Chile Approves Vaccine for Kids; EU Mulls Boosters: Virus Update
The Chilean government approved Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine for use on children as young as six, with shots being administered beginning this month.
The European Union’s drug regulator is reviewing Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE’s application for an extra dose of their vaccine 6 months after the second shot. In the U.S., officials are discussing the timing and efficacy of booster shots, with the White House pushing back at criticism that it’s rushing the process.
Thailand is reopening for tourism, hoping that vaccines will revive one of its most important industries. Much of New Zealand is exiting lockdown amid progress in fighting the delta-variant outbreak. Scientists in South Africa said the spread of a new variant there slowed in August, suggesting it’s not likely to become a dominant strain.
- Global Tracker: Cases pass 220.9 million; deaths exceed 4.5 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 5.48 billion doses administered
- Wealthy nations will have 1.2 billion doses they don’t need
- Overwhelmed morgues belie U.S. illusion of a defanged pandemic
- Delta surge means this is as good as it gets for global growth
- They suffered through Covid, and still don’t want the vaccine
- Battered by Covid, cities fight for survival
Scientists Say New Variant Slows Spread (4:36 p.m. NY)
South African scientists said the so-called C.1.2 variant spread at a slower rate in August than in the prior month, suggesting it’s unlikely to become a dominant strain. The new variant accounted for just 1.5% of all virus samples sequenced in the country last month compared with 2.2% in July, according to the Network for Genomic Surveillance South Africa.
The variant, first identified in South Africa, has been found in a number of countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, Portugal, New Zealand and Switzerland.
Chile Approves Sinovac Shots for Children (1:52 p.m. NY)
The Chilean government approved Sinovac Biotech Ltd’s vaccine for use on children six-years-old and higher, as the country advances one of the most advanced vaccination programs in the world.
Five experts at Chile’s Institute of Public Health backed the measure, according to its website. Two voted to restrict shots to children 12 and older; another voted against allowing kids to get Sinovac, saying that there still wasn’t enough available data.
Previously, only Pfizer had obtained approval in the country to use its vaccine on people 12 to 17 years old. Sinovac, which has proven to be less effective than more costly mRNA vaccines to prevent infection, represents about two-thirds of the vaccines used in Chile.
Ho Chi Minh City Eases Grocery Restrictions (1:15 p.m. NY)
Vietnam’s commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City will continue to enforce a stay-at-home order at least until Sept. 15 but allow residents in areas with low reports of virus patients to visit supermarkets once a week. Mayor Phan Van Mai said the city will gradually restart more services after that date if efforts to contain the virus show signs of success.
EU Regulator Reviews Pfizer Booster Data (10:45 a.m. NY)
The European Medicines Agency has started an accelerated review of data on a booster dose of Comirnaty, the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine.
The review will take a few weeks and will look broadly at boosters six months post-vaccination for people age 16 and older, the agency said. Separately, EMA is also reviewing a third dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Inc. shots specifically for people with weakened immune systems.
Indonesia Cases Start to Ease (10:36 a.m. NY)
Southeast Asia’s largest economy added 4,413 new cases in the 24 hours through midday Monday, the least since May 18. The government has been easing restrictions across many cities as the local outbreak starts to subside from its peak, even as the number of daily deaths remain among the world’s highest. The country reported 612 fatalities from the virus on Monday.
Indonesia will impose movement limits on Java and Bali islands through Sept. 13, and in the rest of the country until Sept. 20, while easing some curbs. Dine-in at shopping malls in some cities will be allowed for a maximum of one hour, while the government will trial a reopening for shopping centers in Bali. The government is maintaining its target of administering 2.5 million vaccine doses a day to curb severe illness and death.
Singapore Tightens Some Restrictions (6:35 a.m. NY)
The country will increase the frequency of mandatory testing for higher-risk environments, such as personal care services and gyms, and will extend this requirement to more settings with frequent community interactions, such as mall workers and supermarket staff. The government also said it will no longer allow social gatherings and interactions at workplaces from Sept. 8.
Thailand Begins to Reopen (5:27 a.m. NY)
Thailand is set to reopen more of its popular tourist destinations starting next month, betting that a higher local inoculation rate can help draw more foreign visitors and revive an economy battered by the pandemic. The reopening of capital city Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as beach resorts Pattaya, Cha-Am and Hua Hin from Oct. 1 will be modeled after an initiative to bring back vaccinated tourists to Phuket, tourism ministry officials said.
France Under Fire Over Covid Actions (2:50 p.m.)
A French high court is fielding “thousands” of complaints against ministers for allegedly mismanaging the coronavirus pandemic, Le Parisien reported, citing comments by magistrate Francois Molins to LCI channel.
The surge in complaints is affecting the functioning of the court that handles government cases, according to the report.
Myanmar May Ease Curbs as New Cases Slow (2:40 p.m. HK)
Myanmar may relax mobility curbs in some townships as new Covid-19 cases decline and vaccination picks up, Khin Khin Gyi of the Ministry of Health told state broadcaster MRTV. Myanmar reported 2,829 new cases on Sunday, the lowest daily tally in about two weeks.
Most of New Zealand to Exit Lockdown (12:20 a.m. HK)
Auckland, New Zealand’s most populous city, will remain in level-3 lockdown until at least Sept. 15, but the rest of the country will go to a level-2 alert in which people can return to work and school, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. Level 2 requires masks in most public venues and indoor gatherings will be limited to 50.
“We’ve done so well to get this outbreak under control,” Ardern said. “The job is not done. We’re within sight of elimination but we cannot drop the ball.”
New Zealand appears on track to once again eliminate Covid-19 from the community after the lockdown reduced new case numbers to just 20 a day. If it succeeds, it will be a rare victory over the highly infectious delta strain of the virus. China last month hit zero cases after imposing curbs, but that was more difficult than its previous, successful effort to eliminate local transmission.
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