One man’s vaccine experience in the battle to subdue COVID-19

It amounted to short-term pain for long-term gain. A small price to pay when you consider the alternative

One man’s vaccine experience in the battle to subdue COVID-19The number of Canadians who have received a COVID-19 vaccine is slowly increasing but it took a painfully long time to get there. Slightly less than 30 per cent of Canadians have received one COVID-19 dose of a vaccine from Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca. Only 2.7 per cent, or 1,018,381 people, are fully vaccinated as…

Ontario’s insane three-day COVID-19 roller-coaster ride

Political messages that flip-flopped. Controversial policies announced, modified and removed at a mere snap of the fingers

Ontario’s insane three-day COVID-19 roller-coaster rideSeventy-two hours – 4,320 minutes – three days. Doesn’t sound like an enormous stretch of time. In most cases, it’s not. Yet what Ontario experienced from Friday, April 16, to Sunday, April 18, could easily be described as an insane roller-coaster ride for the ages. Wild highs and lows. Political messages that flip-flopped and flop-flipped. Controversial…

More nuanced approach urged in deciding who gets COVID-19 vaccine

Job site and neighbourhood risks should be taken into account when setting priorities, experts argue

More nuanced approach urged in deciding who gets COVID-19 vaccineIt's time for a more nuanced approach to prioritizing COVID-19 vaccinations as more contagious variants become prevalent and a third wave of infections threatens to overwhelm hospitals in some provinces, according to an analysis published recently in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. “It’s time to move the debate away from age and medical risk factors,” said lead author…

How Canada botched its campaign for vaccines

The proven determinants of scientific progress – collaboration, a plan, guaranteed funding, transparency – are nowhere to be found

How Canada botched its campaign for vaccinesThe Human Genome Project (HGP) stands as one of mankind’s most remarkable achievements. Its significance is easily equal to, or even eclipses, James Watson and Francis Crick’s discovery of DNA’s helical structure, or Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. The goal was to determine the position and function of the more than 100,000 genes…

How to safely – and gainfully – prepare for the end of the pandemic

We'll likely be able to celebrate a more normal December holiday season in 2021. The hard part's getting there

How to safely – and gainfully – prepare for the end of the pandemicWe’ve just marked (I won’t say celebrated) the first anniversary of the pandemic. And we have a long way to go – but we need to stay diligent. A year ago, when it was just starting, most of us expected that the resulting fear, uncertainties and restrictions would be over in a few weeks. As…

Pharmacy students lend a steady hand with COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Doing their final work placements before graduation

Pharmacy students lend a steady hand with COVID-19 vaccine rolloutOn the first day COVID-19 vaccines were given at the southeast Edmonton pharmacy where Mina Nagib works, the atmosphere was electric. “People came dressed up to get their vaccine, wearing suits or traditional dress,” he said. “It was a celebrated event – a major milestone for the patients and for the pharmacists.” The student in…

U of A researcher to work with N.W.T. communities to promote vaccinations

Project to develop culturally appropriate program is among 19 projects to receive funding from Canadian Institutes of Health Research

U of A researcher to work with N.W.T. communities to promote vaccinationsA University of Alberta researcher will consult with two Indigenous communities in the Northwest Territories to co-create a culturally appropriate promotion program for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and the main cause of cervical cancer worldwide, but it is preventable with a vaccine for females aged nine to…

Made-in-Alberta COVID-19 vaccine candidate goes to clinical trials

DNA-based vaccine offers advantages that could make it easier to get into the arms of Canadians if approved

Made-in-Alberta COVID-19 vaccine candidate goes to clinical trialsA made-in-Alberta COVID-19 vaccine is taking a major step forward on the path to Health Canada approval with the start of a Phase 1 clinical trial. Entos Pharmaceuticals, an Edmonton company led by CEO and University of Alberta researcher John Lewis, has shipped a vaccine for testing to the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology in Halifax. The…

Why a federal election doesn’t make sense right now

In calling an election, the Liberal government would be putting politics before the well-being of voters

Why a federal election doesn’t make sense right nowHere are some good reasons why we shouldn’t be considering a federal election now. I offer them with some trepidation. Just prior to the last British Columbia provincial election call, I was writing down some reasons why I thought a B.C. election wasn’t a good idea at the time. Alas, the writ was dropped even…

