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COVID Vaccine For Kids Ages 5 To 11 Is Safe And Effective, Pfizer Says

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A health worker administers a dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic earlier this month at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa. Matt Rourke/AP hide caption

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Matt Rourke/AP

The first results from the highly anticipated trial studying the effectiveness and safety of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 showed promising results.

The pharmaceutical companies said early results of their trial indicate the vaccine is safe for children and establishes a strong antibody response against the virus.

Giving a two-dose regimen of 10 μg (micrograms) administered 21 days apart for children between 5 and 11 years old was well tolerated, according to Pfizer and BioNTech. Side effects were also generally comparable to those of people between the ages of 16 and 25 years old who received the vaccine.

This trial used a smaller vaccine dosage, 10 micrograms, rather than the 30 microgram dose used for people 12 and older. The dosage was selected as the preferred dose for safety and effectiveness in young children.

News of the results come as pediatric cases of COVID-19 are increasing amid a nationwide surge of infections.

“Since July, pediatric cases of COVID-19 have risen by about 240 percent in the U.S. — underscoring the public health need for vaccination. These trial results provide a strong foundation for seeking authorization of our vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old, and we plan to submit them to the FDA and other regulators with urgency,” said Albert Bourla, the chairman and CEO for Pfizer.

“Over the past nine months, hundreds of millions of people ages 12 and older from around the world have received our COVID-19 vaccine. We are eager to extend the protection afforded by the vaccine to this younger population, subject to regulatory authorization, especially as we track the spread of the Delta variant and the substantial threat it poses to children,” Bourla said in a statement.

Despite the strong results, it will be some time before the general public can see an official rollout of vaccines for children ages 5 to 11. Once analysis of the trial is completed, Pfizer and BioNTech will submit the results “in the near term” to the Food and Drug Administration for review and possible emergency use authorization.

And even if the FDA grants that authorization, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, recently told NPR that parents and caregivers will likely have to wait until the end of 2021 before a COVID-19 vaccine is fully approved for young children ages 5 to 11.

Trial results for children under 5 years of age could come later this year, the pharmaceutical companies said.

“Already in March 2021, we have started the study to evaluate the immunization of younger children. Our objective was to generate and submit the data for schoolkids to regulatory authorities around the world before the winter season begins,” BioNTech CEO and co-founder Ugur Sahin said.

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Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/09/20/1038832951/pfizer-and-biontech-vaccine-trials-for-kids-show-the-shots-are-safe-and-effectiv

Covid19

The CDC emphasizes COVID vaccinations as a key to safe holiday gatherings

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A video call on a laptop screen during Christmas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance on Friday for safely celebrating the upcoming holiday season. FilippoBacci/Getty Images hide caption

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FilippoBacci/Getty Images

Following confusion earlier this month on how the country should safely celebrate the holidays, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its updated guidance around gatherings and traveling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the new guidance issued Friday, the CDC says the best way to safely celebrate the holiday season is by being vaccinated (if eligible) against the coronavirus.

“Protect those not yet eligible for vaccination such as young children by getting yourself and other eligible people around them vaccinated,” the CDC said on its website.

Health officials said that having every person in attendance vaccinated against the virus is particularly important for protecting those who can’t get a shot, such as children under 12.

The CDC recommends that those who aren’t fully vaccinated delay their travel plans. For those that do travel, the CDC offers recommendations for domestic or international travelers.

In addition, the CDC suggests those who aren’t fully vaccinated wear well-fitting masks over the nose and mouth if in public indoor settings. It says outdoor celebrations, if possible, are recommended instead of indoor ones.

If in an outdoor setting, those who are vaccinated do not need to wear a mask, unless they are in areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases.

“By working together, we can enjoy safer holidays, travel, and protect our own health as well as the health of our family and friends,” the CDC said.

Just this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said that trick-or-treating can resume this Halloween, should those that are fully vaccinated feel comfortable doing so.

“I think that, particularly if you’re vaccinated, you can get out there and enjoy it,” Fauci told CNN’s State of the Union.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics website, HealthyChildren.org, officials recommend that families that decide on outdoor trick-or-treating do so in small groups.

When it comes to handing out candy, the website says to sit outside and line up individually prepackaged treats for children to take, including non-edible treats for those with food allergies.

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Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/10/15/1046615372/cdc-new-covid-guidelines-holiday-celebrations

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United States commits another 17 million COVID vaccine doses to the African Union

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The vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The White House says Thursday that the U.S. will commit 17 million additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the African Union. Picture Alliance/dpa/picture alliance via Getty I hide caption

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Picture Alliance/dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

The White House says the United States will donate more than 17 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from its domestic supplies to the African Union.

President Biden made the announcement Thursday as he met with Kenyan Uhuru Kenyatta at the White House, Biden’s first one-on-one meeting with an African leader.

“We’re continuing our shared fight against COVID,” Biden said during the meeting.

