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President Joe Biden is expected to mark 500,000 U.S. lives lost from COVID-19 with a moment of silence and candle-lighting ceremony at the White House.
The nation is expected to pass the grim milestone on Monday, just over a year after the first confirmed U.S. fatality of the pandemic.
The White House said Biden will deliver remarks at sunset to honour those who lost their lives. He will be joined by first lady Jill Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. They will participate in the moment of silence and lighting ceremony.
Biden has made a point of recognizing the lives lost from the coronavirus. His first event upon arriving in Washington for his inauguration a month ago was to deliver remarks at a COVID-19 memorial ceremony.
A tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University put the number of recorded COVID-19 cases in the U.S. at more than 28.1 million as of early Monday morning, with a death toll of nearly 499,000.
Hospitalizations, however, have been declining in the hard-hit country, which has been working to scale up vaccination efforts.
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The White House said about a third of the coronavirus vaccine doses delayed by this week’s winter weather have been delivered this weekend.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration has been working with shippers and states to close the roughly six-million dose backlog created this week as power outages closed some vaccination centres and icy weather stranded some vaccine in shipping hubs.
Speaking to ABC’s This Week, Psaki said: “We’ve been able to get about two million of those six million doses out,” noting, “We expect to rapidly catch up this week.”
-From The Associated Press, last updated at 6:55 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
Ottawa confident provinces are ready for flood of vaccines
As of early Monday morning, Canada had reported 845,657 cases of COVID-19, with 31,375 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,674.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 430. All of the cases were in the Eastern Health region, which includes St. John’s. Health officials said there was also one presumptive positive case awaiting confirmation.
COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at three, according to a provincial dashboard.
Health officials in New Brunswick confirmed the death of a person in their 80s at the Manoir Belle Vue, an adult residential facility in Edmundston. The province has now logged a total of 25 deaths related to the novel coronavirus.
In Quebec, health officials reported 666 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 additional deaths on Sunday. Hospitalizations stood at 686, with 119 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.
Ontario reported 1,087 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 additional deaths on Sunday. COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 660, with 277 people in intensive care.
One of Ontario’s long-standing COVID-19 hot spots returns to the province’s colour-coded system of pandemic restrictions today, while a stay-at-home order remains in effect for three others. Businesses in York Region are allowed to reopen as the public health unit returns to the second-most restrictive red level of public health precautions.
Non-essential retailers and restaurants can welcome customers back, with capacity limits and physical distancing in place.
York has long logged some of Ontario’s highest COVID-19 case counts, but the region’s chief medical officer of health requested that the province move it back to the tiered framework to bring it in line with most of Ontario’s other public health units. The stay-at-home order remains in effect only for Toronto, Peel and North Bay-Parry Sound until at least March 8.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 58 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths on Sunday. Meanwhile, Saskatchewan reported 182 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths. Alberta, meanwhile, reported 328 new cases and nine additional deaths.
In British Columbia, health officials will provide updated COVID-19 figures later Monday.
Across the North, there was one new case of COVID-19 reported in Nunavut on Sunday, and there were no new cases reported in the Northwest Territories and Yukon.
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-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi on Monday said they had started a new clinical trial of their protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, reviving their efforts against the pandemic after a setback in December delayed the shot’s launch.
In December, the two groups stunned investors when they said their vaccine would be delayed toward the end of 2021 after clinical trials showed an insufficient immune response in older people.
GSK and Sanofi’s vaccine candidate uses the same recombinant protein-based technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the shot, made by GSK.
“Over the past few weeks, our teams have worked to refine the antigen formulation of our recombinant-protein vaccine,” Thomas Triomphe, executive vice-president and head of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement.
The new mid-stage trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability and immune response of the vaccine in 720 healthy adults across the United States, Honduras and Panama and test two injections given 21 days apart.
Sanofi and GSK have secured deals to supply their vaccine to the European Union, Britain, Canada and the United States. It also plans to provide shots to the World Health Organization’s COVAX program.
To appease critics after the delay, Sanofi said earlier this year it had agreed to fill and pack millions of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from July.
Sanofi is also working with Translate Bio on another COVID-19 vaccine candidate based on mRNA technology.
In Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will plot a path out of lockdown on Monday in an effort to gradually reopen the battered economy, aided by one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the world.
The move comes despite growing signs that the decline in case numbers in Germany is flattening out again and even rising in some areas. Germany’s Education Minister, Anja Karliczek, has defended the decision to reopen schools, saying younger children in particular benefit from learning together in groups.
In the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand will remove remaining coronavirus restrictions from Auckland on Monday after an outbreak discovered in the largest city fades.
Serum Institute of India asked for patience from foreign governments awaiting their supply of shots, saying it had been directed to prioritize India’s requirements. Meanwhile, the state of Maharashtra, home to the country’s financial hub Mumbai, imposed new lockdowns in some areas.
The Philippines has approved Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine for emergency use, while Malaysia moved up its inoculation drive by two days.
In the Americas, Argentina’s drug regulator has authorized the emergency use of Sinopharm’s vaccine ahead of an expected delivery of one million doses of the Chinese-made vaccine.
In the Middle East, Israel reopened swaths of its economy including malls and leisure facilities, saying the start of a return to routine was enabled by vaccines administered to almost half the population.
In Africa, South Africa remained the hardest-hit country on the continent, with more than 1.5 million reported cases of COVID-19 and more than 49,000 recorded deaths.
The head of the World Health Organization urged Tanzania to share information on its measures to combat the pandemic, saying the authorities there had repeatedly ignored his requests.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 8 a.m. ET
With files from Reuters, The Canadian Press and CBC News
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