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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on March 2

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday said the country was on track to have enough vaccines for every adult in the country by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated.

Biden says U.S. on track to have enough vaccines for every adult in the country by end of May

U.S. President Joe Biden said that the U.S. expects to take delivery of enough coronavirus vaccines for all adult Americans by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The latest:

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday said the country was on track to have enough vaccines for every adult in the country by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated.

Biden announced that pharmaceutical company Merck will help make rival Johnson & Johnson's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine in a partnership that he said was similar to those seen during the Second World War. With three vaccines now available, Biden said he was confident the country would reach his goal of delivering 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in 100 days.

With the bolstered supply, Biden also announced he would be using the powers of the federal government to direct all states to prioritize vaccinating teachers, and said the federal government would provide the doses directly through its pharmacy program.

He challenged states to administer at least one dose of the vaccine to all teachers by the end of March as part of his administration's efforts to reopen more schools across the nation.

"Let's treat in-person learning as the essential service that it is," Biden said.

Biden had originally suggested that the supply would be enough to vaccinate every adult American by the end of July. Despite the good news, he was leery of predicting when the nation would return to normal, saying he hoped that would happen by this time next year, but that maybe it could come sooner. 

The U.S. government authorized Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, making it the third to be available in the country following the ones from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna that require two doses.

Health Canada has not yet approved the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine but did recently approve the two-dose product from AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in addition to existing products from Pfizer and Moderna.

WATCH | Guidance for administering AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to seniors varies:

Guidance for AstraZeneca vaccine varies

News

3 months ago
4:47
Real-world experience, rather than hard data, suggests AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine may be effective at decreasing deaths in older people, prompting some countries to permit its use for those over 65. 4:47

Debate around delaying 2nd dose

British Columbia's provincial health officer, meanwhile, said the decision to delay second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by four months is based on scientific evidence as well as real-world data.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday the data show protection from a single dose is upwards of 90 per cent and lasts for several months. She said delaying second doses will maximize the benefit of vaccines for everyone while reducing mortality and severe illness for those most at risk.

"We know based on real-world data we don't have to wait for second doses to lift restrictions if we can protect enough people," Henry said. "I am so confident that the decision we made over the past weekend to extend that interval is the best one based on the science and data that we have to maximize the benefit to everyone in B.C."

She also said the approval of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine means people could be vaccinated sooner than planned as the province launches its campaign to immunize the general population.

WATCH | What do vaccine efficacy rates mean?:

COVID-19: What do vaccine efficacy rates mean?

The National

3 months ago
4:19
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti explains what the different efficacy rates for the COVID-19 vaccines mean. 4:19

In Canada, the current recommendations advise intervals from three to 12 weeks between the first and second vaccine dose, depending on the product.

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Tuesday the province is considering whether to follow B.C. in extending the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses. Shandro said a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision is coming.

Ontario is asking the federal government if it can extend the interval between the first and second dose of its COVID-19 vaccines to four months. Prince Edward Island is also looking at delaying the second dose of the vaccine, Premier Dennis King said.

WATCH | Public needs honest discussion to maintain trust in vaccines, says specialist:

Public needs open, honest discussion to maintain trust in vaccines, says specialist

News

3 months ago
8:14
Open communication about evolving decisions around COVID-19 vaccinations is very important to keep public trust, says Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a member of Ontario's COVID-19 task force. 8:14

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said at a briefing on Tuesday that NACI is "assessing the time interval between the first and second doses of currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines to allow as many people as possible to be vaccinated while not compromising vaccine effectiveness."

NACI is considering evidence from the latest studies and is aiming to provide recommendations this week, Tam said.


What's happening across Canada

As of 6:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had reported 872,752 cases of COVID-19, with 30,252 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,045.

Manitoba is loosening some COVID-19 restrictions as its case numbers continue to drop. "These changes, once again, are cautious changes to ensure we continue to protect and safeguard Manitoba lives," Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday.

Here is some of what will change starting Friday:

  • People will be allowed to have another entire household visit in their home, and outdoor public gatherings can increase to 10 people from five.
  • Maximum capacity at stores and restaurants will increase to 50 per cent from 25, and indoor religious services can run at 25 per cent capacity, up from 10.
  • Licensed establishments can reopen their video lottery terminals. Some facilities, such as casinos, bingo halls and concert venues, will remain closed.

The province — which reported 64 new COVID-19 cases and two related deaths on Tuesday — brought in significant restrictions last fall that shut down restaurants and limited group sizes after a surge of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

In Quebec, health officials reported 588 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 628, with 121 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.

Provincial Health Minister Christian Dubé said the government has reached a deal that will see 350 pharmacies in Montreal administering COVID-19 vaccines by March 15. Dubé said the vaccines will be available for people 70 and older, and that the locations of the pharmacies will be publicized in the coming days.

