The health minister of Australia announced on Wednesday that fully vaccinated residents would finally be allowed to travel abroad starting on Nov. 1, a year and a half after borders were closed to most ingoing and outgoing travel.
“Fully vaccinated Australians will not require an exemption to depart Australia,” Greg Hunt, the country’s health minister, told reporters in Canberra. He added that they would also be able to return without restrictions.
The eased restrictions will be the first stage in Australia’s plan to reopen its international borders since slamming them shut on March 20, 2020, separating families and leaving thousands of Australians stranded overseas.
The second stage, Mr. Hunt said, will allow students and critical workers to enter the country and, eventually, see borders fully reopened to tourists and other visitors.
“It’s exciting,” said Kelsey May, 25, an Australian who returned home from Britain in March of 2020, and has been separated from her partner since. But, Ms. May added: “We’ve been told so many things over the past 18 months that haven’t come to fruition. We just want to see what happens.”
On Monday, the health authorities also approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster shots for those 18 and older. They said the decision would make the country among the most highly vaccinated places in the world.
Nationwide, 62 percent of eligible Australians have had two doses of the vaccine, and 74 percent have had one dose.
But Canberra, the capital, announced it had become the first jurisdiction in the country to fully vaccinate more than 90 percent of eligible residents age 12 and older.
Jab well done Canberra 💉💉
It’s not a race, but we’re happy to take the crown 👑 and be the first jurisdiction in Australia to have more than 90% (90.5%) of its residents aged 12+ who have received 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Keep it up Canberra 🥇 💪 pic.twitter.com/tsH3ZLi3aR
— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) October 27, 2021
RIO DE JANEIRO — A congressional panel in Brazil voted to recommend nine criminal charges against President Jair Bolsonaro, including “crimes against humanity,” accusing Mr. Bolsonaro of intentionally allowing the coronavirus to spread unchecked through Brazil, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths.
With the vote on Tuesday night, the Senate panel also recommended charges against 77 other people, including government officials, lawmakers, business owners, doctors, political pundits and three of Mr. Bolsonaro’s sons, for a variety of crimes related to their response to the pandemic. The panel also recommended charges against two companies.
In a six-month investigation, the panel found that Mr. Bolsonaro and members of his administration, determined to reach herd immunity, discouraged people from wearing masks, ignored offers of vaccines from Pfizer and promoted unproven drugs long after they were found to be ineffective.
The report found that the actions, taken together, led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. Brazil has had more than 600,000 officially tallied deaths from Covid — as in most countries, experts say the real figure is much higher — second only to the United States.
Seven senators on the panel voted for the nearly 1,300-page report and four voted against it. The report had largely been controlled by the panel’s seven-member majority, all of whom oppose Mr. Bolsonaro, a strident, right-wing populist.
Mr. Bolsonaro’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Immediately after the vote, former President Donald J. Trump, who has a warm relationship with Mr. Bolsonaro, issued a statement supporting him: “Brazil is lucky to have a man such as Jair Bolsonaro working for them!”
The panel delivered the report to Brazil’s attorney general on Wednesday, who will have 30 days to decide whether to pursue criminal charges against Mr. Bolsonaro and some other government officials. (Other courts and government offices would weigh charges related to others named in the report.) Brazil’s lower house in Congress would also have to approve charges against Mr. Bolsonaro.
Political analysts, as well as some senators on the panel, have said that they doubt that Mr. Bolsonaro will ultimately face charges because the attorney general and a majority of the lower house support the president.
Mr. Bolsonaro could face more legal exposure once he leaves office. The panel’s leaders said they also plan to send the report to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The panel also voted to ask Brazil’s Supreme Court to request that Mr. Bolsonaro be banned from social media for the “protection of the population.” The senators included that recommendation after the president suggested during a weekly social media livestream on Thursday that the coronavirus vaccine could cause AIDS. Facebook and YouTube removed the video, and YouTube froze Mr. Bolsonaro’s channel for a week.
The vote concludes an investigation that had led the nightly news in Brazil for much of the summer. The panel held more than 50 hearings, which sometimes included shocking testimony. At one point, a lawmaker wore a bulletproof vest to testify that some vaccine purchases included kickbacks.
“How many presidents of the Republic, without having been in wars, were accused of crimes against humanity?” asked Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, the panel’s vice president. “There are reasons, motives and statements like the ones we witnessed — which left us in absolute shock, all of us Brazilians — that led to this indictment request.”
Senator Eduardo Girão, one of the four senators who voted against the report, said that he believed Mr. Bolsonaro had acted wrongly, but that the report “became an instrument of political persecution.”
After the vote, the panel held a moment of silence for those who have died in the pandemic. The room then broke into applause.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women respond to the first dose of the coronavirus vaccines more slowly than other women, and mount a less potent defense against the virus, according to a new study. After the second dose, however, their response looks almost normal.
The results, published this month in the journal Science Translational Medicine, suggest that pregnant and breastfeeding women remain susceptible to the virus for longer after vaccination. The study underscores the importance of giving these women the second dose in time, and monitoring them closely in the meantime for signs of infection.
During pregnancy, the immune system is modified to tolerate the fetus — effectively a foreign entity — leaving pregnant women particularly susceptible to pathogens like the coronavirus. Because of this, pregnant women are more likely to become severely ill and to die from Covid than other women of the same age.
Earlier research had suggested that pregnancy might also dampen the response to vaccines. But the initial trials of Covid vaccines did not include pregnant and breastfeeding women because of safety concerns, so there has been limited information about how well they respond to the inoculations.
The researchers analyzed the antibodies produced by 84 pregnant women, 31 breastfeeding women and 16 nonpregnant women of the same ages, immunized with the coronavirus vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
After the first dose, pregnant and breastfeeding women had fewer antibodies than other women of the same age. And the antibodies were less effective at recruiting other parts of the immune system to fight the virus.
Two to six weeks after the second dose, pregnant and breastfeeding women had about as many antibodies as other women their age, consistent with results from other studies, and the qualitative differences also narrowed.
Breastfeeding women boosted their response more effectively than pregnant women after the second dose, and the quality of their immune response more closely resembled that of nonpregnant women.
The women in the study were immunized at different times during pregnancy. Future studies should analyze the optimal time during pregnancy to deliver the vaccines, the researchers said.
Merck has granted a royalty-free license for its promising Covid-19 pill to a United Nations-backed nonprofit group in a deal that would allow the drug to be manufactured and sold cheaply in the poorest nations, where vaccines for the coronavirus are in devastatingly short supply.
The agreement with the organization, Medicines Patent Pool — which works to make medical treatment and technologies globally accessible — will allow companies in 105 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, to sublicense the formulation for the antiviral pill, called molnupiravir, and begin making it.
Merck reported this month that the drug halved the rate of hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk Covid patients in a large clinical trial. Affluent nations, including the United States, have rushed to negotiate deals to buy the drug, tying up large portions of the supply even before it has been approved by regulators and raising concerns that poor countries would be shut out of access to the medicine, much as they have been for vaccines.
Treatment-access advocates welcomed the new deal, which was announced Wednesday morning, calling it an unusual step for a major Western pharmaceutical company.
“The Merck license is a very good and meaningful protection for people living in countries where more than half of the world’s population lives,” said James Love, who leads Knowledge Ecology International, a nonprofit research organization. “It will make a difference.”
Charles Gore, director of the Medicines Patent Pool, said: “This is the first transparent public health license for a Covid medicine, and really importantly, it is for something that could be used outside of hospitals, and which is potentially going to be very cheap.”
Molnupiravir was developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics of Miami, based on a molecule first studied at Emory University in Atlanta. All three organizations are party to this deal, which will not require a fee from any sublicensing company.
Sandee Babb, 54, of Grand Rapids, Mich., has seen nearly two dozen doctors over the past year to figure out what is causing a range of symptoms, including cardiac arrhythmia, a chronic cough, shortness of breath and joint pain, which have kept her from returning to her job as a teacher and librarian.
She could not get a coronavirus test when she first got sick in March 2020. But a September progress note from her doctor said her symptoms “could be consistent with long-haul type syndrome.”
After months documenting her condition, she submitted her unemployment application in August and is not sure when she will get an answer. “If it doesn’t come through, then I’m really stuck,” she said. “Where do I go from here?”
The Biden administration has said people with the condition known as “long Covid” could qualify for federal disability protections and benefits, which can include health care, housing and unemployment benefits.
