Coronavirus: what’s happening Wednesday in Canada and around the world
In the United States, health workers are administering COVID-19 vaccines to children aged five to 11 after they become the last group to be eligible for vaccines.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Tuesday recommended the Pfizer Inc-BioNTech vaccine for wide use in this age group.
Only a limited number of the 15 million shots currently distributed will be available on Wednesday. They should be more widely available in pediatricians’ offices, children’s hospitals and pharmacies next week.
While about 58% of all Americans are fully immunized against COVID-19, some 28 million children under 12 have not been eligible so far.
The 10 microgram shot of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine licensed for school-aged children – one-third the strength given to adolescents and adults – offers protection against the delta variant of the virus, which has led to thousands of hospitalizations pediatric.
“I think it’s going to make the issue of schools a lot easier, a lot safer,” White House chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci said Wednesday in an interview with CNN.
However, it is not yet known how many parents will jump at the chance. Even many of those who have been vaccinated themselves are more divided over whether to vaccinate their own younger children, given that severe COVID-19 is much less common for them.
There were no new safety concerns in Pfizer’s study of the vaccine in thousands of children, but there are also no long-term data for its use.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday cleared the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for children aged five to 11, although the CDC officially recommends who should receive the FDA-approved vaccines.
A few other countries, including China, are already vaccinating children. The European Union and Canadian regulators are currently considering Pfizer’s application for the vaccine in this younger age group.
States with the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in adults are planning greater efforts to vaccinate children than states where reluctance remains high, which could widen protection gaps nationwide, public health officials and experts said.
COVID-19 vaccines have emerged as another issue exposing deep political loopholes in the United States that have led to opposing positions on vaccinations, face covering and other pandemic restrictions in various parts of the country.
Moderna has delayed its application for approval for its vaccine for children ages 6 to 11 in the United States and is awaiting a safety data review by the FDA as part of its application for ages 12 to 17.
-From Reuters, last update 1:10 p.m. ET
What is happening in Canada
What is happening in the world
As of early Wednesday afternoon, more than 247.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University online coronavirus tracker. The death toll worldwide was over five million.
The number of coronavirus cases has increased in Europe for the fifth week in a row, making it the only region in the world where COVID-19 continues to rise, the World Health Organization has reported.
In its weekly pandemic report, the United Nations health agency said new cases jumped 6% in Europe for the week of October 25-31, up from an 18% increase the week before. The weekly number of new infections in other areas either declined or stayed about the same, according to the report.
While the Czech Republic, Poland and other central and eastern European countries have reported recent spikes in infection, the continued increase in confirmed cases across Europe is mainly due to:
- The UK, with 285,028 new cases, down 14% from the previous week.
- Russia, with 272,147 new cases, an increase of 9%.
- Turkey, with 182,027 new cases, a drop of 8%.
The highest number of deaths in the region were reported in:
- Russia, with 7,938 reported deaths, an increase of 9%.
- Ukraine, with 3,857 reported deaths, an increase of 19%.
- Romania, with 3,072 deaths, an increase of 6%.
Several hundred people blocked traffic in the center of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on Wednesday to protest against coronavirus restrictions and mandatory vaccinations, which the government introduced to curb new infections. Vaccines have become mandatory for some state officials, and in “red” areas, including Kiev, only those vaccinated or those with negative COVID-19 test results are allowed in restaurants, gyms and public transport.
In the Americas, Mexico’s health ministry reported 269 confirmed coronavirus deaths, bringing the total number of deaths from the pandemic in the country to 288,733.
In the Asia Pacific region, Hong Kong will roll out vaccine booster doses starting next week, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said, as authorities step up efforts to convince Beijing to allow cross-border travel to mainland China.
In Africa, Countries in West and Central Africa could experience an increase in HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in a few years due to disruptions in health services due to the pandemic, said the executive director of the United Nations Agency against AIDS.
In the Middle East, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has tested positive for COVID-19.
-According to the Associated Press and Reuters, last update at 12:55 p.m. ET