the retailers.

Sandra Hanna, CEO of the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada and a practising pharmacist, said pharmacies hope to play a “critical” role in a mass immunization campaign against COVID-19.

Vaccination is not new to pharmacies and the process of getting a vaccine at a local pharmacy is not new to Canadians, she said.

“We know that pharmacies are already playing a huge role in immunizations programs in general,” Hanna told CBC News Network in an interview from Toronto on Saturday.

“About half of Canadians already get their flu shots at their community pharmacy. We think pharmacies are going to be integral to ensuring that Canadians get vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Hanna said it makes sense for local pharmacies to administer COVID-19 vaccines because they already administer flu shots, there are 11,000 pharmacies across the country, 90 per cent of them are routinely administering vaccines, and 95 per cent of Canadians live within a five kilometre radius of a pharmacy. 

Sandra Hanna, CEO of the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada and a practising pharmacist, said pharmacies hope to play a ‘critical’ role in a mass immunization campaign against COVID-19. (Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada)

“This presents a really great opportunity to make the vaccine available, accessible and easy to access for Canadians once we have the supply,” she said.

“I think this is an all hands on deck approach. We have a number of great and eager health care providers across the country who want to play an important role in helping to get Canada out of this pandemic.”

Pharmacies recommend vaccination by appointment

The rollout for the COVID-19 vaccine will be different than it has been for flu vaccines because it is being administered to priority groups first, Hannah added. Details of the mass immunization campaign are still being worked out and they will vary by province, she said.

“What that means is not every Canadian is eligible to get the vaccine at the same time and that we’re prioritizing those highest risk first and then kind of going down the chain to ensure that all Canadians have access to the vaccine,” she said.

Hanna said the association is seeing most provinces recommending an appointment-based model, an approach that is familiar to most Canadians. 

Under that model, Canadians can expect they would be screened at the time of their appointment, go into a consultation room, get the shot, then stay around for about 15 minutes in case of an adverse reaction.

Lawrence Fagan, of Toronto, waits for a flu shot at a Shoppers Drug Mart on Oct. 7, 2020. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“I think the most important thing is just going to be clear communication of those priority groups,” she said.

“What we want to make sure is that it’s clearly communicated to Canadians when they are eligible to receive the vaccine and that all providers have the same communication so that we can ensure when you are eligible to get your vaccine, you can get it and there’s no confusion around whether or not you can access the vaccine,” she added.

“I think clear and consistent communication will be really critical to ensure that we can do this in a smooth fashion.”
 

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

What's an NFT? And why are people suddenly spending millions on them? – CBC.ca

Published

 on


At first blush, Sheldon Corey’s Twitter avatar, shown above, isn’t the sort of thing you’d think is worth $20,000 US. But to the Montreal investor, it’s worth every penny — if not more.

The image is part of a collection of digital files known as CryptoPunks, which were first created more than three years ago.

Created by a computer algorithm by software developer Larva Labs, there are about 10,000 of them out there. They were given away almost for free when they were created, but over time they have come to be very valuable to a certain subculture of people because they are among the first examples of an emerging type of digital investment known as non-fungible tokens or NFTs.

While the image itself can be easily duplicated, what gives Corey’s NFT its value is that its digital ownership is unimpeachable. Logged on a digital ledger known as a blockchain that can’t be forged, the ownership can be publicly verified by anyone who cares to look, and Corey is its undisputed owner in perpetuity, or at least until he decides to sell it.

But he has no plans to sell.

“It’s something I’m going to hang on to,” he said in an interview. “It’s doubled in value already.” 

The “non-fungible” portion of NFTs simply means they can’t be exchanged for another asset of the same type, and can instead only be transferred in exchange for some sort of money, typically ethereum or bitcoin. (Conventional money is perhaps the best example of a “fungible” asset since it can be exchanged for others of the same type. Canadian dollars for a certain amount of American ones, for example. Or two dimes and a nickel for a quarter.)

NFTs are exploding in popularity right now, swept up in the mania for digital assets such as bitcoin. The most expensive CryptoPunk is currently valued at about $2 million. And about half of the 50 most valuable ones in the world have changed hands in the past month alone.

CryptoPunks may be among the oldest, but they are far from the only ones.

Digital artist Mike Winkelmann — better known by his online alias, Beeple — made headlines recently for selling the NFT of the 10-second video he created, shown below, to an investor for $67,000 US last fall.

