This file photo taken on June 11, 2021 shows the entrance of the European Medicines Agency headquarters in Amsterdam. (FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS / AFP)
FRANKFURT / HELSINKI / BRUSSELS / LA PAZ – The European Medicines Agency on Monday started reviewing a low-dose version of BioNTech and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children between the age of six months and four years.
Last month the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared the way for use of the shot in children of that age group in the United States.
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Pfizer and BioNTech filed for approval in Europe in the age group on July 8, proposing a three-shot course with a 3 microgram dosage, which is a fraction of the 30 micrograms used on adults.
The more contagious BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants of COVID-19 are circulating in Bolivia, Health Minister Jeyson Auza said on Monday.
The BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron subvariants began to circulate in the South American country in mid-May, but in the last two weeks, BA.4 and BA.5 have been identified by the National Institute of Health Laboratories, Auza said at a press conference.
According to Auza, this has caused a sustained increase of 60 percent in COVID-19 infections in the last few weeks.
He added that the World Health Organization has designated the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants as "variants of concern" and of greater contagion.
As of Sunday, Bolivia had accumulated 969,652 COVID-19 cases and 21,982 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, 14.4 million vaccines have been applied, with 67 percent of the population receiving their first dose and over 55 percent their second dose, according to a Health Ministry report.
People wearing face masks walk in the city center in Helsinki on Jan 12, 2021. (ALESSANDRO RAMPAZZO / AFP)
In light of the rapid growth rate in infections with the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants of coronavirus in Europe and especially in Finland, the country's Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) recommends a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 60 and over and for 18-69-olds in high-risk groups, the institute said in a press release issued on Monday.
The THL has urged the country's municipalities to start administering the jabs to certain groups as early as July or by the beginning of August at the latest.
The health authority recommended that the second booster shot be offered in the following order: people aged 70-79 not belonging to risk groups, adults aged 18 to 69 who are in a risk group, and all those aged 60-69 not belonging to risk groups.
For now, the recommendation does not apply to 12-17-year-olds, and to social and health care professionals who still have good protection against severe COVID-19.
Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (front) leaves at the end of an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels on June 25, 2021. (JOHN THYS / POOL PHOTO VIA AP)
During a rapid self-test, Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. A positive PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test later confirmed the result, local media reported.
Bettel immediately began self-isolating, according to the report.
Bettel, 49, has only mild symptoms and will continue to carry out his duties through telework.
In June 2021, Bettel already tested positive for coronavirus only a few weeks before he received his second COVID-19 vaccine dose.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 14 of the 16 ministers of the government of Luxembourg have already contracted COVID-19, the local newspaper Le Quotidien said.