Local COVID-19 vaccine study and eased restrictions bring optimism to N.S.

Nova Scotia Government

On Sunday, sunny weather allowed Nova Scotians to enjoy newfound freedoms from COVID-19 restrictions. In addition, the news that Dalhousie University has been approved to conduct Canada's first clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine added to the sense of optimism in the province.

On Saturday, it was announced that Health Canada approved the university to carry out the study. Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, says it will be conducted in an accelerated fashion with the study's phases overlapping – without sacrificing safety.

"So, the study we'll be starting is called a 'phase-one-two study,'" says Halperin, who notes trials are usually conducted in three phases.

"So, it's combining those first two stages together. We'll start the phase-two portion of the study as soon as we have some preliminary safety data from the phase-one portion. We won't wait the full six months or longer to finish the phase-one study before starting the phase-two study."

Despite the promising news, restrictions remain in place in Halifax Regional Municipality. At Dartmouth garden supply shop, Atlantic Gardens, physical distancing and other preventative measures will be the norm moving forward.

"All the cashes are set up with the appropriate precautions, with the cough guards and the distance spacing on the floor," says Atlantic Gardens owner, Robin Godfrey.

Meanwhile, the optimism carried throughout town as many people enjoyed public areas.

The Nova Scotia government recently announced it would allow two-household 'bubbles' along with reopening some recreational fields and public beaches – a relief for residents.

"I was pretty excited about that because this quarantine has been pretty lonely," says one Halifax resident.

Meanwhile, on Sunday Premier Stephen McNeil said the behaviour of Nova Scotians during Victoria Day weekend will determine if more restrictions will be lifted in the near future – giving hope for some semblance of normalcy in uncertain times.

(With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore)