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Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Thursday


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The latest:

Dr. Anthony Fauci says if a coronavirus vaccine is available, regardless of which one, take it.

The top U.S. infectious disease expert told NBC on Thursday a third vaccine becoming available “is nothing but good news” and would help control the pandemic. U.S. regulators announced Wednesday that Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine offers strong protection against severe COVID-19. It’s expected to be approved soon by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Fauci urged people not to hold off on getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after it is granted emergency use authorization in order to wait for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna products, saying it’s a race “between the virus and getting vaccines into people.”

“The longer one waits not getting vaccinated, the better chance the virus has to get a variant or a mutation.”

The predominant coronavirus variant in the U.S is B117, which was first reported in the United Kingdom. Fauci said the vaccines distributed in the U.S. “clearly can take care of that particular strain.”

WATCH | Quebec doctor explains why getting the first dose of any COVID-19 vaccine right now is important: 

Montreal virologist Benoit Barbeau says Canadians should focus on getting their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, even as new vaccines roll out and established ones adapt to new variants. 5:29

Canada has ordered 10 million doses from Johnson & Johnson with an option for up to 28 million more, pending approval from Health Canada.

Fauci’s comments came as Pfizer announced Thursday that it has begun studying the effects of a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, part of a strategy to guard against mutated versions of the coronavirus.

Health authorities say first-generation COVID-19 vaccines still protect against variants that are emerging in different parts of the world. But manufacturers are starting to prepare now in case a more vaccine-resistant mutation comes along. Pfizer said it will offer a third dose to 144 volunteers, drawing from people who participated in the vaccine’s early-stage U.S. testing last year.

It wants to determine if an additional booster shot given six to 12 months after the first two doses would rev up the immune system enough to ward off a mutated virus. Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, are also tweaking their vaccine recipe. The companies are in discussions with U.S. and European regulators about a study to evaluate doses updated to better match variants such as the one first discovered in South Africa.

WATCH | How many vaccines has Canada actually received and when are more coming?

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin provides an update on COVID-19 vaccine shipments in March and early April. 1:45

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 10:30 a.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

As of 2:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 857,429 cases of COVID-19, with 30,575 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,847.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials reported 10 additional cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The province, which has seen five COVID-19 deaths to date, said that 10 patients were currently in hospital.

Nunavut reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The territory has 25 active cases total, all in Arviat. The hamlet recently declared a state of emergency, which includes a curfew.

In Quebec on Thursday, health officials reported 858 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 additional deaths. The province had 633 COVID-19 patients in hospital including 122 in intensive care units.

Ontario on Thursday reported 1,138 new cases of COVID-19 and 23 additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 687, with 283 people in intensive care units, according to a dashboard tracking COVID-19 in the province.

WATCH | Co-founder of Moderna talks about mRNA vaccines and how they work:

The Canadian co-founder of Moderna, Derrick Rossi, says one reason mRNA vaccines can be tailored precisely to counter coronavirus variants is thanks to genetic sequencing. 3:33

New Brunswick reported one new case of COVID-19 on Thursday. 

Nova Scotia reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, while Prince Edward Island reported two new cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Manitoba health officials reported 70 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and one additional death, but also the lowest test positivity rate in the province since October

The Manitoba government has announced the location of its fourth site for large-scale vaccine distribution. Health officials said a so-called supersite will open in early March at a former hospital in Selkirk. There are similar sites already in Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson.

In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 211 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, a sharp increase from 56 the day before. There was one new death. 

WATCH | First Nation using isolation tents as housing:

A First Nations community in northern Ontario set up tents to help isolate and quarantine cases of COVID-19. But a housing shortage has some people turning them into permanent homes, even without power or running water. 1:59

Alberta on Wednesday reported 430 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 additional deaths.

British Columbia reported 456 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths on Wednesday. 

There were were no new cases of COVID-19 in Yukon on Thursday. Meanwhile, officials in the Northwest Territories said health workers had vaccinated 42 per cent of its adult population to date. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola said 14,520 first doses have been administered in the territory to date, while 1,934 people have been fully vaccinated.

Kandola also said the territory expects to receive another 16,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of this week. There were five active cases of COVID-19 in the Northwest Territories.

