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Quebec reports one new COVID-19 death, 156 new cases – CTV News

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MONTREAL —
There are now 5,696 people who have died of COVID-19 in Quebec, health authorities announced Monday, as confirmed cases in the province reached 60,627. 

That’s up one from the total of 5,695 deaths reported Sunday; COVID-19 cases in Quebec rose 156 from the total of 60,471 announced a day earlier. Of the 156 new cases, 98 were recorded over the past 24 hours and 58 have been added due to a data adjustment, health authorities said. 

This is the first time in the past month that the province has reported under 100 cases in a 24-hour period. 

 “I will tell you today, this is very good news for us,” said Health Minister Christian Dube during a press conference on Monday. 

There are 157 people being treated for COVID-19 in Quebec hospitals as of Monday, up one from the 156 reported Sunday. Of those in a hospital, 21 are in intensive care, down one from the 22 reported 24 hours earlier.

Recoveries have not been updated for days in the province due to a technical glitch, public health authorities say.

Quebec reported that it completed analyses of 13,600 COVID-19 tests on Saturday, down 2,493 from the 16,093 it completed a day earlier. (Quebec reports its daily testing figures from two days prior).

This is a breaking news story that will be updated.

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COVID-19 roundup: Flu may be linked with coronavirus spread, RA drug could aid recovery | Daily Sabah – Daily Sabah

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This week’s roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 investigates the possible link between influenza outbreaks and the spread of the coronavirus, newly discovered proteins SARS-CoV-2 has that may be responsible for immune triggers and how other drugs can be utilized in the fight against this infectious disease.

Flu may be linked to coronavirus spread

Influenza outbreaks may be linked with the spread of COVID-19 infections, according to a European study.

The researchers created a mathematical model of transmission of the coronavirus in Belgium, Italy, Norway and Spain. It calculates that higher rates of influenza infections would be associated with increased coronavirus transmission in each of the countries, Matthieu Domenech de Celles of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin told Reuters. He said the estimates, published Wednesday on the medical website medRxiv in advance of peer review, align with earlier research.

In Italy, he noted, higher rates of flu vaccination have been linked with lower rates of death from COVID-19. Also, he said, a U.S. study of nearly 11,700 people tested for COVID-19 found that those who had flu vaccines were less likely to have a positive test.

None of these studies proves that flu vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19 or an individual’s risk for it, and other factors might explain the associations. Still, de Celles said, in advance of “the upcoming ‘twindemic'” of seasonal flu and COVID-19 in the northern hemisphere, “our results suggest the need to increase vaccination against influenza,” which may not only reduce the burden of influenza but also limit COVID-19 cases. (Here’s why you should consider having a flu shot this year)

Rheumatoid arthritis drug found to aid COVID-19 recovery

Hospitalized COVID-19 patients being treated with Gilead Sciences Inc.’s antiviral medication remdesivir recovered about a day sooner, on average, if they also received Eli Lilly and Co.’s rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib, clinical trial investigators found.

The trial, sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), included more than 1,000 patients. The study also showed that compared to patients who did not receive the arthritis drug, those who did had better outcomes at 15 days after they enrolled in the trial. Based on the data, Lilly plans to discuss the potential for emergency-use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company announced the results of the so-called ACTT-2 trial in a news release Monday. The results have not been formally published yet.

Experts tell when to test for COVID-19 antibodies

COVID-19 antibody tests – so-called serology tests – are widely available, but evidence of their usefulness is limited, the Infectious Diseases Society of America said as it unveiled new guidelines published earlier this month in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Antibodies to the coronavirus do not show up in the blood for quite a while after someone becomes infected, so serology tests are unreliable for diagnosing COVID-19 unless a patient has been sick for weeks, according to the guidelines.

The panel of authors, led by Dr. Kimberly Hanson of the University of Utah, listed three instances in which a test for antibodies to the coronavirus would be warranted. The first one is when doctors strongly suspect a patient has COVID-19 but gold-standard diagnostic PCR molecular tests that look for genetic components of the virus have been negative and at least two weeks have passed since the onset of symptoms.

The second is when a child has signs and symptoms of multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a life-threatening condition that has been linked with previous coronavirus infection. The third is when public health officials conduct so-called serosurveillance studies to track the proportion of the population that has been exposed to the virus.

Newly discovered coronavirus proteins may be immune triggers

Scientists have discovered 23 previously unknown proteins made by the coronavirus, including four that might be triggering patients’ immune system to act – or in some cases, to overreact – and cause severe illness.

