KEY FACTS

6:10 a.m.: BioNTech, Pfizer ask Europe to OK vaccine for emergency use

6:07 a.m.: Statistics Canada to say today how country’s economy fared in third quarter of 2020

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

9:15 a.m. (updated) Two schools in the York Catholic District school board are closed due to active cases of COVID-19.

St. Padre Pio Catholic Elementary School in Vaughan is closed until Dec. 9, with five active cases reported in two classrooms.

St. Benedict Catholic Elementary School in Markham is closed until Dec. 14, with four cases of COVID-19 reported in two of the school’s classrooms.

9 a.m. Statistics Canada says the economy grew at a record annualized pace of 40.5 per cent in the third quarter as businesses came out of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Financial data firm Refinitiv says the average economist estimate was for an annualized growth rate of 47.6 per cent for the quarter.

The rebound over July, August and September was a sharp turnaround from the preceding three-month stretch saw a record drop.

Driving the bounce-back were the further rolling back of public health restrictions that allowed businesses to reopen.

Statistics Canada also says there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates and household spending on goods like cars.

Despite the overall increase, the national statistics office says real gross domestic product still remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.

8:38 a.m. The German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and its U.S. partner Pfizer say they have submitted an application for speeded-up, conditional approval of their coronavirus vaccine with the European Medicines Agency.

The two companies said Tuesday that the submission, which occurred Monday, completes the rolling review process they initiated with the agency on Oct. 6.

The move comes a day after rival Moderna said it was asking U.S. and European regulators to allow the use of its COVID-19 vaccine.

BioNTech said if the vaccine, currently named BNT162b2, is approved, its use in Europe could begin before the end of 2020.

The companies said last month that clinical trials with 44,000 participants showed the vaccine had an efficacy rate of 95 per cent. The success rate in particularly vulnerable older age groups was more than 94 per cent, they said.

BioNTech and Pfizer have already submitted a request for emergency approval with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.K. regulator MHRA, as well as rolling submissions in other countries including in Australia, Canada and Japan.

“We have known since the beginning of this journey that patients are waiting, and we stand ready to ship COVID-19 vaccine doses as soon as potential authorizations will allow us,” Pfizer’s chief executive Albert Bourla said in a statement.

8:30 a.m. Two schools in York Region have closed because of COVID-19 outbreaks. St. Padre Pio Catholic Elementary School in Vaughan and St. Benedict Catholic Elementary School in Markham each reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and the schools have been closed due to the outbreaks.

8:24 a.m. Ontario is being urged to expand testing of staff and students — especially in hot spots — after the first site in Toronto uncovered some 19 cases at one elementary school.

“When it comes to our schools and the safety of our students … we need a robust, fully staffed in-school testing program,” said New Democrat MPP Marit Stiles, her party’s education critic and a former trustee for the Toronto District School Board.

“Why, after all these months, is the government still reacting to this virus instead of listening to the experts, planning ahead and investing the resources necessary to keep our schools open and our students safe?”

Read the full story from the Star’s Kristin Rushowy and Robert Benzie

7 a.m. The European Medicines Agency will convene a meeting on Dec. 29 to decide if there is enough data about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for it to be approved, the regulator said Tuesday.

The agency also said Tuesday it could decide as early as Jan. 12 whether to approve a rival COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna Inc.

The German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and its U.S. partner Pfizer said earlier Tuesday that they had asked the regulator for speeded-up, conditional approval of their coronavirus vaccine, concluding the rolling review process they initiated with the agency on Oct. 6.

The move comes a day after rival Moderna said it was asking U.S. and European regulators to allow the use of its COVID-19 vaccine.

BioNTech said if the vaccine, currently named BNT162b2, is approved, its use in Europe could begin before the end of 2020. The companies said last month that clinical trials with 44,000 participants showed the vaccine is 95 per cent effective. The efficacy rate in particularly vulnerable older age groups was more than 94 per cent, they said.

In a statement, the EU medicines regulator said it had already begun a “rolling review” of the Moderna vaccine based on laboratory data previously submitted by the company and would now assess data on how well that vaccine triggers an immune response and whether it is safe enough for broad use across Europe.

