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Boris Johnson, royal watchers react following revealing Harry and Meghan interview

Britain and its Royal Family absorbed the tremors Monday from a sensational television interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, in which the couple said they encountered racist attitudes and a lack of support that drove the duchess to thoughts of suicide.

In a two-hour soul-baring interview by Oprah Winfrey, the couple painted a deeply unflattering picture of life inside the royal household, depicting a cold, uncaring institution that they had to flee to save their lives.

Meghan told Winfrey that at one point “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.” She said she sought help through the palace’s human resources department but was told there was nothing it could do.

Meghan, 39, admitted that she was naive at the start of her relationship with Harry and unprepared for the strictures of royal life.

The former television star, who is biracial, said that when she was pregnant with son Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”

Harry confirmed the conversation, saying: “I was a bit shocked.” He said he would not reveal who made the comment, though Winfrey said he told her it was not either of his grandparents, Queen Elizabeth or her husband, Prince Philip.

Politicians weigh in

Asked about the interview at a coronavirus news conference, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson steadfastly refused to comment on the explosive allegations of racism and dysfunction inside the Royal Family.

Johnson said he had “always had the highest admiration for the Queen and the unifying role that she plays in our country and across the Commonwealth.”

But he said that “when it comes to matters to do with the Royal Family, the right thing for a prime minister to say is nothing.”

In contrast, Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, says the palace has to take the allegations seriously.

“The issues that Meghan has raised of racism and mental health are really serious issues,” he said. “It is a reminder that too many people experience racism in 21st-century Britain.”

In the U.S., where Harry and Meghan now live, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked whether President Joe Biden and his wife Jill had any reaction to the interview.

Psaki said Meghan’s decision to speak about her struggles with mental health “takes courage” and “that’s certainly something the president believes in.”

But she said she wouldn’t offer additional comment on the situation “given these are private citizens, sharing their own story and their own struggles.”

Harry slams ‘toxic’ British tabloid press

Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced they were quitting royal duties last year, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media, and they moved to California, where Meghan was born and raised.

That split became official this year, and the interview was widely seen as their first opportunity to explain their decision.

In a clip released Monday that was not broadcast the night before, Harry reiterated that racism was “a large part” of the reason the couple left Britain — and he blamed the “toxic” British tabloid press.

“The U.K. is not bigoted,” he said. “The U.K. press is bigoted, specifically the tabloids.”


The younger royals have campaigned for support and awareness around mental health, but Harry says the Royal Family was unable to offer that support to its own members. (Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)

The implications for the interview — which was broadcast Sunday night in the United States and will air in Britain on Monday night — are only beginning to be understood. Emily Nash, royal editor at Hello! magazine, said the revelations had left her and many other viewers “shell-shocked.”

“I don’t see how the palace can ignore these allegations; they’re incredibly serious,” she said. “You have the racism allegations. Then you also have the claim that Meghan was not supported, and she sought help even from the HR team within the household and was told that she couldn’t seek help.”

‘This rotten institution needs to go’

Anti-monarchy group Republic said the interview gave a clearer picture of what the Royal Family is like — and it’s not pretty.

“Whether for the sake of Britain or for the sake of the younger royals, this rotten institution needs to go,” Graham Smith of the campaign group said.

Harry, born a royal prince, described how his wife’s experience had helped him realize how he and the rest of the family were stuck in an oppressive institution.

“I was trapped, but I didn’t know I was trapped,” Harry said. “My father and my brother, they are trapped.”

Meghan, he said, “saved me.”

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

The younger royals — including Harry, Meghan, Harry’s brother, Prince William, and William’s wife, Catherine — have made campaigning for support and awareness around mental health one of their priorities. But Harry said the Royal Family was completely unable to offer that support to its own members.

“For the family, they very much have this mentality of ‘This is just how it is, this is how it’s meant to be, you can’t change it, we’ve all been through it,'” Harry said.

Criticism, sympathy for the couple

The couple had faced severe criticism in the United Kingdom before the interview. Prince Philip, 99, is in a London hospital after recovering from a heart procedure, and critics saw the decision to go forward as being a burden on the Queen — even though CBS, rather than Harry and Meghan, dictated the timing of the broadcast.

In the United States, sympathy for the couple poured in after the interview. Britain could be less forgiving, since some see the pair as putting personal happiness ahead of public duty.

Tennis star Serena Williams, a friend who attended Harry and Meghan’s wedding, said on Twitter that the duchess’s words “illustrate the pain and cruelty she’s experienced.”


“The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimization are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal,” Williams added.

Other well-known figures also reacted on social media, including filmmaker Ava DuVernay — who referenced the BBC’s bombshell interview with Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, in 1995 — tennis star Billie Jean King and U.S. inauguration poet Amanda Gorman.




Some 17.1 million Americans — tuning in for one of the biggest TV events in the past year — watched the interview, broadcaster CBS said on Monday.

CBS said the interview was the most watched TV special outside the annual National Football League Super Bowl in a year.

While clips of the interview have been shared online, and the British press covered the major points, much of Britain won’t see the full interview until Monday night — and many will want to know how the palace addresses this saga. The palace has not responded to the interview.


