The National Advisory Committee on Immunization says the Johnson and Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. But it says it should be limited to people over the age of 30 who don’t want to wait for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. NACI vice-chair Dr. Shelley Deeks says like AstraZeneca, the J&J vaccine has the potential risk of causing a rare and new blood-clotting condition known as vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia. Canada has had seven confirmed VITT cases, one of them fatal, with 1.7-million doses of AstraZeneca.
LIVE: Federal immunization advisory committee provides an update on Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine https://t.co/pNXbxnTYy2
— Health Canada and PHAC (@GovCanHealth) May 3, 2021
Confusion About The Types of Vaccine:
There’s some confusion over so-called vaccine shopping with the latest recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. The committee says the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be limited to people over 30 who don’t want to wait for Pfizer or Moderna. The advice is almost identical to that issued by the expert panel for AstraZeneca last month. Both risk rare vaccine-induced blood clots. This appears to contradict the advice from Health Canada that people should accept whatever product is offered to them. NACI says the issue is not whether one vaccine is better at preventing COVID-19, but the fact that two viral-vector vaccines — Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca — have a known safety risk. The mRNA vaccines — Pfizer or Moderna — do not.
Can You Mix Vaccines for the Second Shot?
Ontario is asking a federal vaccine advisory group to look into the possibility of mixing first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses. The province’s associate medical officer of health says officials have asked for recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. The province is expecting millions of Pfizer-BioNTech doses in the coming weeks, but supply of other vaccines is less certain. Dr. Barbara Yaffe says she expects the federal panel to recommend it is safe and effective to use a different vaccine for a second dose, as some jurisdictions have done.
Mixed Reviews on the Province’s Vaccine Booking Portal:
Health Minister Christine Elliott says Ontario’s online booking portal held up when COVID-19 vaccination appointments were opened to all adults in hotspot areas yesterday. Elliot says 73,000 appointments were made in the first two hours that those aged 18 and older in designated neighbourhoods were allowed to make bookings. Some social media users say they came up empty even though they logged in early while others reported technical issues with the site. Elliot has apologized for any problems but says those having issues should try again because eligible people will get an appointment. Dr. David Williams says demand will drop after the initial rush, and people will be able to book an appointment soon.
Here is yesterday’s technical briefing:
Ontario May Shorten the Dose Interval:
The province says additional supplies of COVID-19 vaccine might allow it to shorten the four-month interval between first and second shots. The province expects to receive weekly Pfizer vaccine shipments of more than 785,000 doses in May, and more than 938,000 doses next month. Health Minister Christine Elliott says people will be contacted to arrange a new time for their second appointment if the increase allows the province to move up second shots. The government has also said it hopes to offer shots to all adults in the province by the end of the month.
Possible COVID-19 Outbreak at a Federally-Designated Quarantine Hotel:
Public health officials in Toronto are investigating a possible COVID-19 outbreak at a federally-designated quarantine hotel near Pearson International Airport. Toronto Public Health says it’s aware of cases in people linked to the workplace at the Crowne Plaza hotel. The Crowne Plaza is listed as one of the designated quarantine hotels for air travellers arriving in Canada through Toronto. The federal government requires anyone flying into the country to isolate in a hotel for three nights to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Toronto Public Health says it is aware of cases in people linked to the workplace at the Crowne Plaza hotel. https://t.co/JgwekjadqT
— CBC News (@CBCNews) May 4, 2021
Studying Blood for Antibodies:
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says testing for immunity to COVID-19 will now be able to distinguish between people who have antibodies because they were infected with COVID-19, and those who have antibodies due to a vaccine. Canadian Blood Services has been testing the blood of donors, looking for COVID-19, for almost a year. Tam says they will now shift to a test that will be able to tell whether antibodies are from infection or vaccination.
Changing Are Coming to LTC:
Ontario’s long-term care minister says the government is taking action to address problems highlighted in a report outlining the province’s neglect of nursing homes in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Merrilee Fullerton says the deaths of residents and staff in long-term care homes must not be in vain. She says the government is moving to address a severe staffing shortage, improve quality of care for residents and build new beds. The Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission called for an overhaul of the sector in its final report, delivered to the government Friday night.
Here is yesterday’s news conference:
Alberta to Impose New Restrictions:
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney will announce tighter public-health restrictions today in a bid to wrest control of COVID-19’s spread around his province. Alberta reported a record high two-thousand new cases yesterday and now has the dubious distinction of having the highest daily infection rate in the country. Kenney admits he was furious to learn hundreds attended a No More Lockdowns rodeo on Saturday in Bowden without masks in open defiance of public-health rules.
Foreign Affairs Minister to Stay in Quarantine Hotel:
Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau will stay in a quarantine hotel for three days starting tomorrow upon his return from the United Kingdom. He’s in London attending the first in-person meeting of G7 foreign and development ministers in over two years. Garneau’s spokeswoman says he will abide by the same rules every Canadian has to follow after travelling outside the country, including taking PCR COVID-19 tests before and after boarding his flight to Canada and staying in a government-approved hotel for three days.
I met with @RalphGoodale, Canada's High Commissioner to the UK, before starting the first in-person #G7 Foreign Ministers meeting in over 2 years. I look forward to working with our like-minded partners in order to make progress together on global issues.
— Marc Garneau (@MarcGarneau) May 3, 2021
Air Travel Rebounding:
Air travel continues to try to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, although it’s not near normal. The Transportation Security Administration says more than 1.6-million people were screened at US airport checkpoints on Sunday. That’s the highest number since March of last year, when the pandemic was beginning to explode across the US. But Sunday’s airports crowds were still 35 per cent below the corresponding Sunday in 2019, before the pandemic.
Yesterday Toronto held a briefing to update their vaccination effort:
COVID Update from The North:
All schools in Yellowknife have been closed after eight cases of COVID-19 were confirmed at an elementary school over the weekend. Chief public health officer for the Northwest Territories, Dr. Kami Kandola, says there are also 12 probable cases connected to NJ Macpherson School. She says most of those infected are children. Kandola says health officials are still investigating how COVID-19 entered the school and are determining whether the cases are related to an earlier cluster in the city in April.
Nunavut is suspending its common travel area with the Northwest Territories due to concerns over COVID-19. Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, says anyone travelling to Nunavut from the territories must first isolate in Yellowknife for 14 days. Travellers who came into Nunavut from Yellowknife on or after last Wednesday must also immediately isolate for 14 days from the day they arrived.
Yesterday’s provincial update indicated another drop in the number of active new COVID-19 cases. Across Ontario there were 3,436 new cases. 985 of those were in Toronto and 714 were in Peel Region. Ontario also confirmed 16 new deaths related to the virus. Hospitalizations continue to decline. There are now 1,925 receiving hospital care. Less than half of those patients are in the ICU. 3,623 more cases were marked as resolved.
Ontario is reporting 3,436 cases of #COVID19 and nearly 33,200 tests completed. Locally, there are 985 new cases in Toronto, 714 in Peel, 351 in York Region, 271 in Durham and 194 in Hamilton.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) May 3, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Public Health of Waterloo Region says there were 65 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and at least 50 or them were variants of concern. There were no new deaths and hospitalizations remained at 59. The number of active cases was up slightly to 558.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health released their whole weekend’s worth of data yesterday. There were 141 new cases and no new deaths. Broken down: 37 new cases were in Wellington, 56 were in Dufferin and 45 were in Guelph. The number of active cases was down by forty-two from Friday, to a total of 435. There are now 26 people hospitalized in the Public Health Unit with 14 of those in intensive care.
Contains files from the Canadian Press
Photo Credit: ABC News