Canada Healthcare August 2020-

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Flu (influenza): Get your flu shot
Canada Health Act
CIHR Dementia Research Strategy
Canada Healthcare June 2015- July 2020

Canada’s hotel quarantine program is leaky and half-baked
(Opinion Globe & Mail) …the new policy, which just came into effect this week, just might prove effective in dissuading some casual vacationers from leaving the country. But as a public-health measure – a way to “keep Canadians safe,” as citizens continue to travel for work, school or family reunification – the hotel quarantine program doesn’t appear to have been designed with actual evidence in mind.
The most obvious limitation is the length of stay: three days, enough time to process the PCR test international travellers will now be required to take upon arrival (on top of the proof of a negative test result within 72 hours of boarding the plane), but not long enough to ensure that a potential infection is caught. Various meta-analyses have pegged the incubation period of SARS-CoV-2 to be around 5 to 7 days, meaning that an exposure that occurred before departure or on the plane probably wouldn’t be caught by the PCR test at arrival, and might not cause symptoms until the traveller is given the all-clear to return home (where they must complete the remainder of their 14-day quarantine). Canadian snowbirds who received both doses of their vaccinations abroad weeks ago still have to submit to testing and pay for three days in quarantine, despite early evidence that it is extremely unlikely they will transmit the virus.
There is no comprehensive, controlled plan for moving international travellers from the airport to their quarantine hotels.

17 February
Toronto top doctor, Indigenous services minister sound alarm over COVID-19 variants
(Canadian Press) Officials expressed growing concern Wednesday over highly transmissible new COVID-19 variants taking hold in Canada’s biggest cities and in First Nation reserves across the country.

12 February
Snowbirds in pandemic hot seat with Canada’s latest travel rules
The latest rules for travellers arriving in Canada are ruffling feathers among snowbirds wintering south of the border, while those who stayed home wonder why thousands opted to travel during the pandemic.
Valorie Crooks, Canada research chair in health service geographies, said everyone has had access to the same public health information and snowbirds who flocked south “did what they felt was allowable.” “They’re viewing this as part of their life or lifestyle,” she said, noting snowbirds relocate for extended periods of time and they’re used to factoring health considerations into their decision-making.

10 February
Clinical trials begin for University of Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate
The Canadian Center for Vaccinology says the first of 108 healthy adult volunteers received injections in Halifax. The placebo-controlled study will administer two doses to each volunteer, 28 days apart.
“It’s a product of Canadian science, so it bodes well for the ability to make vaccines here. We all want to have vaccine manufacturing capacity in Canada,” said Dr. Joanne Langley, a vaccine researcher with the centre.
She said that the pace of testing is careful, as different age groups, from younger to older, receive varying doses in a process that will unfold over the next two months.

9 February
The roots of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine shortage go back decades
(The Conversation) As of Feb. 5, Canada had administered 2.7 COVID-19 vaccination doses per 100 people compared to 61.7 for Israel and 16.2 for the United Kingdom. By contrast, Canada has signed contracts with seven different companies for a total of 234 million doses with options for tens of millions more.
To understand the problem, we need to go back to the 1980s. At that time, the government-owned Connaught Labs was producing vaccines here in Canada and decision-making was in the public realm. But Connaught was partially privatized and then finally allowed to be sold to the French company Merieux (now part of Sanofi) by the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney.
Fast forward to the 2000s, when Québec-based vaccine manufacturer IAF BioChem went through a couple of sales and ended up being owned by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
Sanofi and GSK still make vaccines in Toronto and Ste-Foy, but decisions about what vaccines to produce are not in Canadian hands.
8 February
Feds detail criteria for hotels to host travellers for mandatory COVID-19 quarantine
The conditions posted online put the government one step closer to fulfilling its late-January pledge that all passengers returning from non-essential trips abroad will have to self-isolate in a federally mandated facility for up to 72 hours at their own expense.

5 February
Canada defends decision to draw vaccines from program aimed at low- and middle-income countries
(WaPo) “Our government will never apologize for doing everything in our power to get Canadians vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said this week. “We’re focused on getting Canadians vaccinated, while making sure the rest of the world is vaccinated, too.”
Her remarks Thursday came after the Covax Facility, a global effort to source and equitably distribute coronavirus vaccines, announced its first country-by-country projections. The estimate suggested Canada could receive 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by summer.

3 February
Canada the only G7 country to take vaccines from fund that helps developing countries
(Globe & Mail) Canada is the only Group of Seven country to draw on a supply of COVID-19 vaccines meant primarily for developing countries, leading to fresh charges of hoarding against a country that is already a world leader in vaccine purchases per capita.
The COVAX program pools funds from wealthier countries to help buy vaccines for themselves and for 92 low- and middle-income countries that can’t afford to buy on their own.
The COVAX program pools funds from wealthier countries to help buy vaccines for themselves and for 92 low- and middle-income countries that can’t afford to buy on their own.
The vast majority of countries receiving the first vaccine shipments from COVAX are low- and middle-income countries, according to information released Wednesday by Gavi, the vaccine alliance that is co-ordinating the program.
But Canada is among just a few rich countries exercising its options now to buy vaccines from the international group. Other wealthy countries on the list receiving the vaccines include New Zealand and Singapore. Canada’s vaccines are expected to arrive by the end of June.
Canada’s deliveries from COVAX join growing list of COVID-19 vaccine confusion
Canada got no doses at all last week, and this week is getting only 20 per cent of what was previously promised from Pfizer and 80 per cent of what had been promised from Moderna.
Provinces and territories, which in mid-January got close to vaccinating 50,000 people a day, only vaccinated 5,000 people Jan. 31.
With Novavax deal, Canada could be producing COVID-19 vaccine domestically by the fall
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a deal has been struck with Novavax to produce its COVID-19 vaccine in Canada, but the pharmaceutical company isn’t expected to be ready to roll out doses domestically until the fall at the earliest.
The federal government has signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Novavax to pursue options to produce its COVID-19 vaccine at a new Montreal facility that is under construction.
How the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine differs from those already approved in Canada
Ottawa has tentative deal to make millions of doses of vaccine candidate in Canada
U.S.-based company Novavax has developed what’s called a recombinant protein vaccine. It says harmless copies of the coronavirus spike protein were grown in insect cells. Scientists extracted and purified the protein and then mixed in an immune-boosting adjuvant.[It] differs from the two vaccines Canadians are currently receiving to guard against the respiratory illness, primarily because of how it’s engineered to induce an immune response in the body.

29 January
Airlines suspending certain flights, Ottawa introducing quarantine hotel stays to discourage travel
Measures come as concerns about new variants of the coronavirus mount
(CBC) The prime minister said the government will soon be introducing mandatory PCR testing at the airport for people returning to Canada “as soon as possible in the coming weeks.” That’s on top of the pre-boarding test already required.
Travellers will then have to wait up to three days at a government-approved hotel for their test results, at their own expense, which Trudeau said is expected to be more than $2,000.
Transport Canada said there will be “very limited exceptions.”
Those with a negative test will then be able to finish their 14-day quarantine at home, with increased surveillance. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam added that returnees will also be swabbed on day 10.

28 January
Why you might want to start wearing better masks — even outdoors
Spread of more infectious coronavirus variants in Canada requires renewed vigilance, experts say
Whether that means finding better quality masks, doubling up on masks, or wearing them in settings we wouldn’t normally think to, experts say it’s time we step up our game.
The variants first identified in South Africa and the U.K are spreading in Canada, in some cases with no known link to travel, and have already led to devastating outbreaks in long-term care homes.
The variant discovered in the U.K., known as B117, is estimated to be at least 56 per cent more transmissible and potentially more deadly than the original coronavirus strain.
But even as COVID-19 case numbers show early signs of slowing down in Canada, experts say it’s becoming more important than ever to lower our risk of exposure as much as possible to prevent variants from taking hold here.
Canada currently recommends the use of three-layer non-medical masks with a filter layer to prevent the spread of the virus, but has not updated its recommendations since November, before the emergence of new variants.

19 January
Canada will receive zero Pfizer vaccine deliveries during last week of January
The man in charge of Canada’s coronavirus vaccine rollout logistics has confirmed that the country will not receive any Pfizer vaccine doses during the week of Jan. 25, due to delivery delays that have hit countries around the world.
“We are now seeing that our entire expected shipment is deferred for next week, and then the numbers start to pick back up in the first weeks of February,” Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin said on Tuesday.
This delay is due to the fact that Pfizer is scaling up its European manufacturing capacity – a move that officials said will impact the vaccine’s production for a “short period.”

14 January
When it comes to mental health, now more than ever, every action counts.
Kids Help Phone is just one of the many beneficiaries of Bell Let’s Talk, a wide-reaching program designed to break the silence around mental illness and support mental health all across Canada.
Whether by phone, text, mobile app, Facebook messenger, or through the website, Kids Help Phone is always open, in any moment of crisis or need.
“Anxiety, stress and depression account for more than half of what people are reaching out to us about. We’re having big dialogues around isolation, and with that, comes dialogues around grief and loss of normal life,” said Hay.
“Family stress is rippling through all our conversations, and calls about abuse have gone up around 16 per cent, which makes sense, since a lot of the services where they might have gone before are now closed.”

