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Single-shot vaccine's other advantages may soon outweigh lower efficacy, Fauci says – CTV News

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WASHINGTON —
Johnson and Johnson’s forthcoming single-shot COVID-19 vaccine has more going for it than just a middling ability to prevent infection, the pre-eminent U.S. expert on infectious disease said Monday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and the public face of the pandemic battle in the United States, is urging people to look past the shot’s 72 per cent efficacy rate.

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine, expected to be the next one to receive emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has proven very effective at preventing death and hospitalization, Fauci said.

It’s also relatively cheap to manufacture. And it doesn’t require deep-freeze transportation and storage or double doses like its Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech predecessors, both of which boast 95 per cent efficacy but are in short supply.

“There’s a lot more to protection than just preventing (people) from getting infected,” Fauci told an online media briefing.

“We want to keep people out of the hospital, and we don’t want people to die. And in that regard, this will be value-added, not only in the United States, but certainly in the developing world.”

In South Africa, for instance, Fauci said his colleagues are looking forward to getting a vaccine that doesn’t have the logistical challenges of the Pfizer and Moderna offerings.

“You cannot imagine how excited they are,” he said. “The idea of getting a minimal-cold-chain-required, cheap, one-shot vaccine means an awful lot.”

Fauci, CDC director Rochelle Walensky and Andy Slavitt, the senior adviser to the White House COVID-19 response team, have been using their thrice-weekly briefings to educate the world about the many virtues of vaccination in a pandemic.

It’s as much about denying the virus a “playing field” — an unvaccinated host, where it can continue to develop dangerous mutations — as it is about protecting individuals, they point out.

And that requires as many vaccines and vaccinations as possible, as quickly as possible, everywhere around the world, not just in the United States.

“Not only are you going to protect individuals from getting disease, not only are you going to protect them from getting infected, but you are going to prevent the emergence of variants here in our country,” Fauci said.

“The only way we’re going to completely stop mutants is if we stop this throughout the world.”

In an editorial in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb delivered a similar, if simpler, message: the more the merrier.

“Crushing COVID will require making the most of the different vaccine candidates, which come with their own pros and cons, and tweaking them to stay ahead of viral mutations,” Gottlieb wrote.

“New variants of COVID may demand vaccines that offer slightly different layers of protection and target slightly different parts of the virus. The regulatory process must encourage this kind of portfolio diversification, while allowing tweaks to keep ahead of the virus’s twists and turns.”

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, was asked last week whether different vaccines should be aimed at different demographic groups.

Time will tell, Tam said.

“We will have to look at the data in relation to that particular vaccine: in the clinical trials, what age groups were looked at and other specific information that will help us provide those recommendations,” she said.

Different vaccines have different characteristics, and some may lend themselves to different applications than others, she added.

“Those other kinds of characteristics and criteria — that will be reviewed for (on) who do we best use the supplies that we may get of new vaccines.”

More cases of the COVID-19 variants first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa are being detected in the U.S. each day, although that could be in part because of improved detection methods, Walensky said.

“CDC has been working on multiple fronts to improve our ability to adapt and understand these variants,” she said.

“The recent rise in the number of variants detected in the United States is likely due at least in part to our expanded ability to sequence their virus samples.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2021.

With files from Mia Rabson in Ottawa

 

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Home sales tumble again as mortgage rates surge – Business News – Castanet.net

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Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes slowed for the third consecutive month in April as mortgage rates surged, driving up borrowing costs for would-be buyers as home prices soared to new highs.

Existing home sales fell 2.4% last month from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.61 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday.

That was slightly higher than what economists were expecting, according to FactSet. Sales fell 5.9% from April last year. After climbing to a 6.49 million annual rate in January, sales have fallen to the slowest pace since June 2020, when they were running at an annualized rate of 4.77 million homes.

The median home price in April jumped 14.8% from a year ago at this time to $391,200. That’s an all-time high according to data going back to 1999, NAR said.

“Without a doubt, rising mortgage rates, rising prices are hurting affordability, but we should not discount that we’re still lacking inventory,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

Fierce competition for limited properties on the market and ultra-low mortgage rates superheated the housing market the last couple of years, but now its cooling as homebuyers face sharply higher home financing costs than a year ago following a rapid rise in mortgage rates.

