The European Commission said on Tuesday it would make sense for the United States to allow travel by people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca shot in Europe.
On Monday the White House said it would lift restrictions that bar European Union citizens from travelling to the United States starting in November. It is not clear which vaccines will be accepted by U.S. authorities.
“We believe the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe,” a spokesperson for the EU Commission told a news conference.
“From our point of view, obviously it would make sense for people who have been vaccinated with AstraZeneca to be able to travel.”
The spokesperson noted that this is a decision for U.S. authorities.
The AstraZeneca vaccine was authorized by Health Canada for use in people aged 18 and up in late February. As of Sept. 16, health officials had distributed more than three million doses of the vaccine to the provinces, according to a tracking list published by the federal government.
In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his government would work with other countries to ensure Canadians who received the AstraZeneca vaccine would not be prevented from travelling internationally.
In the U.S., there are three COVID-19 vaccines that are either fully authorized or approved for emergency use — the two-dose mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna and the single-dose product from Johnson & Johnson (Janssen).
India has been critical of the British government’s decision not to recognize coronavirus vaccine certificates issued by Indian authorities, calling it a “discriminatory policy” that will impact its citizens who want to travel to that country.
The new rules require Indians visiting the U.K. to quarantine themselves for 10 days and undergo COVID-19 tests even if they are fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca vaccines made under licence in India.
The rules take effect next month. India’s Serum Institute, which makes the AstraZeneca vaccine, has not applied for its approval by the European Union.
Most people in India have been vaccinated with the Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccine. Others have received COVAXIN, which is also not used in Britain.
-From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 1:45 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
Canada is extending restrictions on all direct commercial and private passenger flights from India until Sunday, Transport Canada said in a statement Tuesday.
Travellers eligible to enter Canada will be able to board direct flights from India once the restriction on direct flights expires, provided they have proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test from the approved Genestrings Laboratory at the Delhi airport taken within 18 hours of the scheduled departure.
-From CBC News, last updated at 8:30 p.m. ET
Here’s a look at some of the COVID-19 developments from across the country:
What’s happening around the world
As of early Tuesday evening, more than 229.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Vietnamese authorities are relaxing some pandemic restrictions in Hanoi starting Tuesday after two months of lockdown to contain a surge in coronavirus cases.
In Europe, senior politicians in Germany expressed shock over the weekend killing of a young gas station clerk who asked a customer to wear a face mask, and they warned Tuesday against the radicalization of people who oppose the country’s pandemic restrictions.
A 49-year-old German man was arrested in the fatal shooting of the clerk Saturday in the western town of Idar-Oberstein. The suspect is being held on suspicion of murder.
Authorities said the man told officers he acted “out of anger” after being refused service for not wearing a mask while trying to buy beer. “He further stated during interrogation that he rejected the measures against the coronavirus,” the Trier police department said in a statement.
In the Americas, COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have climbed to an average of more than 1,900 a day for the first time since early March, with experts saying the virus is preying largely on a distinct group: 71 million unvaccinated Americans.
Back in December, when no vaccines were available, about 3,000 people were dying every day. Now, despite readily available vaccines, deaths per day have climbed 40 per cent over the past two weeks, from 1,387 to 1,947, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Argentina unveiled plans to ease pandemic restrictions, including loosening strict border controls, allowing more commercial activities and getting rid of the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors.
In the Middle East, the first world fair to be held in the Middle East, Expo 2020 Dubai, opens its doors to exhibitors from almost 200 countries on Oct. 1 after being delayed for a year by the pandemic.
In Africa, authorities in Burundi have decided to suspend all social events except on Saturdays and Sundays as concerns grow about a rising number of COVID-19 infections.
The country was one of the last in Africa to embrace vaccines after the administration of the late president was accused of taking the pandemic lightly. In a letter to governors and mayors, the chair of the committee in charge of fighting COVID-19 said the limits on gatherings come after authorities realized how such events can spread the virus.
