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Why jumping the coronavirus vaccine queue is a problem – Global News

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As coronavirus vaccines continue to roll out to high-priority vulnerable groups in Canada, it might be a few months until a young, healthy adult would be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist at the University of Toronto, says in the short term, there won’t be any jumping of the queue or preferential VIP treatment, but private sales may happen once the rollout is extensive.

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“It’s very ethically problematic if sports teams and individuals are vaccinated first,” he told Global News.

“We’re in a global emergency. If you were to absorb several hundred vaccines for a sports team, for example, you could literally be costing other vulnerable people their lives.”

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Canada has so far approved two vaccines — by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Pfizer says it is focusing on selling its doses to governments while Moderna did not respond immediately to an emailed request by Global News for comment on any private sales.

The companies have entered into contracts with the federal government, which in turn is allocating the vaccine doses to the provinces and territories.






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Coronavirus: Dr. Caroline Quach on COVID-19, vaccines as 2020 draws to a close


Coronavirus: Dr. Caroline Quach on COVID-19, vaccines as 2020 draws to a close

Up to 249,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine are expected to be delivered in December and another 500,000 by the end of January. A total of 168,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine are also expected by the end of 2020.

Given the limited supply in the initial stages of the rollout, private companies and individuals have a small window of opportunity to get their hands early on the doses, if they wish to do so, said Anita Ho, an associate professor of bioethics and health services research at the University of British Columbia.

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So, if you’re a private business owner, a celebrity, professional athlete, frequent traveller or anyone looking to directly purchase the vaccine from the drug makers, for now, you will just have to wait your turn like the rest of the general public.

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“I see vaccines as a public good and if we are allowing people to purchase, whether it’s companies or individuals, then we can be exacerbating the existing inequity in Canada already,” Ho told Global News.

Vaccinating the VIPs – is it inevitable?

Earlier this month, the National Hockey League faced some backlash on social media after a report it was planning to privately purchase doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for all parties involved in the upcoming 2021 season.

John Shannon, an NHL insider and long-time hockey reporter, tweeted the report, noting that it’s only an interest of the NHL at this point, “when and if it’s available for private purchase.”

“The league also is adamant that they would not jump the line to do so,” he added.

The NHL has not officially commented on the report.

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American pharmaceutical company Pfizer says while it “appreciates the interest” it is focusing on selling the highly coveted and limited doses of its coronavirus vaccine to governments, not private corporations, including the NHL.

In an interview earlier this month with Global News, Pfizer Canada CEO Cole Pinnow said: “Right now, we are fully committed and built our global supply plan based upon the contracts that we’ve signed with governments, and so we’re really deferring to the governments to figure out what the best way is to allocate their product.”

More vaccines could mean more opportunity for private sales

Canada is also currently reviewing clinical data from Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca, so more vaccines are in the pipeline.

As there is no law or regulation prohibiting the private sales of vaccines, experts say there is still a possibility of corporations and interested buyers getting the doses directly from the drug makers.

“This is a political, economic and social judgment about the inequities in vaccine distribution, which are going to be apparent where there is a free market economy, where vaccines could be sold for the highest going price to people who have privileged access to them,” Dr. Mark Poznansky, director of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, said.

According to Canada’s federal health minister, the Canadian government cannot stop private corporations from buying doses of any approved coronavirus vaccine directly from its manufacturers.

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In a weekly COVID-19 briefing in Ottawa on Dec. 11, Patty Hajdu said that Canada does not have any “mechanisms to block corporations from purchasing” a vaccine or vaccine candidate “on a contractual basis.”


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Government can’t stop corporations from buying vaccines for their employees, says Hajdu'



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Coronavirus: Government can’t stop corporations from buying vaccines for their employees, says Hajdu


Coronavirus: Government can’t stop corporations from buying vaccines for their employees, says Hajdu – Dec 11, 2020

Given the scarcity of doses in the initial stage of the country’s rollout, Bowman said the health authorities can enforce regulations to prevent private sales.

“I don’t think there should be any private sales at this point,” he said.

In the United States, more than two million Americans have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines, compared with an estimated 58,818 people in Canada.

Read more:
U.S. is planning to vaccinate 39 million more people than Canada this year. Here’s why

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Recent reports suggest older Canadians who spend their winters in Florida and Arizona may be able to get vaccinated sooner down south than they would at home.

Martin Firestone, a travel insurance agent in Toronto, told CTV News and the Globe and Mail he has received calls from clients showing interest in making the trip to Florida to get the highly coveted shot.

Meanwhile, Canada is prioritizing the vaccines for front-line health workers, long-term care residents and workers, the elderly and Indigenous communities.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, citing the country’s top doctors, says a majority of Canadians should be vaccinated against the coronavirus by next September.

“Nothing any private company or organization can negotiate, if they choose to do so, will in any way impact or slow down the delivery of vaccines to Canadians for free — with vulnerable Canadians at the front of that line,” he said earlier this month.

