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Federal agency recommends 4 month interval between two-dose COVID-19 vaccines

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Mar 4th, 2021

A national panel of vaccine experts recommended Wednesday that provinces extend the interval between the two doses of a COVID-19 shot to up to four months when faced with a limited supply, in order to quickly immunize as many people as possible.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued updated guidance for the administration of all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in Canada.

Extending the dose interval to four months will create opportunities to protect the entire adult population against the virus within a short timeframe, the panel said in releasing the recommendation.

As many as 80 per cent of Canadians over 16 could receive a single dose by the end of June simply with the expected supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the panel said.

The addition of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to the country’s supply could mean almost all Canadians would get their first shot in that timeframe, but the federal government has not yet said how many doses of that vaccine will be delivered in the spring and how many in the summer.

“The vaccine effectiveness of the first dose will be monitored closely and the decision to delay the second dose will be continuously assessed based on surveillance and effectiveness data and post-implementation study designs,” the panel wrote.

“Effectiveness against variants of concern will also be monitored closely, and recommendations may need to be revised,” it said, adding there is currently no evidence that a longer interval will affect the emergence of the variants.

A spokesperson for Ontario’s Minister of Health says the government welcomes the updated direction.

“This will allow Ontario to rapidly accelerate its vaccine rollout and get as many vaccines into arms as quickly as possible and, in doing so, provide more protection to more people,” read a brief statement.

The committee’s recommendation came hours after Newfoundland and Labrador said it will extend the interval between the first and second doses to four months, and days after health officials in British Columbia announced they were doing so.

Manitoba also said Wednesday it will delay second doses in order to focus on giving the first shot to more people more quickly.


Studies from Israel and the United Kingdom showed that a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine significantly reduced COVID-19 infections, helping to guide British Columbia’s decision to delay the second dose of vaccines by four months.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said the plan is based on research in the two countries as well as evidence collected by the BC Centre for Disease Control and in Quebec.

A study published Feb. 24 by a team at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., which has not yet been peer-reviewed, suggests that a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can reduce the number of asymptomatic COVID-19 infections by 75 per cent.

The team examined thousands of COVID-19 test results of unvaccinated and vaccinated health-care staff, who showed no signs of infection, at the university hospital over a two-week period in January.

The study found that 26 out of 3,252 tests, or 0.8 per cent, from unvaccinated workers were positive. In comparison, 13 out of 3,535 tests, or 0.37 per cent, from vaccinated staff were positive less than 12 days after immunization, and four out of 1,989 tests, or 0.2 per cent, from vaccinated workers were positive more than 12 days after the shot.

The findings suggest a fourfold decrease in the risk of asymptomatic COVID-19 infection among health-care workers who were vaccinated more than 12 days earlier, or 75 per cent protection.

The U.K.’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization said in December that the second dose of either vaccine could be given up to 12 weeks after the first dose.

Another recent study in the U.K. concluded that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is more effective when the second dose is delivered later. The research, published in peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet on Feb. 19, found the vaccine is 81 per cent effective when its second dose is given three months after the first, compared with 55 per cent efficacy after six weeks.

In Israel, researchers studied the effects of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and published their findings in The Lancet on Feb. 18, determining that it was 85 per cent effective against symptomatic COVID-19 infections.

The study authors analyzed data from 7,214 health-care workers who were vaccinated at Israel’s largest hospital, the Sheba Medical Centre. They saw an 85 per cent reduction in symptomatic infections between 15 and 28 days after the first dose.

The manufacturers, for their part, provide different guidelines for the time between doses. Pfizer-BioNTech recommends three weeks, Moderna proposes four weeks and Oxford-AstraZeneca calls for eight to 12 weeks.

But the companies shouldn’t be the ones determining the appropriate interval, said Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an epidemiology lead at the BC Centre for Disease Control.

“We shouldn’t ask the manufacturer for their blessing in doing this. That’s not their role,” she said.

“It really is squarely the responsibility of public health authorities to do that full benefit/risk analysis for their population.”

Henry has said that the manufacturers completed their clinical trials according to a short timeline in order to get the vaccines to market as quickly as possible.

Skowronski led the B.C.-based research that underpinned the province’s plan, including the finding that a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines reduced the risk of COVID-19 among long-term care residents and health-care workers by up to 90 per cent.

She also examined Pfizer-BioNTech’s submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and found that it underestimated the efficacy of its own first dose. The manufacturer said it was 52 per cent effective, but it included data from the first two weeks of the shot, a time when vaccines are typically ineffective.

When Skowronski cut the first two weeks of data, she found it was 92 per cent effective, similar to a first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

B.C. reported 542 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and seven new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities linked to the virus to 1,372 in the province. It also said there have been 18 new cases of variants of concern, for a total of 200 cases.

Horacio Bach, an adjunct professor of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia, said the province has enough evidence to back the four-month interval, though he believes it was the first in the world to announce such a long delay between doses.

He said people who receive their first shot now will still have a reserve of antibodies four months later. Even if one assumes four months is too long to wait, people will still have enough antibodies to prevent severe illness and hospitalization, he said.

“Four months, I don’t think, is something out of the box,” he said. “It’s a decent period of time that we can wait.”

Bach pointed out, for example, that the booster for the hepatitis B vaccine is delivered after a year.

Giving as many people as possible a first shot will help prevent transmission of the disease in the province, he added.

“The more people you vaccinate, the less chance you give to the virus to infect. When the virus cannot find a host, meaning a person, it will reduce the level of infection automatically.”

Cuomo addresses harassment claims, vows to stay in office


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said he intends to remain in office in the face of sexual harassment allegations that have weakened his support and led to calls for his resignation.

The Democratic governor, speaking somberly in his first public appearance since three women accused him of inappropriate touching and offensive remarks, apologized and said that he “learned an important lesson” about his behaviour around women.

“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.”

Asked about calls for him to step aside, the third-term governor said: “I wasn’t elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I’m not going to resign.”

Cuomo acknowledged “sensitivities have changed and behaviour has changed” and that what he considers his “customary greeting” — an old-world approach that often involving kisses and hugs — is no longer acceptable.

But the allegations against the governor go beyond aggressive greetings.

Former aide Lindsey Boylan accuses Cuomo of having harassed her throughout her employment and said he once suggesting a game of strip poker aboard his state-owned jet. Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo once asked her if she ever had sex with older men.

Both women rejected Cuomo’s latest apology, doubling down on their disgust after he issued a statement Sunday attempting to excuse his behaviour as his way of being “playful.”

“How can New Yorkers trust you ?NYGovCuomo to lead our state if you `don’t know’ when you’ve been inappropriate with your own staff?” Boylan tweeted.

Cuomo said he will “fully co-operate” with an investigation into the allegations being overseen by the state’s independently elected attorney general. Attorney General Letitia James, also a Democrat, is in the process of selecting an outside law firm to conduct the probe and document its findings in a public report.

