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Russia approves second Covid-19 vaccine after preliminary trials – CNBC

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Russia said it will produce thousands of coronavirus vaccines per month before the end of the year.
Carol Smiljan | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Russia has granted regulatory approval to a second Covid-19 vaccine, according to its register of authorized medicines.

A delighted President Vladimir Putin announced the news at a government meeting on Wednesday.

The jab was developed by the Vector Institute in Siberia and completed early-stage human trials last month. However, results have not been published yet and a large-scale trial, known as Phase III, has not yet begun.

“We need to increase production of the first and second vaccine,” Putin said in comments broadcast on state TV.

“We are continuing to cooperate with our foreign partners and will promote our vaccine abroad.”

The peptide-based vaccine, named EpiVacCorona, is the second to be licensed for use in Russia. There has been a placebo-controlled trial on 100 volunteers between 18 and 60 in Novosibirsk.

A shot developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, Sputnik V, was licensed for domestic use in August.

That vaccine, based on an adenovirus vector, was also registered before Phase III trials. A trial involving 40,000 participants is now under way in Moscow.

A large-scale human trial of EpiVacCorona is likely to begin in November or December, the TASS news agency cited the consumer safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, which oversees the institute, as saying this month.

The trial is expected to involve 30,000 volunteers, of whom the first 5,000 will be residents of Siberia, according to the Interfax news agency.

Hundreds of people in professions that put them at high risk of coronavirus infection have now also received the Gamaleya jab, according to the health ministry, but the vaccine is not yet in general use.

Since the start of the pandemic, Russia has recorded more than 1,340,000 infections, fourth in the world behind the United States, India and Brazil.

Another vaccine against Covid-19 is being developed by the Chumakov Institute in St Petersburg. It plans to start an early-stage clinical trial involving around 300 people on Oct. 19.

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WestJet to start refunding flights cancelled amid COVID-19 pandemic – Global News

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WestJet will be offering refunds to WestJet and Swoop passengers whose flights were cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WestJet is the first Canadian airline to provide cash refunds for all flights. It had previously offered refunds for specific flights only, with future flight credit available for the majority of cancelled flights.

Read more:
WestJet offers refunds to passengers with cancelled European flights

In an emailed statement, the airline said starting Monday, Nov. 2, eligible passengers will be contacted “proactively,” a process that will start with those whose flights were cancelled by the airline at the start of the pandemic, starting with trips booked for March.

“The refund process is expected to take six to nine months to work through eligible requests,” WestJet said.

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The airline said it also expects an “administrative backlog” as the process gets underway, and asked customers to be patient, and wait to be contacted rather than contacting the airline themselves.

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Those looking for refunds for trips booked through WestJet Vacations are asked to continue following the process already in place.

Read more:
Airline passengers voice frustrations after WestJet cuts services, refunds with vouchers

“We are an airline that has built its reputation on putting people first,” WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims said in a news release.

“We have heard loud and clear from the travelling public that in this COVID-19 world, they are looking for reassurance on two fronts: the safest possible travel environment; and refunds.

“We have been delivering on a safe environment through our Safety Above All program since the onset of the pandemic and as of Monday, Nov. 2, we will proactively provide refunds to original form of payment to itineraries cancelled by WestJet and Swoop.”






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WestJet suspends most of its operations in Atlantic Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic


WestJet suspends most of its operations in Atlantic Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic

In a blog post on the WestJet website, Sims said the airline has been faced with a 95 per cent drop in demand, adding that for 72 days in a row, cancellations outnumbered bookings — a first in the company’s 25-year history.

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Now, bookings are once again higher than cancellations, WestJet said, but still not on par with what they were before the pandemic hit.

Read more:
Latest WestJet layoffs affect 3,333 employees as COVID-19 cripples airline industry

More than 140 of WestJet’s 181 planes are currently parked, Sims said, and more than 4,000 employees have been laid off.

The airline also suspended its service in Atlantic Canada earlier this month, citing the coronavirus pandemic as making the service “unviable.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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WestJet becomes first to offer direct refunds for travel cancelled because of coronavirus – CTV Toronto

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CALGARY —
WestJet says it will now offer refunds to passengers whose travel plans were cancelled because of COVID-19.

The Calgary-based airline announced Wednesday it was changing the method it would use to offer refunds for cancelled flights. It says it will now provide those affected with reimbursements directly to their original form of payment.

The company says the move is to reassure its customers in the post-COVID world.

“We have heard loud and clear from the travelling public that in this COVID world they are looking for reassurance on two fronts: the safest possible travel environment; and refunds,” said Ed Sims, president and CEO of WestJet, in a statement.

All customers who had flights cancelled by WestJet and Swoop as a result of the pandemic are eligible.

“Through the efforts of thousands of WestJetters, we are confident that we can now begin providing refunds proactively. We are the first national airline in Canada to do so.”

Starting Nov. 2, the company will be reaching out to affected guests but cautions there is a backlog, so it will take at least six to nine months for all the refunds to be processed.

FEDERAL WAGE SUBSIDY ‘A LIFELINE’

Sims said the company would likely be in a much different situation if it wasn’t for the support of all the levels of government. He said Ottawa’s Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) made it possible for the company to weather the storm brought on by the pandemic.

The Canadian Transportation Agency and Transport Canada, he says, also realized early on that it would be “economically unviable” to provide immediate refunds.

“Airlines play a critical role in the travel and tourism food chain, bringing tens of millions of people to Canada each year; filling our hotels, restaurants, convention centres and tourist attractions. We reunite loved ones around the world. The greatest action the government could take as we begin to recover is to reassess the aviation infrastructure as a whole. While the industry, and Canadians, struggle to get back on their feet, WestJet have today taken a further step to accelerate our country’s economic recovery.”

Further information can be found on the airline’s website.

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Dollarama recalls bogus hand sanitizer – CBC.ca

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Dollarama Inc. is removing a counterfeit and recalled hand sanitizer from its shelves, which experts say should serve as a reminder of how important it is for retailers and consumers to do their due diligence when shopping.

“Since coronavirus started, it’s just been a huge Wild West of personal protective equipment (PPE),” said Yue Gao, a pharmacist and the quality assurance lead at Ontario-based PPE supplier MedyKits.

“Some people don’t realize that this is happening.”

Gao’s remarks Tuesday came after Health Canada revealed that it had uncovered a counterfeit Daily Shield hand sanitizer for sale at one of Dollarama’s Thunder Bay, Ont. with the same lot number as a legitimate Bio Life Sciences Corp. product.

Montreal-based Dollarama said the 250 mL product labelled NPN 80098979, Lot 6942 Expiry May 2023 was available in roughly half the chain’s stores and each location sold about 17 bottles, which were removed as soon as Health Canada began investigating.

Health Canada believes the fraudulent version of the product may not be effective at killing bacteria and viruses, and poses serious health risks because it contains methanol. The ingredient is not authorized for use in hand sanitizers and can cause severe adverse reactions or death when ingested.

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