But with no widely agreed-on method of diagnosing the ailment, those who believe they have long Covid are finding it difficult to qualify under a system that is unfamiliar and already tricky to navigate.
Studies have shown that a significant number of Covid patients continue to seek treatment for a wide range of medical conditions many months after a diagnosis. The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation estimates that three to 10 million Americans may have long Covid.
Yet many of those seeking benefits cannot produce a positive coronavirus test, which were in short supply at the beginning of the pandemic. And lab results and scans often show nothing unusual for those continuing to experience symptoms.
An expert committee advising the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday recommended that regulators authorize Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds, bringing about 28 million children a major step closer to becoming eligible for shots.
If the F.D.A. follows the panel’s advice in the coming days, as is expected, the Biden administration will have expanded vaccine access to all but the youngest Americans, while providing booster shots for many as well.
Biden administration officials see the pediatric dose as crucial to keeping schools open and restoring a sense of normalcy to family and work life as the pandemic hurtles toward the end of its second year. The administration wants to be seen as doing everything possible to combat the virus and build upon positive trends, as the Delta variant ebbs and the daily drumbeat of infections and deaths fades.
Younger children would start getting their shots at a time when coronavirus cases are dropping sharply. But public demand for a pediatric vaccine has been high, and some panel members said that even though young children are less likely to get severely ill from Covid-19, parents and doctors alike are anxious to protect them.
Dr. Jay Portnoy, a medical director at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., said he had seen critically ill children in the intensive care unit and “terrified” parents. “I’m looking forward to being able to actually do something to prevent that,” he said.
The vote was 17-0 in favor, with one abstention. Federal regulators and scientists made a strong push, arguing that 8,300 children between 5 and 11 had been hospitalized with Covid-19 and nearly 100 had died over the course of the pandemic.
Covid-19 is “the eighth-highest killer of kids in this age group over the past year,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn, a top C.D.C. vaccine official. “Use of this vaccine will prevent deaths, will prevent I.C.U. admissions and will prevent significant long-term adverse outcomes in children.”
Data from Pfizer showed that the vaccine had a 90.7 percent efficacy rate in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 in a clinical trial of 5- to 11-year-olds. Still, many advisory committee members expressed concern about limited safety data, turning repeatedly to the risk of myocarditis, a rare condition involving inflammation of the heart muscle, in young vaccine recipients. Myocarditis and pericarditis, inflammation of the lining around the heart, have been tied to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, particularly in younger men.
The Pfizer dose for younger children would be one-third of the strength given to people 12 and older, with two shots given three weeks apart. Experts have said that could diminish the risk of the heart-related side effects.
If F.D.A. regulators follow the committee’s advice, as they typically do, an authorization could come within days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own panel of outside experts is scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday, and is also expected to endorse a pediatric dose. The C.D.C., which sets vaccine policy, would likely then quickly recommend the rollout of shots.
During a long debate before the vote, some committee members questioned whether every child in the age group really needed the vaccine or whether it should be limited to those at high risk of severe Covid-19 — an easily identifiable group, with underlying conditions such as obesity or other risk factors.
Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, the president and chief executive of Meharry Medical College, said that since many children between 5 and 11 may already have some immunity after contracting the virus, the need to vaccinate broadly in the age group might be less urgent.
“It just seems to me that in some ways we’re vaccinating children to protect the adults, and it should be the other way around,” he said. “I do believe that children at highest risk do need to be vaccinated. But vaccinating all of the children to achieve that just seems a bit much for me.”
Unequal access to coronavirus vaccines in developing countries is deepening a “great divergence” between rich and poor nations and slowing economic recovery from the pandemic, the United Nations organization that monitors labor market developments said on Wednesday.
Vaccination campaigns have proved critical in aiding recovery of working hours and economic productivity. But uneven access to vaccines has resulted in a two-speed recovery for rich and poor countries according to Guy Ryder, the director of the International Labor Organization.
“We are building back worse at least as looked at from the perspective of the developing world,” Mr. Ryder told reporters in Geneva, adding that he will be delivering that message to leaders of the Group of 20 summit, who will meet in Rome this weekend.
Worldwide, about 76 percent of shots that have gone into arms have been administered in high- and upper-middle-income countries, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. Only 0.5 percent of doses have been administered in low-income countries.
The I.L.O. estimated in a report released Wednesday that for every 14 workers who were fully vaccinated in the second quarter of the year, one full-time job was added to the global labor market. By early October, it said, 34.5 percent of the world’s population had been fully vaccinated but at rates that varied from 59.8 percent of the population in high-income countries to 1.8 percent in low income countries.
As a result, labor market recovery has stalled in 2021 and the number of hours worked this year are now expected to be far lower than previously estimated, the I.L.O. said.
Fiscal stimulus packages provided another key aid to recovery. But 86 percent of the stimulus available through these initiatives was concentrated in high-income economies, the organization said.
The I.L.O. said that with more equitable distribution of vaccines it would take low-income countries little more than three months to catch up with the pace of working hour recovery in rich countries.
The organization’s findings echo the alarm expressed repeatedly by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, who has slammed the unequal delivery of Covid-19 vaccines as a “catastrophic moral failure” and set a target of vaccinating 40 percent of every country by the end of the year.
South Korea warned residents that it would strictly enforce Covid restrictions during Halloween, as the government remains wary of large outbreaks that might threaten its reopening plans next month.
Local authorities have raised alarms that parties leading up to Oct. 31 pose a potential risk as South Korea prepares to ease Covid restrictions the next day. Halloween is not widely celebrated in South Korea, but it is becoming more popular, especially in the capital, Seoul.
“We are concerned, especially ahead of Halloween this weekend, that there might be many violations of social distancing rules,” the minister of health, Kwon Deok-cheol, said on Wednesday, urging people to comply with the restrictions that remain in place.
The country still has a mask mandate, limits the size of social gatherings and requires restaurants and bars to close at 10 p.m. in Seoul.
To mitigate the risk of an outbreak, which might jeopardize South Korea’s reopening, health officials said on Friday that they would intensively check businesses’ and customers’ compliance with Covid rules for seven days starting Wednesday from 8 p.m. to midnight. The inspectors will focus on areas including Itaewon, Hongdae and Gangnam Station in Seoul, and parts of Incheon and Busan, where there are many young people and foreigners who are expected to celebrate.
Partygoers may let their guard down knowing that the restrictions are set to expire on Nov. 1, said Robert Joe, 43, a filmmaker who lives in Itaewon.
“Everyone knows everything is going to be lifted more or less,” he said. “The sense of urgency, I think, has probably lessened.”
Mr. Joe, who has lived in Seoul for almost 20 years, said that Halloween has drawn crowds that spilled onto the streets in party districts, with people standing shoulder to shoulder, in the past five years. If there were no restrictions, he said, “there would absolutely be a superspreader event.”
For South Korean partygoers, who are younger, the risk of contracting the virus is higher because not as many are vaccinated. Only 57 percent of people ages 49 and under are fully vaccinated, while 91 percent of those over 50 have received both shots, according to data released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.
Foreigners caught violating rules, the health officials said on Friday, may be subjected to deportation, and businesses violating rules may be prosecuted, suspended or fined.
South Korea’s approach to the Halloween festivities contrasts that of the United States, where many health departments have only recommended that people take precautions, like getting vaccinated and wearing masks, instead of threatening penalties. In Massachusetts, the towns of Lexington and Belmont will offer free Covid tests after Halloween.
Children ages 5 to 11 may be eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine by early next month: two shots spaced three weeks apart. But unlike youths 12 and older, who get the same dosage as adults, the younger age group will receive one-third the amount that a 12-year-old would get.
This has created some confusion for parents of 11-year-olds on the cusp of turning 12. Is it best to hold out for the larger dose? Or is it better to get the smaller dose right away? Does the weight or height of the child make any difference?
Five experts in immunology and infectious diseases agreed that the appropriate dosage is best determined by a child’s age, not his or her size. So if your 11-year-old is able to get the shot in November, do it right away, rather than waiting for your child to turn 12.
The virus isn’t going away anytime soon, they said. And different variants could potentially make the virus more infectious or dangerous, said Donna L. Farber, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
The sooner your child can be vaccinated, the better, the experts said. The shots greatly reduce the chance of becoming severely ill from Covid, and they curb the likelihood of getting infected in the first place and then passing that infection to others.