The buyer, Miami-based art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, sold that NFT this week for almost 100 times what he paid, setting what’s believed to be a new record for NFTs at $6.6 million US. To him, he was buying a valuable piece of art akin to any other works from the great masters of their day, worthy of hanging in any museum you could name.

“You can go in the Louvre and take a picture of the Mona Lisa and you can have it there, but it doesn’t have any value because it doesn’t have the provenance or the history of the work,” he said this week. “The reality here is that this is very, very valuable because of who is behind it.”

Newer NFTs are starting to get into prickly issues such as royalties. But most, like Corey’s CryptoPunk, do not.

He says he’s also invested in a few newer types of NFTs called Hashmasks — one of which is shown below — that come with the ability to sell the naming rights.

“There’s a secondary market for naming them so they are generating their own revenue source,” he said.

Booming business

OpenSea, the largest marketplace for buying and selling NFTs, booked almost $90 million US worth of transactions last month. That’s up from $8 million US the month before and just $1.5 million this time last year.

Maria Paula Fernandez says even if NFTs are currently in a bubble, the underlying technology has real value that will last long after the bubble bursts. (The Golem Network)

Maria Paula Fernandez is an adviser to the Golem Network, a peer-to-peer marketplace for computing power that runs on the ethereum network. While NFTs have been around for a few years, she said in an interview that they are hyped right now due to a “very large influx of new users coming into ethereum by way of some very crazy incentives in the space.”

Translation? There’s a lot of new money pouring in.

Much like conventional art, the beauty of digital art may be in the eye of the beholder, but to Fernandez the real value of NFTs is in how they can certify ownership.

“They’re super versatile,” she said. “But the main benefit is the certificate of provenance and authenticity of an artwork.”

She says it’s not surprising that the artistic community has jumped on board, because the conventional business model for artists and art lovers has its own set of problems. She cites the example of a New York art gallery that came upon previously undiscovered works by Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and others, and sold them to dozens of investors for more than $80 million.

“The ink was right, the paper was right, people that know Rothko vouched for it,” she said.

Despite the way the gallery owner obtained them being “a bit shady” and the verification of their status “super opaque”, customers couldn’t wait to get their hands on rare gems from such revered artists.

There was only one problem: they were all fake, forgeries by a talented Chinese artist. “All these millionaires, including the owner of [auction company] Sotheby’s, got scammed because in the art world, provenance is created by a consensus,” she said.

“With NFTs there is no question, it’s either there or it’s not. Period.”

Going mainstream

It’s not just hobbyists with more cryptodollars than sense throwing money into the space, either. Canada’s Grimes and Tennessee’s Kings of Leon both made millions this week selling artwork and music, respectively, via NFT.

Billionaire technology investor Mark Cuban is a big backer of them, and auction house Christie’s is currently selling another Beeple work until March 11, calling it the first “purely digital” piece of art it has ever sold. Based on demand, the current record sale price for a Beeple mentioned above may be short-lived.

The NBA has jumped into the space with both feet, establishing something called NBA Top Shot, which is probably best described as sports cards for the digital era.

Instead of buying a pack of physical cards, fans and investors can buy NFTs of videos of memorable on-court moments. Since launching five months ago, the service has attracted 100,000 buyers and racked up more than $250 million in sales.

So far the most valuable is the NFT of a dunk by superstar LeBron James. It recently sold for more than $208,000. (The Mona Lisa may belong to the Louvre, but the NFT in question is owned by a Twitter user with the apt moniker of YoDough. You can watch it yourself for free, here.)

NFTs are a bit like hockey cards: collectibles that retain their value mostly because they are perceived to have it by those who care about them.

Speaking as an art lover, Fernandez says she wouldn’t personally poster her wall with the LeBron dunk, but she still calls Top Shot a “great use case” to show the value of NFTs.

“Of course it’s not as special as a [sports card] you can hold and love and feel all that beauty, but this one lives forever,” she said. “You don’t have to protect it or put it in a safe, [but] you can have a very expensive collectible for your life.”

Emelia Thiara is managing director at Kingswap, a Singapore-based decentralized marketplace that allows trading in cryptocurrencies and NFTs. While the technology has been around for a while, she says the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in interest in NFTs, as digital assets become more mainstream.

Corey owns the NFT for this piece of digital art, which is a Hashmask currently called Watermelon, but he may sell the naming rights to the piece to someone else. (Sheldon Corey)

She says it’s easy to think some of the assets are trivial, but so are a lot of physical collectibles. People collect high-end watches such as Rolex and save them for decades. “All that has no value to anyone who’s not into the subculture, but to whoever is in the subculture it is hugely valuable,” she said.

