Covid-19 live updates: Oxford jab should be fine for US travel – adviser


Copyright: Reuters

Image caption: Chancellor Rishi Sunak described the payback as “heartening”

Businesses have handed back more than £1 billion claimed through the Government’s furlough scheme, the Treasury has said.

HMRC said £1.3 billion had been returned by firms to the government since July 2020 because the funds had been over claimed or they no longer needed the cash.

The furlough scheme is due to come to finish at the end of this month.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said thanks to the scheme “nearly two million fewer people are now expected to be out of work in the UK than previously feared”.

He added: “With our recovery under way it is heartening to see that £1.3 billion in furlough grants have been returned as the economy recovers.”

It is estimated the scheme will have cost the government £70 billion when it concludes on 30 September – with nearly nine million people being supported at the height of the pandemic last year.

“HMRC and the National Audit Office estimate between 5% and 10% of the total furlough money claimed could represent over claims,” warned Nigel Morris, employment tax director at MHA.

“The advice to all businesses, as the scheme ends, must be to review all their furlough claims and ensure that if they have overclaimed, they make arrangements to pay HMRC back as soon as possible.

“This should help to avoid interest and penalties.”





Source link

Q&A: America’s new COVID-19 rules for international travel


President Joe Biden waves as he walks towards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then on to New York ahead of a United Nations General Assembly meeting. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Joe Biden waves as he walks towards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then on to New York ahead of a United Nations General Assembly meeting. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

AP

The Biden administration is rolling out new international travel policies affecting Americans and noncitizens alike who want to fly into the U.S. The goal is to restore more normal air travel after 18 months of disruption caused by COVID-19.

The across-the-board rules, which will take effect in November, will replace a hodgepodge of confusioning restrictions. Some details of the plan announced Monday are being worked out, but here are some questions and answers about what to expect:

WHAT IS THE NEW POLICY IN A NUTSHELL?

All adult foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. will be required to be fully vaccinated before boarding their flight. This is in addition to the current requirement that travelers show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure to the U.S.

Once the vaccination requirement is put in place, the White House will ease all the country-specific restrictions on international travel that have prevented noncitizens who have been in the United Kingdom, European Union, China, India, Iran, Republic of Ireland, Brazil or South Africa in the prior 14 days from entering the U.S.

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT AMERICANS?

Fully vaccinated Americans will only need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure to the U.S.

WHAT ABOUT UNVACCINATED AMERICANS?

U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are not fully vaccinated will still be able to fly to the U.S., but they will see tougher testing and contact tracing protocols. They will need to be tested within 24 hours of boarding a flight to the U.S., as well as undergo testing upon return to the country. It remains to be seen, though, how the federal government will enforce the testing requirement upon return.

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT CHILDREN?

The new U.S. policy only requires adult foreign nationals to be fully vaccinated in order to enter the U.S. The White House did not immediately say whether unvaccinated children will face different testing protocols when flying into the country.

WHICH VACCINES ARE ACCEPTABLE?

The CDC says the U.S. will accept full vaccination of travelers with any COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, including those from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson used in the U.S. Other vaccines are also approved by the WHO and used widely around the world, including from AstraZeneca and China’s Sinovac, with varying degrees of effectiveness against COVID-19 and its more transmissible delta variant. The WHO is reviewing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine but hasn’t approved it.

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT AIR FARES?

Adit Damodaran, economist for the travel-research firm Hopper, predicted that growing demand is likely to cause higher airfares on flights from Europe, although the rush to book flights could be slowed by the delta variant and high COVID-19 rates in the U.S. If fares rise, it would mark a turnaround in prices since the start of the pandemic.

WILL AIRLINES COLLECT DATA ON PASSENGERS?

The CDC will require airlines to collect information about passengers and provide it to the health agency if it needs to conduct contact tracing. The airlines had resisted a similar change last year, when it was proposed by the CDC and eventually blocked by the Trump administration.

WHAT ABOUT TRAVEL OVER LAND BORDERS?

The administration’s restrictions on crossing land borders from Mexico and Canada into the U.S. are to remain unchanged for now. That means that in some cases fully vaccinated people from the two American neighbors will soon be able fly to the U.S., but may not be able to make the same journey by car.

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY?

Analysts and industry officials think it will help. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said lifting the current restrictions on international travelers will contribute to a durable recovery for the U.S. economy. Before Monday, the U.S. was on pace to lose $175 billion in export income from international visitors this year, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

HOW HAVE THE CURRENT RESTRICTIONS AFFECTED INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL?

