COVID-19 live updates: Alberta may lift COVID-19 public health measures this month: Kenney; Quebec scraps anti-vax tax; Denmark lifts most of its restrictions

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COVID-19 live updates: Alberta may lift COVID-19 public health measures this month: Kenney; Quebec scraps anti-vax tax; Denmark lifts most of its restrictions

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Watch this page throughout the day for updates on COVID-19 in Edmonton A person carries luggage past Jason Kenney and COVID-19 graffiti on a long boar

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Watch this page throughout the day for updates on COVID-19 in Edmonton

A person carries luggage past Jason Kenney and COVID-19 graffiti on a long boarded up building near 103 Avenue and 106 Street, in Edmonton on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. Photo by David Bloom
A person carries luggage past Jason Kenney and COVID-19 graffiti on a long boarded up building near 103 Avenue and 106 Street, in Edmonton on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. Photo by David Bloom Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

With COVID-19 news changing every day, we have created this file to keep you up-to-date on all the latest stories and information in and around Edmonton.

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Help us tell the COVID-19 story in Edmonton

As Alberta continues to navigate the unpredictable waves of COVID-19, we’re looking to hear your stories on this evolving situation.

  • If you are a healthcare worker, how does the Omicron variant compare with past waves of the pandemic?
  • Did you or someone you love catch Omicron over the holidays? If so, how did you fare?
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Anna Junker

Premier Jason Kenney provides an update on Alberta’s COVID-19 response in Calgary on Jan. 4, 2022.
Premier Jason Kenney provides an update on Alberta’s COVID-19 response in Calgary on Jan. 4, 2022. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Postmedia

Alberta will look at easing public health restrictions later this month if the province sees a sustained decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Premier Jason Kenney said Tuesday.

Speaking at an update on COVID-19, Kenney said he believes the province may be able to relax restrictions, including the vaccine passport program, by the end of February.

“We need to see a sustained decline in hospitalization pressure but, with the overall trends, I am very optimistic that we will be able to move forward with meaningful relaxation of public health measures this month including the elimination of the restriction exemption or proof of vaccination program,” Kenney said.

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“I just ask people to be a little more patient as we are still at a record high number for non-ICU COVID hospital admissions. We need to see those numbers start to come down. And then I am confident we’ll be able to move forward safely and prudently with reducing the burden of public health measures on Albertans.”

On Tuesday, there were 1,585 Albertans hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase of 69 from Monday. Of those, 109 are in intensive care units, an increase of 10.

Kenney said he believes the province is at or around the peak for non-ICU hospitalizations. But as long as that number remains high, it means surgeries and other medical procedures will continue to be postponed.

“We’re operating at about 85 per cent of our typical surgical capacity right now. I’d actually like to see that closer to 100 per cent,” he said.

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As the province looks to ease restrictions, there won’t be one specific measure that is relied on to determine when and how measures are eased.

“We are going to be looking at the overall trends altogether,” Kenney said. “Of course the infection trends with respect to positivity, the wastewater data, total active cases, but more specifically the hospitalization numbers.”

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12:35 p.m.

Legault drops idea of ‘anti-vax tax,’ citing need to preserve social peace

Philip Authier, Montreal Gazette

Quebec Premier François Legault at a COVID-19 press conference in Montreal on Wednesday, December 22, 2021.
Quebec Premier François Legault at a COVID-19 press conference in Montreal on Wednesday, December 22, 2021. Photo by Dave Sidaway /Montreal Gazette

QUEBEC — Premier François Legault has announced he is abandoning the idea of imposing a controversial “health contribution” — dubbed the “anti-vax tax” — on Quebecers who are unvaccinated.

At a news conference at the legislature Tuesday, Legault said it’s clear the idea was creating division in Quebec, including threats of protests, and he wants to preserve social peace.

“I understand this divides Quebecers,” Legault said. “It’s time to rebuild bridges. It’s time to work together.”

He defended his floating of the idea, saying he was looking for more incentives for people to come forward and get the jab.

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But the situation has evolved, he said.

Legault had been poised to table legislation that would see people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 charged $100 to $800 — presumably in the form of a tax — to compensate for the additional burden they could impose on the province’s already beleaguered health-care system.

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Tuesday

No longer a ‘critical threat’: Denmark lifts COVID restrictions as cases soar

Courtney Greenberg, National Post

People line up for a rapid COVID test at Budolfi Church in Aalborg, Denmark in late December.
People line up for a rapid COVID test at Budolfi Church in Aalborg, Denmark in late December. Photo by Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

Denmark is lifting most of its COVID-related restrictions because they no longer consider it a “critical threat,” even as cases soar.