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CBC | World News

How approval of Johnson & Johnson’s ‘one and done’ COVID-19 vaccine could change Canada’s vaccination game

A one-dose COVID-19 vaccine is now approved for use in Canada — and vaccine experts say the shot from Johnson & Johnson could give a major boost to countrywide vaccination efforts while offering a “real solution” to hasten the end of the pandemic.

Health Canada authorized its use and released details during a Friday morning announcement.

The vaccine, made by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is a non-replicating viral vector option and, unlike the three other vaccines previously approved for Canadian use, was tested during clinical trials as a single shot. 

So far, Canada is expecting 10 million doses, with options to purchase up to 28 million more if necessary, with most of those shots set to arrive by the end of September.

From a logistical standpoint, Toronto-based infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said the benefits are clear.

“You can vaccinate more people in a shorter period of time,” he said. “You don’t have to clog up the vaccine centres with people getting their second dose — it’s one and done.”

The storage requirements are also less stringent than the early freezer requirements for the two mRNA-based vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, with Johnson & Johnson estimating its single-dose option should remain stable for two years at -20° C — and can be stored for at least three months in most standard refrigerators.

Wondering how each of the leading coronavirus vaccines compares? Click here for a closer look at the vaccines Canada is betting on to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“You can way more easily get a vaccine like this into primary care clinics and pharmacies, which means that you can distribute it so much more broadly,” said Bogoch, who is also a member of Ontario’s vaccine task force.

That’s good news in this country and beyond, said Dr. Zain Chagla, a Hamilton-based infectious disease specialist and professor at McMaster University.

“In remote areas of Canada, it’s a big vaccine in that sense that it’s easy to transport and get around, and it’s big for the rest of the world,” he said. 

“This is a vaccine that could go into mass vaccine clinics in low- and middle-income countries that could be stored on the back of a motorcycle to make it into a very, very remote setting. That is very, very different than anything we have in that sense.”

WATCH | J&J vaccine good for less accessible, marginalized communities, doctor says:

As a single dose COVID-19 vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson product will be especially helpful for people who sometimes have difficulty accessing health care, says Dr. Lisa Bryski, a retired ER doctor in Winnipeg. 1:23

85% effective at stopping severe disease

But where the vaccine excels at convenience, it may fall short on overall efficacy — though there are a lot of factors at play, and it’s crucial to note the shot is proving highly effective at reducing cases of serious illness.

According to February briefing documents from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Johnson & Johnson’s shot was both safe and effective in clinical trials, where it reduced the risk of COVID-19 and prevented PCR-test confirmed cases at least 14 days after vaccination.

A month earlier, the company had announced its vaccine was 66 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 against multiple variants in a global trial involving nearly 44,000 people.

That effectiveness varied from 72 per cent in the United States to 66 per cent in Latin America and 57 per cent in South Africa, where a new variant has spread.


In January, Johnson & Johnson announced its vaccine was 66 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 against multiple variants in a global trial involving nearly 44,000 people. (Phill Magakoe/AFP/Getty Images)

That’s in contrast to the even more powerful protection witnessed in clinical trials for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which showed efficacy levels — in terms of preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection — of 94 per cent and 95 per cent respectively after two doses.

Those trials, however, took place before the rise of several concerning variants of this virus. Each company also tested for slightly different outcomes, meaning the efficacy levels aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons.

On Friday, Dr. Bob Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco likened it to comparing the scores of golfers who teed off during a calm moment to those who teed off when “winds were howling.”

“While it’s hard to make precise adjustment,” he said in a tweet, “it’s clear that equally good play will result in different scores.”

WATCH | Doctor who helped create Johnson & Johnson vaccine talks about its efficacy:

Dr. Dan Barouch, director, Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says the Johnson & Johnson vaccine he helped to create is highly effective against COVID-19 and new variants of concern. 5:11

Crucially, Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose option did prove 85 per cent effective overall when it came to stopping severe cases of the disease specifically.

The company’s main study also showed that 28 days or more after vaccination, the shot 100 per cent prevented hospitalizations and deaths.

“I think people discount how much practicality means to this vaccine rollout,” Chagla said. “You do see severe illness going down with this vaccine. You see hospitalizations coming down with this vaccine.”


One-dose could offer ‘real solution’

Virologist and vaccinologist Alyson Kelvin, who is working on Canadian COVID-19 vaccine development at the University of Saskatchewan’s VIDO-InterVac research institute, said for all vaccine developers, a safe and effective single-dose option has been the ultimate goal.

“Because people will be more interested in taking a vaccine if they don’t have to go back for their second shot, and which means that a vaccine will be more effective at getting to that community immunity that we need,” she said.

Like Chagla, she’s not alarmed by a slightly lower overall efficacy level.

“The goal of the vaccine is to protect people. Keeping them out of hospitals, keeping them from succumbing to disease,” she said.

And Chagla stressed that ultimately, this one-dose option could offer a “real solution” that helps countries like Canada tackle this year-long pandemic and alleviate the current burden on the health-care system from a virus that’s still widespread.

“It may not be the final strategy for vaccination,” he said. “But it’s a pretty good ‘right now’ strategy for vaccination.”