“It may seem silly … and doesn’t make sense, but at least [an NFT] is recorded on a blockchain,” she said. 

Fernandez admits that the feverish activity and meteoric price rise of some NFTs could be evidence of a bubble, but she’s convinced the underlying technology will have real value even if the current frenzy fizzles out.

“The only way to prove this isn’t a bubble is if there are still creators willing to keep working, and technologists willing to keep investing in the platforms,” she said.

“Never in the history of art has it been easier to sell your work for millions.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

What are NFTs? Cryptocurrency technology is driving new digital art craze – CTV News

Published

 on


TORONTO —
A new craze is sweeping through the art world, but it’s of solely digital work.

Using blockchain technology — which is what underpins cryptocurrency transactions like Bitcoin — to authenticate who owns the pieces, digital assets known as “non-fungible tokens,” or NFTs, are selling for millions.

An NFT is a singular, one-of-a-kind digital token that cannot be interchanged with other tokens – which makes them optimal for buying and selling art or other collectibles as they accrue value independently.

NFTs give a digital certificate of ownership to buyers to prove authentication of both the work and the purchase, but does not give buyers the original file or copyright – which is why NFTs have been labeled as a “bragging rights” purchase.

Canadian Trevor Jones, who lives in Scotland, sold more than $3 million worth of digitally-authenticated versions of his painting “Bitcoin Angel” in just seven minutes.

“It’s crazy how fast this space is moving,” Jones told CTV News. “This is the first time in history that an artist could monetize digital pieces.”

A version of the “nyan cat meme,” where a pixelated cat with the body of a Poptart flies over a rainbow, sold for US$590,000 at auction, and a 10-second video clip by digital artist “Beeple” sold for US$6.6 million.

Canadian musician Grimes recently sold US$6 million dollars worth of NFTs as well.

Even the NBA is getting in on the action – with the biggest transaction to date on Feb. 22, when a user paid US$208,000 for a video of a LeBron James slam dunk.

Auction house Christie’s has recently moved into the digital space, offering a new Beeple piece on the block. NFTs have surged in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic as more and more people purchase items digitally due to lockdowns and stay at home orders.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

What are NFTs? Everything you need to know. – Mashable

Published

 on


NFTs are the hottest cryptocurrency product right now and everyone wants in on the action.

NFTs are the hottest cryptocurrency product right now and everyone wants in on the action.
Image: Getty Images / iStockphoto

NFTs are the latest cryptocurrency rage these days, with bands like Kings of Leon releasing their next album as limited edition “golden tickets,” and NBA digital collectibles being sold for millions of dollars. 

They’re interesting to collectors and cryptocurrency fans alike, but is there a future there? In other words: Should you spend some actual dollars to invest in a digital trinket?

Kings of Leon have already jumped on the NFT bandwagon.

Kings of Leon have already jumped on the NFT bandwagon.

Image: yellowheart

What Are NFTs?

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are a type of cryptocurrency created on a smart contract platform such as Ethereum. They are unique digital objects that can be cool to own or even profitable to trade. Think of them as digital collectible cards. They typically start out as something only enthusiasts care about, but if you get a rare one, it could be worth a lot one day. 

What is fungible vs. non-fungible? 

Cryptocurrencies can be fungible, meaning all the currency’s units (i.e., tokens) are the same and equal, like grains of rice or dollars. 

Non-fungible tokens are the opposite — every cryptocurrency unit, or token, is unique and cannot be replicated. 

This “non-fungible” property can be used for many things, even certain types of currencies. But the current NFT craze is mostly fueled by digital art and collectibles. People have figured out that a unique, digital object can be interesting, cool, and even have a significant monetary value. It’s why the space has recently blossomed, encompassing thousands of projects involving artworks, gaming, and sports. 


How do NFTs work?

It really depends on the platform. But given the vast majority of NFTs are created and traded on Ethereum, we’ll focus on that. 

NFTs are created on Ethereum’s blockchain, which is immutable, meaning it cannot be altered. No one can undo your ownership of an NFT or re-create that exact same one. They’re also “permissionless,” so anyone can create, buy, or sell an NFT without asking for permission. Finally, every NFT is unique, and can be viewed by anyone. 

So yes — it’s like a unique collectible card in a forever-open store window that anyone can admire, but only one person (or cryptocurrency wallet, to be exact) can own at any given time. 

