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Several provinces halt AstraZeneca vaccine for those under 55 in wake of new NACI guidelines – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Several provinces have halted administration of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to those under the age of 55 following new recommendations from Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).

On Monday, the NACI recommended pausing administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine to those under the age of 55, pending further investigation on reported cases of vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT), a rare blood clotting disorder, in Europe.

“We are taking this precautionary measure while Health Canada as the regulator completes its updated risk benefit analysis based on emerging data,” Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer at the Public Health Agency of Canada, saidMonday during a technical briefing on the matter.

“During this time of risk assessment, Canada has other vaccine options to address the ongoing risk of COVID-19 infection.”

Following the recommendation, several provinces announced they would follow the guidance, including Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Prince Edward Island indicated on Monday morning it will no longer give the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone. It had been set aside for people between the ages of 18 and 29.

Health officials in Nova Scotia said the updated recommendation will not impact vaccine rollout as the AstraZeneca vaccine is currently only being offered to people between the ages of 60 and 64.

VIPIT is a condition that refers to blood clots — including blood clots in the brain — stemming from receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Symptoms include serious headache, seizure, blurred vision and shortness of breath and tend to develop between four and 16 days after receiving the vaccine.

According to the NACI, cases have been identified primarily in women under the age of 55, though cases have been reported in men as well.

Based on available information, the NACI said the fatality rate of VIPIT is about 40 per cent, but this may decrease as doctors and those receiving the vaccine are more aware of the condition.

“The exact mechanism by which the AstraZeneca vaccine triggers that is still under investigation and no other risk factors have been consistently identified in patients who develop VIPIT,” Dr. Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the NACI, said in the briefing.

Previously, it was believed that cases of VIPIT occur in about one per million administered dosesof the vaccine. However, a recent report from the Paul Ehrlich Institute in Germany indicated it could be one in 100,000 doses.

“NACI has determined that there is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to adults under 55 years of age, given the potential risks associated with VIPIT,” Deeks said.

The NACI also recommended the continued use of the AstraZeneca vaccine among people over the age of 55 with informed consent, due to the lower risk of developing of VIPIT in older populations and the increased risk of severe COVID-19 infections among these age groups. 

Canada and many other countries had previously halted the use of the vaccine in seniors at the beginning of March, but rescinded that guidance two weeks later.

Sweden and Finland have already suspended distribution of the vaccine to those under the age of 65, while in Spain it is only administered to those between the ages of 18 and 65. In Denmark, health officials have extended their suspension of the vaccine until at least April 18.

In a statement, AstraZeneca said it respects the NACI’s decision and that patient safety “remains the company’s highest priority.”

“Regulatory authorities in the U.K., European Union, the World Health Organization and Health Canada have concluded that the benefits of using our vaccine to protect people from this deadly virus significantly outweigh the risks across all adult age groups,” the company wrote in the statement.

“Tens of millions of people have now received our vaccine across the globe. The extensive body of data from two large clinical datasets and real-world evidence demonstrate its effectiveness, reaffirming the role the vaccine can play during this public health crisis.”

In a statement, Health Canada said there have been no reports of blood clots from the AstraZeneca vaccine in this country, but noted that cases have been reported in Europe and it is now requiring “additional terms and conditions on the authorizations of the AstraZeneca and Verity Pharmaceuticals/Serum Institute of India vaccines.”

“These will include a requirement that the manufacturers conduct a detailed assessment of the benefits and risks of the vaccine by age and sex in the Canadian context,” Health Canada said in the statement. “This information will support the ongoing evaluation of these rare blood clotting events, and allow Health Canada to determine if there are specific groups of people​ who may be at higher risk.”

Last week, Health Canada noted that the vaccine is not associated with an overall increased risk of blood clots and that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks.

In Monday’s statement, Health Canada noted that this guidance still stands and it is working with international partners to evaluate the incoming data.

Canada is expecting to receive 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Tuesday from the United States, which has not yet authorized it for emergency use. The shipment will represent the first doses to come from the United States.

Another 500,000 doses that were delivered from the Serum Institute of India have already been distributed.

Last week, AstraZeneca reported its vaccine was 76 per cent effective in preventing symptoms and 100 per cent effective against serious infections that result in hospitalization.

With files from CTVNews.ca producer and writer Ryan Flanagan

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Canadian Business During the Pandemic

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In 2019 the world was hit by the covid 19 pandemic and ever since then people have been suffering in different ways. Usually, economies and businesses have changed the way they work and do business. Most of which are going towards online and automation.

