Thursday, 17 June 2021

Canada’s Housing Market: Developer’s plan to buy $1B in homes


Global News shows that Toronto-based condo developer Core Development Group is under fire for its plan to buy $1 billion worth of single-family homes and convert them into rental properties. This comes as housing prices have climbed rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company has said it intends to buy 4,000 rental units in Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Atlantic Canada, as first reported by the Globe and Mail. The company hasn’t provided an overall timeline for its acquisitions, but the idea is to buy homes that can be split into two units (for example, with a second unit in the basement) and turn both over to the rental market.

As Anne Gaviola reports, reducing the supply of homes for sale could make the affordability crisis even worse for those trying to get into the market.

Canada: Delta variant 'growing rapidly' in Ontario, warns Yaffe


CTV News talks about how many people in Ontario need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. Dr. Barbara Yaffe isn't sure because of Delta variant.

"Herd Immunity" (also called herd effect, community immunity, population immunity, or mass immunity) is certainly a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that can occur with some diseases when a sufficient percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, whether through vaccination or previous infections, thereby reducing the likelihood of infection for individuals who lack immunity. Immune individuals are unlikely to contribute to disease transmission, disrupting chains of infection, which stops or slows the spread of disease. The greater the proportion of immune individuals in a community, the smaller the probability that non-immune individuals will come into contact with an infectious individual.

Individuals can really become immune by recovering from an earlier infection or through vaccination. Some individuals cannot become immune because of medical conditions, such as an immunodeficiency or immunosuppression, and for this group herd immunity is a crucial method of protection. Once the herd immunity threshold has been reached, disease gradually disappears from a population. This elimination, if achieved worldwide, may result in the permanent reduction in the number of infections to zero, called eradication.

Infectious vs Contagious:

Contagious diseases are spread by contact, while infectious diseases are spread by infectious agents. Something "contagious" is by default "infectious" because contact exposed you to the infectious agent, but something infectious isn't always contagious.

Infectious diseases are caused by microscopic germs (such as bacteria or viruses) that get into the body and cause problems. Some (but not all) infectious diseases spread directly from one person to another. Infectious diseases that spread from person to person are said to be contagious.

"Food poisoning" is a good example of something infectious but not contagious: food can be contaminated with a bacteria that makes you sick, but you can't give your food poisoning to someone else just by shaking their hand or even giving them a kiss.

This U.S. congressman wants border reopened 'immediately'


CTV News shows that USA Congressman Brian Higgins discusses the Canada-USA border closure, and if the Americans would unilaterally open the crossing.

COVID-19: Could the Delta variant derail Canada’s summer reopening plans?


Global News in Canada shows that as provinces are cautiously reopening with some allowing outdoor dining, shopping and other limited gatherings, experts wonder if the more transmissible Delta virus variant of COVID-19 might jeopardize some of those big reopening plans, as cases appear to be growing across Canada.

The variant first found in India is estimated by some to be at least 60 per cent more contagious than the previous dominant strain.

Evidence from the U.K. suggests that the Delta variant spreads much more easily than other variants that have appeared in Canada so far.

Virus cases of this virus variant seem to be increasing.

When will Canada provide COVID-19 safety guidelines for fully vaccinated people?


Global News shows that Canadians who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 are seeking federal guidance on what is and isn't safe to do. 

65% of adults in Canada have been given their first dose, the highest number reported by any nation. 

But, Canada still lags behind when it comes to second doses, and some medical experts say clearer COVID-19 safety guidelines may encourage more people to get their shots. 

Eric Sorensen reports.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Canada: Vaccine injury compensation program accepting applications


CBC News shows that the federal government has begun accepting applications for its vaccine injury support program. Some people diagnosed with rare but serious conditions after their vaccinations aren't sure the compensation goes far enough.

Inside the Canadian lab shining light on long-term COVID-19 side effects


Global News shows that we are starting to learn about the long-term damage COVID-19 wreaks on many vital organs, but what about our blood vessels? There are troubling signs that the impact on our vascular system may leave a lifelong legacy of health problems in its wake. For The New Reality, Dawna Friesen speaks with Jake Pushie, a scientist at the University of Saskatchewan, who's using the most powerful device in the country to look for answers.

Canada's duty-free shops seek federal aid as pandemic travel rules crush business


Global News shows that the pandemic has forced many of Canada's retailers to pivot their business to survive. But Canada's 33 duty-free shops across the country, along its border with the United States, have faced very little options to adapt as strict pandemic travel rules effectively bring business to a halt. 

Products sold from duty-free stores typically have to leave the country, and cannot be sold locally, online, or even given away. 

As Mike Le Couteur reports, struggling store-owners are hoping for a plan from Ottawa to help them recover.

China says 'COVID Variant From India' Led To Resurgence In Guangzhou


Calls are increasing for a fresh probe into the origin of COVID-19. Also, China is now blaming India after the mutant virus strain from India was reportedly found in 26 people in Guangzhou. While India battles the second wave of the pandemic, there has been increasing pressure on China from many countries, including the UK and the US, for the second phase of the COVID origin probe. As per a report published in the Chinese media Global Times, the presence of the virus strains from India was allegedly detected among people in Guangzhou City, which reportedly receives 90% of China's inbound international arrivals.

China blames "COVID strain from India" for the rise in virus cases in Guangzhou.

Inside a plant in China producing the WHO-approved Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine


South China Morning Post shows that the WHO approval of Sinovac Biotech’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use on June 1, 2021, will help ease the global vaccine shortage. Sinovac Biotech has already distributed more than 600 million doses of its CoronaVac vaccine to nearly 40 countries, as of May 31, 2021. It uses an inactivated virus to trigger a protective immune response, unlike vaccines from companies like BioNTech, which feature newer mRNA technology. The Post takes a look inside their Beijing plant.

China's space station transits over the sun


CGTN shows that a space enthusiast caught China's space station on camera as it transited over the sun, making it appear like a small airplane. The moment, which lasted for 0.5 seconds, was captured at around noon Beijing time.

China: New strain of bird flu has jumped to humans


WION shows that a new strain of bird flu has jumped to humans in China. Chinese officials are playing down the outbreak, but is the world prepared to stop another pandemic? Watch your favourite show Gravitas with Palki Sharma Upadhyay live.

460,000 Guangzhou residents under home quarantine to curb COVID-19


CGTN shows that about 460,000 residents living along Zhongnan street in south China's Guangzhou City are now quarantined at home after the street was declared a high-risk area and put under lockdown on June 1. In order to fulfill the residents' basic needs, local authorities have launched a mini app called "supply guarantee zone." In addition to food like rice, meat and vegetables, people can also purchase milk powder, diapers and other infant products online through the app. People with chronic diseases who need to buy specific drugs regularly can report to community staff members to get help. The city has registered a total of 77 infections as of Thursday, including 13 asymptomatic cases.

China Sets Record With Experimental Fusion Reactor ‘EAST’, Fully Functional 'Artificial Sun' Soon?


CRUX Channel on Youtube shows that China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) just achieved a significant milestone in the country’s quest to unlock clean and limitless energy. Chinese media reported that EAST ran at 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds. For another 20 seconds, the 'artificial sun' also achieved a peak temperature of 160 million degrees Celsius.

The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), internal designation HT-7U (Hefei Tokamak 7 Upgrade), is certainly an experimental superconducting tokamak magnetic fusion energy reactor in Hefei, China. The Hefei Institutes of Physical Science is conducting the experiment for the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It has operated since 2006.

It is the first tokamak to employ superconducting toroidal and poloidal magnets. It aims for plasma pulses of up to 1,000 seconds.

Migrating elephant herd travels through Chinese city


DW News shows that a herd of 15 strayed from a nature reserve in southwest China and they've now reached the outskirts of the major city of Kunming. Its being called the longest-distance migration of wild elephants ever recorded in China. Authorities are in a flurry trying to keep them away from populated areas. Wildlife experts are stumped as to where they are headed, and why.

Canada Sports Gambling - the push for change


CBC News: The National in Canada shows that there is a growing push to change how Canadians can legally bet on professional sports to help keep billions in gambling money in the country and catch up with practices found in other countries.

Sports betting is certainly the activity of predicting sports results and placing a wager on the outcome. The frequency of sports bet upon varies by culture, with the vast majority of bets being placed on association football, American football, basketball, baseball, hockey, track cycling, auto racing, mixed martial arts, and boxing at both the amateur and professional levels. Sports bettors really place their wagers legally through a bookmaker or sportsbook.

WHO calls out Canada over COVID-19 vaccine inequity


CBC News: The National in Canada shows that the World Health Organization has called out richer countries, including Canada, for not helping international efforts toward COVID-19 vaccine equity, despite vaccinating their populations at a much faster rate than poorer countries.

