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World needs a plan ensure a COVID-19 vaccine can reach everyone: experts – Global News

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Leading philanthropists and immunization experts say the world lacks the ability to properly manufacture, finance and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine, even if one were found by the end of the year.

The good news, they say, is that if planning starts now as promising research continues, a new method can be found to ensure the vaccine goes to everyone who needs it across the world.


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They say that itself would be a breakthrough in international science, business and political co-operation.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other groups are calling for new global financing tools to spool up the manufacturing capability in both developed and less developed countries.

That’s because, as of right now, there’s no equitable or practical way to distribute a new vaccine across the globe.

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Health Matters: April 30


Health Matters: April 30

That means coming up with potentially tens of billions of dollars to outfit factories, train health workers, and focus research on a simple vaccine that might work.

“We need to put in place a massive amount of capacity to develop vaccines, so when and if we get a vaccine, that’s able to be developed or manufactured at a huge and unprecedented scale,” Joe Cerrell, the managing director of the Gates foundation said from London during a conference call Thursday that included participants from at least three continents.

GAVI, the world’s leading international immunization non-profit organization, and the One Campaign advocacy group are joining the Gates foundation in the push for a plan.


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Cerrell said advance market commitments are a key financial tool that governments and companies need to adopt to ensure the smooth rollout of a vaccine.

An advance market commitment is essentially a guarantee offered by a government or financial institution to buy a certain amount of a product before it is ready for the market. That would allow factories everywhere to gear up and be ready for an unprecedented level of production.

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“A large company may be able to do that if there’s a guaranteed purchase, but if you’re a developing-country vaccine manufacturer you may need some direct finance to be able to help you build these facilities,” said Cerrell.

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Dr. Seth Berkley, the head of GAVI, said there are 89 vaccines in development around the world, seven of which are in clinical trials, and that number could double to 200.

But the options need to be narrowed much sooner towards finding simpler vaccine that is the most effective, and easiest to mass-produce and administer.






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Coronavirus around the world: April 30, 2020


Coronavirus around the world: April 30, 2020

“This is really going to be a challenge — getting billions of doses to the entire world, efficiently, is complex,” said Berkley, who pointed to the international co-operation on the Ebola virus as a model for how things could be done better.

Berkley and Cerrell were cautious about reports of promising research at Oxford University and elsewhere but stressed that a short list of promising projects needs to be developed.


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“We don’t want to have a lot of inefficient money being thrown out there at dozens of things, most of which won’t work,” Cerrell said.

That also means breaking down barriers, including in national politics and in the competitive world of big pharma, to share the best, easiest solutions, said Gayle Smith, the head of the One Campaign, who previously served as an Obama-era National Security Council expert on the Ebola outbreaks in Africa during the last decade.

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During the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, “there was a scramble for a vaccine as soon as it became available. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it was the wealthier nations that were immediately able to secure the bulk of that product,” said Smith.






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The world can’t afford a repeat of that with the much broader COVID-19 crisis, she said, calling for more transparency and better sharing of information.

But scientists from Canada’s foremost vaccine research laboratory said most countries will prioritize their own citizens, and Canada is no exception.

The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization — International Vaccine Centre at the University of Saskatchewan has developed a prototype COVID-19 vaccine due to start clinical trials in the autumn.


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While the lab has received funding in the past from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has a mandate to make sure their technologies are made available internationally, Canada will still benefit first if their prototype is successful.

“I think what we will see is that countries will try to ensure that there is access to vaccines for their citizens,” said Dr. Volker Gerdts, CEO of the lab, told the Canada’s House of Commons health committee Thursday.

He said global access strategies are currently being developed, and Canada’s vaccine, if viable, would be shared with the world.

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Cerrell said the World Health Organization will play a key role in co-ordinating much of this work, and so will GAVI, which has immunized 760 million children and prevented 13 million deaths in the world’s poorest countries since 2020.

GAVI is seeking more than $8 billion in new five-year replenishments at a conference in June, while the European Union is leading the Monday kickoff of a pledging conference to support the WHO. It aims to raise more than $11 billion.


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Cerrell called both those efforts “down payments” on what will ultimately be needed to discover and distribute a vaccine.

“A lot’s going to depend on the product characteristics of the vaccine that will come. Will it be a single dose? Will it be multiple doses?” he said.

“A back-of-the-envelope (estimate) would suggest it’s $20 to $25 billion that would be needed.”

— With files from Laura Osman in Ottawa

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Nova Scotia reports no new cases of COVID-19 for first time since March – Toronto Star

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HALIFAX—Nova Scotia increased its social gathering limit on Friday as the province reported no new cases of COVID-19 for the first time since its initial infections were identified in mid-March.

Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, called the development a “significant and encouraging milestone” in a province that has seen a continuing downward trend in new cases over recent weeks.

It kept the total number of confirmed cases at 1,055, including 978 people who have recovered from the virus. Eight people are currently in hospital and three of them are in intensive care.

“It hasn’t been easy but we are seeing positive results,” said Strang.

Nova Scotia announced more details of a reopening plan set for next Friday, even as neighbouring New Brunswick put the brakes on expanding the current phase of its plan. That province is dealing with a growing cluster of new cases in the Campbellton area, allegedly caused by a health-care worker who returned from Quebec and didn’t self-isolate.

Strang was asked about what lessons Nova Scotia could take from the Campbellton outbreak.

“The message in that is really about the importance of self-isolation when you cross borders,” he said. “What it shows us is the importance of very closely monitoring our borders. We need to be very thoughtful and careful about how we lift those border restrictions.”

Premier Stephen McNeil announced a new gathering limit of 10 people effective immediately — a doubling from a limit of five that was imposed when health restrictions were put in place in late March.

Physical distancing of two metres would still be required, except among members of the same household or family “bubble.” The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with exceptions for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.

Strang clarified that when it comes to weddings, that limit of 15 would have to include photographers and caterers if that’s what couples wanted in their ceremonies.

He said the gathering limit also applies to arts and culture activities such as theatre performances and dance recitals, faith gatherings, and sports and physical activity. Businesses such as theatres, concerts, festivals and sporting activities would also have to adhere to the 10-person limit.

“We are watching our epidemiology and will consider expanding the way people can have close social interaction when we see how this first stage in the reopening is going,” said Strang. “It’s very important that we don’t introduce too much risk of COVID-19 at any one time and we have the capacity to monitor the effect of any steps.”

McNeil said that private campgrounds would also be allowed to open, but would only operate at 50 per cent capacity and must ensure public health protocols are followed, including adequate distancing between campsites.

Provincial campgrounds are scheduled to open June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

The latest measures came two days after McNeil announced that most businesses required to close under a public health order in late March would be allowed to open next Friday, provided they are ready with a plan that follows physical distancing protocols.

The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers would also be allowed to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices. Veterinary services can also operate along with some unregulated professions, such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.

Earlier Friday, the province announced it would add 23 new long-term care beds because of a need resulting from some facilities slowing or stopping admissions during the pandemic.

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It said it is entering into an agreement with Shannex RLC Ltd. to convert a floor at the Caritas Residence, a private assisted-living home in Bedford, N.S., into nursing home beds.

Residents would be able to move into the facility in early June and will be tested for the virus before being admitted.

According to the government, there are 132-long term care facilities in Nova Scotia.

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Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada – Terrace Standard – Terrace Standard

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B.C. and Alberta have become the latest provinces in Canada to investigate cases of an unusual syndrome in children, which doctors around the world are studying to see if there’s a definitive link to COVID-19.

The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Montreal’s Sainte-Justine Hospital are each examining 20 possible cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C.

Earlier this week, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health announced doctors are looking into one suspected case in the province, while British Columbia said it is investigating half a dozen cases.

“Because there isn’t really a definitive, one specific test that says, ‘yes, you have multisystem inflammatory syndrome’ or ‘you don’t,’ I don’t think that the cases themselves are 100 per cent clearly defined from children who might have some other type of infection,” said Dr. Jeremy Friedman, the associate chief of pediatrics at SickKids.

“It might take a little bit of time to really be absolutely certain about how many cases that are being investigated are actually truly related to COVID.”

Friedman’s team at the Toronto hospital have also been in contact with the study at Sainte-Justine run by Marie-Paule Morin, a pediatric rheumatologist.

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C. The agency’s case definition includes current or recent COVID-19 infection or exposure to the virus, a fever of at least 38 C for at least 24 hours, severe illness requiring hospitalization, inflammatory markers in blood tests, and evidence of problems affecting at least two organs that could include the heart, kidneys, lungs, skin or nervous system.

The CDC said some children may have symptoms resembling Kawasaki disease, a rare condition that can cause swelling and heart problems.

In other parts of the world, the illness is also called Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS).

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday that while little is known about MIS-C, ”it seems to be more something that happens as a result of (a child’s) immune system going into overdrive after an infection and causing this inflammatory response in multiple organs.”

Hinshaw gave little information about the province’s first suspected case, other to say that the child is stable in hospital.

In Toronto, Friedman said one of the 20 children had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. All have responded well to treatment and have gone home.

There have been no reported deaths linked to MIS-C in Canada, but some children have died from the illness in New York, France and the United Kingdom.

Friedman said it is “highly suspicious” that there seems to be an increase in children presenting MIS-C symptoms about a month after the peak in the number of COVID-19 infections in their communities.

“That seems to be a consistent time that people are seeing this uptick,” he said.

But Friedman noted that none of the children at SickKids tested positive for an active coronavirus infection. His team has blood samples from each child that will then be tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

Although Health Canada has recently approved two serological tests, Friedman said he is waiting to hear from provincial experts on which one is most accurate.

The Canadian Paediatric Society recently published MIS-C guidelines for clinicians and caregivers and is tracking and studying the illness nationwide.

“This syndrome is still very new, and scientists and doctors are learning about it in real time,” the society said in an email Friday.

“The CPSP study will provide essential, timely information about how children are being affected, which children are at highest risk, and will enable us to adjust best practices for prevention and care based on evidence.”

Friedman said parents should be vigilant about signs of MIS-C, but they shouldn’t be alarmed since the numbers are low and the condition is treatable.

“This is definitely going to add to what we know about COVID and hopefully some aspects of what we learn will inform the development of vaccines,” he said.

“It’s quite reassuring to know that we can all learn from each other and that is happens in a pretty rapid sequence.”

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press

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Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada – Lacombe Express

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British Columbia and Alberta have become the latest provinces in Canada to investigate cases of an unusual syndrome in children, which doctors around the world are studying to see if there’s a definitive link to COVID-19.

The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Montreal’s Sainte-Justine Hospital are each examining 20 possible cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C.

Earlier this week, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health announced doctors are looking into one suspected case in the province, while British Columbia said it is investigating half a dozen cases.

“Because there isn’t really a definitive, one specific test that says, ‘yes, you have multisystem inflammatory syndrome’ or ‘you don’t,’ I don’t think that the cases themselves are 100 per cent clearly defined from children who might have some other type of infection,” said Dr. Jeremy Friedman, the associate chief of pediatrics at SickKids.

“It might take a little bit of time to really be absolutely certain about how many cases that are being investigated are actually truly related to COVID.”

Friedman’s team at the Toronto hospital have also been in contact with the study at Sainte-Justine run by Marie-Paule Morin, a pediatric rheumatologist.

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C. The agency’s case definition includes current or recent COVID-19 infection or exposure to the virus, a fever of at least 38 C for at least 24 hours, severe illness requiring hospitalization, inflammatory markers in blood tests, and evidence of problems affecting at least two organs that could include the heart, kidneys, lungs, skin or nervous system.

The CDC said some children may have symptoms resembling Kawasaki disease, a rare condition that can cause swelling and heart problems.

In other parts of the world, the illness is also called Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS).

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday that while little is known about MIS-C, ”it seems to be more something that happens as a result of (a child’s) immune system going into overdrive after an infection and causing this inflammatory response in multiple organs.”

Hinshaw gave little information about the province’s first suspected case, other to say that the child is stable in hospital.

In Toronto, Friedman said one of the 20 children had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. All have responded well to treatment and have gone home.

There have been no reported deaths linked to MIS-C in Canada, but some children have died from the illness in New York, France and the United Kingdom.

Friedman said it is “highly suspicious” that there seems to be an increase in children presenting MIS-C symptoms about a month after the peak in the number of COVID-19 infections in their communities.

“That seems to be a consistent time that people are seeing this uptick,” he said.

But Friedman noted that none of the children at SickKids tested positive for an active coronavirus infection. His team has blood samples from each child that will then be tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

Although Health Canada has recently approved two serological tests, Friedman said he is waiting to hear from provincial experts on which one is most accurate.

The Canadian Paediatric Society recently published MIS-C guidelines for clinicians and caregivers and is tracking and studying the illness nationwide.

“This syndrome is still very new, and scientists and doctors are learning about it in real time,” the society said in an email Friday.

“The CPSP study will provide essential, timely information about how children are being affected, which children are at highest risk, and will enable us to adjust best practices for prevention and care based on evidence.”

Friedman said parents should be vigilant about signs of MIS-C, but they shouldn’t be alarmed since the numbers are low and the condition is treatable.

“This is definitely going to add to what we know about COVID and hopefully some aspects of what we learn will inform the development of vaccines,” he said.

“It’s quite reassuring to know that we can all learn from each other and that is happens in a pretty rapid sequence.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020

— With files from The Associated Press

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press

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