Tag Archives: ‘means

What calling down the 2nd U.S. presidential debate means for the race and voters

U.S. President Donald Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden were supposed to face off in a second presidential debate Thursday night in Miami. Instead, the two candidates will be attending duelling town hall events hosted by two different networks.

Despite concerns about his health, Trump returned to the campaign trail 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19. Now, with less than three weeks to go until election day, the president is once again holding packed nightly rallies in an effort to mobilize his base. But is it enough to make up for lost time?

And given the debacle of the first presidential debate, will a town hall rather than another face-to-face showdown with Trump work for or against Biden’s campaign?

CBC’s The National assembled a panel of U.S. political commentators, hosted by Adrienne Arsenault, to talk about the state of the race, who Trump and Biden need to be reaching out to, and issues around voter turnout:

  • Daniel McCarthy is editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Review, editor-at-large of The American Conservative, a columnist for The Spectator, and says he will be voting for Trump on Nov. 3. During the panel discussion, he said he believes Trump’s speedy recovery from COVID-19 may benefit him in the race. But McCarthy added that the best news for the president’s campaign right now is coming out of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • Danielle Moodie is the host of the political podcast Woke AF Daily and co-host of the podcast Democracy-ish, and is hoping for a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris win. Moodie said Trump getting COVID-19 didn’t change his attitude toward the virus, and that means Democrats need to continue to show how dangerous having him in the White House is for the country and the world.
  • Yascha Mounk is the founder and editor-in-chief of Persuasion, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, and contributing editor at The Atlantic. A centrist, Mounk is hoping for a Biden win. Mounk said the high early voting turnout suggests a similar trend on election day. But he added that the voting demographics are changing from those in 2016: Trump has gained some ground among younger voters and voters of colour, and Biden is attracting a lot of support among older voters. Mounk said if Biden wins in 2020, it will be because he will have won back people who voted for Trump four years ago.

WATCH | The U.S. election panel’s evaluation of the sole vice-presidential debate:

With less than three weeks to go until election day, The National’s U.S. political panel looks at what cancelling the second presidential debate means for the race, whether President Donald Trump getting COVID-19 changed anything and what voter groups both candidates are trying to reach. 7:52


More from The National’s U.S. election panel:

Vice-presidential debate dissected

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and Democratic candidate Sen. Kamala Harris went toe-to-toe Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the sole vice-presidential debate of the 2020 U.S. election. All eyes were on the pair after the chaotic performance of President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden in their first presidential debate on Sept. 29. USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page moderated a much more measured debate, although at times the candidates did not directly address her questions. Pence and Harris debated topics ranging from the handling of the pandemic and relations with China, to racial justice and policies around job creation and climate change.

WATCH | The National’s panel of U.S. political experts analyzes the vice-presidential debate:

A panel of U.S. politics experts breaks down what happened during the vice-presidential debate between Vice-President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris and the impact it could have on November’s election. 9:56


First presidential debate

U.S. President Donald Trump and Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden squared off Sept. 29 in their first election debate from Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. The 90-minute exchange, punctuated by a regular stream of outbursts and interruptions, covered topics ranging from the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, to law enforcement and climate change, to the political records of both candidates. The debate also touched on more recent events, including the Supreme Court nomination to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the leak of Trump’s tax information.

WATCH | The National’s panel of U.S. political experts analyzes the first presidential debate and its likely impact on the U.S. election:

A panel of U.S. politics experts breaks down what happened during the first presidential debate between U.S. President Donald Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden and the impact it could have on November’s election. 10:16

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CBC | World News

2nd big COVID-19 vaccine trial paused due to possible serious side effect. Here’s what that means

Another front-running team in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine has put a late-stage trial on hold after a reported “unexplained illness” in one of the trial volunteers. Here’s a look at the two pauses and what they mean for the quick development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

What kind of vaccine trials got put on hold?

Both pauses included Phase 3 clinical trials for the same class of vaccine, non-replicating viral vector vaccines.

Phase 3 is the largest type of clinical trial, requiring thousands of volunteers, and is the last of three stages of human testing before a vaccine can be approved for use. Its main goals are to:

  • Test the efficacy of the vaccine at preventing the disease compared with a placebo

  • Get a better idea of possible side-effects and how often they happen, including rare side-effects that might not show up in smaller trials.

The two vaccine makers that paused the trials are:

  • The University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which announced their pause on Sept. 8. The company is running Phase 3 trials involving thousands of people in the United Kingdom and smaller numbers of people in Brazil and South Africa. It is also recruiting 30,000 people in the United States for its largest study. The trials have since resumed in the U.K., Brazil and South Africa, but regulators have not yet approved them to resume in the U.S.
  • Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, which announced their pause on Oct. 12. The company is running both early and late-stage clinical trials and did not say which the volunteer participated in. However, Johnson & Johnson said it was pausing all its COVID-19 vaccine trials. That includes a Phase 3 trial that started in late September and aimed to enroll 60,000 volunteers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and the U.S.

Canada has deals to purchase tens of millions of doses of vaccine from each of the two companies if they make it through clinical trials and are approved.


Why were the trials suspended?

Both companies blamed an “unexplained illness” in one of the volunteers. That would have triggered a “standard review process,” intended to ensure safety when that happens. The pause allows the incident to be investigated by independent reviewers not involved in the trial.

What kind of illness was it?

Johnson & Johnson declined to reveal any more details about the illness, citing the participant’s privacy.

In AstraZeneca’s case, the company acknowledged that the patient had neurological symptoms associated with a spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis

That involves localized inflammation of the spinal cord, which can cause symptoms such as weakness, loss of sensation or even paralysis of the arms and legs. It can be caused by autoimmune diseases, viral, bacterial or fungal infections or parasites, but it has also been reported as potentially a rare side-effect of vaccinations for diseases such as hepatitis B, influenza or measles-mumps-rubella.

The diagnosis was later confirmed by an internal report on the incident, CNN reported.

However, researchers who have studied transverse myelitis note that it’s difficult to confirm or exclude the link between the disease and vaccination, since it can occur coincidentally as a result of other causes after vaccination.