Many countries have implemented phased distribution plans that prioritize those at highest risk of complications, such as the elderly, and those at high risk of exposure and transmission, such as healthcare workers.

As of 30 May 2021, 1.9 billion doses of COVID‑19 vaccine have been administered worldwide based on official reports from national health agencies. AstraZeneca anticipates producing 3 billion doses in 2021, Pfizer-BioNTech 1.3 billion doses, and Sputnik V, Sinopharm, Sinovac, and Johnson & Johnson 1 billion doses each. Moderna targets producing 600 million doses and Convidecia 500 million doses in 2021. By December 2020, more than 10 billion vaccine doses had been preordered by countries, with about half of the doses purchased by high-income countries comprising 14% of the world's population.

Canada: Alberta's oilsands outbreaks being blamed on federal government exemptions


Global News shows that more than 8,000 workers in Alberta's oilsands have now received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as the province tries to contain outbreaks at over a dozen work sites. 

Over 3,000 people have been infected in 2 outbreaks alone at Canadian Natural Resource's Horizon mine site and the Mildred Lake Site operated by Syncrude. 

As Heather Yourex-West reports, a federal exemption surrounding workers brought in from outside the country is being blamed. 

The province of Alberta in Canada has a lot of oil resources. The Athabasca oil sands (also known as the Athabasca tar sands) are large deposits of bitumen or extremely heavy crude oil, located in northeastern Alberta, Canada - roughly centred on the boomtown of Fort McMurray. These oil sands, hosted primarily in the McMurray Formation, consist of a mixture of crude bitumen (a semi-solid rock-like form of crude oil), silica sand, clay minerals, and water. The Athabasca deposit is the largest known reservoir of crude bitumen in the world and the largest of 3 major oil sands deposits in Alberta, along with the nearby Peace River and Cold Lake deposits (the latter stretching into Saskatchewan).

Together, these large oil sand deposits certainly lie under 141,000 square kilometres of boreal forest and muskeg (peat bogs) and contain about 1.7 trillion barrels (270×109 m3) of bitumen in-place, comparable in magnitude to the world's total proven reserves of conventional petroleum. The International Energy Agency (IEA) lists the economically recoverable reserves, at 2007 prices and modern unconventional oil production technology, to be 178 billion barrels (28.3×109 m3), or about 10% of these deposits. These contribute to Canada's total proven reserves being the third largest in the world, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela's Orinoco Belt.

USA unveils COVID-19 vaccine sharing plan with the world, Canada a priority


Global News shows that USA on Thursday unveiled plans to share its first 25 million of its COVID-19 vaccines with the world, with nearly 6 million doses targeted towards "regional priorities and partner recipients," including Canada and Mexico, among other countries.

At this point in time, it seems unclear how many doses Canada would be offered or if the country would accept them or which vaccine would be sent.

The United States will donate nearly 19 million doses through the COVAX international vaccine sharing program, the White House said during the briefing on Wednesday.

Through COVAX, some 6 million doses would go to Latin America and the Caribbean, about 7 million doses to South and Southeast Asia and roughly 5 million to Africa.

Other beneficiaries of the priority group include the Republic of Korea, the West Bank and Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo, Haiti, Georgia, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen and United Nations front-line workers.

A so-called "vaccine" is really a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease. A vaccine typically (but not always) contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins. The agent stimulates the body's immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it, and to further recognize and destroy any of the microorganisms associated with that agent that it may encounter in the future. Vaccines can be prophylactic (to prevent or ameliorate the effects of a future infection by a natural or "wild" pathogen), or therapeutic (to fight a certain disease that has already occurred, such as cancer).

In biology, a "pathogen" (Greek: πάθος pathos "suffering", "passion" and -γενής -genēs "producer of") in the oldest and broadest sense, is really any organism that can produce disease. A pathogen may also be referred to as an infectious agent, or simply a germ.

The term "pathogen" came into use in the 1880s. Typically, the term is used to describe an infectious microorganism or agent, such as a virus, bacterium, protozoan, prion, viroid, or fungus. Small animals, such as certain worms or insects, can also cause or transmit disease. However, these animals are usually, in common parlance, referred to as parasites rather than pathogens. The scientific study of microscopic organisms, including microscopic pathogenic organisms, is certainly called microbiology, while parasitology refers to the scientific study of parasites and the organisms that host them.

