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What we know about the potential coronavirus vaccine about to be tested on Canadians – CTV News

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TORONTO —
A potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus that has seen promising results in early tests in China is about to start a new round of human trials — this time in Canada.

Here’s what we know about the vaccine Canadians will soon be testing.

WHAT IS THE VACCINE?

It is referred to as Ad5-nCoV and was developed by CanSino Biologics Inc. with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. It was one of the first vaccine trials to be approved, gaining permission to carry out trials in China on March 16.

The vaccine is genetically altered from an adenovirus, which are different viruses than coronaviruses. Ad5-nCoV replicates the spike proteins on SARS-CoV-2 — the novel coronavirus that causes the disease known as COVID-19 — which SARS-CoV-2 uses to latch onto human cells.

Theoretically, this means that the human body, once injected with Ad5-nCoV, can start to develop antibodies that will be able to fight SARS-CoV-2.

Health Canada announced on May 16 that it had approved a clinical trial for the vaccine in Canada.

Trials of Ad5-nCoV will be run by the Canadian Center for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

IS THE VACCINE SAFE FOR HUMANS?

Preliminary results from the trials in China indicate that it is.

A study published May 22 in the Lancet described an early trial of Ad5-nCoV in Wuhan with 108 adults. According to the paper, there were some side effects — including pain when injected, fever, fatigue and headache — but they were described as mild or moderate.

After 28 days of being injected with the vaccine candidate, those in the trial had started to produce antibodies, and there was a response in T-cells, which protect the body from pathogens.

More trials are already underway in China to follow up on these results. Phase two of their trials is placebo-controlled and randomized, and involves 500 adults, including some over the age of 60.

HOW WILL THE CANADIAN TRIALS WORK?

Dr. Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology, told CTV News on May 17 that the trial in Halifax will have three phases.

The first phase, which will require around 100 volunteer participants, will be focused on measuring the vaccine’s effect on the human body itself — essentially, whether there are any side effects that would make it unsafe. The volunteers in this stage will be between 18 and 55 years of age, and will be tracked over a six month period to monitor their progress.

In order to speed up the vaccine testing process, researchers will not wait for the entire six months of the first phase to be over before they begin the second phase, as long as the preliminary data suggests the vaccine is safe for humans.

Although the data from CanSino Biologic’s first trial in China suggests that the vaccine is safe for humans, it doesn’t mean we can skip that step in Canada. By repeating trials in different countries, it adds more evidence of the safety and efficacy of a potential vaccine.

Halperin said that testing a vaccine can usually take years. But in the middle of a pandemic, that’s not something anyone wants to hear. So Halperin’s team will be carrying out tests “in a more accelerated fashion, without sacrificing any safety,” he said.

The second phase of the trial will include around 500 volunteers, and researchers will be looking not only for side effects, but for whether the vaccine promotes the development of antibodies.

In the third and final stage, thousands of volunteers will either take the vaccine or a placebo vaccine in order to test whether the group who took the real vaccine are protected against contracting COVID-19.

WHEN COULD THE PUBLIC RECEIVE THE VACCINE, IF IT WORKS?

We don’t know. Experts say it could still be 12 to 18 months, even moving as fast as researchers are.

But the good news is that CanSino Biologic’s partnership with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) should guarantee a Canadian supply if the vaccine proves officially viable for mass production, according to Dr. Joanne Langley of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology.

“We’ll likely be producing the vaccine on Canadian soil so it gives us security of supply,” Langley told The Canadian Press May 22.

The federal government announced May 12 that they are putting $44 million into funding to upgrade NRC’s Montreal facilities to ensure that the facility is ready to manufacture vaccines when necessary.

More than 100 pre-clinical trials are underway to test other vaccine possibilites, and a handful of others are already in human trials.

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London-Middlesex may enter Stage 3 of reopening near the end of July: MLHU – Globalnews.ca

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London-Middlesex is on its way to enter Stage 3 of Ontario’s novel coronavirus reopening plan, according to London’s chief medical officer of health.

