Covid-19 has infected more than 435M people and killed over 5.96M worldwide. Here are some of the latest coronavirus-related developments:

Pfizer says it is studying a three-dose schedule of the vaccine in the paediatric population, noting that studies in adults suggest that
Pfizer says it is studying a three-dose schedule of the vaccine in the paediatric population, noting that studies in adults suggest that "people vaccinated with three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine may have a higher degree of protection." (Reuters)

Monday, February 28. 2022

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine less effective in ages 5-11 - study

Two doses of the Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE Covid-19 vaccine was protective against severe disease in children aged 5 to 11 during the recent Omicron variant surge, but quickly lost most of its ability to prevent infection in the age group, New York State researchers has said.

The vaccine's efficacy against infection among those children declined to 12 percent at the end of January from 68 percent in mid-December compared to kids who did not get vaccinated, according a study, which has not yet been peer reviewed.

For those aged 12 to 17, the vaccine's protection against infection fell to 51 percent in late January from 66 percent in mid-December.

Pandemic fears are fading along with Omicron: poll

Omicron is fading away, and so are Americans' worries about Covid-19.

As coronavirus pandemic case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths continue to plummet, fewer people now than in January have said they are concerned that they will be infected after the rise and fall of the wildly contagious virus variant. 

According to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, just 24 percent say they are “extremely” or “very” worried about themselves or a family member contracting Covid-19. 

The percentage was down from 36 percent in both December and January, when Omicron caused a massive spike in infections and taxed public health systems.

Italy reports 17,981 fresh cases 

Italy has reported 17,981 Covid-19 related cases, against 30,629 the day before, the health ministry said, while the number of deaths rose to 207 from 144.

Italy has registered 154,767 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February 2020, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth highest in the world. The country has reported 12.78 million cases to date.

Türkiye sees over 64,200 new cases

Türkiye's Health Ministry has reported 64,275 new coronavirus cases and 213 deaths. The ministry said 76,832 recoveries were recorded over the past day, and some 410,435 virus tests were done.

To counter the spread of the virus, Türkiye has administered over 145.63 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines since it launched an immunisation drive in January 2021.

Virus-hit Hong Kong considers lockdown 

Hong Kong may impose a China-style hard lockdown that confines people to their homes, authorities have signalled, with the city's zero-Covid strategy in tatters and bodies piling up in hospitals.

Two years of strict zero-Covid policies kept the coronavirus largely at bay but a breakthrough of the highly transmissible Omicron variant exposed how little authorities had done to prepare for a mass outbreak.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam previously ruled out a citywide lockdown and instead has ordered all 7.4 million residents to be tested in March.

Health secretary Sophia Chan confirmed that a city-wide lockdown was still an option "to bring out the best effect of compulsory universal testing".

The city’s more than 34,000 cases have more than quadrupled from a week ago, when it reported over 7,500 infections. It also reported 87 deaths.

South Korea drops proof of vaccine 

South Korea will no longer require people to show proof of vaccination or negative tests to enter any indoor space starting Tuesday, removing a key preventive measure during a fast-developing Omicron surge that's elevating hospitalisations and deaths.

The Health Ministry’s announcement came as the country set another one-day record in Covid-19 deaths with 114, breaking the previous high of 112 set on Saturday.

Park Hyang, a senior health ministry official, said rescinding the “anti-epidemic pass” would free more health workers to help monitor nearly 800,000 virus patients with mild or moderate symptoms who have been asked to isolate at home to save hospital space.

Travelers to New Zealand no longer need to isolate

New Zealand is ending a requirement that incoming travelers isolate themselves as it continues to remove coronavirus border protections in the face of a growing domestic outbreak.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the requirement that vaccinated travelers isolate for a week after arriving would end on Wednesday. Initially the changes will apply only to returning New Zealanders, as tourists are still not allowed to visit.

Travelers will still need to test negative for the virus before leaving and after arriving.

India extends international flights ban

India has extended the international flight ban till further notice, despite a drop in Covid-19 cases across the country.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, however, said that the restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specially approved by the aviation authority.

The statement also said flights under "existing bubble agreements will not be affected."

Covid deaths near six million 

Coronavirus has killed at least 5,967,986 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally by worldometer tracker.

The Covid-19 pandemic continued its strong retreat this week around the world, except in Asia where the number of cases increased by a fifth.

The United States has recorded the most Covid deaths, followed by Brazil and India.

Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the WHO estimates the true death toll could be two to three times higher.

Brazil sees 221 new Covid deaths

Brazil has reported 221 new Covid-19 deaths and 24,054 new cases in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry has said.

Mexico reports 3,519 new cases, 72 more deaths

Mexico has reported 3,519 new, confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country and 72 more deaths, bringing the overall number of infections since the pandemic began to 5,506,105 and the death toll to 318,086.

New York to end statewide school mask mandate on March 2

US state of New York will end its mask mandate for schools and childcare facilities on Wednesday, Governor Kathy Hochul has said, citing a steep drop in Covid-19 cases.

"It wasn't always easy, but students, educators and parents stepped up to fight this pandemic," Hochul tweeted on Sunday. 

"We've reached this exciting milestone because of your hard work."

The new rules come after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC's latest school guidance recommends masking only in areas of high COVID-19 transmission, instead of universal masking.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies