The US Food and Drug Administration has authorized updated COVID-19 booster shots for children as young as five. The booster vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer are targeted at both the original coronavirus strain, as well as against the most common omicron variants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must sign off on the vaccines before they can be used. The Pfizer booster is for children from age five and the Moderna booster is for children from age six. “Since children have gone back to school in person and people are resuming pre-pandemic behaviors and activities, there is the potential for increased risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccination remains the most effective measure to prevent the severe consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) at the Food and Drug Administration.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a joint statement on Wednesday that, according to their data, another wave of COVID-19 infections has begun in Europe. An 8% rise in cases of the coronavirus was measured in Europe in the week that ended on October 2. “Although we are not where we were one year ago, it is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is still not over. We are unfortunately seeing indicators rising again in Europe, suggesting that another wave of infections has begun. With the arrival of autumn and winter, the resurgence of influenza can also be expected. In light of this, we reconfirm the need to protect people’s health, especially the most vulnerable, using all the available tools, including vaccination. Preparedness measures need to continue in the European Region, we should not let our guard down,” said the joint staet,enmt issued by WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge and ECDC Director Dr Andrea Ammon.
Canada will drop all COVID-19 restrictions, including vaccination and masking requirements for flights, for citizens and international visitors, beginning on October 1, the government announced. “We’ll continue to follow the latest available science and do whatever is necessary to protect your health,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted in announcing the lifting of the restrictions. “Obviously we have no hope to reintroduce some of these measures but if we need to protect the safety of Canadians, we will have to,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said.
Africa is still in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic due to its low vaccination rates, according to the acting director of Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Slightly more than 22% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma told a news conference on Thursday that the Africa CDC is working to get as many people as possible on the African continent vaccinated. Throughout the pandemic, African countries had difficulty obtaining COVID vaccines as rich countries got to them first. Vaccine hesitancy also prevented large numbers of Africans from getting inoculated.
The end of the coronavirus is in sight, the head of the World Health Organization told reporters on Wednesday. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We are not there yet, but the end is in sight,” he said. “We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. If we don’t take this opportunity now, we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption, and more uncertainty.” He called on countries to continue testing for the virus and to vaccinate all of the people in thier high-risk group. The WHO called on countriesto maintain adequate supplies of medical equipment and health care workers.
A shipment of second-generation coronavirus vaccines designed to fight the new variants has arrived in Israel, coronavirus czar Professor Salman Zarka announced on Wednesday. The vaccines will be available in Israeli health clinics in two weeks, according to Zarka. He did not say whether they would be made available to the general public or first to groups such as the elderly. Zarka called on Israelis to get vaccinated ahead of the winter, citing a rise in coronavirus infections showing that the virus is spreading.
Nasal COVID-19 vaccines have been developed and approved in India and China. China on Sunday started offering the world’s first inhalaable COVID vaccine: Convidecia Air made by CanSino Biologics. India approved for emergency use a nasal vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech on Tuesday. World Health Organization emergencies director Mike Ryan told AFP that nasal vaccines could prevent a person from being infected and passing the virus on. “You’re generating the first line of defense at where the virus enters and causes a lot of damage,” he said.
Completely new COVID-19 variants could develop this winter, according to the European Medicines Agency, the European Union’s drug agency. “There might be a completely new variant emerging that we are not able to predict today,” EMA vaccines chief Marco Cavaleri said on Friday. The agency on Thursday approved vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna that are appropriate for the older BA 1 subvariant of omicron. A Pfizer version updated for the BA 4 and BA 5 strains, which are the predominant strain, are set to be authorized in mid-September.
Chengdu, a city in southwest China with a population of 21 million, has gone into lockdown following a rise in the number of COVID-19 infections. Residents had six hours notice before the entire city was closed on Thursday due to the country’s zero-COVID policy. Some 157 new infections were recorded on Thursday. All residents will be tested for the virus by Sunday. Until then, each household is permitted to send one person to buy groceries and essential household items who has tested negative for the virus in the last 24 hours.
China has placed tens of millions of people under lockdown to quash a flare-up of the coronavirus under its strict zero-COVID policy. The closures announced this week are in Hebei province, Shenzhen, Dalian and Tianjin, and include the world’s largest wholesale electronics market. The shut downs will delay the start of school for some of China’s children, and come at a cost to China’s economy. Mainland China reported 1,717 new domestically transmitted COVID infections for Aug. 29. Meanwhile, cases also have been rising in Hong Kong, which does not have a zero-COVID policy and is expecting up to 10,000 infections this week.