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Why public health communications are an utter disaster

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, we are in the home stretch of this pandemic, even if you wouldn’t know it from anything Canadian officials tell you. Vaccines work, and hundreds of thousands of Canadians are getting theirs every day. We can look to the United Kingdom right now to see what happens when enough people get their shots. We know a lot more than we ever have about what’s safe and what’s not, how to protect ourselves and still find activities worth doing.

So why don’t communications from public health reflect that? Why can’t politicians and doctors give us hope, or at least a few carrots mixed in with the constant sticks? Do they not trust us with optimism? Worry we’ll start breaking the rules early? Or is treating Canadians like obedient robots doing more harm than good?

GUEST: Matt Gurney, columnist with TVO and the National Post

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Monday, May 10, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Monday May 10, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 340,118 new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,257,673 doses given. Nationwide, 1,267,117 people or 3.3 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 42,897.053 per 100,000.

There were 112,500 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 18,154,594 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 89.55 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting 24,249 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 205,902 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 393.22 per 1,000. In the province, 1.85 per cent (9,676) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland and Labrador for a total of 244,930 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 47 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 84.07 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 6,556 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 59,758 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 376.715 per 1,000. In the province, 6.78 per cent (10,750) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 76,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 45,179 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 366,089 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 375.13 per 1,000. In the province, 3.86 per cent (37,699) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 450,600 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 46 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.24 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 36,324 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 308,215 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 395.127 per 1,000. In the province, 3.83 per cent (29,878) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 373,815 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.45 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 63,377 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,781,451 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 441.931 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 4,119,439 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 91.8 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 94,093 new vaccinations administered for a total of 6,238,778 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 424.722 per 1,000. In the province, 2.68 per cent (393,884) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 7,056,415 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.41 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 7,799 new vaccinations administered for a total of 565,219 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 410.47 per 1,000. In the province, 5.52 per cent (76,060) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 686,160 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 50 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.37 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 9,124 new vaccinations administered for a total of 527,257 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 447.149 per 1,000. In the province, 3.93 per cent (46,393) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 542,935 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 46 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 97.11 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 27,918 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,916,957 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 435.47 per 1,000. In the province, 7.24 per cent (318,841) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 2,002,215 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 95.74 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting 116,661 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,159,103 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 420.749 per 1,000. In the province, 2.07 per cent (106,058) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 112,500 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 2,442,540 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting 397 new vaccinations administered for a total of 49,836 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 1,194.22 per 1,000. In the territory, 55.72 per cent (23,253) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 55,920 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 130 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 89.12 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting 1,804 new vaccinations administered for a total of 49,811 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 1,103.992 per 1,000. In the territory, 49.87 per cent (22,501) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 58,800 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 130 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 84.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting 201 new vaccinations administered for a total of 29,297 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 756.52 per 1,000. In the territory, 33.25 per cent (12,878) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 44,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 110 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 66.43 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published May 10, 2021.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, May 11, 2021 | posted Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.

There are 1,294,186 confirmed cases in Canada.

Canada: 1,294,186 confirmed cases (79,826 active, 1,189,678 resolved, 24,682 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,325 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 210.04 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 50,925 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 7,275.

There were 40 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 342 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 49. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 64.94 per 100,000 people.

There have been 32,746,783 tests completed.

Newfoundland and Labrador: 1,141 confirmed cases (71 active, 1,064 resolved, six deaths).

There were three new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 13.6 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 37 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people.

There have been 250,063 tests completed.

Prince Edward Island: 187 confirmed cases (nine active, 178 resolved, zero deaths).

There was one new case Monday. The rate of active cases is 5.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been five new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 149,751 tests completed.

Nova Scotia: 4,038 confirmed cases (1,655 active, 2,312 resolved, 71 deaths).

There were 121 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 168.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,184 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 169.

There were zero new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of four new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 7.25 per 100,000 people.

There have been 676,407 tests completed.

New Brunswick: 2,013 confirmed cases (150 active, 1,822 resolved, 41 deaths).

There were 11 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 19.19 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 59 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.

There were zero new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.05 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 5.25 per 100,000 people.

There have been 314,876 tests completed.

Quebec: 358,796 confirmed cases (8,143 active, 339,660 resolved, 10,993 deaths).

There were 662 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 94.97 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 6,118 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 874.

There were six new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 50 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is seven. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 128.2 per 100,000 people.

There have been 8,598,567 tests completed.

Ontario: 495,019 confirmed cases (31,991 active, 454,701 resolved, 8,327 deaths).

There were 2,716 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 217.12 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 21,118 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,017.

There were 19 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 209 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.2 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 56.52 per 100,000 people.

There have been 14,351,307 tests completed.

Manitoba: 42,451 confirmed cases (3,771 active, 37,683 resolved, 997 deaths).

There were 502 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 273.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,928 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 418.