The decision comes as the country faced of 50,000 cases daily, on average, over the past few weeks. But the data showed that while hospitalizations are high and deaths are slowly on the rise, the amount of people in the ICUs is dropping.

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“While there are high case counts, the pressure on hospitals is lower than in previous waves,’ wrote Aarhus University political professor Michael Bang Peterson on Twitter.

Epidemiologist Lone Simonsen told AFP news agency that lifting restrictions was “reasonable” considering that Omicron was not “a severe disease for the vaccinated.” Danish authorities agreed COVID was not a “critical threat” anymore.

“Does this mean it is over? No, we have declassified corona before. But as lockdowns breed mistrust, it is prudent to relax measures when possible,” wrote Peterson. “If it is not over — if lockdowns are to be imposed again — societies will need as much trust and solidarity as they can muster.” 

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Tuesday

‘Don’t tell me what to do’: How Canada underestimated the anti-vaccine community

Sharon Kirkey, National Post

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Even researchers who have spent years immersed in the anti-vax space are surprised by the resistance, says University of Alberta health policy expert Timothy Caulfield.
Even researchers who have spent years immersed in the anti-vax space are surprised by the resistance, says University of Alberta health policy expert Timothy Caulfield. Photo by Kevin King/Postmedia/File

The anti-vaccine protesters who recently showed up at the home of a medical officer of health were apparently put out by the doctor’s zero-tolerance approach to activists harassing staff.

“One sign affixed to my house read: ‘You didn’t like our protest (at the public health office) so … here we are!”

The doctor, whose identity was withheld to avoid further harassment, described in an article posted on the website healthydebate.ca how some anti-vax groups are conforming to “cult-like characteristics” and jeopardizing the country’s exit from the pandemic.

“We must therefore learn from sociology’s study of the phenomenon,” the author wrote. “Cult characteristics include the seeking of loyalty to their leaders, opposing critical thinking and the same messaging rhetoric to indoctrinate their followers.”

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Members of parliament were cautioned that their homes, too, may be targeted by demonstrators who descended on Ottawa over the weekend. In a memo obtained by CTV and The Globe and Mail, Sergeant-at-Arms Patrick McDonnell warned of “doxxing,” the sharing of personal information online with malicious intent. On Sunday, COVID-rules flouting pastor Henry Hildebrandt, preaching to hundreds of “Freedom Convoy” supporters outside the prime minister’s office, warned Justin Trudeau that “you might have a fringe come and knock at your door.”

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Tuesday

Former N.L. premier suing federal government over vaccine mandates for air travel

Tyler Dawson, National Post

Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Brian Peckford lives on Vancouver Island and, according to the legal documents, requires air travel to visit family in Ontario, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Brian Peckford lives on Vancouver Island and, according to the legal documents, requires air travel to visit family in Ontario, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Photo by Supplied/File

Brian Peckford, the last surviving premier involved in the drafting of the Canadian constitution, is suing the federal government, claiming vaccine mandates for air travel are unconstitutional.

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In documents lawyers say have been filed with the Federal Court, Peckford and five others claim the mandate “effectively bans Canadians who have chosen not to receive an experimental medical treatment from domestic and international travel by airplane.”

The COVID-19 vaccines are not experimental. They have been fully approved by Health Canada.

Since October, Transport Canada rules have required those seeking to travel by air to be fully immunized against COVID-19 if they’re older than 12 years and four months, although there are exemptions for those who live in some remote communities or require urgent travel, and for essential medical treatment and religious beliefs.

“Requiring travellers and employees to be vaccinated, ensures that everyone who travels and works in the transportation industry will protect each other and keep Canadians safe,” said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra at the time.

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None of the six people involved in the lawsuit have been vaccinated, according to court filings.

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Tuesday

Remaining protesters say they will not leave until all COVID restrictions are lifted

The Canadian Press

Anti vaccine mandate protesters and truckers still protesting in Ottawa Monday morning. TONY CALDWELL, Postmedia.
Anti vaccine mandate protesters and truckers still protesting in Ottawa Monday morning. TONY CALDWELL, Postmedia.

Crowds have thinned out considerably on Parliament Hill and the surrounding area, where anti-COVID restrictions demonstrators have been protesting for days.

