Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today


Pfizer said today that its Covid-19 vaccine is safe and highly effective in young children ages 5-11, with side effects similar to those seen in children ages 16-25.

The announcement, which did not include detailed study data, puts the company on track to file for approval with the FDA by the end of the month. If the regulatory review goes well, millions of elementary school students could be vaccinated before Halloween.

An approved vaccine for children would be a turning point – not just for families with young children, but also for wider vaccination efforts. There are more than 28 million children ages 5-11 in the US, and vaccination would bring the country much closer to herd immunity.

However, it remains to be seen how many parents will vaccinate their young children.

If older kids are any clue, it looks like an uphill battle. Pfizer’s vaccine, which was made with its German partner BioNTech, was approved for children ages 12-15 in May, but only about 40 percent are fully vaccinated, compared with 66 percent of adults aged 18 and over. Around 20 percent of parents of 12 to 17 year olds said that they definitely did not plan to have their child vaccinated.

Many school administrations and teacher organizations applauded the results of the Pfizer study, but approval is unlikely to result in immediate policy changes.

Only one major school district – Los Angeles Unified – has mandated vaccinations for students who are eligible for vaccination. The district said today it was unwilling to respond to the latest Pfizer news.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the encouraging results from Pfizer did nothing to change his belief that student vaccination orders were the wrong approach. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said last month that it was “premature” to discuss vaccination requirements in schools because children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible.

No state has mandated that children or adolescents be vaccinated against the coronavirus, and five states expressly prohibit such mandates.

But the need is urgent: children now account for more than one in five new cases in the United States, as the delta variant of the coronavirus has sent more children to hospitals than ever before during the pandemic in recent months.

Unvaccinated children, even if they do not get the disease themselves, can spread the virus to relatives, teachers, and other people with whom they interact regularly. You are just as likely as adults to pass the virus on to others, and this is more likely than adults over the age of 60, according to the CDC

The Yamal Peninsula in northwest Siberia is one of the few remaining places on earth where a nomadic people preserve a traditional culture. On the tundra, the Nenets, an indigenous minority in northern Russia, follow a lifestyle that is shaped by the seasonal migrations of the reindeer they tend.

The grip of the pandemic can also be felt in these remote areas. More than 100 new cases of the virus and three to five deaths are recorded in the region every day.

But now vaccines are coming too.

Despite some hesitation, more than 135,000 people in Jamal have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, including about 56 percent of eligible adults.

The exhibition “In America: Remember”, which opened on Friday, contains messages painted on white flags in tribute to lost loved ones.

The artist behind the installation, Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, planted 267,000 flags in Washington last fall to identify the US coronavirus death toll at the time. Almost a year later, that number has more than doubled. In the past week alone, more than 13,000 Americans have died from the disease.

Now back to personal work, I can’t wait to get back to my car and take off my mask every day. No, not the stuff. The mask that covers how I am really doing. I cry every day on my way to work. It is a way to deal with the concern I have for my unvaccinated children as I can cope with the stress of getting “back to normal” when this pandemic is still raging around us. After this scream, I try to smile again at the pick-up time for my children and enjoy their school stories because I’m also glad that they are socializing and making friends again. But the fear lies underneath, always in my heart.

– Nicole, New Jersey

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