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California Begins Giving COVID-19 Vaccines To Children Ages 5 To 11

California Begins Giving COVID-19 Vaccines To Children Ages 5 To 11

The first COVID-19 vaccinations have been given to children ages 5 to 11 Wednesday as health officials launched an ambitious rollout to offer shots to 3.5 million kids in California.
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The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, a coalition of public health experts from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, gave its green light to the vaccine Wednesday morning, formally clearing the way for vaccinations to be distributed in California. The move came after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended late Tuesday that more than 28 million children nationwide in that age group get the shots.

“This expanded eligibility for lifesaving vaccines moves us closer to ending the pandemic,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
Merck’s antiviral pill that fights COVID-19 in adults with the disease won its first authorization in the world Thursday, as the U.K.’s medical regulator announced that the drug is “safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospitalization and death” in mild to moderate cases.

The drug is a “game changer,” British Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said. Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics developed the oral antiviral.

“Today is a historic day for our country, as the U.K. is now the first country in the world to approve an antiviral that can be taken at home for COVID-19,” Javid said.

The U.K.’s authorization is based on clinical studies that showed the drug reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by about 50% for at-risk adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 cases.

The drug, which is called molnupiravir and will be sold under the name Lagevrio in the U.K., helps people cope with COVID-19 by interfering with the virus’s ability to replicate itself.

“This prevents it from multiplying, keeping virus levels low in the body and therefore reducing the severity of the disease,” the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, said.

“Lagevrio is another therapeutic to add to our armory against COVID-19,” said MHRA Chief Executive Dr. June Raine. “It is also the world’s first approved antiviral for this disease that can be taken by mouth rather than administered intravenously. This is important, because it means it can be administered outside of a hospital setting, before COVID-19 has progressed to a severe stage.”

The drug works best when taken soon after infection
Because of its ability to tamp down on viral levels in the body, the drug works best when it’s taken very soon after infection — preferably within five days of the first symptoms.

The MHRA approved the drug for people who have mild or moderate cases of COVID-19, along with at least one risk factor, such as obesity, heart disease or being 60 or older.

COVID-19 rates are currently high in the U.K. with 1.1 million cases over the past 28 days — the second-most cases in the world (after the U.S.), according to Johns Hopkins University.

In late October, the prevalence of infection rose to 1.72%, or about 1 in 58 people overall, according to interim results of a large study that were released Thursday.

Outside of the U.K., molnupiravir is still being evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency, according to Merck.
Eleven more Granite States have died of COVID-19, the most deaths in a single day in New Hampshire since Jan. 27.

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The latest numbers from the Department of Health and Human Services released Thursday show that cases and hospitalizations have risen.

Health officials said 10 of the deaths were people age 60 or older, while one was younger than age 60. There have been 1,592 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in New Hampshire since the pandemic began.

Officials announced 635 new positive test results from Wednesday, along with dozens of newly identified cases from previous days. Of the newly announce cases, 28% were in children under age 18.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in the state rose to 4,561.

After declining daily this week, current hospitalizations rose again, climbing by eight to 186.
Europe is facing a potentially devastating winter that could see half a million people die with Covid-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Thursday, as it sounded the alarm over a surge in cases and bemoaned stuttering vaccination rollouts on parts of the continent.

Much of Europe is battling spikes in infections, with Germany on Thursday reporting its highest number of daily new cases since the pandemic began.
And in a dire new warning, WHO regional director Hans Kluge said the pace of transmission across the region was of “grave concern.”
“We are, once again, at the epicenter,” Kluge said in a statement.
“According to one reliable projection, if we stay on this trajectory, we could see another half a million COVID-19 deaths in Europe and Central Asia by the first of February next year,” he warned, adding that 43 of the 53 countries on his patch could also see high or extreme stress on hospital beds.
Large swathes of the continent are battling to beat back surges of the Delta variant, which has complicated the relaxing of restrictions in many countries. Eastern Europe is particularly badly hit; cases are at record levels in Russia and now Germany, while Ukraine’s capital Kiev introduced strict new restrictions on Monday.
Many experts have expressed concern that further rises in infections, coupled with seasonal winter colds, could place health care workers under unmanageable pressure through Christmas and in the New Year.
In its latest weekly update, WHO said Europe recorded a 6% rise in cases on the previous week. That was the highest of any global region, with every other region registering “declines or stable trends.”
“We are at another critical point of pandemic resurgence,” Kluge said. He blamed two factors for the new wave; the relaxation of Covid-19 measures, and a lack of vaccination coverage in the Balkans and towards the east of the continent.
“Hospitalization rates in countries with low vaccine uptake are markedly higher and rising more quickly than in those with higher uptake,” he said.
Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn on Wednesday warned that stricter measures are needed for those who refuse to get vaccinated. Spahn also told reporters at a press conference on Thursday that he was asked for his vaccination certificate in Rome during the G20 more often in one day than in Germany in four weeks.
He was responding to a dramatic rise in infections in the country; 33,949 new cases were registered on Thursday, breaking the previous record set in December 2020. Hospitalizations and deaths remain far lower than they were in that pre-vaccine peak.
Spahn said Germany was experiencing a “massive” pandemic of the unvaccinated, adding: “The truth is that there would be far fewer Covid-19 patients in [intensive care] if everyone who could do it got a vaccination.”
The UK has also been enduring a stubborn streak of new infections since the end of the summer, but has resisted implementing measure like mask mandates or vaccine passes that have become commonplace across Europe.
The world passed a milestone of 5 million Covid-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic on Monday — a mark the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called “a painful new threshold.”

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