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Ottawa chose not to exercise option to buy 16 million more doses of Moderna vaccine

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The federal government has chosen not to exercise its option to buy up to 16 million more doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, Procurement Minister Anita Anand’s office told CBC News late Sunday.

Ottawa initially ordered 20 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, with an option to receive up to 56 million total. In December, the federal government announced it had exercised its option for an additional 20 million doses.

But the chance to buy up to 16 million more doses has now expired, the department said today. The government has not disclosed the terms of those options.

Despite this, Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada doesn’t need to approve additional vaccine candidates to meet its goal of inoculating everyone who wants a COVID-19 shot by September. She also said that target could be reached ahead of schedule.

Canada gave the green light to Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s messenger RNA vaccines last month, but independent regulators are still reviewing other candidates, such as the AstraZeneca-Oxford product.

“Prior to Christmas … we exercised 20 million options of Moderna. So that allows us to have 40 million doses of Moderna now in addition to our 20 million Pfizer doses,” Anand said on Sunday in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live. “That allows us to hit about 30 million Canadians.”

Both vaccines must be administered twice, although the Moderna vaccine does not require the same cold-storage conditions as the Pfizer-BioNTech product.

“We will be on track, without doubt, to ensure inoculations for all Canadians who want it by the end of September, if not sooner,” Anand told CBC Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton.

“That is the goal that I am pursuing every single day, moving up that end of September timeline so that we can see ourselves through to the other side of this pandemic as quickly as possible.”

Under the contract it has signed, Ottawa can still receive up to 56 million more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with discussions ongoing to exercise that agreement.

“The key for us in the exercise of options is the early delivery of doses to Canada,” Anand said. “That was what motivated us to exercise the 20 million Moderna options prior to the holidays.”

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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