Nearly three months after Tyson Foods mandated coronavirus vaccines for all its 120,000 U.S. workers, more than 96 percent of them are vaccinated, the company’s chief executive, Donnie King, said in an employee memo on Tuesday.
Less than half of Tyson’s work force was inoculated when it announced on Aug. 3 that it would require vaccines. Nearly 60,000 more Tyson employees got the shot following the announcement, Mr. King said. Tyson has said workers must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 as a condition of employment.
“This is an incredible result,” Mr. King wrote, “not only for our company, but for your families and our communities across the country.”
Tyson was one of the first major companies to mandate vaccines after incentives like paid time off to be inoculated started to lose traction. Its stance was notable because it included frontline workers even as labor shortage concerns prevented many companies from expanding vaccine mandates beyond the office.
Meatpacking involves close quarters and long hours, which make its workers particularly vulnerable to catching the coronavirus. A number of workers died last year after the virus swept through the nation’s processing plants.
“Has this made a difference in the health and safety of our team members? Absolutely,” Mr. King wrote of the vaccine requirement. “We’ve seen a significant decline in the number of active cases, companywide.”
Mr. King said he had “received many notes from team members who have helped convince others in their family, and in their community, to get vaccinated.”
Tyson has plants across the South and Midwest. In Arkansas, where it is based, 57 percent of residents have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
To help encourage vaccination, executives have visited plants to have small group conversations about the vaccines. The company also addressed common myths about the vaccine and took questions from employees at a panel that included two outside physicians.
“We hit this number thanks to the many, many thousands of individual conversations,” Mr. King said.
As part of its efforts, Tyson negotiated an agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents several thousand of its workers, to endorse the mandate in return for more benefits for all workers, like paid sick leave. The union’s president, Marc Perrone, applauded the vaccination efforts on Tuesday.
“Working together, the UFCW and Tyson set a new standard with this vaccine mandate, and have proved what’s possible when we listen to workers and negotiate the implementation of vaccination mandates fairly and responsibly,” Mr. Perrone said in a statement.
“We urge every company, across this country, to do what is right by their frontline workers and work cooperatively with their unions and employees to help end this pandemic and keep all of America’s essential workers and their families safe,” he added.
Tyson is offering employees religious or medical accommodations to the mandate and does not have a cutoff date for evaluating those considerations, a spokesman said. It will assess requests “based on careful consideration of the individual facts and our commitment to the safety of our employees.” Some unvaccinated employees granted exemptions, though, will be placed on leave.
“To those who remain unvaccinated — this is your choice, and we respect that choice,” Mr. King said. “If you change your mind and want to rejoin Tyson — let us know. Our doors are open.”
The results of Tyson’s vaccine mandate will be examined closely by other companies, as well as federal and local officials, as they weigh their own approaches to vaccine mandates. Last month, President Biden asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to order large employers to require vaccination against the coronavirus or weekly testing. Many companies are now preparing to move forward but have been awaiting more details.
So far, vaccine mandates have largely proven effective. United Airlines, which said in August that it would require all employees to provide proof of vaccination, recently announced that more than 99 percent of its work force was vaccinated. In California, health care employers have reported vaccination rates of 90 percent or higher.
Legal experts generally say companies have the right to make vaccine mandates, but there has been pushback, particularly from local politicians. Arkansas is seeking to require employers that mandate vaccines to allow for exemptions, including a testing alternative. And Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas issued an executive order banning private employers from mandating coronavirus vaccines.
Germany’s new governing coalition plans to drop nationwide pandemic restrictions and hand responsibility back to state governments to set their own rules, which could vary from one region to another.
Representatives of the three parties that are expected to form the new federal government announced on Wednesday (not Tuesday, as an earlier version of this item said) that they intend to allow the country’s national epidemic status to lapse in late November. That status provides the legal framework for imposing national lockdowns, mask requirements and other measures.
The announcement could be considered the first public act of the new government, which is still in the complicated process of being formed by the three parties after the general election of Sept. 26. The new prime minister and cabinet are not expected to be inaugurated for several weeks yet. Officials warned that shifting responsibility to the states did not mean that restrictions would vanish.
“The 25th of November will not be a ‘Freedom Day’,” said Dirk Wiese, a deputy parliamentary group leader of the Social Democratic Party, which is expected to lead the new government, referring to a nickname used in Britain for the day nearly all virus restrictions were dropped there.
“We want to go through the fall and winter responsibly, so that by spring we have Covid-19 behind us,” Mr. Wiese said.
The other two parties working to form the new government are the Greens and the Free Democrats. All three gained seats in parliament in the election, while the party that led the outgoing coalition government, the Christian Democrats, lost ground.
The outgoing government remains in office in a caretaker role while the new one is formed. The departing health minister, Jens Spahn, a Christian Democrat, has said he too believed the national epidemic status should be allowed to lapse.
New coronavirus cases have risen by 80 percent over the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database, even though at least two-thirds of the population is fully vaccinated. The three coalition parties said on Wednesday that they would set up a federal panel to work on increasing the vaccination rate.
“We are of the common opinion that we are far from where we could and should be as far as vaccination is concerned,” said Katrin Göring-Eckardt, the parliamentary group leader for the Green party.
South Korea’s economic growth slowed in the third quarter as strong exports were offset by weak domestic consumption due to the country’s toughest Covid-19 restrictions, clouding the Bank of Korea’s prospect for another rate increase this year.
Gross domestic product rose 0.3 per cent in the July-September period, decelerating from 0.8 per cent in the second quarter and missing a 0.6 per cent growth forecast in a Reuters survey.
Asia’s fourth-largest economy expanded 4 per cent from a year earlier, slowing sharply from 6 per cent growth in the second quarter, which was the fastest in a decade.
Weaker quarterly growth was widely expected as health authorities struggled to contain the country’s worst virus outbreak after daily infections surged above 1,000 from July. Exports rose 1.5 per cent in the third quarter from the previous quarter while private consumption fell 0.3 per cent.
The BoK told an online seminar on Monday that consumption was expected to pick up in the current quarter, helped by rising vaccinations and a transition to “living with Covid-19.” More than 70 per cent of the country’s 51m population has been fully vaccinated.
The bank has flagged China’s energy crunch and supply chain bottlenecks as downside risks for the Korean economy although exports remain robust. Overseas shipments jumped 36.1 per cent in the first 20 days of October from a year earlier, according to customs data.
BoK governor Lee Ju-yeol has said the central bank will consider another rate hike in November after South Korea became the first major Asian economy in August to tighten monetary policy since the pandemic hit.
The BoK is widely expected to increase its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to one per cent on November 25 to ease growing financial risks amid rising inflation and household debt.
“While Korea’s recovery lost some momentum last quarter as the virus weighed on growth, the economy should pick up pace again this quarter as high vaccination levels allow the rolling back of containment measures,” Alex Holmes, Asia economist at Capital Economics, said in a report. “[But] the BoK is unlikely to be deterred from tightening further by today’s data.”
Children under the age of 18 who are unvaccinated against the coronavirus, and a limited category of foreigners arriving from countries with low vaccination rates, are among the travelers exempted from forthcoming requirements that will determine who can enter the United States, Biden administration officials said on Monday.
The Biden administration has announced that it would lift travel restrictions on Nov. 8 and reopen the United States to fully vaccinated international travelers who had been barred for nearly a year and a half from entering the country by air or crossing the land borders.
But the new travel system also comes with stringent requirements, and will seal the United States off from most foreigners who have not yet received a vaccine cleared by the World Health Organization or U.S. federal regulators. On Monday, senior officials detailed opportunities to enter the United States for certain travelers who struggled to obtain a vaccine because of a lack of uniform vaccine eligibility for minors, as well as limited access to the global supply.
Unvaccinated children under the age of 18 will be permitted to enter the United States when the new system takes effect, officials said, confirming an earlier report from The New York Times. Children older than 2 who are traveling with a fully vaccinated adult will need to show a negative coronavirus test within three days of their departure date. Those traveling alone or with an unvaccinated adult will need to show such a result one day before they travel to the United States.
The exemptions will also apply to adults flying from countries where less than 10 percent of the overall population is fully vaccinated, if they can show a “compelling reason” for entering the United States, officials said. That carve-out, they said, would apply to a narrow group of unvaccinated travelers; entering the United States for tourism would not clear the bar for an exemption.
Others who show a U.S. government-issued letter approving an emergency or humanitarian need to travel will also be allowed to cross U.S. borders.
