Connect with us

Health

US FDA backs Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shot for 12- to 15-year-olds

Published

on

The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized the use of a third dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, and narrowed the time for all booster shots by a month to five months after the primary doses.

The agency also authorized a third shot for children aged 5 through 11 years who are immunocompromised.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

The regulatory decisions come as schools reopen in much of the country, and as COVID-19 cases surge due to the omicron variant of the virus, with health authorities warning that its high transmissibility could overwhelm many health systems.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to weigh in on the changes this week, according to the New York Times. The CDC was not immediately available for comment.

“Based on the FDA’s assessment of currently available data, a booster dose of the currently authorized vaccines may help provide better protection against both the Delta and Omicron variants,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

The US government has been urging vaccinated Americans to get boosters and for the unvaccinated, who are at much higher risk of severe COVID-19 and death, to be inoculated.

So far, 62 percent of the eligible US population is considered fully vaccinated with a third of them also having received a booster dose.

In making its decision, the FDA said it reviewed real-world data from Israel, including safety data from more than 6,300 individuals aged 12 through 15 years who received a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least 5 months following completion of the primary two-dose vaccination series.

There were no new cases of a rare type of heart inflammation reported to-date in these individuals, the FDA said.

Laboratory tests have shown that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines generate low immune responses against Omicron, while the addition of a booster appears to restore protection against the highly-mutated variant.

Two shots of the mRNA vaccine are about 35 percent effective against infection from the Omicron variant, but a booster dose restores effectiveness to 75 percent, according to the CDC, based on data from South Africa and the United Kingdom.

The FDA said authorizing the shot at 5 months instead of 6 may provide better protection sooner against Omicron.

Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California, said a third shot is essential to protect against Omicron for severe disease.

“A good thing here is also the change on the timing of the booster to five months instead of six. That’s a big step for this country, which has been resistant to the data,” he added.

Countries including the United Kingdom and Israel have narrowed their window for boosters from six months to three or four following the second shot to try to fight the spread of the easily transmitted Omicron variant.

Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Health Security, said he does not believe a boosters is necessary for most people since two doses of the vaccine have been effective at preventing hospitalizations and severe disease in all but older people.

“When I work at the hospital, I don’t see patients there because they lack a booster, I see patients because they lack first and second doses,” Adalja said.

Read more: Experts warn of US omicron ‘blizzard’ in weeks ahead

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Health

UAE reports 3,014 COVID cases, four new deaths in 24 hours

Published

on

The UAE reported on Thursday 3,014 COVID-19 infections and four new deaths in 24 hours after conducting 504,831 tests.

Developing

Continue Reading

Health

Saudi Arabia reports 5,591 new COVID-19 infections, two deaths in 24 hours

Published

on

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reported 5,591 COVID-19 cases and two new deaths in 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Health.

This brings the total number of cases in the Kingdom to 638,327.

Developing

Continue Reading

Health

Thailand to resume quarantine-free travel from Feb. 1 after pause due to omicron

Published

on

Thailand will resume its quarantine-free travel scheme from February 1, officials said Thursday, after the program was suspended due to the fast-spreading omicron COVID-19 variant.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

Pandemic travel curbs have hammered the kingdom’s tourism-dominated economy, sending visitor numbers dwindling to a trickle.

Fully vaccinated travelers will now be able to enter under the “test and go” scheme as long as they take COVID-19 tests on the first and fifth days after arriving, spokesman for the country’s COVID-19 taskforce Taweesin Visanuyothin told reporters.

Visitors will have to isolate at a hotel while waiting for their test results and will be required to download a tracking app to ensure they comply with the rules.

Seeking to bounce back from its worst economic performance since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Thailand launched the “test and go” scheme in November as an alternative to two weeks’ hotel quarantine.

The program was suspended late last month over fears about omicron, but with deaths and hospitalizations not spiking, Taweesin said it could resume, though the authorities will keep it under review.

“In case there are more infections or the situation changes, there will be a re-assessment for inbound travelers and adjust toward the sandbox scheme,” Taweesin said.

Under the sandbox program launched last year as a first step towards resuming tourism, fully jabbed visitors spend seven nights in certain designated locations, such as the resort island of Phuket, before being allowed to travel on to the rest of Thailand.

In a further relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, restaurants will be allowed to serve alcohol until 11:00 p.m. – easing the current 9:00 p.m. cut-off.

The tourism ministry estimates that some five million foreign visitors will come to Thailand in 2022 — down from nearly 40 million in the year before the pandemic.

Read more:

Thailand bans entry of people traveling from eight African countries

Thai prison set on fire during riot over COVID-19 cluster

COVID-19 cases rose by more than 50 percent, deaths stable: WHO

Continue Reading

Trending