Good evening, here are the COVID-19 updates you need to know tonight.

Main titles:

  1. WHO rejects Medicago COVID-19 vaccine over Canadian company’s ties to tobacco industry
  2. Quebec Premier François Legault tests positive for COVID-19
  3. Messaging around masks will be debated after COVID-19: experts

Due to changes in testing prevalence, case counts alone are no longer a reliable indicator of the spread of COVID-19. Going forward, we will only include weekly death rates and hospitalizations in the newsletter. For an overview of COVID-19 data in Canada, go to the coronavirus tracker.

Over the past seven days, there have been 249 reported deaths, down 16 % over the same period. At least 3,628 people are treated in hospitals.

The inoculation rate in Canada is 15th among countries with a population of one million or more.

Sources: Canada data is compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins and the COVID-19 Canada Open Data Task Force; international data is from Johns Hopkins University.

Coronavirus explainers: Coronavirus in maps and graphs • Vaccine dose tracking • Lockdown and reopening rules

Photo of the day

A nurse prepares to vaccinate children at a school on the outskirts of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, on March 24.Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press

Coronavirus in Canada

  • British Columbia says COVID-19 test kits, each containing five rapid antigen tests, are now available at participating pharmacies. Meanwhile, the province said hospitalizations rose by four, to a total of 258 patients.
  • Quebec Premier Francois Legault says he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is feeling well while experiencing minor symptoms. The province’s immunization committee suggests the province will schedule mass vaccination clinics for second doses of COVID-19 boosters in the fall. From next week, those most vulnerable to the severe consequences of the disease will be able to start booking fourth doses – or their second boosters.

The World Health Organization has rejected the Medicago COVID-19 vaccine made in Canada due to the company’s ties to the tobacco industry, a blow that will severely limit the vaccine’s availability around the world.

  • The WHO decision raises new questions about the federal government’s decision to invest $173 million in Medicago, given that Philip Morris Investments, a subsidiary of tobacco giant Philip Morris, owns a one-third stake in the company based in Quebec.
  • A WHO spokesperson told The Globe and Mail that Medicago’s request for an emergency use list was denied “because of the connection to the tobacco industry and the strict policy of the WHO not to engage with companies that promote tobacco.”

Mask messaging: Experts say that the message around wearing a mask could have been communicated better during the pandemic. Roger McIntyre, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto, said masks have been politicized and there has been an erosion of trust in public health officials.

Trudeau’s review: Several members of the European Parliament took advantage of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Brussels to harshly criticize his handling of the trucker convoy protests in Ottawa.

Coronavirus around the world

  • In the United States, the mayor of New York exempted some athletes and entertainers from the city’s broad vaccination mandate, while keeping it in place for countless other workers. Critics of Mayor Eric Adams’ decision, including several public service unions whose members were fired for not being vaccinated, criticized the mayor for appearing to lift the rule only for athletes of the rich and famous.
  • the World Health Organization reported that the highly contagious subvariant of Omicron, BA.2, is the dominant version of Omicron worldwide – responsible for 86% of cases reported to WHO from February 16 to March 17 – and leads to a new wave of infections.

Coronavirus and business

Moderna has raised its full year sales forecast of its COVID-19 vaccine at about $21 billion from $19 billion.

  • In February, the company forecast sales of $19 billion from its signed contracts and an option for $3 billion in additional purchases.
  • Moderna has scheduled additional purchases of about $500 million on Thursday.

Also today : Unifor alleges former union boss Jerry Dias took money from supplier of rapid COVID-19 test kits

More reports

Information Center

Sources: Canada data is compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins University and the COVID-19 Canada Open Data Task Force; international data is from Johns Hopkins.

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