COVID-19 live updates: Pfizer says COVID-19 pill near 90% effective; 863 new cases since Friday; Flames postpone next three games

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

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  • Have you or a loved one had a surgery rescheduled or cancelled in recent weeks?
  • Are you someone who has decided to get vaccinated after previously being skeptical of the vaccines?
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    Send us your stories via email at edm-feedback@postmedia.com


Tuesday

Pfizer says COVID-19 pill near 90% effective in final analysis

Reuters

Paxlovid, a Pfizer’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pill, is seen manufactured in Ascoli, Italy, in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on November 16, 2021.
Paxlovid, a Pfizer’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pill, is seen manufactured in Ascoli, Italy, in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on November 16, 2021. Photo by PFIZER /Reuters

NEW YORK — Pfizer Inc on Tuesday said final analysis of its antiviral COVID-19 pill still showed near 90% efficacy in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients, and recent lab data suggests the drug retains its effectiveness against the fast spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

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The U.S. drugmaker last month said the oral medicine was around 89% effective in preventing hospitalizations or deaths when compared to placebo, based on interim results in around 1,200 people. The data disclosed on Tuesday includes an additional 1,000 people.Nobody in the trial who received the Pfizer treatment died, compared with 12 deaths among placebo recipients.The Pfizer pills are taken with the older antiviral ritonavir every 12 hours for five days beginning shortly after onset of symptoms. If authorized, the treatment will be sold as Paxlovid.

“It’s a stunning outcome,” Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten said in an interview.

“We’re talking about a staggering number of lives saved and hospitalizations prevented. And of course, if you deploy this quickly after infection, we are likely to reduce transmission dramatically,” Dolsten said.

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Monday

Alberta reports 863 new cases, three deaths since Friday

Lauren Boothby

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Alberta reported 863 more COVID-19 cases and three deaths in the province since Friday.

Case data updated Monday includes 373 on Friday, 288 on Saturday and 202 on Sunday. Serious cases dipped slightly with 357 patients treated in hospital for the disease, including 68 in ICU, as of Monday.

Active cases sat at 4,182 province-wide including 1,264 in the Edmonton Zone and 1,732 in the Calgary Zone.

Of all Albertans, 78 per cent have had one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine while 72.2 per cent have had two. For people 12 and up, 89.2 per cent have had one dose while 84.8 per cent have had two.

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Monday

Calgary Flames postpone next three games as NHL team battles COVID-19 outbreak

Wes Gilbertson

The Scotiabank Saddledome
The Scotiabank Saddledome Photo by DARREN MAKOWICHUK /Postmedia file

The Calgary Flames were supposed to be on the road again this week but their travel plans changed — and three games have been postponed — with news that six players and one staffer are now in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.

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The Flames were slated to face the Blackhawks in Chicago on Monday and then battle the Predators in Nashville the next night. They didn’t fly Sunday to the Windy City — as was originally planned — and won’t be back on the ice until at least Friday, and that could be a moving target.

The team announced that forwards Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Brad Richardson and Adam Ruzicka, defencemen Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov and a member of the training staff all entered COVID-19 protocol within a 24-hour window and the NHL cited “concern with continued spread and the likelihood of additional positive cases in the coming days” in a release regarding the postponements.Thursday’s home date with the Toronto Maple Leafs will also be pushed back.
Sportsnet is reporting that the six Flames players are asymptomatic.Read more


Monday

First person dies from Omicron variant in United Kingdom

Reuters

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People queue outside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination centre at St Thomas’s Hospital in London, Britain, December 13, 2021.
People queue outside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination centre at St Thomas’s Hospital in London, Britain, December 13, 2021. Photo by HANNAH MCKAY /REUTERS

At least one person has died in the United Kingdom after contracting the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, warning that the variant now accounted for 40% of infections in the British capital.

Since the first Omicron cases were detected on Nov. 27 in the United Kingdom, Johnson has imposed tougher restrictions and on Sunday he urged people to get booster shots to prevent the health service from being overwhelmed.Visiting a vaccination center in London, Johnson congratulated those getting shots and handed out stickers before telling reporters that a patient had died from Omicron which he said could overcome those inoculated with two shots.“Sadly at least one patient has now been confirmed to have died with Omicron,” Johnson said.“So I think the idea that this is somehow a milder version of the virus – I think that’s something we need to set on one side – and just recognize the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population.”Read more


Sunday

Edmonton police say no reports of falsified vaccine records since vaccine mandate implemented

Anna Junker

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The Alberta government is rolling out a verification app, enabling businesses to scan proof-of-vaccination with a QR code on Tuesday, October 12, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
The Alberta government is rolling out a verification app, enabling businesses to scan proof-of-vaccination with a QR code on Tuesday, October 12, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia Photo by Darren Makowichuk /DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia

Nearly three months into Alberta’s restriction exemption program, Edmonton police say no reports of falsified vaccine records have been made.

