MERS Coronavirus warning

Here's the belated COVID-19 summary for Thursday.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on March 4

In Canada, more provinces are looking at extending the time between first and second shots. BC and Quebec have been doing this for a while, but more will likely follow as federal public health officials state that it is now recommended practice based on sound real world evidence.
Some provinces are weighing revised immunization rollouts a day after a federal vaccine advisory committee recommended stretching out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months due to limited supplies.

On Thursday, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, backed up the advice, saying it is based on real-world data that shows doing so would lead to more people being protected from COVID-19 in a shorter time period.

In Brazil, Rio de Janeiro will have new restrictions starting Friday, including a curfew from 11 pm to 5 am. Restaurants must close at 5 pm and nightclubs will close completely. The new restrictions will last until the 11th of March. Brazil is currently going through another pandemic wave, with record numbers of deaths.
In the Americas, Brazil's second-biggest city of Rio de Janeiro will be the latest to adopt new COVID-related restrictions on Friday, including a night curfew, in a bid to slow a deadly second wave that is ravaging the South American country.

The city of 6.7 million people will impose a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and order restaurants to close at 5 p.m., while certain businesses, such as clubs, will be shut altogether, according to information published in the city's official bulletin on Thursday.

While COVID-19 deaths and infections are falling globally, that is not the case in Brazil, where a record 1,910 people died from the virus on Wednesday. In response, various states and cities have adopted new restrictions on commerce in recent days, including the Federal District, home of capital Brasilia, and Sao Paulo state, Brazil's most populous.

The new restrictions in Rio are due to last through March 11.

The EU have blocked a shipment of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia at the request of Italy.
In Europe, a shipment of over a quarter million AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines destined for Australia has been blocked from leaving the European Union, in the first use of an export control system instituted by the bloc to make sure big pharmaceutical companies would respect their contracts.

The EU have begun review of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, potentially leading for approval of its use in the EU.
Meanwhile, the EU's medicines regulator said on Thursday it has started a real-time review of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine developed by Russia's Gamaleya Institute for possible approval in the region.

Germany have approved using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on people aged 65 and older.
Around the bloc, Germany's health minister says the country's independent vaccine committee has formally approved giving the AstraZeneca shot to people age 65 and over.

Poland will increase the time between shots of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine to 42 days. Presumably they see this as the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.
In Poland, the government is extending the time between administering the two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to 42 days, with officials saying they want to increase the number of people getting vaccinated.

Kenya received more than a million doses of the Oxford vaccine this week.
In Africa, Kenya received over a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week, while Rwanda said it was the first in Africa to secure shots from Pfizer.

Egypt have moved on to vaccinating the elderly and people with chronic diseases. They had been vaccinating medical staff up until now.
Egypt, meanwhile, expanded its vaccination rollout to include the elderly and people with chronic diseases after several weeks of vaccinating medical staff.

Sir Lanka have approved the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Sri Lanka's drug regulatory body has approved the Russian Sputnik V vaccine as the second available for use in the Indian Ocean island nation.
 
Here's the CBC story on the EU blocking vaccine shipments to Australia.
EU, Italy halt AstraZeneca vaccine shipment to Australia

The story mentions that this in reaction to what in the EU is seen as the slow pace of vaccination in the EU. A comparison was made to the more successful vaccination program in the UK.

The story also states that the EU are in a difficult position, as they wish to remain an attractive location for pharmaceutical firms to invest, and to also appear as a reliable trade partner for third world nations.
 
Canada have approved the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.
Health Canada approves 4th COVID-19 vaccine as Pfizer agrees to accelerate deliveries

There are no firm delivery dates yet, but they aren't expected to start shipping to Canada until April. The company are apparently still setting up their global supply chains.

The J&J vaccine is a one shot vaccine, as opposed to the more common two shot varieties from other makers.

Also Pfizer have agreed to adjust their shipping schedule so that 3.5 million doses that were supposed to arrive in Canada during the summer will arrive during the spring instead.
 
