February 24, 2022

The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for August 12 | CBC News

Zambians wait in long lines outside a ballot station in the capital Lusaka on Thursday. They were voting in a contentious general election — the main opposition candidate has been barred from campaigning for large stretches — dominated by economic woes, a debt crisis and the impact of the pandemic. (Sali Dawood/AFP/Getty Images)

Canada announces new donation of 10 million doses to help global vaccine push

Canada is donating all 10 million doses of the single-dose vaccine that it purchased from Johnson & Johnson but has not needed to low and middle-income countries.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand and International Development Minister Karina Gould on Thursday announced the donation through the COVAX vaccine-sharing alliance today as many developing countries continue to struggle with a shortage of shots.

Anand said Canada has a sufficient supply of COVID-19 vaccines because of “our diverse portfolio of vaccines, and our contracts with Pfizer and Moderna specifically,” and that the federal government will ensure there is an extra stockpile of about four million doses for Canadian citizens going forward.

Health Canada authorized the J&J vaccine in early March but it has never been used here. Nearly 14 million doses of the one-shot vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Public opinion polls in the U.S. have indicated that Americans have expressed a lower preference for the vaccine compared to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech shots, likely the result of reports of rare but severe blood clot conditions for some recipients. But U.S. infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, in a briefing on Thursday, cited a new study from South Africa that found that the J&J shot offers strong protection against the highly transmissible delta variant.

Public health experts have called on Canada and other rich countries to dramatically scale up the amount of vaccine it contributes to developing countries, or else risk the development of even more coronavirus variants that could arise and then be unwittingly exported to Canada.

“Around the world, millions are still unvaccinated and unprotected against COVID-19 and in low-income countries, only two per cent of the population has received one dose,” said Gould, adding that Canada’s contribution to COVAX now constitutes 40 million doses, in addition to monetary contributions.

It was not immediately clear where the vaccines might end up. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, which is a leader of the COVAX initiative, thanked Canada for the commitment.

The World Health Organization has urged countries to hold off for several weeks on booster shots — in some cases a third shot — until some countries can get more first shots into arms.

In July, the federal government announced it would donate 17.7 million surplus doses of the less-used AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. Last week, the federal government announced a donation of doses of that brand to Trinidad and Tobago.

From The National

The efforts to improve indoor air quality for students

As Canada enters a fourth wave of COVID-19, work is underway to improve air quality in schools and help keep students safe by doing everything from upgrading ventilation systems to bringing in portable air filters. 7:37

IN BRIEF

Ottawa promises vaccine passport for international travel this fall  

The federal government says it plans to create proof-of-vaccination documentation for international travel by early fall.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Wednesday afternoon that Ottawa is working with the provinces — which hold the data on vaccinations — to develop credentials that are consistent. The minister said the government is also working with other countries to recognize the credentials issued in Canada.

The federal certification would include data on the type of vaccines received, dates and location.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the government expects the credentials to be digital but will also make them available for those without access to a device.

A recent report in Politico indicated that Canada has been hampered in its ambitions to set up a passport system because the country lacks a national health or vaccine registry.

As well, an impassioned debate about the merits and drawbacks of providing proof of vaccination to access businesses and events domestically has played out at the provincial level.

In Quebec, beginning in September, anyone wanting to visit non-essential businesses like bars, restaurants, gyms and festivals will need to present a scannable QR code through a smartphone app to prove they’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while Iain Rankin has promised some kind of passport system if he’s re-elected premier of Nova Scotia next week.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has insisted his province will not introduce proof-of-vaccination documentation, and Ontario Premier Doug Ford has also been cool to the idea.

Read the full story

World roundup: Despite delta’s toll, political divide on mitigation efforts still wide in some U.S. states  

In the U.S., about one-third of all schoolchildren began classes this week, and in some cases, Republicans leaders are battling school districts in urban, heavily Democratic areas of their states over whether students should be required to mask up — reigniting ideological divides over mandates even as the latest coronavirus surge is predominantly seen in conservative strongholds.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has issued an executive order threatening to cut funding from school districts that defy a statewide ban on classroom mask mandates. He’s now suggesting his office could direct officials to withhold pay from superintendents who impose such rules anyway, with some school districts there suing to oppose DeSantis’s order.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is threatening to withhold funding to schools in his state’s capital of Columbia over masking rules, while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to enforce a similar order against mask mandates — despite large school districts around the state, including Dallas and Austin, promising to go ahead with classroom face-covering requirements.

It all comes as some Democrat-run states are moving in the opposite direction, reimposing masking rules for classrooms and other public spaces after easing them in recent months. That’s consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, in light of the sweep of the delta variant in much of the country, that children should mask up in school.

The issue has packed local school meetings and sparked heated exchanges. Video from a meeting in Tennessee’s Williamson County earlier this week showed angry parents chanting “No more masks” and following mask supporters to the parking lot to shout obscenities.

Chile is beginning to administer booster shots to those already inoculated with the Chinese Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in a bid to lock in early success following one of the world’s fastest mass vaccination drives.

France will share 670,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses with Vietnam to help the Asian country tackle an upsurge in virus cases, French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

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