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COVID herd immunity challenging, ICU linked to suicide rates : In The News for May 6

Last Updated May 6, 2021 at 1:17 am PDT

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 6 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Experts say Canada may find it challenging to reach herd immunity for COVID-19 but a return to pre-pandemic life is possible through vaccinations.

Considered the “endgame” for a vaccination blitz, herd immunity is achieved when enough people are immune either through vaccinations, infections, or a combination of both. 

Professor Paul Tupper from Simon Fraser University’s mathematics department says immunity through vaccines and infection doesn’t last permanently and because the virus is across the world, COVID is reintroduced in different places across borders.

The virus is being transmitted worldwide, which means it is reintroduced in different places across borders and immunity through vaccination and infection doesn’t last permanently. The vaccines don’t seem to be completely effective against some of the new variants, he said.

Tupper says COVID-19 may eventually become like the seasonal flu.

Also this …

New research believed to be the first of its kind suggests patients discharged from intensive care are at higher risk of suicide, a finding that could have implications for seriously ill COVID-19 patients. 

The study published in the medical journal BMJ looked at hundreds of thousands of adult ICU admissions in Ontario between 2009 and 2017 and found patients who made it through ICU had a 22 per cent higher risk of suicide compared with non-ICU hospital survivors and a 15 per cent higher risk of self-harm. 

The more invasive the life-saving procedures, such as mechanical ventilation or kidney dialysis, the more pronounced the effect.

The research also showed that younger people surviving ICU — those aged 18 to 34  —  appear at highest risk of harming themselves.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

The Biden administration is joining calls for more sharing of the technology behind COVID-19 vaccines to help speed the end of the pandemic.

The shift in policy puts the U.S. alongside many in the developing world who want rich countries to do more to get doses to the needy.

The idea also wasn’t dismissed by senior members of the Canadian government on Wednesday night.

United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced the U.S. government’s position amid World Trade Organization talks. The WTO is looking at a possible temporary waiver of its protections that would allow more manufacturers to produce the life-saving vaccines.

In the House of Commons, Health Minister Patty Hajdu was asked during an emergency debate on Alberta’s skyrocketing COVID-19 infection rate if Canada support’s Biden’s decision.

“The minister of international trade and I exchanged some texts actually when that happened and my understanding is that Canada is moving forward to support that,” she said.

“I think that the question is better posed to her in terms of those specifics because it is her file. But my understanding is that we have as a government full recognition of the importance of ensuring that everyone around the world gets access to vaccination as quickly as possible.”

In a tweet, International Trade Minister Mary Ng said the government is working with its international partners to support the W-T-O’s efforts to accelerate global vaccine production and distribution.

“Canada has always been, and remains, a strong advocate for equitable access to affordable, safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies around the world.”

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dominated Israeli politics for the past 12 years, but now he is facing the toughest challenge of his record-setting rule and could soon find himself pushed into the opposition.

Israel’s president has given opposition leader Yair Lapid the task of trying to form a new coalition government after Netanyahu failed to meet a deadline for forming a government himself.

Lapid, who was once Netanyahu’s governing partner but has morphed into a formidable nemesis, now has 28 days to cobble together a majority coalition in parliament with a range of parties that have little in common.

While he faces a difficult task — and Netanyahu is expected to do everything possible to undermine him — Lapid expressed optimism he could make history and end the rule of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. Netanyahu has held the post for a total of 15 years, though his standing has been weakened in recent years after being charged in a series of corruption scandals.

Lapid, 57, vowed to form a broad, unity government as soon as possible to end the years of deadlock and heal a divided nation.

“We need a government that will reflect the fact that we don’t hate one another,” he said. “A government in which left, right and centre will work together to tackle the economic and security challenges we face. A government that will show that our differences are a source of strength, not weakness.”

On this day in 1972 …

New Brunswick jockey Ron Turcotte rode “Riva Ridge” to victory in the Kentucky Derby. (One year later, Turcotte duplicated the feat aboard “Secretariat” en route to winning horse racing’s Triple Crown.)

In entertainment …

MONTREAL – This summer’s Just For Laughs comedy festival will have a different look as organizers plan a mix of virtual and in-person events.

A spokeswoman says plans include scaled-back live shows in Montreal, as well as satellite performances in New York City and Los Angeles.

Charlene Coy says organizers anticipate they’ll be able to host more than 15 indoor and outdoor performances in Montreal with audiences capped at roughly 250 people.

The standup shows will be streamed online for free, but hardcore comedy fans can pay to access premium content including the career-making “New Faces” showcase for up-and-coming comedians.

Coy says all programming will abide by Quebec’s COVID-19 measures, and more details will be revealed by the end of June.

The festival is set to run from July 26 to 31.

ICYMI …

OTTAWA – Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says G7 countries agree a co-ordinated approach to testing and ways of checking the vaccine status of international travellers will be needed once the pandemic recedes.

“We have committed to working on a common set of principles to guide the resumption of international travel when it’s safe to do so,” Alghabra said in a statement Wednesday following his virtual participation in the G7 transport ministers’ meeting.

“At the centre of this effort must be a co-ordinated approach for testing and a common platform for recognizing the vaccinated status of travellers.” 

Alghabra said the transport ministers have a leading role to play in advancing a new global framework for international travel that will be key to safely resuming the free movement of both people and goods around the world.

The G7 includes the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, along with the European Union.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said his department is involved in discussions with the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization around setting a universal standard to promote the safe travel of those who have been vaccinated.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Tuesday that Canada may require international travellers to prove they were vaccinated against COVID-19 before they can enter the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press