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

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Biden’s vaccine pledge ups pressure on rich countries to give more

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The United States on Thursday raised the pressure on other Group of Seven leaders to share their vaccine hoards to bring an end to the pandemic by pledging to donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to the world’s poorest countries.

The largest ever vaccine donation by a single country will cost the United States $3.5 billion but Washington expects no quid pro quo or favours for the gift, a senior Biden administration official told reporters.

U.S. President Joe Biden‘s move, on the eve of a summit of the world’s richest democracies, is likely to prompt other leaders to stump up more vaccines, though even vast numbers of vaccines would still not be enough to inoculate all of the world’s poor.

G7 leaders want to vaccinate the world by the end of 2022 to try to halt the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 3.9 million people and devastated the global economy.

A senior Biden administration official described the gesture as a “major step forward that will supercharge the global effort” with the aim of “bringing hope to every corner of the world.” “We really want to underscore that this is fundamentally about a singular objective of saving lives,” the official said, adding that Washington was not seeking favours in exchange for the doses.

Vaccination efforts so far are heavily correlated with wealth: the United States, Europe, Israel and Bahrain are far ahead of other countries. A total of 2.2 billion people have been vaccinated so far out of a world population of nearly 8 billion, based on Johns Hopkins University data.

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have agreed to supply the U.S. with the vaccines, delivering 200 million doses in 2021 and 300 million doses in the first half of 2022.

The shots, which will be produced at Pfizer’s U.S. sites, will be supplied at a not-for-profit price.

“Our partnership with the U.S. government will help bring hundreds of millions of doses of our vaccine to the poorest countries around the world as quickly as possible,” said Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla.

‘DROP IN THE BUCKET’

Anti-poverty campaign group Oxfam called for more to be done to increase global production of vaccines.

“Surely, these 500 million vaccine doses are welcome as they will help more than 250 million people, but that’s still a drop in the bucket compared to the need across the world,” said Niko Lusiani, Oxfam America’s vaccine lead.

“We need a transformation toward more distributed vaccine manufacturing so that qualified producers worldwide can produce billions more low-cost doses on their own terms, without intellectual property constraints,” he said in a statement.

Another issue, especially in some poor countries, is the infrastructure for transporting the vaccines which often have to be stored at very cold temperatures.

Biden has also backed calls for a waiver of some vaccine intellectual property rights but there is no international consensus yet on how to proceed.

The new vaccine donations come on top of 80 million doses Washington has already pledged to donate by the end of June. There is also $2 billion in funding earmarked for the COVAX programme led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the White House said.

GAVI and the WHO welcomed the initiative.

Washington is also taking steps to support local production of COVID-19 vaccines in other countries, including through its Quad initiative with Japan, India and Australia.

(Reporting by Steve Holland in St. Ives, England, Andrea Shalal in Washington and Caroline Copley in Berlin; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Keith Weir;Editing by Leslie Adler, David Evans, Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Giles Elgood and Jane Merriman)

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Vaccines donated by the United States and China

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Both the United States and China have pledged large donations of COVID-19 vaccines to countries around the world. Washington has promised 80 million doses, three-quarters of which will be delivered via the international vaccine initiative COVAX, in what has been seen as an effort to counter China’s widening vaccine diplomacy. It began deliveries last week.

China had shipped vaccines to 66 countries in the form of aid, according to state news agency Xinhua. Beijing has not disclosed an overall figure for its donations but Reuters calculations based on publicly available data show at least 16.57 million doses have been delivered. China has also pledged to supply 10 million doses to COVAX.

VACCINES DONATED BY U.S. (plan for the first 25 mln):

Regional partners and priority recipients

COUNTRY/TERRITORY PLEDGED DELIVERED

Including Canada, Mexico, 1 mln to S.Korea in June

South Korea, West Bank and

Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo,

Haiti, Georgia, Egypt,

Jordan, India, Iraq, Yemen,

United Nations

TOTAL 6 mln 1 mln

Allocations through COVAX

South and Central America

COUNTRY/TERRITORY PLEDGED DELIVERED

Brazil, Argentina, Colombia,

Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador,

Paraguay, Bolivia,

Guatemala, El Salvador,

Honduras, Panama, Haiti,

Dominican Republic and other

Caribbean Community

(CARICOM) countries

TOTAL 6 mln

Asia

COUNTRY/TERRITORY PLEDGED DELIVERED

India, Nepal, Bangladesh,

Pakistan, Sri Lanka,

Afghanistan, Maldives,

Malaysia, Philippines,

Vietnam, Indonesia,

Thailand, Laos, Papua New

Guinea, Taiwan, and the

Pacific Islands

TOTAL 7 mln

Africa

COUNTRY/TERRITORY PLEDGED DELIVERED

To be selected in

coordination with the

African Union

TOTAL 5 mln

VACCINES DONATED BY CHINA (source – Reuters calculations and official data):

