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Where is Canada now in its rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine? – Global News

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Canada has administered at least 1.4 million more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine over the last week, according to the latest data from Health Canada.

The new inoculations now bring the country’s total number of vaccines administered to just over 4.8 million as of Friday — up from last week’s tally of 3.48 doses million on Mar. 20.

Read more:
Canada now vaccinating over 100K per day. Here’s what it will take to hit September target

As of Mar. 20 — the latest date with government data available on whether one or two doses were administered to recipients — over 9.1 per cent of Canada’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The data also includes over 2.85 million people receiving one dose and another 630,000 people, or 1.6 per cent of the population, receiving two doses in order to be fully inoculated.

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Global News will update those figures once that new data becomes available.


Click to play video: 'Current measures insufficient to slow rapid coronavirus variants’ spread: Tam'



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Current measures insufficient to slow rapid coronavirus variants’ spread: Tam


Current measures insufficient to slow rapid coronavirus variants’ spread: Tam

Canada earlier this week also marked over a record 100,000 doses of the vaccine being administered per day.

Experts have previously told Global News that despite both the increasing rate of vaccination and new shipments of doses to the country, more has to be done in order for the federal government to reach its goal of having most Canadians inoculated by September.


Click to play video: 'Report: COVID-19 variants heighten risk of hospitalization and death'



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Report: COVID-19 variants heighten risk of hospitalization and death


Report: COVID-19 variants heighten risk of hospitalization and death

“It’s not even remotely fast enough,” Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, told Global News earlier this week.

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According to Furness, should Canada continue at a rate of 100,000 vaccines administered per day, it would take 10 months to achieve inoculation levels high enough for herd immunity given the 31.5 million people over 16 that are eligible for the vaccine — assuming each shot was a person’s first dose.

If the federal government expects to hit its vaccine targets by September, Furness said around 400,000 shots need to be administered per day.

Despite Canada’s vaccine numbers having increased significantly from when shipments first began arriving, the country’s rollout continues to slump behind that of other similarly developed nations.

According to Our World In Data, Canada’s vaccination rate currently stands at 12.7 per 100 people. The United States, on the other hand, is vaccinating at a rate of over 40 shots per 100 people, the U.K. at just over 47, the UAE at over 78 and Israel at more than 114 vaccine doses per 100 people.

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Read more:
Which province is winning the COVID-19 vaccine rollout race? Experts weigh in

The U.S. alone has administered over 136,684,688 vaccinations to date — around 27 per cent of people in the country receiving at least one shot.

To date, Canada has diagnosed over 961,000 cases of COVID-19 in the country, while over 22,850 people have since died. Average daily infection rates of the virus continue to increase, with case numbers in some parts of the country reaching figures that not been seen for months.

— With files from Global News’ Emerald Bensadoun

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada could avoid the worst of a 4th wave — but we're not out of the woods yet – CBC.ca

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This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.


Canada will likely face a fourth wave of the pandemic as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread ahead of borders and schools reopening, but there’s growing optimism another surge won’t bring the country back to a crisis point.

Canadian immunologists, virologists and infectious disease specialists say we could fare better than in previous waves, with a lower rate of serious infections, due to the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and the willingness of Canadians to get vaccinated. 

But our rollout is plateauing and there are still huge swaths of the population that are unvaccinated — either by choice or due to a lack of access or eligibility — including millions of Canadian kids who are heading back to school in just over a month.

“We’re going to see rises in case counts at some point again,” said Matthew Miller, an associate professor of infectious diseases and immunology at McMaster University in Hamilton.  

“Probably similar to last year, as we head into the fall and the cold weather arrives. But those bumps are hopefully just that — tiny hills, and not mountains like the earlier waves.”

People walk in downtown Montreal on June 3 after the city lifted public health restrictions. (Jean-Claude Taliana/CBC/Radio-Canada)

How bad will Canada’s 4th wave be?

The severity of Canada’s fourth wave will largely be determined by levels of COVID-19 immunity in the population from vaccines or prior infection, which can prevent community transmission from rising and stop severe cases from overwhelming hospitals.

Canada has had more than 1.4 million cases of COVID-19 so far, yet only 2.6 per cent of Canadians were found to have antibodies due to prior coronavirus infection in early 2021.

“The question is — is there sufficient population immunity? No,” said Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa. 

“And the reason for that is because we measure population immunity by recovered cases and vaccinations.”

More than 80 per cent of eligible Canadians aged 12 and up have received at least one shot, and more than 60 per cent have had two. But that number drops to about 70 per cent with one dose and just over 50 per cent fully vaccinated when you consider the country’s entire population.

