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Canada receives first shipment of Moderna COVID vaccines | Coronavirus pandemic News

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Officials say Moderna vaccine will be distributed to remote, isolated communities in northern Canada.

Canada has received its first shipment of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday, as the country urged people to limit their contacts during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Trudeau said the first shipment of Moderna vaccines is part of the 168,000 doses that Canada expects to receive before the end of December.

“These are part of the 168,000 doses we’ll be getting before the end of the month, and part of the 40 million doses we’re guaranteed from Moderna overall,” he tweeted.

Health Canada on Wednesday approved the Moderna vaccine for use in Canada, saying it had met the agency’s “stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements”.

Canada is the second country to approve the Moderna vaccine, after the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 18 approved it for emergency use.

Moderna’s COVID-19 shot is the second approved in Canada after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is already being administered to healthcare workers and long-term care home residents in several provinces.

Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine does not have to be kept at ultra-low freezing temperatures, and Canadian officials said they plan to send it to more remote areas of the country.

“The different storage and handling requirements of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine mean that it can be distributed to isolated and remote communities, including the territories,” Health Canada said this week.

Anita Anand, Canada’s minister of public services and procurement, tweeted Thursday that the first Moderna shipment “will be the first #COVID19 vaccine deployed in Canada’s North”.

 

The health and social services minister for Yukon, one of Canada’s northern territories, said in a statement Wednesday that the Moderna vaccine approval was “exciting news Yukoners have been waiting for”.

Pauline Frost said Yukon expects to receive an initial shipment of 7,200 doses of the vaccine to inoculate 3,600 people with two shots. As of Thursday morning, the territory had no active cases of COVID-19.

“Yukon will receive enough doses to vaccinate 75 percent of the eligible adult population in early 2021,” said Frost, adding that long-term care residents and staff would receive the vaccine first.

Canada is battling a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations across the country.

On Thursday, the most populous province, Ontario, reported 2,447 new COVID-19 infections – its highest single-day tally since the start of the pandemic – and 49 additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.

Health officials in neighbouring Quebec also reported a single-day high with 2,349 new cases, as well as 46 more deaths.

Both the Quebec and Ontario governments are preparing to put new restrictions in place in the coming days as part of their efforts to stem the spread of the virus.



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Chinese cities using anal swabs to screen COVID infections | Coronavirus pandemic News

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Study shows virus traces in faecal samples could remain detectable for a longer time and provide more accurate test results.

Some Chinese cities are using samples taken from the anus to detect potential COVID-19 infections as China steps up screening to make sure no potential carrier of the new coronavirus is missed ahead of next month’s the Lunar New Year holidays when tens of millions of people usually travel home to their families.

China has been battling new pockets of the disease that have appeared in the north and northeast with strict lockdowns and mass testing in a bid to stamp out the outbreaks.

Justifying the decision to take anal swabs, a city official in Weinan in northern Shaanxi province said a 52-year-old man with symptoms including coughing initially tested negative for COVID-19. He was then tested via an anal swab.

The man, who was confined to a centralised facility for medical observation as a close contact of another COVID-19 patient earlier this month, was then confirmed to have the virus, the official told a news conference.

Anal swabs require inserting a cotton swab three to five centimetres (1.2 to two inches) into the anus and gently rotating it.

In a video posted online by state-backed newspaper Global Times, Zhang Wenhong of Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, said that such swabs could be useful in helping minimise the risk of a relapse after recovery.

“There may be traces of the coronavirus detected in the abdominal cavity faeces and intestine,” Zhang was quoted as saying in the report.

Last week, a Beijing city official said that anal swabs were taken from more than 1,000 teachers, staffers and students at a primary school in the city after an infection had been found there. Nose and throat swabs and serum samples were also collected for testing.

Additional tests using anal swabs can pick up infections that other tests miss, as virus traces in faecal samples or anal swabs could remain detectable for a longer time than in samples taken from upper respiratory tract, Dr Li Tongzeng, a respiratory and infectious disease specialist in Beijing city, told state TV last week.

Li added that such samples were only necessarily for key groups such as those under quarantine.

‘Low harm, extreme humiliation’

Stool tests may be more effective than respiratory tests in identifying COVID-19 infections in children and infants since they carry a higher viral load in their stool than adults, researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) found in a paper published last year.

Users of China’s Weibo, its Twitter-like social media platform, reacted to the method with a mix of mirth and horror.

“So lucky I returned to China earlier,” one user wrote.

“Low harm, but extreme humiliation,” another said, using a laughing emoticon.

Others who had undergone the procedure chimed in with dark humour.

“I’ve done two anal swabs, every time I did one I had to do a throat swab afterwards – I was so scared the nurse would forget to use a new swab,” one Weibo user joked.



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