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Vaccine expiry date approaches, apology to Italian-Canadians: In The News for May 27

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 27 ... What we are watching in Canada ...

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 27 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Thousands of doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are set to expire in a few days, and the federal government is urging provinces to get them into arms before that happens.

In a letter to her provincial and territorial counterparts, federal Health Minster Patty Hajdu encourages provinces that aren't able to use their AstraZeneca doses by the end of the month to give them to provinces that can.

She offers federal support to help ensure the doses are not wasted, saying the Public Health Agency of Canada can assist with logistics and co-ordination.

It's not clear how many doses are at risk of going to waste, but Ontario is scrambling to use some 45,000 AstraZeneca shots by the end of May, with another 10,000 set to expire in June, while Manitoba has said it has 7,000 doses that will expire in a few days.

Most provinces stopped giving first doses of AstraZeneca earlier this month due to the risk of recipients developing a rare but potentially fatal blood clotting condition. The risk of blood clots is far less after the second shot.

Last Friday, Ontario announced that it would start giving second doses of the vaccine to those who received a first AstraZeneca shot between March 10-19.

But since then eligible people trying to access those second shots have run into difficulty finding pharmacies that actually have any AstraZeneca vaccines to administer.


Also this ...

The success of Canada's COVID-19 vaccine rollout is creating issues for the Nova Scotia-based clinical trial of a Canadian-made vaccine.

The Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University is trying to complete a Phase 1 trial for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Edmonton-based Entos Pharmaceuticals Inc. but says it's difficult to find volunteers as more people get shots.

Researchers are looking for about a dozen people between the ages of 18 and 55 who have not been vaccinated and who haven't been exposed to the virus.

Entos CEO John Lewis says if enough people aren't recruited, the entire trial will have to be moved to another country where vaccine isn't as readily available — an outcome that would delay his company's development plans.

Lewis says as things stand, Phase 2 of the trial will be conducted outside of Canada because it needs about 600 participants.

He says it's still hoped there are some younger people in the Halifax area who want to contribute to a "made-in-Canada" solution to providing vaccines around the world.


And this ...

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to deliver a formal apology in the House of Commons today for the internment of Canadians of Italian descent during the Second World War. 

After Italy declared war against Canada in 1940, Canada interned more than 600 people of Italian heritage and declared about 31,000 of them as "enemy aliens."

Justice Minister David Lametti says the internment happened following an order-in-council that was promulgated by the then-justice minister Ernest Lapointe. 

He says none of those who were interned was ever convicted and the internees weren't afforded due legal process.

Lametti says people were put on RCMP lists for having made donations to the Italian Red Cross or for being members of certain labour groups.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

WASHINGTON – A procedural vote Thursday on legislation that would create a commission on the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol hinges on getting 10 Republican votes to authorize the independent investigation.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has set up the vote, challenging Republicans to support it after 35 of their GOP colleagues voted for it in the House. But it was unlikely that Democrats would be able to win the 10 Republican votes needed, a remarkable turn of events just months after the worst attack on the Capitol in more than 200 years.

Republicans appear poised to block the legislation, despite both a bipartisan effort to salvage the bill and a last-minute push by the mother of a Capitol police officer who collapsed and died after the siege.

The bill as passed by the House would set up a bipartisan panel to investigate what happened when hundreds of former president Donald Trump's supporters violently broke into the Capitol and interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden's win.

On Wednesday, the mother of officer Brian Sicknick said she would meet with lawmakers ahead of the vote to try to convince them to act. Sicknick collapsed immediately after engaging with the rioters and died the next day.

"I suggest that all Congressmen and Senators who are against this bill visit my son's grave in Arlington National Cemetery and, while there, think about what their hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward," Gladys Sicknick said in a statement Wednesday. "Putting politics aside, wouldn't they want to know the truth of what happened on January 6?"


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

BRUSSELS — The European Union took on vaccine producer AstraZeneca in court on Wednesday, asking a judge to fine the drugmaker and accusing it of acting in bad faith by providing shots to other nations when it had promised them to the EU's 27 member countries. 

During an emergency hearing, the EU asked for the shipment of missing doses to the region and accused AstraZeneca of postponing deliveries so the Anglo-Swedish company could service others, and Britain in particular.

AstraZeneca lawyers denied any wrongdoing and said the pharmaceutical firm has always done its best to fulfil delivery commitments.

AstraZeneca’s contract with the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, foresaw an initial 300 million doses being distributed, with an option for another 100 million. The doses were expected to be delivered throughout 2021. But only 30 million were sent during the first quarter.

Deliveries have increased slightly since then but, according to the EU commission, the company is set to supply 70 million doses in the second quarter when it had promised 180 million. A lawyer for AstraZeneca said Wednesday that “more or less 60 million doses” from the total order have been delivered so far.

The commission wants the court to order the delivery of an additional 90 million doses by the end of June, and the delivery of the remaining 180 million doses by the end of the third quarter of 2021. 

Until the company has caught up with the delays, EU lawyer Rafael Jafferali asked the court to force AstraZeneca to pay 10 euros per day for each non-delivered dose and to fine the drugmaker 10 million euros (C$14.8 million) per day.

A lawyer representing AstraZeneca, Hakim Boularbah, said it's impossible for the company to meet the deadlines and accused the commission of trying to change the terms of their contract. He argued that the delivery schedule was based on estimates and that AstraZeneca could not be liable in case of delays.

A judgment is to be delivered at a later date. 


On this day in 1949 ...

The Liberals won the first general election held in Newfoundland as a province of Canada. Joey Smallwood — known as the last Father of Confederation — became premier and governed until January 1972. Smallwood remained in the legislature until retiring in 1977. He died in 1991.


In entertainment ...

TORONTO – A televised fundraising special to help India's COVID-19 humanitarian crisis will include appearances by LL Cool J, Russell Peters and Mindy Kaling.

"ET Canada Presents: Help India" will air May 31 on Global and will also include appearances from Archie Panjabi, Victor Garber and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The half-hour, primetime broadcast will raise funds for the Humanitarian Coalition's emergency response efforts in India, which is grappling with a devastating resurgence of the disease.

Other stars in the show include Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Jay Shetty, Sandy Sidhu, Rizwan Manji and Abhishek Bachchan.

The broadcast will also stream live and on demand with StackTV and the Global TV App.



OTTAWA – Canada plans to land a rover on the moon in the next five years to gather imagery and measurements on its cratered surface.

The Canadian Space Agency says the project will also showcase technologies from Canadian companies in a polar region of the earth's only natural satellite.

Conducted in partnership with NASA, the mission hopes to have the rover make it through an entire lunar night, which lasts about two weeks and presents major technological challenges due to the extreme cold and dark.

Space agency president Lisa Campbell says it will put out a request for proposals on design and development from two companies in the coming months.

Meanwhile in Halifax on Wednesday, the Nova Scotia company planning to build Canada's first commercial spaceport announced some of the firms it has chosen to design and construct its proposed launch pad.

Stantec, a global consulting company with offices in Nova Scotia, will lead the spaceport design team, and Antigonish-based Nova Construction will be involved with building roads and with other civil construction work at the launch site, located near Canso, in northeastern Nova Scotia.

St. Francis Xavier has been chosen to implement an air-monitoring program for the spaceport with the help of the university's FluxLab, led by Dr. David Risk.

Stephen Matier, president and CEO of Maritime Launch Services, said the company plans to keep as much of the building process as possible within Nova Scotia and Canada. It is aiming to have the project ready by the end of 2023.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2021

The Canadian Press