Dr. Chris Mackie said Monday that he’s hopeful the region will be given the green light to move ahead with the province’s reopening plan within the next few weeks.

“I think (we) could see a move to Stage 3 over the next two to three weeks. I would not be surprised at all to see that,” said Mackie.

Read more:
Dr. Chris Mackie no longer CEO amid management changes at Middlesex-London Health Unit

“I also think that it’s likely the province will choose to do a regional approach as they did with the Stage 2 reopening.”

Mackie also commented on Leamington and Kingsville in Essex county entering Stage 2 as of Tuesday, saying it is a sign that “this region is really getting COVID-19 under control.”

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According to the Province of Ontario, in Stage 3 the province will consider opening more workplaces, dine-in restaurants, and indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, including playgrounds.

Read more:
154 new coronavirus cases, 0 deaths in Ontario; total cases at 35,948

Casinos, fitness facilities and amusement parks are also on the list, all with added public health measures in place.

London-Middlesex has not seen any new cases of COVID-19 for two days in a row. The last reported death in the region related to the virus was June 12.

As of Monday, there are 630 confirmed cases in the region, which includes 57 deaths and 515 recoveries.






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Coronavirus: Ontario health minister says there’s ‘hope’ for move to stage 3 soon


Coronavirus: Ontario health minister says there’s ‘hope’ for move to stage 3 soon

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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VCH warns of COVID-19 exposure at Downtown Vancouver club – Vancouver Is Awesome

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Vancouver Coastal Health is notifying people who visited the bar and nightclub areas of the Hotel Belmont about a possible exposure to COVID-19 during the nights of Monday, June 27 and Wednesday, June 29.

In a release, VCH states that individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 attended these areas of the Hotel Belmont (654 Nelson Street) on those dates.

However, the health authority adds that there is no known risk to anyone who attended the Hotel Belmont outside these two dates. In addition, there is no ongoing risk to the community.

As a precaution, VCH advises people who attended the bar and nightclub areas of the Hotel Belmont during the nights of Monday, June 27 and Wednesday, June 29 to monitor themselves for 14 days. As long as they remain healthy and do not develop symptoms, there is no need to self-isolate and they should continue with their usual daily activities.

If you have no symptoms, testing is not recommended because it is not accurate or useful. If you develop any of these symptoms of COVID-19, please seek COVID-19 testing and immediately self-isolate. Please call ahead and wear a mask when seeking testing. 

In June, VCH warned of a possible exposure to COVID-19 to people who were at Brandi’s Exotic Show Lounge between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. from June 21 to 24. It says a number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 attended the lounge on those dates. However, the club has since passed a health inspection and reopened. 

COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets when a person who is sick coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread when a healthy person touches an object or surface (e.g. a doorknob or a table) with the virus on it, and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands. Most people who get COVID-19 have only mild disease, but a few people can get very sick and may need to go to hospital. The symptoms of COVID-19 may include fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, runny nose, sore throat loss of smell and/or diarrhea.

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Scientists warn of overlooked danger from coronavirus-spreading airborne microdroplets – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Physical distancing and frequent handwashing are not enough to fully protect against airborne transmission of the novel coronavirus, hundreds of scientists say.

Virus-carrying microdroplets pose more of a danger than is currently being communicated, the scientists argue in a new medical commentary, and the result is that poor ventilation is easing the path of the pandemic.

The commentary has been accepted for publication in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. It is signed by 239 scientists from 32 countries and a wide variety of science and engineering disciplines, according to a statement from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia.

“We are concerned that people may think they are fully protected by following the current recommendations, but in fact, additional airborne precautions are needed to further reduce the spread of the virus,” lead author and QUT air quality expert Lidia Morawska said in the statement.