They have made it easier for Americans to visit Europe than the other way around. U.S. international travel in August was down 54% compared with two years ago, and arrivals by non-U.S. citizens were off 74%, according to Airlines for America.

HOW WILL THE CHANGES AFFECT BUSINESS TRAVEL?

There is pent-up demand among business travelers from Europe. Foreign executives who have been vaccinated will no longer have to prove that their travel to the United States serves the U.S. “national interest″ — a time-consuming process.





Source link

CDC designates Antigua, Bermuda, Guyana as “very high” COVID-19 travel risks


Sept. 20 (UPI) — A pair of popular island travel destinations were added to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “very high” risk category on Monday.

The CDC designated Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean and Bermuda in the Atlantic along with the South American country of Guyana on its “Level 4: Very High” COVID-19 travel advisory.

People are encouraged to avoid traveling to locations designated Level 4, according to the CDC. The agency also advises that anyone who must travel to such locations be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Destinations designated as Level 4 have reported more than 500 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents within the past 28 days.

As of Monday, a total of 90 destinations have been designated as “very high” risk for COVID-19.

All three of the destinations elevated to Level 4 Monday had previously been designated “Level 3: High,” which indicates they have reported between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents within the past 28 days.

Also Monday, the CDC upgraded Bonaire, Sao Tome and Principe and Ukraine from “Level 2: Moderate” to Level 3, while New Caledonia, was raised from “Level 1: Low” to Level 3.

Andorra, Colombia and Kuwait were all downgraded from Level 4 to Level 3.

The CDC broadly recommends that Americans avoid international travel entirely unless they are fully vaccinated.



Source link

COVID-19: US to relax travel rules for vaccinated passengers from UK and EU | US News


Vaccinated passengers will be able to enter the US from the UK and EU from November, ending almost two years of coronavirus travel restrictions.

The new rules would be part of broader policy changes for international travel and will apply to fully jabbed people – meaning those who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

All foreign travellers will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of the flight.

Travel latest: US lifts travel ban on UK and EU passengers from November

EDITORIAL USE ONLY New ???COME FLY AGAIN??? signage is unveiled at London???s Heathrow Airport to celebrate the safe reopening of international travel and mark its 75th anniversary. Issue date: Thursday July 29, 2021.
Image:
The UK lifted travel restrictions for US passengers entering the UK in July

It will end an 18-month patchwork of travel restrictions imposed by former president Donald Trump at the start of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is delighted that President Joe Biden is “reinstating transatlantic travel”.

He added: “It’s a fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again.”

Speaking in New York, Boris Johnson was questioned by Sky’s political editor Beth Rigby over his previous comments that we shouldn’t ‘hold our breath’ on the lifting of US travel ban – suggesting he wasn’t expecting the announcement.

When asked whether he had been caught out by the US president acting unilaterally, Mr Johnson insisted “we’ve done it faster than we expected”.

Addressing the House of Commons, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “In 2020 the only weapon we had to fight the spread of COVID was simply to keep people apart.”

But as one “of the world’s most vaccinated countries”, with more than eight out of 10 people now jabbed, he says that “we must use that to our advantage to restore freedoms that were by necessity lost over the past 18 months”.

He continued: “Vaccinated Britons will be able to travel into the US from early November, reciprocating the policy that we introduced this summer and this is a testament to the hard work and progress of the expert working group set up at the G7 to restart transatlantic travel.”

Vaccines, he said, “mean the emphasis can now shift to an individual’s status instead”.

Newly-appointed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted: “Excellent news for travellers from the UK to the US. Important for our economic recovery, families and trade.”

British ambassador to the United States, Karen Pierce, said: “We are grateful the US has recognised the progress the UK has made against COVID-19, including high vaccination rates and declining cases.

“This decision means that more Brits can reunite with loved ones in the United States, more British holidaymakers can spend their hard-earned pounds in the American tourism sector, and more business activity can boost both of our economies.”

However, President Biden will tighten rules for unvaccinated American citizens, who now need to be tested within a day of their departure from the US as well as on their return.

Those fully vaccinated will not need to quarantine.

Airlines will be required to collect contacting tracing information – including phone numbers and email addresses – from international travellers.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

George Eustice has warned that lifting travels restrictions too quickly could end up with England back in full lockdown

Following the announcements, companies reliant on international travel saw their shares rise. Aeroplane engine maker Rolls-Royce saw shares climb by 5%, while SSP, whose brands such as Upper Crust and Ritazza operate at transport hubs, rose 6%.