COVID-19 vaccine task force transparency crucial

Any appearance of conflicts of interest must be eliminated

COVID-19 vaccine task force transparency crucialBy Joel Lexchin, Lisa Bero, Marc-Andre Gagnon, Quinn Grundy and Barbara Mintzes COVID-19 vaccines are starting to come into Canada again and hopefully there won’t be any further interruptions. Public acceptance of vaccines will depend on how confident people are that the best decisions have been made about which vaccines to purchase. If it looks…

Wastewater from care homes could be COVID-19 early warning system

Wastewater samples from manholes near long-term care facilities being tested to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2

Wastewater from care homes could be COVID-19 early warning systemUniversity of Alberta medical scientists are teaming up with public health officials, Edmonton’s drainage utility company and other collaborators to develop an early warning system for COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes. On Jan. 4, EPCOR began taking twice-weekly wastewater samples from manholes located at 10 Edmonton long-term care facilities, which are then tested by U of…

Global vaccine certification would help world bounce back from COVID-19

Surest way to restore free movement across borders and reboot ailing economies

Global vaccine certification would help world bounce back from COVID-19As the world looks to a post-pandemic future, a global COVID-19 vaccine certification program might be the surest way to restore free movement across borders and reboot ailing economies, according to University of Alberta political scientist Andy Knight. “We need to develop an international protocol – especially for small, more vulnerable states – that will allow…

Chinese propaganda politicizing COVID-19’s origin story

China is effectively playing the victim card

Chinese propaganda politicizing COVID-19’s origin storyIf there’s one thing we’ve learned throughout this pandemic, it’s how the science related to the virus can be constantly politicized. And to change COVID-19’s origin story, that’s exactly what China is doing. Many are talking about vaccine nationalism, with concerns that some nations are racing to access as many vaccines as possible. It’s disappointing,…

COVID-19 vaccine rollout bungled by federal government

If we’re all in this together, what on Earth are the feds doing when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines?

COVID-19 vaccine rollout bungled by federal government“We are all in this together and we are there for you.” Does this ring a bell? It should. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it during a March 18, 2020, press conference – the week after the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 had become a global pandemic. In the days that followed, Canadian businesses…

Thankfully 2020 is over, but we’re not out of the woods yet

There's that little matter of actually rolling out the vaccines on a much wider scale in Canada

Thankfully 2020 is over, but we’re not out of the woods yetSad to see 2020 go? You’re in the minority … of one. Everyone else was quite ecstatic to roll out the welcome mat for 2021. The biggest issue we faced in 2020 was obviously the coronavirus pandemic. More than 85 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 worldwide, leading to nearly 1.85 million deaths as…

The congested logic behind congestion taxes

Vancouver is considering a tax on vehicles entering the downtown. It may well reduce pollution, but at what cost?

The congested logic behind congestion taxesOne definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Another definition might be to do something different and not expect any changes. We all have a tendency to do this. For example, we get married and wonder why we no longer have the same services we had in our…

Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute gets $20M in funding

Research hub gains significant provincial support to accelerate research and commercialization of antiviral drugs and vaccines

Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute gets $20M in fundingThe government of Alberta signalled its support for the University of Alberta’s leadership in Alberta’s biotech sector by announcing $20 million in new funding for the U of A’s Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute (AVI) during a celebration of Michael Houghton’s Nobel Prize. This builds on the more than $30 million the government has…

A small dose of normalcy in Canada

Let’s take the high road, skip the blame game, stop the juvenile finger pointing and find some solutions to Canada’s lack of vaccine production

A small dose of normalcy in CanadaWhen Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca announced successful drug trials with their respective COVID-19 vaccine candidates, many people were euphoric. It wouldn’t signal the end of the coronavirus pandemic but it would be a positive sign that we’re gradually getting to this stage. Many countries around the world pre-purchased millions of vaccine vials or doses. Some…

Why are we facing lockdowns again?

If our leaders don’t learn any lessons and create better safeguards during a lockdown period, people will keep lashing out

Why are we facing lockdowns again?Many governments imposed short-lived lockdowns during the first wave of COVID-19 to help stop the spread of the virus in their countries. As we head deeper into the second wave, that dreaded battle cry has been ringing across the lands once more. Several European nations, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the United…

Who will be getting Covid-19 vaccination first?