MICRODROPLETS EXPLAINED

It is not controversial to say that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread through exhaled airborne droplets. This is why physical distancing was one of the earliest individual measures urged to stop the spread of the virus, because putting space between people allows for particles to fall to the ground rather than latch on to another person.

It is also normal for viruses to be passed through droplets. Measles, for example, has an airborne transmission pathway that poses far more of a danger than has thus far been found with COVID-19.

“I can be in a room with measles, and leave, and somebody walks in hours later and they can get measles,” Dr. Sumon Chakrabati, an infectious diseases physician based in Missisauga, Ont., said Monday on CTV News Channel.

The World Health Organization says the droplets that carry SARS-CoV-2 can be spread through actions including coughing, sneezing and speaking, and recommends that everyone keep a one-metre distance from others. Many countries, including Canada, have gone farther, recommending a distance of two metres.

However, there are signs that the smallest microdroplets can travel beyond the two-metre limit. One American study found that they can move three metres in 12 seconds, and a fourth metre as they linger in the air for up to a minute. Morawska said that there is significant evidence that microdroplets can travel even farther – into the tens of metres – especially when indoors.

“Studies by the signatories and other scientists have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are exhaled in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air and pose a risk of exposure beyond [one to two metres] by an infected person,” she said.

“Hand-washing and social distancing are appropriate, but … insufficient to provide protection from virus-carrying respiratory microdroplets released into the air by infected people.”

‘IS THERE A DANGER THERE?’

Advice from public health experts in Canada and elsewhere has largely downplayed the risk of airborne transmission of the virus, even as evidence mounts that it is a real threat. In one study cited in the commentary as an example, droplets were found to be the most likely source of transmission among three dining parties at a restaurant in China, in a case where surveillance video footage showed no direct or indirect contact between the groups.

The debate over droplets has been playing out since the pandemic took hold. Dr. Colin Furness, a Toronto-based infection control epidemiologist, described it as “a pretty serious fight, intellectually,” but said the commentary is unlikely to lead to significant changes in virus protection thinking.

“The concern is ‘Are we ignoring those small droplets? Is there a danger there? Are our interventions maybe not enough?'” he said Monday on CTV News Channel.

“It could be that a smaller dose, those smaller droplets, actually matter for [COVID-19] because it’s so good at getting a toehold in your body once it gets in there.”

In Chakrabati’s view, the possibility of airborne transmission is overshadowed by the evidence that Canada and other countries have been able to slow the spread of the virus with the current precautions and restrictions.

“Are there situations where the two metres is a bit too little, for example a karaoke bar or a choir, where you’re singing and your voice is propelling? Perhaps,” he said.

“But I think for the most part, the recommendations that have been there since the beginning are the ones that are truly preventing the spread of this virus.”

REDUCING THE RISK

Morawska said that effective ventilation systems are the best way to reduce the spread of microdroplets. She said the most effective systems minimize the use of recirculated air by bringing in as much clean air from outdoors as possible, and that even opening doors and windows can make a major difference.

These ventilation techniques can be augmented with the use of air filtration and exhaust devices, as well as ultraviolet (UV) lights that kill germs. Another way to lessen the risk of microdroplet transmission is to avoid situations of overcrowding, especially on public transport and in public buildings, Morawka said.

Furness agreed with the suggestion to use UV lights in air filtration systems, saying that there could be a “renaissance” in this practice because the light can be effective against the virus in a way that physical filters cannot.

“I think we will probably see a resurgence in the use of UV light within air circulation systems, because UV light will kill viruses and it doesn’t really matter how small they are,” he said.

Face masks do not play a role in protecting against microdroplets, Furness said, because the droplets are so small that they can fit through the holes in most masks.

“If we were really concerned about aerosol, if we were really concerned about airborne, we would also be finding that wearing face coverings typically didn’t have that much of an effect – but the evidence says that they do,” he said.

“It’s not that we dramatically need to change what we are doing, it’s a question of trying to better understand our adversary and better understand what some of those risks may be.”

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