The mayor of Burundi’s economic capital, Bujumbura, is threatening to fine anyone who doesn’t wear a mask or respect physical distancing. The mayor cites a worrying number of COVID-19 patients in the city.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 8:50 p.m. ET
Tradition vs credibility: Inside the SE Asian meet that snubbed Myanmar
Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore pushed for a harder stance against Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing at a “tense” meeting that decided to exclude him from a regional summit this month, four people with knowledge of the talks said.
Southeast Asian ministers were divided between sticking to a tradition of non-interference and the need to retain credibility by sanctioning the coup leader, who has led a bloody crackdown on dissent since seizing power from Myanmar’s civilian government on Feb. 1, the sources said.
In the end it was the chair Brunei, with majority backing, that chose to keep him from attending the virtual Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit set for Oct 26 to 28, and invite instead a “non-political representative” from Myanmar.
The decision broke with ASEAN’s decades-long policy of engagement and non-interference in the affairs of member nations.
“The mood in the meeting had never been more tense,” said one of the people with knowledge of the discussions.
“If you asked me if ASEAN would do something like this a year ago, I would have said it would never happen,” said a regional diplomat. “ASEAN is changing.”
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Twitter the outcome of the meeting was a “difficult but necessary decision to uphold ASEAN’s credibility”.
Philippines Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin said before the meeting that the bloc could no longer afford to take a neutral stance on Myanmar, adding that if it relented, “our credibility as a real regional organization disappears … We’re a bunch of guys who always agree with each other on the worthless things”.
Malaysia’s foreign ministry and a spokesperson for Indonesia’s foreign ministry declined to comment.
The 10-member ASEAN also includes Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
International pressure has been mounting on ASEAN for a harder line against Myanmar’s failure to take agreed steps to end violence, allow humanitarian access and start dialogue with its opponents.
The grouping’s perceived ineptitude has sparked outrage in Myanmar, with some anti-junta protesters burning the bloc’s flag.
Since overthrowing Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, detaining her and most of her allies and ending a decade of tentative democracy, Myanmar’s military has killed more than 1,000 people and arrested thousands in a bid to crush resistance, monitoring group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says.
Fighting has flared nationwide between junta troops and hastily assembled pro-democracy armed groups.
In a televised address on Monday, making his first remarks since the snub, Min Aung Hlaing defended the military’s actions, saying it was seeking to restore order and ASEAN should take note of violence out by its opponents, before announcing an amnesty for thousands of political prisoners. [L1N2RE08M]
Earlier, a spokesman blamed ASEAN’s decision on “foreign intervention”, saying the United States and representatives of the European Union had pressured other members of the grouping.
CREDIBILITY AT STAKE
For decades, Myanmar’s military has been a thorny issue for the regional bloc, as previous ruling juntas came under fire for brutally crushing pro-democracy movements.
Friday’s decision came after weeks of failed diplomacy over the crisis and days after plans were scrapped for a visit to Myanmar by ASEAN’s special envoy Erywan Yusof when the junta denied him a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, citing the criminal charges she faces.
These include violating the official secrets act.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore first floated the idea of sidelining the junta head at a meeting this month of ASEAN foreign ministers, said the regional diplomat, as a tactic to win access to Suu Kyi, who is being held at an unknown location.
Two of the sources said there were fears that Min Aung Hlaing’s presence would deter other global leaders from attending the larger East Asia Summit, set for a few days after the ASEAN summit.
Last week, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres postponed a call with Southeast Asian ministers to avoid being in the same online room as a Myanmar military representative.
“The threats to disengage weren’t made, at least explicitly, but there was anxiety on the part of member states that it would begin to affect ASEAN’s credibility in a broader sense,” said Aaron Connelly, a Southeast Asia researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
The regional leaders discussed on Friday requests to attend the summit from Myanmar’s parallel civilian government, the National Unity Government, which two sources said has been in quiet talks with Indonesia, among other nations, but stopped short.
The selection of a “non-political representative” now falls to the junta, which is likely to choose someone seen as comparatively neutral but tied to the regime, three of the sources said.
But the decision to sideline Min Aung Hlaing represents “the most severe sanction that any ASEAN member state has ever been dealt by the organisation,” said Connelly.
