Canadian PM opts for Moderna vaccine for second dose
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has opted for the Moderna vaccine for his second dose of the Covid-19 jab after having received the AstraZeneca one for the first.
Trudeau is scheduled to be inoculated on Friday in Ottawa.
The choice of the mRNA vaccine manufactured by the American firm came after Canadian health authorities updated guidance allowing for vaccine interchangeability. On June 17, the National Advisory Committee on Immunisation (NACI) announced that mRNA Covid-19 vaccines were deemed the “preferred” jabs for both the first and second dose even if the first was administered using AZ, which is manufactured in India under the Covishield brand name.
In its recommendations, NACI said the mRNA vaccines should be preferred unless “is inaccessible or there is a contraindication, for example, an allergy to an mRNA vaccine or its components”. Only in the latter circumstances should a viral vector vaccine, like AZ, be offered.
It also endorsed vaccine interchangeability, basically that doses can now be mixed with those receiving the first dose of AZ now being given the second dose as an mRNA vaccine such as those from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
NACI said that “emerging evidence” from studies in Germany have suggested a “potentially better immune response, including against variants of concern, when a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is followed by a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine, compared to two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine”. Similarly, it said, evidence suggested that such mixing “has a good safety profile”.
The Trudeaus received their first injection at a pharmacy in Ottawa, and just before getting the jab, the Prime Minister said he was “very excited” to get it.
While there have been concerns about adverse reactions to the AZ vaccine, Canadian health authorities have maintained that the “benefits of vaccines authorised in Canada continue to outweigh the risks”.
In its latest data on adverse events linked to vaccines, the Public Health Agency of Canada had noted that of the 31,400,466 doses administered till June 18, just 1,719 or 0.005% had caused serious reactions. These include anaphylaxis or a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine, cases of blood clotting, a rare syndrome associated following vaccination with AZ/Covishield vaccine.
Health authorities are also monitoring other reactions like capillary leak and Guillain-Barré Syndrome, linked to the AZ jab. The former causes fluid to leak from small blood vessels while the latter is an immune disorder.
Health Canada has also recently introduced labelling for the mRNA vaccines, warning of the possibility of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart).
With the milder but more contagious Omicron subvariant BA.5 spreading across the continent, the 53 countries in the WHO European region are currently registering just under 500,000 cases daily, according to the organisation's data. That is up from around 150,000 cases daily at the end of May. Austria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg and Portugal were the countries with the highest incidence rates, with almost all countries in the region seeing a rise in cases.
China's embassy in New Zealand rebuked New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for comments she made at the NATO summit about Chinese assertiveness, calling them "misguided" and "wrong". Ardern said on Wednesday in Madrid that China has "in recent times also become more assertive and more willing to challenge international rules and norms." New Zealand, which is heavily reliant on China for trade, has often shied away from direct criticism of Beijing.
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Judges in Florida and Kentucky on Thursday moved to block those states from enforcing bans or restrictions on abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had established a nationwide right to it. In Kentucky, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mitch Perry issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from enforcing a ban passed in 2019 and triggered by the Supreme Court's decision.
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