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Car recovered in violent Brampton kidnapping; suspect and victim still missing

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Mar 29th, 2021

Peel Regional Police say they have recovered a black Honda Civic used in a violent kidnapping Sunday morning in Brampton, but the suspect and victim remain at large.

WATCH: https://toronto.citynews.ca/2021/03/28/police-search-for-suspect-in-violent-brampton-kidnapping/

The vehicle was found empty about five kilometres east of where the incident took place.

Police say the incident began just before 3 a.m. Sunday morning when they received numerous calls about a man “screaming and banging on doors” outside a Brampton residence.

When they arrived at the home on Adventura Road in the area of Mayfield Road and Mississauga Road, they could hear a woman screaming from inside the residence.

According to the Special Investigations Unit, police entered the home and made their way to the garage area where they discovered a man in the driver’s seat of a car with a woman in the back seat.

“There was an interaction, and two officers discharged their firearms in the direction of the vehicle,” according to a statement released by the SIU.

“While still in the vehicle, the man managed to flee from the garage with the woman still inside,” they said. “At this time, it is not known whether the man was struck by gunfire,” added the SIU.

The SIU says the act of police discharging a firearm at a person caused them to invoke their mandate in this case.

Police identified the suspect as 21-year-old Kwami Garwood and the victim as 23-year-old Salina Ouk. The two are believed to be in a relationship and investigators say Garwood is considered armed and dangerous.

Later in the afternoon, police said Garwood is known to the police and wanted on four outstanding warrants throughout the GTA, including a first-degree murder warrant issued by Toronto Police in July, 2020. The victim is not known to police.

Police said given Garwood’s criminal history, they are very concerned about Ouk’s safety and appealed to the public for any information.

Britain eases lockdown but nervously eyes European virus surge

JILL LAWLESS, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Mar 29th, 2021

Britain is taking another small step out of lockdown as it looks nervously at a new virus surge inundating its European neighbours.

With U.K. coronavirus vaccination rates outstripping those of European Union nations, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is easing the stark “stay at home” message that has curtailed everyday life – and kept the virus in check – for almost three months.

From Monday, it will be replaced in England with a message to stay local. People will be allowed to meet in groups of six outdoors and can resume outdoor sports such as basketball, tennis and golf.

The other parts of the U.K. – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – are taking broadly similar steps. In Wales, thousands of people poured onto beaches and mountain spots on Saturday, after the authorities lifted travel restrictions that have been in place since December.

Most nonessential businesses remain closed, along with pubs, restaurants, gyms, cinemas, theatres, museums and sports stadiums. Millions of workers have been furloughed, with the government paying the bulk of their wages.

The U.K. has recorded more than 126,000 COVID-19 deaths, the highest toll in Europe.

Stephen Powis, medical director of the National Health Service in England, urged people to continue to follow the rules and limit contact with others, saying the easing “does not mean job done.”

“We’ve made enormous progress that we need to build on and not squander the gains we’ve made,” he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

The stringent restrictions in business and social life imposed during three lockdowns in the past year have had broad public support, though they have alarmed some lawmakers in Johnson’s Conservative Party, who argue that the economic, democratic and human costs outweigh the benefits.

While many European nations are seeing a new surge in the pandemic, Britain is counting on a rapid mass-vaccination program to help it end its lockdown. More than 30 million people _ 57% of all U.K. adults _ have received a first dose of vaccine so far, the government announced Sunday. Almost 7% of adults have had both doses.

Britain aims to give everyone over 18 a first jab by July, with second shots delivered within 12 weeks of the first.

Health officials say the program will slow down in April because of a squeeze on supplies, in part because of a delayed order from India. The EU has also threatened to block shipments of vaccines from factories in the bloc unless drugmakers – notably Anglo-Swedish firm AstraZeneca – send more shots to EU nations.

Some European politicians, under fire for their slow vaccine programs, say Britain has failed to export any vaccine doses to the continent, while millions have gone the other way. Britain disputes that characterization, saying vaccines have complex supply chains and some ingredients in Europe’s shots are made in the U.K.

British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the government was confident it would hit its vaccination targets. He said the first doses of a vaccine made by U.S. firm Moderna would arrive in Britain in April, joining the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech shots.

