Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Tuesday

The latest:

  • With criminal charges ruled out, inquiry into dozens of deaths at CHSLD Herron begins.

The head of a top association of pharmaceutical makers says they are now churning out coronavirus vaccine doses at a rate of about 1.5 billion a month, so wealthy governments that have been sitting on stockpiles of doses “no longer need to do so.”

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) says rising production can help offset gaping inequalities in access to COVID-19 doses that have put developing countries far behind in vaccination rates.

IFPMA director general Thomas Cueni said 7.5 billion doses have been produced so far and cited projections from an independent adviser that 12 billion doses would be available worldwide by the end of the year — and nearly twice that by June 2022.

At such production rates, rich G7 countries could both vaccinate their populations sufficiently — including with booster shots to those in need — and still have enough to donate 1.2 billion doses to other countries.

“The news should be a game-changer for vaccine equity,” he said. “We cannot be insensitive to the fact that so far only about six per cent of Africa’s adult population have received full vaccination, whereas in many of the Western countries we are at 70 per cent-plus.”

Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Portage, Mich., in December 2020. (Morry Gash/Pool/Reuters)

Critics have blasted the industry for allegedly putting profits over people, and key manufacturers such as Pfizer and Moderna have reported huge surges in revenues and earnings behind sales of their mRNA vaccines.

The World Health Organization has repeatedly called on governments and manufacturers to do more to ensure that vaccines are distributed more equally, insisting that the pandemic can fester and worsen — such as with the emergence of new variants — if large parts of the world remain unvaccinated.

WHO has also praised the industry’s lightning-fast development and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines that have helped save lives.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, called on the industry to distribute more through the United Nations-backed COVAX program that Gavi leads — instead of striking bilateral distribution deals with individual countries.

“The key challenges facing the global response to COVID-19 is now no longer one of manufacturing enough vaccines, it’s about making sure those vaccines that are being manufactured are reaching those that need them most,” Gavi said in a statement.

–From The Associated Press, last updated at 2 p.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | More focus is needed on stopping spread within Canada, says specialist

International travel protections to Canada are strong but not perfect, says specialist

There are strong layers of protection to stop the transmission of COVID-19 from international travellers entering Canada, but the country should also focus on getting more vulnerable Canadians vaccinated, says Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist in Toronto. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press) 1:32

  • COVID-19 exposure notices issued for 2 Air North flights between Whitehorse and Vancouver.
WATCH | Banning unvaccinated people from flights could have profound impact on the North: 

Banning unvaccinated people from flights could have profound impact on the North

The government’s plan to keep unvaccinated people off domestic flights could have a more profound effect in Canada’s North, where travel can be a necessity and even a lifesaver. 2:07

What’s happening around the world

As of Tuesday evening, more than 221.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.5 million.

In Europe, the U.K. has reported its biggest daily rise in coronavirus deaths in six months, at a time when new infections are expected to rise further with children returning to school. Government figures on Tuesday show 209 new coronavirus-related deaths, while the weekly total is up 39 per cent from the previous week. 

Finland will lift all remaining coronavirus restrictions after at least 80 per cent of people over age 12 are fully vaccinated. Prime Minister Sanna Marin says that goal will likely be reached in October, at which time “we will open the [Finnish] society and keep it open.”

About 53 per cent of Finland’s over-12 population have received both vaccine doses and more than 72 per cent have had one jab.

In the Americas, Idaho public health leaders have activated “crisis standards of care” for the state’s northern hospitals because there are more COVID-19 patients than the institutions can handle.

They warned residents that they may not get the care they would normally expect if they need to be hospitalized. Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the United States.

A nurse attends to a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise, Idaho, on Aug. 31. Public health leaders have activated ‘crisis standards of care’ for the state’s northern hospitals. (Kyle Green/The Associated Press)

In Asia, New Delhi’s premier Sir Ganga Ram Hospital is raising its oxygen storage capacity by 50 per cent, has laid a one-kilometre-long pipeline carrying the gas directly to COVID-19 ICUs and is installing equipment to keep the oxygen flow high, all in an effort to treat COVID-19 patients.

The medical director of the private hospital, Dr. Satendra Katoch, says the facility wants to “prepare for the worst,” as India prepares for its fall festival season and a possible third wave of COVID-19.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that some residents from China and the former Portuguese colony of Macau will be allowed to enter the city without undergoing quarantine starting Sept. 15.

She said the government would let up to a total of 2,000 residents from both places enter the financial hub each day, subject to certain requirements, such as a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival.

Visitors would have to undergo 14 days of quarantine on return to the mainland or Macau.

WATCH | COVID-19 surge filling ICUs in the U.S.: 

COVID-19 surge filling ICUs in the U.S.

The latest surge in COVID-19 cases is pushing intensive care units to the brink in the U.S. and killing 1,500 people per day as summer winds down and officials plan to roll out booster vaccinations later in September. 1:50

In the Asia-Pacific region, France’s overseas territory of New Caledonia has reported its first three cases of confirmed COVID-19 infections.

The remote Pacific Ocean archipelago has, until now, been coronavirus-free. To date, more than 30 per cent of the New Caledonian population of about 270,000 have been vaccinated against the illness.

In Africa, Nigeria’s Delta region oil hub may need a new COVID-19 lockdown, Rivers State Gov. Nyesom Wike said in a speech on Monday.

The state capital, Port Harcourt, is the gateway to the oil-producing region. The state’s 10,809 total confirmed COVID-19 cases make it the third worst-hit state in Africa’s most-populous country, after Lagos and the federal capital territory of Abuja.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

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