The U.S.-based Mayo Clinic said that the association so far is not strong enough to warrant limiting any vaccine.

WATCH | Pausing COVID-19 vaccine trial is ‘standard conduct,’ says expert:

Johnson & Johnson pausing their clinical COVID-19 vaccine trial is not uncommon in the scientific process with safety being a top concern, says infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch. 3:06

What is the goal of the review?

It will try to determine whether the illness was related to the vaccine.

Because trials like this are typically double-blinded, the researchers don’t know whether a given volunteer received the vaccine or a placebo. That’s one of the reasons why the review needs to be conducted by an independent committee that is not doing other analyses in the study.

Even if the volunteer received the vaccine, the timing of the illness could still be coincidental and unrelated to the vaccine.

Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Toronto, told CBC News Network that if the patient does have transverse myelitis, he or she will likely be tested for different types of infections to see if a cause can be determined.

“I’ve seen many of these cases myself, and we often come up with viral causes,” he said.

If that happens, the review may be able to rule out the vaccine as the cause and allow the trial to resume.

WATCH | Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti explains pauses in vaccine trials:

Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, infectious diseases specialist at Trillium Health Partners, said safety is paramount in vaccine clinical trials, and temporary suspensions are not unusual to evaluate any unexplained illness in a participant. 4:31

How often do pauses like this happen?

On the one hand, they’re not triggered by “mild” side-effects, and there haven’t been any publicized for any COVID-19 vaccine trials so far, despite the large number underway. However, following the September pause, AstraZeneca disclosed that it had briefly paused a COVID-19 vaccine trial in July after a study volunteer was found to have multiple sclerosis. An independent review panel concluded the illness was not related to the vaccine.

Dr. Samir Gupta, associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, said that “it’s not a routine thing to stop a massive trial mid-course like this.”

However, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said Thursday that such pauses are “very common actually.” 

“Many experts will tell you this,” he said. “The difference with other vaccine trials is that the whole world is not watching them of course so they stop, they study and they restart.”

Such an event is not unexpected, given the size of the trial, said Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious disease specialist at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto.

“I would argue for probably every vaccine that’s ever come to market, there’s been an event like this,” Gardam said.

“When you’re giving vaccine to tens of thousands of people, something’s going to happen to one of them. And chances are it’s happenstance … it’s not linked to the vaccine. But each time, you have to investigate it.”

WATCH | How COVID-19 vaccines are being created quickly and safely:

Some potential COVID-19 vaccines are already in the third stage of clinical trials. It’s taken a lot of effort and money to squeeze a process that can normally take five years into about 10 months and still be done safely. 2:17

Will the pause slow down development of a vaccine?

“Not necessarily, it depends on what they find when they do the investigation,” British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Wednesday.

Gardam said he doesn’t think it will cause a significant delay.

Investigators will try to figure out “a reasonable explanation” for the cause of the illness, Gardam said, which may take some time.

A pause occurred during the Phase 1 trial of a Canadian-made Ebola vaccine in 2014 after several volunteers reported joint pain. An investigation found that the side-effect was likely caused by the vaccine, and the study resumed three weeks later with a lower dose.

In this case, Gardam said he thinks it will be hard to draw any conclusion based on one illness and that the University of Oxford researchers will be able to “quite quickly get back up and running again.”

However, they will need to collect more data to see if others show similar illnesses. If that happens, he said, “then that’s a completely different story.”

WATCH | When will a COVID-19 vaccine be ready?

An infectious disease specialist answers viewer questions about a COVID-19 vaccine including what stage vaccine development is in and when the public could expect one to be ready.  2:58

How worried should we be about these pauses?

If it turns out that this is a potential adverse effect of this vaccine, “that would obviously be a substantial showstopper for this vaccine,” said Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease specialist at Sinai Health, the University Health Network and the University of Toronto, following the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca pause. 

He’s concerned there wouldn’t be access to the vaccine, which is in advanced stages of development. It’s also one that many countries are pinning their hopes on, with substantial investment from and billions of doses reserved by governments around the world and by the COVAX Facility, which aims to provide access to 172 countries, including many in the developing world. The company says it is close to having the capacity to produce three billion doses around the world to prevent governments from restricting distribution.

Morris said he’s also concerned that the media coverage will discourage people from enrolling in vaccine studies or increase anti-vaccination hype.

“Any step back is really a setback for all of us,” he said.

But at the same time, researchers such as Gardam say in some ways, the pause should ease people’s concerns, as it shows that the system is working and highlights the importance of Phase 3 clinical trials to ensure the safety of vaccines.

“This in and of itself isn’t a big deal,” he said. “This is what is supposed to happen…. This gives me some comfort.

“The fact that this has been stopped appropriately, it’ll be investigated. We’ll learn about it and then presumably the trial will start up again. That’s exactly what’s supposed to happen.”

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Miley Cyrus Admits Her Privilege Means She Has ‘No Idea’ What the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Really Like

Miley Cyrus Admits Her Privilege Means She Has ‘No Idea’ What the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Really Like | Entertainment Tonight

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Canada’s next-door neighbour is now the epicentre of global pandemic. Here’s what that U.S. surge means


The U.S. Navy Ship Comfort arrives in New York City, pandemic epicentre. The ship can be equipped with 1,000 hospital beds. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Canada’s next-door neighbour is now the epicentre of a global pandemic. The tremors coming from America will ripple across the border and beyond.

The United States has by far the most reported cases of COVID-19 of any country, not just in total numbers but also with a per-capita rate that apparently dwarfs Canada’s.

A staggering array of effects will be felt in both countries: a battered economy, suspended cross-border work trips, holidays cancelled, families separated, loved ones suffering.

One such effect was highlighted Monday by President Donald Trump. He voiced his intention to extend international travel restrictions currently set to expire April 12 for visitors entering from Europe, and April 20 for those entering the U.S. from Canada.

That’s after he extended social-distancing guidelines until April 30, citing grim projections that inaction could cost up to 2.2 million Americans their lives.

