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Push to bring coronavirus vaccines to the poor faces trouble - Assiniboia Times
LONDON — An ambitious humanitarian project to deliver coronavirus vaccines to the world's poorest people is facing potential shortages of money, cargo planes, refrigeration and vaccines themselves — . . .
LONDON An ambitious humanitarian project to deliver coronavirus vaccines to the world's poorest people is facing potential shortages of money, cargo planes, refrigeration and vaccines themselves and is running into skepticism even from some of those it's intended to help most. In one of the biggest obstacles, rich countries have locked up most of the worlds potential vaccine supply through 2021, and the U.S. and others have refused to join the project, called Covaxe. "The supply of vaccines is not going to be there in the near term, and the money also isnt there," warned Rohit Malpani, a public health consultant who previously worked for Doctors Without Borders. Covax was conceived as a way of giving countries access to coronavirus vaccines regardless of their wealth. It is being led by the World Health Organization, a U.N. agency; Gavi, a public-private alliance, funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that buys immunizations for 60% of the worlds children; and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, another Gates-supported public-private collaboration. Covaxs aim is to buy 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, though it isn't yet clear whether the successful vaccine will require one dose or two for the world's 7.8 billion people. Countries taking part in the project can either buy vaccines from Covax or get them for free, if needed. One early problem that has emerged: Some of the world's wealthiest nations have negotiated their own deals directly with drug companies, meaning they don't need to participate in the endeavour at all. China, Russia and the U.S. have said they do not intend to join. Other countries, including France and Germany, will technically join Covax but won't procure vaccines for their citizens via the initiative. Not only that, but firm agreements with Covax came in too late to prevent more than half of all potential doses being snapped up by countries representing 13% of the worlds population, according to an Oxfam study. "As a continent of 1.2 billion people, we still have concerns," Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director John Nkengasong said Thursday. He praised Covax for the solidarity it represents but said there are serious questions about allocation, saying African nations' envoys are meeting directly with vaccine manufacturers to ask "if we came to the table with money, how would we get enough vaccines to cover the gap?" The European Union has contributed 400 million euros ($469 million) to support Covax, but the 27-country bloc won't use Covax to buy vaccines. Instead, the EU has signed its own deals to buy more than 1 billion doses, after some member states raised concerns about what was described as Gavi's "dictatorship" approach to running Covaxe. Gavi, WHO and CEPI announced in September that countries representing two-thirds of the worlds population had joined Covax, but they acknowledged they still need about $300 million more from governments or other sources. By the end of next year, Gavi estimates the project will need $5 billion more. Covax did reach a major agreement this week for 200 million doses from the Indian vaccine maker Serum Institute, though the company made clear that a large portion of those will go to people in India. Covax said negotiations to secure vaccines are moving forward despite the lack of funds. Gavi's Aurelia Nguyen, managing director of Covax, said that nothing similar has ever been attempted in public health. Covax "is a hugely ambitious project," she said, "but it is the only plan on the table to end the pandemic across the world." Still, the project is facing doubts and questions from poor countries and activists over how it will operate and how effective it will be. Dr. Clemens Auer, who sits on WHOs executive board and was the EUs lead negotiator for its vaccine deals, said there is a troubling lack of transparency about how Covax will work. "We would have no say over the vaccines, the price, the quality, the technical platform or the risks," Auer said. "This is totally unacceptable." He said WHO never consulted countries about its proposed vaccine strategy and called the health agencys goal of vaccinating the worlds most vulnerable people before anyone else a "noble notion" but politically naive. As part of Covax, WHO and Gavi have asked countries to first prioritize front-line health workers, then the elderly, with the goal of vaccinating 20% of the world's population. One expensive hurdle is that many of the vaccine candidates need to be kept cold from factory to patient, according to internal documents from Gavi. Industry has signalled that "air freight for COVID vaccines will be a major constraint," and a "significant and urgent ramp-up of cold chain capacity" may be needed. On Thursday, Gavi announced it will provide $150 million to help some countries with planning, technical assistance and refrigeration equipment. Another obstacle: Many of the leading vaccine candidates require two doses. That will mean twice as many syringes, twice as much waste disposal, and the complications involved in ensuring patients in remote corners of the world receive the second dose on time and stay free of side effects. "Because of the fact that were looking at trying to get vaccines out as quickly as possible, were looking at limited follow-up and efficacy data," said Gian Gandhi, who runs logistics from UNICEFs supply division in Copenhagen. There is also concern that the fear of lawsuits could scuttle deals. According to the internal documents, Gavi told countries that drug companies will probably require assurances that they won't face product liability claims