COVID-19: Vaccines for children, 9-month certificates, new variant discovered

On Thursday, the European Commission proposed that from January 10, 2022, the European Union’s COVID-19 vaccination certificates be valid for nine months after full vaccination, and also opened the way for boosters to be linked to such passes. Moreover, South African scientists have detected a new COVID-19 variant called B.1.1.529.

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“The Commission is proposing a stronger focus on a ‘person-based’ approach to travel measures and a standard acceptance period for vaccination certificates of nine months since the primary vaccination series,” the Commission said in a statement.

The EC added that it “may, if needed, propose an appropriate acceptance period also for vaccination certificates issued following a booster”.

Vaccines for children

Furthermore, the EU’s drug regulator approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11 on Thursday, paving the way for them to be given the first shot as Europe battles a surge in infections.

Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, which has been approved for European Union use in teenagers between 12 and 17 years old since May, will be given in two doses of 10 micrograms three weeks apart as an injection in the upper arm, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended.

The companies have said their vaccine, which is called Comirnaty, showed 90.7 percent efficacy against the coronavirus in a clinical trial of children aged 5 to 11. The vaccine should be given in two doses of 10 micrograms three weeks apart as an injection in the upper arm; adult doses of the vaccine contain 30 micrograms.

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Serious problems in Germany

As child vaccinations begin, Germany battles with an insufficient number of beds for COVID-19 patients in the federal states of Thuringia, Brandenburg and Bavaria.

Some states introduced a patient relocation system that enables the coordinated relocation of intensive care patients to a different state.

New variant found in the RSA

In the midst of the pandemic South African scientists have detected a new COVID-19 variant in small numbers and are working to understand its potential implications.

They called the variant - B.1.1.529. It has a “very unusual constellation” of mutations, which are concerning because they could help it evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible, scientists told reporters during a press briefing.

Early signs from diagnostic laboratories suggest the variant has rapidly increased in the most populated province of Gauteng and may already be present in the country’s other eight provinces, they said.