Global study on preoperative testing adds to evidence on safe surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic
A new global study provides further evidence about how to continue with safe surgery during the pandemic, and has also led to the launch of a dedicated toolkit to guide hospitals in keeping elective surgery up and running safely. The study, published in the British Journal of Surgery shows routinely testing patients for COVID-19 before major surgery could reduce the risk of respiratory complications and save lives. Janet Martin (photo), Associate Professor at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, is part of the CovidSurg Collaborative which includes researchers working together from around the world. The team found that nasal swab test to confirm that asymptomatic patients were not infected with SARS-CoV-2 was associated with lower rates of post-operative complications. Researchers also noted the main benefit was seen before major surgery and in areas with a higher rate of COVID-19. Swab testing gave surgeons the opportunity to identify asymptomatic infected patients and postpone their operation, avoiding the severe risk of COVID-19 complications after surgery. Routine testing also helped prevent cross-infection from patients with no symptoms to other elective surgical patients upon admission to hospital.
Cape Biologix Technologies, a subsidiary of Cape Bio Pharms, based in South Africa, Quebec-based Inno-3B and Ontario-based PlantForm Corporation announced commercial agreements to scale up production of plant-based SARS-COV-2 antigens for an innovative blood test to detect COVID-19 antibodies. The agreement states that Cape Biologix's proprietary SARS-COV-2 antigens, the spike protein that causes COVID-19 infection, will be produced in plants grown by Inno-3B. Then, PlantForm will extract, purify and manufacture the antigens for use as the reagent in rapid diagnostic antibody test kits to identify people who have previously been infected by the virus. Together, the three companies will provide fast, low-cost and accurate plant-made proteins for COVID-19 monitoring and surveillance tools, said Dr. Don Stewart, PlantForm CEO (photo). "We're seeing the impacts of the second wave of the pandemic right now, all over the world," he said. "This collaboration meets a critical need for effective, low-cost and widespread serology testing to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 infection in different populations, its rate of spread and whether people who recover from it develop lasting immunity."
They say food connects us all. So does the internet these days. Along with the provinces, the federal government says it is now on a path to give 98 per cent of the Canadian population access to high-speed internet by 2026. This is a much more ambitious target than the previous goal of 95 per cent by 2030. However, there’s some uncertainty that today’s high-speed internet will be useful by 2026. In information technology, six years is a lifetime. And the $1.75 billion announced by the federal government this week to support the policy isn’t new money. Still, such a motivated goal set by government should be celebrated. The new policy suggests the government now truly supports the concept that the internet is a basic service, not just a luxury. In 2016, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) estimated that barely 40 per cent of rural Canada had access to high-speed internet. It was also noted that the marketplace couldn’t solve this issue alone.
All four Atlantic provinces rank last among the 10 Canadian provinces and 50 U.S. states in the world’s premier ranking of economic freedom in North America, finds a new report released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan, public policy think-tank. New Brunswick is the top-ranked Atlantic province (57th out of 60 Canadian provinces and U.S. states) followed by Nova Scotia (58th) and Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador, which are tied (59th). “Government policies in the Atlantic provinces continue to stifle economic freedom, particularly compared to other provinces and states, which weakens the economic growth and job creation the region so desperately needs,” said Fred McMahon, the Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom at the Fraser Institute and co-author of this year’s Economic Freedom of North America report, which measures government spending, taxation and labour market restrictions using data from 2018 (the latest year of available comparable data). Economic freedom—the ability of individuals to make their own economic decisions including what to buy, where to work and whether to start a business—is fundamental to prosperity.
Geneva, Switzerland - COVID-19 has led to an acceleration of cyber-attacks targeting those working from home, hospital systems and financial institutions. However, the next wave of cybersecurity risks will not be a continuation of these challenges, and incremental progress will not be enough to stop them. According to The Future Series Report, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, digital identity systems (such as e-passports) and the ubiquitous connectivity of devices and networks are transforming the foundations of cyberspace and have brought the industry to a watershed moment. “The dynamics of cybersecurity are changing,” said Will Dixon, Cybersecurity Lead, World Economic Forum. “Broadly speaking, we have been doing cybersecurity the same way for the past 15 years and it’s not going to work anymore. What has changed is that now, the criminals of the future can easily exploit these emerging technologies and our growing interconnectivity at a scale not seen before. The good news is that there are ways to protect our personal data, mitigate the impact on global trade and security and ensure our society isn’t hit with another shock.” ___________________
Home sales recorded over Canadian MLS® Systems in October 2020 edged back by 0.7% from September's all-time record for monthly sales. The small change from September to October reflected gains in about half of all local markets offset by declines in the other half. Among the larger markets, activity was up on the month in Montreal, the Fraser Valley, Calgary and Edmonton. By contrast, sales fell back in Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Hamilton-Burlington, Ottawa and Greater Vancouver.