There were four new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 18 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 72.28 per 100,000 people.

There have been 718,841 tests completed.

Saskatchewan: 43,288 confirmed cases (2,141 active, 40,645 resolved, 502 deaths).

There were 147 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 181.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,471 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 210.

There were zero new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of five new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 42.59 per 100,000 people.

There have been 797,739 tests completed.

Alberta: 210,387 confirmed cases (25,438 active, 182,832 resolved, 2,117 deaths).

There were 1,597 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 575.28 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,477 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,925.

There were seven new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 27 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.88 per 100,000 people.

There have been 4,272,048 tests completed.

British Columbia: 136,100 confirmed cases (6,339 active, 128,139 resolved, 1,622 deaths).

There were 558 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 123.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,444 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 635.

There were four new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 26 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.07 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 31.51 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,574,172 tests completed.

Yukon: 82 confirmed cases (zero active, 80 resolved, two deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 4.76 per 100,000 people.

There have been 9,129 tests completed.

Northwest Territories: 99 confirmed cases (48 active, 51 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 106.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 40 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 20,473 tests completed.

Nunavut: 572 confirmed cases (70 active, 498 resolved, four deaths).

There were seven new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 177.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 44 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 10.16 per 100,000 people.

There have been 13,334 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published May 11, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Alberta to stop giving first doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot: media report

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

The Globe and Mail is reporting that Alberta has stopped administering first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in favour of other types of immunization.

The newspaper quotes Kristin Klein, the co-lead of the province’s vaccine task force, as saying the province has decided to shift to mRNA vaccines for first doses.

The report says the move is partly due to the greater supply of mRNA shots, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna ones, and partly due to concerns over a rare blood clot condition linked to AstraZeneca.

Klein says AstraZeneca shots will still be made available to those who don’t want an mRNA vaccine or can’t receive one for health reasons.

She also says in the report that a decision has not yet been made on what shot will be administered as a second dose to those who were already given a shot of AstraZeneca.

Use of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been under added scrutiny in recent weeks, particularly after Canada’s panel of vaccine experts recommended that people who aren’t at a high risk of COVID-19 may want to wait to get a dose of BioNTech or Moderna.

Ontario, meanwhile, became the latest province to indicate Monday it will likely allow people to mix COVID-19 vaccine brands on the second dose as more Pfizer and Moderna shipments arrive.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021.

The Canadian Press

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on May 9, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, May 10th, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Sunday May 9, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 265,509 new vaccinations administered for a total of 15,917,555 doses given. Nationwide, 1,248,931 people or 3.3 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 41,999.627 per 100,000.

There were 76,725 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 18,042,094 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 88.22 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting 21,916 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 202,222 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 386.192 per 1,000. In the province, 1.27 per cent (6,676) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland and Labrador for a total of 244,930 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 47 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.56 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 6,556 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 59,758 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 376.715 per 1,000. In the province, 6.78 per cent (10,750) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 76,725 new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 76,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 44,485 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 356,978 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 365.794 per 1,000. In the province, 3.86 per cent (37,630) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 450,600 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 46 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.22 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 31,772 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 302,262 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 387.496 per 1,000. In the province, 3.81 per cent (29,688) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 373,815 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.86 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 76,166 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,718,074 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 434.524 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 4,119,439 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 121,075 new vaccinations administered for a total of 6,144,685 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 418.317 per 1,000. In the province, 2.67 per cent (392,835) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 7,056,415 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 87.08 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 10,501 new vaccinations administered for a total of 557,420 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 404.806 per 1,000. In the province, 5.51 per cent (75,866) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 686,160 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 50 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.24 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 13,651 new vaccinations administered for a total of 518,133 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 439.411 per 1,000. In the province, 3.92 per cent (46,277) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 542,935 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 46 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 95.43 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 42,485 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,889,039 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 429.128 per 1,000. In the province, 7.19 per cent (316,357) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 2,002,215 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 94.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,042,442 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 398.015 per 1,000. In the province, 1.94 per cent (99,461) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 2,330,040 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 87.66 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 49,439 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 1,184.707 per 1,000. In the territory, 55.23 per cent (23,048) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 55,920 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 130 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 88.41 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 48,007 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 1,064.009 per 1,000. In the territory, 48.04 per cent (21,674) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 58,800 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 130 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 81.64 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 29,096 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 751.33 per 1,000. In the territory, 32.97 per cent (12,768) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 44,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 110 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 65.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published May 9, 2021.

The Canadian Press

How will babies born during the pandemic meet the world?

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, May 10th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, there are tens of thousands of infant Canadians who have never been held by anyone but their moms and dads; who have never played with another real live child or spent a second in daycare or with a babysitter. Sometime soon, when restrictions are lifted, all that will change. What do we know about how a year without socialization will impact these infants? How can parents help them enter a world they’ve never met? And what will we learn about how babies adapt from this unexpected global experiment?

