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Why Canadians have reason to be more optimistic about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Comparing apples to oranges isn’t necessarily useful if you’re trying to learn more about apples. And that is exactly what some experts say is happening in recent discussions of Canada’s vaccine rollout performance on the world stage.

This country’s vaccination record can seem disappointing when compared to the quick progress in some other countries, but that may not be a fair comparison, some experts say. The fact is certain key metrics suggest Canada’s rollout performance is actually on the rise compared to those of many other countries.

“It really does matter who you compare Canada to,” said Trevor Tombe, an associate professor of economics at the University of Calgary and a research fellow at its school of public policy. 

How we evaluate Canada’s performance, he said, is by comparing ourselves to other major countries and by “using realistic metrics based on Canada’s current rollout strategy.”

At the beginning of March, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the interval time between first and second doses for the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines be extended to a maximum of four months.

The group doubled down on that recommendation this week, saying the extension will allow more people to receive a first dose more quickly. And the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health publicly announced its support of the interval recommendation the same day.

Tombe said that extension is the reason why Canadians should be sure they are really comparing apples to apples, so to speak, when we look at our numbers internationally.

Comparing Canada to the world based on the metric of how many people have received at least one dose of vaccine paints the most accurate comparative picture right now, he said, given the country has focused its efforts on administering first doses.

By those markers — measuring the Canadian vaccine rollout to other major economies and looking at the percentage of the population that has received at least one dose — this country is doing better than average.

Canada is third in the G7, behind only the United States and United Kingdom. Canada also ranks third when compared to members of the G20 (with data not available for Saudi Arabia and China). And those same metrics put us in the top 10 out of 37 members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

Scott Halperin, the director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology in Halifax, agrees that comparing Canada’s “fully vaccinated” rate with the rest of the world is not the best measure of the country’s immunization progress right now. 

“When you have a policy of first dose completion, that’s the metric you want to use — because it’s a conscious policy,” he said. 

“When you make a conscious decision not to give the second dose for another three or four months, then your two-dose completion rate is going to stall for that three or four months.”

Halperin and other experts have pointed out the dearth of vaccine supply in February and early March was caused mostly by a lack of capacity in Canada to manufacture vaccines on a mass scale, a situation created by decades of policy-making decisions. 

“You can only do as well in rolling out the vaccine in terms of how many vaccine doses you have,” he said. “And the leaders in rolling out the vaccines, except for a small number of exceptions, are countries who already had manufacturing capacity and invested very heavily in those vaccines.”

But in the here and now, he said, working with what Canada has to work with, the rollout is ramping up at a pace that matches supply.

The rationale behind the strategy

Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, the head of NACI, says she responds to criticisms of Canada’s vaccination record with a similar recounting of facts. She says the lack of vaccine supply is a factor that influenced her group’s decision to recommend extending the time gap between first and second doses, which is part of what led to Canada’s seemingly poor performance on the world stage when comparing “fully vaccinated” numbers.  

“What we’ve decided to do in Canada is to give one dose to as many people as possible,” she said. “I know that that decision, that was taken by Canada and the provinces, has led to a lot of anger and anxiety in some people.

“It’s very complicated for some people to understand that better protection for all is eventually going to be better protection for them as well.”

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CBC | Health News

Everything you need to know about the Blue Jays this year

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

The Toronto Blue Jays open the 2021 baseball season Thursday at 1 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium. Here’s a quick catchup on Canada’s only major-league team:

They’re not coming back to Canada any time soon

The Jays announced Wednesday that they’re extending their stay in Dunedin, Fla., through at least their May 14-24 homestand. They still want to return to Toronto at some point this year. But if Canadian government pandemic restrictions don’t soften, they’ll continue playing their home games in the United States — either in Dunedin or, if Florida gets too hot and humid, in Buffalo.

2 key new players should bolster the lineup

Toronto’s big off-season catch was slugging centre-fielder George Springer, who it lured from Houston with the richest contract ($ 150 million US over six years) in team history.

The 31-year-old leadoff man won the World Series MVP award in 2017 and averaged 31 home runs in the last four full seasons. But he’s out for a bit because of an oblique strain.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Jamie Strashin joins John Northcott to preview Jays’ season: 

Jamie Strashin of CBC Sports joins John Northcott on CBC News Network to talk about the kick-off to the Toronto Blue Jays season today. 3:18

New second baseman Marcus Semien, 30, will be in the opening day lineup and looking to recapture his form from 2019, when he hit 33 homers for Oakland and finished third in American League MVP voting.

Springer and Semien join a talented young team

Corner outfielders Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Teoscar Hernández are both coming off excellent seasons and are still on the right side of 30. Ideally, 22-year-old Alejandro Kirk can soon take over at catcher after hitting well in his cameo appearance last year.