CCRM and McMaster Innovation Park (MIP), Canada's Premier Innovation Park, announce they have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to partner in the development of a biomanufacturing campus at MIP focused on regenerative medicine-based technologies and cell and gene therapies. The LOI advances a months-long relationship between CCRM and MIP, and formalizes their intent to co-develop a business case around the construction and operation of what is envisioned to be Canada's largest and most advanced Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO). The envisioned facility will enable CCRM to scale its operations and provide critical space, services and support to cell and gene therapy focused ventures from across Canada and the world. The agreement, which is focused on an initial CDMO facility to produce cells and viral vectors for Phase III clinical trials and commercial-scale manufacturing, represents the first phase of a long-term initiative to develop a biomanufacturing campus at the innovation park, and thus form the western anchor of the emerging life science corridor spanning from Hamilton to Toronto. The short-term priority is to develop a costed facility design and an investment thesis that the parties will use to secure industry, regulatory and government support, along with the funding necessary for its construction and operation.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and municipal leaders across Canada are working hard to keep Canadians safe through the pandemic’s second wave, while also planning for an economic recovery. Through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), detailed recommendations for recovery planning were released which protect frontline municipal services while ensuring a green and inclusive recovery. “We know that municipalities can play a significant role delivering on economic recovery,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “By working together with our federal and provincial partners, municipalities will not only be well-positioned to support a strong economic recovery, but we will also be able to build back better so that our recovery is both green and inclusive.” The pandemic will stretch into 2021, so continued operating funding support for municipalities from federal and provincial governments will be needed to protect frontline services. “The Federal government and Province of Ontario stepped-up with emergency operating funding for municipalities for our 2020 budgets through the Safe Restart Agreement, and we are thankful for their support,” said Vrbanovic. “As we move into 2021, we will continue to need operating funding support so that we can keep municipal services going strong, and to ensure cities are stable and ready to help drive Canada’s economic recovery.”
A total of 6,304 deals were announced globally during October 2020, which is a decrease of 4.5% over the 6,598 deals announced during September, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company. An analysis of GlobalData’s Financial Deals Database revealed that the deal volume during October remained below the monthly average of Q3 2020. Aurojyoti Bose, Lead Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “After demonstrating growth for four consecutive months, the deal volume shrank in October. The decline in deal activity could be attributed to inconsistencies across different regions. The APAC region remained a weak spot, while deal activity remained mostly flat in North America and the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region witnessed growth in deal activity.”
The WalterFedy Board of Directors is pleased to announce three new shareholders are joining our ownership team. Congratulations to Patrick Darby, Matt Ninomiya and Russ Parnell who have all proven themselves as leaders within the firm and will be strong representatives of WalterFedy moving forward. “We are proud to be adding these three talented professionals to our shareholders' table,” says Jamie Van Dyk, Chair of the WalterFedy Board of Directors. “Each one brings different skills and experiences to the group and their voices will be valuable additions to our ownership team.” All three represent different departments and showcase the breadth of talent within our organization.
Professor Mark Servos and his team have been working since early in the pandemic to develop and validate methods to detect the ruminants of SARS-CoV-2 gene fragments in wastewater. They have been working closely over the summer with other research groups, municipalities and public health agencies to develop and apply the approach and support and inform decision-makers. How do you find COVID-19 in wastewater? How does the process work? Once released in stool, the virus is degraded as it enters the wastewater collections systems. The gene fragments of the SARS-CoV-2 virus move through the sewer and enter the headworks of the municipal wastewater treatment plants. The method includes separating and isolating the virus fragments from the wastewater using centrifugation and chemical separations, then amplification and detection with quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Unlike detection in humans, the wastewater is a complex mixture that makes detection at low levels very difficult.
A new tool developed by a team of Western University computer scientists performs a digital deep dive on the near-endless stream of contact tracing (CT) mobile apps currently available on the market to evaluate their effectiveness and, more importantly for most, their privacy thresholds. Computer science professor Anwar Haque (right) says using the Western-built digital tool will inform national and provincial policymakers as they make tough decisions about the best apps to choose for protecting Canadians against COVID-19. CT is a primary means for public health officials to limit the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19. It helps identify and isolate close contacts who have been exposed to someone infected with the virus and helps break the chain of human-to-human transmission. Some key medical initiatives are also facilitated by CT, including monitoring for symptoms, priority testing of potential cases, and providing medical advice and treatments as appropriate. Traditionally, CT is largely a manual process, where infected persons are interviewed by human agents to identify close contacts. This slower system struggles to withstand the rapid spread of COVID-19 in terms of time, human resources and quality of detection. To automate and speed up the process, a myriad of smartphone-based CT apps has been built but privacy risks and effectiveness are a constant concern.
