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Pfizer/BioNTech say booster dose increases protection against Omicron in kids aged 5-11
A third dose of Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s COVID vaccine produced significant protection against the Omicron variant in healthy children aged between 5 and 11 years in a trial, the companies said on Thursday.
Blood serum analysis of a few paediatric participants who received a booster dose in the study showed a 36-fold increase in Omicron neutralizing antibodies, the drugmakers said.
Neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 wild-type strain rose six-fold following the booster shot.
Existing COVID vaccines won’t deliver herd immunity, but that doesn’t mean they’re failing
It annoys Rodney Russell when people say the COVID vaccines are failing. If that were true, “we would be in a much worse place that would look nothing at all like ‘normal.’”
Still, with a sixth COVID wave now officially washing over parts of Canada, with reports of people being reinfected with COVID only months after their first go around and jumbled messaging around boosters, some are wondering why vaccines aren’t doing more to put the pandemic behind us.
The virologist/immunologist in Russell wants the perfect vaccine, one that “completely shuts the door,” a vaccine better able to block infections altogether and able to handle a range of variants. Because it’s entirely reasonable to assume the virus will keep evolving to skirt immunity acquired from vaccinations and infections.
Toronto mayor tests positive for COVID-19, isolating at home
Toronto Mayor John Tory tested positive for COVID-19 this morning.
Tory says he feels fine, describing his symptoms as “extremely mild.”
In a statement, the mayor says he has spoken with the city’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, and is following her advice to isolate at home.
COVID-19 anti-viral Paxlovid goes largely unused in Alberta as virus spread grows
An anti-viral drug that significantly reduces risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 is going largely unused in Alberta, even as a sixth wave of virus transmission continues.
Only about 670 prescriptions for Paxlovid have been dispensed in Alberta since late January when it first became available. The province currently has more than 16,000 courses of treatment of the drug in its supply.
Paxlovid is an oral antiviral that was found in clinical trials to reduce risk of hospitalization or death from the novel coronavirus by nearly 90 per cent if taken within five days of symptoms beginning.
The drug is designed for people who have a higher risk of those severe outcomes. In Alberta, it’s available to people with some underlying health conditions including those who are immunocompromised, as well as older, unvaccinated individuals.
COVID spikes in schools as doctors warn of sixth wave
COVID cases and absence rates are rising again in Calgary schools as doctors warn of a sixth wave and government officials make no moves to increase protections.
Absence rates at the Calgary Board of Education reached 8.4 per cent among K-3 students Wednesday, averaging nearly 6.3 per cent for K-12 students overall. As well, up to 1,106 school-based staff were away due to illness, with only 847 positions filled with substitutes and casual employees.
Two months ago, just before the UCP government lifted mask mandates in schools, student absences hovered around four per cent with about 600 staff away.
The CBE does not track COVID cases reported by parents to schools, saying they are not official since the province no longer reports for schools.
But parents say the lack of information is raising fears over increased illness while staff shortages continue to cause disruptions for individual learning.
“There is still so much scrambling, so much disruption in the system. It’s the only thing that has been consistent throughout this pandemic — the constant disruptions,” said Medeana Moussa, spokeswoman for the Support Our Students advocacy group.
Alberta reports 6,181 new cases, 37 deaths over seven-day period
Here are COVID-19 numbers released today by Alberta Health, covering a seven-day period from April 5 to April 11:
- The province is reporting 6,181 new COVID-19 cases over seven days, through 23,399 tests completed.
- There are 1,053 people in hospital with COVID-19, an increase of 63 since April 6. There are 48 people in ICU, an increase of four since April 6.
- There were another 37 COVID-related deaths reported to Alberta Health Services, bringing the total to 4,141 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 826 deaths reported in Alberta since Jan. 1.
- Alberta’s two-dose vaccination rate for the population age 12 and over is 86.8 per cent.
Hong Kong questions costs of COVID rules on mental health, livelihoods
HONG KONG — To fight COVID, Hong Kong shut schools and businesses, nearly sealed its borders for two years, banned more than two people from gathering and quarantined whole buildings.
Still the draconian restrictions were unable to contain the coronavirus, and with more than 8,600 deaths of mostly elderly, unvaccinated people, many just in the past two months, Hong Kong’s citizens are reckoning with the costs of some of the world’s most stringent social distancing rules on their mental health and livelihoods.
Empty streets in the financial center, shuttered restaurants and bars, and bare supermarket shelves are a testament to the disruptions Hong Kong’s COVID-19 rules wrought on its people.
Jacky Ip, 33, runs a Japanese sake bar in Kowloon across the harbor from the Central business district that used to stay open until 4 a.m. before the pandemic but has since been devastated by shifting restrictions on opening hours.
“We have lost a lot of money to a point that we almost need to shut down our business. Right now, it depends on the shareholders pooling money to see how long we can survive,” Ip said.
COVID-19 vaccines in national stockpile starting to expire as uptake slows
Health Canada says almost 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines held in a national inventory have expired since January.
That includes more than 420,000 doses of Moderna’s Spikevax that hit the end of their shelf life on Tuesday. Those doses had already seen their expiration date pushed back two months.
The government says this is a relatively new issue because dose deliveries were aligned with demand until late last year. But uptake of vaccines has slowed even as governments and public health authorities urge people to get a booster shot.
More than 80 per cent of Canadians are considered fully vaccinated, while 57 per cent of adults and 15 per cent of teenagers have received a third dose.
Federal government paid $20M for Ottawa company’s COVID-19 test that flopped and was never delivered
The federal government pre-paid $20 million for COVID-19 tests from Ottawa-based Spartan Bioscience that it never received because they never worked as promised, according to new documents.
Now, the Public Health Agency of Canada says it is writing off the amount as a loss pending the company’s liquidation, according to information recently tabled in the House of Commons and in the 2021 federal public accounts.
“The company went through insolvency proceedings and is now being liquidated. By law, once a person or a company is in the insolvency process, no one can sue or attempt any other form of recovery. No litigation is allowed and all procedures go through the Trustee and is a public process,” reads the document.
Vaccines have halved Italy’s COVID-19 death toll, study shows
Vaccines against COVID-19 have roughly halved the death toll from the disease in Italy, preventing some 150,000 fatalities and 8 million cases last year, the National Health Institute (ISS) estimated on Wednesday.
The ISS study, which ran from the start of 2021 until the end of January this year, concluded the inoculation campaign also prevented more than 500,000 hospitalizations and over 55,000 admissions to intensive care.
Italy has registered 161,032 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February 2020, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth highest in the world. The country has reported 15.4 million cases to date.