Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Tuesday
The United States must stick to a two-dose strategy for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, top U.S. infectious disease official Anthony Fauci told the Washington Post.
Fauci said that delaying a second dose to inoculate more Americans creates risks. COVID-19 has claimed more than half a million lives in the United States, and states are clamouring for more doses to stem cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
But Fauci warned that shifting to a single-dose strategy for the vaccines could leave people less protected, enable variants to spread and possibly boost skepticism among Americans already hesitant to get the shots.
“There’s risks on either side,” Fauci was quoted as saying by the Washington Post in a report published late on Monday.
He said that he spoke with U.K. health officials on Monday. Health officials there have decided to offer people their second dose of its approved COVID-19 vaccines 12 weeks after they receive their first jab.
“We agreed that there is a risk of making things worse by doing that — balanced against the risk of not getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as you can,” Fauci told the Post.
He said the science does not support delaying a second dose for those vaccines, citing research that a two-shot regimen creates enough protection to help fend off variants of the coronavirus that are more transmissible, whereas a single shot could leave Americans at risk from variants such as the one first detected in South Africa.
“You don’t know how durable that protection is,” he said.
Fauci has encouraged Americans to accept any of the three available COVID-19 vaccines, including the newly approved Johnson & Johnson shot.
The U.S. government authorized Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, making it the third to be available in the country following the ones from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna that require two doses.
Health Canada has not yet approved the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine but did recently approve the two-dose product from AstraZeneca and Oxford University, bringing the number of vaccines approved for use in Canada to three.
B.C. to delay 2nd dose
Fauci’s comments to the Post about the two-dose regime were reported the same day as an announcement from British Columbia’s provincial health officer about a change in dose timing.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months as it ramps up its age-based immunization plan to free up doses so all residents could get their initial shot by July.
Henry said Monday the change is based on the “miraculous” protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
She said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is expected to issue a statement to align with B.C.’s decision, which is also based on similar data from Quebec and countries including Israel and the United Kingdom. The NACI currently does not recommend a 16-week interval between the first and second dose for any of the three approved COVID-19 vaccines.
“The important thing that we have learned is that these vaccines work, they give a very high level of protection, and that protection lasts for many months,” Henry said on Monday. “Extending this second dose provides very high, real-world protection to more people, sooner.”
Ontario, meanwhile, is asking the federal government if it can extend the interval between the first and second dose of its COVID-19 vaccines to four months.
Health Minister Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones made the request Monday in a joint statement. They said there is growing evidence to suggest that the intervals between the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines can be safely extended.
WATCH | Canada’s chief science adviser talks about B.C.’s plan:
Canada’s chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, however, told Power & Politics host Vassy Kapelos on Monday that the studies so far and the “vast majority” of the data on the Pfizer and Moderna products “are from studies where they were given three to four weeks apart, not three to four months apart.”
Nemer cited concerns about a lack of data and variants of the virus, saying that “it’s probably best to just vaccinate as recommended and as studied for now.”
-From The Associated Press, The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:25 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
WATCH | Vaccine advisory committee contradicts Health Canada on AstraZeneca vaccine:
As of early Tuesday morning, Canada had reported 870,038 cases of COVID-19, with 30,430 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,017.
In Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, while New Brunswick and Nova Scotia both reported one new case. In Prince Edward Island, which is currently under a shutdown aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, health officials reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
In Quebec, health officials reported 613 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and six more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including one within the past 24 hours. Hospitalizations stood at 612, while the number of people in intensive care rose by five, to 122.
Ontario on Monday reported 1,023 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and six more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Hospitalizations stood at 659, with 280 COVID-19 patients in the province’s intensive care units.
WATCH | Regional rollout frustrates Ontario residents waiting for vaccine:
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 35 new cases of COVID-19 — its lowest daily case number in months — and one additional death on Monday. In neighbouring Saskatchewan, health officials reported 154 new cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths.
Alberta, meanwhile, reported 291 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths on Monday. The province is easing COVID-19 restrictions on indoor fitness centres and libraries.
However, it is delaying lifting measures for hotels, banquet halls, community halls and conference centres. Premier Jason Kenney says there has been a sharp decline in hospitalizations and cases in long-term care homes. However, he said caution is needed because the test positivity rate and cases of new, more transmissible variants are rising.
In British Columbia, health officials reported 1,428 new COVID-19 cases from Saturday to Monday, for a total of 80,672 cases in the province since the pandemic began.
Across the North, there was one new case reported in Nunavut and no new cases reported in the Northwest Territories or Yukon.
Here’s a look at what else is happening across the country:
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:15 a.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Tuesday morning, more than 114.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with 64.6 million of the cases listed on the Johns Hopkins database as recovered. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million, the U.S.-based university reported.
In the Asia-Pacific region, China aims to vaccinate 40 per cent of its population by the end of July, a senior health adviser said, requiring a significant increase in shots even as it ramps up vaccine exports.
Indonesia says it has detected two cases of the more infectious variant first identified in Britain.
South Korea’s decision to allow more doses to be extracted from vaccine vials sparked controversy as it ramped up its vaccinations of health-care workers and the elderly.
In the Americas, Ecuador named a new health minister, after the previous minister resigned following accusations of irregularities in a vaccination pilot program.
Argentina received 732,500 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, while Nicaragua is set to begin its inoculation campaign on Tuesday.
Colombia on Monday became the first country in the Americas to receive a vaccine shipment from the UN-backed COVAX initiative.
Brazilian health officials are urging nationwide lockdowns and curfews because hospitals are running short of intensive-care unit beds as COVID-19 claims more than 1,000 lives each day in the country.
“The return of the pandemic in several states is making their private and their public assistance networks collapse and has brought imminent risk of spreading it to all regions of Brazil,” Brazil’s National Council of Health Secretaries said Monday, noting that the nation is experiencing its worst moment since the pandemic began.
In the Middle East, Iraq received its first 50,000 doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine donated by China.
The Saudi Ministry of Health has announced that Muslims who want to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage this year will need to prove that they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The government says it will consider coronavirus vaccination as “the main condition for participation” in the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims who can are obliged to make once in their lives.
The statement did not specify whether the hajj, which traditionally draws some two million Muslims from across the world, would again exclude pilgrims from outside the kingdom to prevent contagion.
In Europe, Spain’s jobless total reached four million in February, as COVID-19 restrictions led to the first month of job destruction since last May.
Austria’s leader says his country and Denmark intend to stop relying solely on the European Union for coronavirus vaccines and will work with Israel to produce second-generation vaccines.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz plans to visit Israel with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Thursday and confer with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on vaccine research and production co-operation.
Serbia’s epidemiologists have called for the government to introduce a state of emergency and a strict lockdown to halt a surge in coronavirus infections in the Balkan country.
The numbers of daily new cases have been rising sharply in the nation of seven million despite a mass inoculation campaign that has reached one million people already.
Chief epidemiologist Predrag Kon on Tuesday told the state RTS television that “we must ban contacts or we will break, and then realize what it means when the health system collapses.”
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:15 a.m. ET
www.cbc.ca 2021-03-02 13:33:46