US CDC urges boosters for minors aged 12 to 17 to protect them from Omicron, other COVID-19 variants

  (Eagle News) – The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pushed for the administration of booster shots to minors or children aged 12 to 17 years old five months after the administration of the Pfizer primary vaccination series. This was in view of the rising COVID-19 cases in the US due to the highly infectious Omicron variant. US CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said giving a booster dose to children aged […]

Pfizer expects Omicron vaccine to be ready in March

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Pfizer expects a Covid-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron variant to be ready in March, the company’s head said Monday. Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla told CNBC that Pfizer is already manufacturing doses due to keen interest from governments, as authorities contend with huge Covid-19 infection counts, including large numbers of “breakthrough” Omicron cases in vaccinated populations. “This vaccine will be ready in March,” Bourla told the network. “I […]

Calling Omicron ‘mild’ a mistake, warns WHO

by Robin MILLARD Agence France Presse GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is killing people across the globe and should not be dismissed as mild, the World Health Organization insisted Thursday. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the record numbers of people catching the new variant — which is rapidly out-competing the previously-dominant Delta variant in many countries — meant hospitals were being overwhelmed. “While Omicron does appear to be less severe […]

Pfizer/BioNTech to develop mRNA-based shingles shot

BERLIN, Germany (AFP) – Germany’s BioNTech and US pharma giant Pfizer, which together developed a Covid-19 vaccine in record time, said Wednesday they are working on a shingles shot using the same mRNA technology. Moderna meanwhile announced it had dosed its first volunteer for a vaccine against Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), the cause of mononucleosis. The three companies are leveraging the same mRNA technology they used to develop highly successful Covid-19 vaccines towards other diseases, in […]

Weaker virus? Herd immunity? Omicron sparks cautious hopes

by Isabelle TOURNÉ PARIS, France (AFP) — With new versions forcing vaccine makers to re-test jabs, the virus that causes Covid-19 has proven highly unpredictable. But the latest variant to sweep the globe has persuaded some experts that long hoped-for collective immunity is in sight, and that the virus may be evolving into a relatively benign seasonal illness. Omicron has proven particularly contagious, infecting people thought to have immunity conferred by vaccines or a bout […]

Soaring Omicron could lead to more dangerous variants, WHO warns

  STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AFP) — Soaring Omicron cases around the globe could increase the risk of a newer, more dangerous variant emerging, the World Health Organization in Europe warned on Tuesday. While the variant is spreading like wildfire around the world, it appears to be far less severe than initially feared and has raised hopes that the pandemic could be overcome and life return to more normality. But WHO senior emergencies officer Catherine Smallwood sounded […]

EU bans cancer threat chemicals in tattoo ink

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AFP) — An EU ban on tattoo ink and permanent make-up containing chemicals feared to cause cancers or other health risks went into effect on Tuesday, officials said. The prohibition covers hazardous substances such as certain azo dyes, carcinogenic aromatic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals and methanol. “The restriction covers carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic substances, chemicals prohibited in cosmetics, skin sensitisers, skin and eye irritants, metal impurities, aromatic amines and some pigments,” […]

Chilean zoo jabs big cats, orangutan against Covid-19

by Paulina ABRAMOVICH Agence France-Presse BUIN, Chile (AFP) – Bengal tiger Charly and Bornean orangutan Sandai, both members of endangered species, have received coronavirus vaccines at a Chilean zoo in a Latin American first. Charly, Sandai and eight other animals at the Buin Zoo in Santiago were chosen for the experimental vaccine campaign as they belong to species considered at high risk of contracting Covid-19. The viral disease which has killed more than 5.4 million […]

World heads into New Year facing Covid ‘tsunami’

by AFP bureaus PARIS, France (AFP) — Millions around the world braced Thursday for drastically curtailed New Year celebrations as record coronavirus cases fuelled by the Omicron variant saw the WHO warn a Covid “tsunami” threatens to overwhelm healthcare systems. Coronavirus, first detected two years ago and declared a global pandemic in March 2020, has killed more than 5.4 million people, triggered economic crises and seen societies ricochet in and out of lockdowns. The latest […]

Mongolian doctors trek to remote areas to give herders jabs

by Khaliun Bayartsogt Agence France-Presse DUNDGOBI, Mongolia (AFP) – Nurse Sodkhuu Galbadrakh clutches a box of Covid-19 vaccines on his lap as he journeys along a bumpy track through a remote region of the Mongolian steppe, going home-to-home to offer booster doses to herders. The country of three million has taken some of the world’s toughest and most enduring measures against the coronavirus pandemic, shutting schools for much of the last two years and closing […]

Omicron risk remains ‘very high’: WHO

by Robin MILLARD Agence France-Presse GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) – The risk posed by the Omicron variant is still “very high”, the World Health Organization said Wednesday, after Covid-19 case numbers shot up by 11 percent globally last week. Omicron is behind rapid virus spikes in several countries, including those where it has already overtaken the previously-dominant Delta variant, the WHO said in its Covid-19 weekly epidemiological update. “The overall risk related to the new variant […]

Rapid Covid tests not as accurate with Omicron: US regulator

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Rapid Covid home tests are more likely to give a false negative with the heavily-mutated Omicron variant compared to earlier strains, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Tuesday. The news comes as the country is facing a massive surge in cases that experts say is being under-captured as a result of a testing crunch, with long wait times for the more accurate PCR tests, and home kits in […]