Coronavirus digest: BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine 90% efficacy in children | News | DW | 22.10.2021

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Coronavirus digest: BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine 90% efficacy in children

BioNTech and Pfizer and said their vaccine is highly effective among children in the 5-11-year age group. Follow DW for the latest.

 Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared for packaging

An expert panel advising the US Food and Drug Administration will vote on whether or not to recommend authorizing vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11 years next week

The vaccine  developed by German pharmaceutical BioNTech in partnership with US company Pfizer provides a high level of protection among children the companies announced on Friday.

In a clinical trial involving children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old, the vaccine was found to have a 90.7% efficacy rate.

The vaccine was found to bring about a strong immune response among children involved in the trial.

The results have been submitted to the US Food And Drug Administration.

An expert panel of advisers is expected to meet next week and will vote on whether to recommend vaccinations for that age group.

The BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine has regulatory authorization for children aged 12 and up.

The drugmakers have been testing the vaccine on children aged 2 to 5 and those aged 6 months to 2 years old, with data expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.

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Below are some other coronavirus headlines from around the world:

Europe

State premiers in Germany on Friday agreed to urge the federal government to keep coronavirus measures in place on a nationwide basis rather than allow each state to determine its own steps to prevent the spread of the virus.

A Germany-wide state of emergency will end on November 25, and this can only be extended by a parliamentary vote.  

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However, Berlin Mayor Michael Müller said there was consensus that: "We shouldn't take any risk. We still need a nationwide basis, a legal framework that the federal parliament offers.''

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control said a total of 19,572 new infections were reported on Friday. The figure is more than double what it was a week ago. 

Amnesty International has urged an independent parliamentary inquiry into COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes in Italy. It comes amid reports of retaliation against nursing home staff who spoke out about unsafe conditions there.

Amnesty based its findings on interviews with health care workers, union leaders and lawyers. About a third of the employees "raised concerns about a climate of fear and retaliation in their workplace,” Amnesty said in a statement.

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Italy introduces strictest COVID pass rule in Europe

 

Ukraine has reported record coronavirus deaths and infections for the second day in a row, with the capital, Kyiv, about to re-impose tough restrictions.

Government figures showed 23,785 new infections and 614 deaths in the ex-Soviet republic.

Kyiv is to shutter public venues like restaurants and theaters unless all their employees have been fully vaccinated.

The country of some 41 million people initially struggled to access vaccines and convince Ukrainians to get a shot.

Meanwhile, neighboring Russia says 49.2 million people there are now fully vaccinated against COVID. Some 53.5 million residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

However, the country on Friday reported more daily records when it came to infections and deaths.

There were 37,141 new infections with some 1,064 people dying in the past 24 hours.

Oceania 

New Zealand has set a vaccination target of 90% of eligible recipients as its benchmark for scrapping lockdowns.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says her goal has shifted from eliminating COVID-19 to minimizing its spread in the community by increasing vaccinations.

New Zealanders are no longer to be subject to stay-at-home orders, provided they are fully inoculated.

"We cannot ask vaccinated people to stay home forever," said Ardern.

Some 86% of eligible New Zealanders have had their first vaccine dose, with 68% being double jabbed.

Residents of Australia's second-biggest city headed to bars, restaurants and for desperately needed haircuts on Friday. Some 5 million people in Melbourne have spent more than 260 days under lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Some 70% of eligible people in the city and surrounding Victoria state are fully vaccinated, As a result, the latest set of restrictions that began on August 5 have been lifted.

Asia

A new outbreak of COVID-19 means parts of China have imposed restrictions on movement. Parts of the capital, Beijing, have been sealed off and there are transport curbs and public venue closures in some northeastern areas.

There were some 28 domestically transmitted cases in China, where the disease first surfaced, on Thursday — more than double the previous day.

Although the numbers are small compared with other parts of the world, Chinese authorities are quick to seek to contain flare-ups under zero-tolerance guidelines at a national level.

There is a particular impetus to keep a lid on the disease in the capital ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics Games in February.

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The city and surrounding regions are offering booster shots against COVID-19, to anyone over 18 who has received two-dose Chinese vaccines and who belongs to at-risk groups.

That includes anyone participating in or organizing events, or working on games facilities.

In India's entertainment capital of Mumbai — the home of Bollywood — movie theaters have reopened after more than 18 months of closures.

It's the last of many restrictions to be dropped amid declining case rates. Theaters opened to half capacity but still struggled to lure back the public with rereleases of past hits. 

Vaccination certificates or "safe status" verification on the state-run health app are a must for those wanting to attend. There are mandatory masks and temperature checks and no food or drinks are allowed inside.

Theaters in other parts of the country are already running shows, but - as one of the worst-hit cities — Mumbai has only gradually reopened.

kb,rc/sms (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)

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