“We’re confident we’ll be able to deliver it and we are confident that it won’t require mixing the vaccines,” Dowden told the BBC.

Under the government’s “road map” to lifting lockdown, shops, hairdressers and outdoor dining in England are to reopen on April 12, followed by indoor venues on May 17. Remaining restrictions are to end June 21, if the country isn’t facing a new virus surge.

Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, said it was vital that people who had received a vaccine shot remained cautious.

“It’s really important that people who are vaccinated can remember that they aren’t completely protected,” he told the BBC.

“They’re protected against severe disease, hospitalization and death, but they might not be protected against infection after one dose, it takes three or four weeks for the vaccine effects to kick in, and they could potentially still transmit.”

Impact of Suez Canal shipping traffic interruption felt all the way in Montreal

VICKY FRAGASSO-MARQUIS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Mar 29th, 2021

The impact of the interruption of traffic on the Suez Canal in Egypt is being felt as far away as Quebec, where it will inevitably cause delays in commercial activities, according to Montreal’s Port.

An immense container ship has been wedged in the crucial shipping channel for days, leaving over 320 ships stuck behind it on both sides awaiting passage, according to canal services provider Leth agencies.

A spokeswoman for the Port of Montreal says it “certainly” expects the situation to create delays for the ships which pass through the canal before heading to Montreal via Europe.

Merchandise from Asia will be most impacted, since most goods from that continent are transported through the Suez and Panama canals, according to communications director Melanie Nadeau.

Nadeau said in an email that shipping from Asia accounts for about 25 per cent of the port’s commerce.

Products imported from Asia include clothing, electronics and construction material. On the export side, products such as grain, pulp and paper and forestry products could be affected.

“It’s not currently possible to quantify the anticipated impact of the blockage of the Suez Canal for the Port of Montreal,” Nadeau wrote in an email.

“We’re closely monitoring the situation.”

At Quebec City’s port, the situation appears less serious. The blockage is not expected to create direct impacts, at least in the short term, a spokesman said.

“On the other hand, if it extends two, three, months, it’s certain there could be impacts to a certain degree,” Frederic Lagace said.

Lagace said the difference is that Montreal deals more with containers, while Quebec City handles solid and liquid bulk, which is less impacted.

Health Canada says no corners were cut in approving COVID-19 vaccines

MIA RABSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Mar 29th, 2021

In the last four years, Health Canada has approved more than 1,500 new or updated pharmaceuticals.

Ten of them are vaccines.

Five of those are for COVID-19.

Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada helping oversee the review process, has never seen anything like the speed with which the COVID-19 vaccines got approved.

“I mean, unprecedented is the one word that we’ve been overusing, but there’s nothing even close to comparable to this,” she said in an interview.

The five non-COVID vaccines approved, four for influenza and one for shingles, took an average of 397 days from the day the company applied for approval in Canada, until that approval was granted.

The average time for COVID-19 vaccines? 82 days.

That includes 61 days for Pfizer-BioNTech, 72 days for Moderna, 95 days for Johnson & Johnson, 148 days for Oxford-AstraZeneca and 34 days for Covishield, the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India.

Covishield is a slight outlier because Health Canada mostly just needed to review the manufacturing process, as the vaccine is the same formula as the AstraZeneca doses made elsewhere. Sharma likens it to the same recipe made in a different kitchen, but the kitchen still needs to be up to snuff.

A sixth vaccine from Novavax is still under review, with the results from its big clinical trial not expected until next month. It has been under review by Health Canada for 58 days at this point.

The speed has raised fears among Canadians that everything moved too quickly. Many medical experts worry it is contributing to hesitancy to get the vaccines.

But Sharma says speed did not come at the expense of safety.

“That’s the only priority, the only thought, is what’s best for Canadians,” she said. “There’s no other motivation anywhere.”

Lack of research funds can slow down new drug development, but in this case, as lockdowns shuttered economies worldwide and death tolls mounted, countries poured billions of dollars into getting a vaccine to get us out of the pandemic.

Most of the successful vaccines for COVID-19 so far use  existing vaccine technology that was adjusted for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

They start with lab studies to check for safety on animals and see how the vaccine works in a lab setting on blood samples and on samples of the virus.