6:17 a.m.: Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix.

The Mercedes team said in a statement Tuesday that Hamilton was tested three times last week and returned a negative result each time, the last on Sunday afternoon at the Bahrain International Circuit.

“But he up woke Monday morning with mild symptoms and was informed at the same time that a contact prior to arrival in Bahrain had subsequently tested positive,” the team said. “Lewis, therefore, took a further test and returned a positive result. This has since been confirmed by a retest.”

Hamilton is in isolation in accordance with the health protocols in Bahrain.

“Apart from mild symptoms, he is otherwise fit and well, and the entire team sends him its very best wishes for a swift recovery,” the team statement said.

The 35-year-old Hamilton appeared to be drained at the end of the Bahrain GP, which was marred by a crash that left Romain Grosjean with minor burns to his hands and ankles after his Haas car crashed and burst into flames moments after the start.

6:15 a.m.: Coronavirus quarantine restrictions will remain imposed in the Philippine capital during the Christmas season this month and officials said they will ban big Christmas parties in Asia’s largest Roman Catholic nation to prevent new infection spikes.

President Rodrigo Duterte said in televised remarks late Monday that aside from Metropolitan Manila, the bustling capital region of more than 12 million, the “general community quarantine” would be imposed in seven other cities and provinces in December.

The restrictions ban large public gatherings, actual school classes and entertainment businesses but allow shopping malls, restaurants and essential shops, including barber shops, to operate with required safeguards, including the wearing of face masks and shields and social distancing.

Duterte lamented that many still defy quarantine restrictions like the wearing of face masks and warned of a possible resurgence of infections like in some Western countries.

“In the Philippines, it’s hard-headedness,” Duterte said.

The Philippines has reported more than 431,600 confirmed coronavirus infections, the second-highest in Southeast Asia, with at least 8,392 deaths.

6:15 a.m.: Germany’s science minister says the same safety standards are being applied in the approval process for coronavirus vaccines as for other drugs.

Anja Karliczek told reporters on Tuesday that ensuring the same standards is key to gaining the widest possible public acceptance for the COVID vaccine.

Karliczek noted that the European Medicines Agency will be holding a public hearing on Dec. 11 on an approval request by German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and its U.S. partner Pfizer.

She added that the vaccine will be voluntary and that authorities will work hard to inform the public about possible side effects that might be excepted after immunization, such as headaches, localized pain and fever.

Marylyn Addo, a doctor at Hamburg’s UKE hospital who is involved in the trials for a rival vaccine, said that the rapid development of a vaccine was the result of enormous efforts by scientists, early funding and experience from previous vaccines.

6:15 a.m.: The head of the World Health Organization said that “Mexico is in bad shape” with the pandemic and urged its leaders be serious about the coronavirus and set examples for its citizens.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s comments came Monday as Mexico’s death toll rose to 105,940 — the fourth highest in the world — with 1,113,543 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. The country’s actual numbers are believed to be much higher partly because of low testing levels.

“The number of increasing cases and deaths in Mexico is very worrisome,” he said in a briefing to the press.

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Mexican President Andrés López Obrador has been criticized for often not wearing a mask and while not mentioning names or specific cases, the WHO chief urged the country’s leaders to take the pandemic seriously.

“We would like to ask Mexico to be very serious,” he said. “We have said it in general, wearing a mask is important, hygiene is important and physical distancing is important and we expect leaders to be examples …”

6:13 a.m.: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad said the coronavirus pandemic has increased trafficking of women and gender-based violence, leaving the health and safety of women “on the line.”

The 27-year-old activist, who was forced into sexual slavery by Islamic State fighters in Iraq, said curfews, lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed by governments to slow the spread of the virus “have had unintended consequences on women worldwide.”

“Rather than reducing human trafficking and gender-based violence, the pandemic has increased the risk of exploitation and brutality against those most vulnerable,” she said. “Numerous countries have seen increases in reports of domestic violence since the pandemic began.”