GUEST: Dr. Sheri Madigan, University of Calgary, Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Child Development

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Forest vs. Highway: The eternal Canadian battle

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, May 7th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, the forest in question this time is a piece of land known as the Greenbelt. The highway, if it’s built, would be known as Hwy. 413. If you think this is just a story about Toronto—you’re wrong.

The fight over Hwy. 413 has arrived at the federal government’s level. And how the government chooses to use the powers it has in this situation will decide the project’s fate. And quite possibly the fate of the next big highway vs. forest battle.

GUEST: Emma McIntosh, National Observer

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Trust in vaccines growing in Canada, but some get more love than others

MIA RABSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, May 7th, 2021

OTTAWA — A new survey from Proof Strategies suggests it’s not only Canada’s national vaccine advisers who have a “preferred” vaccine.

The survey of 1,500 people taken during the first three days of May suggests the two mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are way out in front in the eyes of Canadians.

More than eight in 10 people surveyed said they trusted the Pfizer vaccine to be safe and effective, and almost as many said they trusted Moderna.

However, only half of the respondents said they trusted Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and 4.5 in 10 said they trusted Oxford-AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca and J&J use similar technology and have both been potentially linked to a new and very rare vaccine-induced blood clotting syndrome. Twelve cases are confirmed in Canada after about two million doses given. Three people have died.

While scientists still can’t explain why the vaccines are causing this syndrome, reports suggest it is happening between one in 100,000 doses given, and one in 250,000.

Proof President Bruce MacLellan said weeks of discussion and attention on that issue have clearly had an impact.

“The various regulatory decisions and announcements have succeeded in undermining trust in those brands,” he said.

The survey cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

The poll was taken a week after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization warned Canadians the blood clot risk may be a reason for people at low risk of getting COVID-19 to turn down AstraZeneca and wait until they can get Pfizer or Moderna.

The same warning issued for J&J came May 3, on the third day this poll was in the field.

There is, however, excellent news in the numbers, said MacLellan. The number of people who said they trusted “the COVID-19 vaccine” to be safe and effective is up 10 points since a similar poll was taken in January.

In the January survey, 64 per cent said they trusted the vaccine, well below the minimum 75 per cent threshold some experts say is needed to get decent herd immunity against the virus.

In May, that number is 74 per cent, which is almost there. It is relatively constant across Canada’s regions, and regardless of political viewpoint.

A staggering ninety-six per cent of people over the age of 75 said they trust the vaccine, compared with eight in 10 baby boomers, and almost seven in 10 people considered to be part of generation X or millennials.

Among those under the age of 25, trust is below 60 per cent. The good news there, however, is that 75 per cent of those under 25 said they trusted Pfizer, compared with 62 per cent for Moderna, 42 per cent for J&J and 34 per cent for AstraZeneca.

Provinces aren’t likely to give either AstraZeneca or J&J to anyone under the age of 30, after NACI’s recommendation to keep it for people older than that due to the risks of blood clots may outweigh the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 in that age group.

Dr. Fahad Razak, an internist caring for COVID-19 patients at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said the reality is most people in Canada who aren’t yet vaccinated — which includes most people under the age of 40 — are going to be offered Pfizer or Moderna.

Those two account for more than 80 per cent of the doses expected in the next two months, when enough doses are coming to get a first dose to every Canadian over the age of 12 who wants one.

Pfizer was just approved for kids 12 to 15 years old this week but no vaccines are yet approved for kids under 12.

Razak said if people are offered AstraZeneca they should take it, noting his wife received it with his full support. With COVID-19 still spreading rapidly in much of Canada, hospitals full and ICUs overflowing, the virus is posing a much bigger risk than the vaccines, he said.

“We have more people at just my hospital (right now) than have developed the clot all the way across Canada, despite the more than a million doses that have been given,” he said. “So that’s just, you know, putting it in context.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2021.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Air Canada reports $1.3B loss in Q1 compared with $1B loss a year ago

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, May 7th, 2021

Air Canada reported a loss of $1.3 billion in its first quarter compared with a loss of $1 billion in the same quarter last year as the pandemic continued to limit travel.

The airline says the loss amounted to $3.90 per diluted share for the quarter that ended March 31 compared with a loss of $4.00 per diluted share a year ago when it had fewer shares outstanding.

Revenue in the quarter totalled $729 million, down from $3.7 billion in the first three months of 2020.

Air Canada says its capacity as measured in available seat miles was down 82.1 per cent compared with a year ago, while traffic measured in revenue passenger miles was down 89.5 per cent.

The airline plans to approximately double its second quarter capacity from the same quarter in 2020, but says compared with the same period in 2019 that second quarter capacity is expected to be down 84 per cent.

Last month, Air Canada reached a deal for $5.9 billion in federal aid including money earmarked to help refund customers.

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