When asked Monday about the travel restrictions to Canada and Europe, Trump acknowledged they would remain in place at least until April 30: “The guidelines will be very much as they are.”

Epidemiologists urge caution in interpreting the U.S. numbers. 

They say international comparisons are susceptible to error, because medical strategies and data-collection tactics differ, complicating apples-to-apples comparisons.

But here’s what the U.S. numbers say; what they don’t say; and what the U.S. spike in cases might mean for Canadians:


President Donald Trump indicated Monday that travel restrictions must last until at least April 30. (Alex Brandon/The Associated Press)

What we know:

The United States had approximately 20 times more reported cases than Canada and 25 times more deaths, as of Monday evening.

The U.S. population (330 million) is about nine times higher than Canada’s (37 million). 

America’s 161,000 reported cases was by far the highest in the world, followed by about 102,000 in Italy and under 90,000 currently reported by China and Spain. Canada has just over 7,400 officially reported cases.

One epidemiologist and public-health specialist who checked the totals Monday estimated that the rate of infections was about 2.9 times higher in the U.S. than in Canada.

James Blanchard of the University of Manitoba pegged the U.S. rate at 43 infected per 100,000, compared with 15 per 100,000 in Canada.

“Seeing almost a three-fold higher number of cases in the U.S. than in Canada suggests the current burden is higher than in Canada,” said Blanchard, who was trained at Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. and who researches how individuals and communities spread illness.

“It seems unlikely that Canada’s pace is going to catch up to the U.S.”

Saverio Stranges, the chair of epidemiology and biostatistics at Western University’s Schulich School, concurred “it is extremely likely” that the case rate is higher in the U.S. 

Trump has tried presenting the higher American rate as a success story involving American testing. 

“We test more than anybody else,” Trump told Fox News on Monday. “So we will show [more].”

Blanchard said there’s no evidence the U.S. has tested more people — at least not per capita. Canada said Monday it had tested more than 221,000 people, while Trump said Monday that the U.S. had tested over 1 million people.


New York State has nearly half the U.S. cases. A healthcare worker sits on a bench near Central Park in New York City on Monday. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

What we don’t know:

Blanchard and Stranges warn that country-to-country comparisons can be a minefield. “It’s extremely difficult to make these comparisons,” Stranges said. 

For starters, both cautioned against seeing pandemics as national events. In reality, they said, they’re a series of local phenomena. Stranges noted that nearly half the U.S. cases are in New York State — just as, in his native Italy, the worst-hit region was Lombardy, around Milan, while elsewhere in Italy the numbers were closer to the international norm.

Blanchard said New York City might be uniquely prone for its population density; also, more than 65 million visitors flocked there last year. 

“Within each country there are many focal epidemics,” Blanchard said. “The future trajectory for each country will be determined by how well the epidemics in larger population centres are controlled.”

Another huge issue is testing methodology. Even within the same country, differences in data-collection complicate the ability to make comparisons.

Take Canada’s two most populous provinces. The largest, Ontario, has reported just over 1,700 cases — but has experienced large testing backlogs; last week, Ontario reported that 11,000 people were awaiting test results. As of Monday evening, Ontario had tested 48,461 people — and 5,651 test results were pending. 

Quebec, meanwhile, has far more reported cases than Ontario, but has also tested far more people than its neighbour.

So that’s the kind of trouble you run into when comparing different jurisdictions. The same difficulties arise where comparing different countries.  

“I am cautious about interpreting the [Canada-U.S.] data,” Blanchard said. 

However, he added, he still thinks the U.S. rate of infection is higher than Canada’s. If anything, he said Canada has done a better job testing people and the actual gap with the U.S. could be even wider.


Snowbirds have headed home. Beaches in the Florida panhandle have been closed by county officials since March 21. Here, an Okaloosa County Beach Safety lifeguard patrols an empty beach near Fort Walton Beach, Fla., on Monday. (Devon Ravine/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)

What it means for Canadians: 

In short, deep disruption and confusion for a broad range of Canadians, from businesses, to professional travellers, to tourists, to people separated from loved ones. 

And that’s not to mention the chain-reaction of effects when the world’s biggest economic powerhouse stalls.

A stunning new estimate from the U.S. Federal Reserve says the American unemployment rate could hit an eye-popping 32 per cent in this quarter. 

That evaporation of American incomes would further batter Canada’s economy, given that three-quarters of Canada’s international exports go to the U.S.

Then there are Canadians with property in the U.S. It’s unclear when they’ll get to return. 

Michael MacKenzie, executive director at the Canadian Snowbird Association, said he suspects virtually all 115,000 of his group’s members have left the U.S. He said people rushed home over a week ago on government instructions, which coincided with health-insurance providers suspending policies. “I’m not personally aware of any of our members still there,” he said. 

People with professional visas are mostly not travelling either, even if they’re allowed.

Andrea Vaitzner, an immigration lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright in Montreal said professional travellers are being deterred by the lockdown orders in various U.S. cities, and by the Canadian order to self-quarantine for 14 days after foreign travel. The latest stay-at-home orders Monday came from Washington, D.C., and neighbouring Maryland and Virginia. 

“I am telling clients to stay put for now,” Vaitzner said. She said border towns that rely on Canada-U.S. travel are being hit especially hard.

One border town is starting to suffer a heavy humanitarian toll: Detroit, where cases are surging. And Canadian medical workers are getting a gut-wrenchingly close view.

“My district relies on 1,000 Canadian nurses,” Rashida Tlaib, a member of Congress from Detroit, told a U.S. House hearing this month, urging that essential workers be allowed to keep flowing across the border. 

They still are.

Jenna Meloche lives in Amherstburg and works in Detroit where the number of COVID-19 deaths is rising. 2:05

Jenna Meloche is one of those essential workers in a Detroit hospital.

The nurse from Windsor, Ont., has described how patients are forced to die in isolation. Loved ones ask medical staff like her to deliver final goodbye messages.

Meloche said hospital staff pray before their shifts. She lives with her parents and now wears a mask at home, uses a separate bathroom, and is looking at getting a separate place.

“I think you have to give yourself a little mirror pep talk in the morning before you go into work,” she told CBC News.

