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Good evening. The coronavirus newsletter now publishes on Wednesdays.

Top headlines:

  1. The United States is using different Omicron-targeting COVID vaccines than Canada. Which country has the better vaccine?
  2. Canadians need a clear public health strategy to move on from COVID-19, disaster management experts say
  3. Long waits at the border won’t necessarily disappear when the ArriveCan app becomes optional, says the head of the Customs and Immigration Union, noting there will still be chronic staff shortages

An increasing number of health agencies have changed how they're reporting data on the coronavirus. A look at the current numbers in Canada for reported cases, deaths from COVID-19 and for hospitalizations can be found here.


COVID-19 updates from Canada and the world

  • Why is the U.S.’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccine different than Canada’s? We can’t say which vaccines are superior because they have not been studied in head-to-head trials. Here’s what we do know: The new formulations used by Canada and other countries contain components of BA.1, the first of the Omicron variants. However, this past summer, U.S. regulators asked for bivalent vaccines specifically targeting the sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, responsible for most of their country’s COVID cases. That change of plan meant that the vaccine companies didn’t have time to do human studies. Meanwhile, most other countries – including Canada – stuck with the original BA.1-targeted vaccines (which did undergo human testing).
  • Before Canadians move on from worrying about COVID-19, some disaster management experts say taking unpopular and arguably mundane measures now – investing in the social and public health infrastructure – can help us prepare for the next infectious disease crisis and avoid making the same mistakes again.
  • If travel volumes start to increase substantially there will be “significant delays” at Canada’s border points, warned the head of a union representing Canada’s customs and immigration officers. And long waits at the border won’t necessarily disappear when use of the controversial ArriveCan app soon becomes optional.
  • This year’s Lasker award for public service went to Lauren Gardner, an engineer who studies the spread of diseases. She worked with her lab team at Johns Hopkins University to develop the COVID-19 tracker as the coronavirus began spreading worldwide in January, 2020. The dashboard became a key resource and now tracks global cases, deaths, vaccines and more.
  • Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is demanding an end to the vaccine mandate for military members – the last remaining mandate still in place at the federal level.
  • A family doctor in Calgary has filed a human rights complaint over Ottawa’s decision to no longer require masks on airplanes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Dr. David Keegan, who has a cardiopulmonary condition, says he was quite concerned when he heard the announcement and immediately filed his complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
  • Ontario family doctors left the profession at the start of the pandemic at double the rate of the years before COVID-19 hit, new research indicates.
  • Ontario is no longer pursuing charges against a former member of parliament, Derek Sloan, and a former member of provincial parliament, Randy Hillier, for attending COVID-19 restriction protests. The Justice Centre says it is pleased the Crown won’t be pursuing the charges any more because “peaceful demonstration is an essential pillar of democratic society.”
  • Quebec’s election campaign, which ends on Oct. 3, is in stark contrast to campaigns conducted during the pandemic in other provinces. The French phrase “bain de foule,” which directly translates into English as “crowd bath,” is used to describe walkabouts at public places such as markets, regional fairs and busy commercial streets. Politicians bathing in crowds is a sign of the atmosphere of Quebec’s election campaign: masks are rare, candidates are up close with supporters and political rallies are back.

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Information centre

Everything you need to know about Canada’s travel rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated people

When will COVID-19 be endemic? The four factors that will shape the virus’s future

Wastewater is filling the COVID-19 data gap

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