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CBC | Health News

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine becomes 4th to receive Health Canada approval

Health Canada has approved the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine in Canada 

The vaccine is the fourth to receive approval from federal regulators and the first that requires only a single dose. It’s being produced by the U.S. health care giant’s pharmaceutical subsidiary, Janssen Inc.

“As with all COVID-19 vaccines, Health Canada authorized the Janssen one after an independent and thorough scientific review for safety, efficacy and quality,” Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, told a media briefing in Ottawa today.

“After assessing all the data, we concluded there was strong evidence that showed the benefits of this vaccine outweigh the potential risks.”

WATCH | Public health officials announce the approval of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine in Canada

Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, announces the approval of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine in Canada. 1:51

Health Canada concluded the vaccine has an efficacy rate of 66.9 per cent and has authorized it for use for adults aged 18 and older.

While the vaccine is less effective than previously approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — both of which had efficacy rates of 90 per cent and above — Sharma said the shot offers strong protection against the threats that matter most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death.

“The efficacy rate does not mean that following vaccination with a vaccine with 66 per cent efficacy, that you will have a 34 per cent chance of contracting COVID-19,” said Sharma.

“While each of the vaccines Health Canada has authorized has different efficacy numbers, the reality is that you will have a greatly reduced chance of getting COVID-19 with any of the … vaccines that have been authorized.”

One-shot vaccine is easy to store

The Johnson & Johnson approval is expected to accelerate Canada’s vaccine rollout by adding another option to the previously-approved Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines. (A second version of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine produces by the Serum Insititute of India also has been authorized.)

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is widely seen as one of the easiest to administer because it requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods of time at regular refrigerator temperatures of 2 C to 8 C.

It’s an adenovirus viral vector vaccine, which uses viral material — genetically engineered to keep it from replicating — to provoke an immune response.

Canada has ordered 10 million doses from Johnson & Johnson, with options for up to 28 million more. 

Joëlle Paquette, director general for vaccines at Public Services and Procurement Canada, said yesterday that doses aren’t expected to begin arriving until April, although the full order of 10 million should be delivered by September.

“At the moment, we are still in discussion with Johnson and Johnson to determine where their doses will be coming from and the delivery schedule,” Paquette said.

Sharma said Health Canada has provided authorizations for manufacturing at two facilities — one in the U.S. and one in Europe.

Regulatory approval in this country follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval last Saturday. 

Production problems slowed initial deliveries in the U.S. The United States was supposed to receive 10 million doses as soon as the vaccine was approved, but only four million doses were shipped out March 1.

The U.S. expects to get another 16 million doses by the end of March and 100 million total by the end of June.

Canada has worked with the European Medicines Agency on all its COVID-19 vaccine reviews to date. The agency is expected to make a decision mid-month.

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CBC | Health News

Health Canada received more Johnson & Johnson data on same day as U.S. approval

Health Canada on Saturday received additional data required to inform its decision on Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine — the same day the shot was approved in the United States.

“We were waiting on some manufacturing data, and that came in yesterday. So we’re starting to look at that,” Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, said Sunday on Rosemary Barton Live.

“It’s really difficult to predict exactly when we might make a final decision because it really depends on that data. But we’re looking at … the next couple of weeks.”

The data received on Saturday is what health regulators need to ensure that “every dose of the vaccine that comes off the production lines meets quality standards,” Sharma wrote in an email to CBC News.

The approval timeline depends on that information, but it also depends on whether regulators need to discuss any questions that arise with the manufacturer. Work that happens in the final stages of review — including finalizing a risk-management plan for monitoring the vaccine after authorization — must also be completed.

The two-week approval target takes those steps into consideration but doesn’t account for unexpected issues that could crop up, Sharma said.

The government authorized the use of a third vaccine, the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, on Friday.

WATCH | Johnson & Johnson vaccine approval could come in the next couple of weeks:

Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Supriya Sharma, said the agency is waiting on manufacturer data to make a determination on Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, but contingent on that data, approval could come in the next few weeks. 9:23

Single-dose shot makes for easier rollout

In a global trial, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Saturday, was found to be 66 per cent effective at staving off moderate to severe illness and was 85 per cent effective at preventing the most serious outcomes. 

Canada has ordered 10 million doses of the vaccine, with options for up to 28 million more. 

The best vaccine for an individual is [the] one that you can get.– Health Canada chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma

“In terms of the committee meeting that the FDA had, we had observers there as well, so all of that helps make for a more efficient review,” Sharma told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton.

While the vaccine was approved as a one-shot regimen, the company is also testing the efficacy of administering two doses of its product.

“If a vaccine is only only dose, then that makes it easier for administration. You don’t have to do the followup to record people and track them down to get the second dose,” Sharma told Barton. “So all of that helps, but what really helps the most is getting as many vaccines authorized and get that supply in as quickly as possible.”

Not a question of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ vaccines

Now that more vaccines are earning approvals, Sharma said a “narrative” has emerged where people assume one shot confers better protection than another.

Efficacy, she said, simply means determining whether “something does what it’s supposed to do.” As far as COVID-19 vaccines are concerned, that means comparing one group of people who receive the shot against another group of people who didn’t and contrasting the number of cases in both groups.