But those that remain say they are staying put until all the restrictions are lifted, with the president of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association saying some protesters have been extending their stays at hotels, or are asking to rebook for the coming weekend.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said yesterday he will not meet with anyone involved, noting reports that some participants have been seen harassing local businesses, waving Nazi flags, defecating on residential lawns, urinating on National War Memorial and stealing food from the homeless.

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Tuesday

Canadian attitudes are shifting to living with COVID-19: poll

Lynn Chaya, National Post

Protesters gathered around Parliament Hill and the downtown core for the Freedom Convoy protest that made their way from various locations across Canada, Sunday January 30, 2022
Protesters gathered around Parliament Hill and the downtown core for the Freedom Convoy protest that made their way from various locations across Canada, Sunday January 30, 2022 Photo by ASHLEY FRASER/POSTMEDIA

As more people are exposed to the less severe Omicron variant, there are signs Canadians’ attitudes are shifting toward lifting restrictions and living with COVID-19, two new polls show.

A study published on Monday by Angus Reid Institute, a non-profit specializing in Canadian opinion research, revealed public opinion has changed over the last couple of weeks concerning the re-opening of communities.

Between January 7-12, a period where Canada was experiencing a peak in COVID-19 cases after the holidays, a poll asking Canadians whether “it’s time to end restrictions and let people self-isolate if they’re at risk” showed that 55 per cent disagreed with more lenient regulations.

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But public sentiment changed when asked the same question last week. A slim majority —  54 per cent of those polled — said they agreed with ending all restrictions and allowing Canadians to manage their own level of risk, while 32 per cent strongly agreed.

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Monday

COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in Alberta as 35 more deaths reported

Anna Junker

Illustration of coronavirus , covid-19, with tentacles on red background. Contagion and propagation of a disease. 3D illustration.
Illustration of coronavirus , covid-19, with tentacles on red background. Contagion and propagation of a disease. 3D illustration. Photo by hadkhanong_Thailand /Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Alberta continue to climb as the province reported an additional 35 deaths from the virus over the weekend.

On Monday, the province recorded 1,516 Albertans hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase of 20 from Friday. Of those in hospital, 99 are in intensive care units, a decrease of six.

Thirty-five more deaths from COVID-19 were reported over the last three days, raising the provincial death toll to 3,566.

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When asked at an unrelated press conference Monday afternoon whether Alberta’s hospitalization numbers have peaked and if public health restrictions could be eased, Health Minister Jason Copping said the province is still watching the data.

“As indicated last week, our ICU numbers have plateaued,” he said. “Initial data coming out of the weekend (shows) that we may have seen a couple of data points of our hospitalizations plateauing but, again, we’re going to be driven by the numbers.

“This is an extremely challenging time right now for hospitals, recognizing that as a system overall we’re still under our capacity, however, I do note that in a number of locations, Edmonton, Calgary, for example, they’re over capacity.”

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He said once those numbers start to trend down, then the province can begin to look at easing public health restrictions.

“Right now at this point in time, we haven’t seen that trendline,” he said.

A total of 6,537 new cases of COVID-19 were identified over the weekend through PCR testing. There were 2,945 cases on Friday, 1,815 on Saturday, and 1,777 identified on Sunday. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, has noted in the past that the number of infections in the community is at least 10 times higher.

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Monday

‘Vaccination mandates aren’t the enemy here, COVID is’: Federal labour minister addresses Edmonton chamber crowd

Ashley Joannou

Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan spoke to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022.
Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan spoke to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. Photo by Adrian Wyld /The Canadian Press, file

The risk of unvaccinated workers falling ill is far greater than the risk of labour shortages caused by a vaccination mandate, federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan told the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce Monday.

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Speaking at a virtual question and answer session, O’Regan said the convoy of protesters that arrived in Ottawa over the weekend had a lot less to do with truckers, who are largely vaccinated, than people were originally let to believe.

“I think it’s pretty evident that what you have in Ottawa are people with very deep-seated feelings about vaccinations period, or, frankly, people who are just tired of COVID and really want to let us know that,” he said.

The protest, dubbed the Freedom Convoy, was originally targeting a federal mandate requiring unvaccinated Canadian truckers re-entering Canada from the United States to get tested for COVID-19 and to quarantine but expanded to include those demonstrating against health orders and the federal government as a whole.

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While acknowledging that everyone is tired of the pandemic, O’Regan said vaccine mandates work in increasing the overall percentage of the population that is vaccinated.