Although Canada has “nowhere near enough” immunity yet, Deonandan says we can “artificially create” adequate protection by using interventions like masking indoors to help with “building walls” around unvaccinated Canadians as COVID-19 becomes more seasonal

“We’re seeing the arrival of the endemic phase of this disease in places around the world,” he said. “Because mostly they don’t have enough people vaccinated — it comes down to that.”

Maria Rey, 27, gets her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at an overnight clinic at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont., on May 16. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Delta threatens to drive COVID-19 surge

Another key factor in Canada’s ability to fend off a severe fourth wave is the spread of the more contagious, potentially more deadly delta variant, which is driving COVID-19 levels back up in countries around the world.

“We know from watching the U.K., for example, that delta is very, very capable of tearing through unvaccinated people very quickly,” said Dr. Dominik Mertz, an infectious diseases physician and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University.

“Any percentage of unvaccinated people in the population are leaving themselves at very, very high risk.”

The United Kingdom has seen a rise in COVID-19 levels in recent weeks, putting pressure on the health-care system. Israel has reinstated mask mandates in response to new outbreaks. And the U.S. has seen a surge in undervaccinated states driven by delta.

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) this week found two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were 88 per cent effective against the delta variant, while two shots of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine were 67 per cent effective.

But there are conflicting reports from the real world about vaccine effectiveness against delta, including new data from Israel’s health ministry that suggests the Pfizer shot is only 39 per cent effective against infections — but far better at preventing severe illness.

WATCH | Why the delta variant is different from others:

A respirologist breaks down what is known about the coronavirus delta variant, including what makes it different, how dangerous it is and whether vaccines protect against it. 4:26

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBC’s Power & Politics Friday that the U.S. still has a “substantial proportion” of the population that is unvaccinated and at highest risk from delta.

“That is absolutely something we need to correct, because when you are dealing with a variant like the delta variant that is so efficient in spreading from person to person, you are going to see a kind of surge in cases,” he said. 

“And for those who are vulnerable, like the elderly and people with underlying conditions, the chances of their getting hospitalized increases.”

A nurse tends to a patient suspected of having COVID-19 in the intensive care unit at North York General Hospital in Toronto in May 2020. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Reopening borders, schools leaves unvaccinated at risk

Canada could also be at increased risk of exposure to delta due to the reopening of the border to U.S. travellers next month and international travellers in September, along with the return of school, which could put unvaccinated Canadians at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure.

“It absolutely will. In addition, the greater travel that we’re doing inside the country is going to increase the risk of variants,” said Dr. Allison McGeer, a medical microbiologist and infectious diseases specialist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital. 

“We should not be surprised if the delta variant starts to increase quite substantially and we should not be surprised if we have to go back to some level of travel and other restrictions.” 

The single biggest cohort of unvaccinated Canadians are children under 12, who are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines despite ongoing clinical trials. Experts say the reopening of schools in September could put them at higher risk.

“It’s important that we start reporting our percentage vaccinated, including kids, because that’s our actual number,” said Alyson Kelvin, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University and virologist at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology and the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization.

“Considering we want to have herd immunity be above 85 per cent, we’re not going to get there without kids.” 

Wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, elementary school students walk to classes in Godley, Texas, on Aug. 5, 2020. (LM Otero/Associated Press)

Until children under 12 are eligible for vaccination in Canada, Kelvin says those who have less effective immune responses from COVID-19 vaccines — including older Canadians and the immunocompromised — will continue to be vulnerable.

“Children can’t be vaccinated and variants such as delta are more highly transmissible — and there seems to be case reports of increased disease severity in kids when they do get infected,” she said. “That’s something that we need to be watching going forward.”

Future variants pose unknown threat

One unknown threat Canada faces is the possibility of more transmissible variants emerging in the weeks and months ahead that could be worse than delta, as COVID-19 continues to ravage undervaccinated countries around the world. 

Canada was hit hard by the alpha variant at a time when our vaccination campaign had not yet picked up steam, and new and more dangerous variants have repeatedly appeared in countries that continue to be hit hard with each passing wave. 

“Definitely we’ll see other variants. If they will be more severe or a variant of concern is another question,” said Kelvin. “But it is an interesting trend that … there seems to be an increase in transmissibility with each as time goes on and we see new variants.” 

That’s not typically something that is seen with other circulating viruses like influenza, said Kelvin, meaning the unpredictability of this virus leaves its future an open question.

Miller says COVID-19 will likely become endemic in Canada and around the world, returning each year like the flu, and our ability to control it is contingent on our ability to get more people vaccinated. 

“It’s going to keep evolving for decades, presumably. It’s not going anywhere. But we have astoundingly successful vaccines,” he said. “The truth is, there is light at the end of the tunnel. This will end as all things end.

“But if you’re not vaccinated, you’re definitely — at some point — going to get infected.”


This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.

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Permanent residents in limbo waiting to immigrate to Canada – CBC.ca

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Aashray Kovi refreshes his email several times a day hoping for good news from Canadian immigration officials.