For the most part, proteins in this new virus have been identified based on computational predictions and similarities with other coronaviruses. But these researchers took a different approach.

By tracking protein-producing “machines” in cells called ribosomes, they were able to map exactly which parts of the genetic code of the virus were being translated into proteins, study co-leader Yaara Finkel of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel told Reuters. Most of the newly discovered proteins probably have regulatory functions in the virus – that is, they help keep it active – except for the four “full-fledged proteins” that might be alerting the immune system to the presence of a foreign invader, Finkel and colleagues wrote in a study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

More work is required to determine the roles these proteins play in infection, Finkel said, but that knowledge could “lead to a better understanding of the progression of the infection, as well as better ways of either treating COVID-19 or preventing the dangerous immune over-response.”

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Health unit prepares for possible ‘twindemic’ – The North Bay Nugget

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Symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 share a number of similarities

North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
Nugget File Photo


When it comes to a possible “twindemic” – the arrival of flu season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – “all you can do is expect the worst, plan for the worst, and hope for the best.”

Dr. Jim Chirico, medical officer of health with the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, says there are “so many unknowns” about what this year’s flu season will look like.

The flu season in the southern hemisphere, which can provide indications of what will happen in the northern hemisphere, was very mild this year, but Canadians can’t take that as a true indicator of what will happen here.

“Was it mild because of the COVID-19 measures that were in place?” Chirico asks. “We don’t know. We don’t know how severe it might be.”

The flu normally starts to be felt in this region in the late fall, running until January. Canada has been weathering the COVID-19 pandemic since March, and there are no signs it will let up anytime soon. In fact, the number of cases across the country have been climbing over the past week.

Testing impact

Having two pandemics at the same time, Chirico says, can put more pressure on the health system as symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 share a number of similarities. That means the number of people seeking testing for COVID-19 could increase as the seasonal flu takes hold.

The flu, he says, affects children more, it appears, than COVID-19 does, but elderly residents are particularly susceptible to both.

Chirico advocates everyone possible get the flu vaccine when it arrives in the region. It helps reduce the possibility of contracting the flu and may reduce the severity of influenza, although it does not offer 100 per cent protection from contracting it.

“It protects not only you but those around you,” Chirico says. If we can reduce the number of flu cases, it will reduce the pressure on the health-care system.”

The health unit, he says, is working with primary health-care providers and pharmacies to make sure as many people who want the flu vaccine can get it. The health unit will be providing vaccination clinics, while the vaccine will also be available at doctors offices and at pharmacies.

‘Experience’

Chirico notes that when the H1N1 flu was prevalent some years ago, the health unit was able to conduct “mass immunization clinics.

“So we have that experience” to fall back on and to prepare for the eventuality that it might be necessary again, he says.

“We do have plans in place to do that.”


Dr. Jim Chirico

He also believes that the measures put in place to protect against COVID-19 can help prevent a serious flu season.

“I really do believe those efforts will pay off. The same recommendations for COVID-19 will prevent the flu, as well.”

Those measures include wearing face masks, social distancing, regular washing or sanitizing of hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based rub, sneezing or coughing into your arm, not touching your eyes, nose or mouth, staying home if you feel unwell and, if you develop a fever, cough and difficulty breathing to seek medical attention.

‘Done very well’

“People have been very mindful” of following those measures, he says, and the North Bay-Parry Sound area has “done very, very well.

“I do believe all the efforts to reduce the impact of COVID will do as well with the flu because they are transmitted in the same way,” he says.

The region has reported a total of 39 positive COVID-19 cases since the middle of March. Thirty-seven of those cases have been resolved and one person is in self-isolation. One person has died of COVID-19 in the region.

Chirico also notes that there was “a very reduced number of cases” of influenza last year, compared to the previous four or five years.

The area has reported between 126 and 298 cases annually with “very little mortality” over those years, he says, although the number of total cases “is obviously likely more” because most people who get the flu don’t go for treatment.

According to JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, both influenza and COVID-19 can present with fever, chills, headache, cough, fatigue and myalgias – muscle aches and pain, which can involve ligaments, tendons and fascia, the soft tissues that connect muscles, bones and organs.

Influenza differs in that it also generally features nasal congestion and sore throat, while COVID-19 can include shortness of breath and loss of the senses of taste and smell.

Assessment centres

There are five COVID-19 assessment centres in the region. Appointments must be booked in advance.

The centres are located at:

• Hopital de Mattawa Hospital. Book an appointment by calling 705-744-5511 ext. 0

• North Bay Regional Health Centre. Book an appointment by calling 705-474-8600 ext 4110

• West Nipissing COVID-19 Assessment Centre, 219 O’Hara St., Sturgeon Falls. Book an appointment by calling 705-580-2186

• 75 Ann Street, Bracebridge. Book an appointment by calling 1-888-383-7009

• West Parry Sound COVID-19 Assessment Centre at 70 Joseph St., Parry Sound, Unit 105-106. Book an appointment by calling 705-746-4540 ext 5030

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COVID-19 task force worries Trump's rush to approve vaccine will spook Canadians – Canora Courier

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OTTAWA — Members of the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine task force are casting worried eyes at the Trump administration’s political push to get a vaccine approved before the U.S. presidential election in November.

Dr. Joanne Langley, the task force co-chair, and member Alan Bernstein say they are concerned about “vaccine hesitancy” in Canada, the phenomenon where people have doubts about taking a readily available vaccine because of concerns about its safety.

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Langley says that when a vaccine against COVID-19 is eventually found, governments and health-care professionals will have to mount a vigorous information campaign to counter opposition.

And it won’t help that President Donald Trump has said a pandemic-ending vaccine could be rolled out as soon as October, stoking concern that he is rushing the timeline to further his re-election chances on Nov. 3.

Countering concerns that an apparent hurry to approve a vaccine could spook people out of getting it is an ongoing concern among the approximately one dozen health experts on the government’s vaccine advisory panel.

It’s tasked with recommending which vaccine candidates the government should be spending money on.

This past week, Trump chided the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for being “confused” when he testified at a Senate committee that a safe and effective vaccine wouldn’t be ready by U.S. election day.

“As a scientist, and as a citizen, that’s concerning to me because the regulator is designed to be independent of any political influence,” Langley said in an interview. She is an expert in pediatric infectious disease at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University.

“All the decisions are made based on the evidence of science, which includes the immune response, how well it protects, all of the adverse events,” she added. “And really, politicians have nothing to do with that.”

Bernstein said if politicians successfully pushed health regulators to approve a vaccine prematurely, that would violate public trust and discourage the widespread vaccine use needed to end the pandemic.

“I think it would be a big mistake. So I don’t see it happening before Nov. 3, no,” Bernstein said in an interview. Bernstein is the head of CIFAR, a Canadian-based global research organization.

“What a disaster it would be if we actually got a great vaccine, but in the U.S., the population didn’t trust it, because they felt that the decision was being compromised.”

In Canada, the federal government has made advance purchase deals with a handful of international biotech companies for tens of millions of vaccine doses if they are found to be safe and effective.

Canadian politicians and public health officials have said that widespread use of a vaccine is key to stamping out the novel coronavirus.

Bernstein said the government’s purchasing decisions have been based on recommendations born out of the painstaking research that his advisory group has undertaken. The task force reports to Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains.

“They’ve been very conscientious in terms of listening to us, visiting with us, talking with us. Both ministers,” said Bernstein, who was the first president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He serves on medical advisory boards in the U.S., Britain and Australia, and with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Science is driving the decisions.”

Langley said there is an onus on governments and health professionals to communicate to Canadians the merits of taking a safe vaccine when a viable candidate is found and approved for use.

“We want to make sure that the Canadian public has a chance to learn about the very high standards that will have to be met for these vaccines,” she said, “and that they feel confident that people have chosen these vaccines with a view to their best interest.”

Bernstein said Canadians have a high level of trust in the institutions and political leaders.

“I’m not a Liberal or Conservative. I’m not commenting on Prime Minister Trudeau, but just in general, Canadians are pretty trusting, and that trust has been earned.”

Langley and her co-chair Mark Lievonen spent half a day briefing the Liberal cabinet during its two-day retreat in Ottawa this past week.

“It was all about the health consequences for Canadians of COVID and what we know so far, and what we might further be able to do and what the future is going to look like,” said Langley.

The vaccine task force was formally announced by the government in early August but it has been working since June. Over the summer it met in six-hour Zoom sessions at least twice a week, “interviewing various companies, various scientists, comparing notes with other national task forces to hear what they’re up to,” said Bernstein.

He and Langley are hopeful at least one viable vaccine candidate will emerge before the end of December from the several ongoing human trials.

They both say it could take several months after that before Health Canada gives the necessary final approval.

“We have to educate the public,” said Langley.

“It will be absolutely our responsibility to make sure that the public is informed so that they’re confident and can get those vaccines for themselves and their families knowing that the regular high standards that we have in Canada for vaccines are all met.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2020.

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