Then it is tested on a very small number of humans to look for any glaring safety concerns. Then they test it on a slightly larger number of people — usually fewer than 100 — to look for safety and the development of antibodies.

If that goes well, the trial is expanded to thousands of volunteers, some of whom get the vaccine and some of whom don’t. Then they wait to see how many in each group get infected.

Phase 3 trials usually take between one and four years. For the vaccines approved in Canada so far, phase three trials took about three months.

Sharma said the time a trial takes depends on finding enough patients to participate, and then having enough of their trial participants get sick to know how well the vaccine is or isn’t working.

Fortunately and unfortunately, COVID-19 was spreading so rampantly in so many places, getting enough people exposed did not take very long.

Canada has seen very few vaccines tested here so far, mainly because our infection rates weren’t high enough.

While the drug makers were busy getting the trials going, Health Canada was getting ready for their submissions. Sharma said discussions about COVID-19 vaccines began in earnest with international bodies in mid-January 2020, before Canada had even had a single confirmed case.

“I think we knew that … we had a virus that was going to be transmissible, that could be causing significant respiratory disease, and that there would be an interest in therapies and vaccines definitely, very early on,” said Sharma.

It was determined quickly that this virus was so new there was no existing vaccine that could be adjusted quickly, as had  happened with the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.

By March, Health Canada had started putting teams in place to review new therapies and vaccines for COVID-19 as soon as they were ready.

Each team was made up of 12 to 15 people, with varying specialties. There was some overlap between the teams but not a lot because many vaccines were being reviewed at the same time.

The experts on the file included infectious disease specialists, pharmacologists, biostatisticians, and epidemiologists.

Separate from that were teams of people looking at manufacturing facilities. Approving a vaccine isn’t just about making sure the clinical data shows it to be safe and effective, but also about making sure the place it is to be made follows the required safety standards.

They needed an emergency order from Health Minister Patty Hajdu to do a rolling review. Normally drug makers can’t apply until they have every piece of data ready but with a rolling review Health Canada scientists can start reviewing the data as it becomes available.

Hajdu granted that on Sept. 16.

Then the vaccine submissions began pouring in — AstraZeneca applied Oct. 1, Pfizer Oct. 9, Moderna on Oct. 12, and J&J on Nov. 30. The Covishield application came Jan. 23 and Novavax submitted on Jan. 29.

Sharma says the teams were working 15 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, reviewing data, asking the companies questions, requesting more information or new analyses.

Sometimes they were doing it in the middle of the night. Collaborations with international partners in very different time zones, meant 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. video conference calls were not unusual.

When Pfizer and Moderna were reviewed, it was entirely based on clinical trail and pre-market data because the vaccines hadn’t been approved anywhere else. Canada was the third in the world to authorize Pfizer on Dec. 14th, and second to approve Moderna Dec. 23.

By the time Health Canada authorized AstraZeneca — a review process complicated by some mistakes during the clinical trial in dosing and the number of seniors among its volunteer patients — it was also able to pull data from real-world use of the vaccine in the United Kingdom.

The regulatory work doesn’t end when the authorization is announced. The post-market surveillance data is still non-stop. The recent blood clot concern with the AstraZeneca vaccine took a lot of time, but just monitoring the data submitted by the vaccine makers on adverse events overall is still critical.

To date, the adverse event reports in Canada have not been different than what was seen in clinical trials.

Companies also adjust their submissions requiring further review. Pfizer has so far asked for two changes, one to the number of doses per vial and another for the temperature at which the vaccine has to be kept.

If anything changes on safety, or if the efficacy seen in a clinical trial doesn’t play out in the real world, Sharma says Canada will not hesitate to make adjustments. But those decisions will be made by Canadian experts, said Sharma, the same ones who have been on the files all along.

“It’s important that if anything comes up, we have people that have reviewed it, have gone through every piece of paper, the 2,000 hours, the hundreds of thousands of pages, and that if anything comes up, it’s like they’ve got a really strong science base, and they can put that stuff in context and we can make decisions really quickly.”

Toronto Raptors trade Norm Powell to Portland, keep Kyle Lowry

SPORTSNET STAFF | posted Friday, Mar 26th, 2021

The Toronto Raptors traded one of their longest serving players on Thursday while electing to keep another.

