Tuesday is the last day for Columbia Public Schools and Moberly Public Schools students to receive the first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine if they want to be fully vaccinated by the first day of school on Aug. 24.
The Pfizer vaccine, which is the only COVID-19 vaccination approved for people younger than 18, requires two doses 21 days apart. Two weeks after the final dose, a person is considered fully vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective at preventing coronavirus after two doses of the vaccine and if the individual didn’t previously have the virus.
The Pfizer vaccine is only approved for students 12 or older, so elementary-age students are not eligible. That means in CPS, more than 8,000 students could start the year unvaccinated because of their age, based on last school year’s enrollment.
Last year’s first day enrollment numbers at CPS showed 8,411 elementary students, which is 45.7% of the 18,413 total number of students enrolled. First-day enrollment numbers last year were lower than usual because of parental concerns about COVID-19.
John Potter, who has three children enrolled in CPS ages 6, 9 and 12, said his children won’t be getting vaccinated because they already have natural antibodies and he wants to wait for more research to be done on the vaccine.
“I just think there’s a lot of unknowns, especially with children because they just haven’t had as long of time as they have with adults,” Porter said.
On July 12, CPS updated guidelines for its summer school students. CPS now requires students 11 years old and younger to wear masks in the classroom. Potter said this change in rules led him to take his two youngest children out of in-person summer school.
“One of the main reasons my kids are in public school is so they can interact and socialize with people in the community. And I think the masks really hamper that,” Potter said.
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France is back in the vaccine race after the European Medicines Agency announced today it would begin assessing early data supporting Sanofi’s coronavirus vaccine.
France’s hopes of developing a working vaccine were derailed at the end of 2020 when Sanofi announced its original vaccine candidate failed to produce a strong immune response in older people in early human trials. The news was a national humiliation and raised questions about the country’s standing in medical research.
Sanofi went back to the drawing board, however, and created a reworked vaccine, Vidprevtyn. The candidate is a recombinant protein based vaccine — similar to the technology used by Novavax — that uses an adjuvant from GlaxoSmithKline to boost people’s immune response.
The EMA has now begun a rolling review, which allows regulators to assess data as it comes in. Its assessment is based on promising lab studies and early human trials that “suggest that the vaccine triggers the production of antibodies” that target the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 “may help protect against the disease.”
Sanofi, in partnership with GSK, began Phase 3 human trials of its vaccine at the end of May. At the time, the companies predicted the vaccine could be approved by regulators in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The EMA, however, wouldn’t provide a timeline today for when it could make a decision. The company will still have to submit a formal conditional marketing authorization application.
The agency currently has four vaccines undergoing rolling reviews, including Novavax, Sputnik, Sinovac and CureVac.
The EU has a contract with the company that allows countries to buy up to 300 million doses of the vaccine.
Another plane of the Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) with 40,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 on board landed at the Dushanbe International Airport in Tajikistan on July 20, Trend reports with reference to AZAL.
Some 40,000 doses of vaccine against COVID-19 were also supplied to Bosnia and Herzegovina to combat the spread of COVID-19 as humanitarian aid upon President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev’s instructions.
Vaccine: Costello claims UK doesn’t have enough jabs for children
And Professor Anthony Costello has also issued a warning about the risk so-called long Covid poses to youngsters. The NHS is preparing to roll out the vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds with underlying health conditions and those living with vulnerable adults.
Youngsters are expected to be offered the Pfizer jab, which was approved for use in children in that age group by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency last month following a “rigorous review”.
The Moderna vaccine is not currently recommended for use in children – but the EU is likely to decide on whether to grant approval next week.
AstraZeneca’s jab, which is widely used in the UK, is not currently recommended for use on children under the age of 18.
Sajid Javid, who has tested positive for Covid, and AstraZeneca’s jab (Image: GETTY)
Professor Anthony Costello during Friday’s briefing (Image: Independent SAGE)
Speaking during Friday’s briefing by Independent SAGE, Prof Costello, the former Professor of International Child Health and Director of the Institute for Global Health at the University College London, said: “The child vaccination story is interesting.
“Because although they’re delaying and saying they’re not sure and it’s not really that big a problem, I actually think the real reason is that they don’t have adequate supplies at Pfizer and Moderna.
“And I think we have a supply issue at the moment which is why they’re not giving approval for younger children.”