Health Canada say they won't require new clinical trials for modifications to existing COVID-19 vaccines which are intended to handle new virus variants.
Health Canada moves to fast-track COVID-19 vaccine booster shots that target variants

A full clinical trial involves giving tens of thousands of volunteers either the vaccine or a placebo and the following up with them for months to see how well the vaccine works over time.

What they will do instead is ask for blood samples to be examined to see how many antibodies are generated. This is a much quicker process similar to what is used to approve new seasonal flu vaccines each year.

The reason for this to be applied to COVID-19 vaccines is that with new variants appearing all the time, the time required to do a full clinical trial can mean the new vaccine booster shot could be out of date by the time it is approved.
 
One of the fall-outs of the closure of the Canada-US border to non-essential traffic is that tolls for bridges connecting the province of Ontario with adjacent parts of the US have fallen sharply. All of the main border crossings between Canada's largest province and the US are via a bridge.
How a bridge to Canada got the axe from American lawmakers

Without the toll revenue, the bridge doesn't have the money to continue to operate safely. Canada has been paying for the bridge to remain up through a direct cash grant.

The US federal government were going to pay their share of the cost, but the legislation for one of the bridges in eastern Ontario has just been killed in Washington due to opposition (Republican) manoeuvring over purely domestic political posturing.

Without the bridge operating trade will be hampered. The Canadian government has said that the a solution will be found, but it's not clear yet whether that means that Canada will be paying the US's share of the cost as well.
 
And in minor news, an anti-vaxxer / anti-masker / "COVID-19 is a hoax" nutter in Windsor Canada has just had custody of his children removed from him and given to his ex-wife because a court ruled that he could not be trusted to keep them safe from COVID-19.
Windsor court ruling puts COVID-19 'hoax' belief at centre of custody fight

A judge in Windsor has ruled that a person's vocal disbelief about COVID-19 are a factor in a child custody case.

Ontario Superior Court Justice George W. King denied a Windsor man interim custody of his kids because the man's fervent anti-masking beliefs means he wouldn't take appropriate actions to keep them safe from COVID-19.

The decision notes the man believes COVID-19 to be a hoax and has boasted in public about flouting health restrictions such as masking and social distancing.

"The health and welfare of the children (and by extension their principal caregiver) should not be jeopardized because of [his] public behaviour in promotion of his opinions," he wrote.

This ruling is apparently consistent with previous non-COVID-19 related ones with regards to such things as vaccination and blood transfusion, so it's on fairly solid legal ground.

A person is allowed to have whatever personal and political opinions they wish, but the children's best interests are paramount.

A legal expert interviewed for the story said that the judge spoke at length about how the father tried to centre the issue as being about his own rights rather than on what was best for the children. In other words, he was effectively arguing that everyone else's rights were secondary to his own. This argument was not accepted by the judge.
Gerald Cradock, an associate professor of sociology specializing in children's issues at the University of Windsor, said that regardless of a parent's beliefs, justices have to look at the health and safety of children.

"The judge is really careful in saying what's at issue here is the children's best interest," Cradock said.

"[The justice] speaks at length about the father's centring the issue around his own rights, in other words, everybody else's rights are somehow derivative to the fathers rights."

The mother now has the power to make decisions about vaccination. The current custody order however now lasts only as long as the pandemic and can be reviewed again once it is over.
 
A comparison was made to the more successful vaccination program in the UK.
While there is little doubt that the UK has had a wondrous success in the distribution of the 1st dose to date, I'm studying the roll out of the 2nd dose with a bit more caution.

_117385957_vax_trajectory4mar-nc.png


Doesn’t the 2nd dose graph need to be roughly the same shape as the 1st dose graph, albeit 4-9 weeks further along the x-axis? Leave the administration of the 2nd dose too late and you're effectively going to have to start from scratch.

