Today’s coronavirus news: Pfizer submits preliminary research on COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged five to 11; Ontario reports another 704 COVID-19cases and seven more deaths; Canadians overwhelmingly su – Toronto Star

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By Star staff and wire services

Sat., Oct. 2, 20216 min. read

Article was updated 27 mins ago

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Saturday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

12:15 p.m.: Quebec is reporting 640 additional cases of COVID-19 today and five more deaths due to the pandemic.

The vast majority of cases are due to the contagious Delta variant, which accounted for 86.9 per cent of infections sequenced between Sept. 12 and Sept. 18.

Overall hospitalizations declined by nine to 301, while the number of people in intensive care dropped by one to 83.

About 89 per cent of Quebec’s eligible population 12 and over have received one shot of vaccine, and 84 per cent have received two doses.

12 p.m.: Pfizer says it has submitted preliminary research to Health Canada on the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine in children aged five to 11.

The drugmaker says it has provided the initial trial data to the federal department for review as it prepares to make a formal submission seeking authorization to use the product in children.

Pfizer says that formal submission could come later this month.

The two-shot Pfizer vaccine, developed in partnership with German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, is currently available for those aged 12 and older.

The company is testing a lower dose of the shots in children.

11:15 a.m.: Ontario is reporting another 704 COVID-19 cases and seven more deaths, according to its latest report released Saturday morning.

The province reports 401 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in unvaccinated people, 44 were partially vaccinated, and 198 cases in fully vaccinated people.

There are 274 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province, including 141 patients in intensive care testing positive for COVID-19. There are 110 people on ventilators. Locally, there are 150 cases in Toronto, 67 in Peel Region, 46 in York Region with 70 cases in Ottawa, 44 in Hamilton, 32 in Windsor and 32 in Niagara.

Ontario has administered 37,333 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with a total 21,847,046 vaccines given as of 8 p.m. Friday night.

According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 11,263,479 people in Ontario have received at least one shot, or about 86.4 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older. The province says 10,583,567 people have completed both vaccination shots, or approximately 81.2 per cent of the eligible population.

7:44 a.m.: Canadians overwhelmingly support the idea of requiring vaccine passports to gain admittance to public places such as restaurants, bars and gyms, a new poll suggests.

Fully 78 per cent of respondents to the Leger poll said they strongly support (56 per cent) or somewhat support (22 per cent) requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to visit non-essential public places where numerous people typically congregate, including concert halls and festivals.

Just 13 per cent said they strongly oppose a proof-of-vaccination requirement, variations on which are being introduced by provincial governments across the country. Another nine per cent said they’re somewhat opposed.

Support ranged from a low of 70 per cent in the Atlantic Provinces to a high of 86 per cent in British Columbia. Eighty-one per cent of Alberta respondents also supported the move, although their province has been the most reluctant to adopt a vaccine passport system.

The poll of 1,537 Canadians was conducted Sept. 24-26, as health care systems in both Alberta and Saskatchewan were being overwhelmed by soaring cases of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The online poll cannot be assigned a margin of error as internet-based surveys are not considered random samples.

Seventy-four per cent of respondents said governments should not lift all public health restrictions now. Just 18 per cent supported lifting them.

Opposition to relaxing public health orders included 76 per cent of respondents in Alberta, where Premier Jason Kenney lifted most restrictions over the summer, only to have to reimpose some recently as the fourth wave of the pandemic swept the province.

Unsurprisingly given their provinces’ struggles with the fourth wave of the pandemic, Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe ranked the lowest among provincial first ministers for their handling of the health crisis.

Fully 80 per cent of Alberta respondents said they were very or somewhat dissatisfied with Kenney’s performance, and 74 per cent of Saskatchewan respondents felt the same about Moe.

By contrast, 74 per cent of Quebec respondents expressed satisfaction with Premier François Legault’s handling of the pandemic, 61 per cent of British Columbians were satisfied with Premier John Horgan and 52 per cent of Ontarians were satisfied with Premier Doug Ford’s performance.

Fifty-seven per cent nationally said they were satisfied with the federal government’s handling of the pandemic while 61 per cent expressed satisfaction with their municipal governments.

Respondents were split over the state of the pandemic in Canada, with 39 per cent saying they think the worst is over, 22 per cent saying we’re in the worst period of the crisis now and another 21 per cent saying the worst is yet to come. Nineteen per cent didn’t know.

7:43 a.m.: When Russians talk about the coronavirus over dinner or in hair salons, the conversation often turns to “antitela,” the Russian word for antibodies — the proteins produced by the body to fight infection.

Even President Vladimir Putin referred to them this week in a conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, bragging about why he avoided infection even though dozens of people around him caught the coronavirus, including someone who spent a whole day with the Kremlin leader.

“I have high titres,” Putin said, referring to the measurement used to describe the concentration of antibodies in the blood. When Erdogan challenged him that the number Putin gave was low, the Russian insisted, “No, it’s a high level. There are different counting methods.”

But Western health experts say the antibody tests so popular in Russia are unreliable either for diagnosing COVID-19 or assessing immunity to it. The antibodies that these tests look for can only serve as evidence of a past infection, and scientists say it’s still unclear what level of antibodies indicates protection from the virus and for how long.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention says such tests should not be used to establish an active COVID-19 infection because it can take one to three weeks for the body to make antibodies. Health experts say tests that look for the virus’s genetic material, called PCR tests, or ones that look for virus proteins, called antigen tests, should be used to determine if someone is infected.

7:42 a.m.: It’s a milestone that by all accounts didn’t have to happen this soon.

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 eclipsed 700,000 late Friday — a number greater than the population of Boston. The last 100,000 deaths occurred during a time when vaccines — which overwhelmingly prevent deaths, hospitalizations and serious illness — were available to any American over the age of 12.

The milestone is deeply frustrating to doctors, public health officials and the American public, who watched a pandemic that had been easing earlier in the summer take a dark turn. Tens of millions of Americans have refused to get vaccinated, allowing the highly contagious Delta variant to tear through the country and send the death toll from 600,000 to 700,000 in 3 1/2 months.

Saturday 7:42 a.m.: California will become the first U.S. state to require COVID-19 vaccinations for children to attend public and private schools in person in a mandate that could effect millions of students.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced that the coronavirus shot will be added to 10 other immunizations already required for school kids, including those for measles and mumps.

Exemptions would be granted for medical reasons or because of religious or personal beliefs but the exemption rules haven’t been written yet pending public comment.

Any student without an exemption who refuses to get the vaccine would be forced to do independent study at home.

“We want to end this pandemic. We are all exhausted by it,” Newsom said during a news conference at a San Francisco middle school after visiting with seventh graders.

“Vaccines work. It’s why California leads the country in preventing school closures and has the lowest case rates,” Newsom said.

Read Friday’s coronavirus news.