The federal government is diverting portions of vaccine shipments from at least two provinces to help supply Canada’s north.
Provincial health officials in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick both said Friday that some doses planned for their provinces would instead go to Canada’s northern territories.
“While we know this is concerning to hear, we also understand the federal government’s rationale,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference Friday.
“It is to address the complexities and unique challenges in our northern neighbours. To do that, they need the support and co-operation of all provinces.”
Nova Scotia’s shipment of Moderna vaccine next week will be reduced to 3,000 doses from the planned 5,900 doses, Strang said. He said he also expects the province’s March shipment to be reduced.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said the provinces agreed in December that Moderna vaccines would be used to help deal with supply issues in northern Canada, since the storage requirements of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would make it difficult to transport and store in the north. The Pfizer vaccines must be stored between –60 C and –80 C.
Later Friday evening, New Brunswick Public Health said that province will also have some of its supply diverted to northern Canada, but it could not yet say how many doses will be diverted or when.
Diversion may be a first in Canada
This could be the first time the federal government has diverted vaccine supply destined for one province or territory to another. CBC News has contacted Health Canada for confirmation and will update the story once we receive a response.
But late last month, the military commander leading Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine logistics said Ottawa was not considering diversion of any vaccines.
“We have not considered shifting doses from one province or one jurisdiction to another at this time,” said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin during a news conference on Jan. 28. “I think it would be counterproductive to do that in the midst of our immunization plan.
“What we could anticipate being prepared to do is adjust based on per-capita distribution at the locations that require the most future shipments long enough out for provinces to plan accordingly.”
The Moderna vaccine is being used in Nova Scotia’s long-term care homes. Strang said while the diversion of the vaccine to the territories will slow down the vaccination rollout in long-term care homes, it will not affect the planned second doses for those who have already received one shot. Nova Scotia has held back a second dose for each person vaccinated so far.
Strang also said the province is exploring the possibility of using some Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in long-term care homes, although that vaccine’s ultra-cold storage requirements may make that tricky.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that Canada will receive more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine between April and June than originally believed, and the federal government has agreed to purchase four million extra doses of the Moderna vaccine.
Strang said he expects the amount of Pfizer product shipped to Nova Scotia will “substantively increase” in the coming weeks.
“But we have to be a little bit careful because until we get actual confirmed numbers, we don’t want to count our chickens before the eggs hatch,” he said.
“It’s good news, but we don’t have absolute guarantee of those amounts. So we’ll plan for it and be ready to get whatever vaccine we get.”
Concerns about variants
Strang said staff are re-examining Nova Scotia’s two recent cases of the COVID-19 variant originally identified in the U.K. The initial investigation into those cases did not determine the source of the infections, so all the close contacts of those two people are now being re-interviewed and retested.
There is no evidence of community spread of COVID-19 variants in Nova Scotia, Strang said.
“We’re using this retesting to be extra careful to make sure we haven’t missed anything. But I have to reiterate that if you look around the world, and even in Canada, when the variant shows up, it’s very obvious in terms of large numbers of people spreading very rapidly. We’re not seeing that.”
Strang said Newfoundland’s explosion of cases in the last few days — which has been attributed to social gatherings and sports tournaments, including a volleyball tournament that involved teams from across St. John’s — underscores why Nova Scotians must “stay the course” and be vigilant.
9 active cases in N.S.
Nova Scotia now has nine active cases, with no new cases reported on Friday. One person is in hospital in the intensive care unit (ICU).
There were 1,999 tests conducted on Thursday, and 1,006 tests administered between Feb. 5 and 11 at pop-up rapid testing sites in Amherst, Cole Harbour, Halifax and Tantallon.
On Thursday, the province’s health authority reported a new potential exposure notice and corrected an earlier one. The new exposure was at the Sobeys at 210 Wyse Rd. in Dartmouth on Feb. 1 from 4 to 8 p.m AT. Anyone exposed then could get symptoms up to Feb. 15, it said.