“When we look across all the vaccines, the major five that are under review and authorized, if you look at that subsection that matters most — severe disease, hospitalizations, dying of COVID-19 — all of these vaccines are equally protective,” Sharma explained.

The chief medical adviser cautioned against pitting one shot against another, something she said can only happen in a “head-to-head” trial, which would see two vaccines being tested together in the same trial.

“The best vaccine for an individual is [the] one that you can get. That’s pretty simple,” she said.

“For people who are sitting back and waiting for another vaccine, I would say the longer, and the more people, who do that, the more we’re all going to be sitting at home if we’re lucky to have a home.”

You can watch full episodes of Rosemary Barton Live on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service. 

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CBC | Health News

U.S. approves Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. is getting a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two.

Health experts are anxiously awaiting a one-and-done option to help speed vaccinations, as they race against a virus that already has killed more than 510,000 people in the U.S. and is mutating in increasingly worrisome ways.

The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85 per cent protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents — protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.

“This is really good news,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told The Associated Press Saturday. “The most important thing we can do right now is to get as many shots in as many arms as we can.”

Shipments of a few million doses to be divided among states could begin as early as Monday. By the end of March, J&J has said it expects to deliver 20 million doses to the U.S., and 100 million by summer.


A person is administered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, on Feb. 17. (Nardus Engelbrecht/The Associated Press)

J&J also is seeking authorization for emergency use of its vaccine in Europe and from the World Health Organization. Worldwide, the company aims to produce about 1 billion doses globally by the end of the year. On Thursday, the island nation of Bahrain became the first to clear its use.

Health Canada is still reviewing the vaccine. Canada has ordered 10 million doses from Johnson & Johnson with options for up to 28 million more, if necessary. Most of those shots are expected to arrive by the end of September.

‘We’re champing at the bit to get more supply’

On Sunday, a U.S. advisory committee will meet to recommend how to prioritize use of the single-dose vaccine. And one big challenge is what the public wants to know: Which kind of vaccine is better?

“In this environment, whatever you can get — get,” said Dr. Arnold Monto of the University of Michigan, who chaired an FDA advisory panel that unanimously voted Friday that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh its risks.

Data is mixed on how well all the vaccines being used around the world work, prompting reports in some countries of people refusing one kind to wait for another.

WATCH | Will Canadians be able to choose which vaccine they get?:

Doctors answer questions about the latest COVID-19 vaccine news including whether Canadians will be able to choose which one they get. 5:48

In the U.S., the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna shots were 95 per cent protective against symptomatic COVID-19. J&J’s one-dose effectiveness of 85 per cent against severe COVID-19 dropped to 66 per cent when moderate cases were rolled in. But there’s no apples-to-apples comparison because of differences in when and where each company conducted its studies, with the Pfizer and Moderna research finished before concerning variants began spreading.

Collins said the evidence of effectiveness shows no reason to favour one vaccine over another.

“What people I think are mostly interested in is, is it going to keep me from getting really sick?” Collins said. “Will it keep me from dying from this terrible disease? The good news is all of these say yes to that.”

Also, J&J is testing two doses of its vaccine in a separate large study. Collins said if a second dose eventually is deemed better, people who got one earlier would be offered another.

The FDA cautioned that it’s too early to tell if someone who gets a mild or asymptomatic infection despite vaccination still could spread the virus.

There are clear advantages aside from the convenience of one shot. Local health officials are looking to use the J&J option in mobile vaccination clinics, homeless shelters, even with sailors who are spending months on fishing vessels — communities where it’s hard to be sure someone will come back in three to four weeks for a second vaccination.

WATCH | Canada’s procurement minister on Johnson & Johnson vaccine:

The CBC’s Tom Parry asks Procurement Minister Anita Anand how many doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine Canada will receive after it’s approved by Health Canada. 4:56

The J&J vaccine also is easier to handle, lasting three months in the refrigerator compared to the Pfizer and Moderna options, which must be frozen.

“We’re champing at the bit to get more supply. That’s the limiting factor for us right now,” said Dr. Matt Anderson of UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin, where staffers were readying electronic health records, staffing and vaccine storage in anticipation of offering J&J shots soon.

The FDA said studies detected no serious side effects. Like other COVID-19 vaccines, the main side effects of the J&J shot are pain at the injection site and flu-like fever, fatigue and headache.

The FDA said there is “a remote chance” that people may experience a severe allergic reaction to the shot, a rare risk seen with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

The vaccine has been authorized for emergency use in adults 18 and older for now. But like other vaccine makers, J&J is about to begin a study of its vaccine in teens before moving to younger children later in the year, and also plans a study in pregnant women.

All COVID-19 vaccines train the body to recognize the new coronavirus, usually by spotting the spike protein that coats it. But they’re made in very different ways.

WATCH | Provinces offer different timelines for COVID-19 vaccine rollout:

When Canadians will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine may depend on where they live. The provinces have started revealing their rollout plans, but the timing of who can get a shot varies across the country. 1:58

J&J’s shot uses a cold virus like a Trojan horse to carry the spike gene into the body, where cells make harmless copies of the protein to prime the immune system in case the real virus comes along. It’s the same technology the company used in making an Ebola vaccine, and similar to COVID-19 vaccines made by AstraZeneca and China’s CanSino Biologics.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made with a different technology, a piece of genetic code called messenger RNA that spurs cells to make those harmless spike copies.