Asia Pacific

COUNTRY/TERRITORY PLEDGED DELIVERED

Afghanistan 400,000

Bangladesh Second batch of First batch of 500,000 delivered

600,000 on May 12

Brunei 52,000 in Feb

Cambodia 1.7 mln as of April 28

Kyrgyzstan 150,000 in March

Laos 300,000 in Feb

800,000 in late March

300,000 in late April

Maldives 200,000 in early March

Mongolia 300,000 in late February

Myanmar 500,000 in early May

Nepal 800,000 in late March

1 mln in early June

Pakistan 500,000 in early Feb

250,000 in Feb

500,000 in March

Philippines 600,000 in late Feb

400,000 in late March

Sri Lanka 600,000 at end March

500,000 in late May

Thailand 500,000 in May

500,000 in June

Timor-Leste 100,000 100,000 in early June

TOTAL 11.052 million

Africa

COUNTRY/TERRITORY PLEDGED DELIVERED

Angola 200,000 in late March

Algeria 200,000 200,000 in Feb

Botswana 200,000 in April

Cameroon 200,000 in April

Congo 100,000 100,000 in March

Egypt 600,000 in March

Ethiopia 300,000 in late March

Equatorial Guinea 100,000 in Feb

Guinea 200,000 in early March

Mozambique 200,000 in late Feb

Namibia 100,000 by early April

Niger 400,000 in late March

Sierra Leone 240,000 by late May

Togo 200,000 in April

Uganda 300,000

Zimbabwe 200,000 in Feb

200,000 in March

100,000 in May

TOTAL 3.74 million

South America

COUNTRY/TERRITORY PLEDGED DELIVERED

Bolivia 100,000 in late Feb

100,000 in late March

Venezuela 500,000 in early March

TOTAL 700,000

Europe & Middle East

COUNTRY/TERRITORY PLEDGED DELIVERED

Belarus 100,000 in Feb

300,000 in May

Georgia 100,000 at end April

Iran 250,000 at end February

Iraq 50,000 in early March

Montenegro 30,000 in early March

North Macedonia 100,000 in May

Syria 150,000 in late April

TOTAL 1.08 million

 

(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo in Beijing and Cooper Inveen in Dakar; Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe in Harare, Asif Shahzad in Islamabad, Gopal Sharma in Kathmandu; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Coronavirus Worldwide right now

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Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus now:

Australia’s Melbourne to exit lockdown

Australia’s second largest city Melbourne will exit a hard lockdown as planned on Thursday night, Victoria state authorities said, although some restrictions on travel and gatherings would likely remain for another week.

After two weeks in a strict lockdown that forced people to remain at home except for essential business, Melbourne’s five million residents will get more freedom to step outside from 11:59 p.m. local time (1359 GMT) on Thursday.

However, people must stay within 25 km (15 miles) of their homes, officials said, in an effort to stop transmission during an upcoming long weekend. There will also be a total ban on house gatherings and masks will be mandatory indoors.

Deliveries of Thai-made AstraZeneca vaccines delayed

Malaysia and Taiwan are expecting deliveries of AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Thailand to be delayed, officials said, the latest countries to report a holdup with orders from the Thai plant.

The delay comes amid concerns over AstraZeneca’s distribution plans in Southeast Asia, which depends on 200 million doses made by Siam Bioscience, a company owned by Thailand’s king that is making vaccines for the first time.

Any questions about Siam Bioscience meeting production targets are sensitive because King Maha Vajiralongkorn is its sole owner. Insulting Thailand’s monarchy is a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Indonesia aims to speed up vaccinations

President Joko Widodo said on Wednesday he hoped Indonesia’s vaccination rollout will hit one million shots a day by July, as authorities opened up inoculations to anyone aged over 18 in Jakarta to contain increased transmission in the capital.

Health officials in the world’s fourth most populous country, which aims to vaccinate 181.5 million people by next year, are trying to speed up the rollout after facing some supply issues.

The president said he wanted vaccinations to hit a targeted 700,000 doses a day this month and then rise again.

Singapore finds Delta most prevalent among variants

Singapore has found the Delta variant of the coronavirus to be the most prevalent among local cases of variants of concern (VOCs), according to health ministry data, highlighting its level of infectiousness.

There were 449 local cases with VOCs as of May 31, of which 428 were the Delta variant first detected in India and nine of the Beta variant first identified in South Africa.

Singapore reported its 34th death due to COVID-19, taking its toll from the pandemic beyond the 33 casualties recorded during the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak.

U.S. forming expert groups on lifting travel restrictions

The Biden administration is forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to determine how best to safely restart travel after 15 months of pandemic restrictions, a White House official said on Tuesday.

Another U.S. official said the administration will not move quickly to lift orders that bar people from much of the world from entering the United States because of the time it will take for the groups to do their work.

The groups will be led by the White House COVID Response Team and the National Security Council and include the Centers for Disease Control and other U.S. agencies.

 

(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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