In Europe, Air-France KLM and Lufthansa also enjoyed a share price bounce.

And easyJet, despite not being a transatlantic aviation player, nonetheless saw sharp gains, jumping by 9%.

British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said it was a “historic moment”.

“Our customers should now feel that the world is reopening to them and they can book their trips with confidence,” he added.

The changes only effect air travel, with the order restricting overland travel from Canada and Mexico still in place and reviewed on a monthly basis.

Announcing the new US policy on travel, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said: “This is based on individuals rather than a country-based approach, so it’s a stronger system.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will decide which vaccines are acceptable under the US system and whether those unapproved in America could be used, he added.

Under the previous policy, only American citizens, their immediate families, or green card holders could enter the US from the UK or EU.

However, the American government had the power to grant national interest exemptions to allow people to travel.

U.S. President Joe Biden makes remarks to promote his infrastructure spending proposals during a visit to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in Golden, Colorado
Image:
Joe Biden will also tighten testing rules for unvaccinated Americans

The US also banned travel for anyone who had been in China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, or India, 14 days prior to arriving in the country.

In July, the UK waived quarantine requirements for fully-vaccinated arrivals from the US.





Source link

Coronavirus live updates: White House to lift covid-19 travel ban on international visitors


India, home to the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, had halted exports of vaccines in April, as a devastating second wave of the coronavirus ravaged the country recording over 400,000 daily cases. Now, cases have fallen to just over 30,000 a day, and its vaccine drive has gathered momentum.



Source link

Covid-19 Live Updates: Travel Restrictions, Booster Shots and Vaccines


ImageTravelers exiting a terminal at Los Angeles International Airport in May.
Credit…Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Biden administration will lift travel restrictions starting in November on those from abroad who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, ending a travel ban implemented to limit the spread of disease and reopening the United States to relatives who have been separated from families and employees from businesses.

Foreign travelers who provide proof that they are fully vaccinated before boarding a flight will be able to fly to the United States starting in “early November,” Jeff Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator, said Monday.

“International travel is critical to connecting families and friends, to fueling small and large businesses, to promoting the open exchange ideas and culture,” Mr. Zients said. “That’s why, with science and public health as our guide, we have developed a new international air travel system that both enhances the safety of Americans here at home and enhances the safety of international air travel.”

The administration has restricted travel for foreigners looking to fly to the United States from a group of European countries, Iran and China for more than a year. Fully vaccinated travelers will also need to show proof of a negative test for the coronavirus within three days before coming to the United States, Mr. Zients said.

Unvaccinated Americans overseas aiming to travel home will have to clear stricter testing requirements. They will need to test negative for the coronavirus one day before traveling to the United States and will need to be tested again after arriving, Mr. Zients said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also soon issue an order directing airlines to collect phone numbers and email addresses of travelers for a new contact-tracing system. Authorities will then follow up with the travelers after arrival to ask whether they are experiencing symptoms of the virus.

The administration’s action came on the eve of a visit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was expected to press Mr. Biden to lift the ban. British officials had hoped the president would announce a relaxation of restrictions when he came to Cornwall, England, in June for the Group of 7 summit meeting and were disappointed when he did not. Their frustration has only deepened since then.

British officials note that the United States had not imposed a similar ban on people from Caribbean nations, which had a higher rate of infection than Britain, or from Argentina, which had lower percentage of its population vaccinated. About 82 percent of people in Britain above the age of 16 have had two shots.

The European Union and Britain both allowed fully vaccinated people from the United States to travel without quarantining and officials there were annoyed when the United States did not reciprocate.

The ban, European officials point out, has kept families separated since March 2020, when former President Donald J. Trump first announced it, as the coronavirus was erupting across Europe. European countries have weathered a third wave of infections propelled by the Delta variant. But in several countries, including Britain, infection rates have begun to level off and even decline.

Stephen Castle contributed reporting from London.

Credit…Anna Watts for The New York Times

New York City will introduce weekly coronavirus testing at all public schools starting next week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday, as officials try to strengthen safety protocols.

The city’s powerful teachers’ union called on Sunday for the city to conduct weekly surveillance testing in schools, instead of the current policy of testing students every other week.

Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat in his final year in office, also announced a change to quarantine rules: Unvaccinated students will not have to quarantine if they had close contact with a student who tested positive — if they were masked and three feet apart. The announcement signaled a relaxing of the previous quarantine rules, which required unvaccinated close contacts of a student who tested positive to quarantine for 10 days.

The new rules are set to take effect on Sept. 27, the same day that a vaccine mandate for teachers and other school staff is expected to go into effect.

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers, wrote a letter to Mr. de Blasio on Sunday calling on the city to strengthen its testing policy.

“While so far our public schools have successfully reopened, I am concerned that this year’s reduced frequency of Covid testing means that thousands of children will spend days in classrooms without the early warning system that last year made our schools among the safest places in the community,” Mr. Mulgrew said in the letter.

Credit…Matthew Busch for The New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration is likely to authorize Pfizer booster shots this week for many Americans at high risk of falling seriously ill from the coronavirus, now that a key advisory committee has voted to recommend the measure.

On Friday, a panel of experts endorsed offering Pfizer booster shots for ages 65 and older, and people 16 and over who are at high risk of getting severe Covid-19 or who work in settings that make them more likely to get infected.

The agency, which often follows the committee’s advice but is not required to, is expected to decide early this week. An advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday to discuss booster shots before that agency — which sets vaccine policy — issues its recommendations.

The decision on Pfizer booster shots is just one of a series of key questions that the agency is expected to consider in coming weeks. Officials have said they expect to soon have data on whether boosters are needed for people who got the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Also expected this fall is a decision on a shot for children ages 5 to 11, an intensely watched issue given that about 48 million children are not yet eligible for a vaccine, but have largely returned to classrooms. On Monday, Pfizer said that a trial showed that its vaccine produced a strong immune response in children ages 5 to 11, and officials have said they expect results from Moderna’s children’s trial later this fall.

Interviewed on Sunday-morning news shows, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor and an adviser to President Biden, asked Americans to be patient and not to get a booster shot until they were eligible. That includes people 65 and over who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

“We’re working on that right now to get the data to the F.D.A., so they can examine it and make a determination about the boosters for those people,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “They’re not being left behind by any means.”

Last month, the Biden administration proposed a plan that would have made all vaccinated Americans eligible for a booster shot eight months after their second shot, or their first in the case of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

But the expert panel concluded that boosters were not necessary for most younger, healthier Americans, unless their jobs put them at special risk for infection.

Jobs in that category would include health care workers, emergency responders and teachers, according to Dr. Peter Marks, who oversees the F.D.A.’s vaccine division.

Whatever the F.D.A. decides about boosters this week, Dr. Fauci predicted it will likely be revised as more data comes in. “In real time, more and more data are accumulating,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “There will be a continual re-examination of that data, and potential modification of recommendations.”

Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, echoed those remarks on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” saying that the category of who is eligible for an extra shot was likely to be expanded in the “coming weeks.”

F.D.A. officials will also spend the coming weeks and months evaluating vaccines for children under 12. On Sunday on ABC, Dr. Fauci said a decision on children’s vaccines would certainly come “this fall,” adding, “sometime in the mid- to late fall, we will be seeing enough data from the children from 11 down to 5 to be able to make a decision to vaccinate them.” A decision on vaccines for children under 5 would come after that.

The flurry of decisions comes as public health officials hope to avoid a repeat of last fall and winter, when a surge of infections led to peak levels of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States.

The extremely transmissible Delta variant now accounts for more than 99 percent of cases tracked in the country, according to the C.D.C. While hospitalizations and new cases have started to trend slowly downward, deaths have topped an average of 2,000 a day for the first time since March 1, according to a New York Times database. Vaccinations have been shown to protect against severe illness brought on by the variant.

Dr. Fauci said on Sunday that the key to avoiding a fall and winter surge would be encouraging adults who were eligible but still unvaccinated to change their mind.

“I believe if we get that overwhelming majority of the people vaccinated as we enter into the fall and winter, we can have good control over this and not have a really bad winter at all,” he said on “Meet the Press.”

Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

India’s health minister said on Monday that the country would resume exports of Covid-19 vaccines, five months after halting shipments during its own devastating wave of infections.

The health minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, said that exports would resume starting next month, and that the vaccines would help fulfill India’s commitment to Covax, the United Nations-backed vaccine sharing initiative.

He said that India would produce more than 300 million vaccine doses in October and a total of at least a billion over the final three months of 2021.

“We will help the world and also fulfill our commitment toward Covax,” Mr. Mandaviya said.

The minister did not specify which vaccines India would supply to Covax, or how many doses. Before halting exports in April, the country exported 66.4 million doses, a combination of commercial sales, grants and shipments to Covax, which is designed mainly to help low- and middle- income countries.

