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Wednesday October 20th, 2021 2:23AM

The Latest: Panel to meet on shots for ages 5-11 next month

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK — A panel of vaccine experts will meet in early November to consider whether to recommend the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children younger than 12.

The Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices scheduled a two-day meeting for Nov. 2-3, health officials said Friday. The Pfizer topic is expected to take up part of the agenda.

The experts are anticipating the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will have decided by then whether to authorize use of the Pfizer vaccine for children between ages 5 to 11. The committee’s job is to help the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention develop recommendations for doctors and the public about which vaccines should be used and how they should given.

Currently, Pfizer vaccines are authorized only for people 12 and older.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Home care workers in NY face shot deadline

— Russia reaches record daily coronavirus deaths again

— Nevada lowers virus case rates with FEMA teams

— UK to offer different vaccine shots to Novavax trial volunteers

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— See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

WARSAW — Polish biotechnology company Mabion S.A. has signed a $372 million contract to produce one of the raw materials that American company Novavax needs to make its COVID-19 vaccine.

Under the four-year deal, Mabion will produce a protein antigen beginning in December at its facilities in Konstantynow Lodzki, central Poland. It is Poland’s largest contract in the biotechnology sector.

Novavax has partnered with Serum Institute of India and asked regulators in India, Indonesia and Philippines this week to allow emergency use of its NVX-CoV2373 vaccine, which is easier to store, cheaper to make and not already reserved by rich nations.

Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla had said the company had hoped to launch the vaccine in India by June, but manufacturing was hobbled by the U.S. embargo on exports of critical raw materials. The company hopes to sell the vaccine in September, and Mabion will be part of the supply chain going forward.

“The addition of Mabion’s technical expertise and production capacity to Novavax’ global manufacturing network expands our ability to provide broad access to our vaccine across multiple regions,” Novavax Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Rick Crowley said.

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Home health aides who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccination are barred from working in New York under a new state mandate.

The mandate, put in place by Gov. Kathy Hochul, also applies to workers at assisted living homes, hospice care, treatment centers and AIDS home care programs. It comes on top of another mandate, implemented last month, that covered hospital and nursing home workers.

Data on how many of the state’s more than 210,000 home health aides had been vaccinated ahead of the deadline Friday wasn’t immediately available from the state.

The Home Healthcare Workers of America recently estimated approximately 70% of the group’s 32,000 members had received the coronavirus shot.

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PORTLAND, Ore. — A judge has rejected a request by 33 Oregon State Police troopers to temporarily halt a mandate that requires them to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Jack Landau said in a written opinion Thursday that based on case law “the police power of the state includes the authority to enact public health laws that may have the effect of curtailing individual rights.”

Landau went on to say that Gov. Kate Brown is acting within her legislatively granted authority in issuing the vaccine mandate. Brown has mandated vaccinations for the state’s executive branch employees, including the troopers, and for hundreds of thousands of health care workers and K-12 educators and volunteers.

Religious or medical exemptions can be requested. At least eight lawsuits have been filed.

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LAS VEGAS — Nevada’s governor says a decrease in coronavirus case rates and an increase in vaccinations is partly due to a nearly two-month deployment of federal emergency management “surge teams” in areas of Las Vegas.

Gov. Steve Sisolak says test positivity, a key measure of the spread of the coronavirus, has decreased statewide to 8.5%.

The rate, measured as a 14-day average, stood Thursday at 6.7% in Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County. It was higher in some parts of the state, including 22.6% in Elko County. The World Health Organization goal is 5% for relaxing measures limiting the coronavirus.

Statewide, Sisolak says 63% of the eligible population age 12 and older has received at least one shot.

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MOSCOW — Russia’s daily coronavirus death toll has hit a record 936 deaths amid a sluggish vaccination rate and the government’s reluctance to tighten restrictions.

Russia’s state coronavirus task force reports the third straight day of deaths topping 900. A steep rise in infections and deaths began in late September, with authorities blaming it on the low vaccination rate. About 33% of Russia’s 146 million people have received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine. Only 29% are fully vaccinated.

On Friday, the government’s task force reported 27,246 new confirmed cases, slightly less than Thursday’s 27,550, which was the highest so far this year.

Kremlin officials haven't imposed a new nationwide lockdown, delegating the power to tighten restrictions to regional authorities.

Russia has Europe’s highest death toll, with more than 214,000 deaths and 7.7 million confirmed cases during the pandemic. Health experts says those numbers likely are an undercount.

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LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia’s interior minister has rejected accusations that police used excessive force to curb anti-government protests with water cannons and tear gas on the eve of a major European Union summit in the country earlier this week.

The demonstrations were the third in a month against virus measures and the use of COVID-19 passes. Interior Minister Ales Hojs said Friday in Brussels that “police did their job very well during Tuesday’s intervention” and were “within their jurisdiction.”

He added an investigation has opened into police actions. About 25 protesters were detained and several were injured or hospitalized mostly for inhaling tear gas.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Finland has joined other Nordic countries in suspending or discouraging the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in certain age groups because of a slight increased risk of heart inflammation, a rare side effect associated with the shot.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare says authorities won’t give the shot to males under age 30. They’ll be offered the Pfizer vaccine instead.

The government agency says it found that young men and boys were at a slightly higher risk of developing myocarditis. The move by Finland followed similar decisions by Sweden, Denmark and Norway on Wednesday.

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s Victoria state on Friday reported a record of 1,838 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths.

The daily tally of confirmed cases is the highest in a 24-hour period of any Australian state or territory.

It was the ninth consecutive day Australia’s second-most populous state has reported more than 1,000 cases, with active infections soaring to 16,823.

The deaths brought Victoria’s toll from an outbreak of the delta variant that began in early August to 75.

Infections are declining in New South Wales state. Australia’s most populous state reported 646 new confirmed cases and 11 deaths on Friday.

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NICOSIA, Cyprus — The president of Cyprus has received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and urged people who haven’t yet received a first shot to do so.

President Nicos Anastasides also said Friday that those who are eligible for booster shots should take advantage.

“We owe it to those closest to us and to our community overall. It’s a matter of social responsibility,” the 75-year-old Anastasiades said.

As of the end of September, 78.1% of the Mediterranean island nation's adult population had been fully vaccinated and 81% had received a first dose.

Cyprus has administered booster shots to more than 17,000 people age 75 and over, and plans to start giving them to residents 70 and over next week.

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ROME — Discos in Italy will reopen their dance floors after remaining one of the last public places off limits under the country's regulations to combat COVID-19.

The Italian government approved the opening of discos and ballrooms starting Monday on condition that indoor venues fill only to 50% capacity and outdoor venues to 75%. Nearly 73% of Italy’s population is fully vaccinated.

Experts advising the government on anti-pandemic strategies had for months warned close mingling of unmasked dancers and the shouting over the din of blasting music were ripe conditions for spreading the coronavirus. But transmission rates lately have been on a downward trajectory in Italy.

The government also approved boosting to 100% capacity the number of patrons permitted in cinemas, theaters, museums and concert halls. The higher occupancy applies to venues where guests must wear protective masks and show a “Green Pass’’ attesting to having at least one vaccine dose or a recent negatiave COVID-19 test.

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LAGOS, Nigeria — Africa’s top public health official has issued a strong reminder about the danger of the continent not having enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director John Nkengasong said Thursday that getting the vaccination rate in Africa up quickly is “a way to ensure the collective security of everybody.”

The continent of 1.3 billion people has only been able to administer 156 million doses of vaccines out of the 200 million it has so far received, . Its full vaccination rate has dragged up to 4.57%.

Nkengasong said although some African countries are making “very good progress,” the continent’s overall vaccination rate is still “very slow” and “it is time to really translate pledges and those promises into actions so that we can save many more lives in Africa.”

He said that while Moderna announcing it intends to build a vaccine-manufacturing plant in Africa was “very much welcomed,” it “doesn’t necessarily solve the problem of today” which is “to get these vaccines in the arms of people as quickly as possible.”

Nkengasong said 35 countries are still experiencing a “severe” third wave of infections but Africa had a 20% average decrease in new cases over the past four weeks.

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado woman has been denied a kidney transplant because she won’t be vaccinated against COVID-19 due to her religious views.

Leilani Lutali faces the possibility of dying without a new kidney. However, the born-again Christian objects to the role that stem cells have played in the development of vaccines.

The UCHealth hospital group says transplant recipients need to be vaccinated because they are at significant risk of contracting COVID-19 and being hospitalized.

The American Hospital Association says many transplant centers require vaccinations. It says organ recipients are vulnerable to COVID-19 because of the drugs they must take to suppress their immune systems.

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HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut officials say 671 state employees remained noncompliant with Gov. Ned Lamont’s vaccination and testing mandate as of Thursday, and some of those workers could be placed on unpaid leave as soon as Friday.

The Democrat says the number of executive branch workers who’ve proven they’re vaccinated for COVID-19 or have submitted a weekly test has been increasing every day.

Figures released by his office show the 671 noncompliant employees comprise 2.2% of the roughly 32,000 people who work for executive branch agencies and are affected by the mandate.

Those placed on unpaid leave will have their jobs held for them for 45 days, Lamont says. If workers don’t agree to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing, he says it will be considered “sort of a voluntary termination.”

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ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Il. — President Joe Biden is championing the fight against COVID-19, requiring workplace vaccination requirements to force the roughly 67 million unvaccinated American adults to roll up their sleeves.

Biden is delivering that message in Illinois, where he’s visiting a suburban Chicago construction site run by a company that’s imposing a new vaccinate-or-test requirement.

In the coming weeks, more than 100 million Americans will be subject to vaccine requirements ordered by Biden. The majority of the nation is already vaccinated and industry leaders mostly agree with the mandates for the safety of workers and the economy.

Biden also planned to meet with the CEO of United Airlines, Scott Kirby, whose company successfully implemented a vaccine mandate, with no option for workers to be tested. Less than 1% have failed to comply and risk termination.

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