Waterloo Dark was awarded a Gold in the International Lager Category at the Ontario Brewing Awards, held on Saturday November 14th. The virtual ceremony celebrated the best Canadian-owned brewers, brewing in Ontario, across 36 categories. Waterloo Brewing was one of over 100 Ontario breweries who collectively submitted 400 entries. Waterloo Dark Lager has been a big award winner for Waterloo Brewing since 1984 when introduced to the market as Ontario's first craft beer. It stands as a testament to Waterloo Brewing's continued commitment of quality, craftsmanship and a sprit that spans across time. On Saturday, November 14, 2020, Waterloo Brewing won Gold in the International Lager category at the Ontario Brewing Awards. A distinction, not unfamiliar to the beer that has been celebrated as the leading dark larger since its introduction in 1984. "Waterloo Dark is Ontario's first craft beer" confirms Kim Mannerow, Director of Marketing for Waterloo Brewing. "This award reinforces its position as the leading dark larger despite the increased competition over the years. It's always wonderful to be recognized for our commitment to quality and craftsmanship. We couldn't be more proud."
Underrepresented groups, including women, visible minorities and newcomers to Canada, face unique and systemic challenges when it comes to starting and growing a business, which has been amplified by the impacts of COVID-19. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting entrepreneurship and creating the right conditions for a more inclusive and equitable workforce, which is vital to Canada’s economic recovery and long-term economic growth.
At a virtual ceremony today, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) opened a new advanced materials research facility to serve as a national clean energy hub, supporting and undertaking foundational research of new materials for clean energy and other applications and transitioning them to industrial use. The facility will bring companies, government, and universities together to collaborate on breakthrough projects in clean technologies and advanced materials. The facility will be part of the Canadian Campus for Advanced Materials Manufacturing (CCAMM), a joint initiative between the NRC and the Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC). This initiative will establish a suite of accessible platform technologies for substantially accelerating the rate of discovery of new materials for a range of applications, including clean energy and additive manufacturing. As part of the ceremony, the NRC announced the Materials for Clean Fuels Challenge program will be housed at the research facility. This 7-year, $57 million collaborative research program focusses on the development of new materials to be used in the production of clean and sustainable energy.
Seneca has launched the Seneca Centre for Innovation in Life Sciences (SCILS) a first-of-its-kind applied research facility, where students and faculty can connect directly with industry partners to develop, enhance and validate innovations in diagnostics and cosmetics. The project was made possible through a $2 million Innovation Enhancement grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). “SCILS provides an environment for students, faculty and businesses to collaborate on new technologies and products for the life sciences diagnostics and cosmetic science sectors,” said Ben Rogers, Dean of Seneca Innovation. “Applied research partnerships between industry and academia have always been integral to the regional innovation ecosystem. The impacts of these partnerships become clear when businesses grow and highly-qualified students get a head start in building their careers.” Research conducted at SCILS will be led by expert faculty from Seneca’s School of Biological Sciences & Applied Chemistry, along with the support of laboratory technicians and student research assistants.
A new book from the C.D. Howe Institute provides an overview of the Institute’s critical policy recommendations made in response to the developing COVID-19 pandemic. Read by government policymakers and the public alike, these ideas – aimed at preserving the wellbeing of Canadians and sheltering the country’s economy as the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis unfolded – prefigured many of the policy responses that emerged in 2020. “Climbing Out of COVID” compiles communiqués from the Institute’s Crisis Working Groups, as well as Intelligence Memos and op-eds, published up to September 2020. The book provides an overview of the policy discussions that took place in Canada’s main forum for policy advice throughout the course of the pandemic. As the extent and seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis became known in March 2020, the Institute rapidly mobilized some of Canada’s foremost academics, business leaders, and policymakers into working groups to tackle the biggest policy problems of the day. The Institute started with four such groups, forming a fifth in the fall:
Restaurants Canada is urging the Government of Ontario to set up a dedicated taskforce to help foodservice businesses survive the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. On behalf of the province’s foodservice sector, Restaurants Canada has sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford calling for a taskforce to provide industry with the following support for as long as restrictions remain in place:
Ontario has slipped from 3rd to 4th place in an annual ranking of provincial energy efficiency policies by a Carleton University-based organization called Efficiency Canada. The “Scorecard” highlights that Ontario is a traditional leader in areas such as energy efficient building codes, appliance and equipment standards, building energy reporting, and conservation programs. The 2020 Scorecard, however, registers steep reductions in electricity savings, program spending, and electric vehicle registrations. The province could slip behind others even more, because the 2021-2024 framework for electricity conservation programs reduces budgets by more than half of their previous levels. There is potential for an increase in natural gas conservation efforts because the 2018 Environment Plan called for a significant increase in programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help energy consumers save money. However, the Ontario government has provided no direction to the Ontario Energy Board, which has since approved static budgets and targets for 2021.
This group faces increased levels of physical violence, harassment and sexual assault according to findings from the newest report from Trans PULSE Canada, a national collaborative community research project led by Western University and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. “This latest Trans PULSE Canada report shows racialized trans and non-binary people are similar to other trans people in many ways, for example in their levels of education and in their mental health. Where differences really jump out are in experiences of being targeted for discrimination and violence,” said Greta Bauer, PhD, Professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and one of the study’s principal investigators. “These are, unfortunately, common occurrences for white trans and non-binary people, but are even more common among those who are racialized.” Almost one-quarter of the racialized trans and non-binary survey respondents experienced physical violence in the past five years, and nearly half experienced sexual harassment. Half had been harassed at work or school at some point in their lives.