India’s decision comes as its domestic vaccination campaign has picked up after a slow start. The government says it expects to finish inoculating all 944 million adults in the country by December.

So far, 61 percent of adults in India have received their first dose, according to government data. The two main vaccines in use are Covishield, the local name for the AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin, produced by the Indian company Bharat Biotech.

The decision on exports comes days before India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the United States, where he is scheduled to participate in a summit including President Biden and the leaders of Australia and Japan, and to speak at the annual gathering of the U.N. General Assembly. The global vaccination effort is expected to be a focus of both meetings, and the Biden administration had been trying to persuade Mr. Modi to resume exports.

India was initially expected to be the main vaccine supplier for the Covax initiative, and its export ban came as a heavy blow to the program, which is so far behind schedule that fewer than 10 percent of people in poor countries are vaccinated.

India began to expand vaccine coverage to all adults in the country in May, after a devastating second wave of infections that overburdened its health care infrastructure, leaving thousands dead and many struggling to find hospital beds. The country’s total caseload stood on Monday about 318,000, the lowest in approximately six months, according to official data.

Credit…Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand will ease coronavirus restrictions in Auckland, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday, ending nearly five weeks of the strictest lockdown in the country’s most populous city.

Some businesses, including restaurants and cafes, will be allowed to reopen for takeout and delivery beginning Tuesday night, and as many as 10 people will be permitted to gather in the city for ceremonies including funerals and weddings, Ms. Ardern told reporters. In New Zealand’s four-tier system of Covid rules, Auckland will now be at Level 3, the second most restrictive. The rest of the country has been under Level 2 for the past two weeks.

The measures have frustrated residents and shuttered businesses, as the country remained one of the few committed to completely eliminating the Delta variant of the coronavirus. There were 22 new cases reported on Monday, down from a peak of 83 during this outbreak. New Zealand began slowly relaxing some of the world’s strictest antivirus measures earlier this month, aiming to reopen borders to foreigners some time next year.

“We keep doing the job of stamping out Covid,” Ms. Ardern said. “We are not stepping out of Level 4 because the job is done. Nor are we moving because we don’t think we can achieve the goal of stamping out Covid-19.”

Other nations in the Asia Pacific region have begun to reopen despite rising numbers of new cases, acknowledging that strategies that aim to eliminate the virus may be untenable. Australian authorities have said that country will begin to reopen once 70 percent of the eligible population is vaccinated. Singapore has loosened quarantine rules for some travelers. In Vietnam, businesses are reopening, although cases are still high.

Ms. Ardern insisted that the change in rules for Auckland should be considered a cautious step. Across the rest of New Zealand, restrictions at indoor gatherings, including restaurants and bars, will be further eased, allowing 100 people to gather. The new restrictions will remain in place for at least two weeks, and will be reassessed on Oct. 4.

Credit…Brian Inganga/Associated Press

At a virtual summit on Wednesday, while the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting is underway, President Biden will urge other vaccine-producing countries to balance their domestic needs with a renewed focus on manufacturing and distributing doses to poor nations in desperate need of them.

The push, which White House officials say seeks to inject urgency into vaccine diplomacy, will test Mr. Biden’s doctrine of furthering American interests by building global coalitions. Covax, the United Nations-backed vaccine program, is so far behind schedule that not even 10 percent of the population in poor nations is fully vaccinated, experts said. And the landscape is even more challenging now than when Covax was created in April 2020.

Some nations in Asia have imposed tariffs and other trade restrictions on Covid-19 vaccines, slowing their delivery. India, home to the world’s largest vaccine maker, banned coronavirus vaccine exports. And an F.D.A. panel on Friday recommended Pfizer booster shots for those over 65 or at high risk of severe Covid, meaning that vaccine doses that could have gone to low and lower-middle income countries would remain in the United States.

Officials said Wednesday’s summit would be the largest gathering of heads of state to address the coronavirus crisis. It aims to encourage pharmaceutical makers, philanthropists and nongovernmental organizations to work together toward vaccinating 70 percent of the world’s population by the time the U.N. General Assembly meets in September 2022, according to a draft document the White House sent to the summit participants.

Experts estimate that 11 billion doses are necessary to achieve widespread global immunity. The United States has pledged to donate more than 600 million — more than any other nation — and the Biden administration has taken steps to expand vaccine manufacturing in the United States, India and South Africa. The 27-nation European Union aims to export 700 million doses by the end of the year.