The AstraZeneca vaccine — which was approved for use in Canada on Friday and is already in use in numerous other countries — is finishing a large U.S. study needed for FDA clearance. Also in the pipeline, Novavax uses a still different technology, made with lab-grown copies of the spike protein, and has reported preliminary findings from a British study suggesting strong protection.

Still other countries are using “inactivated vaccines,” made with killed coronavirus by Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm.

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CBC | World News

Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine endorsed by U.S. advisers

U.S. health advisers endorsed a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson on Friday, putting the nation on the cusp of adding an easier-to-use option to fight the pandemic.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to quickly follow the recommendation and make J&J’s shot the third vaccine authorized for emergency use in the U.S. Vaccinations are picking up speed, but new supplies are urgently needed to stay ahead of a mutating virus that has killed more than 500,000 people in the country.

After daylong discussions, the FDA panellists voted unanimously that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks for adults. If the FDA agrees, shipments of a few million doses could begin as early as Monday.

“There’s an urgency to get this done,” said Dr. Jay Portnoy of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. “We’re in a race between the virus mutating and new variants coming out that can cause further disease and stopping it.”

Health Canada is still reviewing the vaccine. Canada has ordered 10 million doses from Johnson & Johnson with options for up to 28 million more, if necessary. Most of those shots are expected to arrive by the end of September.

WATCH | Canada’s procurement minister discusses Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine:

The CBC’s Tom Parry asks Procurement Minister Anita Anand how many doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine Canada will receive after it’s approved by Health Canada. 4:56

More than 47 million people in the U.S., or 14 per cent of the population, have received at least one shot of the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which FDA authorized in December. But the pace of vaccinations has been strained by limited supplies and delays due to winter storms.

While early J&J supplies will be small, the company has said it can deliver 20 million doses by the end of March and a total of 100 million by the end of June.

J&J’s vaccine protects against the worst effects of COVID-19 after one shot, and it can be stored up to three months at refrigerator temperatures, making it easier to handle than the previous vaccines, which must be frozen.

Strong protection against worst outcomes

One challenge in rolling out the new vaccine will be explaining how protective the J&J shot is after the astounding success of the first U.S. vaccines.

“It’s important that people do not think that one vaccine is better than another,” said panellist Dr. Cody Meissner of Tufts University.

The two-dose Pfizer and Moderna shots were found to be about 95 per cent effective against symptomatic COVID-19. The numbers from J&J’s study are not that high, but it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. One dose of the J&J vaccine was 85 per cent protective against the most severe COVID-19. After adding in moderate cases, the total effectiveness dropped to about 66 per cent.

Some experts fear that lower number could feed public perceptions that J&J’s shot is a “second-tier vaccine.” But the difference in protection reflects when and where J&J conducted its studies.


J&J’s vaccine was tested in the U.S., Latin America and South Africa at a time when more contagious mutated versions of the virus were spreading. That wasn’t the case last fall, when Pfizer and Moderna were wrapping up testing, and it’s not clear if their numbers would hold against the most worrisome of those variants.

Importantly, the FDA reported this week that, just like its predecessors, the J&J shot offers strong protection against the worst outcomes, hospitalization and death.

While J&J is seeking FDA authorization for its single-dose version, the company is also studying whether a second dose boosts protection.

Panel member Dr. Paul Offit warned that launching a two-dose version of the vaccine down the road might cause problems.

“You can see where that would be confusing to people thinking, ‘Maybe I didn’t get what I needed,”‘ said Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It’s a messaging challenge.”

New cases increasing

J&J representatives said they chose to begin with the single shot because the World Health Organization and other experts agreed it would be a faster, more effective tool in an emergency.

Cases and hospitalizations have fallen dramatically since their January peak that followed the winter holidays. But public health officials warned that those gains may be stalling as more variants take root in the U.S.

“We may be done with the virus, but clearly the virus is not done with us,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said, speaking at the White House on Friday. She noted that new COVID-19 cases have increased over the past few days.

While it’s too early to tell if the trend will last, Walensky said adding a third vaccine “will help protect more people faster.” More vaccines are in the pipeline.

On Sunday, a CDC panel is expected to meet to recommend how to best prioritize use of the J&J vaccine.

Other parts of the world already are facing which-is-best challenges. Italy’s main teachers’ union recently protested when the government decided to reserve Pfizer and Moderna shots for the elderly and designate AstraZeneca’s vaccine for younger, at-risk workers. AstraZeneca’s vaccine was deemed to be about 70 per cent effective in testing.

Canada became the latest country Friday to allow use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

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CBC | Health News

Single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 66% effective, say U.S. regulators

Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine appeared safe and effective in trials, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) staff said in documents published on Wednesday, paving the way for its approval for emergency use.

The FDA’s panel of independent experts is set to meet Friday to decide whether to approve the shot. While the panel is not bound to follow the advice of its experts, the FDA did so when authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was 66 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 against multiple variants in a global trial involving nearly 44,000 people, the company said last month.