The people most effected by this are the laymen that used to work hard labors to make money for there families. But other then them it has been hard for most business to make such switch. Those of whom got on the online/ e commerce band wagon quickly were out of trouble and into the safe zone but not everyone is mace for the high-speed online world and are thus suffering.

More than 200,000 Canadian businesses could close permanently during the COVID-19 crisis, throwing millions of people out of work as the resurgence of the virus worsens across much of the country, according to new research. You can only imagine how many families these businesses were feeding, not to mention the impact the economy and the GDP is going to bear.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said one in six, or about 181,000, Canadian small business owners are now seriously contemplating shutting down. The latest figures, based on a survey of its members done between Jan. 12 and 16, come on top of 58,000 businesses that became inactive in 2020.

An estimate by the CFIB last summer said one in seven or 158,000 businesses were at risk of going under as a result of the pandemic. Based on the organization’s updated forecast, more than 2.4 million people could be out of work. A staggering 20 per cent of private sector jobs.

Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s senior director of national research, said it was an alarming increase in the number of businesses that are considering closing.

We are not headed in the right direction, and each week that passes without improvement on the business front pushes more owners to make that final decision,”

He said in a statement.

The more businesses that disappear, the more jobs we will lose, and the harder it will be for the economy to recover.

In total, one in five businesses are at risk of permanent closure by the end of the pandemic, the organization said.

The new sad research shows that this year has been horrible for the Canadian businesses.

 

The beginning of 2021 feels more like the fifth quarter of 2020 than a new year,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the CFIB, in a statement.

She called on governments to help small businesses “replace subsidies with sales” by introducing safe pathways to reopen to businesses.

There’s a lot at stake now from jobs, to tax revenue to support for local soccer teams,”

Jones said.

Let’s make 2021 the year we help small business survive and then get back to thriving.”

The whole world has suffered a lot from the pandemic and the Canadian economy has been no stranger to it. We can only pray that the world gets rid of this pandemic quickly and everything become as it used to be. Although I think it is about time, we start setting new norms.

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Shopify shares edge up after falling on executive departures

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By Chavi Mehta

(Reuters) -Shopify Inc shares edged higher on Thursday, recovering partially from the previous day’s fall, with analysts saying the news of planned senior executive departures may have limited impact due to the company’s deep talent pool.

Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday the company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all leave their roles.

“We remain confident it (Shopify) can continue to execute at a high level, despite the departures,” Tom Forte, analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co said, pointing to the company’s “deep bench of talented executives.”

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the past year as many businesses went virtual during the COVID-19 lockdowns, turning it into Canada‘s most valuable company.

Shopify declined to comment further on Lutke’s statement suggesting current company leaders would step in to fill the three roles. After chief product officer Craig Miller left in September, Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

The Ottawa-based company is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

Jonathan Kees, analyst at Summit Insights Group, called the timing of the departures “a little alarming” but said the specific roles make it less concerning, given that the executives leaving are “more back-office roles.”

Lutke said each one of them had their individual reasons to leave, without giving details.

“I am willing to give Tobi’s explanation the benefit of the doubt,” Kees added.

Toronto-listed shares of Shopify were up 3.5% at C$1526.41 on Thursday, giving it a market value of C$188 billion ($150 billion). It ended down 5.1% on Wednesday.

“While we would refer to the departure of three high-level executives as ‘significant,’ we would not refer to it as a ‘brain drain,'” Forte added.

($1 = 1.2541 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Dan Grebler)

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Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company: CEO

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By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) – Three of e-commerce platform Shopify’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, chief executive officer and founder of Canada‘s most valuable company Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all transition out of their roles, Lutke said, adding that they have been “spectacular and deserve to take a bow.”

“Each one of them has their individual reasons but what was unanimous with all three was that this was the best for them and the best for Shopify,” he said.

The trio follow the departure of Craig Miller, chief product officer, in September. Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the last year as many businesses went virtual during COVID-19 lockdowns. It has a market cap valuation of C$182.7 billion ($146 billion), above Canada‘s top lender Royal Bank of Canada.

It is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

“We have a phenomenally strong bench of leaders who will now step up into larger roles,” Lutke said, but did not name replacements.

Shopify said in February revenue growth would slow this year as vaccine rollouts encourage people to return to stores and warned it does not expect 2020’s near doubling of gross merchandise volume, an industry metric to measure transaction volumes, to repeat this year.

Chief talent officer, Brittany Forsyth, was the 22nd employee hired at Shopify and has been with the company for 11 years. She said on Twitter that post-Shopify she would be focusing on Backbone Angels, an all-female collective of angel investors she co-founded in March.

Shopify shares fell 5.1% while the benchmark Canadian share index ended marginally down.

($1 = 1.2515 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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