over deaths or side effects from their vaccines. Dr. Nakorn Premsi, director of Thailands National Vaccine Institute, said officials there are reviewing whether that condition is acceptable. Thailand so far has signed only a nonbinding agreement with Covaxe. Some critics say Gavi isnt ambitious enough. The pandemic wont end until there is herd immunity well beyond the rich nations that have secured their own doses, said Eric Friedman, a scholar of global health law at Georgetown University who is generally supportive of Covax. "If we want to achieve herd immunity and get rid of this, 20% is not going to do it," he said. "Whats the end game?" Alicia Yamin, an adjunct lecturer on global health at Harvard University, said she fears the "window is closing" for Covax to prove workable. She said it is disappointing that Gavi, WHO and their partners haven't pushed pharmaceutical companies harder on issues like intellectual property or open licenses, which might make more vaccines available. With little evidence of such fundamental change in the global health world, Yamin said it's likely that developing countries will have to rely on donated vaccines rather than any equitable allocation program. "I would say that poor countries probably will not get vaccinated until 2022 or 2023," Yamin said. ___ Lori Hinnant reported from Paris. Cara Anna contributed from Johannesburg. ___ Follow APs pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
Frank and Oak latest Canadian clothing retailer to file for creditor protection - Assiniboia Times
MONTREAL — Frank and Oak is the latest clothier retailer to seek creditor protection as it faces challenges dealing with the COVID-19 pandemicParent company Modasuite Inc. last week filed a notice of. . .
MONTREAL Frank and Oak is the latest clothier retailer to seek creditor protection as it faces challenges dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic Parent company Modasuite Inc. last week filed a notice of intention that it plans to file a proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. The Quebec-based company was launched by Ethan Song and Hicham Ratnani in 2012 as an online brand, but now has stores across the country. KPMG Inc. will act as trustee. The retail sector has been hit hard by the pandemic which forced the closure of non-essential stores to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Reitmans (Canada) Ltd. announced earlier this month that it will close two of its retail chains and lay off roughly 1,400 workers as it a restructures under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2020
Saskatchewan Health Authority released health system readiness model for COVID-19 - Assiniboia Times
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) released their health system readiness model on Wednesday during a presentation covering varied outcomes for different levels of the COVID-19 outbreak in . . .
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) released their health system readiness model on Wednesday during a presentation covering varied outcomes for different levels of the COVID-19 outbreak in Saskatchewan. The presentation used three separate variable models of different varieties to show the impact the outbreak could have on Saskatchewans healthcare system. The SHA said the dynamic modelling is not a prediction, it provides a range of what if scenarios to guide planning going forward. The modelling scenarios were based on our best knowledge at this time and will continue to be updated with Saskatchewan data. For all three scenarios, the key variable used to predict numbers were a high range, meaning one person could infect up to four people with the virus, a mid range where one person could infect 2.76 and a low range where one could infect 2.4. According to the SHA, in a high-range estimate, 4,265 COVID-19 patients are required in acute care. Of those hospitalized, 1,280 COVID-19 patients will be in the ICU with 90-95 per cent requiring ventilation. On the low side, the SHA presentation said at peak, 390 patients are in an acute care simultaneously. Of those hospitalized, 120 patients will be in the ICU with 90-95 per cent requiring ventilation. According to the SHAs presentation, on the high end of the model, the province could see up to 408,000 total cases with 215 ICU admissions daily and a cumulative total of 8,370 deaths. On the low end, theres 153,000 total cases with 20 ICU admissions daily and up to 3,075 deaths. The SHA believed the current demand for daily ICU across Saskatchewan would be 57 beds with 98 total capacity. For acute care, there might be a daily demand of 1,396 with a total capacity of 2,433. The SHAs model reported an estimated total of 890 ICU patients at peak across the province. The model added the co-ordinated provincial approach for critical care patients from rural and north Saskatchewan to be admitted to urban sites when local ICU capacity was exceeded. In addition, the SHA currently has 450 ventilators available to meet COVID-19 model demands for low and mid-range scenarios. The planned capacity ventilator requirement of 860 created a gap of 410, but the SHA added there are confirmed orders for 200 with 100 expected n the next two to three weeks. The SHA said they are basing their response to COVID-19 on a strategy of contain, delay, mitigate and population health promotion. Their desired goal is to promote health, prevent disease and ensure healthcare services remain available. The SHA also said their key strategies for public health were to increase testing, identify cases early, expand contact tracing and enforce chief medical health officer orders. The key strategies to further the SHAs approach include expanding Healthline, delivering more services through virtual care models of which 750 clinicians are set up and expanding testing and assessment centres. There are currently 38 SHA operated testing sites across the province, five assessment sites in operation with 21 planned to open in coming weeks.