“The way I view it is I have the luxury of helping these people get through the most difficult time in their life. … And I think that is the main reason why my mom, my sister, my great aunt and a lot of my friends got into nursing — is to have the opportunity to help these people…

“So I feel grateful.”

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Champagne advises Canadians to leave China by commercial means as repatriation effort continues

The federal government is advising Canadians anywhere in China to leave the country by commercial means unless it’s essential for them to be there, as it continues to sort out the logistics of a plan to repatriate hundreds of Canadians stuck in the coronarivus-affected region of China.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the passenger list for a charter flight is now set for 211 Canadians so it can be submitted to Chinese authorities 24 hours in advance of departure as required. That flight has been delayed a day by weather, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier Wednesday.

Champagne announced later Wednesday that a “few dozen” Canadians not able to fit on the charter will be allowed to board an American aircraft in Wuhan, China, and leave a few hours after a Canadian charter flight.

Champagne said the Canadian passengers will land in Vancouver and transportation will be arranged to take them on to a Canadian Forces base in Trenton, Ont., to be quarantined.

He said federal officials are working out plans for a second charter flight if more Canadians come forward who want to be repatriated.

Global Affairs has already heightened its travel advisories for China since the outbreak, warning against all travel to the Hubei province of China and against all non-essential travel to other parts of China. Today, Champagne said the government is recommending Canadians already there make arrangements to leave.

“Consistent with our travel advice we’re also encouraging Canadians whose presence in China is non-essential to depart via commercial means,” he said.

Champagne repeated that advice later in the afternoon, saying the situation is evolving by the hour.

GAC’s website was updated today, and now states that for safety and security reasons, “Consider leaving China if your presence isn’t essential.”

Watch as Champagne urges Canadians to leave China:

Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says the government is encouraging Canadians to leave China unless it is essential for them to be there. 0:30

Other countries, including France and the U.K., have also advised their citizens to leave China.

The number of cases of the new coronavirus has climbed to more than 24,600 worldwide, with close to 500 deaths. There have been five cases in Canada to date — three in Ontario and two in British Columbia.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said various airlines are now reassessing their “economic positions,” noting that Cathay Pacific has asked staff to take voluntary leave, raising concerns about the ability of Canadians to be able to return in a timely fashion when they want to do so.

Air Canada has also suspended all direct flights to China, and other major carriers, including British Airways and American Airlines, have either stopped or limited flights.

“The message to Canadians is … should you not have to be in China, it would be best to come back in a commercial flight,” she said.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu explains the government’s rationale for asking non-essential Canadians to leave China. 0:48

Champagne said 211 Canadians are now on the first flight manifest, with the remaining spots for the 250-seat plan to be filled with crew, as well as medical and government officials. At last count, 373 Canadians had requested repatriation, but the minister cautioned that the number is constantly in flux.

Canadians stuck in the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak who are on the first manifest will have to wait at least another day for an airlift to return them to Canada due to a delay caused by weather conditions.

The first chartered aircraft, which seats 250 people, left yesterday for Hanoi, Vietnam, where it was to remain on standby until it can make its way to Wuhan, China.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said weather conditions in Hanoi caused a delay and the plane missed the window for the evacuation, which was to happen at night.

“So everything is delayed by a day. We’re hoping to have these families back on Friday. We understand for loved ones here in Canada, for families over there, that it’s extremely difficult, but we’re doing everything we can to get them home,” he said on his way into a Liberal caucus meeting on Parliament Hill.

Petal Wang passes through a checkpoint at Wuhan airport to find the flight to Canada is delayed. 0:28

Champagne said 211 Canadians who were on the flight manifest have been notified of the change. The government is still considering a “range of options” for other Canadians trapped in the region, including sending a second plane.

Trudeau said the risk to Canadians remains low.

“We continue to be reassured that the transmission vectors haven’t evolved at this point, but we’re of course paying close attention to it,” he said. 

“But right now the risk to Canadians is still low. We have a strong handle on this, on these concerns, and we’re going to continue to keep Canadians safe.”

Quarantine plan

Officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Department of National Defence repeated that message as they provided details on the evacuation and quarantine plan Wednesday at the House of Commons health committee.

Safeguards in place include masks, gowns and other protective gear on board the plane, and a plan to isolate a passenger if they experience symptoms during the flight, officials said.

Once at the Yukon Lodge on the Trenton base for the two-week quarantine, returnees will be monitored and transferred to public health authorities if they experience any symptoms.

The 280-single room area could accommodate 300 or more people depending on family groupings, but defence officials are also scouting out other possible facilities.

“We are continuously forward-planning, contingency planning, so in addition to having a strong understanding of the resources that are available in Trenton, we are conducting a stock-take of infrastructure and accommodations at Canadian Forces bases throughout Canada,” he said.

Other Canadians are also under quarantine due to the coronavirus. Princess Cruises has confirmed 251 Canadians are aboard a quarantined cruise ship where there’s been a confirmed outbreak of coronavirus off the coast of Japan.

So far, 10 people from the ship have tested positive for coronavirus and have been taken ashore to hospital, but none of the Canadian passengers have tested positive in the first phase of screening.

Trudeau said the government is working to get more information about that situation.

“We’re very much engaged … we are alert and engaged in their issue and trying to work with families at home to reassure them as well,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on countries to contribute to a $ 675 million US ($ 897 million Cdn) fund needed to help countries around the world prepare for and deal with the virus, warning “invest today, or pay more later.”

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the relatively small number of cases outside China means there’s a “window of opportunity” to prevent the outbreak from becoming a broader global crisis.

WATCH | Petal Wang passes through a checkpoint at Wuhan airport to find the flight to Canada is delayed:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tells reporters on Parliament Hill that weather has delayed a flight for Canadians wanting to leave Wuhan, China. 1:15

Hajdu has said if a second Canadian plane is needed, the process likely will be much faster than it was for the first aircraft. At the earlier stages of the outbreak, there were relatively few Canadians who had registered as being in the region and the government thought they could be extricated using allied partners.

