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What's safe after COVID-19 vaccination? Don't shed masks yet, CDC says – CTV News

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You’re fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — now what? Don’t expect to shed your mask and get back to normal activities right away.

That’s going to be a disappointment, if not a shock, to many people.

In Miami, 81-year-old Noemi Caraballo got her second dose on Tuesday and is looking forward to seeing friends, resuming fitness classes and running errands after nearly a year of being extremely cautious, even ordering groceries online.

“Her line is, `I’m tired of talking to the cats and the parrots,”‘ said her daughter Susan Caraballo. “She wants to do things and talk to people.”

But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t yet changed its guidelines: At least for now, people should follow the same rules as everybody else about wearing a mask, keeping a 6-foot distance and avoiding crowds — even after they’ve gotten their second vaccine dose.

Vaccines in use so far require two doses, and experts say especially don’t let your guard down after the first dose.

“You’re asking a very logical question,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, responded when a 91-year-old California woman recently asked if she and her vaccinated friends could resume their mah-jongg games.

In that webcast exchange, Fauci only could point to the CDC’s recommendations, which so far are mum about exceptions for vaccinated people getting together. “Hang on,” he told the woman, saying he expected updates to the guidelines as more people get the coveted shots.

What experts also need to learn: The vaccines are highly effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, especially severe illness and death — but no one yet knows how well they block spread of the coronavirus.

It’s great if the vaccine means someone who otherwise would have been hospitalized instead just has the sniffles, or even no symptoms. But “the looming question,” Fauci said during a White House coronavirus response briefing last week, is whether a person infected despite vaccination can still, unwittingly, infect someone else.

Studies are underway to find out, and hints are starting to emerge. Fauci pointed to recent research from Spain showing the more coronavirus an infected person harbours — what’s called the viral load — the more infectious they are. That’s not surprising, as it’s true with other illnesses.

Some preliminary findings from Israel have suggested people infected after the first vaccine dose, when they’re only partially protected, had smaller viral loads than unvaccinated people who got infected. That’s encouraging if the findings hold up. Israel has vaccinated a large fraction of its population and scientists worldwide are watching how the outbreak responds as those inoculations increase.

Also critical is tracking whether the vaccines protect against new, mutated versions of the virus that are spreading rapidly in some countries, added Dr. Walter Orenstein, an infectious disease expert at Emory University. He’s been vaccinated and is scrupulously following the CDC guidelines.

There are practical reasons. “It’s hard to tell who got vaccinated and who didn’t if you’re just walking around the grocery store,” noted University of Pennsylvania immunologist E. John Wherry.

And experts like Wherry get asked, repeatedly: Yes, there are rules for being in public, but what’s safe for Grandma to do at home, with family or close friends, after she’s vaccinated?

Not everyone’s immune system is boosted equally from vaccines — so someone with cancer or the frail elderly may not get as much protection as a robust 70-something.

But most people should feel “more confident about going shopping, for example, or going to see your grandkids, or giving your daughter a hug,” Wherry said.

That’s because the chances of a fully vaccinated person getting seriously ill, while not zero, are low.

“Friends coming over for dinner, we should still try to follow the guidelines,” Wherry added. “You never know who is compromised, where the vaccine may not work as well.”

What if the fully vaccinated are exposed to someone who’s infected? The CDC did recently ease those rules: No quarantine as long as the vaccinated person shows no symptoms and it’s been at least two weeks but not longer than three months since their second dose.

Getting on an airplane? Vaccinated or not, the CDC still urges essential travel only.

International travel is an even tougher prospect. Expect countries that already have different quarantine and test requirements to come up with varying post-vaccination guidelines — especially since multiple types of vaccines, some better proven than others, are used around the world. There’s also the concern about carrying those worrisome mutations from one country to another.

Stay tuned for updates to the advice as more people get vaccinated. Meanwhile, don’t underestimate how important it is for the vaccinated to feel less anxiety as they run errands or go to work while still following the public health measures, said Dr. Luciana Borio, a former Food and Drug Administration scientist.

Even with a trip to the grocery store, “there was always this anxiety about, ‘Was that the contact that’s going to make me infected?”‘ Borio said. “That is a very powerful change in one’s living situation.”

