Coronavirus digest: Canada approves BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine for young teens | News | DW | 05.05.2021

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Coronavirus digest: Canada approves BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine for young teens

Canada is the first country in the world to approve a COVID vaccine for children aged 12 to 15, with the United States and other countries expected to soon follow suit. DW has the latest.

A person receives a the BioNTech-Pfizer coronavirus vaccine

It's the first time the younger age group will be eligible for the jab — and potentially change the game for school re-openings

Canada's health regulator has authorized the BioNTech-Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for children between 12 and 15 years old. Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser for Health Canada, confirmed the approval.

The vaccine was previously approved for anyone at least 16 or older. Canada is the first country in the world to approve the use of the vaccine in children under 16.

Pfizer released preliminary results in March from a vaccine study in the US of 2,260 volunteers between 12 and 15 years old, showing no COVID cases among those fully vaccinated.

Sharma said there was evidence that the vaccine was safe and effective in the 12-15 age group.

US regulators are expected to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 and up next week.

Watch video 02:46

Teenagers in US now able to get COVID-19 vaccines

The regulatory approval comes as the Canadian province of Alberta reported its first death linked to the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after a patient died from a rare blot condition, VITT. The patient was a woman in her 50s.

However, authorities have reiterated that the vaccine's benefits far outweigh the concerns over its safety.

It was the first death and the second case of VITT out of the roughly 250,000 doses of the vaccine administered in the province. Last month, Quebec recorded Canada's first death linked to the shot.

Watch video 03:17

Teens Vaccine

Europe

Germany's top court upheld the ongoing nightly curfew that has been implemented in an attempt to stem COVID-19 cases.

"This does not mean that the curfew is compatible with the Basic Law," said the court, adding that the judges would look further into the issue during the main hearing.

Germany's federal government was given more powers to fight the third wave of the pandemic, which included the curfews between 10 pm and 5 am in regions with high infection rates.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it would set up a global data hub in Berlin to analyze emerging pandemic threats. The WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence will begin operating later this year.

"Viruses move fast. But data can move even faster. With the right information, countries and communities can stay one step ahead of an emerging risk and save lives," said WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"If that expertise is now supplemented by the WHO Hub, we will create a unique environment for pandemic and health research here in Berlin – an environment from which important action-oriented insights will emerge for governments and leaders around the world," said Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Watch video 02:02

Germany to ease restrictions for vaccinated people

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced coronavirus restrictions would be eased for fully vaccinated and recovered people.

Nearly 1.4 million of Norway's 5.4 million have received at least one vaccine dose. About 380,000 have already received a second dose. People who were infected in the last six months are now considered protected.

The Turkish government has allowed foreign tourists to enter the country without undergoing the 2.5 week lockdown that is in place for residents. Those arriving in the country must produce negative COVID-19 tests.

People in Turkey were upset that move allowed foreign visitors to visit beaches and museums, which would lead to fines for locals. Some visitors also had mixed feelings about traveling during the lockdown.

Watch video 03:15

Turkey enters strictest lockdown since pandemic began

The European Union has started a rolling review of China's Sinovac coronavirus vaccine, the European Medicines Agency said on Tuesday. This is the first step in assessing the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine, leading up to a possible approval for use in the bloc.

"These studies suggest that the vaccine triggers the production of antibodies" that fight the coronavirus "and may help protect against the disease," the drug regulator said in a statement, referring to preliminary results from laboratory and clinical studies.

Americas

The US state of Michigan is set to loosen coronavirus restrictions by lifting the mask mandate when people are outdoors, except in cases where gatherings top 100 people or organized contact sports. The order takes effect on Thursday.

New York state governor Andrew Cuomo said New York City's baseball teams, the Yankees and Mets, would give free tickets to fans who get vaccinated at their ballparks before their games.

Cuomo also announced that tickets to Broadway shows would go on sale on Thursday for performances starting in September.

New York Yankees game

The Yankees will let fans get close to the action for free if they get a shot at their stadium

El Salvador has signed a deal with Pfizer Inc for the delivery of 4.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. The country’s president Nayib Bukele said: "With this purchase, we guarantee uninterrupted immunization for our entire target population."

Middle East

Israel's "green pass" for people who have been vaccinated against – or recovered from – COVID-19 will be extended until the end of the year.

The pass was previously valid for six months, starting one week after being fully vaccinated. It is not clear whether a subsequent vaccination will be necessary for the extension.

The green pass allows holders to live without major restrictions.

Watch video 02:51

Israel launches 'green pass' for vaccinated people

Africa

Egypt has announced that all cafes, malls and restaurants will be closed beginning at 9pm (1900 GMT) in order to contain what Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli called a "third wave."

"You have a responsibility not just for yourself, but also our family," said Mostafa.

The rule will take effect on Thursday and last until May 21. Muslims will be allowed to perform Eid prayers during Ramadan at designated mosques where regular Friday prayers are held.

Asia

India reported 3,780 deaths on Wednesday, the country's highest daily death toll since the pandemic began.

According to the WHO, India accounted for one in four deaths across the world over the last week. The country also reported 46% of the global cases in the past week.

The country's central bank on Wednesday pledged to release $6.7 billion in cheap financing for vaccine makers, hospitals and health firms to help combat the virus.

Watch video 12:01

COVID-19 Special: India's out of control outbreak

The Japanese government is looking at an extension of the state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas, casting doubt over the fate of the Tokyo Olympics less than three months before they are set to begin.

The Philippines has approved the emergency use of the Moderna Inc. coronavirus vaccine, days after the drugmaker filed an application with the country's food and drug agency. The country expects the delivery of 194,000 doses of the vaccine this month.

The chairman of a leading dairy company in South Korea has resigned following a massive scandal in which his company was accused of spreading misinformation that its Bulgaris yogurt drinks help curb coronavirus infections. 

"I express my sincere apology for causing disappointment and anger to our country's people with the Bulgaris-related controversy at a time when the nation is undergoing a hard time because of  COVID-19,'' said Hong Won-sik, the head of Namyang Dairy Products, as he announced his resignation.

kbd, see/rs (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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