Canada facing increasing calls to donate vaccine doses to COVAX


CBC News shows that the chair of an alliance that co-manages the COVAX vaccine-sharing program is urging wealthy nations like Canada to donate surplus doses to developing countries. "From COVAX’s perspective, we would like them as soon as possible," he said.

COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (abbreviated as COVAX) is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, or GAVI), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organization (WHO). It is one of the 3 important pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, an initiative begun in April 2020 by the WHO, the European Commission, and the government of France as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVAX coordinates international resources to enable low-to-middle-income countries equitable access to COVID-19 tests, therapies, and vaccines.

Canada: Special privileges for the fully vaccinated?


CityNews Toronto shows that hundreds of fully vaccinated healthcare workers got the chance to watch a hockey game in person at Scotiabank Arena. Maleeha Sheikh looks into the possibility of extending special privileges for people with two doses.

Vaccination requirements for international travel are the aspect of vaccination policy that concerns the movement of people across borders. Countries around the world require travellers departing to other countries, or arriving from other countries, to be vaccinated against certain various infectious diseases in order to prevent more epidemics. At border checks, these travellers are required to show existing proof of vaccination against specific diseases; the most widely used vaccination record is the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP or Carte Jaune/Yellow Card).

Canada to receive 2M doses a week of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine until end of August


Global News shows that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that Pfizer would ship two million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine a week to Canada, until the end of August. 

Trudeau confirmed the news during an update on the COVID-19 situation and vaccine rollout in the country, alongside Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand and other health officials.

The prime minister also said the government has negotiated an option for three million additional vaccines in September. 

Trudeau says 65 per cent of eligible Canadians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine;

On Thursday, Canada received its largest single shipment of the Pfizer vaccine to date: 24 million doses, according to Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie, who oversees the distribution and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines across Canada.

A COVID‑19 vaccine is certainly a vaccine intended to provide acquired immunity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2), the virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19). Prior to the COVID‑19 pandemic, there was an established body of knowledge about the structure and function of coronaviruses causing diseases like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which enabled accelerated development of various vaccine technologies during early 2020. On 10 January 2020, the SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequence data was shared through GISAID, and by 19 March, the global pharmaceutical industry announced a major commitment to address COVID-19.

Canada to allow mixing COVID-19 vaccines


Good Morning America on Youtube shows that Dr. Jen Ashton explains why the country is allowing people to mix and match vaccine brands.

Dr. Joss Reimer (medical lead for Manitoba’s Vaccine Implementation Task Force) says that new vaccine recommendations from the Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization on mixing mRNA vaccines will be a form of trial and error.

It can bee seen as kind of an experiment. On Tuesday, NACI changed its guidelines to allow for Canadians to mix and match AstraZeneca with either mRNA vaccine from Moderna or Pfizer. There was no current data on the interchangeability of mRNA vaccines.

NACI still recommends sticking with the same mRNA vaccine regime for both doses, but that you can mix if there are problems with availability.

Canada secures more Pfizer shots as focus shifts to second doses


CBC News shows that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the government will buy 3 million more vaccine doses from Pfizer than originally planned, and will also try to firm up Moderna supply via the USA, instead of Europe.

Pfizer Inc. is an American multinational pharmaceutical corporation headquartered on 42nd Street in Manhattan, New York City. The name of the company commemorates its co-founder, Charles Pfizer (1824-1906). Pfizer develops and produces medicines and vaccines for immunology, oncology, cardiology, endocrinology, and neurology. The company has several blockbuster drugs or products that each generate more than US$1 billion in annual revenues. In 2020, 52% of the company's revenues came from the United States, 6% came from each of China and Japan, and 36% came from other countries.

Moderna, Inc. is an American pharmaceutical and biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It focuses on vaccine technologies based on messenger RNA (mRNA). Moderna's vaccine platform inserts synthetic nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) into human cells using a coating of lipid nanoparticles. This mRNA then reprograms the cells to prompt immune responses. Moderna develops mRNA therapeutic vaccines that are delivered in lipid nanoparticle, using mRNA with pseudouridine nucleosides. Candidates are designed to have improved folding and translation efficiency via insertional mutagenesis. The company's only commercial product right now is the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Canada races to ramp up COVID-19 variant testing, get 2nd doses into arms


Global News shows that Canada is seeing more COVID-19 cases linked to the Delta variant, first detected in India. 

It’s especially rampant in Ontario, the country’s most locked-down province, and experts say more testing is needed. 

Meanwhile, provinces are racing to get people fully vaccinated, after shortening the timeline between doses. 

Abigail Bimman looks at the urgent efforts underway to stay ahead of virus variants and return life to some version of normalcy.

Health Canada is the department of the Government of Canada responsible for national health policy. The department itself is also responsible for numerous federal health-related agencies, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), among others. These organizations help to ensure compliance with federal law in a variety of healthcare, agricultural, and pharmaceutical activities. This responsibility also involves extensive collaboration with various other federal- and provincial-level organizations in order to ensure the safety of food, health, and pharmaceutical products - including the regulation of health research and various pharmaceutical manufacturing / testing facilities.

The department is responsible to Parliament through the minister of health (presently Patty Hajdu) as part of the federal health portfolio. The deputy minister of health, the senior most civil servant within the department, is responsible for the day-to-day leadership and operations of the department and reports directly to the minister.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Canada's economy is reopening (Ontario’s plan is slow)


Inside The Story Channel on Youtube shows that as Canada's provinces unveil their reopening timelines, with in-class learning canceled, Ontario’s plan is noticeably slower than most. Is the extreme caution a sign of a of gun shy government spooked by previous misstep?

Canada: Could "Delta" COVID-19 variant put pause on provincial reopening plans?


Global News shows that as COVID-19  vaccination rollouts and reopening plans continue around the world, experts are monitoring the progress of the strain now dubbed "Delta." 

First detected in India, scientists say it’s spreading and taking over as the dominant variant.

As Global News health reporter Jamie Mauracher explains, here at home, there is hope we can control it, avoiding a potential fourth wave.

Mortgage in Canada: New stress test makes it harder to qualify


CBC News shows that it's a bit harder to qualify for a home loan as of today as the Canadian government has raised the minimum financial bar that anyone applying for a mortgage must meet.

Canada: COVID-19 variants still a concern


Variant cases in Canada continue to be a point of concern even though their numbers are going down, but that doesn't mean their spread is limited. Henna Saeed asks Dr. Gasperowicz how variants came about in the first place & how we can fight them.

Canada: Ontario stay-at-home order expires, most restrictions remain in place


CBC News in Canada shows that Ontario's stay-at-home order expired Wednesday, but the province says most public health and workplace restrictions will remain in place until it officially enters the first step of its reopening plan.

Ontario schools will remain closed to in-person learning for the rest of the academic year.

Ontario province might be able to enter Step 1 of its reopening plan earlier than expected.

The decision contradicts the provincial government’s previous promise to reopen classrooms before the economy, which was originally set to begin on June 14.

Step 1 would allow for outdoor gathering limits to increase to 10 people, the reopening of patios, and non-essential retail to reopen at 15 per cent capacity.

Read more details about this here:

Canada supports USA investigation into origins of COVID-19


CTV News shows that Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau says the federal government supports the U.S. investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

There are several ongoing efforts by scientists, governments, international organisations, and others to determine the origin of SARS-CoV-2 (virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic). The scientific consensus seems to be that the virus is most likely of zoonotic origin in a natural setting, from bats or another closely-related mammal.

Infectious disease can be such a type. A zoonosis (plural zoonoses, or zoonotic diseases) is an infectious disease caused by a pathogen (an infectious agent, such as a bacterium, virus, parasite or prion) that has jumped from an animal (usually a vertebrate) to a human.

SARS-CoV-2 has close genetic similarity to multiple previously identified bat coronaviruses, suggesting it may have crossed over into humans from bats. Research is ongoing as to whether SARS-CoV-2 came directly from bats or indirectly through any intermediate hosts. Initial genome sequences of the virus showed little genetic diversity, although subsequently a number of stable variants emerged (some spreading more vigorously), indicating that the spillover event introducing SARS-CoV-2 to humans is likely to have occurred in late 2019.

Canada to recommend mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines


CBC News shows that Canada is changing its guidelines on mixing and matching second doses of COVID-19 vaccines and will advise Canadians to combine either the AstraZeneca-Oxford, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots interchangeably in certain situations.

The COVID-19 vaccination programme in Canada is an ongoing, intergovernmental effort coordinated between the bodies responsible in the Government of Canada to acquire and distribute vaccines to individual provincial and territorial governments who in turn administer approved COVID-19 vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.

Some provinces certainly have asked local municipal governments, hospital systems, family doctors and independently owned pharmacies to help in part, or in full with vaccination rollout. This so-called vaccination effort in full is the largest such immunization effort in the Canada's history.