But on the heels of the United States’ calamitous withdrawal from Afghanistan last month that drew condemnation from allies and adversaries alike, the effort to rally world leaders will be closely watched by public health experts and advocates who say Mr. Biden is not living up to his pledges to make the United States the “arsenal of vaccines” for the world.

Credit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been shown to be safe and highly effective in young children ages 5 to 11, the companies announced early on Monday. The news should help ease months of anxiety among parents and teachers about when children, and their close contacts, might be shielded from the coronavirus.

The need is urgent: Children now account for more than one in five new cases, and the highly contagious Delta variant has sent more children into hospitals and intensive care units in the past few weeks than at any other time in the pandemic.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for authorization to use the vaccine for ages 5 to 11. If the regulatory review goes as smoothly as it did for older children and adults, millions of elementary school students could be inoculated before Halloween.

Trial results for children younger than 5 are not expected until the fourth quarter of this year at the earliest, according to Dr. Bill Gruber, a senior vice president at Pfizer and a pediatrician.

Pfizer and BioNTech announced the results in a statement that did not include detailed data from the trial. The findings have not yet been peer-reviewed nor published in a scientific journal.

But the new results dovetail with those seen in older children and in adults, experts said.

“There’s going to be a huge number of parents who are going to heave a big sigh of relief when they hear this,” said Dr. Kristin Oliver, a pediatrician and vaccine expert at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “We’ve been waiting for these kids to be protected.”

Children have a much lower risk of Covid-19 than adults, even when exposed to the Delta variant. Still, some small number of those infected develop a life-threatening condition called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. Others may have lingering symptoms for months.

Nearly 30,000 children were hospitalized for Covid in August; the least vaccinated states reported the highest rates. At Seattle Children’s hospital, about half of the children who are admitted for Covid are older than 12, according to Dr. Danielle Zerr, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at the hospital.

“I’ve been dismayed at the fact that the sickest children in our hospital with acute Covid-19 or MIS-C are children who could have been vaccinated,” Dr. Zerr said.



Source link

COVID-19 Task Force Hasn’t Ruled Out US Domestic Vaccine Passports


Dr. Anthony Fauci today stated that the possibility of the federal government requiring vaccine passports for domestic air travel within the U.S. is “still on the table”, among other policies under consideration.

As the White House’s Chief Medical Advisor, Fauci appeared earlier today on NBC News’ ‘Meet the Press’ to answer some of reporter Chuck Todd’s questions about the Biden administration’s continuing response to COVID-19.

ADVERTISING

Trending Now

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

When asked whether a vaccine mandate for domestic flyers was still under consideration by the COVID-19 task force, Fauci said: “The team has a lot of things on the table, nothing has been taken off the table. That decision has not been made.”

His response echoes a remark made on September 10 by Jeff Zients—the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator—who, when questioned about the Biden administration’s stance on requiring vaccinations for domestic air travel, said: “I think we have a very strong track record that shows we’re pulling available levers to acquire vaccinations and we’re not taking any measures off the table.”

But, everyone seems to be on board as far as mandating vaccinations for inbound foreign travelers. Last Wednesday, a senior White House official let slip that the government is developing a “new system for international travel”, which would replace the U.S.’ current blanket restrictions on travelers from many foreign countries.

Based on Zients’ comments, Reuters reported that the scheme will likely include both vaccination requirements and compulsory pre-travel testing, and involve a comprehensive new contact-tracing system in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Because the new system would mean lifting current catch-all bans on travelers from certain countries, existing international travel restrictions won’t be relaxed while the Delta variant-driven fourth COVID-19 surge continues.

Separately, Fauci stated last week that he would personally support the implementation of a vaccine passport program for domestic flyers. “I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people that you should be vaccinated,” Fauci said during a September 12 interview, according to Newsweek.

The U.S. Travel Association immediately railed against Fauci’s stance, saying that the existing precautionary measures in use by airlines and airports, such as mask-wearing, provide sufficient protection from COVID-19, even amid Delta and any other potential variants of concern.

It’s no surprise that travel sector players would collectively refuse to support any policy that threatens to diminish consumer demand after the devastation the pandemic inflicted on the industry last year.





Source link

Fauci says a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for air travel hasn’t been ‘taken off the table’


TSA agent flying during covid air travel

Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday US officials could issue a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for commercial flights.

  • “The team has a lot of things on the table. Nothing has been taken off the table,” he said on “Meet the Press.”

  • The Biden administration earlier this month announced increased fines for passengers who refuse to wear face masks on flights.