Its effectiveness varied from 72 per cent in the United States to 66 per cent in Latin America and 57 per cent in South Africa, where a new variant has spread, though the vaccine was 85 per cent effective overall in stopping severe cases of the disease.

FDA finds vaccine is safe

The vaccine was effective in reducing the risk of COVID-19 and preventing polymerase-chain-reaction-test (PCR-test) confirmed COVID-19 at least 14 days after vaccination, the FDA said in its briefing documents.

Three vaccine recipients had severe side effects in the trial, but the FDA said its analysis did not raise specific safety concerns that would preclude issuance of an emergency use authorization.

Johnson & Johnson had not previously released details of its clinical trial data beyond efficacy rates.

Approval could speed up vaccination drives

While the overall effectiveness numbers may suggest Johnson & Johnson candidate isn’t quite as strong as two-dose competitors, all of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines have been tested differently, making comparisons nearly impossible.

It wouldn’t be surprising if one dose turns out to be a little weaker than two doses, but policymakers will decide if that’s an acceptable trade-off to get more people vaccinated faster.

The rival Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines currently being used in the U.S., Canada, and many other countries must be kept frozen, while the Johnson & Johnson shot can last three months in the refrigerator, making it easier to handle.

Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical division, Janssen, has applied for regulatory approval from Health Canada. That application is still under review.

Canada has ordered 10 million doses from Johnson & Johnson, with options for up to 28 million more, if necessary. Most of those shots are expected to arrive by the end of September.

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‘Too early’ to say when Johnson & Johnson shots will arrive, minister says

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said today that Canada is ready to deploy a new COVID vaccine from Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical division, Janssen, once it receives regulatory approval from Health Canada — but she couldn’t say how many shots will be available in the coming weeks.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s vaccines and related biological products advisory committee will meet Friday to review the clinical trial data for this vaccine. A final U.S. decision on issuing emergency use authorization (EUA) could follow as early as this weekend.

The same FDA committee met in early December to review Pfizer’s vaccine and, a day later, the EUA was issued. Later that month, the FDA committee met to review the Moderna vaccine and an EUA was granted the next day.

Health Canada could make the same decision in a matter of days. The U.S. and Canada have been in synch on past COVID-19 vaccine approvals.

A spokesperson for the department said Health Canada “intends to be as aligned as possible with the decisions of our key regulatory partners, once all of the data required to make a decision has been received and reviewed.”

“Health Canada continues to receive data from Janssen,” the spokesperson told CBC News.

WATCH: Anand provides an update on Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine

The CBC’s Tom Parry asks Procurement Minister Anita Anand how many doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine Canada will receive after it’s approved by Health Canada. 4:56

Canada has ordered 10 million doses from Johnson & Johnson with options for up to 28 million more, if necessary. Most of those shots are expected to arrive by the end of September.

Anand said she had a conversation with executives from Johnson & Johnson last week “to ensure we are on target in terms of those deliveries and to press them on when precisely those deliveries would be arriving in Canada.”

Drug makers ‘reluctant’ to set deadlines without approvals: Anand

Asked if she knows how many doses will be delivered in the second quarter of this year — when Canada’s vaccination campaign is expected to ramp up — Anand said “that is a negotiation that we are currently engaged in and I will provide information relating to the details of those deliveries as soon as I have them.”

Anand said it’s “too early” to say how many doses, if any, Canada will receive in the April through June period.

She said vaccine manufacturers are “reluctant” to provide firm delivery dates with a regulatory review process still pending, but she has assured Johnson & Johnson that “Canada is ready for the deployment and distribution of vaccines” and that those shots will be put to use right away.

Last month, the company confirmed with U.S. officials that it was on track to deliver 100 million doses to the American marketplace by the end of June. “We’re very confident and on track to meet all of our commitments,” the company’s CFO, Joseph Wolk, told CNBC.

Dr. Richard Nettles, vice-president of medical affairs at Janssen, told the U.S. congressional energy and commerce subcommittee today that 4 million doses will shipped to points in the U.S. immediately after it secures an EUA. At least 20 million more will be delivered by end of March, Nettles said.

The company has signed deals to produce shots at plants in Indiana, Maryland and Michigan in the U.S. and other facilities in Europe in order to meet its contractual obligations.

The company’s Canadian division has not yet offered similar assurances.

“It is premature to address the supply specifics of our vaccine candidate,” a spokesperson for the company said in an email to CBC News.

“Janssen is continuing to work with Health Canada to complete the rolling submission process,” the spokesperson said.

The Johnson & Johnson product, which requires only one shot instead of two like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, would be much easier for public health officials to administer as it remains stable in a standard refrigerator for months. 

Unlike those two shots, which are based on mRNA technlogy, the Johnson & Johnson product uses a more conventional viral vector load vaccine technology. Millions of people could develop some sort of antibody protection against COVID-19 with just a single dose.

In U.S. clinical trials, the product was found to be 72 per cent effective in preventing moderate-to-severe cases of COVID-19.

Importantly, the product also demonstrated complete protection against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death, 28 days post-vaccination.

The company has said the single-shot vaccine has “the potential to significantly reduce the burden of severe disease.”

