The COVID-19 Brief: A new strain in the U.K.?

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December 21, 2020

Your resource for cutting through the fear and misinformation. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, check your email for trusted CTV News reporting and analysis to help differentiate between fact and
The outbreak by the numbers (as of 11:15 a.m. Monday, Dec. 21, 2020):
  • Globally: 76,975,940 cases  |  43,397,306 recovered  |  1,695,846 deceased
  • Canada: 509,918 cases  |  418,362 recovered  |  14,245 deceased
  • British Columbia: 45,400 cases  |  33,589 recovered  |  724 deceased
  • Alberta: 90,219 cases  |  70,167 recovered  |  851 deceased
  • Saskatchewan: 13,555 cases  |  9,557 recovered  |  118 deceased
  • Manitoba: 22,859 cases  |  16,541 recovered  |  569 deceased
  • Ontario: 158,053 cases  |  134,867 recovered  |  4,167 deceased
  • Quebec: 176,985 cases  |  151,044 recovered  |  7,736 deceased
  • New Brunswick: 574 cases  |  520 recovered  |  8 deceased
  • Nova Scotia: 1,445 cases  |  1,339 recovered  |  65 deceased
  • Prince Edward Island: 90 cases  |  73 recovered
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 382 cases  |  344 recovered  |  4 deceased
  • Yukon: 59 cases  |  54 recovered  |  1 deceased
  • Northwest Territories: 23 cases  |  15 recoveries
  • Nunavut: 259 cases  |  222 recoveries
  • Trenton (CFB quarantine): 13 cases  |  13 recoveries
Follow the latest updatesread full coverage and watch CTV's 24-hour news channels

Here's what's been happening in Canada

Cases pass 509,000. Since the last newsletter, officials have confirmed more than 18,000 new cases of COVID-19 in Canada, pushing the total number of confirmed cases in Canada past half a million since the start of the pandemic.

More doses.
Canada should receive another 125,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine every week in January, according to health officials. That's another
500,000 doses to begin 2021, in addition to the 200,000 doses expected this week. Pending Health Canada approval, the first shipment of 168,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine candidate will also arrive this month.

'Honest mistake.'
The Canada Revenue Agency says that call-centre agents were given the wrong instructions for how the eligibility of self-employed Canadians would be assessed when they applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit in the early days of the pandemic. The CRA says messaging about
net and gross income was unclear.

Reflecting on 2020. In a year-end interview, Canada's top public health officer recounted her emotional reaction to seeing the first images of Canadians receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. It has been nearly one year since Dr. Theresa Tam saw the first emails warning of a pneumonia cluster in Wuhan, China.
Click here to

Highlights from CTV News' Trudeau interview

In a wide-ranging interview, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sat down with Power Play and Question Period host Evan Solomon. Here are some of the pandemic-related highlights:
  1. Defending the vaccine strategy: Trudeau said he "will not apologize" for securing potentially more than 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for Canadians, adding that if we have excess, they will "absolutely" be shared with other countries.
  2. Slamming idea of athletes jumping queue: Though the federal government has said there's not much they can do to stop professional sports teams or rich stakeholders from getting vaccine doses early, Trudeau said vulnerable Canadians will be prioritized for vaccination over "wealthy fit athletes."
  3. What he'll miss most this holiday season: His mother. "Even though she's two hours away, I'm not going to see her at Christmas and that hurts, but it's what all Canadians are doing, making tough decisions to be there for each other so we can celebrate many more Christmases together," he said. 
Click here to read more about those and six other highlights from the Trudeau interview. Plus, read the full transcript.

A new strain in the U.K.?

Canada has announced new restrictions on flights from the U.K. after information was revealed about a new variant of the coronavirus. While health officials are stressing that the new strain is not more dangerous, it appears to be more transmissible.

"At the moment, it's really being flagged as one (variant) which is a very strong candidate for changing the transmission of the virus," Lucy van Dorp, senior research fellow in microbial genomics working at UCL Genetics Institute, told on Sunday.

As COVID-19 vaccines begin to roll out around the world, experts are also emphasizing that there is no evidence to suggest the new strain affects vaccines or treatments.

"The expectation is that vaccines stimulate a broad antibody response," said van Dorp. "So they are triggering a response to the entire spike protein, so if we have mutations in some regions (of the RNA), it doesn't seem like that would reduce the efficacy of the vaccine in a particularly significant way."

#ABrightSide in dark times

Find uplifting moments during the pandemic with the #ABrightSide series. 

#ABrightSide for Monday:

A Toronto-area children's spa teamed up with a food insecurity charity to bring some holiday spirit to families in need this month, including a virtual breakfast with Santa. "We know that it's not going to be Christmas 'as usual,' especially for families in need," said Glama Gal Kids Spa Ajax owner Dishni Jayasuriya. "And that's why, through this initiative, we set out to make it an extra special Christmas."

Share your tips for stories that provide "a bright side" of a dark time by emailing us at Please include your full name, city, and a phone number or email where we can reach you
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