By my reckoning, we're at a tenth of where we should be on the 2nd dose.
 
Here's the COVID-19 summary for Friday.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday

Australia are looking for assurances from the EU that future vaccine shipments will not be blocked as recently happened.
Australia is seeking assurances from the European Union's executive arm that future shipments of vaccines will not be blocked, after Italy banned a large export of AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus shots.

Canada are watching the EU-Australia situation closely, and EU officials have told Canada that vaccine supply for Canada will not be interrupted for now. However, Canada is not expecting any AstraZeneca vaccine from Europe for "a number of more months" yet. Limited amounts of Oxford vaccine from SII in India began arriving this week.
When asked about the situation with Australia, Trudeau said the government is following the issue closely, adding that conversations with European officials confirmed to him that "the flow of vaccines to Canada should not be interrupted."

"Particularly given the fact that the vaccines we receive from Europe at this time are Moderna and Pfizer."

He said Canada is not expected to receive AstraZeneca doses from Europe for "a number more months." Initial shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India arrived this week.

In Brazil, president Bolsonaro told Brazilians to stop "whinging" over the country setting new records for death rates two days in a row. "Enough fussing and whining. How much longer will the crying go on?" "How much longer will you stay at home and close everything? No one can stand it anymore. We regret the deaths, again, but we need a solution." Bolsonaro all along has opposed efforts by provincial and municipal governments to control infection rates and generally downplayed the seriousness of the situation.
In the Americas, after two straight days of record COVID-19 deaths in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday told Brazilians to stop "whining" and move on, in his latest remarks attacking distancing measures and downplaying the gravity of the pandemic.

Brazil has the world's second-highest death toll over the past year, after the United States. While the U.S. outbreak is ebbing, Brazil is facing its worst phase of the epidemic yet, pushing its hospital system to the brink of collapse.

"Enough fussing and whining. How much longer will the crying go on?" Bolsonaro told a crowd at an event. "How much longer will you stay at home and close everything? No one can stand it anymore. We regret the deaths, again, but we need a solution."

Cuba are conducting trials of their own vaccine.
Cuba has begun late-stage trials of its most advanced experimental COVID-19 vaccine, edging closer to a potential home-grown inoculation.

France are extending the lockdown in Calais.
In Europe, France will extend COVID-19 weekend lockdowns to the region around the Channel coast town of Calais, following similar lockdowns around Nice and Dunkirk.

Kuwait are imposing a 5 pm to 5 am curfew and closing parks.
In the Middle East, Kuwait will impose a 5 p.m to 5 a.m. curfew and close parks from Sunday until April 8 in a bid to contain the coronavirus, the government's spokesperson said on state TV.

Kenya began vaccinating people with the Oxford vaccine on Friday.
In Africa, Kenya began vaccinating people on Friday against COVID-19 with hopes that AstraZeneca shots will help to revive the battered tourism-dependent economy of East Africa's richest nation.

Moderna's representative in Japan applied for approval of their vaccine there.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan's regulators were asked on Friday to approve use of the COVID-19 vaccine of Moderna Inc., the third such vaccine in the nation that began its inoculation effort last month.
 
While there is little doubt that the UK has had a wondrous success in the distribution of the 1st dose to date, I'm studying the roll out of the 2nd dose with a bit more caution.

View attachment 554847

Doesn’t the 2nd dose graph need to be roughly the same shape as the 1st dose graph, albeit 4-9 weeks further along the x-axis? Leave the administration of the 2nd dose too late and you're effectively going to have to start from scratch.

By my reckoning, we're at a tenth of where we should be on the 2nd dose.
The latest recommendation in Canada for all the vaccines is to delay the second dose for up to 4 months. Under that criteria, you don't need to start giving the second doses until the middle of April, and it doesn't need to start to ramp up rapidly until the beginning of May.
 
While there is little doubt that the UK has had a wondrous success in the distribution of the 1st dose to date, I'm studying the roll out of the 2nd dose with a bit more caution.