Extensive screening measures

Hajdu said travellers showing symptoms of coronavirus or other respiratory illnesses will not be allowed to board the Canadian plane as a precaution, and there will be various levels of screening and monitoring throughout the process. If anyone develops symptoms during the flight, they will be separated from others on board.

China’s policy is to only allow foreign nationals travelling on foreign passports to leave the country, as a measure to prevent the spread of the virus. China made an exception to allow permanent residents of Canada and Chinese citizens to leave if they’re accompanying a child who is a Canadian citizen.

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What the temporary ceasefire deal in northern Syria means for key players in the conflict

The temporary ceasefire announced Thursday by the U.S. and Turkey promised to bring the fighting in northern Syria to a halt for now — but what happens after the pause in Turkey’s military operation is an open question. 

According to the agreement, Turkey will pause its incursion into Kurdish-held territory in Syria for 120 hours, allowing the U.S. to help Kurdish forces withdraw from the region. The U.S. says Turkey has agreed to a permanent ceasefire once the Kurds withdraw.

Within hours of the deal’s announcement key players were already disagreeing on the details and questioning how it would actually unfold on the ground.

The deal, while light on specifics, does provide a temporary respite for thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire. It also buys crucial time for a flurry of diplomatic activity that will be key to how the situation unfolds, some analysts say.

But just a day after the deal, journalists reported hearing shelling and gunfire in a Syrian town that was at the centre of clashes, despite the ceasefire. 

Here’s a look at what the deal means for the key players — if it holds. 

The United States

“Great for everybody.”

That’s U.S. President Donald Trump’s view on the deal reached after Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were dispatched to Turkey. But critics point out the hostilities his administration stopped were originally set in motion because of decisions Trump made. 

During an Oct. 5 call, Trump promised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan he would remove U.S. troops from the Kurdish-controlled border area on the Turkish-Syrian border. That decision effectively gave Erdogan a green light to attack Kurdish fighters, who Turkey associates with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a designated terrorist group in Turkey.

See the letter Trump sent Erdogan.


An Oct. 9 letter from U.S. President Donald Trump to Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan warned Erdogan about Turkish military policy and the Kurdish people in Syria. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

“The arsonist then says he’s putting out the fire. Well what do you know, there wasn’t a fire in the first place,” Lindsey Hilsum, international editor with Britain’s Channel 4 News told CBC’s As It Happens about Trump’s response to the conflict and subsequent deal.

Democrats and some Republicans portrayed the deal as a betrayal of Kurdish fighters, who were U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS.

“What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a blood stain in the annals of American history,” said Republican Sen. Mitt Romney in a scathing speech from the Senate floor.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat, had a highly critical take on Twitter: “This isn’t a ceasefire — it’s a total capitulation to Turkey and the capstone of our abandonment of the Kurds. Don’t pay attention to the headline — read the actual agreement. It’s effectively surrender.”

As for the president? He maintains that his course of action was the right one. 


But Mustafa Akyol, a senior fellow at the CATO Institute, said a similar deal could have been reached without the bloodshed of the last week if the U.S had sought negotiation first.

“I think the U.S. lost some credibility in the past week because of [policy] zig-zags and the letter Trump sent to Erdogan,” Akyol said, referring to a letter released by the White House this week in order to show the president’s tough stance with Turkey.

Turkey

Analysts say Turkey is the clear winner here, essentially getting Trump’s stamp of approval on what they sought from the beginning: a large swath of northern Syria serving as a buffer between Turkey and Kurdish-controlled territory.

Much of the outcome depends on whether Kurdish forces actually vacate a 30-kilometre-wide stretch from Manbij to the Iraqi border. But John Dunford, who works with the Institute for the Study of War, said for now Turkey gets what it wanted. 

“This is a huge win for Turkey in that it basically cedes the YPG’s core areas without much of a fight,” Dunford said, referring to the group of Kurdish fighters known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party.


The deal allows Turkey to avoid possibly punishing U.S. sanctions. It also leaves a lot of wiggle room, said Heiko Wimmen, project director for Iraq, Syria and Lebanon with the International Crisis Group. He notes that there’s little preventing Turkey from continuing to press ahead with its incursion after the initial pause in hostilities.

But Daniel Davis, a retired lieutenant-colonel who now works at a think tank called Defense Priorities, warned that Turkey may not be able to easily sweep through Kurdish-controlled territory in Syria. Recalling the challenges faced by the U.S. military in Iraq, he said Kurdish forces won’t give up easily and an insurgency is likely.

“That’s a very real possibility that the Turkish military could be getting into. These things never work out nice and clean militarily like they seem at the beginning,” said Davis, whose Washington-based organization has argued for a more narrow use of U.S. force.

The Kurds

For the Kurds, the deal is effectively another sign the U.S. has abandoned its former ally in the fight against the ISIS.

“It can be seen as an even further betrayal of the YPG, by forcing them to give up their core terrain,” Dunford said.


Syrian displaced families, who fled violence after the Turkish offensive against Syria, sit in a bus after arrival at a refugee camp in Bardarash on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq. (Ari Jalal/Reuters)

“They are the losers, they lose territory, their margin of manoeuvre has contracted dramatically,”  Wimmen said, noting that Kurds had in recent days turned to Syrian Leader Bashar al-Assad for military assistance.

Russia

The big winner in this could be Russia. The propaganda value alone of seeing U.S. troops withdraw and Russian troops move into the region is a win, said Dunford.

Russia can also step in to mediate between Kurds and the Assad regime — and potentially between the Kurds and Turkey.

 “So that’s a big boost for Russia, because Russia can use that to legitimize themselves as an international peace broker,” Dunford said.

Davis said the vacuum left by the U.S. departure helps the Russians in Syria, which has been focused on keeping Assad in power and maintaining their military presence and influence in the region.

But Davis warned that Russia’s increased role could be a double-edged sword. As Syrian forces align with the Kurds and push north toward Turkey, two past rivals — Syria and Turkey — could see renewed hostilities.

“The disaster and the chaos of northern Syria is no prize to be won,” Davis said.