“All of these numbers do matter, and the risk of an unvaccinated worker falling ill and having to stay home or worse, ending up in hospital is far greater than the risk of labour shortages caused by vaccination mandates — bottom line,” he said.

“Vaccination mandates aren’t the enemy here, COVID is. COVID is the biggest threat to our economy.”

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Monday

Alberta leads country in excess death rates during COVID-19 pandemic: U of T researcher

Jason Herring, Calgary

Nurses get ready before going in to assist a COVID-19 patient on the intensive care unit at Peter Lougheed in Calgary on Nov. 14, 2020.
Nurses get ready before going in to assist a COVID-19 patient on the intensive care unit at Peter Lougheed in Calgary on Nov. 14, 2020. Photo by Leah Hennel /Alberta Health Services

Rates of age-adjusted excess mortality in Alberta during the COVID-19 pandemic outpace all other provinces, according to research from a University of Toronto infectious disease professor.

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Dr. Tara Moriarty said that from the start of the pandemic through August 28, 2021, Alberta had reported nearly 150 excess deaths per 100,000 residents. That equates to about 4,800 more deaths than would be expected during the time period.

Alberta’s official tally lists 2,370 COVID-19 deaths through August 28, 2021, suggesting the pandemic’s true death toll in Alberta is significantly higher than the number reported by the province.

Excess mortality calculations represent how many deaths occurred in a jurisdiction above what is expected. It is calculated by comparing reported deaths to historical death counts over a five-year period while correcting for population aging. Moriarty’s calculations also remove deaths from drug overdoses and adjust for the ages of residents.

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“This is a way to compare what happened in the provinces independent of the differences in the underlying age of the population,” Moriarty explained.

“When you do that analysis, the deaths for Alberta go up because it’s a younger province. But even without age-adjusting, Alberta is still really high in per-capita excess mortality compared to the rest of the country. . . We still see this trend of Alberta having enormous excess mortality.”

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Monday

Ontario, Quebec start easing restrictions while schools reopen in Maritimes

The Canadian Press

A man walks by an empty restaurant in Montreal on January 20, 2022. Indoor dining now resumed in Quebec.
A man walks by an empty restaurant in Montreal on January 20, 2022. Indoor dining now resumed in Quebec. Photo by Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press/File

Canada’s most populous provinces are easing some COVID-19 restrictions today, while students head back to classrooms in two Maritime provinces.

Ontario and Quebec have reported declines in hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in recent days and Monday marks the start of the two provinces’ gradual reopening after surging cases of the Omicron variant prompted tighter rules last month.

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In Ontario, the number of people allowed to attend social gatherings has increased to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors until another planned increase on Feb. 21.

Restaurants and bars may reopen indoor dining at half capacity, and many other businesses, such as gyms and cinemas, may also reopen to vaccinated patrons.

Indoor dining has also resumed in Quebec, with certain limits, while the second phase of that province’s reopening plan scheduled for Feb. 7 is set to allow places of worship, entertainment and sports venues to reopen with capacity restrictions.

On the East Coast, schools were set to reopen to in-person learning in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island Monday, with added safety measures in place.

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Monday

One-in-five Canadian households report COVID-19 infection since Dec. 1: study

A pedestrian crosses 104 Avenue at MacEwan University while a government advertisement calling for COVID-19 booster shots to combat the Omicron strain outbreak is shines in the background in Edmonton, on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. Photo by Ian Kucerak
A pedestrian crosses 104 Avenue at MacEwan University while a government advertisement calling for COVID-19 booster shots to combat the Omicron strain outbreak is shines in the background in Edmonton, on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. Photo by Ian Kucerak Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

A new Angus Reid Institute (ARI) study said one in five Canadians have reported a COVID-19 infection in their household since Dec. 1.

According to an ARI press release, 21 per cent have had at least one COVID-19 case since Dec. 1. A considerable portion of these positive tests, 36 per cent, came just after the holiday season. Forty-two per cent occurred in December.

“These data also estimate the incidence of COVID-19 among individuals during that same period. Overall, 9 per cent of Canadians saying they have received a positive test – either at home or at a testing center – for COVID-19 since Dec. 1,” the release said.

ARI also estimates an additional five per cent of Canadians have been infected during that period, based on an analysis of the number of self-reported symptoms, and the positivity rate among those with similar symptom profiles who were tested.

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“Notably, this 14 per cent aligns closely with the number of Canadians who say they are “almost certain” that they have had COVID-19 in the past two months, added to those who have a positive test confirmed,” the release said.