Despite swirling rumours in the run-up to the 3 p.m. ET NBA trade deadline, the Raptors elected not to trade point guard Kyle Lowry.

In the days and weeks leading up to Thursday’s deadline, there was plenty of speculation regarding whether the Raptors would trade away the franchise cornerstone and what that deal might look like. While reports had the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers as the front-runners vying for his services, the Raptors were clearly in no rush to move Lowry – their place in the standings shows a team that’s one short win streak away from being back in the mix for a playoff spot – and their high asking price simply wasn’t met.

Wednesday night’s victory against the Denver Nuggets saw the struggling Raptors cap their losing streak at nine, with many Raptors fans preparing possible goodbyes to No. 7. It was made clear that Lowry did not at any point request a trade out of Toronto, but reports indicated his desire to compete for a championship again.

Now, the relationship between the 35-year-old and the Canadian club will unfold organically, with Toronto playing out the season and perhaps attempting to re-sign the veteran leader in free agency.

The decision capped a busy trade deadline for Toronto, which dealt Norman Powell, Matt Thomas and Terence Davis.

Powell, who is likely to hit free agency at the end of this season, was sent to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Gary Trent and Rodney Hood.

Powell is enjoying a career season, averaging 19.6 points over 42 games (31 starts). That production, along with his 44 per cent mark from three-point range, enticed a large portion of the league, with upwards of a dozen teams reportedly interested in trading for him.

The 27-year-old has spent his entire career with the Raptors after being acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks on draft daft in 2015. Since then, he’s developed into a legitimate wing scoring threat that can be utilized in the starting lineup or as a spark plug off the bench.

Powell has an $11.6-million player option for 2021-22 but is expected to decline that in search of a more lucrative offer on the open market.

“Norman accomplished so much with the Raptors. He committed to the process, he worked on his game, he grew as a person, and he thrived as a player,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said in a statement. “Norman gave us great performances to remember. Norman is an NBA Champion, and he has earned his place as one of the great success stories in franchise history. We are grateful for everything he did for our team and our city.”

In Trent, the Raptors add a young wing player with a similar skill set to Powell. The 22-year-old has appeared in 41 games (23 starts) for the Blazers this season, averaging 15 points. He is scheduled to hit restricted free agency this summer.

Hood, 28, is a veteran piece who provides solid three-point shooting. He has struggled in 2020-21, averaging just 4.7 points per game — well below his career mark of 11.7.

The Raptors then sent guard Matt Thomas to the Utah Jazz for a future second-round pick and guard Terrence Davis to Sacramento for a future second round pick.

Toronto business owner details alleged abuse, discrimination by popular market

TINA YAZDANI | posted Friday, Mar 26th, 2021

A small business owner in Toronto says she was banned from participating in a popular flea market, after she asked the organizer to spell her Vietnamese name correctly.

WATCH: https://toronto.citynews.ca/2021/03/25/business-owner-banned-flea-market-toronto/

Using the hashtag #StopAsianHate, Aimi Tran recently shared a 14-minute video on her Instagram page detailing experiences of alleged bullying, abusive language and what she calls unfair treatment from the market organizer, back in 2019.

“I was sick to my stomach for months,” says Tran. “Debating for so long if I should stand up for myself publicly.”

In her video, Tran chose not to identify the market, but local artisans who allege they have similar experiences have since identified it as the Trinity Bellwoods Flea Market, and the organizer as Felicia Laplume.

Tran confirmed to CityNews that Trinity Bellwoods Flea Market is the organization she was talking about.

Toronto business owner details alleged abuse, discrimination by popular market

“I was silenced and kicked out of a local market because this person couldn’t fix one little typo,” says Tran. “If I had a more normal or more generic spelling name… would I have been treated differently?”

Tran is the owner of @inkbymi, a small paper card and calligraphy business she started in August 2019. At the time, she applied to participate in a number of markets in Toronto. She says she was thrilled when she was accepted into the Trinity Bellwoods 2019 holiday market.

When the market started promoting her business in September 2019, Tran says the business name was spelled incorrectly: “inkbyami” – instead of “inkbymi.” Mi is her Vietnamese name. Tran sent the market a message to let them know, but never received a response. A week before the market was set to take place, Tran says the market again misidentified her business.

