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Quebec's vaccination passport plan raises privacy concerns, bioethicist says – CBC.ca

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The Quebec government may introduce COVID-19 vaccination passports in September that would give only people who are fully vaccinated access to non-essential services like gyms and cinemas if cases skyrocket once again.

Lockdown measures throughout the pandemic closed entertainment venues, bars and restaurants in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Pumping iron alongside strangers and dining with friends became a distant memory.

But if the virus starts spreading like wildfire once again, vaccination passports would allow such businesses to stay open, the province announced on Thursday.

The policy is being discussed on a provincial, federal and international scale, with some countries already implementing similar measures. Quebec officials have been hinting at the passport plan for months.

Since the spring, the province has been issuing QR codes, or quick response codes, to vaccinated people. These codes can be scanned to pull up information about a person’s vaccination status, although so far, the province has not provided anyone with the information to interpret the codes.

In Quebec, about 82 per cent of the eligible population in the province (age 12 and up) have received one dose of vaccine, and 40 per cent have received two doses. 

However, Quebecers in the 18 to 29 age range are lagging behind.

While the intention may be to encourage more people to get vaccinated before a fourth wave hits, Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist at the University of Toronto, says vaccine passports raise ethical concerns as they “absolutely come with an element of surveillance to them.”

“Freedom of movement is really a fundamental democratic right,” he said.

People’s movement would be tracked, and that raises concerns about who has access to that data and how it is stored, said Bowman.

WATCH | Kerry Bowman explains why he is concerned about Quebec’s plan:

While the Quebec government’s intention may be to encourage more people to get vaccinated before a fourth wave hits, Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist at the University of Toronto, says vaccine passports raise ethical concerns as they ‘absolutely come with an element of surveillance to them.’ 1:34

He said it’s also unclear how long these fundamental rights would be suspended. Some freedoms may not be retrievable once the pandemic ends, he warned.

Bowman said it’s impossible to know what the epidemiological situation will be in September, and how many people will be vaccinated by then. 

“I see it as an erosion of a certain amount of freedom and liberty and is it justified? When I look at it from a risk-benefit analysis, we just don’t have enough information at this point to be doing this,” said Bowman.

Back in May, Canadian privacy commissioners issued a warning about vaccine passports, saying measures must be taken to ensure personal information is protected.

“While this may offer substantial public benefit, it is an encroachment on civil liberties that should be taken only after careful consideration,” federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners and the ombudsperson’s offices in Manitoba and New Brunswick said in a joint statement.

The statement went on to say, “Vaccine passports must be developed and implemented in compliance with applicable privacy laws.”

Concerns over discrimination debated

But what about discrimination against those who refuse to get vaccinated or those who simply can’t due to health reasons? 

Bowman said people who have a legitimate reason not to get vaccinated may find themselves answering uncomfortable questions at the entrance to a restaurant or gym.

Vardit Ravitsky, a bioethicist at the Université de Montréal, says the approach introducing vaccine passports only in the event of an outbreak and to be used only for access to services deemed non-essential, is nuanced and non-discriminatory.

“When it’s well targeted like that, so temporary and specific to a place or an activity, I don’t think you can talk about discrimination,” she said.

“It is a public health measure applied on a proportional basis, to prevent further human rights violations.”

Vardit Ravitsky, a bioethicist at the Université de Montréal, says Quebec’s plan to introduce vaccination passports in September makes sense. (Radio-Canada)

Ravitsky said it is an “extremely well justified” public health measure as it is focused on such a narrow field of non-essential services while vaccination proof will not be needed for essential services like grocery shopping.

Vaccination passports serve as incentive

The provincial government’s plan gives people plenty of time to get full vaccinated before September, Ravitsky said.

Dr. Cécile Tremblay, a microbiologist and infectious diseases specialist at a major health-care network in Montreal, told Radio-Canada she believes using a vaccine passport can serve as an incentive for people who don’t see vaccination as a priority.

As research also shows, Tremblay noted, one dose of vaccine is ineffective at preventing the spread of the more highly contagious delta variant. 

“We don’t want people sick or to die, but we also don’t want our health-care system to be overwhelmed, like it was in past waves,” she said.

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People Recovered From Covid-19 Still Need Vaccine – TheHealthMania

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Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels

The Covid-19 vaccine is now available in most countries across the world and health experts recommend getting the jab as soon as possible. Amid the rollout of vaccines, some people who contracted the virus and recovered from it wonder if they should get the vaccine or not. Since exposure to the coronavirus leads to the production of antibodies, some people think they have adequate immunity against the virus. However, the health experts recommend otherwise and suggest getting the vaccine like any other person.

Also read- UK Decided Not To Give Covid-19 Vaccine to the Children

According to the Lake County health officer, Dr. Chandana Vavilala, everyone should get the Covid vaccine at the earliest no matter if they developed a coronavirus infection or not. She recommends getting the vaccine as the cases of Covid-19 surge again in this region as the summer season comes to an end. Dr. Vavilala also mentioned that we can prevent the next wave of the pandemic by getting vaccinated as early as possible. It can help save from contracting the fatal virus and protect the community as well.

The data from the Indiana Department of Health shows nearly 48% of the residents of Lake County fully vaccinated. The data shows that these people received both shots of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. Also, this data includes those who got the single-shot vaccine, Johnson and Johnson.

Some health experts including Dr. Vavilala believe that some of the people who did not receive any vaccine are those who previously contracted the coronavirus infection. These individuals may believe that they have lifetime protection against the virus after developing the infection. However, it is not the case and they need the vaccine shot just like other residents of their community.