Cuomo addressed the allegations during a news conference that otherwise focused on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the kind of briefings that made him a daily fixture on TV and a national star among Democrats.

Before that, Cuomo last spoke to reporters during a conference call on Feb. 22. His last briefing on camera was Feb. 19.

Two of the women accusing Cuomo worked in his administration. The other was a guest at a wedding that he officiated.

Bennett, 25, said Cuomo quizzed her about her sex life, asked if she felt age made a difference in relationships and said that he was fine dating “anyone above the age of 22.” Bennett said she believed he was gauging her interest in an affair. Cuomo has denied making advances at Bennett.

Boylan, 36, said Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent at the end of a meeting and went out of his way to touch her on her lower back, arms and legs. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s allegations.

Anna Ruch told The New York Times that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her just moments after they met at a September 2019 wedding in Manhattan.

Bennett’s lawyer, Debra Katz, said the governor’s news conference “was full of falsehoods and inaccurate information.”

She said Cuomo’s claim that he was unaware he had made women uncomfortable was disingenuous, considering that Bennett had reported his behaviour to her boss and one of Cuomo’s lawyers.

“We are confident that they made him aware of her complaint and we fully expect that the Attorney General’s investigation will demonstrate that Cuomo administration officials failed to act on Ms. Bennett’s serious allegations or to ensure that corrective measures were taken, in violation of their legal requirements,” Katz said.

Cuomo’s support has plummeted amid a one-two punch of scandals, and even some Democrats have called on him to step aside. The harassment allegations follow accusations that Cuomo covered up the true COVID-19 death toll on nursing home residents.

“I don’t think it’s in his DNA to resign or back down,” said Queens Assembly member Ron Kim, a Democrat who accused Cuomo of bullying him over the nursing home issue. “I think he will do whatever it takes to fight this.”

Cuomo said he inherited his gregarious way of greeting people from his father, the late former Gov. Mario Cuomo, and that he intended it as a way of welcoming people and making them feel comfortable. He said he realizes now, “it doesn’t matter my intent, what it matters is if anybody was offended by it.”

Speaking about the allegations, Cuomo initially said he was apologizing to “people” who were uncomfortable with his conduct, but he didn’t make clear as he continued which of the women he was referring to.

At one point, he said he was apologizing to “the young woman who worked here who said that I made her feel uncomfortable in the workplace,” though that description could apply to both Boylan and Bennett.

Asked what he was saying to New Yorkers, Cuomo said: “I’m embarrassed by what happened… I’m embarrassed that someone felt that way in my administration. I’m embarrassed and hurt and I apologize that somebody who interacted with me felt that way.”

The governor, who has touted a law requiring all workers in New York to receive sexual harassment training, said he felt at the time that his behaviour was innocuous but now acknowledges that sexual harassment centres on how the victim is impacted _ not the offender’s intent.

“I didn’t know at the time I was making her feel uncomfortable. I never meant to, but that doesn’t matter,” Cuomo said. “If a person feels uncomfortable, if a person feels pain, if a person is offended, I feel very badly about that and I apologize for it. There’s no but _ it’s, ‘I’m sorry.”’


Air Canada refunds for cancelled, postponed flights on the way: Unifor

RICHARD SOUTHERN AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Mar 4th, 2021

Air Canada has agreed to refund passengers who had their flights cancelled or postponed during the pandemic, according to Unifor.

“The company (Air Canada) has agreed to Ottawa’s crucial demand to repay the many customers who weren’t reimbursed for their plane tickets,” a Unifor representative tells 680 NEWS.

When asked for comment, Air Canada did not confirm the news, a spokesperson for the airline referred to a Feb. 12, 2021 statement that indicated discussions with the federal government are ongoing.

Unifor represents airline workers at Air Canada as well as other airlines in the country and has been pushing for an aid package for the Canadian airline sector.

The issue of passenger refunds has been a key part of those talks, with Ottawa saying that any financial support is contingent on refunds.

In December, the federal government directed the Canadian Transportation Agency, which oversees issues related to passenger rights, to strengthen rules that require airlines to refund travellers for cancelled flights.

However, those rules would have only applied to future cancellations and would not be retroactive.

Consumer rights group Air Passenger Rights has estimated that as of Sept. 30, around 3.9 million air passengers including those with Air Canada have been denied a refund for flights they did not take.

Toronto’s top doctor recommends City move to ‘grey-lockdown’ next week

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Mar 4th, 2021

Toronto’s medical officer of health is recommending the city move to the “grey-lockdown” zone of the province’s reopening framework next week when the stay-at-home order is set to expire.

WATCH: https://toronto.citynews.ca/2021/03/03/toronto-top-doctor-recommends-city-move-to-grey-lockdown-next-week/

Toronto has been under stringent lockdown measures for over 100 days and a shift to the province’s colour-tiered framework would lift some restrictions.

The city entered its second lockdown on Nov. 23 of last year. Premier Doug Ford issued another state of emergency and eventually transferred the province into lockdown on Boxing Day with a stay-at-home order going into effect on January 14.

The grey zone would see some capacity limits for businesses and stores must post capacity limits publicly. This includes 50 percent capacity for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores and pharmacies. All other retail would be capped at 25 percent capacity, including, but not limited to discount and big-box retailers, liquor stores, hardware stores, and garden centres. Curbside pick-up and delivery are permitted.

Gyms, movie theatres, and hair salons would remain closed under this tier. Indoor dining remains prohibited while takeout and delivery would be allowed.

Dr. Eileen de Villa said Wednesday that opening under the “red-control” zone is not advisable at this time.

“I said throughout the pandemic I am guided by the facts as they are,” she said. “I understand that each course of action comes with benefits and costs. Overall, case counts at present call for a cautious approach that will allow us to reopen and do so as safely as possible.”

De Villa also issued new workplace orders to offer protection for people on the job.

Businesses must ensure the use of masks at all times throughout the duration of the outbreak and maintain records of every person entering the workplace, among other measures.

De Villa also cautioned that variants of concern are rising and more than doubled from a week ago.

“Case counts are down but variant cases are up,” de Villa added.

Toronto’s top doctor confirmed 126 new COVID-19 variant cases: 122 B.1.1.7 (first discovered in the U.K.), three cases of the P.1 variant (first discovered in Brazil), and one case of the B.1.351 variant (first found in South Africa).

“The variant number is not where I want it to be,” she continued.

In Peel, Dr. Lawrence Loh said numbers in the region have not improved enough to warrant eased restrictions and the region has seen a “reversal of the favourable trends” in recent weeks.

The most recent numbers in Peel Region show the region seeing 13.6 cases per 100,000 with a test positivity rate of 5.4 percent.

Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie said last week she wanted the city to be put into the “red-control” zone when the order expired, even if the rest of the region remained in lockdown.

Both Dr. Loh and Brampton mayor Patrick Brown rejected the idea of having different public health measures within the same region.