  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US officials have not ruled out a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for air travelers, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday.

Fauci made the comments during an appearance Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” after moderator Chuck Todd asked him about his support for mandates for travel.

“The team has a lot of things on the table. Nothing has been taken off the table,” Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden said. “That decision has not been made.”

“We have not yet gotten to the point of requiring vaccinations on domestic flights, but everything is on the table,” he added Sunday. “We consider these things literally on a daily basis. So suffice it to say, it’s still on the table right now.”

Fauci’s comments Sunday echo remarks he made last week. In a podcast interview with The Skimm, Fauci said he supported such proposals.

“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people then you should be vaccinated,” he said.

While vaccines have not so far been required to fly in the US, airlines have required the wearing of facial coverings on commercial flights since the coronavirus pandemic began last year. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order in February requiring the wearing of face masks on all public transportation, including on commercial flights.

The Biden administration earlier in September announced it planned to double the fine for passengers who refused to wear face coverings while flying. The change came as part of the White House COVID-19 action plan, as Insider previously reported.

Passengers who refuse to comply with the mask-wearing policies previously faced fines starting at $250 and up to $1,500. The guidelines released earlier this month raised the minimum fine to $500 and the maximum fine to $3000.

“You know, the president made the decision when it comes to flying, if, if a person does not want to wear a mask or doesn’t wear a mask, they double the fining on that,” Fauci said Sunday.

Fauci’s comments Sunday come as more travelers return to the skies even as new cases tick up fueled by the highly-transmissible Delta variant, bringing air travel closer to pre-pandemic levels. The Transportation Security Administration screened nearly 1.5 million passengers on Saturday – more than double the passengers it screened on the same day last year, according to TSA data.

Read the original article on Business Insider



Source link

Canadians appear eager to take off for sun destinations despite ongoing COVID-19 challenges


Michel Dubois has packed his bags, even though his planned trip to Cuba is still more than two months away.

That’s because the retired TV cameraman and editor from Saint-Jérome, Que., is eager for a break from the monotony of pandemic life.

“After a year and a half of sitting in front of my TV and computer, it’s time to move on,” said Dubois, 70, who plans to do some scuba diving and enjoy the sun.

Trips like the one Dubois has booked are giving airlines and tour operators something to look forward to as well — seemingly better business prospects after months of severely hampered operations due to pandemic-related border closures and travel restrictions.

Some key travel players are reporting increased demand for bookings to sun destinations, despite the ongoing challenges of a global pandemic that has yet to end inside or outside Canada’s borders.

Better days ahead?

The onset of the pandemic prompted governments — including Canada’s — to urge people to stay home to stem the spread of the coronavirus and its variants.

It’s a stance Ottawa still holds, even though the government recently loosened restrictions for incoming travellers who are vaccinated.

Tourists relax on a beach in Cancun, Mexico, last month. (Marco Ugarte/The Associated Press)

“We continue to advise against non-essential travel outside of Canada,” Global Affairs Canada said in an email on Friday, noting that this applies to all countries around the globe.

The department also pointed to practical concerns for those who choose to go abroad.

“Additional travel restrictions can be imposed suddenly. Airlines can suspend or reduce flights without notice. Travel plans may be severely disrupted, making it difficult to return home.”

WATCH | Incoming travellers and Canada’s 4th COVID-19 wave:

Canada walks fine line as border reopens during fourth wave

As Canada prepares to allow non-essential travel from nearly anywhere in the world, the country walks a fine line between needing to reopen and fears over the fourth wave of COVID-19. 2:00

Indeed, COVID-19 travel restrictions vary from country to country, with vaccine passports gaining traction with some governments. Prior to the current federal election campaign, Ottawa had announced plans to develop such documentation for international travel.

Then and now

Ambarish Chandra, an associate professor of economics at the University of Toronto, says that while the government actively discouraged travel last winter, that didn’t deter all people from going abroad — such as snowbirds who went to Florida.

With the progress on vaccination that has been made, Chandra said he believes Ottawa’s stance on leisure travel may have to shift.

“I don’t think it would be reasonable for the government to go a second winter season saying: ‘Don’t travel,'” Chandra said in an interview.

A mask-wearing pilot at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in March 2020, the same month the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. Many border closures and travel restrictions were soon put into effect in countries around the world. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

Jörg Fritz, an associate professor in the microbiology and immunology department at Montreal’s McGill University, says that as travel picks up, Canada will have to keep a close eye on what strains of the virus are circulating here and around the globe.

