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Trudeau says he’s ‘frustrated’ with the pace of vaccine rollout

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s troubled by the slow pace of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and is vowing to raise the lacklustre vaccination numbers with premiers during a conference call later this week.

Canada already has received more than 424,050 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines — but only 35 per cent of those doses have been administered by the provinces, with roughly 148,000 Canadians having received a shot so far.

Ontario’s vaccination program has been particularly slow: just 50,000 doses have been administered in the province since the inoculation campaign began on Dec. 15. If the province continues to administer just 2,500 shots a day, it will take over a decade to vaccinate all adults in the province.

“I think Canadians, including me, are frustrated to see vaccines in freezers and not in people’s arms. That’s why we’re going to continue working closely with the provinces both to deliver vaccines to the provinces and to support them as they need it in terms of getting more vaccines out to vulnerable populations and front line workers as quickly as possible,” Trudeau said.

“Now is the time, with the new year upon us, to really accelerate and that’s certainly what I’ll be talking with the premiers about on Thursday — how the federal government can support and help [with] getting vaccines even more quickly out to Canadians,” he said, citing a planned first ministers’ meeting call.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford acknowledged today there have been some “bumps in the road” — the provincial vaccination campaign was partially paused over the Christmas holidays — but he is expecting distribution to ramp up significantly over the coming days.

“Our message to the federal government is, just keep these vaccines coming because we’re going to be running out. Once our machine gets going and it’s going … watch out, there is no one who can compete against us,” Ford said.

Ontario’s vaccination rate is currently among the lowest in the country on a per capita basis.

Alberta, B.C. and P.E.I. have so far administered the most doses per capita among the provinces, and Manitoba has administered the fewest.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said his province has disproportionately more people living in rural and remote areas and it’s been difficult to reach those people with the Pfizer product, which has been largely limited to urban areas due to its storage requirements.

Trudeau said Canada is expected to have roughly one million doses of the vaccine on hand by the end of January — enough to inoculate 500,000 people with the two-dose vaccine regime.

He repeated his pledge to procure enough shots to vaccinate every adult Canadian who wants a shot by the end of September. The country will have to administer roughly 100,000 doses a day for the next 268 days if it’s going to vaccinate every adult in Canada by that time.

While the U.S. has had logistical troubles of its own in the early days of this vaccination effort, the Americans have vaccinated nearly four times more people per capita than Canada.

More than 4.6 million people in the U.S. have received a shot already. The federal government there has delivered 15.4 million doses to the states, territories and federal agencies.

West Virginia has already vaccinated every resident of a long-term care home while other smaller states, like Connecticut, plan to finish the first round of doses this week.

Ford said today Ontario expects to have the staff and residents of these facilities in Toronto, Peel and York regions vaccinated with the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna product by Jan. 21.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said Canada will receive 208,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine each week for the next three weeks, while 171,000 Moderna shots are expected to arrive on January 11.

“We’re working diligently with manufacturers and federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners to ensure a continuous and predictable flow of vaccines. We’re ready for a sustained tempo of vaccines throughout the month of January,” Fortin said.

“While quantities seem limited, we are scaling up. This is a deliberate operation.”

 

 

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says that with more predictable vaccine shipments provinces and territories can add new distribution sites. 1:30

Fortin said his team at the national operations centre will be sending more cold storage equipment — freezers and thermal shippers, among other tools — to help provinces set up more sites to administer the temperature-sensitive Pfizer vaccine. At the start of the vaccination campaign, there were just 14 sites nationwide where people could get the Pfizer shot.

“All of that will facilitate the different jurisdictions to administer the vaccines safely and effectively,” he said.

While all provinces have started delivering shots, most have stockpiled the second dose to ensure they have enough supply on hand.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said that because provinces can count on a specific number of doses arriving each week for the foreseeable future, they can start to vaccinate as many people as possible.

“So initially, of course, given … the supply situation and the uncertainties in December, people were holding back that second dose. Now, with a bit more certainty in the supply, I think provinces are looking to not hold back that second dose because they want to more rapidly immunize the population with that first shot,” Tam said.

 

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam assures viewers that two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will be given. 1:19

While some countries have floated the idea of simply administering one dose of the two-dose regime, or of administering the second dose well beyond the recommended 21-day timeline between shots, Tam said Canada is committed to following product guidelines from the manufacturers. She added, however, that researchers are studying the effectiveness of a single shot.

The work to distribute the vaccine comes at one of the darkest points of the pandemic. More than 16,000 people in Canada have died after contracting the virus.

Source:- CBC.ca

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Health officials throughout the United States are pinning their hopes on U.S. President Joe Biden as they struggle to obtain coronavirus vaccines.

Doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been arriving haphazardly as they make their way from the federal government to their final destinations in counties, cities and hospitals throughout the U.S. 

A number of states are reporting they are running out of vaccines, and tens of thousands of people who managed to get appointments for a first dose are seeing them cancelled.

The full explanation for the apparent mismatch between supply and demand was unclear, but last week the U.S. Health and Human Services Department suggested that states had unrealistic expectations for how much vaccine was on the way.

Amazon on Wednesday sent a letter to Biden offering to help by administering vaccines at its facilities. 

“We are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts,” Dave Clark, the chief executive of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, said in the letter.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Wednesday that more than 2.1 million people in the country have now received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, up more than 138,000 from Tuesday’s number. More than 16 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the U.S. overall, according to the CDC. The country’s COVID-19 death toll tops more than 400,000.

San Francisco’s public health department said it was likely to run out of the vaccine on Thursday, in part because the state pulled back on administering a batch of Moderna shots after several health workers had a bad reaction.

A person gets an antibody test during the ‘No Cost Antibody’ testing event organized by Calvary Baptist Church of Santa Monica and GUARDaHEART Foundation in Santa Monica, Calif., on Tuesday. California has been struggling with surging COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations. (Valeria Macon/AFP/Getty Images)

The county health department received 12,000 doses last week but fewer than 2,000 doses this week, although local hospitals had their own supplies. But Mayor London Breed said she was “ready to celebrate” when Biden takes office on Wednesday, believing there will be more support.

Across the country, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that the city had to cancel 23,000 appointments for people awaiting their first dose this week because of inadequate supply. The mayor, who has been sounding the alarm about vaccine shortages for days, said the situation was compounded by a delay in this week’s delivery of the Moderna vaccine to the city.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said the 103,400 Moderna doses that were scheduled for delivery on Tuesday — 54,200 first doses and 49,200 second doses — were now expected Wednesday and Thursday.

Citing a statewide shortage of vaccine, New York City’s police department suspended first-shot vaccinations for its officers.

Biden addresses COVID-19 pandemic

Biden wasted no time addressing the COVID-19 pandemic after his inauguration. One of the first executive orders he signed as president requires masks to be worn and physical distancing measures to be followed in federal buildings, on federal land and by federal employees and contractors — a departure from former president Donald Trump, who often refused to wear one.

The 46th president of the United States is also directing the government to rejoin the World Health Organization.

During his inauguration speech on Wednesday, Biden spoke of the damage done by the global pandemic, calling it a “once-in-a-century virus that silently stalks the country.”

The virus, he said, has “taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War Two.”

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden arrive at Biden’s inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Biden spoke about the ravages of COVID-19 on people’s lives and the economic cost of the pandemic as he took office, becoming the 46th president. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Biden urged people to come together and not “retreat into competing factions.”

“My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we’re going to need each other,” he said in his first address as president “We need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter.”

The U.S. is entering what may be the “toughest and deadliest” period of the pandemic, Biden said.

“We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation — one nation.”

As he stood on stage before a physically distanced crowd, Biden asked people to join him in a prayer for all those who have died as a result of COVID-19.

“Those 400,000 fellow Americans — moms, dads, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, neighbours and co-workers — we’ll honour them by becoming the people and nation we know we can and should be.”

– From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 5:30 p.m. ET


What’s happening in Canada

As of 3:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had reported 724,326 cases of COVID-19, with 68,923 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 18,427.

Vaccine distribution remained a concern in several provinces as supplies ran low and federal officials worked to answer questions about when new doses would arrive. 

Canada won’t be getting any Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccines next week and will be getting 50 per cent fewer than expected over the next month, officials said Tuesday, prompting the leader of Canada’s most populous province to ask U.S. president-elect Joe Biden to share a million doses from Pfizer’s Michigan plant.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s logistical rollout and distribution of vaccines, called it a major reduction but said Pfizer is still expected to meet its contractual obligation to ship four million doses to Canada by the end of March.

Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, said he’s angry. He asked Biden to help Canada out, noting there’s a Pfizer plant in Michigan.

“Our American friends, help us out,” Ford said. “You have a new president, no more excuses. Help us out.”

In measured comments on Wednesday, health officials in Manitoba said the reduction will not lead any vaccine appointments to be cancelled. It has reduced its vaccination goal to 1,496 per day in Februrary, down from 2,500 doses per day.

In Ottawa, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says the federal government is working with the provinces to prioritize vaccinating Indigenous people against COVID-19.

Miller told a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday that there is a need to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to Indigenous people living both on reserves and in urban centres.

He said he has been concerned that the federal government is not able to vaccinate Indigenous people living off-reserve, where the provinces provide heath services.

“This is the case with respect to Métis populations,” Miller said, noting that that’s also the case for First Nations people living off reserves, as well as for Inuit people.

“This is a particularly acute issue and challenge when we’re talking about the deployment of the vaccine,” he said.

Ottawa is doing “quiet work” with the provinces, he said, to prioritize vaccinating Indigenous people living off-reserve.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, left, with the department’s chief medical officer of public health, Dr. Tom Wong, responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

In a news release on Wednesday, Indigenous Services Canada said there have been 89 COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths in long-term care homes in Indigenous communities on reserves.

The number of COVID-19 active cases in First Nations communities reached an all-time high this week with 5,571 reported cases as of Tuesday.

Officials with Nunavut‘s Department of Health met a passenger on an inbound flight to Iqaluit on Wednesday. The individual received a positive test result for COVID-19 after taking off from Ottawa.

“The passenger is asymptomatic and doing well. As a precaution, the individual will be taken to Qikiqtani General Hospital and isolated,” Dr. Mike Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said in a statement. “A followup COVID-19 test will be performed to rule out the possibility of a false positive. We are expecting the test results later this afternoon.”

The rest of the passengers — approximately 100 people — will be kept at the airport until the test results are back, according to the statement.

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver announced the territory has no active cases of COVID-19 in the territory’s weekly briefing, down from six active cases last week. He praised residents’ vigilance and collective efforts and said they are “clearly working.”

Ontario reported 2,655 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 89 additional deaths, bringing the death toll in the province to 5,568. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 stood at 1,598, with 395 in intensive care units, according to a provincial dashboard.

Saskatchewan reported 234 new cases of COVID-19 and four new deaths on Wednesday.

Manitoba reported six new deaths and 154 more cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, though health officials said case numbers are headed in the right direction overall. The province also announced the release of a new online dashboard to provide information about its immunization campaign. Officials are expected to announce the loosening of some pandemic restrictions on Friday.

Quebec on Wednesday reported 1,502 new cases of COVID-19 and 66 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 9,208. Figures published by the province on Wednesday showed a slight decrease in hospitalizations, with 1,467 COVID-19 patients in Quebec hospitals including 216 in intensive care.

The update comes a day after Premier François Legault called on the federal government to ban all non-essential flights to Canada. Legault said he’s worried that people travelling to vacation destinations will bring back new variants of COVID-19.

Public health officials in New Brunswick, meanwhile, reported 31 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and one additional death from the disease.

“We have never been in a situation like this since pandemic began,” Premier Blaine Higgs said Tuesday. “I cannot stress enough that this is a critical moment…. Stay home as much as you possibly can and avoid interacting with people outside your household bubble.”

As of midnight Tuesday, the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton regions were set to join the Edmundston region at the red level of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

Nova Scotia reported three new cases and one new death Wednesday. The total number of COVID-19 cases in the province is 1,564.

Here’s a look at what else is happening with COVID-19 across the country:

– From CBC News, The Canadian Press and The Associated Press, last updated at 4:15 p.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

WATCH | ‘The world was not prepared,’ says WHO interim pandemic report:

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world, the World Health Organization released an interim report on lessons learned. And it’s not flattering toward the WHO itself, China or even Canada. 2:00

As of Wednesday evening, more than 96.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 53 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than two million.

In the Americas, five trucks carrying oxygen from Venezuela have arrived at Manaus, a city of two million people in the Brazilian rainforest where the local health system has collapsed amid a devastating second wave of COVID-19 and a severe shortage of oxygen for breathless patients.

Family members of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 line up with empty oxygen tanks in an attempt to refill them outside the Nitron da Amazonia company in Manaus, Brazil, on Jan. 15, 2021. Five trucks containing oxygen tanks reached the city Tuesday from Venezuela. (Edmar Barros/The Associated Press)

Venezuela’s consul in Manaus says the trucks delivered 132,000 litres of oxygen late Tuesday. They came from the state of Bolivar in southern Venezuela and travelled more than 1,500 kilometres to Manaus, the capital of Brazil’s Amazonas state. 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the move Sunday night. He is a political adversary of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has drawn criticism for his handling of the crisis in Manaus as well as the pandemic in general, which has caused more than 207,000 deaths in Brazil.

Dozens of merchants protested Wednesday in Colombia’s capital city of Bogota against the local government’s pandemic restrictions. Some protesters carried signs suggesting keeping their businesses closed will make them go bankrupt. The city is set to experience the third weekend in a row under a strict lockdown.

Protesters march toward the residence of Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez on Wednesday to demand the lifting of the citywide curfew and the reopening of businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Ivan Valencia/The Associated Press)

Mayor Claudia Lopez has said the restrictions are in response to an increase in COVID-19 infections and the high occupancy of hospital intensive care units.

Colombia has recorded 1,939,071 COVID-19 cases and 49,402 deaths, according to the latest report from the country’s Ministry of Health. Government data shows more than 91 per cent of ICU beds are currently in use.

In the Asia-Pacific region, China’s capital Beijing said it will investigate all individuals who entered the city from abroad from Dec. 10 and shut down a subway station after reporting the biggest daily jump in new COVID-19 cases in more than three weeks.

South Korea may secure additional coronavirus vaccines for 20 million people from U.S. drugmaker Novavax Inc., President Moon Jae-in said, according to a statement from the presidential office.

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In the Middle East, Kuwait has registered its first cases of a more contagious coronavirus variant in two Kuwaiti women who had been in Britain.

The government of Dubai on Wednesday ordered all hospitals to cancel non-essential surgeries for the next month as coronavirus infections surge to unprecedented heights in the United Arab Emirates. For the ninth consecutive day, the UAE shattered its record for new infections, reporting 3,509 cases. Daily infections in the country have nearly tripled since November. 

In Africa, Nigeria will seek to procure vaccines that are less dependent on cooling facilities, as more than 2,600 Nigerian physicians have contracted COVID-19 and dozens have died.

In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Germany may need to consider border crossing curbs if other European countries do not act to halt the spread of the coronavirus, particularly its new, more transmissible variants.

The spread of the coronavirus in France could sharply accelerate in the coming months due to the emergence of a more contagious variant, two Paris hospital executives said on Wednesday, raising fears of a third lockdown in the country.

-From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

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Pfizer pitches Canada for tax breaks in upcoming budget – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Pfizer Canada is pitching the federal government to bring in new tax breaks and change related corporate tax policies, suggesting the feds need to do more to incentivize pharmaceutical companies to invest domestically in a post-pandemic world.

Specifically, Pfizer is proposing that in the upcoming federal budget, the government “maintain or reduce corporate income tax rates,” and offers a series of suggestions of ways to do so.

The company suggests that the federal Liberals provide certainty about how Canadian tax rules, regulations, and policies will be “fair, clear and predictable,” particularly in how they apply to scientific research and development as well as contract manufacturing.

Pfizer also wants to see Canada:

  • Improve existing legislative tax measures such as increasing the Manufacturing & Processing (M&P) credit which decreases the federal corporate income tax rate;
  • Repeal or postpone the planned phasing out of the Accelerated Investment Incentive beyond 2023, which offers tax relief on newly-acquired eligible property assets; and 
  • Expand eligibility to certain tax credits so that they are refundable to multinational enterprises, not only to Canadian-controlled private corporations.

The company makes the case that a strong pharmaceutical sector can play a role in Canada’s economic restart and recovery post-pandemic but in order for that to happen, the government has to create a “fertile and hospitable environment” to retain and attract that investment.

It also notes that Canada will be competing for that investment with other countries who are implementing tax policies that attract manufacturing, research and development facilities looking to set up new locations and offer high-skilled and well-paid jobs.

The policy recommendations are detailed by the Canadian arm of the international pharmaceutical giant, in a pre-budget submission provided to the House of Commons Finance Committee. 

“Pfizer and others in the health and life sciences industry have been at the forefront of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, we also wish to be at the forefront of helping with the economic recovery,” said Pfizer Canada President Cole C. Pinnow in the submission.

“Improvements to tax incentives cannot, alone, succeed in retaining and attracting economic activity in the healthcare sector but they are important building blocks. The overall business environment must be attractive, including clear and predictable tax outcomes.”

The pre-budget submission was one of 792 different pitches from various stakeholders, corporations and business people, offering their perspective to federal policymakers as to what should, or shouldn’t be included in the upcoming 2021 federal budget.

Pfizer’s submission was published by the committee on Nov. 21, 2020, before the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was granted Health Canada regulatory approval. Since then the federal government has been in ongoing discussions with Pfizer about its vaccine delivery schedule.

That schedule was recently interrupted by Pfizer, and is leaving Canada without any new doses arriving next week. It’s thrown the national rollout off track, though the company has made assurances that it’ll soon make up for the temporary shortages. 

CTVNews.ca has reached out to Pfizer Canada for comment.

According to the Finance Committee’s website, no submission has been received from Moderna, the second pharmaceutical giant to have its COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in this country.

Receiving and scrutinizing pre-budget submissions are a routine aspect of the work done by the committee. Ahead of every federal budget the members hear from often hundreds of witnesses during dozens of committee hearings or as part of written proposals.

The committee then compiles what it’s heard and that’s submitted to the finance minister and other federal officials who are in charge of crafting the federal budget to inform their consideration.

The upcoming 2021 federal budget will be presented by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. It’ll be the first formal budget presented by the Liberals since 2019, after the 2020 version was postponed and then ultimately not completed, citing the unprecedented economic uncertainty and spending resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.  

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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada – 95.7 News

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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):

10:35 a.m.

Ontario says there are 2,655 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today and 89 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 925 of the new cases are in Toronto, 473 are in Peel Region and 226 are in York Region.

Nearly 14,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Ontario’s last daily update.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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