York Region, as well as Halton and Durham, have since moved to “red-control” which allows indoor dining of a maximum of 10 patrons, among other measures.

99 additional people in Simcoe Muskoka likely have COVID-19 U.K. variant

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 27th, 2021

Public health officials say 99 more people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Simcoe-Muskoka region likely have the U.K. variant of the virus — which is more contagious and transmissible.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) says most of the cases are linked to a deadly outbreak at Roberta Place Long-Term Care home in Barrie, that has killed 46 people and infected more than 200. The U.K. variant has already been identified in some of those infected in that outbreak.

But two of the new cases have no known link, including one that’s part of a small outbreak at a regional hospital.

“This certainly makes us concerned that the variant may be more widespread, and that in turn means that we need to really take public health measures that prevent spread of the virus much more to heart,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the SMDHU, in a release on Tuesday. He said if the variant isn’t already spreading in the community, it likely will be soon.

These probable cases are in addition to seven cases of the U.K. variant in the region, confirmed earlier via genome testing.

Six of those cases are people associated with the outbreak at Roberta Place. One case is a person who had close contact with someone who is also part of the outbreak at Bradford Valley Care Community, a long-term care home (LTCH) in Bradford West Gwillimbury.

The health unit is currently investigating if that outbreak is also due to the U.K. variant of COVID-19.

The latest data came from an ongoing study by Public Health Ontario that’s screening all positive COVID-19 tests from Jan. 20 for three new variants of the virus.

Local health officials say they are still waiting for results that will identify which variant of the virus has infected the 99 people, but note that they expect it to be a variant first identified in the U.K.

Recipes for the holiday season!

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Dec 10th, 2020

Celebrating the Holiday season with a collection of recipes that are sure to impress! Whether you’re hosting a pandemic friendly gathering of your bubble or on your own, these easy recipes will add some cheer to your holiday spirit.

Pistachio crusted lamb lollipop with pomegranate and mint salad

By: Chef Randy Feltis




Serves 8 appetizers
Cook time 10 minutes
Rest time 6 minutes
Special tools butcher twine, cast iron pan

  1. Trim the fat down to the top of the eye of the rack. Scrap off excess fat with a knife or pull off with butcher twine.
  2. Season heavy with salt and pepper and sear backside down in hot cast iron pan. When golden turn onto fat cap and place in oven at 450 degrees. Roast for 7-9 minutes, when the eye starts to push back remove and let rest for 6 minutes.
  3. Brush with mustard and crust with pistachio.
  4. Carve between the bones and place on platter.
  5. For the salad toss fresh pomegranate with herbs and olive oil. A squeeze of lime and salt and pepper.
    Place on lamb lollipop and serve.

Herb, apple apricot & lemon zest stuffing


This stuffing is packed with fall flavour and fresh herbs. Cook and mix your stuffing in advance or even the night before. Simply bake when ready to serve! This recipe will become a family favourite and all around staple at every Thanksgiving dinner.



  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  2. Melt butter on medium heat in a large sauté pan or pot. Add white onions, Spanish onions, fennel, salt and pepper. Sauté until golden brown, about 7-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 10-15 seconds. Tip all ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
  3. To the bowl add chopped apricots, granny smith apples, honey crisp apples, chicken stock, sage, parsley, bread cubes and eggs. Mix well to combine. Transfer stuffing mixture to prepared baking dish.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until top is golden brown and bread is tender. Let cool slightly. Sprinkle with chives before serving.

Apricot-almond rugelach

By: Amy Rosen





For the dough,

  1. Place the flour, butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a food processor. Pulse until uniform large ball forms.
  2. Divide into three equal balls and wrap each in plastic wrap.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or, even better, overnight.

For the filling

  1. To prepare the filling, warm the jam in a small pot over low heat or in the microwave for 30 seconds. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, crush the toasted almonds with your hands, or place them in a resealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

For the topping

  1. Mix the sugar with cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.


  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge about 30 minutes before using. On a well-floured surface, roll out one of the dough balls into a large circle, about 12 inches in circumference and about ⅛ inch thick. Repeat with the remaining two dough ball
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Using a knife or pizza cutter, slice each circle into 16 wedges and separate them slightly. Evenly divide the jam and almonds among the three circles (this comes out to about ½ teaspoon jam and a pinch of nuts per rugelach), leaving ½ inch clean at the outer edge.
  4. Roll the wedges into crescents by rolling the wider outer edge in toward the point.
  5. Place on the baking sheets, at least 1 inch apart, with the point sides dow Brush the tops of the rugelach with beaten egg and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
  6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20–22 minutes, or until golden brow These can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Excerpted from Kosher Style: Over 100 Jewish Recipes for the Modern Cook by Amy Rosen. Copyright © 2019 Amy Rosen. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Lacy Latkes & Applesauce

By: Amy Rosen




  1. Using a food processor or box grater, grate the potatoes (no need to peel them). Transfer the potatoes to a clean tea towel or cheesecloth and squeeze out the potato liquid, getting the shreds as dry as possible.
  2. Place the potatoes in a very large bowl and mix together with the chopped onions, eggs, flour, salt and pepper. The acid in the onions will stop the potatoes from browning.
  3. In a large cast-iron skillet (or other heavy-bottomed skillet), heat ½ inch of oil over medium heat. Add heaping tablespoons of latke mixture, frying four or five at a time, for about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Smoosh them down with the spatula a bit and add more oil as needed.
  4. When the latkes are cooked, transfer them to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. You can serve these immediately or cook them ahead and reheat in the oven when guests arrive. Serve with applesauce, sour cream or Greek yogurt.
    Note: If you garnish with sour cream or yogurt, this recipe will become dairy.
    SERVES 6-8 S
  5. Homemade Applesauce: In a medium pot, bring the apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, salt and water to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, stirring often, until the apples are cooked and start falling apart, about 15 minutes. Blitz in the pot with an immersion blender until the desired consistency is achieved. Serve with latkes.

RECIPE: Breakfast Better with Adrian Forte

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Nov 16th, 2020

A nourishing breakfast with high-quality dairy protein is key to setting your foundation for the day, giving your body the energy and protein it needs to fuel the morning and prevent the mid-morning crash. TODAY: We’ve invited board member chef Adrian Forte to help us breakfast better and to demonstrate a nutritious, simple and (most importantly) delicious breakfast recipe that you can introduce to your morning routine.

For more information about the Breakfast Better Board guidelines and the complete breakfast recipes, ​check out www.breakfastbetter.ca



Chef Adrian’s Spiced Cornmeal Porridge

(21 grams of Protein per serving)

Prep Time: 5min  Cook Time 20min


  • 2 cup fine cornmeal (22gs)
  • 1 can condensed milk (30gs)
  • 4 cups 3% Milk (32gs)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp pimento berry, ground
  • 1 tsp nutmeg, ground
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract Materials
  • Whisk
  • Sauce pan


  • In a medium pot, add milk, salt, pimento, nutmeg, and cinnamon stalk and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the cornmeal along with pineapple juice, using a whisk keep stirring, to avoid the cornmeal from clumping.
  • Cook the cornmeal until it thickens and has a porridge consistency (for around 10 minutes).
  • Add condensed milk and vanilla extract and cook for 30 seconds more.
  • Remove from heat, and serve in bowls topped with diced pineapple and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

Anna Olson’s Thanksgiving Recipes!

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Oct 5th, 2020

Baked Chicken (Turkey) Katsu with Cucumber Salad & Ginger Cabbage

“Katsu” is Japanese for “cutlet” and these crispy, panko-crusted chicken cutlets make for a delightfully comforting meal.  The comfort comes from the contrast of the crunch of the cutlet’s crust against the sweet-salty taste of the katsu sauce and the ice-cold refreshing nature of the cabbage, but also in the virtue of this dish.  If ordered in a restaurant, your chicken katsu would be deep-fried, but here the cutlets are oven-baked, minimizing the fat used.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes



Cucumber Salad & Cabbage:

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced on a mandolin

2 Tbsp (30 mL) rice wine vinegar

1 tsp (5 mL) sesame oil

½ tsp (2 mL) table salt

4 cups (1 L) finely sliced green cabbage (sliced on a mandolin)

1 Tbsp (15 mL) finely grated fresh ginger

2 lemons


Katsu Sauce:

1/3 cup (80 mL) ketchup

2 Tbsp (30 mL) soy sauce

8–10 dashes Worcestershire sauce


Chicken Katsu:

2 cups (500 mL) panko breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb/450 g)

2/3 cup (100 g) all-purpose flour

2 large eggs + 2 Tbsp (30 mL) water

Salt and pepper

6 cups (1.5 L) cooked Japanese sticky rice

3 Tbsp (45 mL) toasted sesame seeds


  1. For the cucumber salad, toss the cucumber with the rice vinegar, sesame oil and salt, and chill until ready to eat. Chill the thinly sliced cabbage in ice-water to crisp for 20 minutes, then drain and pat dry with kitchen towels just before serving, then toss with the ginger and juice of 1 lemon. Cut the lemon into 6 wedges and chill.


  1. For the sauce, whisk together the ketchup, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, and pour into 6 little serving dishes.


  1. Toast the panko in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes, then stir in the butter until melted. Set aside to cool.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and place a wire rack over top.


  1. Slice the chicken breasts into ¾-inch (18 mm) slices against the grain. Place 1 to 2 slices in a cut-open resealable plastic bag and pound with a meat mallet (or the bottom of a pot) until it is just under ½-inch (12 mm) thick and chill until ready to cook.


  1. Set up 3 flat bowls —the first for the flour, the second for the egg wash, and the third for the toasted panko breadcrumbs. Add a little salt and pepper to each bowl and stir in. Dip each of the chicken cutlets into the flour, shake off the excess, then into the egg and, finally, into the panko, coating it thoroughly. Set the breaded cutlets on the wire rack set over the baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crispy, about 18 minutes. Check that the chicken is cooked through by cutting into a cutlet. If the juices run clear, it’s done.


  1. To serve, slice each cutlet into 5 strips and serve with cooked Japanese rice, the Tonkatsu sauce, cucumber salad, and a mound of the drained cabbage. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds over the cutlets, cucumber salad and cabbage and serve with a wedge of lemon.





Serves 6

Prep Time: Under 15 minutes

Cook Time:


1/4 cup (40 g)           raisins

1/4 cup (40 g)           dried cranberries

3 cups (750 mL)       broccoli florets, cut into very small pieces

4 strips                       cooked bacon, chopped

1                                  green onion, sliced

1/3 cup (80 mL)        mayonnaise

3 tbsp (45 mL)          sour cream

1 tbsp (15 mL)          lemon juice

1 cup (110 g)            coarsely grated medium Cheddar cheese

salt and pepper


  1. Soak raisins and dried cranberries in hot tap water for a minute or two, to soften. Drain and reserve.


  1. Toss broccoli**, bacon and green onion together. In a separate bowl, stir mayonnaise, sour cream and lemon juice and stir into broccoli mixture. Add cheddar cheese, raisins and dried cranberries and season to taste.


Chill until ready to serve.



**To make the broccoli easier to digest and brighten its colour, it can be blanched in boiling, salted water for 30 seconds and then shocked in an ice bath before draining well.

Missing man Chandulal Gandhi found dead in Brampton conservation area: police

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Sep 21st, 2020

Police say an elderly man that went missing in Rexdale last week has been found dead in a Brampton conservation area.

Chandulal Gandhi, 83, went missing from the Kipling Avenue and Steeles Avenue West area on Sept. 15th.

Investigators said they found his body in the Claireville Conservation Area on Sunday afternoon.

Police Supt. Ron Taverner said the body was found in a remote area of the park.

He added that the coroner believes Gandhi likely died of exposure.

“it’s a very very sad situation,” he said.

Investigators are unsure how Gandhi got to that location, but the investigation continues.

TDSB delays start date for majority of secondary school students

Lucas Casaletto | posted Thursday, Sep 10th, 2020

The Toronto District School Board says it has postponed the back-to-school start date for most high school students to Thursday, September 17.


Students attending Special Education Congregated Sites, as well as other support programs, will begin on Tuesday, September 15.

“Given the complexities of the staffing and timetable process, we have adjusted the start dates of secondary school, in-person and virtual,” the school board said in a statement.

The board says if there are further changes to start dates schools will contact families directly.

The Toronto District School Board says it is the largest in Canada serving 247,000 students in 583 schools.

Toronto District School Board trustee Shelley Laskin said on Twitter the health screening process has also changed leading up to the return to class.


As for the Toronto Catholic District School Board, classes for all students are still expected to begin on Monday, September 14.

2020 GTA Staggered Return To School Schedule

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Sep 9th, 2020

With this year’s back to school schedule looking a little different, we’ve broken down which school boards across the GTA are resuming classes on each day over the next week and a half, by age group:

Thursday, September 10th

Peel District School Board

Elementary: Kindergarten to Grade 8: Students with last names H-O

Secondary: Morning Orientation


Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

FDK to Grade 8: Students with last names G-N

Secondary: Grades 10, 11 & 12 Cohort A


York Region District School Board

Kindergarten: Year 2 students

Elementary: Grades 1 – 8, divided alphabetically by last name

Grade 9: Cohort A


York Catholic District School Board

Elementary: Grades 1-3

Secondary:  Grade 9 cohort A


Durham District School Board

Elementary: Last names N-S


Durham Catholic District School Board

Orientation Day for one-quarter of each class


Halton District School Board

Elementary: Optional Orientation, divided alphabetically


Halton Catholic District School Board

Kindergarten: Year 2

Elementary: Grades 1-8, last names G-N

Secondary: Grades 9-12 Cohort B


Friday, September 11th

Peel District School Board

Elementary: Kindergarten to Grade 8: Full day for students with last names P-Z

Secondary: Morning Orientation


Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

Elementary: FDK to Grade 8: Students with last names O-Z

Secondary: Grades 10, 11, 12 Cohort B


York Region District School Board

Grade 9: Cohort B


York Catholic District School Board

Elementary: JK/SK

Secondary:  Grade 9 cohort B


Durham District School Board

Elementary: Students with last names T-Z


Durham Catholic District School Board

Orientation Day for one-quarter of each class


Halton District School Board

Elementary: Optional Orientation, divided alphabetically


Halton Catholic District School Board

Kindergarten: Year 1

Elementary: Grades 1-8, last names 0-Z


Monday, September 14th

Toronto Catholic District School Board

Elementary: One-quarter of each class

Secondary: Grade 9 students


Peel District School Board

Elementary: Full-day, last names A-K

Secondary: Full return to school


Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

Elementary: FDK to Grade 8, last names A-L

Secondary: Grades 9-12 regular schedule based on cohorts


York Region District School Board

Kindergarten: Year 1 based on name

Secondary: Grades 9-12 Full schedule


York Catholic District School Board

Elementary: Grades 7 & 8

Secondary:  Grade 9 -12 Cohort A


Durham District School Board

Elementary: Students with last names A-M


Durham Catholic District School Board

Elementary: One-half of each class


Halton District School Board

First day of school for all students


Halton Catholic District School Board

Kindergarten: Year 1

Elementary: Grades 1-8 all students


Tuesday, September 15th

Toronto District School Board

Kindergarten to Grade 5 schools: SK, Grade 5

Kindergarten to Grade 6 schools: SK, Grade 6

Kindergarten to Grade 8 schools: SK, Grades 4 & 8

Grade 6, 7, 8 schools: Grade 6

Grade 7, 8 schools: Grade 7


Toronto Catholic District School Board

Elementary: One-quarter of each class

Secondary: Grade 9 students


Peel District School Board

Elementary: Full-day last names L-Z

Secondary: Full return to school


Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

Elementary: FDK to Grade 8, students with last names M-Z


York Region District School Board

Kindergarten: Year 1 based on name


York Catholic District School Board

Elementary: Grades 4 & 6

Secondary:  Grades 9 -12 Cohort B


Durham District School Board

Elementary: Students with last names N-Z


Durham Catholic District School Board

Elementary: One-half of each class


Halton District School Board

First day of school for all students


Wednesday, September 16th

Toronto District School Board

Kindergarten to Grade 5 schools: JK, Grades 1 & 4

Kindergarten to Grade 6 schools: JK, Grades 1 & 5

Kindergarten to Grade 8 schools: JK, Grades 1 & 7

Grade 6, 7, 8 schools: Grade 7

Grade 7, 8 schools: Grade 8


Toronto Catholic District School Board

Elementary: One-quarter of each class

Secondary: Grade 10, 11 & 12


Peel District School Board

Elementary: All students Return


Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

Elementary: FDK to Grade 8 all students return


York Region District School Board

All elementary students return


Durham District School Board

Elementary: Students with last names A-M


Durham Catholic District School Board

Elementary: One-half of each class


Thursday, September 17th

Toronto District School Board

Kindergarten to Grade 5 schools: Grades 2 & 3

Kindergarten to Grade 6 schools: Grades 2, 3 & 4

Kindergarten to Grade 8 schools: Grades 2, 3, 5 & 6

Grade 6, 7, 8 schools: Grade 8

Secondary: Full Return


Toronto Catholic District School Board

Elementary: All students return


Peel District School Board

Elementary: All students return


Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

Elementary: All students return


York District School Board

All elementary students return


Durham District School Board

Elementary: Students with last names N-Z


Durham Catholic District School Board

Elementary: One-half of each class


Friday, September 18th

York Region District School Board

Kindergarten: Year 1 begin classes


Durham District School Board

Elementary: All students return


Durham Catholic District School Board

Elementary: All students return

School boards announce school opening dates

Kyle Mack | posted Friday, Sep 4th, 2020

With schools preparing to go back into session, students, educators, and parents prep for the unknown.

To help with the transition, we compiled a list of key dates for school boards across Ontario.


  • HWDSB (staggered start)
  • PEEL
  • Durham (staggered until the 18th)
  • YORK CATHOLIC – staggered








  • TDSB – staggered
Have something to say about school re-opening? Email us at feedback@breakfasttelevision.ca for the chance to have your message broadcasted LIVE on Breakfast Television Toronto.

Several people found dead in Oshawa home

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Sep 4th, 2020

Durham police say several people have been found dead in a home in Oshawa after reports of shots being fired overnight.

Emergency crews were called to a home on Parklane Avenue, near Harmony Road north of King Street, just before 1 a.m. Friday.

Police said at least four people have died. A fifth person was taken to hospital with undisclosed injuries.

Police say they are not looking for any suspects and there are no safety concerns at this time.

The homicide unit has been advised.

Mayor John Tory considers TikTok to reach younger generation with COVID-19 messaging

Talia Knezic | posted Thursday, Aug 20th, 2020

The City of Toronto may communicate warnings about coronavirus to the younger generation via TikTok.
Mayor John Tory said he is considering the use of TikTok as COVID-19 case numbers in younger demographics continue to rise.
An update released Wednesday from the City of Toronto says the average age of cases for the last two weeks is 39 years old. It has been 52 years overall for the entire pandemic.
“Young people are of the view that they are invincible from the virus,” Tory said in an interview with Breakfast Television’s Melanie Ng on Thursday. “The fact is, they do suffer less cases of hospitalizations and deaths.”
He noted that young people often carry the virus home to multi-generational family members who suffer greater consequences than they do.
“Right now, I’m not sure they’re watching all-news programs and they have to be reached in a different way,” Tory said about young people and reaching them via TikTok. “We’re going to do everything we can to get the message across that they have to follow the same health protocols as everyone else.”
This comes on the heels of the impending return to school, which leaves many parents, staff and students concerned about the potential of future outbreaks.
According to a Hootsuite report published in May 2020, TikTok hosts 800-million monthly users, with 69 per cent being in the 13-24-year-old demographic.

St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation – Urban Angel Golf Classic Auction

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Aug 6th, 2020

St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto is globally renowned for its research and treatment in some of the world’s toughest health challenges and for its work with the most marginalized members of our community.

Now, to raise crucial COVID-19 funding for the hospital, they are taking the golf tournament virtual and launching an online auction offering one-of-a-kind prizes and experiences that all Ontarians can bid on!

St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation is introducing its first-ever Urban Angel Golf Classic Auction: a virtual auction of one-of-a-kind prizes and experiences that all Ontarians can bid on.

When COVID-19 struck, St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation cancelled its annual Urban Angel Golf Classic tournament, Canada’s premier golf tournament, and one of its highest-grossing fundraisers.

The auction will be running online from August 5th-August 19th, and is open to all residents of Ontario. Click the link below for more info! www.urbanangelauction.ca

Funds raised with the UAGC auction will go towards the hospital’s highest COVID-19 priorities – such as ensuring their frontline health-care workers have what they need to battle the crisis, making sure no member of society is left behind, and powering cutting-edge research to end the pandemic.

The fundraiser was made possible by the support of Middlefield Funds, MasterCard, BMO Capital Markets, and ISCA.






Nature’s calling but there’s nowhere to answer. Why we need to make public toilets a number one issue.

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, Jul 15th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, we can joke as much as we want about it, but the reality is that we all go to the bathroom, every single day. It’s a basic human need. Yet many cities are failing at providing accessible public toilets for everyone. What will it take for politicians and city planners to take the issue seriously and address the underlying discrimination and inequality? Which cities are doing it right? How has the pandemic highlighted the need for accessible public washrooms? Could this be a turning point?

GUEST: Lezlie Lowe, author of No Place to Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify.

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Some Ontario businesses allowed to reopen Tuesday as coronavirus restrictions loosen

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

Some Ontario businesses will be allowed to open their doors Tuesday after being closed for two months in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The province is starting the first stage of its economic reopening, giving the green light to retailers, some sports centres, vehicle dealerships and other businesses to resume.

But the provincial government stresses those businesses still have to comply with public health guidelines such as physical distancing as they welcome customers.

Some business owners have expressed relief and excitement at the prospect of reopening, while others say they feel it’s too early to do so safely.

The province ordered the closure of all businesses deemed non-essential in mid-March and recently allowed those with street entrances to offer curbside pickup.

Ontario reported 304 more cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the provincial total to 22,957.

There have been 1,904 deaths related to the virus so far, including 23 that were reported Monday.

Detailed List of Stage 1 Openings

Kyle Mack | posted Friday, May 15th, 2020

This list is effective May 19, 2020, and may be updated when the corresponding emergency
orders are amended.

• All construction to resume and essential workplace limits lifted
• Includes land surveyors

• In addition to retail operating online, or with curbside pickup and delivery, all retail can
open under the following restrictions and guidelines:
• No indoor malls.
• Must have a street-front entrance (i.e., stores with dedicated street access/storefront).
• Open in-store by appointment and/or by limiting the number of people in the store at
any one time. Retailers would need to restrict the number of customers per square
metre — for example, one customer per 4 square metres (43 square feet) — to ensure
physical distancing of 2 metres at all times.
• Only fitting rooms with doors would be used, not curtains, to facilitate disinfecting.
Retailers would restrict use to every second fitting room at any one time to allow for
cleaning after use and ensure physical distancing.
• For further guidance on this sector, please refer to resources to prevent COVID-19 in
the workplace.

Vehicle dealerships and retailers
• Vehicle dealerships and retailers, including:
• New and used car, truck, and motorcycle dealers
• Recreational vehicle (RV) dealers (e.g., campers, motor homes, trailers, travel trailers)
• Boat, watercraft and marine supply dealers
• Other vehicle dealers of motorized bicycles, golf carts, scooters, snowmobiles, ATVs,
utility trailers, etc.
• Prior to Stage 1, motor vehicles dealerships were restricted to appointments only.

Media operations
• Office-based media operations involving equipment that does not allow for remote
working. For example:
• Sound recording, such as production, distribution, publishing, studios.
• Film and television post-production, film and television animation studios.
• Publishing: periodical, book, directory, software, video games.
• Interactive digital media, such as computer systems design and related services (e.g.,
programming, video game design and development).
• Media activities that can be completed while working remotely have been encouraged to
continue during the Restart phase.
• Filming or other on-site activities, especially those that require the gathering of workers,
performers or others are not permitted to resume in Stage 1.

Scheduled surgeries (public and private facilities)
• Non-emergency diagnostic imaging and surgeries in public hospitals, private hospitals
and independent health facilities, clinics, and private practices to resume based on ability
to meet specified pre-conditions including the MOH framework: A Measured Approach to
Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic, contains clear
criteria that must be met before hospitals can resume scheduled surgeries.
• Scheduled surgical and procedural work to resume once “Directive #2 for Health Care
Providers (Regulated Health Professionals or Persons who operate a Group Practice of
Regulated Health Professionals)” is amended or revoked, which relies on hospitals
meeting criteria outlined in A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures
During the COVID-19.

Health services
• Allowing certain health and medical services to resume, such as in-person counselling
and scheduled surgeries based on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions as outlined
in A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19
Pandemic, as well as resuming professional services such as shifting Children’s Treatment
Centres from virtual to in-person.
• In-person counselling to resume including psychotherapy and other mental health and
support services. Some of these services were available in-person for urgent needs.
For example:
• Addiction counselling
• Crisis intervention
• Family counselling
• Offender rehabilitation
• Palliative care counselling
• Parenting services
• Rape crisis centres
• Refugee services

Community services
Outdoor recreational amenities
• Marinas can resume recreational services
• Pools will remain closed

Individual recreational sports
• Outdoor recreational sports centres for sports not played in teams will open with limited
access to facilities (e.g., no clubhouse, no change rooms, washrooms and emergency aid
only). Examples of sports centres include:
• Tennis courts
• Rod and gun clubs
• Cycling tracks (including BMX)
• Horse riding facilities
• Indoor rod and gun clubs and indoor golf driving ranges

Individual sports competitions without spectators
• Professional and amateur sport activity for individual/single competitors, including
training and competition conducted by a recognized Provincial Sport Organization,
National Sport Organization, or recognized national Provincial training centres (e.g.,
Canadian Sport Institute Ontario) with return to play protocols in place and no spectators,
except for an accompanying guardian for a person under the age of 18 years.
• This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played under
physical distancing measures. This includes:
• Water sports on lakes and outdoor bodies of water
• Racquet sports such as tennis, ping pong, badminton
• Animal-related sports such as dog racing, agility, horse racing
• Other sports such as: track and field, car and motorcycle racing, figure skating,
fencing, rock climbing, gymnastics, etc.
• Swimming pools will remain closed. As a result, water-based sports competitions are
excluded if not conducted on lakes or outdoor bodies of water.
• High-contact sports are not allowed even if they are non-team. These include sports
where physical distancing cannot be practiced such as:
• Racquetball, squash, boxing, wrestling sports, martial arts, etc

Professional services related to research and development
• Professional services related to conducting research and experimental development in
physical, engineering and life sciences including electronics, computers, chemistry,
oceanography, geology, mathematics, physics, environmental, medicine, health, biology,
botany, biotechnology, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, pharmacy, veterinary and other
allied subjects. For example:
• Agriculture, food research, horticulture or botany, entomological, forestry, livestock,
veterinary research and development laboratories.
• Bacteriological, biotechnology, chemical, nanobiotechnology, pharmacy, genetics,
genomics, computational biology, research and development laboratories.
• Computer and related hardware, electronic, telecommunication research and
development services.
• Geology, oceanographic, pollution research and development, and astronomical
• Mathematics research and development.
• Industrial research and development laboratories.
• These examples are listed for clarity. Most if not all these services are already permitted
under the “Research” section of the List of Essential Workplaces.