In April, the weekly average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate home loan climbed above 5% for the first time in more than a decade, crimping would-be homeowners’ purchasing power at the outset of the spring homebuying season, traditionally the busiest period for home sales.

Mortgage rates are climbing following a sharp move up in 10-year Treasury yields, reflecting expectations of higher interest rates overall as the Federal Reserve hikes short-term rates in order to combat the worst inflation in 40 years.

With inflation at a four-decade high, rising mortgage rates, elevated home prices and tight supply of homes for sale, homeownership has become less attainable, especially for first-time buyers.

Higher rates can limit the pool of buyers and cool the rate of home price growth — good news for buyers. But higher rates can also limit affordability.

For now, the housing market continues to favor sellers as buyers vie for a still tight inventory of homes for sale, which has kept pushing up home prices. Even as sales slowed last month, it was common for homes on the market to receive multiple offers.

Inventory levels have to go higher before multiple offers dissipate from the market, Yun said. Until then, prices are likely to move higher.

“We anticipate, again, a continuing decline in home sales, but not necessarily home prices,” he said.

On average, homes sold in just 17 days of hitting the market last month, unchanged from March or April last year. In a market that’s more evenly balanced between buyers and sellers, homes typically remain on the market 45 days.

As is typical in the spring, the number of homes on the market increased in April from the previous month. Some 1.03 million properties were available for sale by the end of April, up 10.8% from March, but down 10.4% from April last year.

At the current sales pace, the level of for-sale properties amounts to a 2.2-month supply, the NAR said. That’s up from 1.9 months in March, and down from 2.3 months a year ago.

Real estate investors and other buyers able to buy a home with just cash, sidestepping the need to rely on financing, accounted for 26% of all sales last month, down from 28% in March, NAR said.

Homes purchased by investors made up 17% of sales in April, down from 18% the previous month, while first-time buyers accounted for 28% of transactions, down from 30% in March and 31% a year ago.

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Canadian Real Estate Prices 38% Overvalued, Largest Trend Deviation In 40 Years: BMO – Better Dwelling – Better Dwelling

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  1. Canadian Real Estate Prices 38% Overvalued, Largest Trend Deviation In 40 Years: BMO – Better Dwelling  Better Dwelling
  2. Consumer sentiment in Canada posts biggest drop since pandemic onset amid inflation  The Globe and Mail
  3. One of the Hottest Housing Markets in Canada Turns into Buyers’ Market  Bloomberg
  4. View Full coverage on Google News



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Gas prices in Ontario rising: Best time to fill up | CTV News – CTV News Toronto

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Gas prices in Ontario dropped 10 cents per litre on Friday ahead of the long weekend, but the relief at the pumps is expected to be short-lived. 

The average price of gas in Ontario dropped to $196.6 per litre Friday, which is a 13-cent drop from Wednesday.

However, President for Canadians for Affordable Energy Dan McTeague says Ontario gas prices are projected to rise over the next two days.

“We’re going to see a four-cent increase on Saturday and although the markets haven’t settled yet, it’s pretty clear that we are likely looking at about a two-cent increase (on Sunday). In other words, you got the 10 cents off today, it’s going to go up between now and Sunday by about six cents a litre,” he told CP24 Friday morning.

On Wednesday, gas prices hit a whopping $209.9 per litre, and McTeague says gas prices are set to top that in the coming week.

“Next week, the Americans begin their unofficial kickoff to the summer driving season. That’s going to put a lot of pressure on gas prices for us here in Canada. They are really the ones to determine prices for us, they’re a large market. I would expect that we’re going to be back to $2.10 a litre probably within the next week or so.”

Gas prices have been elevated since late February mostly due to fuel supply shortages amid the war in Ukraine and international sanctions that have been imposed as a result.

For the coming summer months, McTeague says the outlook on gas prices is grim partly because of impending weather issues.

“We may see days where we hit $2.30, $2.25 if we’re lucky. American weather problems in the Gulf Coast tend to be a big deal,” he said.

“The summer looks like average prices will get to $2.15 a litre here in the GTA, and right across most of southern Ontario,” he added.

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