The divergent views raise questions about how easily Canadians who have mixed and matched will be able to enter the United States once they reopen their land borders

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OTTAWA – Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc issues a note of hope that Canadians who have mixed and matched COVID-19 vaccines will have no problem crossing borders in the months to come.

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While Canadian health officials say recipients of a Moderna dose shouldn’t hesitate to have Pfizer-BioNTech as their second jab – or vice versa – the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has so far been reluctant to sanction practice, asserting that it should only be done in “exceptional situations”.

The divergent views raise questions about how easily Canadians who have mixed and matched will be able to enter the United States once it opens its land borders to its northern neighbor.

Meanwhile, many European countries do not recognize the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made at the Serum Institute of India, known by the brand name Covishield, meaning Canadians who received it could be banned from entry.

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LeBlanc said the sharing of data and conversations between healthcare organizations around the world “will, in our opinion, lead over time to an evolution and adjustment” in the more conservative approach of regulators in some countries. .

“We don’t expect this to be a static circumstance. And I think over the next few weeks and months health authorities around the world could make revisions to these vaccine regimens, ”he said at a virtual press conference on Tuesday alongside the deputy chief public health officer of Canada.

Dr Howard Njoo pointed to studies of mixed inoculation that highlight its effectiveness, saying the decline in the number of cases and the number of deaths in Canada strengthens the conclusion.

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“This is in addition to the whole of science,” he said. “The proof is in the pudding.

“I hope we can come to a place where we make it easier for citizens of individual countries to be able to travel to other countries with a more common approach.”

Starting August 9, fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to enter Canada without quarantine as long as they provide proof of vaccination and the results of a negative COVID-19 test that is less than three years old. days before departure.

The same rules will be extended to fully vaccinated travelers around the world starting September 7.

Officials in Canada and various other countries – including Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden – have allowed people to take a dose of AstraZeneca with a different vaccine.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received an injection of AstraZeneca, which has been potentially linked to a rare blood clotting disorder, in April and a dose of Moderna earlier this month, a sequence not approved by US regulators.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization changed its guidelines last month to allow Moderna or Pfizer to take an initial dose of AstraZeneca.

The potential barriers for travelers go beyond border restrictions. Several cruise lines refuse passengers who have mixed and matched to any degree, including Norwegian Cruise Line.

Princess Cruise Lines, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Line claim that customers injected with a vector vaccine such as AstraZeneca followed by an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna are not considered fully vaccinated. However, a combination of Pfizer and Moderna will open the catwalk for guests.

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On Tuesday, LeBlanc defended the government’s recent decision to remove the arrival test for fully vaccinated travelers – with the exception of random screenings – while maintaining the pre-departure test.

Health Canada’s expert group on testing and screening had recommended eliminating the pre-departure test and keeping the arrival test to better isolate Canadians from variants of the coronavirus.

“The importance of having an arrival test, whether it is a random arrival test for those who are fully vaccinated or a mandatory test for those who are not, is the a critical part of tracking data to find out if those vaccinated can actually carry the virus or â ?? ¦ with respect to potential variants of concern, “said LeBlanc.

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Njoo added that a pre-departure test can rule out most double-vaccinated virus carriers. Meanwhile, arrival tests have given positive test results in percentages that “are fractions of less than 1% for air and ground travelers”, making them virtually useless for people fully vaccinated, he said. he declares.

Pandemic indicators continue to trend downward across Canada.

Total active COVID-19 cases fell below 4,700 for the first time since late August 2020, Njoo said, with around 400 new cases reported daily.

There are 87% fewer people in hospital each day than at the peak of the third wave in April, when an average of nine deaths are reported daily, he said.

More than 45 million doses have been injected, which equates to more than 26.5 million recipients – or 80% of those eligible – with at least one injection. Over 57 percent of eligible Canadians are now fully immunized.

“This is great news because the more people who are vaccinated, the stronger our vaccination firewall will be,” said Njoo.

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