Another key finding reported in the study said testing levels for low-income households are significantly lower than those with higher household income levels. Additionally, B.C. lags behind the rest of the country in testing, with just 25 per cent of adults reporting having taken a test since Dec. 1. The national average is 42 per cent

In addition, the study also said 54 per cent of Canadians say they want all restrictions to end – a 15 point increase since January.


Monday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has tested positive for COVID-19

Reuters

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Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, departs a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022.
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, departs a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. Photo by David Kawai/Bloomberg

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday he had tested positive for COVID-19 but was feeling fine and would continue to work remotely while following public health guidelines.

Trudeau went into isolation last week after one of his children tested positive but at the time a rapid test for him came back negative, he told the Canadian Press.

“This morning, I tested positive for COVID-19. I’m feeling fine – and I’ll continue to work remotely this week while following public health guidelines,” tweeted Trudeau, who will not be able to be in Parliament later on Monday when it reopens after a winter break. He intends to attend remotely.

Trudeau, 50, went into isolation for two weeks in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic after his wife, Sophie, tested positive for COVID-19.

Several Canadian cabinet ministers, including Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, have also come down with COVID-19 in the last few months.

Other Western world leaders who have contracted the coronavirus in the past include former U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who both fell sick in 2020.

This morning, I tested positive for COVID-19. I’m feeling fine – and I’ll continue to work remotely this week while following public health guidelines. Everyone, please get vaccinated and get boosted.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 31, 2022

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Monday

Boris Johnson’s parties ‘difficult to justify’ but U.K. report restricted to superficial remarks

Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks outside 10 Downing Street in London on Monday after the report was released.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks outside 10 Downing Street in London on Monday after the report was released. Photo by Henry Nicholls / REUTERS

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced renewed calls to resign on Monday after a report found alcohol-fuelled parties at his offices and residence while COVID-19 lockdown rules were in force should never have taken place.

The report by senior civil servant Sue Gray into the lockdown gatherings — at a time when Britons were all but banned from social mixing amid the coronavirus pandemic — pointed to “serious failures of leadership” at the heart of the British government.

She condemned some of the behavior in government as being “difficult to justify.”

“Some of the events should not have been allowed to take place,” she said.

However, she said she could not offer a “meaningful report” in order not to prejudice a separate police investigation. But she disclosed that detectives were looking into rule-breaking events including one in Johnson’s apartment above his office.

The saga has become the gravest threat to Johnson’s premiership, already under scrutiny for a string of scandals and his handling of the coronavirus response. Opposition politicians and some members of his own Conservative Party have called on him to resign.

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Monday

Paxlovid: A new COVID-19 drug has come to Alberta, but what does it do?

Anna Junker

Boxes of Pfizer Inc.’s Paxlovid antiviral medication arranged in a warehouse in Shoham, Israel, on Jan. 18, 2022
Boxes of Pfizer Inc.’s Paxlovid antiviral medication arranged in a warehouse in Shoham, Israel, on Jan. 18, 2022 Photo by Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg

Pfizer’s COVID-19 anti-viral pill Paxlovid will be available in limited supply to Albertans starting Monday.

The drug is the latest to be approved by Health Canada for treatment against COVID-19. In Alberta , it is intended for use by individuals 18 and older who have specific medical conditions, or those who are unvaccinated and at least 65 years of age.

Individuals who meet the criteria will be prompted to contact Health Link for an initial evaluation of eligibility. Those potentially eligible will be referred to a clinician for an assessment and prescription.

Postmedia spoke with Nathan Beahm, an assistant clinical professor with the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, to learn more about Paxlovid and how it works.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What is Paxlovid?

Paxlovid is a combination product of basically two antivirals, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. But the second antiviral actually isn’t there for its antiviral effect. It’s there to boost the effect of the first antiviral. How it essentially works is, it inhibits the replication of one of the proteases that SARS-Coronavirus-2 requires to be able to replicate. So it basically prevents that protease from being able to do that and disrupts the replication of the virus in the host cells.

Who can use Paxlovid?

This drug has been studied in unvaccinated patients who test positive for COVID and who are early enough in their infection where they’ve only had symptoms for no more than five days. It is patients who are at high risk of more severe complications and who are thought to have milder to moderate symptoms and the idea is to try to prevent them from requiring hospitalization.

It may also be used in immunized patients who are immunocompromised such that they might not be able to rely on their immunization to provide them with adequate antibodies on their own.

How is Paxlovid taken?

The patient’s kidney function will determine how many pills they will take, but typically, it is a package of blister cards that contains two pills of the nirmatrelvir and one pill of the ritonavir that are taken at the same time. You would be taking six pills a day, three of them in the morning, three in the evening, for five days. Ritonavir is white and then nirmatrelvir is pink.

One of the issues with this drug, in particular, is that ritonavir inhibits the breakdown of a lot of other drugs. So there’s a large number of drugs that potentially could interact with this medication.

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Letter of the day

Children in the schoolyard outside Garneau School in Edmonton on Thursday, January 20, 2022.
Children in the schoolyard outside Garneau School in Edmonton on Thursday, January 20, 2022. Photo by Larry Wong /Postmedia

Ask students what they think about masks

I am writing in response to David Staples’ article titled, “It is time to end the harmful masking of children in schools,” Jan. 26, 2022 . As a ninth-grader currently attending in-person school while wearing a mask, I was curious about what Mr. Staples was saying. With help, I polled students at my junior high school, and 69.7 per cent out of the 89 people that responded said that they would be more stressed if students were not required to wear masks at school.

While I only managed to get answers from four classes, this result still gives us an idea of what some actual students think. Mr. Staples concluded that he believes that kids should not be wearing masks at school because it stresses them out, but my poll doesn’t support that. I believe that adults should be going to local students and asking what we think instead of making assumptions about our opinions.

Heather Wiacek, Edmonton


Letters Welcome

We invite you to write letters to the editor. A maximum of 150 words is preferred. Letters must carry a first and last name, or two initials and a last name, and include an address and daytime telephone number. All letters are subject to editing. We don’t publish letters addressed to others or sent to other publications. Email: letters@edmontonjournal.com


Saturday

Well knows anti-masker Artur Pawlowski arrested near Leduc

Dylan Short, Calgary

Artur Pawlowski, the pastor of Calgary’s Street Church. Sunday, April 4, 2021.
Artur Pawlowski, the pastor of Calgary’s Street Church. Sunday, April 4, 2021. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Well-known anti-mask, anti-public health measure Pastor Artur Pawlowski was arrested outside of Leduc Friday evening.

Calgary Police Services representatives confirmed Saturday that the pastor was arrested by Leduc RCMP for warrants out of Calgary. Local police said there were warrants out for Pawlowski’s arrest relating to his causing a disturbance at a southwest Calgary Shoppers Drug Mart in December.

Pawlowski recorded his interaction with Leduc RCMP on Friday and posted it to his Twitter page. In it, the RCMP officer tells Pawlowski they ran his plates while he was driving on the highway and saw the registered owner had warrants.

He appears to not be aware there was an arrest warrant out against him and asks if police had been following him from a rally he had attended. He then hands his camera to another person in the vehicle and leaves his vehicle with the officer.

Speaking to Postmedia Saturday, Pawlowski said police served him his warrant, he filled out his paperwork and he was released from custody 15 minutes later.

Pawlowski said he was charged with causing a disturbance, failure to wear a mask and criminal trespassing. He said that he attended the Canada Post branch within the Shoppers to pick up mail. After he was refused service for not wearing a mask, he said he called CPS to pick up his mail for him.

He said he has a medical exemption from wearing a face-covering with confirmation from a doctor. Pawlowski did not confirm what the medical condition is but said he has had the issue since he was a teenager and that it would make it very uncomfortable to wear a mask.

The pastor has a history of run-ins with police in Calgary relating to his defiance of wearing face coverings and his opposition to public health measures in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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Saturday

COVID-19 booster shots recommended for high-risk teens: NACI

Dylan Short, Calgary

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending teenagers with underlying conditions or at high risk of COVID-19 exposure get a booster shot.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending teenagers with underlying conditions or at high risk of COVID-19 exposure get a booster shot. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is now recommending teenagers with underlying conditions or at high risk of COVID-19 exposure get a booster shot weeks after Alberta opened up third shots for the same population.

The advice comes as more provincial health officers are transitioning to a position of learning to live with COVID-19 and loosening public health restrictions.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, says kids and adolescents are still at low risk of serious illness in general from COVID-19, but because of the high rate of infection due to Omicron, more kids are being admitted to hospital.

Health Canada data suggest in the last week 251 children under 12 and 84 adolescents between 12 and 19 were admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

NACI’s new advice for those between 12 and 17 is to get a booster if they have an underlying medical condition or live in congregate settings or racialized or marginalized communities that have been hard hit by COVID-19 infections.

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