5 January
Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Tuesday
(CBC) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that the federal government has delivered almost 500,000 vaccine doses to provinces and territories and is on track to deliver more than one million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna by the end of January.
“By September, we’ll have enough doses to vaccinate every Canadian who wants a shot,” the prime minister said.
He acknowledged he was troubled by the slow pace of the vaccine rollout. While Canada already has received more than 424,050 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, only 35 per cent of those doses have been administered by the provinces, with roughly 148,000 Canadians having received a shot so far.

4 January
363 experts ask for stronger protection from airborne transmission of COVID-19
/CNW Telbec/ – 363 scientists, occupational health specialists, engineers, physicians and nurses from across Canada are calling today on the Premiers and on public health officials from the federal, provincial and territorial governments, to recognize airborne transmission of COVID-19 and to act accordingly.
In July 2020, 239 international scientists drew the attention of global health authorities to this matter. Since the publication of their letter, the World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada have begun to recognize the transmission of COVID-19 by aerosols. In practice, however, this recognition has not resulted in any significant improvement in protective measures for health workers and other essential service workers.
For complete text of letter and to sign, see Masks4Canada
André Picard: Where’s the urgency in Canada’s vaccine rollout?
“Israel is vaccinating so fast it’s running out of vaccine,” reads the headline in Monday’s Washington Post.
It’s enough to make a grown man weep, at least in Canada, where we are vaccinating so slowly that more than two-thirds of our modest vaccine stocks are sitting unused.
Since it began its vaccine rollout on Dec. 20, Israel has administered as many as 150,000 doses daily. Canada began vaccinating even earlier, on Dec. 14, but since then has immunized only 120,000 people – yes, fewer than Israel does in a day. On Monday morning, we had 300,000 doses languishing in freezers, like old bags of peas.
Both countries are prioritizing health care workers and elders, but only Israel is doing so with a sense of urgency. At least two million of its nine million residents will be immunized by the end of January.
The plan in this country – at least on paper – is to inoculate four million people by the end of March, or roughly 11 per cent of citizens. Israel has already surpassed that percentage in 10 days.
Alberta politicians pay the price for overseas trips, defiance of COVID-19 restrictions
In the coming days, Kenney’s government has promised to revisit lockdown rules imposed in early December to try to stem the spread of COVID-19, including a ban on social gatherings. Alberta was a national leader in the first wave, but cases surged to dangerous levels in the fall. The numbers forced the government to double-bunk intensive care patients and to begin assembling a field tent hospital on the University of Alberta campus.

2 January
André Picard: How will the pandemic end? Not with a moment of triumph we’ll all remember, but with a slow whimper we’ll soon forget
Don’t expect civilization to return to normal in 2021 with a V-Day-like emotional catharsis. Focus on the small signs of hope – and the things we can do to prevent anything like this from happening again

30 December
And answer was there none.
How Canadians will know when it’s their turn to get vaccinated
It’s up to each individual province and territory in Canada to decide how the COVID-19 vaccine will be administered. But generally, they are following the recommendations put forward by the federal government’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
With the recent announcement that Health Canada has approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the second being made available to the public, Canadians are likely wondering when it will be their turn to get inoculated.
But with the country currently in the first phase of vaccine rollout, that’s still unclear, with much depending on what they do and where they live.
For the first phase of the vaccine rollout plan, NACI advised that initial doses should go to these four groups:
Residents and staff of long-term care homes.
Adults 70 and older, beginning with people 80 and older, then decreasing by five-year increments to 70 as supply becomes available.
Health-care workers, including all those who work in clinical settings, and personal support workers who come in direct contact with patients.
Adults in Indigenous communities, where infection can have disproportionate consequences.

26-27 December
‘We are not prepared’: The flaws inside Public Health that hurt Canada’s readiness for COVID-19
By Grant Robertson
(Globe & Mail) When Canada unplugged support for its pandemic alert system last year, it was a symptom of bigger problems inside the Public Health Agency. Experienced scientists were pushed aside, expertise was eroded, and internal warnings went unheeded, which hindered the department’s response to COVID-19
Canada once operated a robust pandemic early warning system and employed a public-health doctor based in China who could report back on emerging problems. But it had largely abandoned those international strategies over the past five years, and was no longer as plugged-in.
By late February, Ottawa seemed to be taking the official reports from China at their word, stating often in its own internal risk assessments that the threat to Canada remained low. But inside the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), rank-and-file doctors and epidemiologists were growing increasingly alarmed at how the department and the government were responding.
“The team was outraged,” one public-health scientist told a colleague in early April, in an internal e-mail obtained by The Globe and Mail, criticizing the lack of urgency shown by Canada’s response during January, February and early March. “We knew this was going to be around for a long time, and it’s serious.”
… a series of documents obtained by The Globe during the past four months, from inside the department and through numerous Access to Information requests, show the problems that weakened Canada’s pandemic readiness run deeper than originally thought. Pleas from the international health community for Canada to take outbreak detection and surveillance much more seriously were ignored by mid-level managers inside the department. A new federal pandemic preparedness plan – key to gauging the country’s readiness for an emergency – was never fully tested. And on the global stage, the agency stopped sending experts to international meetings on pandemic preparedness, instead choosing senior civil servants with little or no public-health background to represent Canada at high-level talks, The Globe found.

23 December
Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have been approved in Canada. Here’s what you need to know about them
(CBC) The first vaccine, co-developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, was approved by Health Canada on Dec. 9, and the first shots were delivered in Quebec and Ontario on Dec. 14.
Health Canada announced Moderna‘s vaccine was approved on Dec. 23 “after a thorough, independent review of the evidence” on safety, efficacy and quality requirements, officials said in a release.
The two vaccines are among several that have been pre-ordered by the Canadian government.

10 December
Charlie Mayer: Privatized Connaught Labs is still going strong
Privatization saved Connaught, which is today the Connaught campus of Sanofi Pasteur, and is the largest biotechnology facility in Canada
On Sept. 22, 2020, Sanofi Pasteur announced it had signed an agreement with the federal government, in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, to supply up to 72 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine in 2021. This announcement highlighted the fact that the Connaught campus would be providing process and analytical development along with clinical manufacturing in support of that effort.

9 December
The Long Haul
Covid-19 was originally thought to be a quick disease. The virus came, did its damage, and, for those who survived, was gone in a month or so. But new research suggests that it can linger much longer than anyone thought. These seven survivors are living proof
(Toronto Life) Who she is: Amara Possian, 31
“I returned to work in mid-June, just two or three days a week, and quickly noticed some concerning symptoms. I was unable to come up with ideas or think straight. I’m a pretty good proofreader, but one time, I reviewed an email and thought it was ready to send. Then I reread it 10 minutes later and caught so many glaring mistakes. Sometimes I would read over something I just wrote and there would be an entire chunk of a sentence missing. Or I would message somebody on Slack about something pretty straightforward, and when it became clear they weren’t understanding me, I would read back what I wrote and realize it made no sense. It was really unsettling.”

26-27 November
Trudeau turns to the military to help with COVID-19 vaccine distribution
Trudeau said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the current chief of staff to the Canadian Joint Operations Command and a former commander of the NATO mission in Iraq, will head up vaccine logistics and operations within a new branch of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
Canada is largely beholden to Pfizer manufacturing plants in the U.S. and abroad for its supply of the vaccine because our country doesn’t have the capacity to produce it. The vaccine uses groundbreaking messenger RNA technology, or mRNA, which essentially directs cells in the body to make proteins to prevent or fight disease.
The federal government didn’t secure domestic manufacturing rights for the AstraZeneca product, which was co-developed by scientists at Oxford University. That vaccine, which uses a more traditional vaccination platform, is easier to produce.
Other countries — including Western nations like Germany, France and Italy and middle-income countries like Mexico and Argentina — will produce the vaccine domestically.
3 million Canadians could be vaccinated in early 2021, but feds warn of ‘logistical challenges’
Health Canada regulators are reviewing clinical trial data, the government has signed purchase agreements for promising vaccine candidates and public health officials have procured needles and syringes for a future deployment, officials said. But top civil servants still don’t know how and when Canadians will be vaccinated due to a number of uncertainties.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said the federal government will leverage the Canadian Armed Forces and an existing influenza vaccine distribution network to help with deployment.
Andrew Coyne: Canada’s at the back of the COVID-19 vaccine line. But it’s not because they aren’t made here
One reason that we seem to be later to take delivery: we were later to place our orders. Canada didn’t make its first purchase for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines until Aug. 5; AstraZeneca’s, in late September; in either case, weeks after other countries. Why? Writing in Maclean’s in August, University of Ottawa epidemiologist and law professor Amir Attaran offered one explanation: “Because the Trudeau government dithered. When our closest allies put their money down and placed orders for over a billion vaccine doses, our government failed to keep up.”

24 November
Trudeau warns COVID-19 vaccine will come later to Canada than other countries
‘One of the things to remember is Canada no longer has any domestic production capacity for vaccines’
…he expects to see them in the first quarter of next year. But he said the first doses from the assembly line will go to the countries where the vaccine is made.
With promising news from several vaccine manufacturers, in recent weeks officials in those countries have said their citizenry could start receiving vaccines as early as December.