Public Health also said it had given the wrong date when it asked people to get retested over a Halifax exposure location. The correct exposure date for HomeSense Bayers Lake at 9 Washmill Ct., is Jan. 23 between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Anyone who was in the store then should self-isolate and book a COVID-19 test on the self-assessment website or by contacting 811, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
- New Brunswick reported five new cases Friday. There are now 156 known active cases in the province. Six people are in hospital, two in intensive care.
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported 50 new COVID-19 cases Friday as the province confronts a spiralling outbreak in the St. John’s area.
- P.E.I. has two active cases.
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery – CTV News
The federal government hopes to start receiving doses of AstraZeneca’s recently approved COVID-19 vaccine this week as the flood of shots that flowed into Canada from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna last week partially subsides.
Health Canada announced on Friday that it had approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third COVID-19 shot to have received regulatory approval since the start of the pandemic.
Canada has ordered 24 million doses of the vaccine, with the majority to be delivered from the United States between April and September.
But two million jabs have been ordered from the Serum Institute of India, and Verity Pharmaceuticals, which is facilitating the institute’s application in Canada, has said the first 500,000 would reach Canadian shores this week.
A senior government official told The Canadian Press on background Sunday that the first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday, though the shipment has not been confirmed.
Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, also told the CBC on Sunday that the regulator had received additional information over the weekend from Johnson and Johnson, which is seeking approval for its own vaccine. Regulators in the U.S. gave it the green light over the weekend.
Sharma said Health Canada is hoping to approve Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in “the next couple of weeks,” but added any decision is contingent on the information presented by the company.
As it stands now, the Public Health Agency of Canada is currently only expecting delivery of about 445,000 vaccine doses this week, which is about 200,000 less than last week’s record high of 640,000 doses in a seven-day period.
The confirmed doses are all coming from Pfizer-BioNTech, as the two companies settle into a rhythm following a month-long delivery lull in January and much of February due to production upgrades in Europe. The pharmaceutical giants have pledged to deliver 4 million doses by the end of March.
Canada received 168,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine last week, but the company only delivers every three weeks.
Clinical trials showed the AstraZeneca vaccine to be less effective at preventing infection than the other two, but it is still keeping people from getting very sick or dying, Sharma said Friday.
Pfizer and Moderna both reported their products were 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in immunized patients compared to those who received a placebo. Efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine is believed to be around 62 per cent.
It’s not entirely clear yet how provinces and territories will incorporate the AstraZeneca vaccine into their inoculation efforts, but the product offers a more flexible option since shots can be shipped and stored in refrigerators rather than freezers.
AstraZeneca vaccines are to be given in two doses between four and 12 weeks apart. Sharma said there is some indication that waiting longer for a follow-up jab leads to a better response, but that data is not yet complete.
There have been some concerns raised about the AstraZeneca vaccine in recent weeks, including its effectiveness against virus variants of concern and whether there is enough data to show it works on older recipients.
Several European countries, including Germany and France, limited AstraZeneca’s vaccine to residents under the age of 65.
Sharma said there were a limited number of people over 65 involved in the clinical trials, but that data, coupled with the real-world experience in the United Kingdom, shows strong evidence seniors are protected.
Canada’s vaccine program is ramping up after the lengthy slowdown in deliveries.
More than 300,000 people were vaccinated in the last week, almost one-fifth of the total doses injected since the first immunizations began Dec. 14.
About 700,000 people had received one dose as of Friday afternoon, and more than 500,000 are now fully vaccinated with two doses.
Quebec is set to expand its vaccination effort to the general public on Monday by allowing seniors 85 or older to begin booking appointments. The age threshold has been lowered to 80 for seniors in the Montreal area.
The AstraZeneca vaccine works differently than the other two already in use in Canada.
Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna use messenger RNA technology, using RNA encoded with the piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus known as the spike protein. The mRNA trains the body to fight off a COVID-19 infection.
AstraZeneca is a viral vector vaccine, which takes a cold virus, modifies it so it can’t reproduce itself, and adds the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. When injected, it too provokes the body to develop infection-fighting antibodies and cells to combat the virus.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Monday, March 1 – CBC.ca
What’s the latest?