View attachment 554847

Doesn’t the 2nd dose graph need to be roughly the same shape as the 1st dose graph, albeit 4-9 weeks further along the x-axis? Leave the administration of the 2nd dose too late and you're effectively going to have to start from scratch.

By my reckoning, we're at a tenth of where we should be on the 2nd dose.
The time between first and second dose evolved within a growing understanding of effectiveness. Currently it seems to take three to four weeks for the body to produce optimal amount of antibodies. The second dose is then scheduled for between four and twelve weeks after the first dose. The area under the graph for the second dose looks like it adds up to more than the initial shallow gradient, before the ramping up. By scheduling a twelve week interval it is easier to ramp up the first initial effort and to immunise with an efficacy of >80% with just the first dose. That is a very substantial protection for the individuals and for the NHS.
The second dose increases immunity beyond these already high figures. The BBC graphs are measuring two different stages and seemingly giving them equal weighting.

Dose one is the critical delivery. Dose two at twelve weeks raises immunity and should extend the period of immunity. Four weeks would perhaps shorten immunity and just the initial two jab delivery would put much more strain on resources and delay the time to optimal coverage of the population.

That's my understanding.

ETA, didn't see post by @terminal as I was busy typing.
 
Had a letter on Tuesday inviting me to book both doses online. Nearest of four choices offered on Tuesday evening was 50 odd miles away. Tried again 24 hrs later & booked both 14 miles away.
 
The time between first and second dose evolved within a growing understanding of effectiveness. Currently it seems to take three to four weeks for the body to produce optimal amount of antibodies. The second dose is then scheduled for between four and twelve weeks after the first dose. The area under the graph for the second dose looks like it adds up to more than the initial shallow gradient, before the ramping up. By scheduling a twelve week interval it is easier to ramp up the first initial effort and to immunise with an efficacy of >80% with just the first dose. That is a very substantial protection for the individuals and for the NHS.
The second dose increases immunity beyond these already high figures. The BBC graphs are measuring two different stages and seemingly giving them equal weighting.

Dose one is the critical delivery. Dose two at twelve weeks raises immunity and should extend the period of immunity. Four weeks would perhaps shorten immunity and just the initial two jab delivery would put much more strain on resources and delay the time to optimal coverage of the population.

That's my understanding.

ETA, didn't see post by @terminal as I was busy typing.
Yes, but...

The BBC graph only gives numbers of 1st and 2nd vaccinations, not immunity or weightings. If there is anything to derive from the graph, it's the maximum capacity of the vaccination stations. On that basis, if 2nd dose is to be ramped up then 1st dose will have to be ramped down - and quite soon. Leave it too late and you reach expiry of the initial immunity.

It's fine for Canada to aim for a 4 month wait between the two injections because they don't have so many people who have already had the 1st vaccination and can plan future ratios of 1st and 2nd while remaining within capacity. In UK, the plan appears to have been, and is currently, to have a two and a half month gap. Switching to a 4 month gap won't improve capacity, it'll merely delay the inevitable. Instead, emphasis needs to be placed on giving the 2nd dose in a timely manner. This will have the effect that the rate of 1st injections will fall markedly - and that will be reflected in 2nd injections two and a half months later. Done exactly wrongly and the vaccination programme comes to a crashing halt as either 1st injections expire or people aren't ready for their 2nd injection.

And that assumes that there won't be supply problems.

On the plus side, I'm a pessimist so I'll either have the satisfaction of saying "I told you so" or I'll be pleasantly surprised.
 
Yes, but...

The BBC graph only gives numbers of 1st and 2nd vaccinations, not immunity or weightings. If there is anything to derive from the graph, it's the maximum capacity of the vaccination stations. On that basis, if 2nd dose is to be ramped up then 1st dose will have to be ramped down - and quite soon. Leave it too late and you reach expiry of the initial immunity.