The program, which requires proof of doubled-dose of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours, or a medical exemption for patrons 12 and over was implemented on Sept. 20, beginning with a paper copy of vaccine record. On Nov. 15, the province made it so only a paper or digital copy of a vaccine record with a QR code was acceptable.

In a statement, Edmonton police spokeswoman Carolin Maran said the restrictions exemption program is part of a public health order, and complaints, follow-ups and enforcement are conducted by public health inspectors.

“The only time the EPS directly responds is if there’s imminent risk to public safety or if the inspectors require our assistance due to safety concerns,” police said. “Since the REP was implemented, EPS assistance has not been requested to date.”

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Sunday

Alberta employment lawyer believes more cases challenging vaccine mandates to come

Anna Junker

Edmonton Law Courts.
Edmonton Law Courts. Photo by Larry Wong /Postmedia, file

An Alberta-based labour and employment lawyer expects cases challenging COVID-19 vaccine mandates to increase as Albertans get back to work, but whether they are successful remains to be seen.

Frank Molnar, of Field Law, said the country is at the early stages of case law regarding vaccine mandates, with three arbitration-decisions currently out of Ontario. But, he believes there will “absolutely” be more cases brought forward, and in a variety of forms.

“I think you’re gonna see grievances under collective agreements. Probably the first ones will be policy grievances,” he said.

“You might see some individual grievances. You may see some individuals suing for wrongful dismissal that were terminated because they did not comply with the policy.”

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There may also be cases of “constructive dismissal,” where an individual could argue they never agreed to a policy and the employer is “forcing” it on them, Molnar said.

“I expect that we’ll see some decisions dealing with these claims down the road,” Molnar said. “It takes a long time for these matters to go to the court, so I expect there will be some time before we get some wrongful dismissal or constructive dismissal cases that have been decided.”

He noted there have not been any human rights decisions yet over mandatory vaccines. However, there have been complaint dismissals over mandatory face mask use, which has provided some guidance.

“There were retail environments where individuals have refused to wear a mask and they filed a human rights complaint, and all of those complaints have been dismissed,” Molnar said.

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“It doesn’t mean that ultimately, someone could not file a successful human rights complaint. It’s just that the ones that were filed just didn’t meet the test.”

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Saturday

Three units at Grey Nuns Community Hosptial currently on Outbreak

The Grey Nuns Hospital in Edmonton.
The Grey Nuns Hospital in Edmonton. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

There are three units currently declaring COVID-19 outbreaks at Grey Nuns Community Hospital

An outbreak was declared on Nov. 29, on one acute care inpatient unit. To date, one indivicual has tested positive for COVID-19.

In another unit, an outbreak was also declared on Nov. 29 in an acute care inpatient unit. To date, five individuals have tested positive for COVID-19. One death is associated with this outbreak.

On Nov. 30 another unit declared an outbreak on one acute care inpatient unit. To date, one individual has tested positive for COVID-19.

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You can find a list of all AHS and Covenant Health acute care facilities experiencing outbreaks on the Alberta Health Services website .



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Letter of the day

A medical worker administers a dose of the “Comirnaty” Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in a vaccination centre in Nantes, France, Sept. 14, 2021.
A medical worker administers a dose of the “Comirnaty” Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in a vaccination centre in Nantes, France, Sept. 14, 2021. Photo by STEPHANE MAHE /REUTERS

Donate to help vaccinate global community

The sudden arrival of the Omicron variant is a stark reminder of the global nature of the COVID pandemic. To end this pandemic, we must protect everyone — everywhere — from COVID-19. This means addressing vaccine inequity around the world. UNICEF is the global leader in vaccine delivery and has been tasked with procuring and delivering two billion COVID vaccines to low-income countries.

UNICEF Canada’s website offers an easy opportunity to help by donating. Consider it a Christmas gift to the world.Randy Gurlock, Edmonton


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