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Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine appears 66% effective overall in global trial

Johnson & Johnson’s long-awaited vaccine appears to protect against COVID-19 with just one shot — it’s not as strong as some of its two-shot rivals but still potentially helpful for a world in dire need of more doses.

J&J said Friday that in the U.S. and seven other countries where their trial has been conducted, the single-shot vaccine was 66 per cent effective overall at preventing moderate to severe illness, and much more protective — 85 per cent — against the most serious symptoms.

There was some geographic variation. The vaccine worked better in the U.S. — 72 per cent effective against moderate to severe COVID-19 — compared to 57 per cent in South Africa, where it was up against an easier-to-spread mutated virus.

Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious disease specialist at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, told CBC News the trial data “certainly looks promising for a single dose, which of course will certainly ease a lot of the logistics we’ve been dealing with so far with the current vaccines that have been granted approval.”

He said by examining mixed populations across continents, the J&J trial is not only “looking at differences in how different groups of people respond, that also means that they capture different viral variants, so they have a good sense of the real-world efficacy of this vaccine.”

With vaccinations off to a rocky start globally, experts have been counting on a one-dose vaccine that would stretch scarce supplies and avoid the logistics nightmare of getting people to return for boosters.

Greater protection vs. more shots

But with some competing vaccines shown to be 95 per cent effective after two doses, the question is whether somewhat less protection is an acceptable tradeoff for getting more shots in arms quickly.

Matthew Miller, an associate professor at the Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University, told CBC News by email that the decision will depend on multiple factors, including “the procurement timelines for specific vaccines in each country” and how prevalent the newly circulating variants become.

“Some high-risk populations may need vaccines that confer higher degrees of protection, while less efficacious vaccines might be appropriate for lower-risk populations,” he said.

The Canadian government signed an agreement with Johnson & Johnson for up to 38 million doses of their vaccine, though as of earlier this month, officials said a vaccine schedule had not been finalized.

J&J said that within a week, it will file an application for emergency use in the U.S., and then abroad. It expects to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. by June, and expects to have some ready to ship as soon as authorities give the green light.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set a 50 per cent threshold for any COVID-19 vaccine to be considered for emergency use authorization.

The J&J data comes from preliminary findings from a study of 44,000 volunteers that isn’t completed yet. Researchers tracked illnesses starting 28 days after vaccination — about the time when people getting a two-dose vaccine would have needed another shot.

After day 28, no one who got vaccinated needed hospitalization or died, regardless of whether they were exposed to “regular COVID or these particularly nasty variants,” Dr. Mathai Mammen, global research chief for J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceutical unit, told The Associated Press. When the vaccinated did become infected, they had a milder illness.

Defeating the scourge that has killed more than two million people worldwide will require vaccinating billions, and the shots currently being rolled out in different countries require two doses a few weeks apart for full protection. Early data is mixed on exactly how well all the different kinds work, but shots made by Pfizer and Moderna appear to be about 95 per cent protective after the second dose.

But amid shortages, some countries have advised delaying the second dose of certain vaccines with little data on how that would affect protection.

Company also testing 2-shot vaccine

All COVID-19 vaccines train the body to recognize the new coronavirus, usually by spotting the spike protein that coats it. But they’re made in very different ways.

WATCH l Canada’s Providence Therapeutics hopes to get a homegrown vaccine into the pipeline:

A made-in-Canada vaccine to protect against COVID-19 is now in human clinical trials in Toronto. Providence Therapeutics CEO Brad Sorenson says they’ve purchased a site in Calgary to mass produce the vaccine. He spoke with Rob Brown about the project on CBC Calgary News at 6. 7:55

J&J’s shot uses a cold virus like a Trojan horse to carry the spike gene into the body, where cells make harmless copies of the protein to prime the immune system in case the real virus comes along.

Rival AstraZeneca makes a similar cold virus vaccine that requires two doses. Both the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines can be stored in a refrigerator, making them easier to ship and use in developing countries than the frozen kind made by Pfizer and Moderna.

It’s not clear exactly how well the AstraZeneca version, being used in Britain and several other countries, works. Tests in Britain, South Africa and Brazil suggested two doses are about 70 per cent effective, although there are questions about how much protection older adults get. An ongoing U.S. study may provide more information.

J&J said its vaccine works consistently in a broad range of people: A third of participants were over age 60, and more than 40 per cent had other illnesses putting them at risk of severe COVID-19, including obesity, diabetes and HIV.

J&J said the vaccine is safe, with reactions similar to other COVID-19 shots, such as fever, that occur when the immune system is revved up.

“Gambling on one dose was certainly worthwhile,” said Mammen.

While it released few details, the company said there were no serious allergic reactions. But occasionally other COVID-19 vaccines trigger such reactions, which can be reversed if promptly treated — and authorities have warned people to be on the lookout regardless of which type of vaccine is used.

J&J has hedged its bets with a study of a two-dose version of its vaccine, which is still underway.

Friday’s interim results come on the heels of another vaccine in final testing. Novavax reported this week that its vaccine appears 89 per cent effective in a U.K. study, and that it also seems to work — though not as well — against new mutated versions of the virus circulating in Britain and South Africa. A larger study in the U.S. and Mexico is still enrolling volunteers.

