Young Adolescents in Europe to Get Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

Britain has confirmed yet another spike in new COVID-19 infections, with close to 4,200 cases identified across the country Friday, the highest daily number in two months.

Seventy five percent of the new cases in Britain are believed to be infections with the so-called Indian variant, first detected in India, which is more transmissible than the previously dominant variant.

Also Friday, Britain approved a single-shot COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson. It is the fourth COVID-19 vaccine approved in the country, after inoculations made by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna.

The European Commission has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12, widening the pool of those eligible to be inoculated, following similar approvals in the United States and Canada.

The commission made the announcement Friday after the European Union’s medical regulator, the European Medicines Agency, Friday recommended the use of the vaccine in children ages 12 to 15, saying that data show it is safe and effective.

“Extending the protection of a safe and effective vaccine in this younger population is an important step forward in the fight against this pandemic,” said Marco Cavaleri, the EMA’s head of health threats and vaccines strategy.

It is now up to EU states to decide whether and when to offer the vaccine to young adolescents.

Germany and Italy have already said they are preparing to extend their vaccination campaign to youths ages 12-15.

French President Emmanuel Macron pledged Friday to help provide South Africa and other African countries with vaccine doses. During a visit to Pretoria, Macron said France would donate more than 30 million doses this year to the United Nations-backed COVAX global vaccine initiative.

According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, South Africa has so far vaccinated roughly 700,000 people out of its population of 40 million.

In Australia, Melbourne went back under lockdown on Friday, as health authorities said a cluster of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases had increased to 39.In other developments Friday, India reported 186,364 new coronavirus infections during the previous 24 hours, its lowest daily rise since April 14. Deaths rose from the previous day to 3,660.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said children at summer camp who are not vaccinated do not have to wear masks outside unless they are in crowds or in sustained close contact with others. The new guidance comes as millions of children are set to resume summer camp this summer after the closure of many camps last year due to the virus.

Americans are celebrating the start of the Memorial Day weekend by hitting the roads and skies as they seek to cast off more than a year of pandemic restrictions and try to resume a sense of normalcy.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urged Americans to be patient this weekend at busy airports.

“People will see lines because there’s going to be a tremendous amount of people traveling this weekend,” he told ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday.

Source: Voice of America