It's fine for Canada to aim for a 4 month wait between the two injections because they don't have so many people who have already had the 1st vaccination and can plan future ratios of 1st and 2nd while remaining within capacity. In UK, the plan appears to have been, and is currently, to have a two and a half month gap. Switching to a 4 month gap won't improve capacity, it'll merely delay the inevitable. Instead, emphasis needs to be placed on giving the 2nd dose in a timely manner. This will have the effect that the rate of 1st injections will fall markedly - and that will be reflected in 2nd injections two and a half months later. Done exactly wrongly and the vaccination programme comes to a crashing halt as either 1st injections expire or people aren't ready for their 2nd injection.

And that assumes that there won't be supply problems.

On the plus side, I'm a pessimist so I'll either have the satisfaction of saying "I told you so" or I'll be pleasantly surprised.
I don't think there is any information yet on not getting the second dose on time resulting in the immunity "expiring". We don't know as the history just isn't there and we are learning as we go along. We do know that one dose is less effective than two, but I'm not aware of there being any evidence yet for the first shot fading without the second.

The original intervals between doses were somewhat arbitrary, as they needed to pick something and test it rather than taking a long time to figure out the optimum. The Oxford vaccine they found to become more effective with a longer interval between doses.

Given the rising number of variants, I suspect that everyone will need a booster shot using a modified vaccine by next winter anyway.
 
Here's the COVID-19 summary for Friday.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday

Australia are looking for assurances from the EU that future vaccine shipments will not be blocked as recently happened.


Canada are watching the EU-Australia situation closely, and EU officials have told Canada that vaccine supply for Canada will not be interrupted for now. However, Canada is not expecting any AstraZeneca vaccine from Europe for "a number of more months" yet. Limited amounts of Oxford vaccine from SII in India began arriving this week.


In Brazil, president Bolsonaro told Brazilians to stop "whinging" over the country setting new records for death rates two days in a row. "Enough fussing and whining. How much longer will the crying go on?" "How much longer will you stay at home and close everything? No one can stand it anymore. We regret the deaths, again, but we need a solution." Bolsonaro all along has opposed efforts by provincial and municipal governments to control infection rates and generally downplayed the seriousness of the situation.


Cuba are conducting trials of their own vaccine.


France are extending the lockdown in Calais.


Kuwait are imposing a 5 pm to 5 am curfew and closing parks.


Kenya began vaccinating people with the Oxford vaccine on Friday.


Moderna's representative in Japan applied for approval of their vaccine there.
I don’t know how practical it is, but I think it would be a good idea for Canada to start planning on sourcing vaccine from somewhere other than EU countries. If you have a few months before they are expected, now would be the time to try and find alternatives.
 
Yes, but...

The BBC graph only gives numbers of 1st and 2nd vaccinations, not immunity or weightings. If there is anything to derive from the graph, it's the maximum capacity of the vaccination stations. On that basis, if 2nd dose is to be ramped up then 1st dose will have to be ramped down - and quite soon. Leave it too late and you reach expiry of the initial immunity.

It's fine for Canada to aim for a 4 month wait between the two injections because they don't have so many people who have already had the 1st vaccination and can plan future ratios of 1st and 2nd while remaining within capacity. In UK, the plan appears to have been, and is currently, to have a two and a half month gap. Switching to a 4 month gap won't improve capacity, it'll merely delay the inevitable. Instead, emphasis needs to be placed on giving the 2nd dose in a timely manner. This will have the effect that the rate of 1st injections will fall markedly - and that will be reflected in 2nd injections two and a half months later. Done exactly wrongly and the vaccination programme comes to a crashing halt as either 1st injections expire or people aren't ready for their 2nd injection.

And that assumes that there won't be supply problems.

On the plus side, I'm a pessimist so I'll either have the satisfaction of saying "I told you so" or I'll be pleasantly surprised.
I could be wrong but it looked to me as if the second curve was starting to ramp up. It's too soon to tell. We need to look at next weeks graphs and the weeks after that.
 