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Dustin Johnson posts record score in running away with his 1st Masters title

Nothing ever comes easily for Dustin Johnson in the majors, except for slipping into that Masters green jacket.

Johnson overcame a jittery start that conjured memories of past majors he failed to finish off. He turned that into a command performance, making sure this one-of-a-kind Masters with no fans also had no drama.

Not even close.

Johnson tapped in for par on the 18th for a 4-under 68 to finish at 20-under 268, breaking by two shots the record set by Tiger Woods in 1997 and matched by Jordan Spieth in 2015.

His five-shot victory at Augusta National in Georgia was the largest at the Masters since Woods won by 12 in his record-breaking win in 1997. All that was missing were the roars for any of his pivotal putts early and his birdie putts on the back nine that put it away.

“It still feels like a dream,” Johnson said. “As a kid, you’re dreaming about winning the Masters, having Tiger put the green jacket on you. I’m here and what a great feeling it is. I couldn’t be more excited.”

WATCH | Dustin Johnson completes memorable Masters performance:

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson’s 5-shot victory at Augusta National was the largest at the Masters since Tiger Woods won by 12 in his record-breaking win in 1997. 2:41

Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., finished tied for 10th after shooting a 69 and finishing at 9-under for the tournament. The 28-year-old made history with his 65 in the second round — the lowest round ever by a Canadian at Augusta National.

Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., finished in a tie for 29th, while Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., tied for 51st. The 50-year-old Weir, who won the tournament in 2003, made his first Masters cut since 2014.

WATCH | Corey Conners earns berth to 2021 Masters:

Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., finished the 2020 Masters tied for 10th at 9-under to earn him an automatic invitation to next year’s event. 1:07

The Masters, postponed from April because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was forced to do without patrons for the first time. Johnson still received a warm reception coming up the 18th from club members and their wives, his partner, Paulina Gretzky, and a few champions.

Two-time champion Bubba Watson was there to congratulate him.

“I always dreamed of having one of those,” Johnson said as he went to sign his card. “Now I got one.”

11 straight sub-par rounds at Augusta

Johnson’s four-shot lead was reduced to one after five holes, and then he quickly restored control. Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im each shot 69 and were the only ones who really had a chance.

Smith got quite the consolation. He became the first player in Masters history to post all four rounds in the 60s, and all it got him was a silver medal. Johnson became the 12th Masters champion to never trail after any round, and his closing 68 broke another record held by Woods — it was his 11th consecutive sub-par round at Augusta National.


No one had a better finish than defending champion Tiger Woods, but only after the five-time Masters champion posted the highest score of his career — three balls in Rae’s Creek for a 10 on the par-3 12th hole. He finished with five birdies over the last six holes to salvage a 76.

The betting favourite and biggest basher in golf, Bryson DeChambeau, couldn’t even beat 63-year-old Bernhard Langer, who shot 71 and wound up one shot ahead of the U.S. Open champion.

These were only sideshows on a quiet Sunday at Augusta National.

Johnson, the first No. 1 player in the world to win the Masters since Woods in 2002, was the main event. He won for the 25th time worldwide and his second major — he won the U.S. Open from four shots behind at Oakmont in 2016 — comes with some big perks. He can return for the rest of his life and will host the Masters Club dinner next April for champions.


But even a record score, and the widest margin of victory since Woods won by 12 in 1997, didn’t mean it was easy. This is Johnson, after all, who for all his talent has dealt with more than his share of misfortune, not all his own doing.

He was the 16th player to take at least a four-shot lead into the final round of the Masters, and only four had failed to win, most recently Rory McIlroy in 2011.

That lead was down to one shot after five holes.

Change in momentum

From short of the bunker on the par-5 second, Johnson muffed his flop into the bunker and had to scramble for par at the easiest hole on the course Sunday. After he settled himself with a birdie on No. 3, he came up short of the green and took three putts for bogey, then found a fairway bunker off the fifth tee, had to lay up and made another bogey.


Im started with two birdies in three holes, and saved par with a fabulous flop over a bunker behind the fifth green. Suddenly, he was one shot behind. Ahead of them was Smith, suddenly two shots behind.

Just when it looked as though Johnson might he headed to a meltdown, it all changed on one hole.

Johnson’s tee shot to a pin on the top-right shelf at the par-3 sixth settled six feet away for birdie. Im chipped from just behind the green to three feet and missed the par putt. Johnson’s lead was back to three.

Then, with Johnson blocked by pine branches and having to punch low into a front bunker at No. 7, Im from the fairway sailed the green into a bunker, blasted out through the green and made bogey.

Smith was still within two shots when they made the turn, and the wind was stronger that it had been all week, but the Aussie could manage only one birdie, and by then it was too late.

Nothing is sweeter than that walk up the steep hill to the 18th green with a five-shot lead and a green jacket waiting. Except in this case, there was no one to cheer, hardly anyone to watch.

There were no roars this week. White and pink blooms of azaleas and dogwoods were replaced by gold and brown hues of Augusta in autumn. It really was a Masters unlike any other, except there was no mistaking that green jacket.

It’s a good fit for Johnson.

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