Ontario on Tuesday reported 966 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital stood at 677, with 284 in intensive care units.

Christine Elliot, Ontario's health minister, said the province won't administer the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine to seniors and that it was following the advice of a national panel that recommended against using it on those 65 and older.

NACI has recommended the shot not be used for seniors due to concern about limited data on how it will work in older populations. Elliott says the vaccine could more easily be used in sites like correctional facilities because it does not need to be stored at the same cold temperatures as other vaccines already in use.

Saskatchewan reported 134 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and two related deaths, while Alberta announced 257 new COVID-19 cases and two related deaths.

British Columbia reported 438 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and two related deaths.

In Atlantic Canada, Prince Edward Island reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The province is currently in a circuit-breaker lockdown as it tries to clamp down on two clusters of cases, one in Summerside and one in Charlottetown. Test results from the National Microbiology Laboratory have confirmed that two earlier COVID-19 cases involving two women in Charlottetown are linked to the variant first identified in the United Kingdom, B117.

Nova Scotia reported one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday and confirmed seven more variant cases as a result of previous testing.

New Brunswick announced four new COVID-19 cases — as well as a presumptive variant case — and one related death.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported five new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The number of patients in hospital in the province stood at 11.

WATCH | Advisory committee contradicts Health Canada on AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine:

Vaccine advisory committee contradicts Health Canada on AstraZeneca vaccine

The National

3 months ago
3:30
Just days after Health Canada approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for all adults over 18, a committee that advises the federal government on immunization says it shouldn't be given to people over 65. 3:30

Across the North, Nunavut reported one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday. All of the territory's active cases are in the hamlet of Arviat, the premier said.


What's happening around the world

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 114.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with 64.7 million of the cases listed as recovered on a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million, the U.S.-based university reported.

In the Americas, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot said the state is lifting its mask mandate, making it the largest U.S. state to end an order intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that has killed more than 42,000 Texans.

The Republican governor has faced sharp criticism from his party over the mandate — which was imposed eight months ago — and other COVID-19 restrictions. The mandate was only ever lightly enforced, even during the worst outbreaks of the pandemic.

Texas will also do away with limits on the number of diners that businesses can serve indoors, said Abbott, who made the announcement at a restaurant in Lubbock. He said the new rules would take effect March 10.

Meanwhile, Brazilian health officials are urging nationwide lockdowns and curfews because hospitals are running short of intensive-care unit beds as COVID-19 claims more than 1,000 lives each day in the country.

"The return of the pandemic in several states is making their private and their public assistance networks collapse and has brought imminent risk of spreading it to all regions of Brazil," Brazil's National Council of Health Secretaries said Monday, noting that the nation is experiencing its worst moment since the pandemic began.

In the Asia-Pacific region, China aims to vaccinate 40 per cent of its population by the end of July, a senior health adviser said, requiring a significant increase in shots even as it ramps up vaccine exports.

Indonesia says it has detected two cases of the more infectious variant first identified in Britain.

A medical officer prepares a dose of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination program on Tuesday in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

South Korea's decision to allow more doses to be extracted from vaccine vials sparked controversy as it ramped up its vaccinations of health-care workers and the elderly.

In the Middle East, Iraq received its first 50,000 doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine donated by China.

The Saudi Ministry of Health has announced that Muslims who want to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage this year will need to prove that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The government says it will consider coronavirus vaccination as "the main condition for participation" in the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims who are able are obliged to make once in their lives.

The statement did not specify whether the hajj, which traditionally draws some two million Muslims from across the world, would again exclude pilgrims from outside the kingdom to prevent contagion.

In Europe, Spain's jobless total reached four million in February, as COVID-19 restrictions led to the first month of job destruction since last May.

Austria's leader says his country and Denmark intend to stop relying solely on the European Union for coronavirus vaccines and will work with Israel to produce second-generation vaccines.

A worker tests a French national going to Germany at the German-French border near Saarbrucken on Tuesday. Germany announced Sunday that travellers from France's northeastern Moselle region will face additional restrictions because of the high rate of variant coronavirus cases there. (Jean-Francois Badias/The Associated Press)

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz plans to visit Israel with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Thursday and confer with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on vaccine research and production co-operation.

Serbia's epidemiologists have called for the government to introduce a state of emergency and a strict lockdown to halt a surge in coronavirus infections in the Balkan country.

The numbers of daily new cases have been rising sharply in the nation of seven million despite a mass inoculation campaign that has reached one million people already.

Chief epidemiologist Predrag Kon on Tuesday told the state RTS television that "we must ban contacts or we will break, and then realize what it means when the health system collapses."

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said two of the cases reported in P.E.I. on Tuesday were of the B117 variant. In fact, the two cases of the variant were found in previously reported cases.
    Mar 03, 2021 9:32 AM ET

With files from The Associated Press, CBC News and The Canadian Press

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