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Trudeau says Pfizer vaccine could be ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ but hurdles remain



Canada bought access to 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, because the vaccine requires two doses to be effective, the early supply will be enough to inoculate roughly 10 million people

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described promising vaccine results as a potential “light at the end of the tunnel,” Monday, but he also urged caution, because there are still several hurdles to mount before the vaccine is widely available.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced Monday the vaccine it was developing with BioNTech was showing strong results. In addition to being safe, the vaccine was proving to be more than 90 per cent effective in preventing people from getting sick with the virus.

The data has yet to be independently verified, but the trial included a total of 43,538 people across multiple countries and from a wide range of ethnicities.

Trudeau said the news was encouraging, but said Canadians can’t ease up yet and still have to limit their social contacts, wear a mask when social distancing isn’t impossible and take other steps to reduce spread of the virus.

“We hope to see vaccines landing in the early next year, but between now and then it is really important that we double down on our efforts,” he said. “We need to do our part. We need to stay strong and hang in there a few more months.”

He stressed the early results from the vaccine are positive, but until it is administered it can’t help people.

“If you catch COVID in the coming days or weeks a vaccine won’t help you.”

Dr. Zain Chagla, a professor of medicine at McMaster University and expert in infectious diseases said society will still have to wait for the peer-review of the company’s research and for more safety data, but if that holds up this could be the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

“If this is the real deal signal, this is one good tool in the chest, and definitely something that starts the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Canada bought access to 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, because the vaccine requires two doses to be effective, the early supply will be enough to inoculate roughly 10 million people, about a quarter of Canada’s 38 million people. When it announced the initial purchase in August, the government said it would be pursuing options to buy more than the initial 20 million, but those deals have not yet materialized.

The U.S. has ordered 100 million initial doses with options for another 500 million doses from the company as part of its large vaccine purchase. The company has said it can produce 50 million doses in 2020 and another 1.3 billion in 2021.

Canada has bought access to several vaccines and Trudeau said part of their strategy has always been to look for multiple options.

“Canada is one of the countries around the world with the very best portfolio of potential vaccines because we know that there is a certain amount of uncertainty as to which vaccines will land first,” he said.

Chagla said even if the other vaccine candidates aren’t successful, the 10 million doses from Pfizer would be a good start.

“There’s definitely a lot you could do with 10 million doses, even if it’s only a quarter of the population,” he said. “You can definitely at least reduce the risk of hospitalization and death for the most vulnerable. You can protect the people taking care of them and then you can try to make a dent in community transmission.”

Abacus Data released new polling on Monday as well, showing that hesitancy will be another one of the challenges for a vaccine roll out.

The firm surveyed 1,500 Canadians and found 33 per cent were eager to take a vaccine, while 42 per cent would do so eventually, but wanted to wait. A further 14 per cent say they would have to be convinced and 11 per cent say they won’t take the shot under any circumstances.

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The vaccine news is coming as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country, with high case counts in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec. Hospitals in some parts of the country are starting to feel strained and deaths are continuing to mount.

Pfizer’s vaccine candidate is one of three that have already started providing evidence to Health Canada as part of the regulatory process. In a press release, the company said they hoped to have more data in late November and could submit information to regulators in the U.S. then.

The company’s vaccine has to be kept at temperatures below – 80 degrees Celsius and that will add to the complexity of its rollout should it be successful. The government has a tender underway for a logistics firm to manage the delivery and storage of vaccines.

Pfizer is set to handle delivery to provinces and territories in Canada, but the government is looking for a company to deliver large quantities of dry ice in order to keep the vaccines cold.

Chagla said that is one of the vaccine’s challenges.

“It’s not going to be an easy vaccine to roll out in pharmacies or family doctors’ offices,” he said.

All of the other potential candidates Canada has invested in have to be kept frozen or cool, but not at such low temperatures and they could be stored in commercial refrigerators and freezers.

Chagla said he hopes to see more progress on the other vaccine candidates in time, because the Pfizer vaccine will be especially difficult to roll out in the developing world.

Source: – Mitchell Advocate

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Winnipeggers in 30s, 40s among new COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba –



A Winnipeg man in his 30s and a Winnipeg woman in her 40s are among 11 new COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba, health officials say.

Manitoba hit a new record high for COVID-19 hospitalizations with 342 people in hospital on Monday, as the province added 343 new cases to its total. There are 43 positive patients in intensive care units, down one from Sunday.

Seven of the deaths are connected to outbreaks at long-term care homes, including a man and a woman in their 80s at Fairview Personal Care Home.

The deaths also include a woman in her 70s linked to the outbreak in the GA3 unit at Health Sciences Centre, a man in his 80s linked to the Villa Youville personal care home, a man in his 80s linked to the Charleswood Care Centre, a man in his 80s linked to Golden Links Lodge, a woman in her 90s linked to St. Norbert Personal Care Home, a man in his 90s linked to the Bridgepark Manor assisted living facility, and a Winnipeg woman in her 90s.

Manitoba’s test-positivity rate is 13.4 per cent, a slight increase of 0.1 percentage points from Sunday but still lower than at any other point last week.

Outbreaks at the Women’s Correctional Centre in Headingley and the Keeyask Generating Station near Thompson have been declared over. 

New outbreaks have been declared at the Lakeshore General Hospital in Ashern and West Park Manor Personal Care Home in Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg health region produced the majority of new cases, with 207 confirmed infections, while the Southern Health region had the second most, with 53. The rest of the cases were in the Northern Health region (46), Interlake-Eastern health region (23) and Prairie Mountain Health region (14).

Manitoba has now had 16,825 confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with 9,260 reported as still active, although that number is likely inflated due to a backlog in clearing recovered cases.

A boy under 10 is the youngest person to die of COVID-19 in Manitoba, health officials announced on Saturday.

Two Manitoba churches, Church of God and Springs Church, held drive-in services on the weekend, in violation of public health orders capping gatherings at five people and ordering religious services to move online.

Winnipeg School Division teachers will walk thousands of students through an in-class exercise on Tuesday that’s meant to simulate what it could be like if the entire school system is suddenly forced to learn remotely.

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57 cases of COVID-19, one death reported in Niagara after the weekend –



The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Niagara increased by 57 over the weekend, counting Monday’s numbers, but without making a significant impact on the number of active cases across the region, which right now sits at 204.

The daily breakdown:

Saturday: 18

Sunday: 25

Monday: 14

The region said Monday’s number is not complete, as the reporting had left some cases out, and cautions that Tuesday’s numbers therefore might look higher.

NRPH also reports one new COVID-19-related death on Monday, bringing the region’ss death toll to 84.

One outbreak in a health-care facility was also declared over.

There are 7 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities and 11 other outbreaks.

Ontario update:

Public Health Ontario has confirmed 1,746 new cases of COVID-19 today, which is 38 fewer than yesterday. There were more than 1,700 cases reported on both Saturday and Sunday.

Of today’s new cases, most are confined to the Greater Toronto Area. There are 390 new cases confirmed in Peel Region, 622 cases in Toronto and 217 in York Region; that represents 1,229 — or 70 per cent — of the new lab-confirmed cases reported over the past 24 hours.

The agency also reported eight more deaths related to the coronavirus over the past 24 hours. Yesterday, 24 deaths were reported.

More than 1,320 cases have been resolved since yesterday. 

Over the past 24 hours, 39,406 tests were completed, which is about 14,600 fewer than the record number of tests processed Friday.

According to today’s data, the positivity rate is 4.4 per cent; that means 4.4 people out of every 100 people tested have the coronavirus.

Since the start of the pandemic, public health labs in Ontario have processed more than 6.2 million COVID-19 tests.

Throughout Ontario, there are 618 people currently hospitalized with the coronavirus, but the agency notes that a number of hospitals (approximately 40) did not submit data for Nov. 28.

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Ontario logs more than 1700 new cases of COVID-19 as positivity rate inches higher – CTV Toronto



Ontario is reporting more than 1,700 new COVID-19 infections Monday morning as the province’s positivity rate inches closer to five per cent.

Health officials added 1,746 cases, which is up slightly from the 1,708 infections added a day earlier.

With 39,406 tests completed in the last 24 hours the province’s COVID-19 positivity rate stands at 4.6 per cent, the highest it’s been since last Wednesday. The number of tests processed is down considerably from the province’s daily testing goal of 50,000 which it exceeded for three straight days prior. 

Monday’s report brings the total number of COVID-19 infections in Ontario to 116,492, including deaths and recoveries.

Eight more deaths were recorded in the previous day pushing the province’s COVID-19 death toll to 3,656.

As well, 1,320 cases are now considered to be resolved by the ministry of health. At least 98,639 people who contracted COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic have since recovered.

Most of the cases added Monday were found in people between the ages of 20 and 39. Those 645 lab-confirmed infections push the case total for that age group to 42,460, the most in the province.

Another 526 cases were reported in people between the ages of 40 and 59 while 234 cases were logged in people 19 years of age and younger.

At least 233 cases were documented in people between the ages of 60 and 79 and 106 cases were found in those 80 years of age and older.  

Toronto reports record number of cases, Windsor-Essex moves to ‘red zone’

A record 622 cases were reported in Toronto , one of two areas currently observing the lockdown measures of the province’s COVID-19 framework.

Peel Region is also under lockdown and reported 390 new cases.

York and Durham regions both reported new case numbers in the triple digits and are currently in the province’s “red zone,” which places a cap on indoor gatherings and non-essential activities.

The City of Hamilton, Halton and Waterloo are also observing the same restrictions and all reported new case numbers in the double digits.

Windsor-Essex reporter 38 new cases and moved into the “red zone” earlier this morning.

There are currently 618 patients in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19. Of those, 168 are being treated in an intensive care unit and 108 are on a ventilator.

Some 39,000 COVID-19 tests remain under investigation.

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