Turkey’s president already has a meeting scheduled for the day the ceasefire ends, but it’s not with American officials. Instead, Erdogan will be meeting with Vladimir Putin in the Russian resort town of Sochi.

Syria

With the U.S. president seemingly washing his hands of the region, Assad can now move his forces into parts of Syria he had once abandoned.

That allows the Syrian regime to try and re-establish its presence in the northern part of the country and impose limits on Kurdish demands for autonomy, knowing they have nowhere else to turn, Wimmen said.

Dunford noted that regaining that territory has been a long-standing goal of the Assad regime, but if Turkey is allowed to establish a safe zone with a Turkish armed presence, that could slow Syria’s efforts.

He said a lot will be determined by what Russia, Assad’s primary backer, is able to negotiate with Turkey. 

“That’s definitely a hindrance to what the regime wants in terms of being able to control the entirety of Syria and maintaining the Syrian borders as they are right now.”

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What the temporary ceasefire in northern Syria means for key players in the conflict

The temporary ceasefire announced Thursday by the U.S. and Turkey promised to bring the fighting in northern Syria to a halt for now — but what happens after the pause in Turkey’s military operation is an open question. 

According to the agreement, Turkey will pause its incursion into Kurdish-held territory in Syria for 120 hours, allowing the U.S. to help Kurdish forces withdraw from the region. The U.S. says Turkey has agreed to a permanent ceasefire once the Kurds withdraw.

Within hours of the deal’s announcement key players were already disagreeing on the details and questioning how it would actually unfold on the ground.

The deal, while light on specifics, does provide a temporary respite for thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire. It also buys crucial time for a flurry of diplomatic activity that will be key to how the situation unfolds, some analysts say.

But just a day after the deal, journalists reported hearing shelling and gunfire in a Syrian town that was at the centre of clashes, despite the ceasefire. 

Here’s a look at what the deal means for the key players — if it holds. 

The United States

“Great for everybody.”

That’s U.S. President Donald Trump’s view on the deal reached after Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were dispatched to Turkey. But critics point out the hostilities his administration stopped were originally set in motion because of decisions Trump made. 

During an Oct. 5 call, Trump promised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan he would remove U.S. troops from the Kurdish-controlled border area on the Turkish-Syrian border. That decision effectively gave Erdogan a green light to attack Kurdish fighters, who Turkey associates with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a designated terrorist group in Turkey.

See the letter Trump sent Erdogan.


An Oct. 9 letter from U.S. President Donald Trump to Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan warned Erdogan about Turkish military policy and the Kurdish people in Syria. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

“The arsonist then says he’s putting out the fire. Well what do you know, there wasn’t a fire in the first place,” Lindsey Hilsum, international editor with Britain’s Channel 4 News told CBC’s As It Happens about Trump’s response to the conflict and subsequent deal.

Democrats and some Republicans portrayed the deal as a betrayal of Kurdish fighters, who were U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS.

“What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a blood stain in the annals of American history,” said Republican Sen. Mitt Romney in a scathing speech from the Senate floor.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat, had a highly critical take on Twitter: “This isn’t a ceasefire – it’s a total capitulation to Turkey and the capstone of our abandonment of the Kurds. Don’t pay attention to the headline – read the actual agreement. It’s effectively surrender.”

As for the president? He maintains that his course of action was the right one. 


But Mustafa Akyol, a senior fellow at the CATO Institute, said a similar deal could have been reached without the bloodshed of the last week if the U.S had sought negotiation first.

“I think the U.S. lost some credibility in the past week because of [policy] zig-zags and the letter Trump sent to Erdogan,” Akyol said, referring to a letter released by the White House this week in order to show the president’s tough stance with Turkey.

Turkey

Analysts say Turkey is the clear winner here, essentially getting Trump’s stamp of approval on what they sought from the beginning: a large swath of northern Syria serving as a buffer between Turkey and Kurdish-controlled territory.

Much of the outcome depends on whether Kurdish forces actually vacate a 30-kilometre-wide stretch from Manbij to the Iraqi border. But John Dunford, who works with the Institute for the Study of War, said for now Turkey gets what it wanted. 

“This is a huge win for Turkey in that it basically cedes the YPG’s core areas without much of a fight,” Dunford said, referring to the group of Kurdish fighters known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party.


The deal allows Turkey to avoid possibly punishing U.S. sanctions. It also leaves a lot of wiggle room, said Heiko Wimmen, project director for Iraq, Syria and Lebanon with the International Crisis Group. He notes that there’s little preventing Turkey from continuing to press ahead with its incursion after the initial pause in hostilities.

But Daniel Davis, a retired lieutenant-colonel who now works at a think tank called Defense Priorities, warned that Turkey may not be able to easily sweep through Kurdish-controlled territory in Syria. Recalling the challenges faced by the U.S. military in Iraq, he said Kurdish forces won’t give up easily and an insurgency is likely.

“That’s a very real possibility that the Turkish military could be getting into. These things never work out nice and clean militarily like they seem at the beginning,” said Davis, whose Washington-based organization has argued for a more narrow use of U.S. force.

The Kurds

For the Kurds, the deal is effectively another sign the U.S. has abandoned its former ally in the fight against the Islamic State.

“It can be seen as an even further betrayal of the YPG, by forcing them to give up their core terrain,” Dunford said.


Syrian displaced families, who fled violence after the Turkish offensive against Syria, sit in a bus after arrival at a refugee camp in Bardarash on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq. (Ari Jalal/Reuters)

“They are the losers, they lose territory, their margin of manoeuvre has contracted dramatically,”  Wimmen said, noting that Kurds had in recent days turned to Syrian Leader Bashar al-Assad for military assistance.

Russia

The big winners in this could be Russia. The propaganda value alone of seeing U.S. troops withdraw and Russian troops move into the region is a win, said Dunford.

Russia can also step in to mediate between Kurds and the Assad regime — and potentially between the Kurds and Turkey.

 “So that’s a big boost for Russia, because Russia can use that to legitimize themselves as an international peace broker,” Dunford said.

Davis said the vacuum left by the U.S. departure helps the Russians in Syria, which has been focused on keeping Assad in power and maintaining their military presence and influence in the region.

