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Potential COVID-19 exposure on Montreal flight – HalifaxToday.ca

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NEWS RELEASE
COVID-19/HEALTH/WELLNESS
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Nova Scotia Health Public Health is advising of potential exposure to COVID-19 on one Air Canada flight. In addition to media releases, all potential exposure notifications are listed here: http://www.nshealth.ca/covid-exposures.

Anyone who was on the following flight in the specified rows and seats is asked to continue to self-isolate and immediately visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you.

  • Air Canada flight 7558 travelling on Jan. 5 from Montreal (1:30 p.m.) to Halifax (4:03 p.m.). Passengers in rows 22-27 seats A C and D are asked to continue to self-isolate and immediately visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Jan. 19, 2021.

Please remember:

Visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to do a self-assessment if you have had or you are currently experiencing:

  • fever or cough (new or worsening)

OR

  • two or more of the following symptoms (new or worsening):

o  sore throat

o  runny nose

o  headache

o  shortness of breath

Please do not go directly to a COVID-19 assessment centre without being directed to do so and do not go to a pop-up rapid testing location.

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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Canada swung to first trade surplus since 2019 in January as exports surged – CBC.ca

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January saw Canada post its first trade surplus since May 2019 as exports surged higher to start the year.

Statistics Canada said Friday that the surplus of $1.4 billion was the largest since July 2014 and compared with a revised deficit of nearly $2 billion in December.

Economists on average had expected a deficit of $1.4 billion for January, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

The trade report follows a flash estimate by Statistics Canada earlier this week that real gross domestic product rose 0.5 per cent in January following growth of 0.1 per cent in December.

TD Bank economist Omar Abdelrahman said the strong international trade report joins a list of other indicators in suggesting a better-than-expected start to 2021 for the Canadian economy.

“It is important to highlight that part of January’s export strength is transitory, including sizable contributions from the volatile aircraft component and unusually high transactions of retail gold bars,” Abdelrahman wrote in a report.

“Still, excluding these components would leave exports (nominal) up more than four per cent on the month. In particular, Canadian exports have recently been aided by strong momentum in global demand and prices for some commodities.”

Total exports rose 8.1 per cent in January to $51.2 billion, with increases in all product sections, while in real or volume terms exports increased 5.1 per cent.

Exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts rose 72.3 per cent in January as Statistics Canada said a Canadian airline, which it did not identify, retired a large number of aircraft, resulting in their export to the United States.

Meanwhile exports of consumer goods increased 11.6 per cent in January, helped by higher exports of gold bars to the United States, and exports of energy products rose 5.9 per cent, helped by both higher prices and higher volumes of crude oil exports for the month.

On the other side of the equation, imports increased 0.9 per cent in January to $49.8 billion, while in real or volume terms they gained 1.0 per cent.

Imports of energy products rose 20 per cent, while imports of electronic and electrical equipment and parts increased 2.9 per cent.

The overall trade surplus for the month came as Canada’s trade surplus with the United States more than doubled to $6.2 billion in January, the largest surplus since September 2008. Exports to the United States rose 11.3 per cent, while imports from the United States edged up 0.4 per cent to $31.0 billion.

Meanwhile, Canada’s trade deficit with countries other than the United States increased to $4.8 billion in January compared with $4.5 billion in December.

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8M vaccine doses to land in Canada by end of March after Pfizer moves up delivery – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that Pfizer-BioNTech has agreed to move up a portion of its vaccines scheduled for the summer, with an additional 1.5 million doses arriving in March.

This means Canada will have access to a total of eight million vaccine doses from Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca by the end of the first quarter, up from an original commitment of six million doses.

“With the newly confirmed delivery of an additional 1.5 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses arriving this month, as well as the 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine that arrived this week from the Serum Institute, Canada is set to receive eight million doses of vaccines by the end of this quarter,” said Procurement Minister Anita Anand, at a press conference on Friday.

Pfizer is also accelerating shipments for April and May by one million additional doses each month. By the end of the second quarter, Canada is on track to receive 36.5 million doses and by the end of the third quarter, 117.9 million, which will include the now-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Health Canada approved the one-dose candidate early Friday.

Asked whether the news of approvals and more doses arriving earlier advances the federal government’s longstanding end-of-September timeline to vaccinate all Canadians who wish to be vaccinated, the prime minister said Canada has “reasons to be optimistic. We’re going to be able to move things forward.”

However, he added it’s possible disruptions to the vaccine supply chain may still occur.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu also weighed in on the possibility of a shortened vaccine timeline, echoing that while there are aspects of the procurement process Ottawa can control, other hurdles are out of the government’s hands.

“For example we have seen manufacturing delays and disruptions in the past,” she said. “Things can happen internationally that are very challenging.”

In mid-January, Pfizer announced it was retooling its Belgium plant to meet international demand of their vaccine, which meant Canada’s shipment was drastically reduced for several weeks. The European Commission’s announcement of new export control measures, also threatening to thwart international supply, came the same month.

For four weeks, deliveries, on average, were cut by 50 per cent. During the week of Jan. 25, the company did not ship a single vial of its vaccine to Canada. By Feb. 15, shipments began to ramp up again.