Details of how to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment and where to go for that vaccine in Ottawa should be released today. Vaccines for those over age 80 in specific Ottawa neighbourhoods begin Friday.
Ontario’s website for booking COVID-19 vaccination appointments will begin a “soft launch” in six public health units this week, three of them in eastern Ontario. The wide launch is expected March 15.
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How many cases are there?
As of Sunday, 14,705 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. There are currently 504 known active cases, 13,762 resolved cases and 439 deaths.
Public health officials have reported more than 26,100 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 24,500 resolved cases.
Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 130 people have died of COVID-19, and 160 people have died in western Quebec.
Akwesasne has had more than 240 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and seven deaths. Kitigan Zibi has had 21 confirmed cases and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had six, with one death.
What can I do?
Restaurants, gyms, personal care services, theatres and non-essential businesses are open across eastern Ontario. Most sports can also resume.
Social gatherings can have up to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. Organized events can be larger.
People are asked to only have close contact with people they live with, be masked and distanced for all other in-person contact and only travel for essential reasons, especially between differently coloured zones.
Both Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and the EOHU are orange under the province’s colour-coded pandemic scale.
Renfrew County’s health unit has given multiple warnings that private gatherings are a problem and could cause stricter rules.
That area’s new curfew hours are 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m.
Like in Ontario, people are asked not to see anyone they don’t live with in person and travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged.
Distancing and isolating
This means it is important to take precautions now and in the months to come like staying home while symptomatic — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don’t live with, even with a mask on.
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OPH says residents should also wear masks outside their homes whenever possible.
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who’ve been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Quebec and Ontario; the latter recently updated its rules, including in schools.
Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get help with errands.
Symptoms and vaccines
COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children can develop a rash.
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
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About 81,700 doses have been given out since mid-December, including about 49,100 doses in Ottawa and 13,300 in western Quebec.
Ontario’s first doses generally went to care home residents and health-care workers. and it’s now expanding.
Ontarians who are eligible can book appointments online or over the phone starting March 15. Vaccines are expected to be widely available in August.
Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, so check with them for specifics.
More details on those logistics are expected today.
Reminder: we are currently using automated phone calls to contact Ottawa’s home-care patients in some higher-priority neighbourhoods who are soon able to get their vaccine.<br><br>If you get a call, kindly answer & follow the instructions. Thank you. <a href=”https://t.co/oVsPNDAhNU”>https://t.co/oVsPNDAhNU</a> <a href=”https://t.co/877neMALl3″>pic.twitter.com/877neMALl3</a>
Many eastern Ontario vaccine clinic locations are in the same communities as test sites and none are open yet for the general public.
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Quebec is giving a single dose to as many people as possible, starting with people in care homes and health-care workers.
It moves to older adults outside care homes starting March 10 in western Quebec’s six clinics, then essential workers and finally the general public. People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone.
Quebecers should get their second dose within 90 days.
Where to get tested
In eastern Ontario:
Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.
People without symptoms but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Casselman, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester.
People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or in Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred.
Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions.
In western Quebec:
Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.
There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki and Petite-Nation.
Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis:
Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who’s been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and now vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.
For more information
Key COVID-19 numbers in the Ottawa area today – CBC.ca
- Ottawa is reporting 55 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.
- Another 25 cases recorded in western Quebec.
Today’s Ottawa update
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) recorded 55 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday but zero deaths.
Another 39 cases have been classified as resolved.
Ottawa and communities under the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) are now in the orange alert level, with slightly more restrictive rules than the rest of eastern Ontario, which is green.
Numbers to watch
33.8: The weekly incidence rate, a rolling seven-day total of new COVID-19 cases expressed per 100,000 residents. The red zone threshold is 40.
.98: The number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t). Health officials consider the spread under control if it’s below one.
34: The number of outbreaks in Ottawa.
504: The number of known active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa. One month ago there were more than 1,200.
Across the region
In western Quebec, another 25 cases were reported on Sunday but no new deaths.
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