Emissions inspection facilities
• All emissions inspection facilities for heavy diesel commercial motor vehicles, including
mobile inspection facilities.

Veterinary services
• Veterinary services can resume all services by appointment.
Animal services
• Pet grooming services
• Pet sitting services
• Dog walking services
• Pet training services
• Training and provision of service animals
• Effective May 16, 2020, businesses that board animals (e.g., stables) may allow boarders
to visit, care for, or ride their animal

Emissions inspection facilities
• All emissions inspection facilities for heavy diesel commercial motor vehicles, including
mobile inspection facilities.
Veterinary services
• Veterinary services can resume all services by appointment.

Animal services
• Pet grooming services
• Pet sitting services
• Dog walking services
• Pet training services
• Training and provision of service animals
• Effective May 16, 2020, businesses that board animals (e.g., stables) may allow boarders
to visit, care for, or ride their animal.

Biden vows enough vaccine for all U.S. adults by end of May


President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the U.S. expects to take delivery of enough coronavirus vaccines for all adults by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated, as his administration announced that drugmaker Merck & Co. will help produce rival Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved shot.

With the bolstered supply, Biden also announced he would be using the powers of the federal government to direct all states to prioritize vaccinating teachers, and said the federal government would provide the doses directly through its pharmacy program. He challenged states to administer at least one dose of the vaccine to all educators by the end of March as part of his administration’s efforts to reopen more schools across the nation.

“We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May,” said Biden, who likened the partnership between the two drug companies to the spirit of national co-operation during World War II.

Biden’s twin announcements quickly raised expectations for when the nation could safely emerge from the pandemic with the promise of additional vaccines, but it highlighted the looming challenge facing the nation: successfully putting those doses into arms.

Even as he expressed optimism, Biden quickly tempered the outlook for a return to life as it was before the virus hit.

“I’ve been cautioned not to give an answer to that because we don’t know for sure,” Biden said, before saying his hope was sometime before “this time next year.”

Biden’s speech was set against the backdrop of states across the country moving to relax virus-related restrictions. This comes despite the objections of the White House and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who have raised alarm about new variants of the virus and pleaded against any relaxation of virus protocols until more Americans are vaccinated. In Texas, GOP Gov. Greg Abbot moved to lift his state’s mask-wearing mandate and a host of other limitations. Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer eased capacity limits on restaurants and both public and residential gatherings.

Fauci has previously said the nation must achieve a vaccination rate of about 80% to reach “herd immunity.” Only about 8% of the population has been fully vaccinated according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though the pace of vaccination has been increasing, with the U.S. setting a new daily record for injections on both Thursday and Friday of last week.

In hopes of increasing vaccinations even further. the Biden administration told governors to make preparations to administer even more doses in the coming weeks. More shots are also heading toward the federally backed program to administer doses in retail pharmacies, which federal officials believe can double or triple their pace of vaccination. More than 800,000 doses of the J&J vaccine will also be distributed this week to pharmacies, on top of the 2.4 million they are now getting of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine supply.

Those pharmacies will be key in getting the vaccines into the arms of teachers – particularly in the roughly 20 states where they have not been prioritized for shots – which will help reopen schools to better educate students who have been at risk of falling behind during the pandemic and reduce the burden on parents who have had to choose between childcare and a job.

“Let’s treat in-person learning as the essential service that it is,” Biden said. Teachers will be able to sign up directly through the participating retail pharmacies in their local area, the administration said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki also announced Tuesday that the federal government was increasing supply of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to states next week to 15.2 million doses per week, up from 14.5 million previously. States will also receive 2.8 million doses of the J&J shot this week.

On a call with governors Tuesday, White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said states should prepare for administering 16-17 million total weekly doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of March, climbing to 17-18 million weekly by early April. The supply of J&J doses to states, expected to dip after the initial shipment this week, will climb to 4-6 million weekly doses by the end of March and 5-6 million doses weekly through the end of April.

Officials have said J&J faced unexpected production issues with its vaccine and produced only 3.9 million doses ahead of its receiving emergency use authorization on Saturday. The company has promised to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June.

Before the approval of the J&J shot, Biden had suggested that it would take until the end of July to have enough vaccine for every adult in the U.S.

Facing questions about the company’s slipping delivery schedule, J&J Vice-President Richard Nettles told lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week that the company had faced “significant challenges” because of its “highly complex” manufacturing process.

The assistance from Merck was expected to help J&J meet its production commitments and expand supply even further, but the administration did not immediately provide specifics. The news was first reported by The Washington Post.

Psaki said that an “across the administration effort” was required to get the two historic rivals to work together on the vaccines, even though conversations between the two companies have been going on for months.

“There’s a difference between conversations and it moving forward,” she said.

The White House said Merck would devote two plants to the production process. One would make the vaccine and the other would handle inserting the vaccine into vials and ensuring strict quality controls. Psaki said the Biden administration was using its powers under the Defence Production Act to help Merck retool to work on the production.

Still it was not immediately clear when the effect of Merck’s assistance would be reflected in supply. Federal officials have cautioned that setting up the highly specialized manufacturing lines to produce vaccines would take months.

Compared to the two-dose versions produced by Moderna and Pfizer, the J&J vaccine is less resource intensive to distribute and administer, making it a critical piece to U.S. plans to spread vaccinations around the world – but only once Americans are inoculated. The J&J vaccine can be stored for months at refrigerated temperatures, rather than frozen, and doesn’t require patients to return for a second dose three or four weeks later.

J&J has set up a global production network that includes brewing bulk vaccine at its Janssen facility in the Netherlands, and with a company in the U.S., Emergent BioSolutions, and another in India, Biological E. Ltd. Other contract manufacturers are lined up to help with later steps, including putting the vaccine into vials, in the U.S., Italy, Spain and South Africa.

In the scramble to create COVID-19 vaccines, the three Western drug makers who’ve dominated the vaccine industry for decades – Merck & Co., Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline – surprisingly all fell short. Merck halted its own plans to develop a coronavirus vaccine earlier this year, finding that their candidates were generating an inferior immune system response compared with other vaccines. It said it would instead focus its work on developing treatments for COVID-19.

Now, amid the global clamour for more vaccine doses, those heavyweights are helping manufacture doses for less-experienced rivals whose vaccines won the first emergency authorizations from regulators.

Merck has since said it was in talks to help other drug companies with vaccine production, but wouldn’t say Tuesday whether other deals are imminent.

“Merck remains steadfast in our commitment to contribute to the global response to the pandemic and to preparing to address future pandemics,” the Kenilworth, New Jersey-based company said in a statement.