But Davis warned that Russia’s increased role could be a double-edged sword. As Syrian forces align with the Kurds and push north toward Turkey, two past rivals — Syria and Turkey — could see renewed hostilities.

“The disaster and the chaos of northern Syria is no prize to be won,” Davis said.

Turkey’s president already has a meeting scheduled for the day the ceasefire ends, but it’s not with American officials. Instead, Erdogan will be meeting with Vladimir Putin in the Russian resort town of Sochi.

Syria

With the U.S. president seemingly washing his hands of the region, Assad can now move his forces into parts of Syria he had once abandoned.

That allows the Syrian regime to try and re-establish its presence in the northern part of the country and impose limits on Kurdish demands for autonomy, knowing they have nowhere else to turn, Wimmen said.

Dunford noted that regaining that territory has been a long-standing goal of the Assad regime, but if Turkey is allowed to establish a safe zone with a Turkish armed presence, that could slow Syria’s efforts.

He said a lot will be determined by what Russia, Assad’s primary backer, is able to negotiate with Turkey. 

“That’s definitely a hindrance to what the regime wants in terms of being able to control the entirety of Syria and maintaining the Syrian borders as they are right now.”

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What Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy filing means for Canada

This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of eclectic and under-the-radar health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.


Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. this week to protect itself and its owners from more than 2,000 lawsuits over their role in the ongoing opioid crisis, but the move has put pressure on Canadian efforts to bring the company to face legal action here.

The company, which is owned by members of the Sackler family, made billions selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin that is widely seen as a catalyst to the crisis that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sunday and proposed a settlement in the U.S. worth up to $ 12 billion US.

At the centre of the lawsuits is the allegation that the company marketed and promoted prescription opioids as less addictive than was actually known, while misleading both those prescribing the medications and the patients themselves about the risks. 

Future of Canadian lawsuits

Last year, the B.C. government launched a similar class-action lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and more than 40 other companies on behalf of all provincial, territorial and federal governments over the marketing of opioids in Canada in an effort to recover the health care costs of the crisis. 

The concern in Canada is that because of the U.S. bankruptcy filing, the assets at the centre of the lawsuit could be in jeopardy, says Matthew Herder, director of the Health Law Institute at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

“There’s a bit of a race underway to secure what wealth in that company because that is ultimately the source of the money that might be paid,” he said.

“There have been reports of the Sackler family having transferred wealth to various offshore locations, so there are growing questions around what the financial state of play is for that company and its affiliates like the Canadian ones.” 

Reidar Mogerman, lead counsel for the lawsuit in B.C., says the provinces are looking for “fair resolution” that can address the ongoing opioid crisis. 

“The total cost, if I win my case, is bigger than Purdue can pay. They have set loose an epidemic that is larger than they can pay for,” Mogerman said.

“The provinces are realistic about what they will recover. They’re not necessarily going to recover every dollar they’ve spent, but they are going to recover enough money to help fix the crisis, and they’re going to recover from the people they say were responsible for the crisis.”

The bankruptcy filing also speaks to the lack of federal regulation Purdue Pharma has faced in Canada over its marketing of OxyContin, says Dr. Nav Persaud, a family doctor at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. 


Allegations of misleading advertising in the marketing of opioids such as OxyContin are at the heart of the lawsuits in the U.S. and Canada. (Toby Talbot/The Associated Press)

“It shows how Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers have been given free rein in Canada,” he said. 

A key point of contention in the lawsuit is the claim from Purdue Pharma Canada that it is a “separate company” from Purdue Pharma in the U.S. and the actions taken to settle litigation there don’t “directly affect” its business in Canada.

“Purdue Canada is being a bit cute in saying that they are a separate entity for the purpose of the bankruptcy because they are a wholly owned asset of the bankrupt company,” Mogerman said. 

“Eventually, that bankruptcy will swallow Purdue Canada.” 

Misleading marketing allegations

The Canadian lawsuit rests on the same principles alleging misleading advertising and understating the addictive qualities of opioids, but there are differences in the legal systems that make prosecuting the companies challenging — including the speed in which the courts move. 

“It has taken them I think 20 years, but the tobacco companies in Canada are now bankrupt and facing the recovery actions brought by the provinces, it has just taken a long time to get there,” Mogerman said. 

Eventually, the result will be the same. If they did something bad they’re going to have to pay in Canada, just like they will in the U.S.” 

Purdue Pharma Canada said in a statement that it followed all of Health Canada’s regulations, including those governing marketing, and it’s “deeply concerned” about the opioid crisis in B.C. and across Canada.

But Persaud says there is “documented evidence” from Purdue Pharma Canada alleging long-acting opioids such as OxyContin had a lower abuse potential, which was written in reference books for physicians and ads in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Sacklers under fire

Ahead of the bankruptcy filing this summer, the Canadian class action also applied to add individual members of the Sackler family to the lawsuit, as well as other “senior decision makers” at Purdue Pharma Canada. 

“We are comfortable, based on the things that we’ve alleged, that those individuals are also liable for the healthcare costs that the government entities paid in relation to opioids,” Mogerman said. 

“They’re not the company but they have their own potential individual liability and they don’t want to be chased to the ends of the earth for their share.”

Herder says the decision to apply to add the Sacklers to the Canadian lawsuit is the “right move” but doesn’t necessarily mean it will be successful in establishing liability. 

“I don’t think that’s the end of the story as to whether the Sacklers will ever pay a dime of their own personal finances.”


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Epstein’s death and what it means for his accusers

Financier Jeffrey Epstein killed himself while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in New York, officials said Saturday. His death angered some accusers who had hoped to confront him in court and see him serve a long prison sentence.

It also raises questions about how he was able to harm himself while in federal custody.

Epstein was accused of paying underage girls hundreds of dollars in cash for massages and then sexually abusing them at various locations, including homes in Palm Beach, Florida, and in New York from 2002 through 2005. He had pleaded not guilty.

Here’s a look at Epstein’s case and what comes next:

Who was Jeffrey Epstein?

