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Coronavirus vaccine shots given worldwide

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Germany recommends booster shots for all those ages 12-17
From Nadine Schmidt in Berlin


13 January 2022, Berlin: Karl Lauterbach (SPD), Federal Minister of Health, speaks during the three-day debate on the policies of the traffic light coalition in the Bundestag, Berlin, Germany on 13 January 2022.


13 January 2022,

Berlin: Karl Lauterbach (SPD), Federal Minister of Health, speaks during the three-day debate on the policies of the traffic light coalition in the Bundestag, Berlin, Germany on 13 January 2022. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa/Getty Images)

Germany's vaccine advisory committee — known as STIKO — has recommended Covid-19 booster shoots for all children and teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17, as the country recorded its highest single daily surge in infections on Thursday.

In a written statement, the committee recommended the booster shots administered are an mRNA vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech. Booster shots should be administered three months after the last vaccine dose at the earliest, STIKO added.

In August, STIKO recommended all children and teenagers aged 12-17 to be vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccine.

On Thursday, German health minister and epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach urged German lawmakers in parliament to support a key vote on whether to introduce a general vaccine mandate by the end of March or else the country ''would never be able to end the pandemic.''
 

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Do existing vaccines offer protection against Omicron?

While protection against Omicron may wane a few months after receiving two shots of a vaccine, multiple studies showed that getting a booster dose produces antibodies capable of fighting the new variant.

Early findings from a real-world analysis suggested that the risk of catching Omicron was "significantly reduced following a booster vaccine", Head of Immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency Dr Mary Ramsay said.

"Two doses of AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines provided much lower levels of protection against symptomatic infection compared with what they provide against Delta.

"However, when boosted with a dose of Pfizer vaccine, there was around 70pc protection against symptomatic infection for people who initially received AstraZeneca, and around 75pc protection for those who received Pfizer," according to a Reuters report.

Studies conducted later also pointed to the same conclusion — booster doses offer protection against Omicron.
Danish researchers found that vaccine effectiveness for those who had received a shot of Pfizer or Moderna was re-established when they were given a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Research carried out by the pharmaceutical companies themselves has also shown encouraging results. Pfizer said a three-course shot of its vaccine was able to neutralise the Omicron variant in a lab test. Its CEO also said that the company is working on an Omicron-specific vaccine that will be ready by March.

Moderna said a booster dose of its vaccine appeared to be effective against Omicron, adding that it "boosts neutralising antibody levels 37-fold higher than pre-boost levels".

A study by the University of Oxford, while supporting a third dose of AstraZeneca's vaccine, concluded it had boosted neutralisation levels.

However, research on more doses of Chinese vaccines — Sinopharm and SinoVac — has not been as encouraging.
A joint study conducted by the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong showed that "third dose of [SinoVac] given to those who received two previous doses of [SinoVac] does not provide adequate levels of protective antibody."

Researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and a Shanghai-based lab specialising in respiratory infectious diseases found that Sinopharm's vaccine had "significantly lower" neutralising activity against the Omicron variant although they added the vaccine's efficacy against Omicron remained unclear.

A later study suggested that a protein-based vaccine produced by Sinopharm "significantly improved the immune responses against various Sars-CoV-2 strains, including Omicron" when administered after two doses of the original vaccine.

Other treatments are also available this time around. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two anti-viral pills — from Pfizer and Merck — that could be an important tool against Omicron.
Both companies said they expect their pills to be effective against the new variant.
 

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Austria eyes raising age for compulsory coronavirus jabs to 18

Austria’s government has proposed setting the minimum age for mandatory vaccinations against Covid-19 at 18 and rolling out the programme in stages from February 1, seeking to build broad consensus for the disputed step.

The conservative-led government had said last month it intended the mandate to apply to all people aged 14 and up, the first European Union country to make vaccinations compulsory for the general population.


A seven-year-old girl receives a dose of the vaccine at a coronavirus disease vaccination centre for children, in Tulln, Austria on December 1, 2021. — Reuters/File



A seven-year-old girl receives a dose of the vaccine at a coronavirus disease vaccination centre for children, in Tulln, Austria on December 1, 2021. — Reuters/File

https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sha...awn.com/news/1669796&display=popup&ref=plugin
 

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Covid programme delivers 1bn doses to poorer countries: WHO

The World Health Organisation has said that a UN-backed programme shipping coronavirus vaccines to many poor countries has now delivered 1 billion doses, but that milestone is only a reminder of the work that remains after hoarding and stockpiling in rich countries, AP reports.
A shipment of 1.1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Rwanda on Saturday included the billionth dose supplied via the Covax programme, the UN health agency said.

WHO has long criticised the unequal distribution of vaccines and called for manufacturers and other countries to prioritize Covax. It said that, as of Thursday, 36 of its 194 member countries had vaccinated less than 10 per cent of their population and 88 had vaccinated less than 40pc.
 

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Billionaire's Covid vaccine plant opens in South Africa


Vumani Mkhize
BBC News, Cape Town


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The president (L) and biotech billionaire (R) together during the inauguration ceremony

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has opened a new manufacturing plant which will be the first in Africa to produce Covid-19 vaccines from start to finish.