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Associated Press reporter Kelli Kennedy in Miami contributed to this report.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Credit Suisse stops custodian service for some U.S. cannabis stocks

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By Shariq Khan and Matt Scuffham

(Reuters) – Credit Suisse Group AG has told customers in recent months it will no longer execute transactions in shares of cannabis companies with U.S. operations or hold them on behalf of clients, a cannabis company executive and other industry sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

The Swiss lender was among a handful of banks that had been willing to buy and sell marijuana-related stocks for clients in the United States and hold those shares as a custodian.

Credit Suisse declined to comment.

Cannabis remains illegal under U.S. federal law, even though many states have legalized its use. This represents a legal risk for investment banks working for companies that produce or trade the drug.

Credit Suisse’s compliance and risk management procedures have come under scrutiny from investors and analysts after it lost at least $4.7 billion from the collapse of Archegos, an investment firm dedicated to managing the fortune of hedge fund veteran Bill Hwang, as well as the suspension of funds linked to insolvent supply chain finance company Greensill.

The MSOS exchange-traded fund, which tracks U.S. marijuana stocks, has fallen by more than a fifth since early February. Several market players said they believed Credit Suisse’s actions played a role in the selloff.

“(When) Credit Suisse pulled custodian (services) on cannabis stocks, a number of large investors in the space lost their ability to custodian the stocks,” said Abner Kurtin, Chief Executive Officer of newly-floated marijuana grower Ascend Wellness Holdings Inc.

“That led to a significant selloff.”

A custodian bank holds customers’ securities for safekeeping, to prevent them from being stolen or lost, while also collecting dividends and handling other corporate actions. It plays an important role in helping many investors to hold shares in companies.

The weed industry has boomed over the last three years, as Canada and a succession of U.S. states, including most recently New York and New Jersey, legalized recreational use.

Credit Suisse shares are down over 20% so far this year, and the bank has said it is cutting its prime brokerage business, which caters to hedge fund clients, by about a third.

 

(Reporting by Shariq Khan and Matt Scuffham; Writing by Patrick Graham; Editing by Howard Goller)

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Sun Life’s misses first-quarter profit estimates

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Sun Life

TORONTO (Reuters) – Sun Life Financial Inc on Wednesday missed analyst estimates for first-quarter core profit, which rose from a year earlier due to business growth and earnings in its asset management and Canadian units.

Underlying profit was C$850 million ($693 million), or 1.45 Canadian cents a share, in the three months ended March 31, from C$770 million, or C$1.31, a year earlier. Analysts had expected C$1.46 a share.

Reported net income jumped to C$937 million, or C$1.59 a share, from C$391 million, or 67 Canadian cents, a year earlier.

($1 = 1.2266 Canadian dollars)

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Manulife, Sun Life post improved first-quarter core profits on business growth, investments

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Manulife

TORONTO (Reuters) – Manulife Financial and Sun Life Financial Inc on Wednesday reported increased core profits from a year ago, driven in part by business growth and improved earnings across all major business units.

But while Manulife beat analyst expectations for the quarter ended March 31, Sun Life missed estimates.

Payouts globally have risen due to claims related to the coronavirus pandemic, but strength in stock markets has helped soften some of that impact. Earnings of Canada‘s top two insurers were affected by steepening yield curves in North America.

While it tempered Sun Life’s results, the No. 2 insurer still saw reported profit more than double from a year ago as a result of favourable equity markets and interest rate changes.

Sun Life also took an after-tax restructuring charge of C$57 million related to changes it is making to its workspace, the company said.

Manulife reported core earnings of C$1.6 billion ($1.3 billion), or 82 Canadian cents a share, in the three months ended March 31, from C$1 billion, or 51 Canadian cents, a year earlier. Analysts had expected 77 Canadian cents.

Reported net income attributable to shareholders declined to C$783 million, or 38 Canadian cents, from C$1.3 billion, or 64 Canadian cents, a year earlier.

Sun Life reported underlying profit of C$850 million ($693 million), or 1.45 Canadian cents a share, in the three months ended March 31, from C$770 million, or C$1.31, a year earlier.

Analysts had expected C$870.8 million or C$1.46 a share.

Reported net income jumped to C$937 million, or C$1.59 a share, from C$391 million, or 67 Canadian cents, a year earlier.

($1 = 1.2277 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting By Nichola Saminather; Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)

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