Dr. Vavilala also mentioned that the three approved Covid-19 vaccines in Lake County are more effective as compared to the natural route of infection. These vaccines provide a stronger and more long-lasting immune response to keep severe infection at bay. Moreover, these vaccines are also effective against the different variants of the coronavirus.

According to Dr. Vavilala, most people hospitalizing after contracting coronavirus are those who did not receive any vaccine. This shows that the coronavirus vaccine works despite the evolution of the virus. Also, the number of variants released into the communities. She also mentioned that new variants spread faster and cause more severe infections as compared to the original strain. Hence, it is strongly recommended to get the coronavirus vaccine to prevent the infection.

Also read- BreakThrough Covid Cases: Can the Vaccinated People Prevent Infection?

Dr. Vavilala also mentioned that the increased number of vaccinated people will help the communities develop an overall immunity against the virus. Therefore, it can help those who could not get the shot because of their health condition or age. She said that the people who previously got the coronavirus infection should go ahead and receive their vaccine dose. It does not matter if they got the infection in the past as it does not provide adequate immunity.

The increased immunization rate can help prevent the rapid spread of new coronavirus variants. Also, it can provide help for those who are unable to get their vaccine due to one reason or another.

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Ontario reports 170 COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths; 124K more vaccines administered – Global News

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Ontario reported 170 COVID-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 549,156.

“Locally, there are 44 new cases in Toronto, 26 in Peel Region, 17 in Hamilton, 15 in the Region of Waterloo and 13 in Grey Bruce,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.

For comparison, last Saturday 176 cases were reported.

Read more:
‘Vaccine certificates’ may speed up reopening, incentivize vaccination: Ontario science table

Three new deaths were also announced on July 24, bringing the provincial virus-related death toll to 9,311.

A total of 538,421 coronavirus cases are considered resolved, which is up by 150 and is 98 per cent of all confirmed cases.

More than 19,100 additional tests were completed. Ontario has now completed a total of 16,451,025 tests and 5,325 remain under investigation.

The province indicated that the positivity rate for the last day was 0.8 per cent, which down slightly from Friday’s report, when it was 0.9 per cent, and up from last Saturday’s report, when it was 0.6 per cent.

Provincial figures showed there are 132 people in intensive care due to COVID-19 (down by four), 86 of whom are on a ventilator (up by two).


Click to play video: 'Science advisory table proposes COVID-19 vaccine certificates for Ontario'



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Science advisory table proposes COVID-19 vaccine certificates for Ontario


Science advisory table proposes COVID-19 vaccine certificates for Ontario

Here is a breakdown of Ontario’s cases by age and gender:

  • 273,725 people are male
  • 271,734 people are female
  • 88,751 people are 19 and under
  • 205,695 people are 20 to 39
  • 156,528 people are 40 to 59
  • 72,892 people are 60 to 79
  • 25,196 people are 80 and over

The province notes that not all cases have a reported age or gender.

The province also notes that the number of cases publicly reported each day may not align with case counts reported by local public health units on a given day. Local public health units report when they were first notified of a case, which can be updated and changed as information becomes available. Data may also be pulled at different times.

As of 8 p.m. Friday, 18,848,661 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Ontario, marking an increase of 124,261. Of those, 105,628 were second doses.

In Ontario, 80.7 per cent of adults aged 18-plus have received at least one vaccine dose and 67.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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NB businesses ponder how to proceed once pandemic restrictions are removed – CBC.ca

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How fast to return to normal? That’s the question some business owners are asking in the wake of news that New Brunswick will remove its COVID-19 restrictions in less than a week.

More than 16 months have passed since the province implemented restrictions limiting the number of customers inside businesses, and enforcing mandatory masking and physical distancing. 

At the end of the day next Friday, July, 30, those pandemic restrictions will end. 

But when the clock strikes midnight don’t expect those precautions to magically disappear from all businesses.

The province has said businesses can choose to ease out of the restrictions more slowly if they want. 

Dave Traboulsee, the owner of River Valley Footwear in downtown Fredericton, said that’s exactly what he plans to do. 

Dave Traboulsee will start allowing more customers into his store once restrictions are lifted, but doesn’t expect to operate at full capacity right away. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Gauging by what he’s heard from his customers, he’s planning a cautious approach. 

“I don’t think we can fully go back to normal yet — there’s still a lot of anxiety out there with shopping,” he said. 

Until now he’s only been allowing people from two bubbles inside the store at a time.  

He plans to increase that capacity slightly once the restrictions are removed, but said he hopes to talk to other business owners in the area to get a sense about whether masks should still be worn. 

“It’s quite a big move to go from certain restrictions and keeping masks on to a free-for-all — and I don’t think we can go to a free-for-all,” he said.

Staff at Café Cest la Vie in Moncton hope the move to the green phase will bring more people back to work downtown. (Submitted/Facebook)

In Moncton, those who work at Café Cest la Vie are hoping the move will bring more people back to work downtown again, and in turn, bring more people back into their shop.

Rebecca McCabe is a barista at the cafe and said masks will no longer be required, and they intend to get back to doing events again, like poetry readings and live music. 

“It also means it’s an opportunity for us to have more people in the cafe so we can open up our capacity again.”

McCabe said they are still trying to figure out if there will be any restrictions in place at the cafe, but generally expects it to be a return to normal.

“Everyone seems pretty excited honestly — I think it will be nothing but help,” she said.

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