People regionwide have “lost faith and hope in the mechanism of ASEAN to protect its own community members,” said Fuadi Pitsuwan, a fellow at Chiang Mai University’s School of Public Policy.
It might be time to “re-evaluate” the non-interference principle, he added.
“Let’s see if this would kick start another round of this existential deliberation and whether it would end differently.”
(Additional reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng, Karen Lema, and Shoon Naing; Writing by Poppy McPherson; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Raju Gopalakrishnan)
China, Russia navy ships jointly sail through Japan strait
A group of 10 military vessels from China and Russia sailed through a narrow strait separating Japan’s main island and its northern island of Hokkaido on Monday, the Japanese defence ministry said on Tuesday.
It was the first time Japan , which closely monitors military exercises in its region, has confirmed the passage of Chinese and Russian naval vessels sailing together through the Tsugaru Strait, which separates the Sea of Japan from the Pacific.
The Tsugaru Strait is an international strait which is open to foreign ships, including military vessels.
“No violation of territorial waters has taken place, and no international rule has been ignored,” a Defence Ministry spokesperson said.
Russia and China held joint naval drills in the Sea of Japan as part of naval cooperation between the two countries from Oct. 14-17 involving warships and support vessels from Russia’s Pacific Fleet.
Moscow and Beijing have cultivated closer military and diplomatic ties in recent years at a time when their relations with the West have soured.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; editing by Richard Pullin)
Pfizer officially requests Health Canada approval for kids' COVID-19 shot – CTV News
Pfizer-BioNTech has asked Health Canada to approve the first COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 years old.
The vaccine was developed in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech and is now marketed under the brand name Comirnaty. It was authorized for people at least 16 years old last December, and for kids between 12 and 15 in May.
Pfizer already submitted clinical trial data for its child-sized dose to Health Canada at the beginning of the month. The company said the results were comparable to those recorded in the Pfizer-BioNTech study in people aged 16 to 25.
Health Canada said it will prioritize the review of the submission, while maintaining high scientific standards for safety, efficacy and quality, according to a statement from the department.
“Health Canada will only authorize the use of Comirnaty if the independent and thorough scientific review of all the data included in the submission showed that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the potential risks in this age group,” the statement read.
The doses are about one-third the size given to adults and teens age 12 and up.
As soon as the regulator gives the green light, providers will technically be able to start offering the COVID-19 shot to kids, though new child-sized doses might need to be procured.
Pfizer has delivered more than 46 million doses to Canada to date, and an analysis of the available data on administration from provincial and federal governments suggests there are more than enough Pfizer doses already in Canada to vaccinate kids between five and 11 years old.
But simply pulling smaller doses from the vials Canada already had stockpiled across the country may not be advised, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said at a media briefing late last week.
“We also understand from Pfizer that this actual formulation has shifted, this is a next generation formulation, so that is something that needs to be examined by the regulator,” Tam said Friday.
Canada signed a new contract with Pfizer for pediatric doses last spring.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has also been tested on children as young as six months old. Topline data for children under five years old is expected as soon as the end of the year.
Health Canada said it expects to receive more data for review from Pfizer for younger age groups, as well as other manufacturers for various age ranges in the coming months.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has noted rare incidents of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, after receiving an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
As of Oct. 1, Health Canada has documented 859 cases associated with the vaccines, which mainly seem to affect people under 40 year old. On balance, the risk appears to be low, according to Tim Sly, a Ryerson University epidemiologist with expertise in risk management.
“Of course, no one considers any complication in a child to be acceptable, and a tremendous amount of caution is being taken to look for and identify all problems,” said Sly in a recent email exchange with The Canadian Press.
COVID-19 infection also produces a very high risk of other cardiovascular problems, he said.
Aside from protecting kids against more serious symptoms of COVID-19, the vaccine would also reduce the risk of a child passing the virus on to a vulnerable family member and make for a better school environment with less stress about transmission.
Once the vaccine is approved for kids, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization will weigh in on whether the benefits of the shot outweigh potential risks for young children.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2021.
– With files from Mia Rabson
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