[World-news] US set to approve Pfizer vaccine for teens

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The FDA is expected to approve the BioNTech-Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 next week, according to media reports. DW has the latest.

US regulators are expected to expand emergency use authorization for the BioNTech-Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to include adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 next week, according to multiple reports on Tuesday.

The decision is set to come nearly a month after the pharma giant released preliminary results from a study conducted on 2,260 youngsters in the proposed age bracket. The vaccine study showed no cases of the coronavirus among fully vaccinated volunteers as opposed to 18 among those given dummy shots.

The shot is already authorized for those above the age of 16.

After approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a federal vaccine advisory committee will meet to discuss whether the shot should be recommended for the age group.

The country will start administrating the shots after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adopts the committee’s recommendation, possibly in a matter of days. 

Here’s an overview of other major coronavirus-related developments around the world.

Europe

Novavax plans to start delivering its coronavirus vaccine to the European Unionby the end of this year, Reuters reported. A formal contract could be signed as early as this week.

While Novavax had reached a preliminary deal with the bloc late last year, the final agreement was delayed over a shortage of raw materials. 

Finally, the bloc’s purchases will be dependent on whether the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approves the vaccine. No date has been set for a decision on the vaccine, which hasn’t been approved anywhere in the world.

Germany has reported 7,534 new cases of the virus, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases. The new tally stands at 3,433,516. 

With 315 deaths, the reported death toll has risen to 83,591.

Vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India will invest in facilities in the UK, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The biotech company, which currently produces the low-cost AstraZeneca coronavirus shot, could also manufacture jabs in the UK going forward. 

According to Johnson’s office, the £240 million ($334 million/276 million euro) project would include a sales office, “clinical trials, research and development and possibly manufacturing of vaccines.”

Asia

India has recruited trainee doctors and nurses to help the country combat a massive surge in COVID-19 infections. The government also postponed a nationwide medical post-graduate entrance exam to free up more qualified doctors for the fight. 

As India struggles to contain the pandemic, multiple countries have imposed restrictions on travelers from the country. The US will bar most non-US citizens from entering the United States from India as of Tuesday.

Pfizer said it is in fresh talks with the Indian government over an “expedited approval pathway” for its vaccine, as the county faces a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines for its mass vaccination program.

“We are currently discussing with the Indian government an expedited approval pathway to make our Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available for use in the country,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Americas

Florida’s governor has moved to invalidate all coronavirus restrictions across the state, signing legislation that gives him sweeping powers to do so. The law does not come into effect until July but Governor Ron DeSantis said he will issue an executive order to remove local mask mandates faster. 

“I think this creates a structure that’s going to be a little bit more respectful, I think, of people’s businesses, jobs, schools and personal freedom,” the Republican politician said.

Venezuela is set to begin trials of the Cuban coronavirus vaccine candidate Abdala, Health Minister Carlos Alvarado has announced. The country plans to produce enough doses locally to vaccinate 4 million people. 

In Cuba, late-stage trials of the vaccine will be completed in July, with results published in August. 

Mexico hopes to vaccinate its entire population by the end of the final quarter of 2022, the country’s deputy health minister, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, has announced.

The projected timeline takes into consideration possible global delays in vaccine production and delivery to Mexico.

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