The province set a new single-day record for COVID-19 cases as it announced that residents outside the Lower Mainland would start receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine next week.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix reported 1,018 new COVID-19 cases from Thursday to Friday and another 1,072 cases Friday through Saturday — the highest one-day total to date.
In Island Health, where the past daily high was 55, there were 147 cases in 48 hours.
The new cases pushed Canada’s total past one million, bringing the national number to roughly 1,001,650.
Henry and Dix said a provincial booking system for vaccinations is expected to be available starting next week as B.C. runs two parallel immunization streams to ramp up inoculation. Details of the new system, scheduled to go live Tuesday, are expected on Monday.
As of Saturday, 856,801 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., including 87,455 second doses.
Appointments are being booked for non-Indigenous people 72 and older and Indigenous people 18 and older, as well as those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
Clinics for the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been available to people between the ages of 55 and 65 on the Lower Mainland, are being expanded. More communities — including Victoria, Nanaimo and Parksville — are expected to be added by the end of next week.
Use of the vaccine on people younger than 55 has been paused after Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization raised concerns about a possible link between the shot and a rare type of blood clot called a vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia.
The clots have been seen primarily in women under 55 between four and 16 days after vaccination. The European Medicines Agency on March 18 estimated the adverse reaction to the vaccine was one in a million but the Paul-Ehrlich Institut in Germany pegged it at one in 100,000.
The province did not say Saturday how people could sign up to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. There was confusion on the Lower Mainland last week as people scrambled to find out how they could get it.
A total of 102,970 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C. to date. Data on hospitalizations and new variants of concern in the province were not available Saturday due to the long weekend, said the province.
Since Thursday there have been 709 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,052 in Fraser Health, 147 in Island Health, 149 in Interior Health, 33 in Northern Health.
Dix and Henry reminded B.C. residents Saturday that they should not be travelling outside their community or health authority for recreation or a vacation right now.
“Consider day trips only or staying overnight in a local campground or hotel,” they said in a joint statement.
“We have seen too many cases of people travelling outside their health authority region and not using their layers of protection, leading to outbreaks and clusters in their home community.”
On Friday, groups of people who don’t believe in wearing non-medical masks to help prevent transmission of the COVID-19 virus travelled to Vancouver from Victoria for a rally.
Tofino’s Mayor Dan Law also reported tourists visiting his small town for vacation and recreational purposes.
As COVID-19 vaccines for kids get closer, experts weigh up how to reassure parents – CBC.ca
As Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech say they’ve moved a step closer to providing their COVID-19 vaccine for younger children, one mother says she’s keen to have her eldest vaccinated, but hears some hesitation among other parents.
“As parents, you’re nervous and you’re apprehensive, obviously, about any risks,” said Fallon Jones, who lives in Halifax with a five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son.
“But we have to weigh the pros and the cons here, and I think that this is a good opportunity to protect them against a potentially deadly virus,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.
Pfizer-BioNTech said Monday that a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine recorded a robust immune response in five- to 11-year-olds, and the company plans to seek regulatory approval as soon as possible. Children received two shots, each one-third the dose size given to adults. The findings have not been peer-reviewed, nor published.
For any vaccine to be approved by Health Canada, the manufacturers supply the necessary clinical trial data for review. If the regulator grants approval, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) will make a recommendation on their use, but the final decision to deploy the vaccines rests with provincial authorities.
In a statement to The Current, Health Canada said the makers of all COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada are conducting or planning studies in adolescents and younger children, but it has so far not received any submission for the approval of any COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12.
In her work at a vaccine hesitancy clinic in Calgary, Dr. Cora Constantinescu meets parents who are experiencing “a lot of fear and anxiety” around their children potentially getting the vaccine.
“We often have parents who are fully vaccinated themselves, who may be hesitant about their kids,” said Constantinescu, a pediatrician and infectious disease doctor at Alberta Children’s Hospital.
She said that parents talk to her about things they’ve seen online, including “anti-vaccine rhetoric and a lot of misconstrued science.”
In Halifax, Jones said she often hears other parents say they don’t know what’s in the vaccine, so they won’t give it to their kids. When she asks if they knew what was in the vaccines their kids received as babies, the response is usually no, she said.
“I completely respect and understand how there would be some fear associated with it,” she said.
But ultimately, “we trusted our doctors then and we trusted the science then, and we need to do the same with this vaccine.”
How should parents approach vaccine question?
Constantinescu said many parents have seen misinformation on social media, where there is a “huge polarization of the pro-vaccine and the anti-vaccine crowd.”
“The parents are caught in the middle, scared and worried about their kids, trying to make the best decision they can,” she said.
As parents approach the decision, they should consider the dual impact of COVID-19 on children, she said.
“We’re seeing the direct effects of COVID on children, and we know that that can range from mild disease, to respiratory illness, to being hospitalized, having a multi-system inflammation, to ending up in ICU,” she said.
There is also an indirect cost, including mental health issues and issues around socialization, she said.
The news from Pfizer-BioNTech gives her hope that those impacts can soon be addressed, but she warned that the data has not yet been made public, or reviewed by Health Canada.
If it is approved, she said parents should approach the vaccine as an issue of “personal protection first.”
“It’s about protecting their kids directly, looking out for them, and wanting to return them to a normal life,” she said.
‘Pull out all the stops’ to protect kids
Dr. Kashif Pirzada, an emergency physician in Toronto, wants to see a safe vaccine for kids approved and available as quickly as possible.
“I’m calling for all of these processes to be speeded up and done very transparently,” said Pirzada, who is also a co-founder of Masks4Canada, a group that advocates for public health measures to slow the spread of the virus.
He added that more work should be done to reassure parents that the vaccines are safe. He warned that COVID-19 is not harmless to children, and the longer they remain unprotected, the more infections there will be.
In the meantime, vaccination sites and health-care workers could be prepared to ramp the vaccination campaign back up, he said.
“Once that approval comes, we should pull out all the stops and get these shots into little arms as quickly as possible.”
Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Rachel Levy-McLaughlin, Arianne Robinson and Joana Draghici.
Gold price drops as Powell talks 'gradual' tapering, downplays Evergrande contagion concerns – Kitco NEWS
(Kitco News) The gold market saw its earlier gains reversed as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell talked about “gradual” tapering while downplaying China’s Evergrande contagion effect on the U.S. market.
On Wednesday, the Fed said it may soon start tapering its $120 billion in monthly asset purchases, with central bank officials showing growing support for raising interest rates in 2022.
“If progress continues broadly as expected, the Committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted. These asset purchases help foster smooth market functioning and accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses,” the Fed said in a statement.
When clarifying the Fed’s stance at a press conference following the Fed statement, Powell indicated that it would be a “very gradual taper,” which could conclude in the middle of next year.
Powell also pointed out that the central bank has the freedom to speed up or slow down the tapering process as it sees fit. He added that markets should not expect a rate hike while the Fed is still tapering.
Tapering does depend on substantial further progress made by the U.S. economy. And if the economy continues to advance in line with expectations, the Fed could move ahead with tapering at the next meeting.
“For me, it wouldn’t take a knockout [August] employment report. It would take a reasonably good employment report for me to feel like that test is met,” Powell said. “I would say that in my own thinking, the test is all but met. I don’t personally need to see a very strong employment report. Again it’s not to be confused with the test for [rate] liftoff, which is so much higher.”
The Fed Chair was also asked about China’s Evergrande debt issue, which sparked a rout in the markets earlier this week.
“The Evergrande situation seems very particular to China, which has very high debt for an emerging economy,” Powell told reporters. “Corporate defaults in the U.S. are very low right now … You would worry that it would affect global financial conditions through confidence channels.”
When asked about the stock-trading policies for Fed officials, Powell replied that they are “not adequate” and the Fed “could do better.”
Powell noted that it is reasonable for Fed officials not to own the same assets as Fed buys. “We are going to be looking at all those things,” he said.
On the debt ceiling issue, Powell also urged Congress to raise the debt limit in a timely fashion. “It is critically important. Failure to do that is something that could result in severe damage to the economy and financial markets.”
He added that no one should assume Fed can protect the economy if the debt ceiling is not raised.
In response to Powell’s comments, gold saw some losses as markets interpreted Powell’s comments as upbeat when it came to the U.S. economy. At the time of writing, December Comex gold futures were trading at $1,767.20, down 0.62% on the day.
U.S. CDC advisers recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters for 65 and older, high risk – CBC.ca
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Mail-in delays and recounts: Canada’s election tallying drags on.
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