Sanofi Pasteur, named for pioneering French biologist Louis Pasteur, produces more than 1 billion vaccine doses a year and is a leader in pediatric, influenza and polio vaccines. It, too, has had delays with its COVID-19 vaccine candidates. While it tries to resolve those problems, Sanofi has agreed to bottle and package about 125 million doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, as well as roughly 12 million doses per month of J&J’s vaccine.

GlaxoSmithKline, which makes vaccines against shingles, hepatitis, meningitis and many childhood illnesses, has focused its COVID-19 efforts on combining its adjuvant technology with rival companies’ vaccines. Adjuvants boost immune system response to vaccines, meaning smaller doses could be used and supply could be stretched.


Ontario won’t administer Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to seniors, health minister says

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Mar 3rd, 2021

Ontario seniors won’t receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine since there’s limited data on its effectiveness in older populations, the province said Tuesday, but it remained unclear who those shots would go to.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said Ontario plans to follow the advice of a national panel that has recommended against using the newly approved vaccine on people aged 65 and older. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has cited concern about limited information on how the vaccine will work in seniors.

Elliott said it’s a “very versatile” vaccine because it doesn’t have the same cold storage requirements as the other two currently in use. The Oxford-AstraZeneca shots might be used in correctional facilities for that reason, she said.

Canada is set to receive a half-million doses of the newly approved vaccine Wednesday, according to the federal procurement minister.

Elliott said an updated vaccination plan that factors in expected Oxford-AstraZeneca supply will be shared soon but the province is first awaiting guidance from the immunization committee about potentially extending the interval of time between first and second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months.

“There’s a lot that is in the mix right now, but we expect that to be finalized very shortly and we will be making a public announcement of the plan very soon,” Elliott said.

British Columbia announced Monday that it was implementing the four-month interval for doses.

Elliott said the extending the time between doses would make a “considerable” difference in the vaccine rollout, but the government wants to make its decision based on the scientific advice.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the lack of clarity on the government’s vaccine distribution plan is troubling.

“Why isn’t the government being upfront, being clear, being transparent about what the plan is,” she said. “I don’t think the government is providing any of that information and Ontarians deserve to know.”

Ontario reported 966 more COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and 11 more deaths from the virus.

The province reported 22,326 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine administered since the previous day’s report, for a total of 727,021 doses administered across Ontario so far.

Unanimous committee report calls on Trudeau not to trigger election during pandemic

JOAN BRYDEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Mar 3rd, 2021

A House of Commons committee is unanimously urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to promise he won’t call a federal election while the COVID-19 pandemic rages across Canada.

In a report by the procedure and House affairs committee, even Liberal members supported a recommendation calling for a commitment that there will be no election during the pandemic, unless Trudeau’s minority Liberal government is defeated on a confidence vote.

The committee makes no similar call for opposition parties to promise not to trigger an election during the pandemic by voting non-confidence in the government.

However, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has vowed his party won’t vote to bring the government down as long as the country is in the grip of COVID-19.

That should be enough to ensure the survival of the minority Liberal government for the foreseeable future, unless Trudeau decides to trigger an election himself.

Trudeau has repeatedly insisted he has no interest in forcing an election but opposition parties remain suspicious.

“Unfortunately, the Liberal government has already indicated their desire to recklessly send Canadians to the polls at whatever time they deem to be the most advantageous for the prime minister,” the Conservatives say in a supplementary report to the committee’s report.

Indeed, the Conservatives assert, without explanation, that Trudeau has already tried to orchestrate his government’s defeat.

They thank Liberal committee members for taking “a stand against the whims of the prime minister, who has been eagerly pressing towards an election for the last few months.”

At the same time, Conservatives have been pursuing a strategy that could give Trudeau justification for calling an election: They’ve been systematically blocking the government’s legislative agenda, including repeatedly delaying a bill authorizing billions in pandemic-related aid.

They have also blocked debate on a bill that would give Elections Canada special powers to conduct an election safely, if need be, during the pandemic.

Bill C-19 is the government’s response to chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault, who has said special measures are urgent given that a minority government is inherently unstable and could theoretically fall at any time. However, some opposition MPs view the legislation as proof that the Liberals are planning to trigger an election.

In their own supplementary report, New Democrats argue that an election in the midst of the pandemic “has the potential to undermine the health of our democracy.” They point to the current delay in Newfoundland and Labrador’s election due to a COVID outbreak as an example of the “delays, confusion and unforeseen barriers in voting” that could undermine Canadians’ confidence in the outcome of a federal election.

“This raises the spectre of a government whose political legitimacy is openly challenged,” the NDP committee members say, adding that could lead to the kind of crisis that provoked a riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters of former president Donald Trump.

The Capitol riot, sparked by Trump’s unfounded claims that mail-in ballots were fraudulent, appears to have been on the minds of opposition committee members when it comes to other recommendations for how to safely conduct an election, if necessary, during the pandemic.

Anticipating a massive increase in mail-in ballots, the chief electoral officer has, among other things, suggested that mail-in ballots received one day after the close of in-person polls should still be counted.

The Conservatives say the procedure and House affairs committee should have rejected that proposal, arguing that “the election should end on Election Day and Canadians deserve to know the results without delay.”

Bloc Quebecois committee members, in their supplementary report, similarly argue that extending the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots “would delay the election results, which would fuel voter suspicion and undermine confidence in the electoral system, which is obviously undesirable.”

Raptors rule out several players due to ‘health and safety protocols’ for Detroit game Wednesday

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Mar 3rd, 2021

The Toronto Raptors have ruled out five players for “health and safety protocols” for their game against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

O.G. Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn were ruled out for the match-up that was originally slated for Tuesday at Amalie Arena but was postponed due to what the league said was “positive test results and ongoing contact tracing within the Raptors organization.”

Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bulls was also postponed.

Nick Nurse and five members of his staff who were sidelined for Friday’s game against Houston will also be unavailable for Wednesday’s game.

General Manager Bobby Webster said they will likely be out for Thursday’s game as well against the Boston Celtics due to the protocols. It is their last scheduled game until the All Star break.

The Raptors have called up two players from their G-League team the 905.

The NBA cautioned that Wednesday is a tentative rescheduling date for the game against the Pistons, and is “pending additional test results.”

Toronto had managed to largely avoid the global pandemic until now, despite playing their home games out of Florida — a COVID-19 hotbed — due to Canada’s border restrictions and health and safety protocols in Ontario.

The Raptors were one of four remaining teams in the league that hadn’t had a game postponed until Tuesday.

GM Bobby Webster was asked what he’s learned from the team’s first major brush with the virus.

“It’s what you can imagine,” Webster said in a Zoom call with media on Tuesday night. “It’s the emotional stress of having colleagues that potentially, obviously, can be sick. The enormous amount of stress everyone feels, everyone’s walking a bit on eggshells here in the locker room and you can’t necessarily be as friendly.”

“The basketball will go on, we’ll play the games, but just to maintain everybody’s belonging and familiarity is really important.”

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