Murad said domestic tensions have intensified in confined living spaces, and stay-at-home orders “are increasing human trafficking farther underground, out of sight of law enforcement.”

6:12 a.m.: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday urged residents to stay home as the city grapples with a resurgence of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 600 people in the last week.

Lam asked citizens to “refrain from social gatherings” and said that people, in particular the elderly, should remain at home.

“The latest wave of the epidemic is rather severe. Every one of us should do our best and exercise a high level of discipline to fight the pandemic,” she said at a regular news conference. “The coming two weeks is a crucial period.”

The city reported 82 new infections on Tuesday, 23 of which were unlinked to known clusters. Hong Kong has reported 6,397 infections since the pandemic began, with 109 deaths.

6:10 a.m.: German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and its U.S. partner Pfizer say they have submitted an application for conditional approval of their coronavirus vaccine with the European Medicines Agency.

The two companies said Tuesday that the submission, which occurred Monday, completes the rolling review process they initiated with the agency on Oct. 6.

The move comes a day after rival Moderna said it was asking U.S. and European regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine.

BioNTech said that if the vaccine, currently named BNT162b2, is approved, its use in Europe could begin before the end of 2020.

6:10 a.m.: A retired top doctor says public health orders have to balance science with society if they are to be effective.

“(Measures) will only work if you have a majority of the population that supports it,” said Andre Corriveau, who was Alberta’s chief medical officer of health from 2009 to 2012.

“You can’t pass measures that a majority of the public is not supportive of, because it’s not enforceable.”

Corriveau, speaking from Iqaluit, Nunavut, where he was advising that territory on how to deal with its COVID-19 cases, spoke after recordings were released that appeared to show Alberta’s current chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, expressing concern about politicians watering down her recommendations.

That just goes with the job, said Corriveau, who also served until last year as the top public health official in the Northwest Territories.

Experts such as himself or Hinshaw are responsible for winnowing through scientific evidence — often thin on the ground or hot off the research presses — to come up with the best advice they can. But, said Corriveau, judging what’s acceptable or how something should be implemented is a political decision.

6:07 a.m.: Weather is getting cooler and beards are getting bushier as some Canadian men look to add an extra layer of warmth to their faces this winter.

Others, motivated by lockdown measures and extended work-from-home terms, may view this as a perfect time to see how unruly those whiskers can get before a trim is needed.

But as long as mask-wearing is encouraged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, should they worry about facial hair interfering with the effectiveness of face coverings?

Read the full story from the Canadian Press here.

6:07 a.m.: The national statistics office will say this morning how much Canada’s domestic economy bounced back in the third quarter of the year.

The Canadian economy suffered its worst three-month stretch on record in the second quarter as the economy came to a near halt in April before starting to recover in May and June.

Expressed at an annualized rate, real gross domestic product fell 38.7 per cent in the second quarter, the worst posting on record.

The rebound is expected to be equally sharp in the ensuing three-month stretch over July, August and September.

Financial data firm Refinitiv says the average economist estimate is for an annualized growth rate of 47.6 per cent for the quarter.

The firm also says the average economist estimate is for a 0.9 per cent increase in real GDP for September, which Statistics Canada will also unveil this morning.

6 a.m.: A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first.

Thirty-seven per cent of respondents to a survey conducted by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they are very concerned that Canada may not receive doses of a new COVID vaccine as early as the United States.

“That’s not necessarily low, but I think most pundits would have expected this number to be much higher,” said Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

Meanwhile, 48 per cent say they are not concerned about getting a vaccine first and 10 per cent say they don’t care at all or are not planning to get vaccinated anyway.

Getting a vaccine before other countries doesn’t seem to be “a major (issue for the Liberal government), which is contrary to what we might have thought … when the prime minister actually said that we would not be the first ones to get doses,” Bourque said.

The amount of concern regarding getting a COVID-19 vaccine first varies along party lines, with 45 per cent of self-identified Conservative supporters saying they are very concerned that Canada may not receive doses of a new COVID vaccine at the same time as other countries. Only 38 per cent of Liberal supporters say they are concerned.



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