But the Jays’ future — and present — hinges on their three core young guys.


A big year by a smaller Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would be huge for the Jays. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Shortstop Bo Bichette, 23, should be a line-drive machine again after a knee injury sapped him of his power last year. Cavan Biggio, 25, is a good hitter who can steal bases and play almost anywhere on the field.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., though, could ultimately be the make-or-break guy. The 22-year-old hasn’t lived up to the massive hype yet. But he’s still very young, very talented and he’s in better shape now. If Guerrero becomes the all-star-calibre slugger everyone expects, he can push the Jays to the next level.

The pitching looks a little shaky

Opening day starter Hyun Jin Ryu is a legit ace who finished third in American League Cy Young voting last year. Behind him are a lot of journeymen and question marks.

The Jays hope prospect Nate Pearson can become the No. 2 guy after he showed flashes as a rookie, but he’s hurt again (strained groin).

The bullpen is pretty deep, but Toronto’s gamble on closer Kirby Yates went bust. The one-time 41-save man suffered a season-ending elbow injury in spring training, leaving the job up to a committee that could be led by Canadian righty Jordan Romano.

Another post-season trip is in reach

Last year’s appearance by the Jays in the post-season was a product of the field temporarily expanding from five teams to eight in each league.

The added randomness of a 60-game season may have helped, too, as the Jays gave up more runs than they scored.

But they’re a good, young team that made some solid additions, and there are objective reasons to think they can make the playoffs in a normal season.

Fangraphs’ projection model has Toronto finishing 88-74 — seven games behind the Yankees in the AL East, but good enough to claim the top AL wild-card spot from a tightly packed handful of contenders.

The Jays are also trendy in the betting market, which has them as the No. 3 favourite to win the AL pennant, behind the Yankees and White Sox.

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This Copy of Super Mario Bros. Is About to Sell for a Record-Setting Sum

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Most of the hottest game releases for next-gen consoles are going to run you $ 70, an increase gamers are not relishing. That’s nothing compared with a copy of the original Super Mario Bros for NES. This sealed cartridge is set to shatter records with its auction price, which is creeping up on $ 400,000 with several days still to go. 

The Nintendo Entertainment System occupies a special place in many a nerd’s heart. Some NES games, such as the Super Mario Bros. series, have become cultural touchstones that people still play to this day, and some love these games so much they’ll pay exorbitant amounts of money to own rare physical copies. Nintendo rolled out the NES in select markets with various types of game packaging, which has led to multiple “versions” of some titles. Many of them are worth a whole lot of money, too. 

Heritage Auctions runs most of these rare NES game auctions, and its high-profile latest listing is about to set a new record. The game in question is a copy of the original Super Mario Bros., which first came out in 1985. However, this isn’t one of the early “test market” boxes, several of which have sold for substantial sums. The latest copy of SMB to hit the auction block is from a subsequent batch of game carts that were the first to be shrink-wrapped when they hit store shelves. The game is, of course, still shrink-wrapped. It will presumably remain that way, as any attempt to open it and play the game would destroy all of its (very significant) value. The box has been rated a 9.6 out of 10 by WATA Games, meaning the packaging is in nearly perfect condition. It also has an intact hangtab, indicating it was never even hung up in a store. 

The repositioned “Bros.” is what makes this copy of the game so rare.

The age, condition, and specific box properties make this copy worth a boatload. The auction price is sitting at $ 372,000 at this time, and it could climb further. Even if it doesn’t, this auction will easily set the record for the most expensive single video game. The previous record was set by a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 with a slightly different box logo (see above) that was modified in later batches. That game sold for $ 156,000, which is nothing to sneeze at for a game that retailed for about $ 60 in 1990. 

As the years wear on, these rare copies of classic games will only become rarer and more expensive. After 30 years, only very carefully preserved copies are in good enough condition to sell for big bucks. If anyone reading this is independently wealthy and would like to steal the game out from under the current high bidder, you’ll have to put up at least $ 384,000.

Now read:

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ExtremeTechGaming – ExtremeTech

Health Canada changes AstraZeneca vaccine label to add information about blood clots

Health Canada is updating the label on the AstraZeneca-Oxford and Covishield COVID-19 vaccines to add information about “very rare reports of blood clots associated with low levels of blood platelets,” but says the shot remains safe and that the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh the risks.

“Health Canada reassures Canadians that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine continues to be safe and effective at protecting them against COVID-19 and encourages people to get immunized with any of the COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized in Canada,” the agency said in a statement Wednesday evening. 

It has also issued guidance for health-care professionals and vaccine recipients on the potential symptoms to monitor — including shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling and persistent abdominal pain — or a sudden onset of severe or persistent worsening headaches or blurred vision. 

