Pfizer seeks US approval for Covid boosters for ages 16-17

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Pfizer announced Tuesday it was seeking US authorization for Covid booster shots among adolescents aged 16 and 17, as concerns grow about the impact of the new Omicron variant. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has so far only granted emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for boosters to people aged 18 and over, six months after their primary series of the Pfizer or Moderna Covid vaccine, or two months after the […]

US health panel endorses Merck Covid pill

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — A panel of health experts appointed by the US government voted Tuesday to endorse Merck’s Covid pill for high-risk adult patients who are within five days of experiencing their first symptoms. There were 13 votes in favor and 10 against, a narrow margin that reflected concerns about a recent downgrading of the treatment’s efficacy results and fears over its potential harms. © Agence France-Presse

Moderna boss says vaccines likely no match for Omicron: FT

  HONG KONG, China (AFP) — Existing Covid-19 jabs will struggle against the Omicron variant and it will take months to develop a new shot that works, the head of US vaccine manufacturer Moderna has told the Financial Times. Stephane Bancel told the newspaper in an interview published Tuesday that data would be available on the effectiveness of current vaccines in the next two weeks but scientists were not optimistic. “All the scientists I’ve talked […]

Pfizer already working on Covid vaccine targeting Omicron: CEO

  NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Pfizer has already started working on a version of its Covid-19 vaccine specifically targeting the new Omicron variant in case the current inoculation is not effective against the latest strain, the US drugmaker’s CEO Albert Bourla said Monday. Bourla told CNBC that his company on Friday began testing the current vaccine against the Omicron variant, which was first reported in South Africa and has reignited fears of a […]

PCRs detect Omicron, studies under way for other tests: WHO

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — While PCR tests can detect infection with Omicron, studies are looking to whether the Covid-19 variant of concern has any impact on other test types, the WHO said Sunday. “The widely-used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants,” the World Health Organization said in an update on what is known so far about the new variant. “Studies are ongoing to determine […]

First image of Omicron shows many more mutations than Delta

    ROME, Italy (AFP) — The new Covid variant Omicron has many more mutations than the Delta variant, according to a first “image” of this new variant initially detected in South Africa, produced and published by the prestigious Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome. On the three-dimensional “image”, which looks like a map, “we can clearly see that the Omicron variant presents many more mutations than the Delta variant, concentrated above all in one area […]

What is known so far about new Covid variant Omicron

  JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AFP) — South African scientists have discovered a new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, with multiple mutations that is thought to be highly contagious. The World Health Organization has designated it a variant of concern and many countries are racing to try and contain it, banning flights from southern Africa. Scientists are working round-the-clock to dissect the variant and try understand its behaviour. Here is a brief explainer of what is known so […]

B.1.1.529 declared Covid ‘variant of concern’, renamed Omicron

  The World Health Organization on Friday declared the recently-discovered B.1.1.529 strain of Covid-19, first detected in southern Africa, to be a variant of concern and renamed it Omicron. The classification puts Omicron into the most-troubling category of Covid-19 variants, along with the globally-dominant Delta, plus its weaker rivals Alpha, Beta and Gamma. Nations rushed to ban flights to slow the spread of Omicron on Friday, while stock markets and oil prices plunged on fears […]

WHO says just 1 in 4 African health workers Covid jabbed

BRAZZAVILLE, Congo (AFP) — Only a quarter of health workers in Africa are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the World Health Organization said Thursday warning that majority of the continent’s frontline medical workforce were dangerously exposed. By contrast, a recent study of 22 predominantly high-income countries revealed that more than 80 percent of healthcare workers there were fully vaccinated against coronavirus, according to the WHO. “The majority of Africa’s health workers are still missing out on […]

Russia says Sputnik gives longer protection than Western jabs

MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — The backers of Sputnik V on Wednesday said the Russian vaccine provides longer immunity against coronavirus than Western jabs using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which supported the vaccine’s development, said the Sputnik vaccine is 80 percent effective against coronavirus between six and eight months after the second dose. The country has recorded more than 9.4 million coronavirus cases, the fifth-highest number in the world, and […]

Vaccines reduce Covid transmission by 40%: WHO

  by Robin MILLARD Agence France Presse GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Covid vaccines reduce transmission of the dominant Delta variant by about 40 percent, the WHO said Wednesday, warning that people were falling into a false sense of security concerning jabs. The World Health Organization’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said many vaccinated people were wrongly thinking the jab meant they no longer needed to take any other precautions. Fully-immunised people must stick with measures to […]

Oil majors ‘pocketing the difference’ as gas prices surge: Biden

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Oil majors have raised gasoline prices for the sake of their own profits, US President Joe Biden said Tuesday as his administration looked for ways to lower prices at pumps nationwide at the beginning of the holiday travel season. The White House has upped the pressure on oil markets amid a spike in energy prices that has driven overall US inflation to record levels. Biden had earlier in the day […]