In a second message Tran says she sent to organizers, which she shows in her social media video, she again points out the error. She writes in part, “I would greatly appreciate it if you would change this,” thanking the organizers and adding that she was excited to attend the market.

Tran says in response she received an e-transfer refunding her vendors’ deposit. She was also told by the market in a message and email that the manner in which she asked for the correction was condescending and rude.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I was heartbroken. I bawled my eyes out,” she says. “I had no idea what I did wrong. I felt like a failure.”

After the market revoked her spot, Tran received a message to give Laplume a call to further discuss the situation.

“She lashed out at me,” says Tran. “In the first minute, I apologized for any misunderstanding and reiterated that my message wasn’t meant to be disrespectful.”

“I was speechless, I’ve never been spoken to in that tone.”

Tran says the organizer informed her that her team was not responsible for any autocorrect or spelling errors, “just because of the obscurity of your name.”

“When I asked over the phone how my name was spelled obscure, she replied, the name Mi was unusual and obscure,” Tran says.

“So I replied saying: ‘This is my Vietnamese name, and I’m not trying to be picky, I just want it to be spelled correctly so it can be accessible to prospective customers’.”

After the phone call, Tran says she received the following message from the organizer: “This will absolutely, 100 per cent, affect your opportunities as a small business owner in anything related to my market and local markets and events moving forward.”

“That’s a threat to my livelihood,” Tran says. “I stayed up multiple nights wondering what she could be saying to other organizers.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CityNews has reached out to Trinity Bellwoods Flea Market for comment. In a statement, Laplume calls Tran’s accusations baseless.

“It is with deep regret we recently learned of the false allegations of descrimination [sic.] made by Aimi Tran. We confirm, for the record. That Ms [sic] Tran’s allegations are patently false and have no basis in fact,” Laplume wrote to CityNews.

“The Trinity Bellwoods Flea is a community market that is seriously committed to diversity and inclusion. If required, we are more than prepared to defend our organization against the baseless allegations being made by Ms Tran. We deeply regret that this individual has resorted to attacking a beloved local market that is known for its unwavering support of small business and the community. We look forward to resolving this matter in the best interest of all the small businesses we serve and our loyal dedicated community.”

CityNews also asked Laplume for an interview but has not received a response to that request.

The statement has also since been posted to the flea market’s Instagram.

Tran says she is surprised to have been directly named by the group when she made an effort to shield their identities in her own social media post. She also refutes Laplume’s assertion that her claims are baseless.

“It’s definitely untrue because in my video I do show what actually happened,” says Tran. “Ever since I saw that, I definitely feel more confident that I did the right thing.”

Tran’s close friend Angela Lam encouraged her to share her experience as an Asian woman running a small business to spotlight what she and others are facing.

“The Asian community is prone to micro-aggressions against our names, the way we look, how we talk,” explains Lam. “Because this is involving her Vietnamese name, I take this personally too. Because her Vietnamese name includes her heritage, her culture, and it was disrespected. Disrespecting her Vietnamese name is also disrespecting the Asian community.”

 

 

Flattening the climate curve requires national plan, carbon budget says McGill professor

MEGAN ROBINSON | posted Friday, Mar 26th, 2021

The phrase ‘flatten the curve’ may sound familiar to you. It’s been tossed around in media briefings from epidemiologists and politicians during the COVID-19 pandemic. But scientists have been using this phrase since at least the 1980’s and its origins didn’t start with a deadly virus.

WATCH: https://toronto.citynews.ca/2021/03/18/flattening-the-climate-curve-requires-national-plan-carbon-budget-says-mcgill-professor/

‘Flatten the curve’ has been used to describe how a shift away from fossil fuels could have put the world in a better position than it is in 2021, facing a climate crisis with a limited amount of time to make massive overhauls.

But flattening the curve requires social cohesion, a like-minded understanding that climate change is here, irreversible, and the global community needs to work together to get back on track to avoid the worst. (A note here: the term ‘social cohesion’ was first heard from Dr. Miriam Diamond, a University of Toronto professor, in a pre-interview for the Citvtv documentary ‘The Fight for Tomorrow.’)

While Canadians agree on many things, the cause and effect of climate change isn’t one of them, despite the science.

“The understanding of climate change is not the same across the country,” said Catherine Potvin, a biology professor at Montreal’s McGill University, who also holds the Canada Research Chair in climate mitigation and tropical forests.

“[In] central provinces, people are much more confused about the roles of humans in climate change. People in Quebec are very clear about that.”

Part of the issue is the way climate change has been spoken about – and debated – by lawmakers.

“I think one of the problem[s] with Canada is the fact that we don’t have a country vision that resists changes in political parties. In the UK, for example, climate change has become a non political issue,” said Potvin.

The UK has used a carbon budget since 2008, which operates like a financial budget, putting a ‘spending’ cap on total greenhouse gas emissions which should not be exceeded.

“If you want to reduce your emissions, then next year you add up a reduced carbon budget. So you will emit less and you will see where the cuts are made,” said Potvin.

“It is like a planned diet of carbon dioxide that allows you to program how your country will advance in its reduction. We don’t have such a rational approach now. And I think it’s hurting progress.”

Canada is one of the worst emitters on the planet – yearly, it jockeys with the United States and Australia as the top worst emitter in the world, a prize no country should want.

Potvin suggests a simple solution: in order to reach emissions targets the climate crisis can’t be divisive.

“That is the desire for Canada, that we have a state policy that transcends political parties and allows us to advance in reducing this very high footprint that each and every one of us, as Canadians have.”

With data and facts on their side, Potvin says it’s now the role of climate scientists to spell out what needs to change in Canada, to avoid the worst of the climate crisis.

“In Canada, the oil industry is almost half of the emissions of the country. So we will never be able to reach targets unless there is a difficult but necessary conversation on how to phase out that industry,” she said.

“It’s not about closing tomorrow, there’s too many jobs at stake. It is about how to support this industry and all the workers that depend on this industry to move to other sectors. If we don’t do that, the industry, I believe, will collapse.”

The year 2020 marked five years since Canada signed the Paris Agreement, committing to reduce emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

“People can change a lot in 10 years, society can evolve rapidly in 10 years. So, it’s not all doom and gloom, but the time is getting short,” said Potvin.

Catherine Potvin is featured in a new Citytv VeraCity documentary, The Fight For Tomorrow. The film explores the impact of the climate crisis on Canada’s largest cities and how eight Canadians are trying to change the course of our future. Produced and written by Megan Robinson, The Fight For Tomorrow premieres Tuesday, March 30 at 10pm/9pm CT on Citytv and Citytv.com. Join us for a live discussion about the documentary on Facebook, March 31 at 12pm EST.

 

Changes in COVID-19 variant testing expected to lead to better detection, higher case count

DILSHAD BURMAN | posted Friday, Mar 26th, 2021

Public Health Ontario has made changes to how testing and screening is conducted for COVID-19 variants of concern (VOC), which are expected to help better detect them, specifically those that were first detected in South Africa and Brazil.

On February 3, the health agency implemented widespread testing for a unique mutation — labeled N501Y — that is found in the three most common variants of concern: B.1.1.7 first identified in the U.K., B.1.3.5.1 first identified in South Africa and P1, first identified in Brazil.

The B.1.1.7 variant is currently the most prominent in Ontario, representing 50 per cent of new cases, and current tests are able to detect it. New tools have now been developed to be able to identify the other two variants more precisely as well.

 

Dr. Vanessa Allen, Chief of Microbiology and Laboratory Science with Health Ontario, explains that the new test is a PCR test performed on samples that have already been confirmed as positive for COVID-19.

“[The test] looks for two mutations, the original one — which was the N501Y mutation — and a new second mutation called the E484K mutation,” she said. “This is helpful as the E484K mutation … is unique to the latter two variants of concern, B.1.3.5.1 and P1.”

Dr. Allen says this will allow “much more rapid identification” of these two variants.

“Because we know the N501Y mutation found in a strain without the E484K mutation is most likely the B.1.1.7 variant, there is no need to allocate genomic resources to that as we can get an early signal using a PCR test,” she further explained.

The changes were implemented on Monday with the goal of detecting the variants present in Ontario faster and with more accuracy.

“It does however mean that there may be an increase in some of the [cases of] P1 and B.1.3.5.1 as the goal is to identify these sooner rather than later,” she cautioned.

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