Canada COVID-19: Ontario reports 1,258 new cases; Health Canada approves AstraZeneca vaccine
AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines — where is Canada at on approvals?
The COVID-19 vaccines are among those still awaiting a green light from Health Canada, but the shots are quickly picking up steam in other parts of the world. With shortfalls in deliveries from vaccines already approved -- Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech -- there is increasing pressure on the health agency to secure more options and get more shots into the arms of Canadians.
What you need to know, at a glance
- Ontario reported 1,258 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, and 28 more deaths.
- There are 683 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the province (down four in the last day), with the number of patients in ICU up by one, for a total of 284.
- Friday’s case total includes 52 in Ottawa, 11 in Eastern Ontario, 10 in Renfrew County and District, four in Leeds, Grenville & Lanark, and three in Hastings Prince Edward.
- After falling daily since mid-January, the number of active cases provincewide up for the second day, to a total of 10,294
- Ontario’s science advisors say prioritizing COVID-19 vaccinations based on neighbourhood as well as age could prevent thousands of cases and reduce the number of deaths due to the pandemic.
- Ottawa Public Health reported 56 new cases and no new deaths Friday. There are 23 Ottawans hospitalized with COVID-19, with eight in ICU.
- Ottawans will have to wait until Monday for information about how to book an appointment at the city’s first pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
- City asks that residents not call Ottawa Public Health or 311 for now, as appointments aren’t yet available.
- Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, the third to be given the green light for national use.
- Canada has pre-ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was co-developed by researchers at the University of Oxford.
- It will also receive up to 1.9 million doses of the AZ vaccine through the global vaccine-sharing initiative, COVAX
- Health Canada also authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine that is being made at the Serum Institute of India.
- The Serum Institute will supply two million doses to Canada, with the first shipment of 500,000 ‘within weeks’
- Health Canada reviews continue of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine (expected by early March) and Novavax (April).
- Canada will see more than 6.5 million vaccine doses by the end of March, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said and tens of millions more will arrive between April and June
- Quebec reported 815 new cases of COVID-19, and 11 more deaths Friday.
- Three were 19 new cases in the Outaouais, for a total of 6,249, and the death toll remained unchanged at 159.
- Hospitalizations and ICU treatment continued to drop.
- There were 13 fewer people are in hospital, bringing the total to 620, the province’s lowest level in three months.
- Three fewer people were in ICU, for a total of 119 cases.
Ontario reported 1,258 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, and 28 more deaths. The seven-day average for new cases reported in the province now sits at 1,114.
Canada approves AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine
The approval of AstraZeneca's vaccine follows that of Pfizer and Moderna, both of which also require two doses. The AstraZeneca shot is less effective in clinical trials than its rivals' injections — 62 per cent versus high 90s — but offers distinct benefits. Read more: AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines — where is Canada at on approvals? One major advantage is in logistics. The shot can be stored and transported at normal refrigerated temperatures, unlike its leading mRNA-based competitors, which require ultra-cold storage.
Friday’s case total includes 52 in Ottawa, 11 in Eastern Ontario, 10 in Renfrew County and District, four in Leeds, Grenville & Lanark, and three in Hastings Prince Edward.
There are 683 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the province (down four in the last day), with the number of patients in ICU up by one, for a total of 284.
After falling daily since mid-January, the number of active cases provincewide has risen for the second day in a row, to a total of 10,294. At the peak of the second wave, in January, there were more than 30,000 active cases in Ontario.
Ontario’s science advisors say prioritizing COVID-19 vaccinations based on neighbourhood as well as age could prevent thousands of cases and reduce the number of deaths due to the pandemic.
Coronavirus: 11 new cases in London-Middlesex; 8 in Elgin-Oxford, 10 in Sarnia-Lambton
As of Friday, the region's pandemic case tally stands at 6,143, of which 5,871 have resolved and 181 have died. The most recent death occurred on Feb. 12. All 11 of Friday's new cases are from London, with one aged 19 or younger, four in their 20s, one in their 40s, three in their 50s, and two in their 30s. No cases were reported involving anyone in their 30s or over the age of 70. Exposure source data is pending or undetermined for seven cases, while two cases each are listed as being due to close contact and to outbreak.
The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table makes the findings in a new report released Friday.
The group says the pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on older adults and residents of disadvantaged and racialized urban neighbourhoods.
It says targeting those residents for vaccination first could minimize deaths, illness and hospitalizations across Ontario.
The group also says implementing the strategy would not interfere with the ongoing vaccine rollout, but could instead help guide the upcoming mass distribution of shots to the general population.
Ontario has thus far focused its vaccine rollout on the highest-priority groups, including long-term care residents, and plans to next target populations based on age.
The popular Fromagerie St-Albert co-op factory in St. Albert, east of Ottawa, will close for at least four days beginning Friday after an outbreak involving three workers. All employees will be tested during the shutdown, the company said on its Facebook page.
There’s no ‘best’ vaccine, expert says as Canada OKs AstraZeneca shots
While Canadians may not get a choice about which COVID-19 vaccine to take, all three offer protection against severe illness, according to experts. © University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP, File In this undated file photo issued by the University of Oxford on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, a researcher in a laboratory at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, England, works on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. “All of these vaccines are good,” Dr. Bradly Wouters, executive vice-president of science and research at the University Health Network told Global News Friday.
The company’s retail outlet will be shut Friday, but is expected to reopen Saturday, although no fresh curds or blocks of cheese will be available.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has confirmed the three cases in St. Albert were of a variant of concern. Further tests are being conducted to determine the exact variant. A fourth variant case was also included in the region’s latest stats.
Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, the third to be given the green light for national use.
Canada has pre-ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was co-developed by researchers at the University of Oxford. It will also receive up to 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX by the end of June.
Health Canada also authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine that is being made at the Serum Institute of India. The vaccine is the same but was licensed to Serum under the name Covishield, and is considered to be distinct because of different manufacturing processes.
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine on seniors
OTTAWA — A national panel of vaccine experts says provinces should not use the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on seniors, opening the door for provinces to start vaccinating younger populations with the newly authorized vaccine much earlier than expected. But similar advice initially issued in Europe began to be revisited Monday, with France overturning its earlier decision against using it on seniors, and Germany in the midst of reconsidering it.
In addition to 20 million AstraZeneca doses coming from the U.S., the Serum Institute will supply two million doses to Canada.
The first shipment of 500,000 of the latter doses will arrive ”within weeks,” said Trudeau.
Health Canada is also reviewing two other vaccines. Approval of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine will likely not come until early March and Novavax is not expected until April.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine, like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s formulations, requires refrigeration and takes two doses for maximum efficacy.
It was a record week for COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Canada, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with 642,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines rolling in.
“Vaccines will keep arriving, faster and faster as we head into the spring, And not just because shipments of Moderna and Pfizer are ramping up, which they are, but because Canada has now approved yet another vaccine option,” said Trudeau.
Canada will see more than 6.5 million doses by the end of March, he said, and tens of millions more will arrive between April and June.
Health Minster Patty Hajdu said that doses arriving earlier than expected and in greater volume “possibly could accelerate” Canada’s vaccination targets.
“But of course, we’ve seen that there can be bumps in the road … things can happen on the manufacturing side, there can be challenges along the way, so I think we have realistic targets. Of course if we achieve our goal, of every Canadian having access to vaccination earlier than the end of September, that’s good news – and certainly, we are working on that,” said Hajdu.
If AstraZeneca isn’t widely recommended for seniors, who should get the vaccine?
While it's understandable to want more precise data, experts say what we know now doesn't mean the shot is unsafe for seniors, nor should it erode what are clear benefits.On Friday, Health Canada approved the vaccine for people over the age of 18. But, days later, the committee that advises the Government of Canada on vaccines seemed to contradict that.
But she said she wants Canadians to know “that there are things beyond our control,” like the earlier setbacks seen with Pfizer and Moderna.
Meanwhile, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Friday: “Although COVID-19 activity has been declining nationally for several weeks, we are keeping a close eye on increased case counts over the past few days.”
Average daily case counts have increased, ranging from eight to 14 per cent higher, in Ontario, B.C., and Alberta, compared to last week. And the number of cases involving the more contagious U.K. variant continues to increase, with the highest numbers to date being reported in those three provinces.
On a happier note, “Our progress on the vaccine front continues to give us reason for optimism,” said Tam.
To date, more than 1.7 million doses have been administered across the country, “and there are early indications of high vaccine efficacy, high vaccine effectiveness, among some of the populations at the highest risk of severe outcomes or exposure, who are being targeted by priority vaccination programs,” she said.
“As we continue to make progress, I urge Canadians to remain vigilant, continue to follow local public health advice, and consistently maintain individual practices that keep us and our families safer.”
Ottawa Public Health reported 56 new cases and no new deaths Friday. There are 23 Ottawans hospitalized with COVID-19, with eight in ICU.
Two new outbreaks were reported — one at the Extendicare Laurier Manor LTC home, involving one staff case, and one in the community.
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Meanwhile, Ottawans will have to wait a few more days for information about how to book an appointment at the city’s first pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic. Details will be announced Monday, according to the city, which has asked that residents not call Ottawa Public Health or 311 for now, as appointments aren’t yet available. In the meantime, you can read up on eligibility on the city’s website. Only residents born earlier than 1942 or adults who receive chronic home care, AND who live in certain high-risk communities will be able to book appointments when they open next week.
OPH tweeted Friday that the agency would be using automated phone calls to contact home-care patients in some higher-priority neighbourhoods who are about to be vaccinated.
Starting tomorrow, we'll be using automated phone calls to contact Ottawa's home-care patients in some higher-priority neighbourhoods who are soon able to get their vaccine.
If you get a call, kindly answer & follow the instructions. Thank you.— Ottawa Public Health (@OttawaHealth)
“Due to the current limited supply of vaccine, those who are at the highest risk are being vaccinated first,” the city wrote, in a news release. “Rates of COVID-19 in the high-risk neighbourhoods are on average five times higher than in the rest of Ottawa. In some cases, they are 16 times higher. Risks for hospitalization and death are also higher. Limiting hospitalizations will help the whole community.”
Quebec reported 815 new cases of COVID-19, and 11 more deaths Friday.
Three were 19 new cases in the Outaouais, for a total of 6,249, and the death toll remained unchanged at 159.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec has reported 286,145 cases and 10,372 deaths linked to COVID-19. A total of 267,885 people who have contracted the disease have since recovered.
Hospitalizations and ICU treatment continued to drop.
There were 13 fewer people are in hospital, bringing the total to 620, the province’s lowest level in three months.
Three fewer people were in ICU, for a total of 119 cases.
Quebec administered 12,038 additional vaccine doses Friday, for a total to 400,540.
-With files from Postmedia and The Canadian Press
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