Epstein, 66, was a hedge fund manager who hobnobbed with the rich, famous and influential, including presidents and a prince.

Epstein owned a private island in the Caribbean, homes in Paris and New York City, a New Mexico ranch, and a fleet of high-price cars. His friends had once included Britain’s Prince Andrew, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.S. President Donald Trump. Clinton and Trump both said they hadn’t seen Epstein in years and knew nothing of his alleged misconduct when new charges were brought against him last month.

Under a 2008 non-prosecution agreement, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges in Florida of solicitation of prostitution involving a minor and another similar prostitution charge. That allowed him to avoid federal prosecution and a possible life sentence.

Instead he served 13 months in a work-release program. He was required to make payments to victims and register as a sex offender.


New York City medical examiner personnel leave their vehicle and walk to the Manhattan Correctional Center Saturday. (Bebeto Matthews/The Associated Press)

How did he die?

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons said Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center early Saturday.

Staff tried to revive him, and he was transported to a local hospital for treatment. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Epstein had been held in the jail’s Special Housing Unit, a heavily secured part of the facility that separates high-profile inmates from the general population, but his death is likely to raise questions about how the Federal Bureau of Prisons ensures the welfare of high-profile inmates.

Attorney General William Barr said he was “appalled” by the news of the suicide.

Before he took his own life, Epstein has been taken off suicide watch, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press. The person wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Epstein had previously been found with bruises to the neck while in custody, though it was not clear if those were self-inflicted or the result of an assault.

The FBI and the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Justice will investigate his death.

What was the new case against him?

Federal prosecutors in New York charged Epstein with sex trafficking and conspiracy after investigative reporting by The Miami Herald stirred outrage over the 2008 plea bargain. They accused him of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls.

A conviction could have put him in prison for 45 years.

At the time of Epstein’s arrest, prosecutors said they found a trove of pictures of nude and seminude young women and girls at his $ 77-million Manhattan mansion. They also say additional victims have come forward since the arrest.

But his attorneys insisted that Epstein hadn’t had any illicit contact with underage girls since serving his sentence in Florida. They argued that the new charges were improper because they covered largely the same ground as the non-prosecution agreement.


Sigrid McCawley, an attorney representing one of the alleged victims of Jeffery Epstein, speaks to reporters in front of a courthouse in New York, Thursday, July 18. She said ‘the reckoning of accountability’ should not end. (Seth Wenig/The Associated Press)

What happens now for his accusers?

Several of Epstein’s victims said Saturday that they’re disappointed that the financier won’t have to face them in court or serve a long prison sentence if convicted. They called on federal authorities to investigate associates of Epstein for any role in his activities.

Sigrid McCawley, an attorney representing one accuser, said in a statement that “the reckoning of accountability begun by the voices of brave and truthful victims should not end” with Epstein’s death.

Another accuser, Jennifer Araoz, who came forward after the new charges were filed, said she was angered by Epstein’s suicide. Araoz alleged that Epstein raped her in his New York mansion in the early 2000s when she was 15.

“We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed the pain and trauma he caused so many people,” she said.

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What the latest setback means for Caster Semenya

After the Swiss Supreme Court reversed its ruling yesterday, Caster Semenya is not allowed to defend her title at the upcoming track and field world championships. This is a big development in the fascinating saga of one of the sport’s biggest names. We know it’s been hard to follow all the twists and turns, so here’s a quick refresher and an explanation of what just happened and what it means for Semenya’s future:

Who is Semenya again?

She’s the middle-distance runner from South Africa who specializes in the 800 metres. She won the gold medal in that race at the last two Olympics, and at the world championships in 2009, 2011 and 2017. She was the heavy favourite to repeat as the world champion a couple of months from now, and to win Olympic gold again next summer.

What’s the controversy?

Semenya was classified as female at birth and has identified as female her entire life. But she has X and Y chromosomes (the normal male pattern) and was born with an intersex condition. That means she has both female and male biological characteristics, including testosterone levels that fall in the normal male range.

Track and field’s world governing body (the IAAF) believes this gives Semenya, and the small number of athletes with the same condition, an unfair advantage when they compete against other women in track events ranging from 400 metres to a mile. The IAAF even argued in court that these athletes are “biologically male.” So it made a rule requiring them to lower their testosterone levels closer to the typical female range in order to stay eligible for those events.

Semenya challenged this in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which acknowledged the rule is problematic but allowed it to stand. Semenya then appealed to the Swiss Supreme Court, which ordered the IAAF to put the rule on hold until the court made a final decision. Semenya continued running in her natural state this season and continued dominating the 800.

Heavy favourite Caster Semenya coasted past the competition again with a time of 1:55.69 to win her 31st straight women’s 800-metre race at the IAAF Diamond League event at Stanford University. 5:17

So what just happened?

On Tuesday, the Swiss Supreme Court reversed its temporary ruling after deciding that the arguments made by Semenya and her lawyers did not meet the threshold needed for an interim suspension of the IAAF rule. So, until the court reaches a final decision on her case, Semenya has to abide by the testosterone limit if she wants to compete in any IAAF-sanctioned races between 400 metres and a mile.

So why can’t she defend her world title?

We don’t know when the Swiss Supreme Court will make its final ruling, but it won’t arrive in time for Semenya to get into the 800-metre field at the world championships, which start at the end of September. And lowering her testosterone is not an option — at least for the worlds. For one, Semenya has vowed she won’t take hormone-altering drugs. Also, the IAAF’s policy requires her to lower her testosterone level into the acceptable range for six months before she’s eligible to compete.

What’s next?

The Swiss Supreme Court is the last stop in the appeal process. Its final ruling will likely determine whether Semenya has a chance to defend her Olympic title in the 800 next summer. If it goes against her, and she remains committed to keeping her natural body chemistry, she would have to shift to races that fall outside of the 400 metres to one mile range covered by the IAAF rule. If she chooses the sprint side, the 200 is the closest thing to her favoured 800. If she opts for distance, it’s the 5,000 or maybe the 3,000 steeplechase (that’s the one with the big hurdles). Whatever direction she goes, it’s a stretch.

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

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