Pfizer said Monday its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon — a key step toward beginning vaccinations for youngsters.
The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech already is available for anyone 12 and older. But with kids now back in school and the extra-contagious delta variant causing a huge jump in pediatric infections, many parents are anxiously awaiting vaccinations for their younger children.
For elementary school-aged kids, Pfizer tested a much lower dose — a third of the amount that’s in each shot given now. Yet after their second dose, children ages 5 to 11 developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults, Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president, told The Associated Press.
The kid dosage also proved safe, with similar or fewer temporary side effects — such as sore arms, fever or achiness — that teens experience, he said.
“I think we really hit the sweet spot,” said Gruber, who’s also a pediatrician.
Gruber said the companies aim to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for emergency use in this age group, followed shortly afterward with applications to European and British regulators.
Earlier this month, FDA chief Dr. Peter Marks told the AP that once Pfizer turns over its study results, his agency would evaluate the data “hopefully in a matter of weeks” to decide if the shots are safe and effective enough for younger kids.
Many Western countries so far have vaccinated no younger than age 12, awaiting evidence of what’s the right dose and that it works safely in smaller tots. But Cuba last week began immunizing children as young as 2 with its homegrown vaccines and Chinese regulators have cleared two of its brands down to age 3.
While kids are at lower risk of severe illness or death than older people, more than 5 million children in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began and at least 460 have died, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Cases in children have risen dramatically as the delta variant swept through the country.
“I feel a great sense of urgency” in making the vaccine available to children under 12, Gruber said. “There’s pent-up demand for parents to be able to have their children returned to a normal life.”
In New Jersey, 10-year-old Maya Huber asked why she couldn’t get vaccinated like her parents and both teen brothers have. Her mother, Dr. Nisha Gandhi, a critical care physician at Englewood Hospital, enrolled Maya in the Pfizer study at Rutgers University. But the family hasn’t eased up on their masking and other virus precautions until they learn if Maya received the real vaccine or a dummy shot.
Once she knows she’s protected, Maya’s first goal: “a huge sleepover with all my friends.”
Maya said it was exciting to be part of the study even though she was “super scared” about getting jabbed. But “after you get it, at least you feel like happy that you did it and relieved that it didn’t hurt,” she told the AP.
Pfizer said it studied the lower dose in 2,268 kindergarteners and elementary school-aged kids. The FDA required what is called an immune “bridging” study: evidence that the younger children developed antibody levels already proven to be protective in teens and adults. That’s what Pfizer reported Monday in a press release, not a scientific publication. The study still is ongoing, and there haven’t yet been enough COVID-19 cases to compare rates between the vaccinated and those given a placebo — something that might offer additional evidence.
The study isn’t large enough to detect any extremely rare side effects, such as the heart inflammation that sometimes occurs after the second dose, mostly in young men. The FDA’s Marks said the pediatric studies should be large enough to rule out any higher risk to young children. Pfizer’s Gruber said once the vaccine is authorized for younger children, they’ll be carefully monitored for rare risks just like everyone else.
A second U.S. vaccine maker, Moderna, also is studying its shots in elementary school-aged children. Pfizer and Moderna are studying even younger tots as well, down to 6-month-olds. Results are expected later in the year.
AP journalist Emma Tobin contributed to this report.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Deadline today for B.C. health workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 – BC News – Castanet.net
The deadline for British Columbia health-care workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is today.
The provincial health officer’s order covers doctors, nurses, students, residents, contractors, volunteers and all other health-care professionals.
Premier John Horgan says he’s hopeful that the small number of workers who are resistant to getting vaccinated will get the information they need to get their shots.
Those who don’t have their first dose of vaccine by the deadline can’t work unless they have a recognized exemption.
The order says unvaccinated workers who get their first shot before Nov. 15 can resume working seven days after the first dose, but they must wear personal protective equipment and take other precautions until they get their second shot.
The Health Ministry says 94 per cent of B.C. health workers were fully vaccinated as of Oct. 24, three per cent were unvaccinated and two per cent had one dose.
Overall, B.C. has reached an 89.6 per cent vaccination rate for first shots among eligible residents age 12 and up and 84.4 per cent have received their second dose.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Penny Ballem, the lead of the B.C. immunization rollout team, will provide an update on COVID-19 on Tuesday.
Blue Origin, Boeing reveal plan to build 'business park' space station – CBC.ca
Billionaire Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin on Monday unveiled plans to develop a commercial space station called “Orbital Reef” with Boeing, aiming to launch the spacecraft in the second half of this decade.
The venture will be built in partnership with Sierra Space, the spaceflight wing of defence contractor Sierra Nevada Corp, and will be backed by Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions and Arizona State University.
Orbital Reef will be operated as a “mixed use business park,” and plans to provide the infrastructure needed to scale economic activity and open new markets in space, Blue Origin and Sierra Space said.
“Seasoned space agencies, high-tech consortia, sovereign nations without space programs, media and travel companies, funded entrepreneurs and sponsored inventors, and future-minded investors all have a place on Orbital Reef,” the companies said in a statement.
.<a href=”https://twitter.com/NASA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@NASA</a> plans on retiring the <a href=”https://twitter.com/Space_Station?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@space_station</a> at the end of the decade, but there’s still important work that needs to be done! <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/OrbitalReef?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#OrbitalReef</a> – <a href=”https://twitter.com/SierraSpaceCo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@SierraSpaceCo</a>’s new space station, will be operational in the second half of this decade, ready for research! <a href=”https://t.co/d3LQIRneQh”>https://t.co/d3LQIRneQh</a> <a href=”https://t.co/2PalPlB9jn”>pic.twitter.com/2PalPlB9jn</a>
Sierra in April announced plans to offer the first free-flying commercial space station.
In July, Blue Origin had a successful debut space tourism flight, with Bezos and three others aboard. Earlier this month, 90-year-old Canadian actor William Shatner — Captain James Kirk of Star Trek fame — became the oldest person in space aboard a rocketship flown by Blue Origin.
Tesla stock surges as Hertz orders 100,000 electric cars – Aljazeera.com
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