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Coronavirus Update: U.S. to start vaccinating very young children this week, and panel to recommend overhauling healthcare system


The U.S. will start vaccinating children below the age of 5 starting this week, after regulatory agencies approved the shots developed by Moderna and by Pfizer with German partner BioNTech over the weekend.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the vaccines for the littlest children, and the final signoff came hours later from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the agency’s director, as the Associated Press reported. 

“We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and, with today’s decision, they can,” Walensky said in a statement.

The shots offer young children protection from hospitalization, death and possible long-term complications that are still not clearly understood, the CDC’s advisory panel said.

Don’t miss: COVID vaccines for kids under 5 — what parents need to know.

Two brands — Pfizer and Moderna — got the green light Friday from the FDA and Saturday from the CDC. The vaccines use the same technology but are being offered at different dose sizes and numbers of shots for the youngest kids.

Read now: It’s time to let pharmacists prescribe COVID-fighting pills like Paxlovid

The Pfizer

vaccine, developed with BioNTech

is for children 6 months to 4 years old. The dose is one-tenth of the adult dose, and three shots are needed. The first two are given three weeks apart, and the last at least two months later.

The Moderna

vaccine is administered in two shots, each a quarter of its adult dose, given about four weeks apart for kids 6 months through 5 years old. The FDA also approved a third dose, at least a month after the second shot, for children with immune conditions that make them more vulnerable to serious illness.

Pediatricians and health experts are recommending that parents get very young children vaccinated, even if they have had a confirmed case of COVID, saying that vaccines also protect against reinfection.

U.S. cases are averaging 96,417 a day, down 3% from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times tracker. The country is averaging 30,076 hospitalizations a day, up 3% from two weeks ago. The daily death toll stands at 311 on average, up 17% from two weeks ago.

A bipartisan panel of health experts funded by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund will call for an overhaul of the U.S. public health system on Tuesday in a new report, the New York Times reported.

The report will recommend giving Washington more authority on setting minimum health standards via nearly 3,000 state, local and tribal agencies. Above all, it will find that the inadequacies of the current system led to the death of more than 1 million Americans in the coronavirus pandemic and has exacerbated other health risks, including drug overdoses, diabetes and maternal mortality.

It will also address the reluctance of officials in some Republican-led states to cooperate with agencies like the CDC during the pandemic. It will cite “archaic approaches to aggregative data” as one reason so many people died of COVID.

Read also: COVID patients with weak immune systems should get priority care to avoid new variants emerging, experts say

As Beijing struggles to contain a resurgence of new Covid-19 cases, the city has rolled out more than 9,000 testing stations to regularly screen people. WSJ’s Yoko Kubota visits one of them to unpack the costs of China’s commitment to its zero-Covid policy. Photo: David Sahay for WSJ

Coronavirus Update: MarketWatch’s daily roundup has been curating and reporting all the latest developments every weekday since the coronavirus pandemic began

Other COVID-19 news you should know about:

• Israel counted more than 10,000 new COVID cases on Sunday, the most since April 4, the Times of Israel reported. Data released by the Health Ministry also found that 168 people were in serious condition, up 95% from last week, with 37 classified as critical. Health Ministry officials told hospital directors on Monday that they should begin preparations for the reopening of dedicated COVID wards. Officials are also considering vaccinating the youngest children, following the example of the U.S.

• A United Nations summit on biodiversity will be held in Canada instead of China, organizers announced Tuesday, the second major international event to be moved from China because of its strict anti-coronavirus policies, the AP reported. China, set to chair this round of meetings, decided to move them outside of the country “due to the continued uncertainties related to the ongoing global pandemic,” Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the executive secretary of the convention, said in her statement.

• New York City is making a push to give city workers fired earlier this year for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine a chance to get their old jobs back — if they get fully vaccinated, the AP reported. In February, Mayor Eric Adams fired more than 1,400 workers who had failed to comply with the vaccine mandate put in place by his predecessor, Bill de Blasio. Now about 600 unvaccinated non–Department of Education workers are getting a letter detailing how they can return to work.

• North Korea may be preparing to declare victory over COVID, barely a month after first admitting having an outbreak, the AP reported separately. According to state media, North Korea has avoided the mass deaths many expected in a nation with one of the world’s worst healthcare systems, little or no access to vaccines, and what outsiders see as a long record of ignoring the suffering of its people. According to the official tally, cases are plummeting, and, while 18% of the nation of 26 million people reportedly have had symptoms that outsiders strongly suspect stemmed from COVID-19, less than 100 have died.

Here’s what the numbers say

The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 539.7 million on Friday, while the death toll rose above 6.32 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. leads the world with 86.3 million cases and 1,013,493 fatalities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 221.9 million people living in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, equal to 66.8% of the total population. But just 104.7 million have had a first booster, equal to 47.2% of the vaccinated population.

Just 16 million of the people aged 50 and over who are eligible for a second booster have had one, equal to 25.3% of those who had a first booster.

Project Syndicate: If Biden were really serious about fighting inflation, he’d repeal Trump’s failed tariffs that raise consumer prices

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