The 28-year-old computer programmer from Bangalore, India is one of about 23,000 aspiring immigrants with expired or soon-to-be expired documents waiting to enter Canada during the pandemic.

“It’s really depressing for all of us,” said Kovi, who plans to settle in Ottawa but can’t travel because his confirmation of permanent residency (COPR) document expired in early June.

Late last month, the federal government lifted COVID-19 restrictions allowing anyone with a valid COPR to land in Canada, which comes after a significant drop in immigration in 2020.

The country permitted 184,000 immigrants last year — the fewest since 1998 — compared to 341,000 in 2019. Canada aims to jump-start immigration with 400,000 new residents per year for the next three years.

Aashray Kovi, a 28-year-old from Bangalore, India, waits in his home country until his permanent residence documents get renewed. (Aashray Kovi)

Quicker process to reapply

There is a silver lining for those like Kovi who, instead of having to reapply for a new document, waits for Canada to reissue the documents.

That will be a quicker process as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is making exceptions.

The pandemic has significantly impacted processing times, and the government is contacting individuals with expired papers in the “weeks and months to come,” according to a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.

Immigration lawyer Kyle Hyndman estimates more than half of those holding expired COPR documents are skilled workers who were chosen “to contribute to the Canadian labour market.”

Hyndman said the communication from the federal government has been messy, though.

“These people are kind of in a holding pattern … you do a bunch of things to get ready to move that are kind of hard to undo,” he said.

Kyle Hyndman, an immigration lawyer in Vancouver, estimates more than half of those holding expired COPR documents are skilled workers. (Supplied by Kyle Hyndman)

Barely holding on

Sophie Ballesteros from Barcelona, Spain had a job lined up in Halifax and her husband Carlos quit his job months ago to ready himself for a move to Canada.

Then the family’s COPR documents expired in June and there’s been no word yet on when they’ll be renewed. 

“This is the first time in my life that I am unemployed,” said Carlos Ballesteros. “I don’t sleep at night.”

Sophie said she is struggling to immerse into her new digital marketing job in Canada while staying physically in Barcelona, while also trying to find a preschool for her four-year-old daughter.

“I have to work within the time zone of Canada and sometimes there are some clients that are from Vancouver,” she said. “It’s hard for my family.”

Sophie and Carlos Ballesteros got ready to make a move to Canada months ago, lining up jobs and bank accounts in Halifax. But border closures prevented the couple from moving and their confirmation documents expired in June. 1:14

After receiving their initial approval documents, Sameer Masih and his wife began selling their belongings, including their furniture and car in New Delhi, India.

Seven months later, the couple and their son live in a mostly empty apartment waiting and hoping to find a better life in Canada.

“I am actually surviving on a bare minimum set up,” said Masih, who said the wait cost him a job at his employer’s Toronto office.

The lack of clarity has Masih wondering when his Canadian dream will come true.

“The word ‘soon’ is turning out to be a very negative and dangerous word in this context,” he said.

Sophie and Carlos Ballesteros hope to resettle in Halifax, but the Spanish couple doesn’t know when their expired permanent residence documents will be renewed. (Supplied by Carlos Ballesteros)

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Canada offers ‘path to protection’ for Afghan interpreters amid ‘critical’ situation – Global News

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Taliban is advancing rapidly across Afghanistan as U.S. forces withdraw.
  • Afghans who aided Canadian troops during the war there are now facing torture and death from the Taliban, prompting urgent calls for the government to help them.
  • The program announced Friday will see them and their families welcomed to Canada as refugees, though details on specifics of the plan are scarce.

Canadian officials are on the ground in Afghanistan and working to identify those eligible for a new “path to protection” for Afghans who supported Canadian troops during the war in that country.

The update from the government comes amid what Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino called a “critical” time for those who have helped Canadian soldiers and now face the risk of death and torture by a rapid Taliban advance across the country.

Details on the program are scarce so far but Mendicino said the program will welcome the Afghans and their families as refugees for resettlement. He said while the numbers are in flux, the estimate is that Afghans eligible under the program will be in the “thousands.”

READ MORE: Canada has ‘moral obligation’ to protect Afghan interpreters from Taliban resurgence, say experts

Mendicino said the plan will focus on special immigration measures for Afghan interpreters, Afghans who have worked or are currently working to support the Canadian embassy, as well as their families.

It is also being kept deliberately broad in scope, and will also apply to those who worked in roles such as security guards, cooks, cleaners, drivers, and other roles in support of the embassy.

“We know that time is of the essence,” said Mendicino.

“We expect the first arrivals will be in Canada very shortly.”

Work continues to try to identify the Afghans who will be eligible, he said, but did not provide details when asked on how many individuals will be able to come to Canada or what the timeline is for the effort.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said they could not provide further details because of “operational security,” and said planning with coalition allies on logistics is underway.

