Canada’s top doctor and federal health minister say they see no reason to halt the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, as other countries have done citing blood clots following inoculations.
Speaking to Evan Solomon, host of CTV News Channel’s Power Play, on Thursday, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said that because Canada hasn’t been supplied with the same batch of AstraZeneca vaccines as the several European countries who have suspended its use, there’s no need to follow suit.
“At this moment in time, it’s just a matter of … sharing information from the European countries and regulators, but for now, we’re carrying on because we don’t have that batch of vaccines,” she said.
Health authorities in Denmark, which halted AstraZeneca vaccinations Thursday after an undisclosed number of blood clots were reported and one patient died, said they stopped using the vaccine to be extra cautious, not because there was an expected connection.
The European Medicines Agency is probing the issue itself, and says 30 blood clots in more than five million patients who received the vaccine is not out of step with the normal rate of blood clots in the general population.
Norway, Iceland and others have followed suit and suspended deployment of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“What the Europeans are telling us is that it’s not occurring at any unexpected rate above the usual incidence for these events, these clotting events. They’re not seeing it as an increase above what is normally expected in a population,” said Tam.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu also told Solomon she’s reassured by Health Canada’s “thorough review” of the vaccine, which was approved by the regulatory body on Feb. 26.
“Each lot is also analyzed from a health and safety perspective and we here in Canada don’t have concerns with the AstraZeneca that we’re receiving. I will also say that we monitor very closely with provinces, in fact they report up through Health Canada, any adverse effects,” she said.
Canada received its first shipment of the vaccine last week, an initial 500,000 doses manufactured at the Serum Institute of India, and deliveries to the provinces are underway. The bulk of shipments will be arriving from the U.S. and another small amount from COVAX, an international vaccine-sharing network.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has made a recommendation to not use the AstraZeneca vaccine in individuals aged 65 years and older, due to “the insufficiency of evidence of efficacy in this age group at this time.” They advise that mRNA vaccines are best suited for the age group.
In an effort to thwart vaccine hesitancy, Tam added that she “wouldn’t hesitate” to take the AstraZeneca vaccine tomorrow if offered.
With a file from The Canadian Press.
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Facebook’s Zuckerberg lays out ‘metaverse’ vision at developers event
Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg said privacy and safety would need to be built into the metaverse, as he opened the company’s annual conference on virtual and augmented reality on Thursday.
Facebook continues to battle criticism over its market power, its content moderation practices and harms linked to its social media platforms. The tech giant, which reports about 2.9 billion monthly users, has faced increasing scrutiny in recent years from global lawmakers and regulators.
In the latest controversy, whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-sees-safety-cost-whistleblower-says-2021-10-25 leaked documents which she said showed the company chose profit over user safety. Zuckerberg earlier this week said the documents were being used to paint a “false picture.”
The metaverse, a term first coined in a dystopian novel three decades ago and now attracting buzz in Silicon Valley, refers broadly to the idea of a shared virtual environment which can be accessed by people using different devices.
Zuckerberg has increasingly been promoting the idea of Facebook, which has invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality, as a “metaverse” company https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-sets-up-new-team-work-metaverse-2021-07-26 rather than a social media one.
The CEO, speaking during the live-streamed Facebook Connect event, gave examples of privacy and safety controls that would be needed in the metaverse, such as the ability to block someone from appearing in your space. Zuckerberg is betting that the metaverse will be the next big computing platform, calling it “the successor to the mobile internet.”
The whistleblower documents, which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, show internal research and employee discussions on Instagram’s effects on the mental health of teens and whether Facebook stokes divisions, as well as its handling of activity around the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and inconsistencies in content moderation for users around the globe.
The company gave a slew of updates for its VR and AR products. It said it would this year launch a way for people using its Oculus VR headset to call friends using Facebook Messenger and for people to invite others to a social version of their home, dubbed “Horizon Home,” to talk and play games as avatars.
Facebook also said it would introduce a way for Oculus Quest users to use different 2D apps like Slack, Dropbox and Facebook while in this “Horizon Home” VR space.
The company, which began a beta test of its virtual meeting spaces “Horizon Workrooms” earlier this year, said it was working on ways of customizing these with company logos and designs and said it would be bringing more work capabilities into consumer Quest devices. It also announced new fitness offerings for Oculus Quest users.
Facebook said this week that its hardware division Facebook Reality Labs, which is responsible for AR and VR efforts, would become a separate reporting unit and that its investment in it would reduce this year’s total operating profit by about $10 billion.
This year, Facebook created a product team focused on the metaverse and it recently announced plans to hire 10,000 employees in Europe over the next five years to work on the effort.
Facebook also said it would run a $150 million education program aimed at helping AR and VR creators and developers.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York and Sheila Dang in DallasEditing by Matthew Lewis)
Shopify’s revenue rises in run-up to key holiday season; shares up
Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify Inc reported a 46% rise in quarterly revenue as consumer spending “normalizes” after a year of a pandemic-fueled online shopping frenzy, sending its shares up 9%.
The widespread shift to e-commerce at the height of the pandemic had brought a wave of new business to Shopify, which provides infrastructure for retailers to set up their stores online and generates revenue mainly through subscriptions and merchant services.
However, on a call with analysts, Shopify executives flagged “pressures in supply chain” for the key holiday shopping season.
Companies across the globe have sounded alarm bells on supply issues that have pushed costs higher and made some products scarce.
Shopify raked in billions of dollars over the past year, growing quarterly revenue by over 90% in four of the last six quarters.
It has been able to maintain a healthy growth rate even as people stepped out of their homes and bigger rivals like Amazon.com Inc bolster their offerings to retain customers.
“The strength of Shopify’s flywheel was on display within the more normalized spending environment we saw this past quarter, as more merchants used more of our platform to start and grow their businesses,” said Shopify’s finance chief, Amy Shapero.
The company’s subscription solutions revenue jumped by 37% to $336.2 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30.
Analysts are optimistic about Shopify’s business model, which is driven primarily by mom-and-pop stores.
“Shopify was a high-growth company long before COVID, and it’s going to be a high-growth company after the pandemic tailwinds fade,” said Samad Samana, analyst at Jefferies.
The company’s total revenue was $1.12 billion, narrowly missing expectations of $1.14 billion, according to Refinitiv data. Its adjusted profit of 81 cents per share also came in below an estimate of $1.18.
(Reporting by Richard Rohan Francis and Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Maju Samuel)
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