In a practical sense, an NFT is typically represented by a digital artwork, such as an image. But it’s important to understand that it’s not just that image (which can easily be replicated). Its existence as a digital object on the blockchain is what makes it unique. 

How do I buy or trade NFTs?

NFTs are bought and traded just like any other cryptocurrency based on Ethereum, only instead of buying some amount of tokens, you buy a single token. 

To do that, you should start by installing Metamask, a browser extension that lets you interact with various facets of Ethereum, such as exchanges and dApps (decentralized apps). MetaMask is also a digital wallet for Ethereum and all the tokens created on Ethereum (both fungible and non-fungible). 

After installing the extension, you should buy some Ethereum (you can do it directly in MetaMask with a debit card or Apple Pay by clicking on “Add Funds”). But be very careful with your funds — store your MetaMask password and your wallet’s private key somewhere safe. Then, when you visit a website that sells NFTs (such as NBA Top Shot) or an exchange where you can trade for them (such as Uniswap), connect your MetaMask wallet to the site (only do that on sites you know are safe), and buy your first NFT.  


Why do NFTs have value?

Of course, before you buy anything, you’ll probably want to know why it’s a good purchase. Indeed, why would anyone buy an NFT and why should there ever be a buyer willing to spend even more money down the line?

Ideally, the value of NFTs doesn’t just come from a game of digital hot potato, in which you purchase something hoping you’ll sell it for more later. And so on, until the whole thing crashes. Ideally, the NFT should be valuable to you because… you like it. If you’re an NBA fan, you might want to have an official NFT representing your favorite player. Or, perhaps there’s a digital cat that you really like.

Sure, in some ways, many NFTs are just a digital image that you can easily right-click and save to your computer. But NFTs also reside on the blockchain, which makes it extremely hard to truly copy them in their entirety. The blockchain entry also transparently tells you who created the NFT. If a famous musicians says: “Yes, that’s my Ethereum address that created this digital image of a possum.” Then that can be verified on the blockchain. 

Larva Labs' CryptoPunks are among the most coveted (and pricy) NFTs around.

Larva Labs’ CryptoPunks are among the most coveted (and pricy) NFTs around.
Image: larvalabs

Some NFTs can be valuable in other ways. Say, for example, you buy an NFT related to an online game. Perhaps that NFT will one day give you special prestige in the game, or it could even be the basis for you getting some other, hard-to-get object; something that only you can have because every NFT is unique. If you’ve ever played World of Warcraft or a similar game, you know how valuable a piece of armor or a weapon can be. Now, with NFTs, no one can take it away from you, not even the game’s owners. 

Let’s return for a second to that game of digital hot potato. NFTs are a nascent space, and there’s a lot of hysteria and scamming going on. You might see a certain NFT sold for millions, and think you’ll also be able to buy something for a few dollars and become rich selling it to someone later on. It can happen, but it’s rare. And these things can be manipulated. For example, a cryptocurrency whale (someone that owns vast amounts of crypto money) can buy many NFTs and then “sell” them to himself (his other cryptocurrency address) for millions, artificially inflating the price. So be careful: Just because some NFT was traded for a lot of money, do not think this automatically means all other similar NFTs are valuable as well. 


What are the most expensive NFTs?

In the early days of the space, we saw a blockchain game like CryptoKitties sell virtual cats for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Recently, music producer 3LAU sold a collection of 33 limited edition NFTs for more than 11 million dollars. The musician Grimes (aka the mother of little X Æ A-Xii) even sold her digital art collection for $7,500 apiece, totaling $6 million in sales. Yes, these things can get very pricey. 

Are NFTs a good investment?

Buying an NFT because you like it, or maybe even to earn (or lose) a few quick bucks is one thing. But investing in NFTs is another. Again, it’s a nascent space. Even a Van Gogh painting or a rare Babe Ruth baseball card required some passage of time before becoming very valuable. 

Given the digital nature of NFTs, it’s hard to compare them to prized physical artworks, such as statues and paintings. On the other hand, we live in a world where one Bitcoin is worth more than $50,000, so things from the digital realm can certainly be very valuable and even sustain that value over longer periods of time. 

In any case, if you plan to invest in NFTs, you’ll need to dive deep into this complex world because each NFT market is slightly different. It’s also pricey — trading on Ethereum can be quite costly as the network’s recent congestion is causing fees to rise. Finally, you’ll need to think strategically and follow the often rapidly changing cryptocurrency trends. 

In short, it’s possible to earn money by investing in NFTs, but you’ll have to do your homework. 

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending