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Trudeau urges Canadians to take first vaccine they're offered, says 'the science is evolving' – National Post

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Public health officers across Canada suspended the use of the Astrazeneca vaccine in people under the age of 55 just as 1.5 million doses arrived in the country

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OTTAWA —Just as 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Canada Tuesday new guidelines will restrict the number of people who can take it, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to trust the science and accept the first vaccine they are offered.

Public health officers across the country suspended the use of the Astrazeneca vaccine in people under the age of 55 over concerns the vaccine might cause rare, but serious and potentially fatal blood clots. Canada has already received 500,000 doses of the vaccine and a further 1.5 million were on route from the United States on Tuesday.

The American doses are to be sent to provinces this week after a few regulatory hurdles are worked out. A further 1.5 million doses of the vaccine manufactured in India are due before mid-May, and the government has a further 18.5 million doses on order.

The clots have been recorded in only a few dozen patients in Europe, even while millions of doses have been administered, but the evidence suggests younger people are at higher risk of the clots, while at relatively lower risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

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Trudeau said he understands Canadians’ confusion, but health officials are being prudent and cautious.

“I understand how challenging this can be for Canadians. The science is evolving as we get more and more data experts are refining and shifting their recommendations,” he said.

  1. People line up at a COVID-19 vaccination centre in London, Ont.

    Canadians much less trusting of AstraZeneca than other COVID-19 vaccines: poll

  2. A vial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

    Provinces suspend AstraZeneca shots for people under 55 after advice from national panel

He stressed Canadians who are eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine should take it because the risk of COVID-19 is far greater.

“The bottom line for Canadians is the right vaccine for you to take is the very first vaccine that you are offered.”

The evidence on the clots is still scattered, with some studies assessing the risk at one in a million cases, while more recent studies put it at one in 100,000 cases. The United Kingdom has rolled out millions of doses of the vaccine and has had no significant issues with blood clots.

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Dr. Menaka Pai, a specialist in blood clotting disorders and associate professor at McMaster University, said the pause is the right call so more research can be collected.

“We are dealing with information that’s coming in fast and furious. We do have reports from the EU that are being constantly updated,” she said. “Even though that risk is rare, these are very serious clots, and we’re in the process of learning more about how to best diagnose and treat them.”

While the clots have been rare, in 40 per cent of cases they have been fatal and Pai said that has to scrutinized.

“They’re causing not just blood clots, but very aggressive blood clots, blood clots in unusual locations.”

The change in AstraZeneca’s use came from three separate government agencies on Monday.

Health Canada demanded the company pull more data on these potential clots in Canada broken down by age, but did not change the vaccine’s authorization to limit age groups. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI) recommended it be excluded for people under 55 and provincial public health officers acting as a group decided to follow that advice.

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This is the second change to AstraZeneca’s use: NACI initially suggested it should not be used in seniors because of a lack of data. NACI later reversed that decision when more information came in.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said as confusing as it might be, each part of the vaccine process is important.

“I think you’ve seen that at play (Monday) to take the precautionary approach to keep Canadians as safe as possible while offering a safe and effective vaccine,” she said.

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease expert at McMaster University, said the one in 100,000 risk might seem remote, but that’s a broad sampling with all age groups involved. Most of the people who have experienced the clots have been younger women and Chagla said given there are other vaccines it makes sense to be cautious.

“We know we seem to have a population that seems to be at higher risk where we could offer them an alternative,” he said.

The bottom line for Canadians is the right vaccine for you to take is the very first vaccine that you are offered

On alternatives, Trudeau announced that Pfizer had agreed to move up five million doses of its vaccine, originally scheduled for later this summer into the first quarter, which would see the country have nearly 40 million doses before Canada Day, not including the AstraZeneca doses that are still arriving.

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In addition to that total, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Tuesday she expects the first shipments of 10 million Johnson and Johnson vaccines to arrive in April. The J&J vaccine is easier to store and requires only one dose.

Chagla said more data will likely be available in just a few weeks and it will help clarify the risk of the vaccine, but he said the government will have a difficult time changing minds now on the vaccine, especially with two candidates in Pfizer and Moderna that are effective.

“I do think we’re probably not going to use all 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine because I think there’s just so much hesitancy now built in,” he said.

• Email: rtumilty@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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Canadian Business During the Pandemic

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In 2019 the world was hit by the covid 19 pandemic and ever since then people have been suffering in different ways. Usually, economies and businesses have changed the way they work and do business. Most of which are going towards online and automation.

The people most effected by this are the laymen that used to work hard labors to make money for there families. But other then them it has been hard for most business to make such switch. Those of whom got on the online/ e commerce band wagon quickly were out of trouble and into the safe zone but not everyone is mace for the high-speed online world and are thus suffering.

More than 200,000 Canadian businesses could close permanently during the COVID-19 crisis, throwing millions of people out of work as the resurgence of the virus worsens across much of the country, according to new research. You can only imagine how many families these businesses were feeding, not to mention the impact the economy and the GDP is going to bear.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said one in six, or about 181,000, Canadian small business owners are now seriously contemplating shutting down. The latest figures, based on a survey of its members done between Jan. 12 and 16, come on top of 58,000 businesses that became inactive in 2020.

An estimate by the CFIB last summer said one in seven or 158,000 businesses were at risk of going under as a result of the pandemic. Based on the organization’s updated forecast, more than 2.4 million people could be out of work. A staggering 20 per cent of private sector jobs.

Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s senior director of national research, said it was an alarming increase in the number of businesses that are considering closing.

We are not headed in the right direction, and each week that passes without improvement on the business front pushes more owners to make that final decision,”

He said in a statement.

The more businesses that disappear, the more jobs we will lose, and the harder it will be for the economy to recover.

In total, one in five businesses are at risk of permanent closure by the end of the pandemic, the organization said.

The new sad research shows that this year has been horrible for the Canadian businesses.

 

The beginning of 2021 feels more like the fifth quarter of 2020 than a new year,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the CFIB, in a statement.

She called on governments to help small businesses “replace subsidies with sales” by introducing safe pathways to reopen to businesses.

There’s a lot at stake now from jobs, to tax revenue to support for local soccer teams,”

Jones said.

Let’s make 2021 the year we help small business survive and then get back to thriving.”

The whole world has suffered a lot from the pandemic and the Canadian economy has been no stranger to it. We can only pray that the world gets rid of this pandemic quickly and everything become as it used to be. Although I think it is about time, we start setting new norms.

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Shopify shares edge up after falling on executive departures

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By Chavi Mehta

(Reuters) -Shopify Inc shares edged higher on Thursday, recovering partially from the previous day’s fall, with analysts saying the news of planned senior executive departures may have limited impact due to the company’s deep talent pool.

Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday the company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all leave their roles.

“We remain confident it (Shopify) can continue to execute at a high level, despite the departures,” Tom Forte, analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co said, pointing to the company’s “deep bench of talented executives.”

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the past year as many businesses went virtual during the COVID-19 lockdowns, turning it into Canada‘s most valuable company.

Shopify declined to comment further on Lutke’s statement suggesting current company leaders would step in to fill the three roles. After chief product officer Craig Miller left in September, Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

The Ottawa-based company is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

Jonathan Kees, analyst at Summit Insights Group, called the timing of the departures “a little alarming” but said the specific roles make it less concerning, given that the executives leaving are “more back-office roles.”

Lutke said each one of them had their individual reasons to leave, without giving details.

“I am willing to give Tobi’s explanation the benefit of the doubt,” Kees added.

Toronto-listed shares of Shopify were up 3.5% at C$1526.41 on Thursday, giving it a market value of C$188 billion ($150 billion). It ended down 5.1% on Wednesday.

“While we would refer to the departure of three high-level executives as ‘significant,’ we would not refer to it as a ‘brain drain,'” Forte added.

($1 = 1.2541 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Dan Grebler)

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Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company: CEO

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By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) – Three of e-commerce platform Shopify’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, chief executive officer and founder of Canada‘s most valuable company Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all transition out of their roles, Lutke said, adding that they have been “spectacular and deserve to take a bow.”

“Each one of them has their individual reasons but what was unanimous with all three was that this was the best for them and the best for Shopify,” he said.

The trio follow the departure of Craig Miller, chief product officer, in September. Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the last year as many businesses went virtual during COVID-19 lockdowns. It has a market cap valuation of C$182.7 billion ($146 billion), above Canada‘s top lender Royal Bank of Canada.

It is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

“We have a phenomenally strong bench of leaders who will now step up into larger roles,” Lutke said, but did not name replacements.

Shopify said in February revenue growth would slow this year as vaccine rollouts encourage people to return to stores and warned it does not expect 2020’s near doubling of gross merchandise volume, an industry metric to measure transaction volumes, to repeat this year.

Chief talent officer, Brittany Forsyth, was the 22nd employee hired at Shopify and has been with the company for 11 years. She said on Twitter that post-Shopify she would be focusing on Backbone Angels, an all-female collective of angel investors she co-founded in March.

Shopify shares fell 5.1% while the benchmark Canadian share index ended marginally down.

($1 = 1.2515 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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