The Trudeau government is facing enhanced pressure to ramp up the speed of the rollout after U.S. President Joe Biden announced the country would be ready to vaccinate all adults by May. The U.K. is aiming to do the same by the end of July.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Friday the recent recommendation by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to prolong the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines by up to four months is one way of ensuring more Canadians are at least partially protected, sooner.

“That is looked at as a public health strategy that maximizes the benefit of these vaccines,” she said.

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How approval of Johnson & Johnson's 'one and done' COVID-19 vaccine could change Canada's vaccination game – CBC.ca

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A one-dose COVID-19 vaccine is now approved for use in Canada — and vaccine experts say the shot from Johnson & Johnson could give a major boost to countrywide vaccination efforts while offering a “real solution” to hasten the end of the pandemic.

Health Canada authorized its use and released details during a Friday morning announcement.

The vaccine, made by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is a non-replicating viral vector option and, unlike the three other vaccines previously approved for Canadian use, was tested during clinical trials as a single shot. 

So far, Canada is expecting 10 million doses, with options to purchase up to 28 million more if necessary, with most of those shots set to arrive by the end of September.

From a logistical standpoint, Toronto-based infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said the benefits are clear.

“You can vaccinate more people in a shorter period of time,” he said. “You don’t have to clog up the vaccine centres with people getting their second dose — it’s one and done.”

The storage requirements are also less stringent than the early freezer requirements for the two mRNA-based vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, with Johnson & Johnson estimating its single-dose option should remain stable for two years at -20° C — and can be stored for at least three months in most standard refrigerators.

Wondering how each of the leading coronavirus vaccines compare? Click here for a closer look at the vaccines Canada is betting on to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“You can way more easily get a vaccine like this into primary care clinics and pharmacies, which means that you can distribute it so much more broadly,” said Bogoch, who is also a member of Ontario’s vaccine task force.

That’s good news in this country and beyond, said Dr. Zain Chagla, a Hamilton, Ont.-based infectious disease specialist and professor at McMaster University.

“In remote areas of Canada, it’s a big vaccine in that sense that it’s easy to transport and get around, and it’s big for the rest of the world,” he said. 

“This is a vaccine that could go into mass vaccine clinics in low- and middle-income countries that could be stored on the back of a motorcycle to make it into a very, very remote setting. That is very, very different than anything we have in that sense.”

Crucially, Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose option did prove 85 per cent effective overall when it came to stopping severe cases of the disease specifically. (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

85% effective at stopping severe disease

But where the vaccine excels at convenience, it may fall short on overall efficacy — though there are a lot of factors at play, and it’s crucial to note the shot is proving highly effective at reducing cases of serious illness.

According to February briefing documents from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Johnson & Johnson’s shot was both safe and effective in clinical trials, where it reduced the risk of COVID-19 and prevented PCR-test confirmed cases at least 14 days after vaccination.

A month earlier, the company had announced its vaccine was 66 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 against multiple variants in a global trial involving nearly 44,000 people.

That effectiveness varied from 72 per cent in the United States to 66 per cent in Latin America and 57 per cent in South Africa, where a new variant has spread.

That’s in contrast to the even more powerful protection witnessed in clinical trials for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which showed efficacy levels — in terms of preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection — of 94 per cent and 95 per cent respectively after two doses.

Those trials, however, took place before the rise of several concerning variants of this virus. Each company also tested for slightly different outcomes, meaning the efficacy levels aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons.

WATCH | J&J vaccine good for less accessible, marginalized communities, doctor says:

As a single dose COVID-19 vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson product will be especially helpful for people who sometimes have difficulty accessing health care, says Dr. Lisa Bryski, a retired ER doctor in Winnipeg. 1:23

On Friday, Dr. Bob Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco likened it to comparing the scores of golfers who teed off during a calm moment to those who teed off when “winds were howling.”

“While it’s hard to make precise adjustment,” he said in a tweet, “it’s clear that equally good play will result in different scores.”

Crucially, Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose option did prove 85 per cent effective overall when it came to stopping severe cases of the disease specifically.

The company’s main study also showed that 28 days or more after vaccination, the shot 100 per cent prevented hospitalizations and deaths.

“I think people discount how much practicality means to this vaccine rollout,” Chagla said. “You do see severe illness going down with this vaccine. You see hospitalizations coming down with this vaccine.”

In January, Johnson & Johnson announced its vaccine was 66 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 against multiple variants in a global trial involving nearly 44,000 people. (Phill Magakoe/AFP/Getty Images)

One-dose could offer ‘real solution’

Virologist and vaccinologist Alyson Kelvin, who is working on Canadian COVID-19 vaccine development at the University of Saskatchewan’s VIDO-InterVac research institute, said for all vaccine developers, a safe and effective single-dose option has been the ultimate goal.

“Because people will be more interested in taking a vaccine if they don’t have to go back for their second shot, and which means that a vaccine will be more effective at getting to that community immunity that we need,” she said.

Like Chagla, she’s not alarmed by a slightly lower overall efficacy level.

“The goal of the vaccine is to protect people. Keeping them out of hospitals, keeping them from succumbing to disease,” she said.

And Chagla stressed that ultimately, this one-dose option could offer a “real solution” that helps countries like Canada tackle this year-long pandemic and alleviate the current burden on the health-care system from a virus that’s still widespread.

“It may not be the final strategy for vaccination,” he said. “But it’s a pretty good ‘right now’ strategy for vaccination.”

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