- Coronavirus tracker:Follow the pace of COVID-19 cases, vaccinations in Canada.
- Vaccine latest: 3rd-shot recommendation for some immunocompromised Canadians; Moderna most effective in large U.S. study on hospitalizations.
- More evidence of economic recovery in Canada, but still signs of 'profound' changes to labour market.
- World roundup: COVID-19 no longer a 'socially critical disease' in Denmark, Egypt records highest virus death toll in several months.
- Explore: BioNTech sheds more light on when it might seek approval for its COVID-19 vaccine for those under 12.… Saskatchewan makes adjustments in the face of rising cases, but mandatory masking is not one of them.… Ontario is not capping class sizes for schoolkids, leading to concerns.… A plan to send COVID-19 vaccination clinics to Manitoba schools has been delayed.… Listen to the latest episode of CBC Radio's on using science to combat vaccine hesitancy.
Vaccine developments: 3rd-shot recommendation for some immunocompromised Canadians; Moderna most effective in U.S. study on hospitalizations
Canada's national advisory body on vaccines now recommends giving third doses of COVID-19 vaccines to certain immunocompromised individuals, but still hasn't reached a decision on whether to provide additional shots to the broader population.
The new recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released on Friday stipulate that moderately to severely immunocompromised Canadians should be vaccinated with a primary series of three doses of an authorized mRNA-based vaccine, which includes those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
For those who've already had a two-dose series, NACI recommends providing a third dose, ideally of an mRNA vaccine — but the committee stressed this should not be considered a "booster." Dr. Shelley Deeks, NACI's chair, said in a statement that the goal is providing an extra shot to people who "may have somewhat lower responses to their first vaccinations."
NACI's recommendations come as much of the world is debating the merits of additional COVID-19 vaccine doses for various groups. Israel has made third doses of COVID-19 vaccine available to everyone aged 30 or older, while the U.S. plans to offer boosters to anyone eight months out from their second shot starting on Sept. 20.
In Canada, Ontario and Alberta are offering additional shots for certain vulnerable populations including some transplant recipients, cancer patients, immunocompromised individuals and residents of various care homes.
There were also multiple studies released on Friday in the U.S. which provide more data on vaccine effectiveness.
As the delta variant became predominant, according to one study that tracked hospital admissions in 13 American jurisdictions between April and July, the risk of hospitalization and death was 10 times greater for the unvaccinated than the vaccinated. The risk of getting infected was five times greater. There were also multiple studies released on Friday in the U.S. that provide more data on vaccine effectiveness.
Meanwhile, a study of 32,000 American COVID-19 patients across 187 hospitals in nine states between June and August looked into who was being hospitalized, and what vaccine brands they had received.
Moderna was 95 per cent effective in preventing hospitalization, compared to 80 per cent for Pfizer-BioNTech and 60 per cent for Johnson & Johnson. In terms of preventing urgent care or emergency department trips, Moderna was found to be 92 per cent effective, followed by Pfizer-BioNTech at 77 per cent and Johnson & Johnson at 65 per cent.
It was not clear what may have accounted for the differences, and the authors of the study stressed that the data does not include those who were partially vaccinated, and that the time span since vaccination was not always examined. It is possible on the second point that waning vaccine effectiveness took could have taken place, which is a topic being addressed in other ongoing studies.
Economic recovery continues with 90,000 jobs added in August
The Canadian economy added 90,200 jobs in August — the third consecutive monthly increase — to bring the unemployment rate down to 7.1 per cent from 7.5 per cent in July.
Employment increased in Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia in August, according to the Statistics Canada job report, with little or no change in all other provinces. British Columbia remained the lone province with employment above pre-pandemic levels.
Overall, employment was within 156,000 jobs, or 0.8 per cent, of the level recorded in February 2020 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is variation to be found. Employment in high-touch industries — those requiring a high level of personal contact — is nearly 300,000 jobs off its pre-pandemic mark.
Labour supply hasn't kept pace with the robust demand for workers in a number of industries, however, resulting in staff shortages. As well, the labour participation rate didn't increase, suggesting hesitancy about returning to the workforce remains for many.
"Career changes, and ongoing health concerns could be possible reasons for the lack of available workers," said TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam.
Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem hinted at both a strong recovery in jobs hit hard by COVID-19 and at the same time a complicated shift in the way Canadians work while speaking to the Quebec Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
"It is clear that the pandemic has had a profound effect on the labour market," Macklem said
Macklem and others in Canada hope both that a fourth wave of the virus is not too painful and that the mismatching effect of having both high numbers of vacancies and unemployed won't be as pronounced as it is in the U.S., where there are 10 million job vacancies but eight million looking for work, with still more out of the job market entirely.
Experts continue to debate whether pandemic aid to help individuals is hindering the ability of employers to find applicants or if the pandemic has caused a deep rethink among North Americans on what they want for the rest of their working-age life. Some suggest the pandemic offers the perfect opportunity to provide a living wage for more Canadians.
World roundup: Denmarks turns a corner, Vietnam hopes to soon
As of midnight on Friday, the Danish government said it no longer considered COVID-19 "a socially critical disease," with Denmark becoming one of the first European Union countries to lift all domestic COVID-19 restrictions.
More than 80 per cent of people above the age of 12 in Denmark are fully vaccinated. Since Sept. 1, nightclubs reopened, limits on public gatherings were removed and showing a digital pass was no longer required to be seated inside restaurants or go to soccer games, fitness centres or a hairdresser. Masking has not been compulsory on public transit since mid-August.
Jens Lundgren, a professor of viral diseases at the Copenhagen University Hospital, described Denmark as being "an isolated island" where the vaccine rollout has worked, but cautioned that conditions could change quickly.
"Nobody should have the illusion that we are over this," he said.
In Africa, Egypt's daily reported cases of coronavirus have surpassed 400 for the first time in months. The Health Ministry on Friday reported 413 cases and 12 fatalities for the past 24 hours. Daily cases have been spiking in recent weeks since the more contagious delta variant was detected in the country in July.
Meanwhile, Kenya's economic output contracted for the first time in nearly three decades last year, pummelled by the impact of the pandemic, official data showed.
Vietnam plans to reopen the beach-fringed island of Phu Quoc to foreign tourists from next month, authorities said, as the country looks at ways to revive an economy suffering from extended lockdowns because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Foreign arrivals to Vietnam slumped from 18 million in 2019, when tourism revenue was $31 billion, or nearly 12 per cent of its gross domestic product, to 3.8 million last year.
The country's August industrial output fell 7.4 per cent from a year earlier. Lockdowns in recent months have prompted companies to suspend or curtail operations, which has had an international impact in some cases as the country is a key supply chain link for computer chips, car parts and clothes.
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With files from Reuters, The Canadian Press, The Associated Press
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