21 November
What you need to know as we get closer to a COVID-19 vaccine
The potential for a vaccine brings with it hope that the pandemic will end, but naturally raises questions
(CBC) Dr. Howard Njoo, the country’s deputy chief public health officer, has said that if the vaccines are approved by Health Canada, he’s hopeful that the majority of Canadians could be vaccinated by the end of 2021.
But amid the optimism, a new vaccine naturally raises lots of questions, from how it works to who will get it first in a country of more than 35 million people.

29 September
Feds announce plan to buy 7.9 million rapid COVID tests as Health Canada defends slow response
(CBC) The federal government today announced a plan to buy 7.9 million point-of-care COVID-19 tests in the months ahead — and defended a Health Canada regulatory process that has left the country with few rapid testing devices to deploy as cases mount.
To date, the vast majority of tests have been done at public health clinics, with samples then sent to laboratories for analysis — a process that can take days.
A point-of-care test could be administered by trained professionals in other settings. The molecular test Canada is looking to buy — the ID NOW — can produce results from a nasal swab in as little as 13 minutes.
While Canada has announced this purchase from a well-regarded U.S. firm, the test itself has not yet been approved by Health Canada for distribution. [Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita] Anand said she couldn’t state when these devices will be deployed to provinces like Ontario and Quebec, where hours-long lines have been an ongoing concern.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has so far approved dozens of rapid testing devices, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said such tests would only be rolled out in Canada once regulators here are sure they are safe to use.

8 September
Beyond long-term care: The benefits of seniors’ communities that evolve on their own
(The Conversation) The global COVID-19 pandemic has shown Canadians that we need to think differently about how we support older adults. The media and all levels of government have focused heavily on long-term care, and rightly so. However, the vast majority of older adults live at home and plan to remain there for as long as possible.
In a July 2020 Home Care Ontario survey of older adults, 93 per cent of the 1,000 respondents indicated their desire to stay in their own home. No one identified long-term care as part of their future housing plans. Simply put, although necessary for some, long-term care is not where most people choose to live.
It had been clear well before the pandemic that long-term care is costly and woefully inadequate to meet the needs of Canada’s aging population. It is crucial to expand the conversation to consider what other housing solutions exist and how they can be implemented.
Essential to the success and acceptability of any housing alternative is the need for older adults to maintain a sense of autonomy and independence, be actively engaged in decisions affecting themselves and their community and have the opportunity to build social networks that can ultimately support one another.

4 – 5 August
Ottawa frees up $3.3-billion for provincial efforts to mitigate COVID-19 spread
The federal government is moving ahead with plans to help provinces and territories shore up their defences against COVID-19 by freeing up billions of dollars to make schools and hospitals more pandemic resistant and expand outdoor public spaces.
Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna unveiled details of the plan Wednesday, which followed weeks of talks between Ottawa and provincial and territorial governments — as well as years of criticism about the slow pace of the Liberals’ infrastructure spending.
Canada signs COVID-19 vaccine supply deals with Pfizer and Moderna
Canada is negotiating deals with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and U.S.-based biotech firm Moderna to secure millions of doses of their experimental COVID-19 vaccines, in case either is approved for wide-scale use.
But Procurement Minister Anita Anand won’t say yet how much Canada is spending or how many doses of either vaccine candidate Canada will get because she says Canada is in talks with other domestic and international firms to secure doses of their experimental vaccines as well.
Physical distancing, mask-wearing could be in place for 2-3 years even with vaccine, Tam warns
COVID-19 vaccine won’t be a ‘silver bullet,’ chief public health officer says
(CBC) Dr. Theresa Tam used her briefing on Tuesday in Ottawa to temper expectations about the speed and effectiveness of a vaccine. She reiterated the importance of physical distancing, proper hand hygiene and mask-wearing, and attempted to dissuade any notion that a vaccine will make life go back to the way it was in a couple of months.Tam said it’s unclear at this stage how effective a vaccine will be. She said key questions remain about the degree and duration of immunity a vaccine will provide, the dosage that will be needed and whether it will prevent people from getting infected altogether or simply prevent severe illness requiring hospitalization.
There are more than 166 vaccines at various stages of preclinical and clinical (human) testing across the globe right now, the World Health Organization says. U.S. and European experts say under an optimistic scenario, the first of those vaccines could complete testing and get approval for distribution next year.
Tam warned that even once a vaccine is tested and deemed to be both safe and effective, there will be challenges with distributing it widely to those who need it.

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