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Sajid Javid speaking in the Commons on Monday (Image: GETTY)
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Speaking at a time of rising concern about the potential impact of the so-called Beta variant which scientists fear may be immune to existing vaccines, Prof Costello also voiced his concerns at any potential herd immunity approach which the Government might adopt which would involve allowing the disease to “rip through the population”.
Prof Costello, who was also director of maternal, child and adolescent health at the World Health Organisation between 2015 and 2018, warned: “If you look at long Covid, we know that of children in the secondary school age group, about 14 percent, or about one in eight almost, of children will have long Covid symptoms.
“We don’t know what the long term effects are – long Covid is really nasty, you get all kinds of symptoms, it can go for on a long period.”
Those under the age of 18 are not currently being vaccinated in the UK (Image: GETTY)
AstraZeneca’s jab was developed in conjunction with Oxford University (Image: GETTY)
Speaking a day before it was confirmed Health Secretary Sajid Javid had been tested positive despite having been fully inoculated, Prof Costello added: “Older people who have been double vaccinated, get breakthrough infections.
“I’m one case in point – I got Covid three weeks ago I still have some symptoms, and it was a breakthrough, even though I was double vaccinated.
“And finally, if you have everybody getting an infection, the immunity you get from the infection is about half as good as you get from vaccination.
Covid vaccinations in the UK as of Wednesday (Image: Express)
“So, the utilitarian principle would be keep community infections under control, get all people vaccinated, including children down to 12 and then you can you get a much better result in the utilitarian sense.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman told Express.co.uk: “The government will continue to be guided by the advice of the JCVI and no decisions have been made by ministers on whether people aged 12 to 17 should be routinely offered COVID-19 vaccines.”
The independent medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for people aged 12 and over as it meets their robust standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.
The Government is understood to be confident it has sufficient supplies of vaccinations – but AstraZeneca’s jab, which is widely used in the UK, is not currently recommended for use on children under the age of 18.
Vaccinations compared (Image: Express)
Speaking yesterday, Professor Sarah Gilbert, one of the scientists behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine insisted the benefits of vaccinating children were “much lower and poorer” than inoculating adults.
She added: “With still a limited number of doses available to vaccinate the world, we should be use those doses for healthcare workers and for older individuals in countries that don’t yet have a vaccine.”
Express.co.uk understands the UK has made a “risk-benefit” decision on protecting children rather than a calculation taking into account excess supplies which could be shipped abroad for use in adults.
The UK has administered 80 million vaccine doses so far, with more than 87 percent of the population having received at least one jab.
Facebook defended itself against U.S. President Joe Biden’s assertion that the social media platform is “killing people” by allowing misinformation about coronavirus vaccines to proliferate, saying the facts tell a different story, Trend reports citing Reuters.
“The data shows that 85% of Facebook users in the US have been or want to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” Facebook said in a corporate blog post by Guy Rosen, a company vice president. “President Biden’s goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed.”
COVID-19 misinformation has spread during the pandemic on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet Inc-owned YouTube. Researchers and lawmakers have long accused Facebook of failing to police harmful content on its platforms.
The UK’s vaccine rollout has been impressive. The programme has been one of the fastest anywhere in the world and has enabled the Government to lift many Covid restrictions ahead of other countries. Even the US President, Joe Biden has praised the UK for its vaccine rollout.
Despite Britain’s successful inoculation programme, the administering of vaccines in other parts of the world hasn’t been so fast.
Tragically just one percent of those in low-income countries have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Whilst vaccination efforts have been ramped up worldwide with 3.61 billion doses having been administered globally and 30.46 million now being administered every day, there is still a long way to go.
The first outbreak of the virus was recorded in Wuhan in December 2019, but just 26.1 percent of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine since then.
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Some countries have had successful vaccine rollouts such as Spain, which currently leads in mainland Europe having fully vaccinated 49.9 percent of its population.
Closely followed are countries such as Germany who have fully vaccinated 45.5 percent of their population.
Other countries within the EU have had less successful vaccine rollouts such as Bulgaria and Romania.
Romania has fully vaccinated 24.4 percent of its population whilst Bulgaria has been even slower with just 12.5 percent of its population having had two doses of the vaccine as of July 15.
There were later supply problems with their vaccines and the UK was given priority over the EU as they had negotiated their contract first.
The EU also ran into problems with its contracts with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna who experienced production and distribution problems early on.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen admitted the EU had struggled to secure vaccines saying: “We were late to authorise. We were too optimistic when it came to massive production and perhaps too confident that what we ordered would actually be delivered on time.”
Professor John Edmunds of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) spoke to BBC’s Radio 4 Today and said: “The Beta variant has remained a threat throughout.
“It is probably less infectious than the Delta variant that is spreading here in the UK at the moment. Where it has an advantage is that it is able to escape the immune response to a better extent.”
He continued: “As the population here becomes more and more immune, the conditions are right then for the Beta variant to get an advantage, so I can understand the concern.
“Of the variants that are out there and are known about, that one has always been a threat to us. There is some good evidence from South Africa that it can evade the immune response generated by the AstraZeneca vaccine more efficiently.”
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First Lady Jill Biden, center, grimaces, as she and Jasmin Chapman, CEO of the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center, right, witness Jackson State graduate student Bryan Wilson receiving a COVID-19 vaccination from nurse Glendora Singleton during a visit to a vaccination popup clinic at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., on June 22, 2021. | (Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo)
State officials and physicians hoping to lift the nation’s declining Covid-19 vaccination rate have often asked the White House for the same thing: smaller vaccine vials. So far, they’re not encouraged.
The demand for smaller vials, holding just one or two doses, is a reflection of how quickly the nation’s inoculation campaign has shifted away from mass vaccination sites to chipping away at the holdouts, one by one. The thinking is that smaller vials would enable more primary care offices, pharmacies and mobile clinics to administer shots when they find a willing patient, without having to worry about whether they would risk wasting other doses in the vial while much of the world is still desperate for vaccines.
But for months, those calls to the White House have gone unfulfilled, leaving some state officials with the impression that the Biden administration is missing out on a chance to recruit key emissaries for the vaccination effort at another inflection point for the nation’s battle against Covid-19. Infections are up in every state while the Delta variant, the most contagious virus strain yet, quickly spreads and drives up hospitalizations in communities with lower vaccination rates.
Ultimately, experts do not believe that reducing the vial size would significantly reverse the months-long slide in vaccinations, but some local and state officials say they don’t want to forego any opportunity that might make it even marginally easier to get more shots into arms.
“This is something that should be done because it is more efficient and because we do it with other vaccines,” said Maine health official Nirav Shah, who is also president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
The three vaccines in use in the United State — from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — contain between five and 15 doses per vial. Once the vials are opened, the Pfizer and J&J vaccines must be used within six hours, and Moderna’s within 12 hours.
Encouraging vaccine makers to package their wares in smaller vials remains one of the few strategies the White House has ruled out in the short term, even as top administration officials run low on ideas for overcoming hesitancy. White House officials said they understand the potential appeal of smaller vials, but they and pharmacy experts said quickly making that shift would be virtually impossible and unlikely to make a major impact on vaccination rates. It would take years and cost billions of dollars more to change up production lines — an effort further complicated by a shortage of everything from glass to staff to production space.
“Theoretically smaller vials make sense in the normal course of practice. But to do vaccinations at the volume we’ve been doing it — it’s just not practical,” said a senior administration official.
Wasted doses weren’t a major concern earlier in the vaccine rollout when people eager to receive their shots flocked to mass vaccination sites that were administering thousands of doses per day. With the pace of daily vaccinations slowing to just about half a million, down from a mid-April peak of 3.3 million doses, health officials say trusted members of the community, like primary care providers and pharmacists, are essential to reaching unvaccinated people.
But some of those health care providers, particularly in areas with lower vaccination rates, have been reluctant to crack open a new vial when they think there’s little chance of administering most of the doses before they expire. That’s even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state officials are advising them not to fret over discarded doses.
Oklahoma deputy health commissioner Keith Reed said some doctors in rural areas are refusing to provide Covid vaccinations because of their concerns about waste.
“Even though we tell them it’s OK to have that waste because we don’t want to miss an opportunity to vaccinate somebody, it is difficult for these providers who have recognized this vaccine is such a precious resource to consider it OK to waste 70 to 80 percent of a vial on a daily basis,” Reed said. “It becomes a barrier for them to accept responsibility for that kind of vaccine knowing that they’re not going to use it enough to avoid significant waste.”
Chris Weintraut, executive director of the Indiana chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said no doctor feels good about wasting doses, even if they’ve been told it’s OK to do so.