WATCH | Provinces offer different timelines for COVID-19 vaccine rollout:

When Canadians will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine may depend on where they live. The provinces have started revealing their rollout plans, but the timing of who can get a shot varies across the country. 1:58

Here’s a look at what’s happening across the country:

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 12:55 p.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

A health worker administers the Sinopharm vaccine to a nurse at Chirau Village Clinic in Zvimba Rural District on Tuesday near Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe. (Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images)

As of noon ET on Thursday, more than 112.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with 63.5 million of the cases listed as recovered on a tracking site maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million, according to the U.S.-based university.

In Africa, the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning it would be a “fatal mistake” if the developed world takes the attitude of “we’ll vaccinate our people, and people in other parts of the world can take care of their own.”

John Nkengasong, speaking Thursday to reporters, said that “it’s in no one’s interest we continue to be in this tense situation,” and said more could have been done to address the global COVID-19 vaccine inequality. But he celebrated that Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive vaccines via the global COVAX effort aimed at distributing doses to low-income countries.

He said he hoped vaccinations would start Thursday in Ghana and that vaccine deliveries to other African countries will arrive in the coming days.

Africa over the past month has seen a decrease in the number of new cases after a strong resurgence in infections driven by a more infectious variant of the coronavirus discovered in South Africa. The continent surpassed 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths this month.

Kenya’s first batch of COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in the first week of March, with health-care workers, front-line workers and vulnerable population groups to be given priority.

In the Americas, U.S. President Joe Biden plans to distribute millions of face masks to Americans in communities hard-hit by the coronavirus.

It’s part of his effort to ensure equity in the government’s response to the pandemic. Biden is aiming to reach underserved communities and those bearing the brunt of the outbreak. His plan will distribute masks not through the mail, but through Federally Qualified Community Health Centers and the nation’s food bank and food pantry systems.

The White House announced it expects more than 25 million American-made cloth masks in both adult and kid sizes will be distributed. Biden has asked everyone to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his term. He’s also required mask-wearing in federal buildings and on public transportation.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Pakistan will resume regular classes five days per week at all schools from March 1 amid a steady decrease in COVID-19 cases and deaths. Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood made the announcement Thursday on Twitter.

Pakistan closed classrooms in November amid a surge in infections. Schools were later opened in phases, but regular classes had not been allowed.

Authorities said Wednesday that they will allow opening of parks, cinemas and indoor dining and wedding receptions beginning on March 15. Pakistan has reported 12,772 deaths from the coronavirus. Pakistan is currently vaccinating health workers and elderly people using the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China.

India announced an expansion of its vaccination program but warned that breaches of coronavirus protocols could worsen an infection surge in many states.

The Japanese government will end a state of emergency in five prefectures west of Tokyo at the end of this month, Kyodo news agency reported.

In the Middle East, hospitals should prepare for a possible second wave and take steps to prevent the disease spreading, health authorities in the government-controlled part of Yemen said.

In Europe, the World Health Organization is working with the European Commission to co-ordinate vaccine donations for other countries on the continent, the head of its European office said.

Finland plans to reintroduce a state of emergency that would allow the Nordic country to close restaurants for a three-week period starting March 8 as it fights the variant first discovered in Britain.

“I know you’re tired. So am I. But we have to be strong and now the situation is more difficult,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin told a press conference on Thursday. The variant “is more difficult to tackle, the old tools are not enough. Closed borders are not enough.”

A health worker vaccinates a man against COVID-19 during a mass vaccination campaign in Madrid on Thursday. (Pierre Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images)

The new measures require students over 13 to switch to distance learning and halt their leisure activities. A public meeting ban for more than six people has been introduced and people are urged to avoid private gatherings. People in Finland would still have to work remotely and wear face masks.

Sweden stepped up pandemic restrictions to avoid a third wave, while France’s government ordered a weekend lockdown in the Dunkirk area to arrest an “alarming” rise in cases.

Italy’s government will extend restrictions already in place until after Easter, while Switzerland announced the first phase in a cautious easing from restrictions.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at noon ET

www.cbc.ca 2021-02-25 12:40:14

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