Coronavirus digest: FDA panel recommends BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine for children | News | DW | 27.10.2021

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Coronavirus digest: FDA panel recommends BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine for children

The US is on the way to becoming one of the first countries to authorize vaccines for pre-teens. Australia has said it will lift a ban on travel for vaccinated citizens. Follow DW for the latest.

A young boy receiving a BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine in Michigan

If the kid-dose vaccine gets approval, some 28 million more Americans will become eligible for the jab

A panel of experts advising the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted to endorse the use of the BioNTech-Pfizer kid-size vaccine dose for children aged 5 to 11 years old.

The recommendation from the panel brings the US closer to administering COVID-19 vaccines to children as young as five, but it is still up to the FDA to give its formal approval for emergency use authorization. 

It would then be up to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to give the final authorization.

While the agency is not legally bound to follow the recommendations of its expert advisers, it usually does.

The panel argued that the benefits of a shot outweigh any risks and that parents should be given the opportunity to protect their children from the growing number of cases among kids.

There have been almost 100 coronavirus deaths among 5 to 11-year-olds in the US.

Watch video 12:01

COVID-19 Special: Vaccinations for children – who's at risk?

Here are some more coronavirus headlines from around the world:

Oceania

New Zealand has said it will extend its vaccine mandate to cover 40% of workers, including those who have close contact with customers, such as people working in restaurants, gyms and hair salons.

The government recently announced its goal to vaccinate 90% of all people aged 12 and older.

Australia announced on Wednesday that its citizens will soon once again be able to travel abroad, if vaccinated. The government imposed a ban on foreign travel 18 months ago that restricted travel in and out of the country.

Prime Minister Scott Morrisson also said on Wednesday that unvaccinated tennis players hoping to take part in the Australian Open tournament will have to undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine upon arrival.

Americas

A committee of Brazilian senators has voted to recommend that criminal charges be brought against President Jair Bolsonaro for crimes related to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Brazil has the second-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world.

Watch video 01:50

Brazil's Bolsonaro under pressure over COVID response

Europe

Bulgaria has recorded its highest daily increase in virus cases with 6,813 new infections recorded in the past 24 hours. The European Union's least-vaccinated country also recorded 124 deaths, taking the total death toll to 23,440.

With more than 7,300 patients in COVID wards, hospitals across the country were stretched to their limits dealing with the inflow of coronavirus patients.

Germany has reported 23,212 new cases of the virus, taking the country’s total tally to 4,506,415, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases. With 114 deaths reported in the past 24 hours, Germany’s death toll has risen to 95,359.

The UK will remove restrictions such as hotel quarantine and remove the final seven countries from the travel "red list" due to a declining threat from abroad, The Telegraph has reported

Spain will offer people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine a second dose from a different manufacturer, accordering to health authorities.

Slovenia, which has a very low vaccination rate compared to its EU neighbors, is facing the prospect of renewed restrictions, the health minister warned. 

Sweden will offer a third vaccine shot to people aged 65 and over, as well as to health care workers and nursing home staff.

Russia is warning its citizens not to travel domestically during a new non-working week to avoid spreading the virus. President Vladimir Putin last week ordered the week-long paid holiday between October 30 and November 7 to try and reverse the spread.

Asia

The government of Cambodia has announced plans to reopen the country, in phases, to fully vaccinated foreign tourists from the end of next month.

With the new measures in place starting November 30, fully vaccinated visitors can skip quarantines if they stay within designated areas for at least five days, the Tourism Ministry said. The first of these designated areas include the seaside provinces of Sihanoukville and Koh Kong on the Gulf of Thailand.

However, upon arrival, all visitors must show proof of their vaccination and take rapid tests for COVID-19. They can only proceed if the results are negative.

Watch video 12:00

COVID-19 Special: Asia eases travel restrictions for tourists

Organizers at the Beijing Winter Olympics have highlighted coronavirus as the "biggest challenge" to the games, as China rushes to stem an outbreak of COVID-19 100 days before kickoff.

"The pandemic is the biggest challenge to the organization of the Winter Olympics," Zhang Jiandong, executive vice president of the Beijing Organising Committee, said at a press conference, adding that China’s strict measures "can reduce the risks and impact of Covid-19."

Organizers confirmed that participants will be strictly isolated from the general population and could face expulsion for violating restrictions.

As the Chinese capital races to become the first host of a Summer and Winter Games, the country is battling an outbreak that has prompted strict measures to be enforced across at least 11 provinces.

Watch video 01:24

IOC accepts China's Olympic vaccine offer

Vietnam has kicked off a campaign to vaccinate children in an effort to reopen schools more than six months after they were closed due to the virus. 

"Vaccination safety for children is the top priority," health minister Nguyen Thanh Long said ahead of the launch. Close to 1,500 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 17 were amongst the first to receive the shop in Ho Chi Minh City.

Currently, Vietnam has only approved the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine for children. Authorities require parents or guardians to sign a consent form for their children to be vaccinated.

Global

Pharmaceutical company Merck has agreed to allow other drug makers to produce its COVID-19 pill, according to a United Nations body. The Medicines Patent Pool said it had signed a voluntary licensing agreement for molnupiravir with Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics in a move meant to help poorer countries gain access to the potentially
life-saving drug.

aw, ab, see/wmr (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)