Lidl and Aldi (Germany only at the moment) are selling rapid antigen tests for between 5 and 10 euro.
They reckon they are 80% accurate and you get a result from a saliva swab in 30 minutes.

Not sure if its a good idea or not. Could lull people into a false sense of security and it should be noted this is not an approved test. Apparently it will be discussed in the German parliament next week.

Missus had her first vaccine last Tuesday due to a few problems a couple of years ago. Appointment for the next Pfizer vaccine is exactly 3 weeks after the first one. I have to wait until the end of this month for my first one. Local health centre is about 500 yards away but, at the moment, they are only doing them at a larger health centre which is about 3km away (where my missus had to go). Good system with the A&E part of the health centre being used. Checked by a nurse in one room, move along to the cubicles where they do the jab and then a large outside area where you have to wait 15 minutes before leaving. They wouldn't let me in with her but I was allowed to go to the outside waiting area when she came out.

Problem here, unlike Germany and France, is that they are using up all the vaccines as they come in. As of Thursday, our area had used 94% of all vaccines they'd received and will run out over the weekend before the next batches arrive on Monday and Wednesday. AZ vaccines are being used for essential workers between 45 and 55 such as dentists, pharmacists, porters, police and fire service and so on and those in the same age group with a chronic illness.

They have vaccinated 98.5% of those in residential homes, both inmates and workers, and 84.4% of those have had both jabs.
 
Lidl and Aldi (Germany only at the moment) are selling rapid antigen tests for between 5 and 10 euro.
They reckon they are 80% accurate and you get a result from a saliva swab in 30 minutes.

Not sure if its a good idea or not. Could lull people into a false sense of security and it should be noted this is not an approved test. Apparently it will be discussed in the German parliament next week.
There'll be many in the UK who will be thinking "but we can get tested for free" but there is a (probably unintentional) market for such kits here. For example, when my wife showed symptoms and tested positive, my son and I also had to isolate. Neither of us exhibited symptoms. Being in isolation, we could not go out for a rapid test. Without exhibiting symptoms, nor could we have a home test.

Had we been able to be tested immediately after my wife failed her test, we would have known whether we were asymptomatic or had just dodged a bullet. As my wife had contact with only four people in the fortnight before she showed symptoms, none of whom showed symptoms themselves, we'd also know who she got it from.
 
If it had been up to me, my inclination would have been to choose A-Z for myself. However local health authorities in the UK, rightly in my view, choose according to storage, logistics and supply. Macron and Merkel chose to make a political point. A spiteful and dangerous lie that will unfortunately cost lives in France, Germany and other EU countries.


The full interview can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJMC-44oT9l97ra5iemDPiA
 
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I don’t know how practical it is, but I think it would be a good idea for Canada to start planning on sourcing vaccine from somewhere other than EU countries. If you have a few months before they are expected, now would be the time to try and find alternatives.
Canada are getting a few million vaccine doses from India and have a couple of million doses coming from South Korea in the summer (purchased through COVAX), but the only other possible large scale sources are:
  • the US - they aren't exporting any at all to anyone.
  • the EU - only a limited and uncertain supply of Pfizer from them.
  • Switzerland - This is where the Moderna vaccine is coming from, but supply is limited.
  • China - no chance for political and diplomatic reasons (Meng Wanzhou / Huawei affair).
  • Russia - no chance for political and diplomatic reasons (Canada's strong backing of Ukraine).
We are working on creating our own manufacturing supply, but that won't be ready until some time near the end of the year. If it all works out we will have loads of vaccine for next year. The problem is where to source it this year.

The thing is that at one time we had a world leading vaccine and biomedical industry (created insulin, developed the technology to manufacture polio vaccine, etc.) but it was sold off to foreign multinationals in the 1980s and they were not interested in maintaining investment in Canada. So now we find ourselves having to re-create the industry from scratch.
 

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