National Post (Latest Edition)


400,000 doses

- Holly mckenzie-sutter

Parler, a social media service popular with American right-wing users that virtually vanished after the u.s. Capitol riot, relaunched on Monday and said its new platform was built on “sustainabl­e, independen­t technology.”

In a statement, Parler also said it had appointed Mark Meckler as its interim chief executive, replacing John Matze who was fired this month.

Parler went dark after being cut off by major service providers that accused the app of failing to police violent content related to the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the u.s. Capitol.

Despite the relaunch, the website was still not opening for many users and the app was not available for download on mobile stores run by Apple and Alphabet-owned Google, which had earlier banned the app.

Parler, which asserted it once had over 20 million users, said it would bring its current users back online in the first week and would be open to new users the next week.

Founded in 2018, the app has styled itself as a “free speech-driven” space and largely attracted u.s. conservati­ves who disagree with rules around content on other social media sites.

OTTAWA • Canada’s sluggish COVID-19 vaccinatio­n efforts are expected to get a boost starting this week as the federal government prepares for a ramp up in the delivery of shots from Pfizer-biontech and a promise from India to send a shipment within a month.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it expects Pfizer-biontech to deliver more than 400,000 doses this week and another 475,000 following a slowdown as Pfizer expanded a production plant in Belgium.

The health agency says Canada will then receive nearly 450,000 doses per week until the beginning of April, when Pfizer and BionTech will have fulfilled their contract to deliver 4 million shots by the end of March.

On Monday, the chief executive of India’s Serum Institute said it will ship vaccines to Canada within a month, in a sign a diplomatic row triggered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments on political protests in India was easing.

Trudeau said the monthslong protests by farmers on the outskirts of Delhi were concerning, drawing a rebuke from the Indian government, which said it was an internal matter.

Last week Trudeau spoke to Indian counterpar­t Narendra Modi and1. they discussed the two countries’ commitment to democracy.

Modi also said India would do its best to supply COVID-19 vaccines sought by Canada.

On Monday Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of Serum Institute of India (SII) — the world’s largest vaccine maker — reaffirmed that commitment.

“As we await regulatory approvals from Canada, I assure you, @Seruminsti­ndia will fly out #COVISHIELD to Canada in less than a month; I’m on it!” Poonawalla tweeted, using the brand name under which Serum produces the shot developed by Oxford University and Astrazenec­a Plc.

“It is encouragin­g to look ahead with a greater degree of certainty at the number of vaccines we will receive,” said Maj.-gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander overseeing Canada’s vaccine distributi­on. “Based on our planning with the manufactur­er, Canada is expected to receive more than three million doses between now and end of March. This shows us that the wheel is definitely turning on the vaccine rollout and Pfizer-biontech’s commitment to deliver its four million doses by end of (March).”

The ramp-up in new deliveries may ease some of the pressure on the federal Liberal government, which has been accused of mismanagin­g what amounts to the largest mass-vaccinatio­n effort in Canadian history.

Trudeau acknowledg­ed the struggle with deliveries, but said things will get better in the weeks ahead, and even better in April, when Canada is expecting as many as a million doses a week.

TORONTO • Ontario is developing a web portal for booking COVID-19 vaccine appointmen­ts when mass immunizati­on is underway, but experts said Monday that more details of the province’s plan are needed to ensure vulnerable residents don’t fall through the cracks.

The Ministry of Health said Monday that Ontario is developing an online site for vaccine appointmen­ts, while a customer service desk will also eventually be available for those not comfortabl­e using the web portal.

A spokeswoma­n said the scheduling software was launched “in pilot mode” in January and work is underway to have more of it in use at the end of February or in early March.

“These processes ‘frontend’ the scheduling system ... to provide a path to booking an appointmen­t based on the province’s eligibilit­y framework,” said Alexandra Hilkene, a spokeswoma­n for Health Minister Christine elliott.

The booking system will be part of the province’s vaccine rollout, which on Sunday was updated to identify adults aged 80 and older, seniors in congregate care and Indigenous adults among those next in line for a shot.

Hilkene noted that planning is underway for how adults 80 years of age and older will be vaccinated.

dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, said he was “elated” to see the vaccine priority list updated to include those over 80.

According to Health Canada, nearly 70 per cent of deaths from COVID-19 have been people aged 80 and older. Many of Sinha’s patients are part of that age demographi­c, and he said he’s been inundated with emails from patients and their families asking the same question: “How is this going to work?”

“That’s the million-dollar question,” Sinha said by phone Monday.

While some younger seniors may be comfortabl­e making appointmen­ts online, Sinha noted many in their 80s and older struggle with technology or may be physically unable to travel to mass vaccinatio­n sites now being developed by public health units. Others do not speak english or French as a first language.

Sinha suggested using the networks of paramedics, nurses and physicians, and teams that already have experience performing community vaccinatio­ns.

dr. Jeff Kwong was part of a team that administer­ed vaccinatio­ns in long-term care homes and said vaccinatin­g seniors in their homes, as opposed to making them travel to clinics, should be considered.

“Sometimes it’s the best way because these people may not be able to leave their home very easily,” Kwong said by phone Monday.

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