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Three more COVID-19 cases involving UK variant found in Manitoba, officials say – Yahoo News Canada

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CBC

The long shot: Why waiting 90 days for a second vaccine dose might be a great idea

(Evan Mitsui/CBC) The news that Public Health will delay giving the second COVID-19 vaccine dose to some New Brunswickers for as long as 90 days seemed shocking when it was revealed at Thursday’s live update. One day later, epidemiologists, researchers and even Canada’s top doctor are weighing in with new findings and factors, and suddenly it doesn’t seem so shocking anymore. In fact, some argue, it might be a very good idea. On Thursday, during the rollout of the province’s revised vaccine plan, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said the next phase, in April and May, will see a range of new groups immunized. But, she said, those at low risk of severe illness may not get the second booster shot for up to 90 days. The strategy is a calculated risk that contradicts the vaccine manufacturers’ own recommendations — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna both recommend a second booster dose within 28 days of the first dose — and more than doubles the 42-day wait time some other provinces have moved to. Russell herself acknowledged Thursday that the approach is “not perfect” and carries some unknowns. However, she noted, in the face of limited vaccine supply and the growing threat of variants, it accomplishes a crucial goal: maximizing protection by getting first shots to as many people as possible. Dr. Jennifer Russell acknowledged Thursday that the delayed-second-shot approach is ‘not perfect’ and carries some unknowns. ‘We are facing an emergency’ That’s a compelling argument in the 90-day wait time’s favour, according to Ontario epidemiologist Raywat Deonandan. “If you’d have asked me two months ago, I would have said that this is inadvisable,” Deonandan said in an email Friday. “However, we are facing an emergency. The threat of the new variants is real. If we are to either avoid a third wave, or mitigate its impact, then we should get as much immunity into as many people … as quickly as possible.” That, he said, means using “all the doses we have available.” He also echoed Russell’s acknowledgement of “unknowns” — chiefly, slippery evidence related to the length of time a first dose would provide protection. That could be a problem if, for example, a second dose is not available for more than 90 days after the first dose was given. In that case, Deonandan said, immunity might fade and the person “would once again be susceptible and wouldn’t know it.” It could also mean the entire portion of the population that didn’t receive their second dose might need to start the two-dose regimen all over again. All things considered, that still doesn’t tip the balance against the 90-day delay. “I don’t know of any real harm in receiving a third or fourth booster,” Deonandan said. “So one can imagine a scenario where we get all the shots into many arms now and then later in the year, when the disease is not raging across the country, people can casually go to their drugstore for a quick booster.” Rodney Russell, an immunology and infectious diseases professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, says early reports suggest that even the first dose of the vaccine is enough to keep most people from getting sick. First dose’s power might have been underestimated In Newfoundland and Labrador, which is currently in the thick of a variant-fuelled outbreak, Rodney Russell noted New Brunswick’s 90-day-delay strategy with interest. Russell, a COVID-19 antibodies researcher and professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Memorial University of Newfoundland, said there are increasing suggestions that the first vaccine dose might be a more powerful weapon than initially suspected. “The reason you give the booster is literally to boost the immunity, it gives your immune system another taste of the bug and so basically your body says, ‘OK, this is not a one-off,'” Russell said. “But the first shot will induce some immunity.” That might be really good immunity, or it might be partial immunity, he said. “But what we are seeing now … and these are very early reports … is that even the first dose is enough to keep most people from getting very sick.” Although the vaccines’ own manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna, advise a booster shot within 28 days, Russell noted the fast-moving nature of the pandemic, and the science related to it, have already changed the landscape since the original trials. “The original trials were based on two doses, and original data indicated you’d get a much better response to vaccines after a booster,” he said. “And that’s all the time they had to try, they didn’t have an opportunity to try every possible timeframe or distance between doses.” But now that the real-time data is coming out, “and that’s what matters,” Russell said, if it increasingly proves that high percentages of people are protected with a single dose, then that changes the situation — especially if vaccines are limited. “We’re all kind of winging it and new data is coming on a global, almost daily basis,” Russell said. “I’ve never experienced science at that pace.” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday that new studies suggest the initial COVID-19 dose ‘packs quite a punch.’ One might be almost as good as two: study Earlier this week, two Canadian researchers said in a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine that a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine might be almost as good as two. They found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has 92.6 per cent efficacy after just one dose. Another letter to the same journal said Moderna’s first dose has 92.1 per cent efficacy. A second dose only increases Pfizer’s efficacy to 94.8 per cent, according to the researchers, Dr. Danuta Skowronski of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and Dr. Gaston De Serres of the Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec. “The benefits derived from a scarce supply of vaccine could be maximized by deferring second doses until all priority group members are offered at least one dose,” they wrote. The letter doesn’t mention any ideal time period for a second dose. On Friday, Canada’s top doctor said she was “very optimistic” about the findings, particularly in light of the fact that Canada’s supply of vaccines will be comparatively small over the coming months. “For the next few months, we’re not going to have a lot of people vaccinated,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said. “That’s just a fact.” However, she said, “there are studies now beginning to emerge both abroad and in Canada that just that initial dose packs quite a punch.”

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Sanofi-GSK report positive interim results for their COVID-19 shot

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An experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline showed a robust immune response in early-stage clinical trial results, enabling them to move to a late-stage study, the French drugmaker said on Monday.

Sanofi and Britain’s GSK said a global Phase III trial would start in the coming weeks and involve more than 35,000 adults, with the hope of seeing the vaccine approved by the fourth quarter after having initially targeted the first half of this year before a setback.

Sanofi and GSK last December were forced to restart their trial when the vaccine showed a low immune response in older adults as a result of a weak antigen formulation.

Sanofi and GSK shares were little changed in early trading.

“The Phase II interim results showed 95% to 100% seroconversion following a second injection in all age groups and across all doses, with acceptable tolerability and no safety concerns,” Sanofi said.

Seroconversion refers to the vaccine’s ability to prompt the body to produce antibodies against the coronavirus, as measured by blood readings. Later mass trials will be based on real infections.

“Interestingly, we also observed that our vaccine generated a higher antibody response in those with previous COVID-19 infection, we are analysing this further as it may suggest our vaccine could serve as a potential booster, regardless of what vaccine someone may have received (beforehand),” Su-Peing Ng, Sanofi’s global head of medical for vaccines, told reporters.

Ng said the vaccine had not been tested against so-called variants in the Phase II trial but that the Phase III study would be assessing it against various strains including a virus lineage known as B.1.351 first detected in South Africa.

But Sanofi, Ng said, has conducted parallel studies evaluating its vaccines against variants, with results expected to be published soon.

GSK and Sanofi’s vaccine candidate uses the same technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the shot, made by GSK.

‘QUITE A POTENTIAL’

Some 162.75 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019, while economies have taken a hit and restrictions have turned daily life upside down.

The United States and Europe have embarked on mass vaccinations programmes in the past months, raising hopes of a gradual reopening, although the virus is still in circulation in many regions, with variants causing concern.

Last month, the European Union executive’s President Ursula von der Leyen said protein-based COVID-19 vaccines such as the one developed by Sanofi and GSK offered “quite a potential”, a positive signal as the bloc develops its purchasing strategy for the next two years.

Sanofi’s shot, however, even if approved, will come long after ones from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which have produced efficacy results of more than 90%.

So far, Sanofi has purchasing agreements with the United States, the EU, Britain and Canada, as well as with the World Health Organization-backed COVAX facility.

The company has pledged to help other drugmakers this year, striking “fill and finish” deals for vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

In addition to its vaccine project in collaboration with GSK, Sanofi is working on a mRNA candidate with U.S. company Translate Bio for which it has started clinical trials.

 

(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely)

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Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 161.42 million, death toll at 3,488,751

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More than 161.42 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 3,488,751​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/2FThSv7 in an external browser.

Eikon users can click  for a case tracker.

The following table lists the top 50 countries by the number of reported cases. A complete list is available with the above links.

COUNTRIES AND TOTAL DEATHS CONFIRMED DEATHS PER

TERRITORIES CASES 10,000

INHABITANTS

United States 584,768 32,926,288 17.9

India 262,317 24,046,809 1.94

Brazil 430,417 15,433,989 20.55

France 107,423 5,848,154 16.04

Turkey 44,301 5,095,390 5.38

Russia 254,590 4,922,901 17.62

United Kingdom 127,668 4,446,824 19.21

Italy 123,927 4,146,722 20.51

Spain 79,339 3,604,799 16.95

Germany 85,903 3,579,871 10.36

Argentina 69,254 3,242,103 15.56

Colombia 79,760 3,067,879 16.06

Poland 71,311 2,849,014 18.78

Iran 76,433 2,732,152 9.34

Mexico 219,901 2,375,115 17.43

Ukraine 47,620 2,143,448 10.67

Peru 65,316 1,873,316 20.02

Indonesia 47,823 1,734,285 1.79

Czech Republic 29,857 1,651,178 28.09

South Africa 55,012 1,605,252 9.52

Netherlands 17,423 1,589,282 10.11

Canada 24,825 1,312,408 6.7

Chile 27,520 1,266,601 14.69

Iraq 15,910 1,134,859 4.14

Philippines 18,958 1,131,467 1.78

Romania 29,413 1,070,605 15.11

Sweden 14,275 1,037,126 14.03

Belgium 24,645 1,026,473 21.56

Pakistan 19,384 873,220 0.91

Portugal 16,999 841,379 16.53

Israel 6,379 839,076 7.18

Hungary 29,041 796,390 29.71

Bangladesh 12,102 779,535 0.75

Jordan 9,203 722,754 9.24

Serbia 6,646 705,185 9.52

Switzerland 10,179 679,510 11.96

Japan 11,396 673,821 0.9

Austria 10,455 635,780 11.83

United Arab Emirates 1,626 543,610 1.69

Lebanon 7,569 534,968 11.05

Morocco 9,091 514,670 2.52

Malaysia 1,822 462,190 0.58

Nepal 4,669 439,658 1.66

Saudi Arabia 7,134 431,432 2.12

Bulgaria 17,194 413,320 24.48

Ecuador 19,442 405,783 11.38

Slovakia 12,168 387,162 22.34

Greece 11,322 373,881 10.55

Belarus 2,681 373,351 2.83

Panama 6,288 369,455 15.05

Source: Reuters tally based on statements from health ministries and government officials

Generated at 10:00 GMT.

 

(Editing by David Clarke)

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Canada plots course to fully vaccinated return to gatherings in fall

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Canada on Friday said there would be a gradual return to a world with indoor sports and family gatherings as more people get vaccinated, but it did not go as far as the United States in telling people they could eventually ditch their masks.

Canada has administered one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to just over half its adult population, and the country may be over the worst of its current third wave of infections, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places, guidance the agency said will allow life to begin to return to normal.

On Friday, Canada‘s public health agency offered guidelines to the 10 provinces, which are responsible for public health restrictions.

The agency says once 75% of Canadians have had a single dose and 20% are fully vaccinated, some restrictions can be relaxed to allow small, outdoor gatherings with family and friends, camping, and picnics.

Once 75% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in the fall, indoor sports and family gatherings can be allowed again.

“I think masks might be the last layer of that multi-layer protection that we’ll advise people to remove,” Tam told reporters, noting that in Canada colder temperatures meant people would start spending more time indoors in the fall.

“We are taking a bit of a different approach to the United States,” she added. While in most of Canada masks are not required outdoors, they are mandatory indoors.

Less than 4% of Canada‘s adult population has been fully vaccinated compared to more than 36% of Americans.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has promised that everyone who wants to can be fully vaccinated by September, this week spoke of a “one-dose summer” and a “two-dose fall” without explaining what that might look like.

 

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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