The Nant-SA facility in Cape Town was an initiative by the US-based, South African-born biotech billionaire Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong.

It aims to start producing the vaccines within a year and to make a billion doses annually by 2025.

South Africa has two other facilities which produce vaccines from semi-finished batches.

At the opening Mr Ramaphosa said Africa should no longer be the last in line to access vaccines and would in future not have to beg for vaccines.
 

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Pfizer-BioNTech begin Omicron vaccine trial​

Pfizer and BioNTech have begun enrollment for a clinical trial to test the safety and immune response of their Omicron-specific Covid-19 vaccine in adults aged up to 55, the companies said in a statement.

Pfizer's CEO Albert Bourla previously said at a conference that the pharmaceutical giant could be ready to file for regulatory approval of the shot by March.

The company's head of vaccine research Kathrin Jansen said in a statement that while current data showed that boosters against the original Covid strain continued to protect against severe outcomes with Omicron, the company was acting out of caution.

“We recognise the need to be prepared in the event this protection wanes over time and to potentially help address Omicron and new variants in the future,” she said.
 

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WASHINGTON: The United States has shipped 400 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries in need as part of its earlier pledge to donate more than 1.1 billion doses to low-income countries, a White House spokesman said on Twitter, confirming a CNN report.

The latest batch includes 3.2 million doses of Pfizer Inc and BioNTech's vaccine to Bangladesh and 4.7 million doses to Pakistan, CNN reported on Wednesday, citing a White House official.

The Biden administration had previously vowed to donate a second tranche of 500 million doses to the COVAX global vaccine sharing program, raising its total pledge to more than 1.1 billion COVID vaccine doses, with the latest batch expected to start shipping this month.

Global health experts have said at least 5 billion to 6 billion doses are needed by poorer countries to help protect them against the novel coronavirus amid the ongoing pandemic.

Overall, the COVAX facility, backed by the World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, has delivered more than a billion doses to 144 countries and aims to achieve 70% COVID-19 immunization coverage by mid-2022.

Health experts have criticized rich countries for not doing enough, singling out the United States in particular for pushing booster shots for fully vaccinated Americans while much of the world's population still lacks access to vaccines.

Experts and leaders from developing nations have also warned that vaccine hoarding by wealthy nations could lead to new coronavirus variants.

"Four hundred million doses is more than every country, and is on top of expanding manufacturing, working with companies to get their vaccines out to the most vulnerable, and getting shots in arms," White House spokesman Kevin Munoz tweeted in response to the CNN report. "The work is far from over, and the US will continue to lead this effort."

The White House COVID Response Team is scheduled to hold a news briefing at 11 a.m. (1600 GMT), and is expected to announce its updated shipments, CNN said.
 

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Sweden decides against recommending Covid vaccines for kids aged 5-12​

Sweden has decided against recommending Covid vaccines for kids aged 5-11, the Health Agency said today, arguing that the benefits did not outweigh the risks.

“With the knowledge, we have today, with a low risk for serious disease for kids, we don't see any clear benefit with vaccinating them,” Reuters quotes Health Agency official Britta Bjorkholm as saying.

She added that the decision could be revisited if the research changed or if a new variant changed the pandemic. Kids in high-risk groups can already get the vaccine.

This file photo shows a 13-year-old girl receiving a Covid-19 vaccine in Estonia. —AP


This file photo shows a 13-year-old girl receiving a Covid-19 vaccine in Estonia. —AP
 

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Qatar approves Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5-11 years.​


The Qatari Ministry of Health approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 years, it said on Sunday...

In November, Gulf states Bahrain and Saudi Arabia approved the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use for children in the same age category, according to Reuters.
 

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US grants full approval to Moderna's Covid vaccine in adults​

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given full approval to Moderna Inc's Covid-19 vaccine for people age 18 and older, making it the second fully approved vaccine for the virus, reports Reuters.

The Moderna vaccine has been authorised for emergency use in the United States since December 2020, and will now be sold under the brand name Spikevax.

“The public can be assured that Spikevax meets the FDA's high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality required of any vaccine approved for use in the United States,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr Janet Woodcock said in a statement.
 

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Nigeria receives 2m doses of J&J Covid vaccine from EU countries.​

Nigeria has received two million doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine from Finland, Greece and Slovenia, with more EU donations set to arrive in the coming weeks, government officials said.

The delivery is part of a donation pledge by the European Union to African countries via the Covax initiative launched by the World Health Organisation in 2020 to distribute vaccines to some of the world's poorest people.

Samuel Isopi, Nigeria's ambassador to the European Union, said more doses would arrive in the coming weeks.
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Indonesia starts testing homegrown Covid-19 vaccine on humans..​

Indonesia began testing a homegrown Covid-19 vaccine on humans after getting the green light from the drug regulator as the country faces a rising wave of virus cases.

Research on the “Merah Putih” (Red White) vaccine — named after the colours of the Indonesian national flag — is led by Airlangga University and Biotis Pharmaceutical Indonesia, AFP reports.

The project has suffered delays since starting in 2020, but authorities are now hoping to authorise its use by the middle of 2022 if the trials are successful.

Health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the drug, set to be rolled out in the latter stages of Indonesia's vaccination campaign, could be donated to other nations, as a booster jab or as a vaccine for children aged three to six.
 

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