US probes five child deaths, 109 cases linked to mystery liver disease

  by Issam AHMED Agence France Presse The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 109 childhood cases of a mysterious form of hepatitis, including five reported deaths, the agency said Friday. It is part of an unexplained global phenomenon involving hundreds of cases, with Indonesia this week also reporting three deaths. Britain on Friday announced its case count had increased to 163, the majority aged under five, with no deaths. “Investigators both […]

Moderna seeks US authorization for Covid vaccine in children under 6: statement

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US biotech firm Moderna said Thursday it had submitted a request for an emergency use authorization in the United States for its Covid vaccine for children aged six months to under six years. Children under six are the only age group that has yet to gain access to a Covid-19 vaccine in the United States and in most countries. “We believe (this vaccine) will be able to safely protect […]

Nearly 60% of US population had Covid by February

  by Issam AHMED Agence France Presse WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — By February of this year, 58 percent of the US population — more than 190 million people — had been infected with Covid, according to an antibody survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published Tuesday. The figure is far higher than the 80 million officially recorded cases, with the majority of infections undiagnosed, asymptomatic or unreported. Roughly 75 percent […]

The quest for a universal coronavirus vaccine

  by Daniel Lawler Agence France Presse As vaccine makers rush to stamp out new Covid-19 variants, some scientists have set their sights higher, aiming for a universal coronavirus vaccine that could tackle any future strains and possibly even stave off another pandemic. Since the race for a first Covid jab supercharged a new generation of vaccine technology, there have been numerous efforts to develop pan-coronavirus immunisation. Drew Weissman of the University of Pennsylvania, who […]

WHO ‘strongly recommends’ Pfizer’s Covid pill

by Christophe Vogt © Agence France-Presse   GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The World Health Organization said Friday it “strongly recommended” Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral pill Paxlovid for patients with milder forms of the disease who were still at a high risk of hospitalization. However the UN agency warned it was “extremely concerned” that the inequality in access seen with Covid vaccines would again leave low- and middle-income countries “pushed to the end of the queue”. US […]

WHO experts insist Covid still a global emergency

  by Robin Millard © Agence France-Presse GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The WHO’s emergency committee on Covid-19 on Wednesday unanimously affirmed that the virus remains a major public health danger and insisted that countries must stop dropping their guard. With many nations relaxing public health and social measures, and drastically reducing testing for the virus, the World Health Organization’s group of experts said the pandemic was far from being at an end. “Now is not […]

20 countries still below 10% Covid jab rate: WHO experts

by Robin MILLARD GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Twenty mostly African countries have still not vaccinated even 10 percent of their population against Covid-19, the World Health Organization’s vaccine advisers lamented Monday. The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) said the speed of the Covid jab rollout had been “unprecedented”. However, 20 countries — down from 34 in January — had still not managed a 10-percent immunisation rate, Kate O’Brien, the WHO’s vaccines chief, […]

Vaccine supply outstrips demand, access inequity remains

  PARIS, France (AFP) — After two years of racing to vaccinate the world against Covid-19, the number of available doses now surpasses demand in many areas. Yet a yawning gap remains in vaccination rates between the richest and poorest countries. On Friday, Gavi, which co-leads the Covax global distribution scheme, is holding a summit calling for more funds to address the issue of inequality in vaccine access. – Huge production – More than 13 […]

Omicron lasts three days less than Delta for boosted: study

  PARIS, France (AFP) — People who are vaccinated and have had a booster shot against Covid-19 recover from symptoms from the Omicron variant more than three days earlier than those with the Delta variant, a study said Friday. The study also found that people with Omicron are significantly less likely to lose their sense of smell, and confirmed previous research that it is less severe. To find out the differences in how Omicron and […]

Viruses that could save millions of lives

  by Irakli METREVELI Agence France Presse TBILISI, Georgia (AFP) — It may seem strange after a pandemic that has killed millions and turned the world upside down, but viruses could save just as many lives. In a petri dish in a laboratory in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, a battle is going on between antibiotic resistant bacteria and “friendly” viruses. This small nation in the Caucasus has pioneered research on a groundbreaking way to tackle […]

Pfizer-BioNTech seek US approval of second Covid booster for 65+

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States (AFP) – Pfizer and BioNTech announced Tuesday they had formally asked the United States drug regulator for emergency approval of a second booster shot of their Covid vaccine for people aged 65 and older. The companies said in a press statement that their request is based off two Israeli studies that show “an additional mRNA booster increases immunogenicity and lowers rates of confirmed infections and severe illness.” Most countries’ case-levels have […]

Hazmat suits and panic buying: pandemic images return to China

SHANGHAI, China (AFP) – A Shanghai pedestrian swarmed by hazmat-clad health officials, police tape wrapped around entire blocks, and panic buying at a Shenzhen shopping centre: China is returning to virus controls many hoped it had long left behind. The country is facing its worst Covid-19 outbreak since the first wave of the pandemic emerged in Wuhan in late 2019. While the daily caseload is comparatively small, around 5,300 were recorded on Tuesday, the Omicron […]