Many leaders in the tourism industry have praised the new rules, which will signal a new chapter in the U.S. recovery from the pandemic. The restrictions imposed in the early days of the pandemic have barred tourists and separated family members from traveling to the United States for nearly 18 months.
But on Nov. 8, the country will open to those who can show that two weeks have passed since they received either a second shot of the two-dose vaccines cleared by U.S. federal regulators or the W.H.O. (in any combination), or a single shot of a one-dose vaccine greenlit by those organizations, like the one from Johnson & Johnson. Digital or print proof of vaccination status will be required.
In addition, fully vaccinated American citizens or legal permanent residents arriving by sea or air will need to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within three days of traveling. Those who are unvaccinated will need to test negative within one day of traveling. Those crossing the land border from Canada or Mexico will not have a testing requirement.
Travelers will also be required to provide their personal information for potential contact tracing after arriving in the United States.
The coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna is safe and produces a powerful immune response in children 6 through 11, the company said on Monday.
One month after immunization was complete, the children in Moderna’s trial had antibody levels that were 1.5 times higher than those seen in young adults, the company said.
Moderna did not release the full data, nor are the results published in a peer-reviewed journal. The results were announced one day before an advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to review data for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children 5 through 11.
Moderna tested two shots of the vaccine given 28 days apart in 4,753 children. They received 50 micrograms of vaccine, half the adult dose, in each shot. (Last week, based on data showing that the half dose is still highly effective, the F.D.A. authorized a booster shot of the Moderna vaccine at this dose.)
Moderna submitted study results for the vaccine’s use for adolescents 12 through 17 in June, but the F.D.A. has not yet announced a decision for that age group.
Some research indicates that the Moderna vaccine may increase the risk of a rare side effect called myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, in boys and young men. In July, the F.D.A. asked both Pfizer and Moderna to expand the size of their trials in order to detect less common side effects.
In children aged 6 through 11, most of the side effects were mild or moderate; the most common were fatigue, headache, fever and pain at the injection site, Moderna said in its statement on Monday. An independent committee will continue to review the vaccine’s safety in the trial participants for 12 months after the second dose.
Moderna is still recruiting children aged 2 through 5 and 6 months to under 2 years for trials of the vaccine in those age groups. The company has enrolled about 5,700 children in the United States and Canada in the trial.
Moderna plans to submit the results soon to the F.D.A. and to regulatory agencies in Europe and elsewhere, the company said.
Covid-19 vaccines could be approved and available for younger American children soon, but the question of how quickly parents will allow them to get inoculated is another matter.
Children ages 5 to 11 could begin getting vaccinated in early November, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, said Sunday.
That means those children could be fully immunized by the holidays, if an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration endorses Pfizer’s application for vaccine use in that age group on Tuesday. Children 12 and up have been eligible for vaccination since May.
But hesitancy among parents of these children could be a hurdle. Only about one in three parents of 5- to 11-year-olds planned to get their children inoculated “right away” once a vaccine is authorized, according to polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted last month. Another third said they wanted to “wait and see” how the vaccine affected children.
But that same polling showed that reluctance among parents of teenagers had dropped in the months since vaccines became available to that age group.
“This is critically important, and we know we have a lot of work to do,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on the NBC program “Meet the Press.” “Those survey data look very much consistent with where we were with adults last December, when we rolled out vaccines for adults. We have done a huge amount of hard work over the last 10 months, education, communication, providing information, getting vaccines to really convenient places and trusted messengers.”
F.D.A. regulators on Friday released their evaluation of data from the Pfizer-BioNTech submission for emergency authorization of a lower-dose vaccine for young children.
Pfizer’s data “look good as to the efficacy and safety,” Dr. Fauci said on the ABC program “This Week.” He said “if all goes well,” it is “entirely possible, if not very likely, that vaccines will be available for children from 5 to 11 within the first week or two of November.”
According to Pfizer and BioNTech, the children who were vaccinated as part of the clinical trial, who received doses that were one-third the size of the adult doses, developed robust immune responses after receiving the regimen of two shots three weeks apart. The companies have said the efficacy rate of the vaccine in children reduced the risk of developing a symptomatic infection by 91 percent.
The most common side effects in children were fatigue, headache, muscle pain and chills. According to the F.D.A., the data submitted indicated no cases of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, or pericarditis, inflammation of the outer lining of the heart, both of which are rare complications that have been reported among young boys and men receiving the vaccine.
Over the past week there has been a lot of regulatory guidance on who can receive booster doses of Covid vaccines, giving a large segment of the U.S. population access to more protection.
Both Dr. Walensky and Dr. Fauci sought to dispel confusion about booster shots and explain the option of “mixing and matching” initial vaccines and boosters.
Boosters of all three vaccines available in the United States have been authorized. Additional shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which use mRNA technology, have been approved for people 65 and older, those with underlying health conditions and all adults whose living or working conditions place them at high risk of exposure to the virus. Anyone over 18 who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago is also eligible for a booster.
People can receive a booster shot that is different from the initial vaccine they first received, the health authorities said.
“If you were originally vaccinated with one product, could you and would it be appropriate and safe and effective to get boosted in the third shot for the mRNA and the second shot for J.&.J. by another product?” Dr. Fauci said. “The answer is, it’s perfectly fine.”
Australia, home to the world’s longest lockdown, is scrapping quarantine requirements for vaccinated residents returning from overseas. New Zealand, famed for its commitment to a “Zero Covid” strategy, abandoned it this month. Around the world, people are vacationing, visiting family and resuming business trips across international borders.
The country where the coronavirus pandemic began is also the only one in the world still trying to completely eradicate the virus within its borders. Officials have repeatedly dismissed the idea of living with the virus, citing China’s large population and their success in containment so far — even as the country has continued to record sporadic outbreaks, triggering mass testing and strict lockdowns.
“Every locality should firmly adhere to the policy of ‘Defend externally against importation, defend internally against rebound,’” Mi Feng, a spokesman for the National Health Commission, said at a news conference on Sunday. “The current control measures cannot be relaxed.”
China has continued to record local cases — around 130 in recent days, after a spate of cases linked to domestic tourists. Parts of Beijing, Inner Mongolia and Gansu Province are under lockdown. Schools and businesses in those areas of Beijing are closed, and organizers of the Beijing Marathon, which had been planned for this weekend, announced on Sunday that it would be indefinitely postponed.
China’s tough stance on loosening Covid restrictions is possible in part because of China’s huge domestic consumer base, which has helped to keep retail spending afloat, and because of the ruling Communist Party’s tight grip on power. The authorities can implement lockdowns and mandate multiple rounds of testing with astonishing efficiency.
In addition, many Chinese are satisfied with the government’s approach. Domestic travel has surged in areas with no cases, and the country’s low death rate — it has officially recorded fewer than 5,000 deaths — has become a source of nationalistic pride, especially at a time when China’s relations with many other countries are growing increasingly fraught.
Xi Jinping, China’s leader, has repeatedly pointed to China’s success in containment as proof of the superiority of its governance model. When Zhang Wenhong, a prominent virologist, suggested this summer that China learn to live with the virus, he was attacked viciously online as a lackey of foreigners.
There is a clear incentive for China to remain closed off, at least in the short term: With Beijing set to host the Winter Olympics in February, officials have acknowledged that they are under pressure to keep cases under control.
Still, the question of sustainability looms. China’s economic growth is slowing. The country’s diplomatic efforts may also suffer from its long isolation; Mr. Xi has not left China or received foreign visitors since early 2020, even as other world leaders prepare to gather in Rome for a Group of 20 summit and in Glasgow for climate talks.
Some officials have started to tentatively broach the idea of loosening restrictions, though without any timelines or firm commitments. Zhong Nanshan, one of the country’s most prominent doctors, told a Chinese magazine this month that China could begin opening up when vaccination rates had exceeded 85 percent, a goal that could potentially be reached this year.
But, he added, there was another caveat: Other countries would also need to get cases under control.
Joy Dong contributed research
After a series of endorsements over the last month by scientific panels advising federal agencies, tens of millions of Americans are now eligible for booster shots of coronavirus vaccines.
But the recommendations — even those approved unanimously — mask significant dissent and disquiet among those advisers about the need for booster shots in the United States.
In interviews last week, several advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to the Food and Drug Administration said data show that, with the exception of adults over age 65, the vast majority of Americans are already well protected against severe illness and do not need booster shots.
