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COVID booster use may be expanded, US health officials say – Al Jazeera English

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FDA advisory body this week recommended coronavirus booster shots for people more than age 65 and those at high risk.

Top health officials in the United States have said broader approval of COVID-19 booster shots could be weeks away, after a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expert advisory panel this week recommended a third jab for a limited segment of the population.

The director of the National Institutes of Health said the FDA panel’s decision on Friday to limit Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots to Americans age 65 and older as well as those at high risk of severe disease was a preliminary step.

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Dr Francis Collins predicted more wide-ranging approval for most Americans “in the next few weeks”.

Collins said the panel’s recommendation was correct based on a “snapshot” of available data on the effectiveness of Pfizer’s two-jab regimen over time. But he said real-time data from the US and Israel continue to come in showing waning efficacy among more groups of people that will need to be addressed soon.

“I think there will be a decision in the coming weeks to extend boosters beyond the list that they approved on Friday,” said Collins, who also appeared CBS’ Face the Nation programme on Sunday.

Some rich nations, including the US and UK, are considering coronavirus booster shots amid a recent surge in cases linked to the highly contagious Delta variant.

But the World Health Organization (WHO) this month called for a moratorium on booster shots amid concerns about vaccine supplies to poorer nations, where millions have yet to receive their first jab.

A group of international scientists also said last week that even with the threat from the Delta strain, “booster doses for the general population are not appropriate at this stage in the pandemic”.

“Any decisions about the need for boosting or timing of boosting should be based on careful analyses of adequately controlled clinical or epidemiological data, or both, indicating a persistent and meaningful reduction in severe disease,” the scientists wrote in The Lancet medical journal.

Dr Anthony Fauci, who is US President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, on Sunday praised the FDA advisory board’s plan for covering a “good chunk” of Americans. But he stressed that “this is not the end of the story” based on data that was emerging and said the guidance would likely be expanded in the coming weeks to months.

People in the US who have received the two-dose Moderna vaccine or one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are still awaiting guidance on possible booster shots.

“The actual data that we’ll get [on] that third shot for the Moderna and second shot for the J&J is literally a couple to a few weeks away,” Fauci told NBC’s Meet the Press programme.

“We’re working on that right now to get the data to the FDA so they can examine it and make a determination about the boosters for those people.”

The FDA will consider the advisory group’s advice and make its own decision, probably within days. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also is set to weigh in this week.

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Rogers family boardroom drama unlikely to impact deal to buy Shaw

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A boardroom tussle at Rogers Communications Inc is unlikely to hinder its C$20 billion ($16.16 billion) buy of Shaw Communications, analysts said, but the family drama is continuing at one of Canada’s biggest telecoms companies.

The board of Rogers on Thursday voted out Chairman Edward Rogers, son of the late founder Ted Rogers, after he tried to replace Chief Executive Officer Joe Natale with another executive.

Hours later, Edward Rogers said as chair of the Rogers Control Trust, the family-controlled entity that owns the majority of ownership shares in RCI, he would remove the five RCI board directors who acted against him.

Rogers’ move is the latest in a tumultuous period, during which he has been at odds with his sisters and mother, all of whom are also board directors and who backed Natale.

The company said on Friday that it had not received any documentation from its former chair with respect to the attempted removal of directors, and would consult with its lawyers about the legality of Edward Rogers’ move.

“The company is not aware of this mechanism ever having been utilized in respect of a public company in Canada,” Rogers Communications said in a statement.

J.P.Morgan analysts said they hoped the boardroom battle would not overshadow the timeline or approval process of the deal to buy smaller rival Shaw.

“We maintain our base case that Rogers will be able to close its transformative acquisition of Shaw in 1H22 following the divestiture of some or all of Shaw’s wireless business,” J.P.Morgan wrote in a note to investors.

While the company’s bid for Shaw would further boost its position in Canada’s highly concentrated telecoms market, it has attracted scrutiny from multiple government regulators over whether it will decrease competition.

Scotiabank analysts said they expect the deal to get regulatory approvals within the planned timeline of first half of next year.

The structure of the Rogers Control Trust is a unique feature among Canadian companies, said David Brown, a corporate governance consultant.

Normally each family member would control their individual shares, but Ted Rogers’ estate set up the trust to represent all the family members together, meaning the 97.5% of Class A ownership shares are controlled by the family trust vote as one.

The purpose seems to be to “avoid impasses (between family members) that would block any votes from getting through the organization,” Brown said, adding that the structure gives the chair of the trust “some pretty unprecedented powers.”

But, he said, Rogers is still accountable to the family.

“Edward is allowed to do what he’s doing until the rest of the family step in and stop him,” Brown said.

($1 = 1.2377 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sweta Singh and Arun Koyyur)

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Walmart recalling 3,900 bottles of room spray due to possible dangerous bacteria- U.S. CPSC

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Walmart Inc is recalling around 3,900 bottles of its Better Homes and Gardens-branded room spray due to the possible presence of a rare and dangerous bacteria, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said on Friday.

The U.S. Centers for  Disease Control and Prevention has been investigating a cluster of four confirmed cases of melioidosis including two deaths in the country, although the source of these four infections has not been confirmed, the CPSC said.

 

(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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Evergrande Faces Make-or-Break Weekend for Bond Payment – Bloomberg Markets and Finance

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