No reports of clots in Canada 

All of Canada’s current supply of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, which secured separate regulatory approvals from Health Canada.

That version, which is biologically identical to the AstraZeneca shot but manufactured under different conditions, has been branded as Covishield.

WATCH: Recommendations on vaccine not changing, Health Canada says 

Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, says federal recommendations on the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine are not changing at this point in time. 1:40

Health Canada says there have been no reports of clots following administration of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in this country. 

Several European countries suspended administration of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine following reports of blood clots in a small number of patients. 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) last week amended its authorization of the vaccine to say there is no overall increase in the risk of blood clots after getting the vaccine but added a warning that a small number of patients had developed rare blood clots in the brain after getting it.

At the time the EMA couldn’t say if the clots were related to the vaccine. German and Norwegian scientists have since said in a very small number of patients the vaccine is causing an extreme immune response that is leading to the clots. It is a treatable condition, they said.

The EMA reported 18 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, out of about 20 million people who received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in Europe, the United Kingdom, and India, and seven cases of another type of clotting disorder related to very low platelet counts.

Health Canada said it is aware that researchers in Europe have indicated that they have identified a possible cause for these very rare events, but says little information is available about the findings. “Health Canada will be reviewing this evidence when available,” it said in the statement. 

Canada has so far received about 500,000 doses of the vaccine and expects to get 1.5 million more as soon as this week from the United States.

Health Canada says minor and temporary side effects are common after all vaccinations, but that people should seek medical attention if they experience any new or worsening symptoms.


The new label will include information about a small number of clots experienced by patients who received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

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‘People are talking about the same things they talked about back then’: COVID stirs up memories of polio

When Elizabeth Lounsbury was eight years old, she snuck out of the house to go swimming with her friends.

She had been taught to fear polio, a virus that paralyzed children every summer and paralyzed her southern Ontario hometown, where beaches and movie theatres were closed every August for “polio season.”

Lounsbury says she decided to just put her feet in the wading pool. 

“I was afraid to because I was afraid polio would get me. You kind of pictured it as a monster in your head,” she said.

Lounsbury tripped, fell into the pool and swallowed some water. The 77-year-old believes that’s how she contracted polio, which saw her wear braces most of her life and now has her getting around in a wheelchair.

“I never did tell my mother. She never knew,” she says.

Now living just outside of the small northern Ontario town of Hagar, Lounsbury has barely left her home in the past year of COVID-19. 

And to her it feels like a rerun of what happened in the 1950s with the emergence of an infectious disease followed by a mass vaccination campaign.

“People are talking about the same things they talked about back then,” she said. “Is it really safe? What are the side effects? Other people can’t wait to get it because they feel like they’ve been imprisoned in their own homes.”

To her it feels like “a repetition.

“And I suppose it will happen again. But I hope not in my lifetime.”


Elizabeth Lounsbury,77, of Hagar contracted polio when she was eight and sees a lot of parallels between COVID-19 and the lockdowns and vaccine rollout for polio in the 1950s. (Facebook)

In northern Ontario, the arrival of the polio vaccine in 1956 was trumpeted by newspapers in Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.

Concerns about polio vaccine

There were weeks of stories about the schedule for clinics and the vaccination rates, replacing the annual summer articles about the number of polio infections and the deaths in each district, with the names of victims published. 

But along with the polio vaccine, came concerns that public health officials would run out of vaccine, and questions about who was eligible to get it, which at the beginning was only children aged six months to six years.

There were also fears about side effects, especially after some bad batches in the United States sickened and even killed people, on top of worries about vaccine hesitancy, as only a fraction of the adult population in the north stepped forward to get the shot for what was widely seen as a children’s illness.


This Sudbury Star photo of liquid polio vaccinations in 1962 features a baby named Rita Brun, who is now a pharmacist preparing COVID-19 vaccines at a Toronto hospital. (The Sudbury Star)

The Sudbury Star photographed a baby named Rita Brun getting a spoonful of the pink liquid vaccine in 1962, which the health unit later moved away from out of fear it might be ineffective.

She is now a pharmacist packaging COVID-19 vaccines for a Toronto hospital, while her daughter treats coronavirus patients in an intensive care ward.

“It was interesting to reflect back on what it must have been like for my parents, as opposed to parents these days,” said Brun. 

“Maybe we know too much now.”

In some parts of the north, tuberculosis was seen as the larger threat and some old-timers remember local police posting signs on homes with people infected with scarlet fever and diphtheria in the early 20th century.

‘We’re so glad we weren’t involved in that’

Heather Mitchell grew up in Sudbury’s west end and remembers not being allowed to go to Bell Park in the summers out of fear of polio infection, but didn’t think much about the virus until she learned about it in theory during nursing school.

Then she and a classmate were cleaning out a storage room at the old general hospital and found a logbook where doctors and nurses discussed which polio patients should get treatment first. 


Similar to COVID-19, there were concerns in the 1950s about side effects from the polio vaccine, complaints about shortages and trouble convincing hesitant adults to get the shot. (Provincial Archives of New Brunswick P342-1143)

“To see these discussions, whether a housewife was more likely a candidate for it than a school teacher, that kind of rocks you. Having to make that decision. Having to live with that decision,” says Mitchell, who went on to be a public health nurse. 

“We both thought, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re so glad we weren’t involved in that.'”

Maurren Moustgaard was 12 when she went to that same Sudbury hospital to get her tonsils out and saw the unforgettable sight of a young polio patient in the iron lung, the early version of the ventilators being used today.

She joined the health unit in 1969 and worked in vaccinations most of her career. Including in 1978, when she was called back from holidays to meet a surge in demand for polio shots, after an outbreak in southern Ontario.


Polio patients seeing visitors outdoors at a polio clinic in New Brunswick in 1942. (Provincial Archives of New Brunswick P384-58)

Sudbury newspapers ran photos of long lineups and had stories about a public frustrated with a lack of vaccines. Moustgaard says most were parents who had not been keeping up with their polio shots, just 20 years after it was first discovered. 

“Something has to happen to jolt people’s memories,” she said of that time. 

After she was infected with polio, Elizabeth Lounsbury was still vaccinated against two other strains of the virus.

But given her complicated health challenges, she isn’t sure she wants to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“I am afraid of it. And I wonder if the vaccine is safe,” she said. 

“And I guess I won’t know until the time comes for me to go in.”

Morning North9:31COVID-19 has stirred up memories of the polio epidemic in the northeast

The rollout of the COVID vaccine is reminding some of the last time there was an urgent drive to stop a feared virus. Although largely forgotten, the polio vaccine had a similarly bumpy road getting into northern Ontario arms back in the 1950s. The CBC’s Erik White offered the details. 9:31

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Should I be worried about the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine? Your COVID-19 questions answered

As Canada announced it is recommending the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for those 65 and older, some countries overseas are suspending its use over safety concerns.

More than a dozen countries in the European Union — including its largest members Germany, France and Italy — have halted AstraZeneca inoculations pending the outcome of an investigation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) into isolated cases of bleeding, blood clots and low platelet counts.

Non-EU countries, such as Indonesia and Congo, have also suspended use of the vaccine.

With such divergent guidance on the vaccine, many are asking if it’s safe.

Here’s what you need to know.

How many people have been affected?

Out of the approximately five million European residents who have received AstraZeneca’s shot, about 30 have experienced “thromboembolic events” — clots forming in blood vessels — and a very small number of deaths have been reported.

Denmark was the first country to halt its use of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week after reports of blood clots in some people, including one person who developed multiple clots and died 10 days after receiving at least one dose.

Danish health authorities said the suspension would last for at least two weeks while the cases were investigated, even as they noted that “it cannot be concluded whether there is a link between the vaccine and the blood clots.”


A medical worker prepares an AstraZeneca vaccine shot in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Feb. 11. Denmark was the first country to halt its use of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week after reports of blood clots in some people. (Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)

Norway soon followed suit after authorities reported that four people under the age of 50 who had gotten the AstraZeneca vaccine had an unusually low number of blood platelets, which could lead to severe bleeding.

In Britain, where 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered — more than any other country — there have been reports of about 11 people who developed blood clots after getting a shot.

Is there proof the vaccine is responsible?

No.

The EMA says there is “no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions.”

The EU regulator said its investigation was continuing and was conducting a “rigorous analysis” of all data, adding that while its review was ongoing, the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweighed the potential side-effects.

WATCH | EMA sees ‘no indication’ COVID-19 vaccine caused blood clots:

The European Medicines Agency is investigating whether there is a causal link between AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and a small number of instances of blood clots. But at this point, it believes the vaccine is safe. 1:31

EMA executive director Emer Cooke said it was carrying out a case-by-case evaluation of incidents and was expected to complete a review on Thursday.

AstraZeneca Plc on Sunday said it had conducted a review of people vaccinated with its COVID-19 vaccine, and no evidence has been found of an increased risk of blood clots. The review covered more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and United Kingdom.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and EMA have joined AstraZeneca in saying there is no proven link.

If not the vaccine, what else could be the cause?

Some doctors pointed out that since vaccination campaigns started by giving doses to the most vulnerable people, those now being immunized are more likely to already have health problems.

Others, such as Dr. Lynora Saxinger — an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta in Edmonton — said cases of adverse effects are increasing because so many people are now getting vaccinated.

Saxinger also noted that blood clots are fairly common, so investigators will look at overall numbers of people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine compared with those who reported the condition.

“There’s so many people receiving vaccines daily that any health event that happens to anyone around the time they get their shot may or may not be related,” Saxinger told The Canadian Press.

Why did countries stop using the vaccine?

Any time vaccines are rolled out widely, scientists expect some serious health issues and deaths to be reported — simply because millions of people are receiving the shots, and problems would be expected to occur randomly in a group so large.

The vast majority of these end up not being connected to the vaccine, but because COVID-19 vaccines are still experimental and there is no long-term data, scientists must investigate every possibility that the shot could have unforeseen side-effects.

WATCH | No evidence AstraZeneca vaccine causes harm, epidemiologist says:

Despite millions of AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccinations in Europe, there is no evidence of harm from the doses there, says Dr. Christopher Labos, a cardiologist with a degree in epidemiology. 6:01

Governments say they acted out of an abundance of caution when suspending the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with German Health Minister Jens Spahn stating on Monday that the decision was not political but based on expert advice.

WHO’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, said officials at the United Nations health agency “don’t want people to panic” amid the reports. She noted that of the 300 million doses of coronavirus vaccines that have been given to people globally, “there is no documented death that has been linked to a COVID vaccine.”

Should Canadians be worried?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine is safe, and Canadians should have no concerns about receiving it. Regulators are “following what has been happening with a specific batch used in Europe,” he said.

Some vaccinologists point to a possible contamination of a certain batch of the vaccine as a potential explanation for the blood clots, but Trudeau said that none of the AstraZeneca doses deployed in Canada have come from the batch that’s under scrutiny in Europe.

WATCH | Health Canada is monitoring Europe’s investigation of AstraZeneca vaccine:

Marc Berthiaume, director of the bureau of medical sciences at Health Canada, says the department is monitoring Europe’s investigation into adverse effects experienced by some people after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. 1:54

All of Canada’s current supply is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, which secured separate regulatory approvals from Health Canada.

That version, which is biologically identical to the AstraZeneca shot but is manufactured under different conditions, has been branded “Covishield.”

Health Canada, which approved AstraZeneca for use on Feb. 23, said there is “no indication” the vaccine causes blood clots, and no adverse events from AstraZeneca doses have been reported in Canada so far.

Are there concerns with other vaccines?

The EMA is currently examining whether COVID-19 shots made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca might be causing low levels of blood platelets in some patients, a condition that could lead to bruising and bleeding.

Data from Health Canada shows 0.085 per cent of doses administered in the country from mid-December to March 5 resulted in an adverse reaction, with 0.009 per cent considered serious. Pain, redness and swelling at the vaccination site were the most common effects.

Most of those doses would have been mRNA vaccines (such as Pfizer and Moderna), which are generally eliciting stronger reactions than the viral vector jabs (such as AstraZeneca).


A health worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine in Montreal on Monday. (Andrej Ivanov/Reuters)

Additionally, experts say that side-effects from vaccines may actually be a sign that they’re working.

“If you have a vaccine that doesn’t produce a reaction in people, the resulting immune response is weaker,” Earl Brown, a microbiologist at the University of Ottawa, said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Brown said vaccines work by stimulating our immune cells to grow and communicate with each other, giving directions on where to set up for an impending attack by the virus. That results in inflammation, with some of those cells travelling to lymph nodes and causing swelling.

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Canadian Premier League opens up about finances, saying it’s time for transparency

Entering its third season, the Canadian Premier League has demonstrated there is an appetite for a domestic soccer circuit.

Two-time champion Forge FC has done the CPL proud in CONCACAF club play. Atletico Ottawa joined last year; an addition more remarkable in that the expansion franchise arrived during a pandemic.

Some 10 CPL players — 11 if you include Montreal FC defender Karifa Yao, who has been loaned to Calgary’s Cavalry FC — were named in Canada’s provisional men’s roster for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying.

CPL talent has made the jump to Major League Soccer and abroad.

The eight-team league has shown plenty. What it hasn’t done is lift the curtain on its finances.

Until now.

The CPL, with teams in Halifax, Hamilton, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Langford, B.C., is sharing some of its financial data for the 2021 season, saying it’s time for more transparency.

“It needs to be done,” commissioner David Clanachan said in an interview.

‘In a long-term game’ to make profit

With media and supporters clamouring for such information, Clanachan said the decision was made to share numbers to get the accurate information out there.

  • The league says this season each team will operate with a $ 1.2-million salary cap, which covers both players and coaching/technical staff.
  • Player spending must fall between $ 650,000 and $ 850,000 while the coach/technical range is between $ 350,000 and $ 550,000. Combined, the two must fall under $ 1.2 million.
  • The cap includes salaries, housing and travel allowances and individual player bonuses but not “league or club accomplishment bonuses.” The league says, on average, the salary cap accounts for some 57 per cent of team revenue — and could reach some 70 per cent factoring in bonuses.

The league says, on average, it takes more $ 4 million a year to run a CPL team.

Asked when the league might make a profit, Clanachan replied “We’re not there yet, that’s for sure. We’re going to be a few years into it.”

“Our owners know that. They’ve invested circa $ 60 million already in this league. We’re in a long-term game here.”

The league says the salary cap is the same as it was last year, because of the shortened season in 2020. The plan is to raise it in 2022.

The decision to share some of the financial figures comes at a time when CPL players are trying to form a union. Last April, some 90 per cent of the players in the league signed on during the association’s organizing drive.

The Professional Footballers Association Canada (PFACan) was accepted last month as a candidate member by FIFPRO, which represents more than 65,000 professional men’s and women’s players across 65 affiliated national player associations.

PFACan will have to serve two years as a candidate member before becoming a full member of FIFPRO, which recognizes one player association per country.

Time for league to adjust, former player says

PFACan has complained about the league’s lack of transparency with regards player pay. Other complaints include the league adopting new rules and not publicizing them, and teams having access to player wage details throughout the league while the players themselves are not allowed to disclose their pay.

“It’s a deeply unfair field right now for players,” said Paul Champ, an Ottawa-based labour and human rights lawyer who is helping the players organize. “And we’re just trying to make it a bit fairer in terms of mobility, and negotiating free contracts and also having a minimum standard.”

Canadian international Marcel de Jong is president of PFACan. The 34-year-old, who retired as a Pacific FC player last Friday, says he understands the CPL is a new league.

“But it’s been two years now and I think that’s enough time for the league to make some adjustments and see what it did wrong and correct them,” he said.

  • The league says its average player pay in 2021 is around $ 40,000, which may include housing, car allowances and incentive bonuses. The league says the top end of the salary scale is $ 77,000.
  • There will be a minimum player salary of $ 22,000 in 2021, which including other compensation is expected to reach $ 26,000. The league says it had a “target” minimum salary in the past but is now “raising and codifying it.”
  • The minimum does not cover those on U-Sports contracts, who play during the summer while not at school. Clanachan said those deals would be in the range of $ 10,000 to $ 12,000.
  • Options on player contracts come with 15 per cent raises on average, according to the league.

Champ, however, said there are CPL players with contacts under $ 10,000 with a “large number” in the low teens. They would now be eligible for a bump in salary, according to the league figures.

“We recognize there will be economic realities of this league. But these clubs still do OK. In the first season, a lot of clubs averaged 5,000 spectators per game. And they’ve got a big broadcast contract [with MediaPro],” said Champ. “So, they don’t have to be paying these poverty wages to players.”

Dreaming big

De Jong says some players are forced to move home and live with their parents in the off-season because they can’t afford their own place.

Clanachan says the league is young and looking to improve standards and conditions every year.

“Look at the amount of young Canadians that are playing professional football today that weren’t playing it prior to 2019,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. That’s what we’re doing. We’re creating a soccer economy in the country.”

The CPL is dreaming big. Clanachan says the goal is to become one of the top three leagues in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.

To get there, Clanachan says the CPL has to take “a managed, staged approach to how we grow the league.”

As a comparison, Major League Soccer teams will be able to spend $ 9.225 million US on player salaries in 2021, including basic general allocation money and targeted allocation money. The number is higher if they have designated players, only a portion of whose salaries count against the cap.

The minimum MLS salary in 2021 is $ 81,375 on the senior roster and $ 63,547 on the reserve roster.

The league has yet to release its 2021 schedule but is targeting the Victoria Day weekend (May 22-24) for kickoff. The hope is some fans will be allowed in.

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Meghan says Royal Family had concerns about Archie’s skin colour

In a wide-ranging interview aired Sunday, Meghan described painful discussions within the Royal Family about the colour of her son’s skin before he was born and how the intense pressures of royal life led her to contemplate suicide.

“They didn’t want him to be a prince or princess, not knowing what the gender would be, which would be different from protocol, and that he wasn’t going to receive security,” The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey, referring to Archie.

“In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time — so we have in tandem the conversation of, you won’t be given security, not gonna be given a title and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born,” said Meghan, who is biracial.

She declined to say who had aired such concerns. Asked by Winfrey if she was silent or had been silenced, she replied: “The latter.”

WATCH | Meghan says Royal Family expressed concerns about son’s skin colour:

Meghan told Oprah Winfrey that the Royal Family didn’t want her and Prince Harry’s son to be made a prince or receive security partly over concerns over how dark the baby’s skin would be. 0:15

Meghan also she had suicidal thoughts and considered harming herself after asking for help but getting none. “This was very, very clear … and very scary,” she said.

“I just didn’t want to be alive any more. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. And I remember how [Prince Harry] just cradled me.”

WATCH | Meghan says she thought about suicide during royal life:

The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that she had asked for help from the Royal Family for her mental health, but received none. 0:22

Harry says Charles stopped taking his calls

Harry, who joined the interview halfway through, said his father — Prince Charles, the heir to the throne — had stopped taking his calls when he and Meghan decided to step away from their royal duties.

The Duke of Sussex, who announced that he and his wife are expecting a girl this summer, said that he felt let down by his father and that his late mother, Princess Diana, would have been angry and upset at the way the Royal Family had treated his wife Meghan.

Harry told Winfrey that he would not have stepped back from the royal family had it not been for Meghan, because “I was trapped but didn’t know I was trapped.”


Meghan, left, discusses her experiences with the Royal Family with Winfrey. (Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese/Reuters)

“I feel really let down because he’s been through something similar. He knows what the pain feels like,” Harry said of his father. “I will always love him but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened.”

“My family literally cut me off financially,” Harry said. “But I’ve got what my mum left me and without that we would not have been able to do this.”

Earlier, Meghan said the Royal Family tried to silence her and people within the institution not only failed to protect her against malicious claims by the British press but lied to protect others.

WATCH | Meghan says Royal Family failed to protect her and Prince Harry:

The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that things started to worsen with the Royal Family after she and Harry were married. 0:23

“It was only once we were married and everything started to really worsen that I came to understand that not only was I not being protected but that they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family,” Meghan said.

“But they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.”

Harry also denied blindsiding his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, saying he had too much respect for her.

“I had three conversations with my grandmother, and two conversations with my father before he stopped taking my calls. And then he said, can you put this all in writing?”

Asked why Charles had stopped taking his calls, Harry said “by that point I took matters into my own hands.”

“It was like, I needed to do this for my family. This is not a surprise to anybody. It’s really sad that it’s got to this point, but I’ve got to do something for my own mental health, my wife’s and for Archie’s as well.”

Refuting tabloid reports

Meghan also refuted British tabloid reports that she made her sister-in-law Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, cry before her 2018 wedding, but rather that the reverse happened.

Meghan told Winfrey that Kate subsequently apologized and she forgave her. But when tabloid stories emerged purporting the opposite, Meghan said that marked a turning point for her relationship with U.K. media, and said she would have hoped Kate would have wanted the story corrected.

“What was hard to get over was being blamed for something that not only I didn’t do, but that happened to me.”

The show, which included Winfrey’s interviews with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, aired first in the United States — Meghan’s home country — and Canada at 8 p.m. ET. British audiences will wake up Monday to headlines and social media posts about Winfrey’s special, but won’t be able to see the full interview until Monday night when it airs on ITV.

Meghan told Winfrey that she realized life as a royal would be different than she anticipated when her future husband asked her if she knew how to curtsey before meeting Queen Elizabeth.

“There was no way to understand what the day-to-day was going to be like,” Meghan told Winfrey.

“I went into it naively,” she said about joining the royal family.

Meghan, who said she was not being paid for the interview, also said she and Harry were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury three days before their public wedding. She called that day an “out-of-body experience.”


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Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons cautions doctor after complaints about COVID-19 tweets

The regulatory body for doctors in Ontario has issued three separate cautions to a pediatrician following a series of complaints about her tweets on COVID-19 and the pandemic.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario posted the findings from its inquiries, complaints and reports committee overnight Wednesday on its public listing for Dr. Kulvinder Kaur Gill.

The complaints related to a series of tweets from Gill’s account last summer that challenged accepted public health advice and regulations.

The tweets that prompted the complaints included: “There is absolutely no medical or scientific reason for this prolonged, harmful and illogical lockdown.”

Another tweet read: “If you have not yet figured out that we don’t need a vaccine, you are not paying attention.”

The complaints committee noted that while there is a range of views about lockdowns and even some drawbacks, Gill didn’t raise those points in the tweets. It found that her statements lacked evidence, didn’t align with public health and were not accurate. The committee pointed to lockdowns in China and South Korea, which did appear to have a mitigating impact on the spread of the virus. 

“For the respondent to state otherwise is misinformed and misleading and furthermore an irresponsible statement to make on social media during a pandemic,” the committee wrote.

It also evaluated her claim that a vaccine was not needed. It noted that a herd immunity strategy “would involve a significant death rate” and that Gill did not provide any evidence for her claim. It concluded that the tweet was “irresponsible” and a “potential risk to public health.”

Doctor said tweets taken out of context

According to the documents, Gill claimed that her tweets were taken out of context and argued they came from a personal Twitter account that is not affiliated with her practice. The committee did not agree with her.

It noted that her Twitter biography made it clear that she is a physician and identifies her as the leader of the group Concerned Ontario Doctors.

According to the decision documents, Gill was cautioned in person, “with respect to a lack of professionalism and failure to exercise caution in her posts on social media, which is irresponsible behaviour for a member of the profession and presents a possible risk to public health.” 

The hearing was held on Feb. 3.

In an email to CBC News, the college said a “caution” is one of the ways in which it is empowered to respond to concerns about a physician’s conduct.

It said the information is posted to the doctor’s public profile so patients “can be aware of the concerns and make informed decisions about their care.”

It also noted that the presence of cautions on a physician’s record can also impact any future complaints and disciplinary action by the college.

The college said it has been notified Gill plans to appeal at least two of the cautions.

Gill did not respond to CBC News’s request for comment.

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What we know about spacing out COVID-19 vaccine doses

Federal and provincial health officials are poring over emerging data on the advantages and disadvantages of extending the time between shots of two-dose COVID-19 vaccines. Here are some of the factors they’re weighing and why it matters.

Why do provinces want to space out the doses beyond official recommendations?

More vaccines are arriving and the provinces aim to get them into the arms of willing Canadians as quickly as possible.

But demand exceeds supply, so researchers in British Columbia and Quebec are studying what happens when the interval between doses is extended. That way they can use the supply to vaccinate more people with a first shot sooner.

Late last year, Quebec decided to vaccinate more quickly and more widely by allowing a 90-day delay between doses.

But British Columbia went further on Monday, moving to a four-month interval for doses of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, pointed to advances since Health Canada approved those vaccines.


A health-care worker prepares to administer a dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, in Santiago, Dominican Republic, in February. (Ricardo Rojas/Reuters)

“What’s happening is, I think, very encouraging,” Njoo said in a briefing on Tuesday.

“We have real-world data, the actual experience of what’s happening with the vaccination, for example in British Columbia and in Quebec, as they’re vaccinating seniors in long-term care facilities. We’re seeing quite a high level of protection.”

Njoo said experts are balancing vaccinating a large number of Canadians to achieve a good level of protection without compromising the effectiveness of the vaccines.

Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious diseases physician in Mississauga, Ont., says the top priority is to protect older individuals and those who are at highest risk of severe consequences, hospitalizations and death.

Chakrabarti said the principle of getting as many people covered with one dose is a good one.

“We do know from other vaccines that increase in the interval between two shots doesn’t have any major consequence in decreasing efficacy and in some situations might actually make it better,” he said. “But keeping that in mind, we do have to be careful. I think that we don’t want to stray too far away.”

What’s the basis for the recommended dosing schedule?

Vaccine-makers tested their shots in clinical trials with certain times between doses.

Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends 28 days. For AstraZeneca-Oxford’s, the interval is eight to 12 weeks.

Health Canada approved the vaccines based on that clinical trial data. Both Pfizer and Moderna acknowledge that, in a pandemic, health authorities will make their own recommendations.

What’s the scientific basis for delaying?

Chakrabarti says there’s evidence, for example, to support delaying the second dose of the Hepatitis A vaccine by six to 36 months, and that’s true for other vaccines, too. But the COVID-19 vaccines haven’t existed long enough to know.

Efficacy for Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine was around 95 per cent after both doses and 52 per cent after the first, according to clinical data. For Moderna’s it was about 80 per cent after one dose and 94 per cent following the second.

WATCH | Stop confusing vaccine messaging, expert says:

Open communication about evolving decisions around COVID-19 vaccinations is very important to keep public trust, says Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 task force. 8:14

The benefits of a second dose include include longer-lasting protection says Tania Watts, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto who is studying immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines in Canadians. 

She says everyone should eventually get a second dose. But “as we go to the broader population, yes, I think we will still get the benefit if you delay the second dose,” Watts said. 

Watts noted that when the mRNA vaccines were developed, the four-week interval for the “prime-boost effect” in the clinical trials was done for practical purposes.

“All things being perfect, we could stick to the protocol,” from the clinical trials, Watt said. “But, if you can save a lot more lives by not giving everyone the second dose at three weeks, but giving a lot more people the first, I think this is where the rationale comes, and I think it makes complete sense.”

What’s unknown?

The variants of concern that are more transmissible than the original coronavirus could throw a wrench into the works for some combinations of vaccines.

Watts said neutralizing antibodies that block the coronavirus from attaching and infecting cells dropped to almost nil in lab tests of those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech shot against the B1.352 variant that first appeared in South Africa.

“After two doses, which gives you stronger antibodies, you still had some partial protection,” she said.

Watts says Canada is at a critical juncture, watching to see if the variants will take off among partially vaccinated people.

Epidemiological or population-level studies are also needed to figure out how many antibodies are needed to prevent infection as well as the details of immune system memory.

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