“That’s tough when you have so many doses per vial,” he said.
White House officials have told state officials for months that they are talking to vaccine makers about smaller vials. Biden officials instead have pressed the companies to ship vials in smaller packs, so vaccination sites can receive several hundred doses rather than a minimum of 1,000. However, there’s been surprisingly little take-up of those smaller packs, said a senior administration official, who attributed the low demand to states building allocation plans around larger orders. A White House spokesperson declined to comment.
Pfizer and Moderna told POLITICO that they are working on different packaging but did not offer a timeline of when that would happen. A spokesperson for Moderna said its larger vial was meant to ensure faster delivery of its vaccines. Moderna is planning to “gradually” reduce vial sizes, the spokesperson said, adding that the company is working with the U.S. government to optimize supply and minimize waste. J&J declined to comment.
Other vaccines are typically packaged in single-dose vials or prefilled syringes because the vast majority are administered in doctors’ offices. That includes most flu vaccines, though multi-dose options are still made for large clinics and high-traffic sites like flu shot drive-thrus, said Erin Fox, a pharmacy expert at the University of Utah who monitors drug shortages.
Fox said reducing vial sizes for Covid-19 vaccines is a much tougher task in the short term because of the cost and time it would take.
“Prefilled single–dosesyringes like we have for flu would be fantastic,” she said. “I think what makes it frustrating is the critical need we see for vaccine in other countries — they don’t have enough, yet we’re wasting vaccine in the U.S. because people don’t want to take it.”
Major obstacles remain, however. Vaccine makers would need to secure hundreds of millions of smaller vials in a global glass market that was already experiencing shortages before the coronavirus emerged. Even before the companies could shift production, they would need to apply for and receive permission from the FDA and other international regulators for the new packaging, which could require different materials.
Manufacturers then have to stop production lines to switch over to new materials or, even more challenging, start up new lines. Already, companies trying to fill existing orders for Covid shots are scrambling to secure production plants, trained staff and necessary equipment. AstraZeneca, for instance, took months to find a new home for vaccine production after it was booted from a Maryland facility this spring because of contamination issues.
Experts said single-dose vials for Covid-19 vaccines could eventually become available, particularly if people will need additional vaccinations to maintain protection against the virus. However, scientists and regulators are still studying whether people will need booster doses — and if so, how regularly.
And while U.S. doctors clamor for smaller vials, the bigger packaging is still ideal for meeting the expansive global demands, said Krishna Udayakumar, director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center.
“Most low- and middle-income countries are still at low levels of vaccination where mass-vaccination campaigns for adults are still the most effective short-term approaches,” he said, but added that the need for smaller vials and “customized” vaccination efforts will grow in the months ahead.
“There’s about 12 people who are producing 65% of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.
That statistic is from the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) which identified in a report published in March about a dozen people it said were super-spreaders of anti-vaccine misinformation.
The CCDH had at the time called on Facebook and Twitter to shut down all pages run by those people.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent figure in the anti-vaccine movement, is among the people whom the CCDH said should be kicked off social media.
Kennedy’s page on Facebook-owned Instagram was shut down earlier this year for sharing Covid-19 misinformation, Facebook said. However, Kennedy is still allowed on Facebook(FB) itself, and he has more than 300,000 followers on the platform.
Explaining why Kennedy was kicked off one of its platforms but not the other, a Facebook spokesperson told CNN Thursday, “We don’t automatically disable accounts across our apps, because the accounts may post about different things on our different services.”
At the time the CCDH’s report was released in March, Kennedy told NPR that he had become more cautious on Facebook, which according to NPR he also accused of censorship. “I have to post, like, unicorns and kitty cat pictures on there,” he said.
The CCDH said Friday that 35 social media accounts tied to the people it identified have now been shut down, losing them 5.8 million followers, but 62 accounts with a total of 8.4 million followers are still active.
CNN reported Thursday that meetings between the Biden administration and Facebook have grown “tense,” according to a person familiar with the conversations.
The person pointed specifically to Kennedy’s still-active Facebook account as an example of what some White House officials view as Facebook’s inaction regarding Covid-19 misinformation.
A Facebook spokesperson told CNN Friday the company had shut down some pages and groups belonging to the dozen or so people identified by the CCDH but would not say what pages.
A spokesperson for Twitter(TWTR) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.