All the advisers felt that they were obligated to make difficult choices, based on sparse research, in the middle of a public health emergency. But some said they felt compelled to vote for the shots because of the way the federal agencies framed the questions that they were asked to consider.
Other committee experts said that they wanted to avoid confusing the public further by dissenting, or that they voted according to their views of the evidence and were simply overruled.
After a series of votes, the official position of the F.D.A. and C.D.C. now is that older adults, people with certain medical conditions and those whose jobs or living situations regularly expose them to the virus can opt for a booster dose of any of the three vaccines.
The C.D.C. also advised last week that people in certain high-risk groups who got one type of vaccine could choose a different one for their booster.
In interviews, the experts bemoaned the limited data on the safety and efficacy of the booster shots. Still, some said they felt they had to vote in favor of booster shots of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines because they had already recommended boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and did not want to deny other Americans.
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea announced on Monday that the country had achieved its goal of fully vaccinating 70 percent of its population of about 52 million and would be implementing a phased recovery plan next month.
While Seoul, the capital, has been under the strictest level of social-distancing regulations since the summer, limiting social gatherings to a maximum of two at one point and barring customers from sitting in cafes, regulations were eased starting last week. Last week, South Korea also added five countries to the list of those whose vaccinated tourists will be eligible for quarantine exemptions.
Under the phased recovery plan that starts next Monday, restrictions will loosen further, including allowing gatherings of up to 10 people, lifting restrictions on business operating hours, allowing spectators at some sporting events and allowing the use of showers at fitness centers. The new regulations will be observed for a four-week period, followed by a two-week evaluation term.
While South Korea’s vaccination program had a slow start compared to those in the United States and several countries in Europe and Asia, it quickly picked up its distribution to surpass the United States. The country was a week early in reaching its immunization quota on Saturday.
On Monday, South Korea’s government also said it would donate one million AstraZeneca Covid shots to Iran, in recognition of the 60-year friendship between the two countries. Earlier this month, South Korea donated over a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Vietnam and Thailand.
On Monday, South Korea reported 1,190 daily new cases. According to a database by Our World in Data, the country has seen a 35 percent decrease in cases over the past two weeks. The country has faced four waves of the pandemic since February, with its latest spike starting in July and still ongoing, the worst in terms of case count.
The government also announced a $519 billion budget for 2022 to help recover the pandemic-induced economic fallout. The proposed budget for next year is 8.3 percent higher than this year’s.
“We will do our best to recover both financially and in our daily lives,” Mr. Moon said at the National Assembly.
The singer Ed Sheeran announced Sunday on social media that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and would be canceling public appearances and working at home, in quarantine.
It wasn’t immediately clear what appearances would be canceled or rescheduled, or whether Mr. Sheeran was sick with symptoms of Covid-19.
The news came days before the Friday release of his new album, “=,” pronounced “equals.” The 14-song album includes his recently released single “Bad Habits.”
And it comes just after Mr. Sheeran had been announced as the musical guest for “Saturday Night Live” on Nov. 6.
The four-time Grammy winner took a break from work and social media in late 2019 after two years of touring in support of his best-selling album “÷” (or “divide”).
Ed Sheeran reveals he has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be self-isolating:
“I’m now unable to plough ahead with any in person commitments for now, so i’ll be doing as many of my planned interviews/performances from my house.” pic.twitter.com/7SB8vfAoG7
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) October 24, 2021
Papua New Guinea is facing its highest daily number of new Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began, and the surge threatens to overwhelm the country’s rudimentary health system, the Red Cross said on Monday. Data from global health organizations suggest that the crisis may be far deeper than the story told by official figures.
Since March 2020, the country has reported 27,627 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 335 deaths. Figures from the World Health Organization indicate that the true number of infections may be more than twice that, according to an Agence France-Presse report.
At least 2.6 million people, or more than a quarter of the population of nine million, have visited clinics with symptoms consistent with flu or pneumonia since the pandemic began.
Papua New Guinea’s health services are poorly equipped to deal with a major outbreak. The country has only 500 doctors and fewer than 4,000 nurses, according to Human Rights Watch. With most of the population living outside of urban centers, access to health care is limited.
“Hospitals are full, and patients are being turned away in Port Moresby and provincial areas,” said Uvenama Rova, the top Red Cross official in Papua New Guinea, in a statement. “We are deeply concerned that the risks of hospitalization and death from Covid-19 are skyrocketing due to limited health infrastructure, high rates of illness, all compounded by poor access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation facilities.”
As of Sunday, just 207,207 people in the country had been vaccinated, because of problems with the rollout and a lack of supplies. Intense misinformation and vaccine hesitancy have affected even the country’s health staff: One survey of 130 people working in an emergency department in Port Moresby, the capital, showed 24 percent would refuse a vaccine and 37 percent were unsure, according to A.F.P.
A study of more than 32 million Covid vaccine recipients in England published on Monday found that people given the AstraZeneca vaccine were at slightly increased risk of Guillain–Barré syndrome, a rare but potentially serious neurological condition.
Even so, the coronavirus vaccine posed a far smaller risk of the disorder than did Covid itself, the researchers said.
“The neurological complications of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are much rarer than the neurological complications of Covid-19,” said Dr. Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London.
For every 10 million people who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca shot, the study estimated, 38 additional people would be expected to develop Guillain-Barré syndrome. In comparison, for every 10 million people who contracted the coronavirus, 145 would be expected to develop Guillain-Barré.
Concerns about the syndrome have already prompted regulatory action in Britain and the European Union. The European Medicines Agency said last month that it was “at least a reasonable possibility” that the AstraZeneca vaccine caused Guillain-Barré in very rare instances. And last week, Britain’s medicines regulator added it as a very rare side effect.
Guillain-Barré is a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks nerve cells, potentially causing muscle weakness or paralysis. The symptoms often pass within weeks, but in some cases, the condition can cause permanent nerve damage.
Researchers have reported that the Johnson & Johnson shot may also be associated with a small increased risk of Guillain-Barré. That shot and the AstraZeneca vaccine both rely on a virus known as an adenovirus. The study on Monday said that further studies were needed to assess whether antibodies against the vaccine can react with components of the peripheral nerves to cause Guillain-Barré.
Several European countries have already limited the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine because of an apparent link with other rare but serious clotting disorders. In the United States, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has largely been sidelined amid concerns about the same clotting problems and the wide availability of alternative vaccines.
The new study also found a small increased risk of hemorrhagic strokes — caused by the leaking or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain — after a first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, but scientists cautioned that any association was far from certain. The study said that there was no increased risk evident from a different set of Scottish vaccination data, and scientists noted that the diagnoses in England had not all been verified by stroke experts.
The World Health Organization on Thursday urged countries to do more to protect health care workers, saying that they are increasingly plagued by anxiety, burnout, illness and death on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The agency estimates that 115,500 health care workers around the world died of Covid-19 between January 2020 and May 2021, the middle scenario of its broader estimate of 80,000 to 180,000 deaths during that period.
Speaking at a W.H.O. briefing on Thursday, Annette Kennedy, the president of the International Council of Nurses, said that the world had entered the pandemic with a shortage of nurses and that the problem was only being worsened by the stresses of the pandemic.
“There is another crisis coming down the tracks,” she said, “and that is a shortage of health care workers.”
To combat the problem, the W.H.O. called on governments to strengthen their collection of data on Covid infections and deaths among health care workers and to accelerate the vaccination of those workers.
On average, two in five health care workers had been fully vaccinated by September, according to W.H.O. data from 119 countries, but that included less than one in 10 of health care workers in Africa and the western Pacific region. By contrast, 80 percent of health care workers in 22 mostly high-income countries had been vaccinated.
Ms. Kennedy noted a major problem that women face when working in health care settings: personal protective equipment designed by men. “And yet,” she noted, “90 percent of nurses are women. Seventy percent of all health care workers are women.”
W.H.O. leaders also highlighted inequality in the global distribution of vaccines and called on wealthy nations to lead the charge in addressing the issue.
The agency’s director general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said it had been more than 10 months since the first vaccines were approved and that the lack of vaccinations for millions of health workers was “an indictment on the countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines.”
High- and upper-middle-income countries have administered almost half as many booster shots as the total number of doses administered in low-income countries, he said.
To meet global vaccination goals, Dr. Tedros said, “the barrier is not production. The barriers are politics and profit.”
Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister who is now the W.H.O.’s ambassador for global health financing, said the goal of vaccinating 40 percent of adults around the world by December, which was put forward last month at the Global Covid-19 Summit led by President Biden, had “no chance” of being met without action from wealthy countries.
Mr. Brown said 240 million vaccine doses were lying unused in the West, citing figures from Airfinity, a data research agency. He added that the number of unused doses was projected to reach 600 million by the end of December. A shortfall of 500 million doses in the global South could be alleviated by flying vaccine stockpiles to countries in need and by switching delivery contracts. Up to 100 million doses could pass their use-by dates and end up being destroyed, he said.
Ahead of the Group of 20 summit that starts in Rome on Oct. 30, Western leaders should make a plan to transfer vaccines, Mr. Brown said, and other G20 nations could follow suit.
In a sweeping victory for the Biden administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday endorsed booster shots of the Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines for tens of millions of Americans.
The decision follows an agency endorsement last month of booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and opens the door for many Americans to seek out a booster shot as early as Friday.
The coronavirus vaccines “are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating Delta variant,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the C.D.C. said in a statement on Thursday night.
Her approval brings the country closer to fulfilling President Biden’s promise in August to offer boosters to all adults. The pandemic is now retreating in most parts of the country, but there are still about 75,000 new cases every day, and about 1,500 Covid deaths.
That pledge angered many experts, including some advising the Food and Drug Administration and the C.D.C., who said that scientists had not yet had a chance to determine whether boosters were actually necessary.
Studies showed that the vaccines remained very effective against severe disease and death, although their effectiveness might have waned against milder infections, particularly as the Delta variant spread across the nation this summer.
The purpose of the vaccines is to prevent illness severe enough to require medical attention, not to prevent infection, Dr. Wilbur Chen, an infectious disease physician at the University of Maryland and a member of the C.D.C. panel, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, said during the deliberations on Thursday.
“It might be too much to ask for a vaccine, either a primary series or the booster, to prevent all forms of infections,” Dr. Chen said.
The C.D.C.’s advisers last month tried to narrow the number of Americans who should receive a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, saying that research did not support boosters for people whose jobs exposed them to the coronavirus, as the F.D.A. had indicated.
But in a highly unusual move, Dr. Walensky overturned their decision, aligning the agency’s advice with the criteria laid out by the F.D.A.
On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots for millions of people who received the Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, just as it did for recipients of Pfizer-BioNTech shots last month. The F.D.A. also gave the green light for people eligible for booster shots to get a dose of a different brand.
But in practice, who will get the shots and when depends greatly on the C.D.C.’s final guidance. Though the agency’s recommendations do not bind state and local officials, they hold great sway in the medical community.
On Thursday, members of the C.D.C.’s panel endorsed the so-called mix-and-match strategy, saying people fully immunized with one company’s vaccine should be allowed to receive a different vaccine for their booster shot.
Limited evidence strongly suggests that booster doses of one of the two mRNA vaccines — Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech — more effectively raise antibody levels than a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The committee advised that recipients of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine should receive a booster shot at least two months after their first dose.
Among Americans initially immunized with an mRNA vaccine, adults over 65, adults who are 50 to 65 with certain medical conditions, and those who reside in long-term care settings should receive a single booster dose six months or longer after their second dose, the committee decided.
For adults ages 18 to 49 with certain medical conditions and adults whose jobs regularly expose them to the virus, the panel opted for softer language, saying they may choose to get a booster after considering their individual risk.
The experts emphasized that people who have received two mRNA vaccine doses or a single Johnson & Johnson dose should still consider themselves fully vaccinated. Federal health officials said they would continue to study whether those who had weak immune systems and had already received a third dose of a vaccine should go on to get a fourth dose.
Some advisers were concerned that young and healthy Americans who don’t need a booster might choose to get one anyway. Side effects are uncommon, but in younger Americans they may outweigh the potential benefits of booster doses, the scientists said.
“Those that are not at high risk should really be thoughtful about getting that dose,” said Dr. Helen Talbot, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University.
Booster shots in adults who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were highly effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 breakthrough infections, Pfizer announced on Thursday.
The company said that out of more than 5,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recipients enrolled in its study who received a booster shot, only five later developed symptomatic disease, compared with 109 people among a similar group that received a placebo instead of a booster dose.
The news arrived as an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention debates whether Americans should receive booster shots of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The company claimed the findings came from the first randomized efficacy trial of booster shots. But the results, announced in a news release, have not been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal.
Last month, the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for people 65 and over, people who are at high risk of severe Covid-19, and those who are at elevated risk of exposure because of where they work or live. That decision was based on limited effectiveness data.
The new findings appear to bolster proof that booster shots are highly effective, though the trial participants were only followed for a median period of two and a half months after receiving the booster.
“These important data add to the body of evidence suggesting that a booster dose of our vaccine can help protect a broad population of people from this virus and its variants,” said Dr. Ugur Sahin, founder and chief executive of BioNTech.
The results will be shared with the F.D.A. and its European equivalent, the European Medicines Agency, as well as other international regulatory agencies, according to Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chief executive.
The randomized controlled trial of the booster included more than 10,000 participants aged 16 and older, half of whom received a booster that contains the same amount of vaccine as each of the two primary doses, and half of whom received a placebo.
The booster was given an average of 11 months after the initial regimen, and participants were monitored for symptoms of Covid that developed between a week and 2.5 months after the booster, on average.
Stratified analyses showed the relative efficacy rate of 95.6 percent for the boosters was consistent regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity or chronic medical conditions.
Slightly more than half of the participants were between 16 and 55 years old, and just under one quarter were 65 or older. The companies said that they had not identified any new side effects or safety concerns during the trial.
An advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discussed on Thursday whether Americans would be allowed to switch vaccines when choosing a Covid-19 booster shot.
The panel endorsed the so-called mix-and-match strategy — whether people fully immunized with one company’s vaccine should be allowed to switch to a different one for their booster. Limited evidence strongly suggests that booster doses of one of the two mRNA vaccines — Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech — more effectively raise antibody levels than a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the committee noted.
Below is a rundown of the science behind mixing and matching, and what the future of the strategy may hold.
Immunizations typically consist of two or more doses of the same vaccine.
The Moderna vaccine, for example, is administered in two identical shots of mRNA, separated by four weeks.
A double dose can create much more protection against a disease than a single shot. The first dose causes the immune system’s B cells to make antibodies against a pathogen. Other immune cells, called T cells, develop the ability to recognize and kill infected cells.
The second shot amplifies that response. The B cells and T cells dedicated to fighting the virus multiply into much bigger numbers. They also develop more potent attackers against the enemy.
In recent years, some vaccine researchers have experimented with a switch from one vaccine to another for the second dose.
This mixed strategy is technically known as a heterologous prime boost. One of the first authorized vaccines of this kind for any disease is the Sputnik V vaccine, developed last year by Russian researchers to prevent Covid-19. It uses two different adenoviruses to deliver coronavirus proteins, which the immune system then attacks. The first dose contains an adenovirus called Ad5, and the second contains another, called Ad26.
Different types of vaccines stimulate the immune system in different ways, and switching between two vaccines might give people the best of both worlds.
Experiments on animals have suggested that two different vaccines can build a stronger defense by strengthening different parts of the immune system. In a study published Thursday, French researchers looked at what happened when people switched from a first dose of AstraZeneca to a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech. The mixed vaccines were more effective at protecting against Covid-19 than two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech.
The mix-and-match option could also offer lifesaving flexibility in a world where Covid-19 vaccines remain in desperately short supply. If supplies were to run out before people got a second dose, they could switch to another vaccine and still get a strong immunity to the coronavirus.
The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the use of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which are both delivered in two doses, began showing some loss of effectiveness against infection over the summer, although they both remained strong against hospitalization. (A study published last month found that the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 71 percent effective against hospitalization, compared with 88 percent for Pfizer-BioNTech and 93 percent for Moderna.)
On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized boosters for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and updated the authorizations for all three vaccines to allow mixing and matching of booster doses.
In June, the National Institutes of Health started a study looking at what happens when fully vaccinated people switch to a new vaccine for a booster.
Dr. Kirsten Lyke of the University of Maryland School of Medicine presented the first results of the trial at a F.D.A. meeting last week. The researchers recruited people who had gotten one of the three vaccines authorized in the United States, and then gave them one of the three vaccines as a booster.
Dr. Lyke and her colleagues found that switching boosters raised the level of coronavirus antibodies, no matter which combination people got. And switching to a new booster did not produce any notable side effects.
The results for people who initially received a Johnson & Johnson vaccination were particularly striking.
Those receiving a Johnson & Johnson booster saw antibodies go up just fourfold. Switching to a Pfizer-BioNTech booster raised antibody levels by a factor of 35. A Moderna booster raised them 76-fold.
Dr. Lyke cautioned against drawing hasty conclusions from the results so far.
The researchers hope that by next month they’ll know how well the different boosters increase T cells, not just antibodies. It’s possible that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine will shine in those results. “We’ll get a more rounded picture,” she said.
Over 100 Covid-19 vaccines are now in clinical trials, with even more being tested in animals.
Adam Wheatley, an immunologist at the University of Melbourne in Australia, predicted that some of those new vaccines could prove to be superior boosters. Unlike vaccines made from mRNA or adenoviruses, those from companies like Sanofi-Pasteur and Novavax contain large amounts of viral proteins.
Nicolas Kressmann, a spokesman for Sanofi, said the company was far along in trials of its protein-based vaccine as a booster for people who have already received other vaccines. “Our intention is also to develop our vaccine as a universal booster, able to boost immunity regardless of the vaccination first received,” he said.
MOSCOW — Schools, shops and restaurants in the city of Moscow will close next week, municipal officials said, in one of the tightest lockdowns in the Russian capital since the pandemic began, a measure made necessary by low vaccination rates.
Russia’s coronavirus response, like that of many other countries, has seesawed between strict controls and lax enforcement of mask-wearing and vaccination rules. Russia pivoted again this week toward tighter lockdowns as reports of new cases and Covid-19 deaths climbed.
Reported cases are up 33 percent over the last two weeks, reaching more than 32,400, according to a New York Times database. And on average over the past week, 983 people a day died from the coronavirus; on some days that number exceeded 1,000. Only Russian-made coronavirus vaccines are available in the country, and many people are hesitant to get them. Russia’s vaccination rate of 33 percent of the population is lower than the global average of 37 percent and far behind the rates in most of Europe.
To combat the surge in cases and deaths, President Vladimir V. Putin on Wednesday declared a countrywide “nonworking” week from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7, extending a regular fall holiday by several days. The restrictions the city of Moscow announced on Thursday were even stricter.
Mayor Sergey Sobyanin ordered schools and nonessential businesses to close two days sooner, starting on Oct. 28. He said in a statement posted online that the spread of the virus had gone “by the worst scenario” and that Moscow would soon be setting daily records for new cases.
Early in the pandemic, Moscow locked down more strictly than many Western countries did. Residents were prohibited from leaving their apartments other than to shop at grocery stores or pharmacies, attend medical appointments or walk their dogs.
The city also lifted many restrictions this year before other European countries did on a wide scale, a move that became a point of pride. Mr. Putin contrasted Moscow’s bustling restaurants with the continuing lockdowns abroad.
Over the summer, Moscow imposed, but then dropped, a requirement that patrons be vaccinated to eat in some restaurants or to visit bars. Enforcement of mask-wearing rules in Russia is generally lax.
Canada is rolling out a national standard for vaccination credentials that will be required for domestic and international travel, unifying the country’s patchwork of proof-of-immunization programs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.
The national proof of vaccination standard features a QR code and official logos from the federal government and the recipient’s province or territory. It will be available digitally and in hard copy.
Some of the country’s 10 provinces and its three territories, which are responsible for delivering health care, now offer digital vaccine cards with scannable QR codes and paper copies; others offer paper cards that can be digitized or displayed in phone photos. Regulations about what residents may be asked to present when they enter places like restaurants and movie theaters vary from province to province.
So far, five provinces — Saskatchewan; Ontario; Quebec; Nova Scotia; and Newfoundland and Labrador — as well as the Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories have implemented what will now be the national standard, Mr. Trudeau said, adding that the remaining five provinces were expected to catch up soon.
“We will be picking up the tab for it at the federal level, to ensure that all provinces are able to do it,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters outside the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.
On Oct. 30, Canada is scheduled to begin enforcing requirements that anyone aged 12 or over who travels domestically by air, rail or cruise ship must be fully vaccinated. For a month, proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test will also be accepted, but immigration authorities warn the unvaccinated that “they risk not qualifying for travel as of Nov. 30.”
About 72 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated, according to government figures.
No vaccine is yet authorized in Canada for children under 12, but Mr. Trudeau said on Thursday that Pfizer was seeking regulatory approval to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children aged 5 to 11.
“This is great news,” he said. “I can assure you that Health Canada is going to be examining attentively that submission.”
When the authorization is granted, the Canadian government would be scheduled to receive 2.9 million pediatric doses of the vaccine, Anita Anand, the minister of public services and procurement, said in an emailed statement.
Also Thursday, the government announced it was no longer advising against non-essential travel for fully vaccinated people.
India on Thursday celebrated having administered a billion doses of Covid vaccine, drawing on local manufacturing after devastating early stumbles in its pandemic response.
Still, the country has some way to go in fully vaccinating its population: Just 30 percent of the 900 million people eligible for vaccination in India have received two doses.
The billion-dose milestone represented a turnaround in a vaccination drive that got off to a slow start, as India’s governing party prioritized elections and took up a lax attitude in tackling the virus, continuing to hold crowded political rallies and allowing religious festivals to take place even as cases surged.
“Gratitude to our doctors, nurses and all those who worked to achieve this feat,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter. More than 70 percent of adults have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to government figures. India is administering second doses 12 to 16 weeks after the first.
More than 450,000 people have died from Covid in India, according to government data that many experts say greatly downplays the true toll. India’s second wave earlier this year led to a shortage of medical care, oxygen, and hospital beds.
But the worst of the pandemic seems to be over, with India reporting about 15,000 new cases daily, down from a recorded peak of more than 400,000.
While other countries have struggled to secure enough doses to vaccinate their populations, India’s gigantic vaccination drive was made possible by domestic manufacturing capacity. The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, has supplied more than 80 percent of the doses administered in the country.
The demand for vaccines in India after the devastating second wave was such that the Serum Institute fell short on its commitments to supply vaccines to poorer nations. But as India’s situation stabilizes, vaccine exports from India — seen as crucial to global efforts — have slowly resumed.
The toll of the pandemic on India’s already slowing economy, however, will take years to reverse.
In other news from around the world:
Melbourne, Australia, came out of its 78-day lockdown late on Thursday night, after the state of Victoria passed the milestone of having 70 percent of the eligible population fully inoculated against Covid, though the state’s cases are still spiking. Melbourne has spent more time under heavy virus restrictions than any other in the world, with 262 days in lockdown since March 2020.
Bulgaria, which is struggling with record coronavirus cases and rising deaths and has the lowest vaccination rate of any E.U. nation, began requiring residents to show proof of vaccination to eat at restaurants, attend movie theaters and enter shopping malls starting Thursday. “The situation is critical,” the interim health minister, Dr. Stoycho Katsarov, said in a television interview on Wednesday. “The nation is facing tremendous hardship and most people cannot even reckon the scale of the calamity.”
Several Caribbean countries are reporting significant surges in known coronavirus cases, World Health Organization officials warned on Wednesday. Many Caribbean countries have had difficulty with vaccination efforts, because of both difficulty obtaining doses and widespread public hesitancy. Reports of new cases are up 40 percent over the last week in the Dominican Republic and Barbados, and cases are also rising in Trinidad and Tobago, St. Martin, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla and the Cayman Islands.
Sweden has extended its pause of Moderna’s Covid vaccine for people aged 30 and younger beyond Dec. 1, out of concern over rare heart-related side effects, the country’s public health agency said on Thursday, according to Reuters. The agency also said it would remove the recommendation for testing for those who are fully vaccinated, even if they are displaying symptoms, because the vaccine was so effective at preventing severe disease and the spread of infection.
Singapore extended social curbs for around a month on Wednesday to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Reuters reported, aiming to ease pressure on the health care system amid a spike in infections that thwarted the country’s nascent reopening. The health ministry recorded 18 new Covid deaths on Wednesday, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.
As New York City struggles to revive its economy after the devastation wrought by the pandemic on restaurants, hotels, theaters, tours, souvenir shops and the people who keep them running, one crucial element is still missing: big-spending foreign tourists.