A national survey will ask Canadians their opinions of a just unveiled list of priority recipients

Who will be getting Covid-19 vaccination first?Canadians will get their say on who they think should get any COVID-19 vaccine first, thanks to a research team led by the University of Alberta’s Shannon MacDonald, assistant professor in the Faculty of Nursing. Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has just unveiled its list of priority recipients (click Recommendations). Priority groups include health-care workers, people…

Some vaccines should be mandatory but not COVID-19: expert

U of A health law professor Ubaka Ogbogu advises that policy-makers focus on clear information and ensuring equitable access to vaccines

Some vaccines should be mandatory but not COVID-19: expertCanada should have a mandatory vaccination policy for childhood infectious diseases where vaccines are freely available, but not for influenza or COVID-19, according to a University of Alberta health law expert. “I still encourage vaccination,” said Ubaka Ogbogu, a professor in the faculties of law and pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences. “There’s no one-size-fits-all vaccination policy, and policy-makers have to…

Twenty per cent hike in flu vaccinations ambitious but attainable

U of A professor says COVID-19 crisis has provided much-needed public education in how vaccines can prevent deadly viruses

Twenty per cent hike in flu vaccinations ambitious but attainableA pharmacy researcher predicts more of us will roll up our sleeves for the influenza vaccine this fall thanks to the crash course we’ve all had recently on viruses and how to prevent them. “Because of COVID-19, people are becoming a lot more aware of how susceptible they are to viruses and virus-caused infections, especially…

COVID-19 creating new paradigm for developing vaccines

It’s showing us how fast we can develop them when the will is there

COVID-19 creating new paradigm for developing vaccinesEarlier this year, Michael Houghton, University of Alberta virologist and co-recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, mobilized his hepatitis C lab to join the charge to produce a vaccine for COVID-19. His lab was a perfect fit for the endeavour, having created a successful vaccine for the SARS virus in 2004 that…

Beware compulsory vaccinations

Canadians are in greater need of immunity from undue government intrusion than they are from any disease

Beware compulsory vaccinationsNew Brunswick’s attempt to remove vaccine exemptions has sparked a political, ethical and constitutional controversy. The benefits of the legislation were marginal at best, but the heavy-handed tactics used to try to implement it were even worse. Citizens beware. “Stop the hysteria over measles outbreaks,” wrote infectious-diseases specialist Neil Rau and former Ontario chief medical…

Multiple factors will influence pricing for COVID-19 vaccine in Canada

Need to supply enough for herd immunity may push down the price per dose, according to U of A expert

Multiple factors will influence pricing for COVID-19 vaccine in CanadaConventional drug costing models are unlikely to apply when it comes to putting a price tag on a vaccine against COVID-19 for Canadians, according to health economist Christopher McCabe. McCabe is with the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, and also heads Alberta’s Institute of Health Economics. “When you have an infection that…

Federal government undermines COVID-19 vaccine development

Canada’s amended Patent Act weakens protections for intellectual property in the life sciences just when rights are vital for mobilizing a rapid response

Federal government undermines COVID-19 vaccine developmentFirst, the good news: Symvivo Corp., a Canadian company, has a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate in phase one trials. The bad news is that the federal government is dismantling the incentives to find a vaccine. In the battle against the global pandemic, public- and private-sector actors both have essential roles to play. Governments are collecting data,…

Eight things you need to know about the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine

Experts share their knowledge, hopes and fears about the chances of finding a way to inoculate the world against the deadly virus

Eight things you need to know about the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccineWith more than 100 teams around the world racing to find a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, what are the chances of getting something that works? The World Health Organization’s list shows 21 vaccine projects in either phase one or two of clinical trials, and two projects, one in China and the other in the U.K., in phase…

Why we need to learn to live with COVID-19

With a vaccine likely years away and other viral threats emerging every year, shoring up health care for vulnerable groups is critical, say experts

Why we need to learn to live with COVID-19Measles infected people for 1,500 years, killing more than one million people annually during the 20th century alone, before John Enders and Thomas Peebles isolated the virus in 1954 and developed a vaccine nine years later. Four decades onward again, the disease was finally eliminated in North America. But for every disease caused by a…

Four strategies to help avoid the next pandemic

U of A virus expert offers recommendations that would be easier to implement and enforce than other public health measures

Four strategies to help avoid the next pandemicNew viruses emerge every few years that threaten humanity: HIV, swine flu, SARS, Ebola, Zika, MERS and now COVID-19. Unfortunately, the only drugs that can combat a viral pandemic are antiviral therapies – although most antivirals don’t work very well – or vaccines, most of which work incredibly well. Vaccines for newly emerging viral diseases…