“We simply need to face that this virus will not go away that quickly,” he said.

“The danger that new variants arise that might escape vaccine-induced immunity is still there and will be there for quite a while.”

It’s also key for Canada to continue increasing its vaccination rate and to ensure that children are protected as soon as that is possible, Fritz said.

A desire to get away

Air Canada says the upcoming fall and winter looks promising for travel to sun destinations.

“When looking to the sun market, we are very optimistic about our recovery,” airline spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick told CBC News in a recent email, adding that “we are currently observing demand growth that is above 2019 levels.”

Sunwing Travel Group says it’s seeing ‘encouraging demand’ for sun-destination bookings compared with last fall. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Meanwhile, Sunwing Travel Group reports seeing “encouraging demand” compared with last fall, which spokesperson Melanie Anne Filipp says shows Canadians are growing more confident about travelling again.

“The rise in vaccinations across the country and easing border measures have without a doubt contributed to Canadians’ increasing interest in travel to sun destinations,” said Filipp, who noted that business remains below pre-pandemic levels.

Montreal-based Air Transat is currently flying passengers to a mix of domestic and international locations. Some of its sun destinations include Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico.

“We confirm that demand is doing well, and we clearly feel that the urge to travel is back,” Air Transat spokesperson Debbie Cabana said via email.

“However, because of the uncertainty that still exists when traveling abroad, bookings are being made more last minute than before the pandemic.”

Being able to back out

A last-minute travel buy was not the story for Dubois, the retired TV cameraman, who booked his own trip back in January.

But he also bought a ticket that will allow him to cancel his plans up to 24 hours before departure, with a full refund.

Tourists take a break at a restaurant in Havana, Cuba, in August 2019. Seven months later, the global pandemic was declared, bringing an end to most leisure travel throughout the world. (Fernando Medina/Reuters)

On prior trips, he hadn’t tended to pencil in the possibility of needing to cancel — but that was before COVID-19.

“Before now, no,” said Dubois, who worked for both CBC and Radio-Canada during his career. “Now, definitely.”

The University of Toronto’s Chandra says the more flexible arrangements being offered by airlines reflects the fact that some customers won’t be willing to book expensive tickets if there’s a chance they will lose their money.

Rolling out the welcome mat

Dubois is heading to Cuba at the end of November, and by that time, travel restrictions will have been eased.

The Cuban Tourism Ministry recently announced that as of Nov. 15, Canadians with proof of vaccination won’t have to take a test before heading to the country. They’ll also be able to travel across the island.

Vacationers take to the water at a Club Med resort in the Dominican Republic before the pandemic. With the progress on vaccination that has been made, one expert says he believes Ottawa’s restrictive stance on leisure travel may have to shift. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

Sunwing’s Filipp said that “numerous sun destinations are already open for travel,” and like Cuba, other destinations are expected to ease restrictions of their own as vaccination rates rise and COVID-19 cases decline.

Chandra says he’s doubtful that differing rules between sun destinations will have much of an effect on travel patterns.

That’s because a lot of sun seekers — and snowbirds in particular — are likely to “stick to their choices” when it comes to their desired winter getaways. “They’re not going to go other places,” he said.

They’re also unlikely to go to other regions because they head south to take advantage of the better weather, he said.



Source link

travel

UPDATE 1-Britain mulls easing COVID-19 travel rules for England


(Adds background, details)

LONDON, Sept 17 (Reuters) – Britain will on Friday consider easing England’s COVID-19 rules for international travel after the travel industry complained that a myriad of onerous rules and red tape were hobbling airlines, holiday and tourism companies.

In a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Britain has a maze of different rules requiring expensive private testing and quarantine and a so-called traffic light system which ranks destinations as green, amber and red.

“The COVID sub-committee of cabinet that decides these things will be considering that probably later today,” Agriculture Secretary George Eustice told Sky News.

The British travel industry has called on the government to ease travel restrictions, force companies to offer cheaper testing and allow those who are double vaccinated more freedom.

Tourists and ministers have complained about the price travellers are being charged for obligatory private COVID-19 tests – which are listed as costing around 50 pounds but which can cost up to 399 pounds, according to current listings.

Ministers will cut the number of “red list” countries – currently 62 – by removing the “amber list” and those who are double vaccinated will no longer have to pay for costly polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, The Times newspaper reported.

For those returning from red-list countries, quarantine hotels are expected to remain in place, the newspaper said.

($1 = 0.7247 pounds) (Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Sarah Young)



Source link