The first COVID-19 vaccine tested in the U.S. revved up people’s immune systems just the way scientists had hoped, researchers reported Tuesday — as the shots are poised to begin key final testing.
“No matter how you slice this, this is good news,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press.
The experimental vaccine, developed by Fauci’s colleagues at the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., will start its most important step around July 27: A 30,000-person study to prove if the shots really are strong enough to protect against the coronavirus.
But Tuesday, researchers reported anxiously awaited findings from the first 45 volunteers who rolled up their sleeves back in March. Sure enough, the vaccine provided a hoped-for immune boost.
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Those early volunteers developed what are called neutralizing antibodies in their bloodstream — molecules key to blocking infection — at levels comparable to those found in people who survived COVID-19, the research team reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“This is an essential building block that is needed to move forward with the trials that could actually determine whether the vaccine does protect against infection,” said Dr. Lisa Jackson of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle, who led the study.
There’s no guarantee but the government hopes to have results around the end of the year — record-setting speed for developing a vaccine.
The vaccine requires two doses, a month apart.
There were no serious side effects. But more than half the study participants reported flu-like reactions to the shots that aren’t uncommon with other vaccines — fatigue, headache, chills, fever and pain at the injection site. For three participants given the highest dose, those reactions were more severe; that dose isn’t being pursued.
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Some of those reactions are similar to coronavirus symptoms but they’re temporary, lasting about a day and occur right after vaccination, researchers noted.
“Small price to pay for protection against COVID,” said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, a vaccine expert who wasn’t involved with the study.
He called the early results “a good first step,” and is optimistic that final testing could deliver answers about whether it’s really safe and effective by the beginning of next year.
“It would be wonderful. But that assumes everything’s working right on schedule,” Schaffner cautioned.
Moderna’s share price jumped nearly 15 percent in trading after U.S. markets closed. Shares of the company, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have nearly quadrupled this year.
Tuesday’s results only included younger adults. The first-step testing later was expanded to include dozens of older adults, the age group most at risk from COVID-19. Those results aren’t public yet but regulators are evaluating them. Fauci said final testing will include older adults, as well as people with chronic health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus — and Black and Latino populations likewise affected.
Coronavirus: ‘No guarantee’ safe COVID-19 vaccine will be made, Fauci says
Nearly two dozen possible COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of testing around the world. Candidates from China and Britain’s Oxford University also are entering final testing stages.
The 30,000-person study will mark the world’s largest study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine so far. And the NIH-developed shot isn’t the only one set for such massive U.S. testing, crucial to spot rare side effects. The government plans similar large studies of the Oxford candidate and another by Johnson & Johnson; separately, Pfizer Inc. is planning its own huge study.
Already, people can start signing up to volunteer for the different studies.
People think “this is a race for one winner. Me, I’m cheering every one of them on,” said Fauci, who directs NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We need multiple vaccines. We need vaccines for the world, not only for our own country.”
Around the world, governments are investing in stockpiles of hundreds of millions of doses of the different candidates, in hopes of speedily starting inoculations if any are proven to work.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
RBC beats Q4 expectations as capital markets profit soars 44% – BNN
Royal Bank of Canada surpassed profit expectations in the fourth quarter amid a surge in earnings from its trading and investment banking operations that helped mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the lender’s other branches.
The bank’s total net income inched up one per cent year-over-year to $3.25 billion in the three months ending Oct. 31. On an adjusted basis, RBC said Wednesday it earned $2.27 per share. Analysts, on average, were expecting $2.04 in profit per share. For the year, RBC’s net income fell 11 per cent to $11.44 billion.
The clear-cut star performer in the quarter was RBC’s capital markets division, where profit soared 44 per cent to $840 million. In a release, RBC attributed the growth to favourable market conditions and an increase in debt and equity offerings that boosted its investment banking team.
Credit quality also improved for RBC in the quarter, as the bank set aside $427 million for loans that could go bad, compared to $675 million in the prior quarter and $499 million in provisions a year earlier.
“While RBC came in ahead of consensus expectations, the amount can be chalked up to lower than expected provisions for credit losses,” wrote Barclays Capital Analyst John Aiken in a report to clients.
“While we do not believe that the beat, driven by provisions, will generate much outperformance, there is very little to complain about in RBC’s earnings and we believe that the fourth-quarter’s results more than justify supporting its valuation,” added Aiken, who has an overweight rating on RBC’s shares, with a $112.00 per-share price target.
RBC’s core personal and commercial (P&C) banking operations saw profit fall seven per cent to $1.5 billion in the quarter. Similar to the banks that reported on Tuesday, RBC noted the impact of lower interest rates as central banks have attempted to cushion the economic blow from the pandemic by easing borrowing costs. Higher technology costs also weighed on RBC’s P&C earnings in the period.
Profit from wealth management was down 25 per cent year-over-year, mostly due to a substantial gain from an asset sale that boosted the division a year earlier.
“Looking ahead, while it is difficult to predict how the coming year will unfold, RBC has the strength, stability and operational resilience to face a range of scenarios, and to continue creating long-term sustainable value,” said RBC CEO Dave McKay in a release.
Ontario premier returns to Queen's Park to make announcement – CTV Toronto
Premier Doug Ford is expected to make an announcement at Queen’s Park today.
Ford returns today after he had to cancel his attendance at an announcement in Brampton, Ont. last minute on Tuesday due to an “unexpected, but non-COVID-related, non-urgent, medical appointment.”
On Tuesday, Health Minister Christine Elliott led the news conference in Ford’s place, and announced that officials planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario are now speaking directly with the manufacturers of seven different candidate vaccines.
Speaking with reporters after touring a Brampton warehouse belonging to the pharmaceutical distribution company McKesson on Tuesday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that efforts are underway to make sure that Ontario will be in a position to distribute vaccines as of Dec. 31.
“We know this is going to be the largest logistical undertaking that we have had in Ontario in a generation,” she said. “We have to get this vaccine to every corner of this province. It is no small feat and we know we cannot do it alone.
Several of the companies, including Pfizer and Moderna Inc., have already applied for emergency use authorization in the United States but they will need to have their vaccines approved by Health Canada before they can be distributed.
British officials authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Wednesday, marking the world’s first science-backed shot against the disease.
Health Minister Christine Elliott will join the premier for the announcement Wednesday afternoon.
CTV News Toronto will livestream the announcement at 1 p.m.
With files from CTV News Toronto’s Katherine DeClerq
Ontario premier and minister of health to make announcement from Queen's Park – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Health Christine Elliott are set to make an announcement from Queen’s Park Wednesday afternoon.
At a press conference on Tuesday Elliott confirmed that the province is speaking directly with the manufacturers of seven different COVID-19 vaccine candidates to ensure that Ontario will be able to distribute vaccines as of Dec. 31.
Elliott said the rollout of the vaccine will be “the largest logistical undertaking” the province has faced “in a generation.”
“As of yesterday we started speaking with vaccine manufacturers, including AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Jansen, Moderna, GSK and Sanofi. This is absolutely critical for planning,” Elliott said. “We are also working with distribution experts like McKesson and Shoppers Drug Mart who not only have the warehouse capacity for vaccines like this but also know how to get these vaccines to their networks, including hospitals and other frontline care providers.”
Elliott has previously said that Ontario expects to receive a combined 2.4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by March, which would be enough to vaccinate 1.2 million Ontarians. But the federal government has not confirmed that number.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did say that the first doses of the vaccines would arrive in Canada in the first quarter of 2021 and that the majority of Canadians would likely be vaccinated by next September.
Trudeau also acknowledged that Canada may ultimately trail behind the U.S. and the United Kingdom in the rollout of vaccines as Health Canada still needs to approve them before they can be distributed.
On Wednesday, British officials were the first worldwide to authorize Pfizer and BioNtech’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.
Pfizer said it will immediately start shipping out the vaccine and the British government said it will start inoculating residents as early as next week.
CP24.com will carry Ford’s announcement live at 1 p.m.
RBC beats Q4 expectations as capital markets profit soars 44% – BNN
The real reason more women should be in politics – TVO
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