“The plan itself has to be guarded for the safety of the people we’re trying to bring to Canada,” he said.


Click to play video: 'Mendicino talks logistics of resettlement plan for Afghan interpreters, advisors'



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Mendicino talks logistics of resettlement plan for Afghan interpreters, advisors


Mendicino talks logistics of resettlement plan for Afghan interpreters, advisors

Canada withdrew troops from Afghanistan in 2011 but after roughly 20 years, U.S. forces are now also in the process of withdrawing from the country after waging a war to remove the Taliban from power.

The Taliban are Islamist extremists who enforce sharia law and held power in Afghanistan from roughly 1996 to 2001 when coalition forces overthrew them.

Now, the Taliban insurgency has been making rapid gains and now holds roughly half of the 421 districts as U.S. forces retreat, raising concerns that the militant extremists will be in a position to support other regional terrorist groups like ISIS and also target those who helped Canadian forces during the war.

Thousands of people have fled the Taliban advance.

As the fighters retake broad swaths of territory, former military leaders and veterans of Canada’s fight in Afghanistan have been urging the government to act quickly to honour the “moral obligation” this country owes to the Afghans who supported the coalition mission.

Mendicino echoed those sentiments on Friday.

“Not only does Canada owe them a debt of gratitude, we have a moral obligation to do right by them,” he said, and described the risk they will face retaliation from the Taliban as “grave.”


Click to play video: 'Afghan interpreters face death threats from Taliban after U.S. troops leave'



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Afghan interpreters face death threats from Taliban after U.S. troops leave


Afghan interpreters face death threats from Taliban after U.S. troops leave – Jun 3, 2021

In recent days, a group of Canadian veterans have been working to virtually try to coordinate a way for some of the Afghans who worked with soldiers to get to a safer place, pending evacuation, by using their existing network of contacts in the country.

“We managed to get a guy who was surrounded by gunfire, active airstrikes coming in to try and clear the Taliban from the area. He was trapped. And we got him to safety,” said Robin Rickards, a Canadian veteran of the war.

“Well, to relative safety.”

Global News was able to speak with that man — a former Afghan interpreter who was stuck in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province currently under siege by the Taliban. Out of concern for his safety, Global News is not identifying the man or where he is currently located.

“They already have information about the people who work with the coalition forces,” said the interpreter of the Taliban fighters entering the city.

He described witnessing fighting just 500 metres from his home, and said Taliban fighters are dumping bodies of those who helped coalition forces on highways and roads to send a signal as they continue to retake territory across the country.

“They wanted to show the people … we’re going to kill all of them,” he said.

“We want the government to start evacuation as soon as possible.”


Click to play video: 'Canadian veterans mobilize to help, as Taliban targets Afghan translators'



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Canadian veterans mobilize to help, as Taliban targets Afghan translators


Canadian veterans mobilize to help, as Taliban targets Afghan translators

The U.S. State Department said on Monday it plans to evacuate around 2,500 Afghans who assisted American troops during the conflict, and fly them to a military base in Virginia within days.

The U.S. also has what’s known as the Special Immigrant Visa program which allows those who worked with U.S. troops in Afghanistan or Iraq to apply to immigrate. NBC News has cited U.S. officials as saying thousands of Afghans in the process of applying to that program will be flown to either military bases or a third country in order to be able to complete their application in safety.

It’s not yet clear to what extent Canada could coordinate with the U.S. on the evacuations or on moving the Afghans to a safer third country or area while their paperwork is processed.

Sajjan said while Canada is in discussions, he could not provide specific details.

Both the Conservatives and NDP, though, said the government could and should have acted sooner.

Tory Leader Erin O’Toole said the advance of the Taliban was predictable and that there should have been action before now to get the Afghans and their families to safety.

“The Liberal government should have made this announcement weeks ago. The Americans made it clear that they would be leaving Afghanistan months ago, and the rise of the Taliban was an expected result,” he said in a statement.

“Instead of putting forward a plan to help the heroic Afghan interpreters, support staff, and their families, the Trudeau Liberals sat on their hands and did nothing. It’s quite disappointing that these Afghans who saved the lives of our men and women in uniform were an afterthought to this Liberal government.”

NDP defence critic Randall Garrison accused the government of treating the Afghans as an “afterthought” and criticized the lack of details about the plan from the government.

“The US government has committed to providing airlift services for Afghans while their applications are processing, but details of the program are lacking from the Canadian government, including how quickly they will be able to bring them to safety,” he said.

“These collaborators, who played a vital role, have been abandoned for a decade without the support they desperately needed to find safety in Canada and deserve better. Countless interpreters and vital staff along with their families have been living in danger while the Liberals dragged their feet.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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