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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Oct. 4

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it's working with other governments still dubious about allowing Canadians with mixed COVID-19 vaccines to travel across their borders without quarantining.

Canada sharing data with countries still dubious about mixed-dose travellers

A traveller is seen at an airport in Ottawa on June 16. The Public Health Agency of Canada says it's working with other governments still dubious about allowing Canadians with mixed vaccines to travel across their borders without quarantining. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

The latest:

Convincing hesitant countries to allow Canadians with mixed vaccines to travel across their borders may be tricky, but Canada has a responsibility to try, according to a director with the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA).

The federal government is expected to release more details about a standardized vaccine passport for Canadians in the coming weeks, but even with that in hand, some Canadians will find themselves turned away at certain borders or mandated to quarantine.

Several countries, including the United States, only recognize people with two identical doses of an approved vaccine as being fully vaccinated. As well, AstraZeneca-Oxford is not on the list of approved vaccines in the U.S.

There are at least 3.88 million fully vaccinated Canadians who received two different kinds of shots, not including those from Quebec where data on mixed vaccines is unavailable.

A person is administered a COVID-19 vaccine shot in Mississauga, Ont., on Sept. 16. (Chris Glover/CBC)

Of those, roughly 1.5 million Canadians received a first dose of AstraZeneca or Covishield, which uses the same formula.

"The problem we have here in Canada is that we're one of the few places that have really done this in any significant way, and Canada is a tiny travel market compared to the whole world," said Richard Vanderlubbe, director of ACTA and president of tripcentral.ca.

Canada was initially something of an outlier this past summer when it allowed people to mix and match vaccine doses, and research on the immune response to that approach has been positive.

Those who followed public health directions and got the first dose available to them are likely to become frustrated at not being able to travel once mandatory vaccine rules are passed around the world, Vanderlubbe warned.

"I'm sure the frustration will rise — there's no doubt about it," he said.

A sign is seen inside a quarantine hotel in Hong Kong on Aug. 30. (Tyrone Siu/Reueters)

The Public Health Agency of Canada has presented data on the effectiveness of mixed doses to the U.S. and other top-priority destinations.

"I think there's a big obligation to do that," Vanderlubbe said.

Canada has been particularly active in spreading information about the effectiveness of mixing AstraZeneca with mRNA vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer.

WATCH | Tam says Canada is working with U.S. to approve mixed vaccine doses for travel: 

Dr. Theresa Tam says Canada is working with U.S. counterparts to approve mixed COVID-19 vaccine doses for travel

1 year ago
Duration 1:35
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the Public Health Agency of Canada has provided data on the effectiveness of mixing COVID-19 vaccines to U.S. counterparts to allow them to recognize the practice and ease travel restrictions.

"They have not used AstraZeneca vaccine in the U.S. and certainly not a mixed-dose schedule. As a result, they don't have domestically generated information on that front," Tam said at a Sept. 24 news briefing.

New rules in the U.S. would see only travellers fully vaccinated to America's standard allowed to fly over the border. That could leave vaccinated Canadians who have previously been allowed to fly to the U.S. with only a negative COVID-19 test unable to travel as early as November.

The land border is set to remain closed until at least Oct. 21.

Cars in the U.S. bound for Canada line the Rainbow International Bridge in Niagara Falls, Ont., on Aug. 9. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Canada still advises against all unessential travel outside of the country, but even so, the government hopes other countries will recognize the vaccine status of Canadians who received two doses of a domestically approved vaccine.

Some popular European destinations already recognize mixed doses because they followed a similar approach to Canada, Tam said.

"We still have to advise travellers that they must check in with the specific country requirements prior to travel because it is a bit of a varied landscape out there. But we're doing everything we can to facilitate that recognition," she said.

Travellers coming to Canada who meet vaccine requirements are exempt from mandatory quarantine on arrival, but only if the vaccine is one that has already been approved by Health Canada.


What's happening across Canada

A sign directing people to a COVID-19 testing site is seen in Vancouver on Monday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

What's happening around the world

As of Monday, more than 234.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.8 million.

In Asia-Pacific, New Zealand — among just a handful of countries to bring COVID-19 cases down to zero last year — on Monday abandoned its long-standing strategy of eliminating coronavirus amid a persistent delta outbreak, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying the country will instead look to live with the virus and control its spread as its vaccination rate rises.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is seen wearing a face mask prior to a news conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday. (Mark Mitchell/The Associated Press)

In Europe, the EU's drugs regulator said people with weakened immune systems should get a third dose of a vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, but left it to member states to decide if the wider population should get a booster.

In the Americas, Venezuelans are increasingly relying on friends and strangers to help pay for COVID-19 treatment as hyperinflation and soaring health-care fees make social media pleas and crowdfunding campaigns the only way to cover costs while infection rates rise.

In Africa, Senegal logged only two new daily infections, the lowest number since the pandemic reached the country and two months after the rate of new cases hovered at record highs, the health ministry said.

With files from CBC News and Reuters

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