The vaccine donation comes on top of the 50 million vaccines doses already donated by the United States to the African Union, according to the White House.

The 17 million J&J vaccines will be available for delivery immediately and will be delivered to the African Union within the coming weeks.

Kenyatta thanked Biden for assisting both Kenya and other African countries, saying that the U.S. has “stepped up” when it comes to vaccine donation and access to vaccines for other countries.

News of Kenya’s 17 million vaccine donation comes after the World Health Organization said last month the African continent was almost 500 million doses short of what is needed to achieve its goal of vaccinating 40% of people by the end of 2021.

“African countries need clear delivery dates so they can plan properly. We also need strong structures set up to ensure that all promises made are promises kept,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa in a statement addressing the shortage.

To date, under half of the African countries that have received COVID-19 vaccines have fully vaccinated only 2% or less of their populations, according to the WHO.

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Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/10/14/1046163404/united-states-donating-covid-vaccines-african-union

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WHO launches a new group to study the origins of the coronavirus

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in Geneva, in March 2020. Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

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Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The World Health Organization has announced the establishment of a scientific advisory group aimed at identifying the origin of COVID-19 and to better prepare for future outbreaks of other deadly pathogens.

The WHO’s Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins on Novel Pathogens, or SAGO, will include scientists from the U.S., China and about two dozen other countries. It will be charged with answering the question of how the novel coronavirus first infected humans — a mystery that continues to elude experts more than 18 months into the crisis. The group will also be responsible for establishing a framework to combat future pandemics

Maria Van Kerkhove, the head of WHO’s emerging disease unit, called the establishment of the new group “a real opportunity right now to get rid of all the noise, all the politics surrounding this and focus on what we know, what we don’t know.”

The team will be selected from more than 700 applications from experts in fields including epidemiology, animal health, ecology, clinical medicine, virology, genomics, molecular epidemiology, molecular biology, biology, food safety, biosafety, biosecurity and public health, the WHO said in a statement.

“The emergence of new viruses with the potential to spark epidemics and pandemics is a fact of nature, and while SARS-CoV-2 is the latest such virus, it will not be the last,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential for preventing future outbreaks with epidemic and pandemic potential, and requires a broad range of expertise.”

Beijing continues to resist investigations in China

The establishment of the group comes as China has continued to resist efforts to study the possible origin of the virus there. After an initial investigation by the WHO, Beijing rejected a plan for a second phase of the probe in July that might delve into various hypotheses about the origin of the virus, including that it escaped from a Chinese government lab in the city of Wuhan.

The so-called “lab-leak theory” was initially dismissed by WHO, but has nonetheless gained traction in recent months, fueled in part by Beijing’s secrecy. Many scientists contend that a lab leak is much less likely than the alternative — that the novel coronavirus has a natural origin.

Beijing did not immediately react to the announcement of the new task force.

The WHO director still wants to look at labs in Wuhan

Despite the WHO’s initial findings, Tedros has called for audits of Wuhan laboratories, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which some scientists believe may be the source of the virus that caused the first infections in China.

Some of the proposed SAGO members were on the original 10-person WHO team that studied possible origins in China, including Chinese scientist Yungui Yang of the Beijing Institute of Genomics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

An editorial co-authored by Tedros that was published in Science on Wednesday said SAGO would “quickly assess the status of SARS-CoV-2 origin studies and advise WHO on what is known, the outstanding gaps, and next steps.”

It said that “[all] hypotheses must continue to be examined,” including the “studies of wildlife sold in markets in and around Wuhan, China (where cases of COVID-19 were first reported in December 2019); studies of SARS-like coronaviruses circulating in bats in China and Southeast Asia; studies on prepandemic biological sampling around the world; and other animal susceptibility studies.”

“As well, laboratory hypotheses must be examined carefully, with a focus on labs in the location where the first reports of human infections emerged in Wuhan,” it said, adding, “A lab accident cannot be ruled out until there is sufficient evidence to do so and those results are openly shared.”

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Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/10/13/1045647249/who-covid-investigation-china-wuhan-lab-leak

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COVID-19 continues to be a leading cause of death in the U.S. in September 2021

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An updated issue brief examines COVID-19’s effect on mortality rates, and estimates that in September 2021, COVID-19 was the number two on the list of the top ten leading causes of death in the U.S. As recently as January 2021, COVID was the number one leading cause of death, though COVID rank had briefly dropped to the 8th leading cause of death in July 2021 before the delta variant, relaxed social distancing and inadequate vaccinations led to a surge in new cases and deaths.

The analysis also estimates that nationally more than 90,000 deaths from COVID-19 since June could have been prevented with vaccines. More than half of those preventable deaths occurred in September.

The analysis can be found on the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, an information hub dedicated to monitoring and assessing the performance of the U.S. health system.

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Source: https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/covid-19-continues-to-be-a-leading-cause-of-death-in-the-u-s/

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