Canada·Coronavirus Brief

The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for July 20

The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for July 20.
A health worker jabs a woman with her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Saint Damien Hospital in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday. Haiti, which is experiencing social and political turmoil, recently received a large shipment of doses from the U.S. (Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters)

Helping ramp up vaccination in developing countries will help Canadians, experts say

As of Monday, 70 per cent of Canadians had received at least one dose of COVID vaccine, according to online research publication Our World in Data. About 26 per cent of the world's population have had at least one shot, according to the same site.

The situation has not gone unnoticed elsewhere in the world.

"To be honest it's sad and infuriating to see how other countries have just [been] taking everything that was on the shelf," said Pablo Tsukayama, a microbiologist at Cayetano Heredia University in Lima, Peru.

Tsukayama's quote hints at the fact Canada did not produce any of its own vaccines. In addition, Canada took vaccine doses early in the inoculation campaign from the global alliance COVAX stock, which is predominantly to aid lower- and middle-income countries. The federal government is in the process of donating about 30 million surplus doses, including the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine that has seen diminished use across Canada.

If Canada, along with other rich countries, doesn't move quickly to dramatically scale up the amount of vaccine it contributes to those countries, some experts say, it will not only be a global citizenship failure — but it will also put Canadians at risk of another wave of COVID-19.

"[It's] not simply a matter of charity. It's a matter of self-interest," said Dr. Prabhat Jha, a global health researcher at Unity Health Toronto and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

"This is a global war. You can't simply say we're going to vaccinate Canadians and we'll be safe."

In an interview last week with CBC News, International Development Minister Karina Gould said the federal government was still finalizing details with COVAX and that she expected it would take another couple of weeks. Canada has also pledged over $440 million to the COVAX scheme.

"I think Canada has actually really stepped up and done our fair share," Gould said when asked whether Canada should ramp up its efforts in global vaccination.

But donating excess vaccines isn't enough, Jha says, arguing that the global crisis requires a "war" effort, including using Canada's purchasing prowess to buy more vaccines for developing countries.

This story was first teased in Tuesday's CBC Morning Brief. You can subscribe to receive the Morning Brief in your email inbox here.

From The National

Canada to open border to vaccinated Americans by Aug. 9

4 months ago
Effective Aug. 9, fully vaccinated Americans can travel to Canada without having to quarantine, rules which may extend to the rest of the world in early September. 2:32


Vaccine uptake politicized, health officials hounded in U.S.

Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked Monday in a CNN interview why Canada had surpassed the U.S. in the rate of first and second doses despite the U.S.'s months-long head start.

Fauci blamed politics in the U.S.

"Canada is doing better not because we are trying any less than they are trying. It's because in Canada you don't have that divisiveness of people not wanting to get vaccinated, in many respects, on the basis of ideology and political persuasion," he replied. "I mean, political differences are totally understandable and a natural part of the process in any country. But when it comes to a public health issue, in which you're in the middle of a deadly pandemic and the common enemy is the virus, it just doesn't make any sense."

Fauci himself is emblematic of that bitter division. While most Canadians would be apt to look upon him as a public servant performing a vital job in a pandemic to the best of his ability, with some missteps along the way, he is a subject of scorn to many hard-right conservatives in the U.S.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, touted as a possible 2024 presidential candidate, has been selling a "Don't Fauci My Florida" T-shirt, as he resists calls for vaccine passports and vaccination requirements. His state saw the most new cases in the U.S. last week, federal officials said.

Fox News host Sean Hannity, a vociferous critic of President Joe Biden, urged his viewers Monday night to get vaccinated. But other hosts on the network have continually raised suspicions about the efficacy and safety of the approved vaccines, with Fox morning host Brian Kilmeade saying Monday of the government efforts to persuade the unvaccinated, "it's not their job to protect anybody."

In addition, while there have been sporadic incidents of anger and harassment directed at Canadian health officials in public, it has been commonplace in the U.S.

Canada has roughly 70 per cent of its total population with at least one dose and more than 50 per cent fully vaccinated, with very small differences between provinces.

In the U.S., 56.1 percent of the population had received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 48.6 percent had been fully vaccinated, according to the trade publication Becker's Hospital Review. But with 50 states, not just 10 provinces, and conflicting messages about the vaccinations, there is great variation: Vermont has fully vaccinated about two-thirds of its population, with Alabama at about one-third.

Read more about the situation

Businesses are in a tight spot when it comes to proof of vaccinations: privacy lawyer

Molly Reynolds, a Toronto-based lawyer specializing in privacy, data security and protection and ethics, recently spoke to CBC's Cross Country Checkup about the tough spot businesses are in when it comes to privacy rights and requesting proof of vaccinations.

Here's some of what she told the program:

"Where we're at right now is there isn't firm guidance from the federal or provincial governments saying that certain businesses or industries are allowed to restrict access to their services to those who are vaccinated, but nor is there guidance prohibiting that.

"What businesses have to do is look at the various different legal regimes — privacy law, human rights, employment law, and health and safety on the job — and do an analysis of whether the necessity of protecting public health is effectively outweighing the intrusion on privacy by asking people to provide a proof of vaccine.

"That's quite challenging for businesses right now because many of them don't have the time, the information or the legal advice to make that assessment."

Reynolds believes "there certainly are some industries and some businesses or workplaces where that argument is going to be stronger. For example, those who are serving high-vulnerability people."

Reynolds said since the issue isn't likely going away anytime soon, she hopes "human rights agencies and privacy regulators, will work together so that there can be provincial or federal guidance on the type of workplace where these types of restrictions may be appropriate and wouldn't put the business at risk of being offside of privacy law."

Listen to the full interview

Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data.


Canadian athletes say Tokyo Olympic Village different than any other, yet familiar in age of COVID

A banner hangs from Canada team apartments in the Tokyo Olympic Village, where Canadian athletes and officials say COVID-19 protocols have already tamped down the typically social atmosphere. (Charlie Riedel/The Associated Press)

While July 23 is considered the official opening of the Tokyo Olympics, some tournaments take place a little earlier than that, including Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. ET when the Canadian women's soccer team takes on Japan, which can watched on CBC-TV or online.

The Olympic Village, which will house more than 10,000 athletes from every corner of the world, is being closely watched as the Games take place during a pandemic.

As other Canadian athletes begin to trickle into Tokyo, writes CBC's Jamie Strashin, they have to navigate a dragnet of layered COVID-19 protocols and testing. On Tuesday, organizers said 71 people within the Olympic bubble had tested positive for COVID-19 this month.

"What we're seeing is what we expected to see, essentially. If I thought all the tests that we did were going to be negative then I wouldn't bother doing the tests in the first place," said Brian McCloskey, chair of the independent expert panel on COVID-19 countermeasures at these Olympics.

McCloskey acknowledged that there will be more cases.

Marnie McBean, Canada's chef de mission, who as an Olympian has been in numerous Olympic villages, says the pandemic has created a unique village experience.

"In the cafeteria, not only is there a divider but there's also one on each side of the cubicle," she said. "So you kind of feel like you're sitting in a glass box eating your meal, but it's the one time you get to take your mask off."

While most Canadian athletes will call the village home, others like cyclist Mike Woods will stay in tightly controlled bubbles located close to their competition sites.

"It doesn't even feel like I'm in Japan. It's quite bizarre," Woods said from his hotel in Gotemba, site of the Olympic road race.

More about the situation

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With files from Reuters