Pfizer-BioNTech seeks authorisation for 12-15 year olds in US
According to the companies, their request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration came after Phase 3 clinical trials of the vaccine in children aged 12 to 15 showed that the vaccine was 100 percent effective in preventing disease.
Pfizer-BioNTech asked for authorisation to use their vaccine on 12 to 15-year-olds in the US which could mark a crucial next step toward achieving herd immunity.
The mass vaccination of teenagers would also relieve an enormous strain on parents who are juggling the demands of homeschooling their children while keeping up with jobs.
- Queen Elizabeth’s husband Prince Philip dies aged 99
- Can you mix and match different Covid-19 vaccines?
The companies said in a statement that they plan to make similar requests of other regulatory authorities worldwide in coming days.
Their request to the US Food and Drug Administration comes after Phase 3 clinical trials of the vaccine in 12 to 15-year-olds showed it was 100 percent effective in warding off the disease, according to the companies.
In late March they published the results of trials carried out with 2,260 adolescents in the US whom the companies said showed “robust antibody responses.”
The vaccine was “well tolerated with side effects generally consistent with those observed in participants 16 to 25 years of age,” the companies said Friday.
For now the vaccine has emergency authorization for use in people aged 16 and over.
Children are less likely to develop severe syptoms so vaccinating them has been less of a priority than getting older people inoculated.
India’s daily infections hit another record
India reported a record 145,384 new cases on Saturday and the highest number of deaths in more than five months, as it grapples with an overwhelming second-wave of infections that has forced the state of Maharashtra to impose a weekend lockdown.
Deaths rose by 794 to a total of 168,436, health ministry data showed.
India’s overall case load has swelled to 13.21 million, the third-highest globally, behind the United States and Brazil.
India has reported the most number of cases in the world in the past week, breaching the 100,000 mark for the first time on Monday and four times after that.
The government blames the resurgence mainly on crowding and a reluctance to wear masks as businesses have nearly fully reopened since February, only to be partially shut again to control the current surge.
Houston races to vaccinate its student population
On the campus of Houston University, students meet in small groups, sit alone at computers and attend virtual meetings.
It appears they are taking precautions against the virus, but the Texas metropolis is still rushing to get its population of about 300,000 university and college students vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“Right now, college students make up a large percentage of super spreaders,” said Isaiah Martin, 22, a fourth-year student in political science who is leading a campaign for students to get their shots.
With some 500 new cases a day in April, down from about 2,000 in January, the situation in Houston, the fourth-largest city in the US, is improving, yet it remains worrying.
Where it goes from here will depend in large part on the behavior of students, many of whom are chafing under a year of restrictions and isolation.
But a College Pulse survey in January of 1,000 US students found that only 21 percent were not concerned about vaccine safety.
Trudeau calls for Canada regions to tighten restrictions
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on Canada’s provinces to tighten public health measures as an accelerating vaccination program fails to keep pace with surging infections.
“In several places in the country, stricter measures are needed to curb the spread of the virus,” he told a news conference days after Ontario imposed a stay-at-home order and Quebec tightened restrictions.
But Alberta, which is leading the country in new cases per capita, has been more passive, only now closing bars and restaurants.
“We must do everything we can to fight this third wave,” said Trudeau, announcing the Canadian Red Cross would continue to support seniors at 27 longterm care homes hit hard by the pandemic in Ontario through September.
Canada started rolling out vaccines in December but that stalled as early shipments were delayed, and is only now ramping up to meet a September target to get shots into the arms of all Canadians.
Sinopharm’s protein-based vaccine candidate gets China clinical trial nod
The China National Biotec Group Company (CNBG) has obtained regulatory approval to move a third Covid-19 vaccine candidate into the human testing stage in China.
The subsidiary of state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) said that manufacturing the candidate, which is based on protein cultivated in factories, does not require facilities with high biosafety levels.
This means it could be easier to produce compared with the two CNBG vaccines already being used in China’s mass vaccination drive, which involve active coronavirus during production.
Four vaccines, two from Sinopharm CNBG, one from Sinovac Biotech and one from CanSino Biologics, have been cleared for use among the general public.
Thailand reports 789 new infections
Thailand has reported 789 new coronavirus infections and one new death, as the country deals with a fresh wave of infections after tackling earlier outbreaks.
The new cases took the total number of infections to 31,658, with 97 deaths, according to the Covid-19 information centre.
Germany reports 24,097 more cases
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 24,097 to 2,980,413.
The death toll rose by 246 to 78,249, the data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.
WHO warns Brazil on outbreak
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has blasted a pending Senate inquiry on his handling of a record-breaking outbreak, which global health officials compared to a “raging inferno.”
Supreme Court Justice Luis Roberto Barroso ruled late on Thursday that enough senators had signed on to a proposed inquiry on the government’s pandemic response to launch the probe despite stalling by Senate leadership.
The virus has taken more than 345,000 lives in Brazil, second only to the United States.
One in four deaths from the pandemic this week were in Brazil, where a brutal wave is overwhelming hospitals and setting records of more than 4,000 deaths per day.
“What you are dealing with here is a raging inferno of an outbreak,” said Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to the director general of the World Health Organization, in a public briefing.
No ‘causal’ link found yet between J&J vaccine and blood clots
Top US health authorities have said that they have not yet found a “causal” link between Johnson & Johnson’s Covid shot and blood clots, as the EU drug regulator probed possible instances among those who have received the vaccine.
“At this time, we have not found a causal relationship with vaccination and we are continuing our investigation and assessment of these cases,” said a statement from the US Food and Drug Administration.
The regulatory agency said it was aware of “a few individuals” in the United States who had suffered clots and low levels of platelets in the blood after receiving J&J’s vaccine.
“Both conditions can have many different causes,” the FDA said. “We will keep the public updated as we learn more.”
Four cases, one fatal, of rare clots with low blood platelets were reported among those vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson shot, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in a statement.
China reports 14 new Covid-19 cases
Mainland China has reported 14 new Covid-19 cases for April 9, down from 21 a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said.
The National Health Commission said in a statement that all new cases were imported infections originating from overseas.
The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, stood at 11, down from 12 a day earlier.
The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 90,400, while the death toll remains unchanged at 4,635.
Brazil registers 3,693 new deaths
Brazil has registered 3,693 Covid-19 deaths and 93,317 additional cases, according to data released by the Health Ministry.
The South American country has now registered 348,718 total coronavirus deaths and 13,373,174 total confirmed cases.
Mali tightens Covid restrictions
Mali has decided to tighten restrictions aimed at curbing Covid-19, suspending events while closing leisure centres due to an increase in infections in the West African nation.
National authorities in a statement spoke of “a worrying increase in the spread of the disease in the country.”
All leisure centres will be closed from Saturday until April 25, while festivals and other events will be suspended for 15 days with immediate effect.
They also announced a new free distribution of masks and a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, while pledging to speed up the acquisition of vaccine doses.
Mali, a poor country of about 20 million people hard hit by jihadist violence, has officially reported more than 11,300 Covid-19 infections and 404 deaths.
Ireland adds US, France, Italy, Canada to hotel quarantine regime
Ireland has added the United States, Canada, Belgium, France and Italy to its list of countries where arrivals will be subject to mandatory hotel quarantine, tightening some of Europe’s toughest travel restrictions to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Ireland will also require passengers from all countries to have booked a Covid-19 test for five days post-arrival in addition to one taken in the days before travelling when they land in the country, the health ministry said in a statement.
The government also added Armenia, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Curacao, Kenya, Luxembourg, Maldives, Pakistan, Turkey and Ukraine to the list.
Brazilian officials to inspect Russia’s Sputnik V factory
Officials from Brazilian health regulator Anvisa will next week begin inspections of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine factory in Russia, the agency has said in a statement.
The officials aim to clear up questions about production methods needed to apply for emergency use authorization and import to Brazil, it said.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone on Tuesday about buying and domestically manufacturing the drug, Bolsonaro’s office said.