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Powlowski advocating for COVID-19 challenge trials in Canada – Tbnewswatch.com

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THUNDER BAY – Medical experts and several members of parliament, including one local MP and doctor, are advocating to the federal government to allow Canada to permit challenge trials in an effort to find a COVID-19 vaccine quicker.

Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Marcus Powlowski, along with An, Kumar and Michael Silverman, penned an op-ed published in the Toronto Star on Monday, which has been signed by six infectious disease experts and eight MPs, arguing the benefits of challenge trials far outweigh the risks.

“In times like this, the benefits certainly outweigh the risks,” Powlowski said in an interview with Dougall Media. “I think it’s unethical not to do it given the severe effects of COVID-19 in terms of health or the global economy.”

Challenge trials involve testing potential vaccines in young, healthy adults, and then purposely exposing them to COVID-19 to evaluate the effectiveness of the vaccination.

The test group would consist of volunteers between the ages of 18 and 25-years-old, which Powlowski says would be at low risk of developing any serious complications.

“I looked at Health Canada data and the numbers are in the population 20 to 30, which will have slightly worse numbers than 18 to 25, that the death rate was .047 per cent, so one in 2,500 people. Hospitalization rate 2 per cent. Rate of admission to ICU .5 per cent.”

Advocates for challenge trials say it will help speed up the process of finding a vaccine, as the traditional three stage vaccination trials is very time consuming.

Phase three trials for vaccines involve giving a potential vaccine to a certain number of people and an equal number of people receiving a placebo, and determining if those who received the vaccine are less likely to contract COVID-19.

“Most vaccines don’t work,” Powlowski said. “There are about 10 vaccines that are in phase three trials globally. And you may get a result that is inconclusive, so it works on 70 per cent of people. So what do you do? Stop there and say 70 per cent is good or go on with more phase three trials?”

Challenge trials also require fewer test subjects, with as many as 40 individuals providing accurate results.

According to Powlowski, there are already 40,000 people globally signed up from 150 countries to take part in challenge trials through the organization, One Day Sooner.

But challenge trials are not without controversy, with U.S. medical professionals writing in the New England Medical Journal of Medicine that even one death as a result of challenge trials would be unacceptable.

But Powlowski and other advocates say there are benefits to challenge trials, which have been used in the past for viruses like influenza, though never COVID-19.

“Given the minimal risks, not zero risks, but very small risks with this population and given the benefit globally with having a vaccine, I think, and we think and the people who wrote this article think the benefits far outweigh the risks,” he said.

“The intent of writing the letter is to try and convince policy makers, maybe in government, in academia, in the medical community that this is a risk worth taking.”

Powlowski also cited police officers, firefighters, and health care professionals who work with COVID-19 patients who are putting themselves at risk every day.

“We are unwilling to allow young people, who are willing to volunteer to take that very small risk with being exposed to COVID-19, in my mind it doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said.

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COVID-19: Quebec reports nearly 700 new cases as infections continue to surge amid beginning of second wave – Global News

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Health authorities reported 698 new confirmed COVD-19 cases on Saturday as the number of infections continues to surge in Quebec.

Seven more deaths were also reported, which occurred between Sept. 19 and 24. This brings the total COVID-19 death toll to 5,821 in the province.

Hospitalizations have gone up by 18 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 217 — 45 of which are in intensive care (up two from Friday).

According to public health’s latest data, 33,148 tests were conducted on Sept. 24. Quebec has so far administered 2,233,455 tests since the beginning of the health crisis.

Quebec has seen 71,005 positive novel coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Quebec asks citizens to stop social gatherings to ‘break’ second coronavirus wave

On Friday Quebec health officials asked all citizens to limit their social gatherings for 28 days as the number of novel coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to increase amid the second wave of the pandemic.

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“We’re asking you for a month of effort to break the second wave,” said Health Minister Christian Dubé.

The plea comes as the province surpassed the grim milestone of 70,000 cases of COVID-19 on Sept. 25.

The government also raised the alert level to orange for the entire Greater Montreal area, including the north and south shores. The designation calls for moderate alert and tighter restrictions for 82 municipalities.

READ MORE: Quebec asks citizens to stop social gatherings for 28 days to ‘break’ second coronavirus wave

Dubé said the evolving situation in Montreal, which has been the epicentre of the virus’s outbreak in Canada, remains worrying as the second wave of the virus begins.

Quebec has not yet placed any regions in the red zone, the highest alert level which calls for stricter controls, but Dubé stressed everyone — regardless of where they live — must do their part to limit the spread of the virus and cap community transmission.

This means cancelling social outings such as dinners, parties and barbecues, he said, in order to avoid another surge in cases and a possible second lockdown. The government is not planning on closing bars or restaurants for now.

Dubé said the government is not planning on closing bars or restaurants for now, partly to avoid driving people to hold more private events.

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–With files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise


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Coronavirus: Health minister urges Quebecers to cancel plans for gatherings


Coronavirus: Health minister urges Quebecers to cancel plans for gatherings

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Toronto Public Health orders 3 King Street West businesses to close to slow COVID-19 spread – CBC.ca

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Toronto Public Health has ordered three establishments on King Street West to close to protect the public from COVID-19.

In a news release on Saturday, the public health unit said the establishments are:

  • MARBL, 455 King St. W.
  • King Taps, 100 King St. W.
  • Casa Mezcal, 291 King St. W.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, issued the orders to the three businesses on Friday night under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Toronto Public Health (TPH) said a fourth establishment will also be forced to close once it is served with the order. It was not named in the release.

“These closure orders were undertaken based on Toronto Public Health investigations, including contact tracing data, which has shown that each establishment has not taken the necessary steps to sufficiently protect both the public and employees from the spread of COVID-19,” the news release said.

The public health unit said it found that many people were connected to more than one of the three businesses. In some cases, people infected with COVID-19 worked at more than one of the locations.

One business in particular served food buffet style, which is prohibited under provincial regulations to slow the spread of COVID-19. Another business has been uncooperative with investigations and impeded the investigation.

“Staff have also been found to be working while ill or pressured to work while ill,” the news release said.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said in the release that enforcement officials identified the specific businesses and the city is taking action to slow the virus in the city.

“I hope this enforcement will ensure we are protecting employees and customers. Thankfully the vast majority of residents and businesses in our city are doing the right thing and following public health advice. We need that cooperation to continue so we can defeat this virus,” Tory said.

Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York and is chair of the Toronto Board of Health, said the city is trying to prevent new cases and enforcement is needed now.

“New data shows that unsafe social activity at a select number of bars and nightclubs is contributing to the rise in COVID-19 cases in our city. That’s why our Medical Officer of Health is taking swift action to shut down four high-risk establishments until further notice,” Cressy said.

“Right now, we need to stop the spread of COVID and keep people safe, while also making it possible for kids to go to school, people to go to work and public services to operate safely.”

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Coronavirus in private school prompts class cancellations in Montreal – CTV News Montreal

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MONTREAL —
An elite Montreal private school is among those in Qubec forced to cancel classes after a COVID-19 outbreak.

Lower Canada College (LCC) in Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grace (NDG) borough confirmed that six high school students and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

“Upon receiving the notifications, and in an effort to limit further transmission, the school acted immediately, in collaboration with public health and according to protocols,” the school said in a statement Friday night. “This has included asking ALL students in the affected cohorts to stay home and be tested for the virus. Teachers who were at moderate risk, as defined by public health, were also asked to be tested and quarantined as directed by La Direction regionale du sante publique de Montreal.”

According to Quebec’s list, there have been 489 schools with at least one confirmed COVID-19 case since the school year started, and there are 722 active cases.

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