Before the virus, the city was flooded with record numbers of visitors from Europe, Asia and South America. In 2019, they filled hotels, restaurants, Broadway theaters and museums, spending billions and fueling a surge in jobs. While American tourists have returned, the city can’t wait until Nov. 8, when the federal government is opening the country’s borders to vaccinated visitors. New York is preparing its most aggressive campaign in an effort to lure those visitors back in time to salvage, if it can, the end-of-year holiday season.
The city’s tourism agency, NYC & Company, plans to spend $6 million in eight countries on an advertising campaign themed “It’s Time for New York City,” with billboards trumpeting the message: “New York City Is Ready for You.”
Fred Dixon, the chief executive of the agency, said it would take years to regain all the lost tourism, but that the campaign could help. “There is an enormous amount of pent-up demand, and people are anxious to travel again,” he said.
Before the pandemic, tourists spent $47 billion annually and supported more than 280,000 jobs in the city, according to official estimates. About half of that came from international visitors, even though they accounted for just 20 percent of all tourists.
This year, the city’s tourism agency forecasts visitor spending of about $24 billion, half of the 2019 total.
Many New York businesses and workers say their survival depends on the robust return of international tourists.
“We’re hoping the city tries to bring back these international tourists because they’re our lifeline,” said Mohammed Rufai, an immigrant from Ghana who sells tickets in Times Square for a double-decker bus tour of Manhattan. “We need them.”
Mr. Rufai, 45, said he could earn $200 a day before the pandemic, more than 70 percent of it from other parts of the world. He now struggles to make half that.
“You cannot ask people to ride if there are no people here to ask,” he said.
While fully vaccinated Americans can fly to hundreds of cities and towns across the country and 27 European capitals, border rules across Asia remain far stricter than in any other region in the world.
Governments in Asia have promised to reopen their borders because of the improved Covid situation and progress on vaccinations. But they are falling behind the rest of the world. Air travel in August across the region was still 10 percent of what it was two years ago, lagging the rebound in the United States. Travelers must navigate an inconsistent patchwork of border restrictions, visa rules and travel corridors — one likely to continue for months.
Vaccinated travelers from a handful of countries, including Britain and Spain, won’t have to quarantine to visit Singapore. But Ireland and Portugal, which have comparable vaccination rates, didn’t make the list. And visitors from only four places in Asia — Hong Kong, Macau, China and Taiwan — may enter by applying for a special pass.
The list of eligible countries from which tourists can visit Indonesia is longer, with travelers from 19 countries cleared to visit Bali and the Riau Islands. People from India, which has vaccinated about a quarter of its population, are good to travel. But those from Malaysia, which has vaccinated 72 percent, or Singapore, 82 percent, aren’t yet welcome.
And the regulations in the Philippines have led to some confusion. Two tourists were sent back to Singapore after they arrived without the proper visas. They were not aware that the Philippines had only opened travel for business or humanitarian reasons.
Thailand is taking a different approach, requiring visitors not to make any stopovers. Tourists can go to the island of Phuket without quarantining if they arrive on a direct flight, and they can tour other parts of the country after seven days. Quarantine-free arrivals to the rest of Thailand will be open to vaccinated tourists from at least 10 countries starting Nov. 1, the authorities said last week.
South Korea has taken yet another path: Instead of allowing tourists to arrive from particular locations, it has allowed people of certain nationalities to visit without a visa. Tourists of one of 49 nationalities may apply for permission to visit.
But a separate list, based on where travelers arrive from, governs who has to undergo two weeks of quarantine on arrival in South Korea; the authorities are adding five countries to the list of those from which fully vaccinated travelers will not have to quarantine starting next month.
Fully vaccinated people flying in from Malawi, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Zambia and Chile will not be required to isolate for two weeks starting in November. Visitors from 16 nations will still need to quarantine, down from 20 in October.
South Korea also relaxed some social distancing regulations on Monday, after several months in which they have been at the highest level in the capital.
Most other countries in the region, including China and Japan, still require visas for vaccinated foreign travelers. Tourists have yet to get approval to enter.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Israeli health officials announced a plan on Thursday to allow vaccinated tourists to enter the country starting Nov. 1, the first time the country will open its borders to tourism since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since May, Israel has allowed entry only to immediate relatives of Israelis who are vaccinated or have recently recovered from a coronavirus infection, provided they obtain approval from the government. The new plan, which still requires official government approval, comes at a time when infection rates in Israel are steadily declining after a fourth wave.
The country, which had one of the world’s fastest vaccination drives but has now been surpassed by more than 30 countries, is currently leading in booster shot distribution, with some 3.8 million of its 8.8 million people having received a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Israelis lifted domestic restrictions and largely returned to normal in May.
According to the office of the prime minister, tourists who have been fully vaccinated with most internationally recognized vaccines, as well as those who have recovered from Covid-19 within the last six months, will be allowed to enter the country, unless they are from “red” countries with severe outbreaks.
Tourists qualified to enter the country can receive a digital Green Pass, allowing them to enter restaurants, cafes, bars and other indoor places in Israel.
The plan will not allow those vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which is not approved by the World Health Organization, to enter the country yet. Mr. Bennett is mulling postponing their entry until Dec. 1.
The plan came a day before Mr. Bennett was scheduled to meet with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi.
The National Institutes of Health said on Wednesday that a nonprofit group under fire from some congressional Republicans for its research collaborations in China had failed to promptly report findings from studies on how well bat coronaviruses grow in mice.
In a letter to Representative James Comer, Republican of Kentucky, the N.I.H. said that the group, EcoHealth Alliance, had five days to submit all unpublished data from work conducted under a multiyear grant it was given in 2014 for the research. The organization’s grant was canceled in 2020 under President Trump’s administration during his feud with China over the origins of the coronavirus.
In recent months, N.I.H. officials have rejected claims — sometimes in heated exchanges with congressional Republicans — that coronaviruses studied with federal funding might have unleashed the pandemic. Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the N.I.H., released a statement Wednesday night reiterating that rebuttal.
“Naturally occurring bat coronaviruses studied under the N.I.H. grant are genetically far distant from SARS-CoV-2 and could not possibly have caused the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said in the statement. “Any claims to the contrary are demonstrably false.”
EcoHealth Alliance has come under scrutiny because of its collaboration on coronavirus research with researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is situated in the city where the pandemic began.
Robert Kessler, a spokesman for the group, said on Thursday that EcoHealth Alliance was trying to resolve what it described as a “misconception” about its findings with the N.I.H. He said that the group had reported data from its studies “as soon as we were made aware” in April 2018, and that the agency had reviewed the data and never indicated that further reviews were needed.
Some scientists have argued that it’s possible SARS-CoV-2 was the result of genetic engineering experiments or simply escaped from a lab in an accident. But direct evidence for those theories has yet to emerge. Others have deemed those scenarios unlikely, pointing instead to many lines of evidence suggesting that people acquired the coronavirus in a natural spillover from bats or an intermediate mammal host.
The controversy has drawn scrutiny to the experiments that EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology carried out with funding from the N.I.H.
Hilton has announced the rollout of a series of technology updates that will be implemented across the company’s 18 brands, including a digital key that can be used by more than one guest per room.
Hilton’s Digital Key service is currently offered at more than 80% of the company’s properties, and its new Digital Key Share service will roll out at those hotels in the coming months. The new program works via the Hilton Honors smartphone application, and the primary guest will be able to share the digital key with up to four people, who must use the Hilton Honors app to access the key.
The updates also include a new initiative to offer earlier confirmation of loyalty member complimentary room upgrades. Now, eligible Gold and Diamond Hilton Honors members will receive notice of an approved upgrade 72 hours prior to arrival. When room availability allows, the guest will receive an email confirming their upgrade and they can then choose the location of their upgraded room through the app 36 hours prior to arrival.
“We’ve always had our guests at the heart of everything we do, and we continue to listen, evolve and innovate to give them more choice and control over their hotel stay,” Chris Silcock, Hilton’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer said in a statement. “Our approach to technology always starts with the guest experience, and as travel returns, we are pleased to provide Hilton guests with enhancements to their stay that are seamless, flexible and allow them to focus on what matters most: creating new memories.”
Additionally, Hilton recently launched Confirmed Connecting Rooms, which allows guests to instantly confirm at least two connecting rooms at the time of booking. The service is being implemented across the company’s hotels worldwide and is available when booking on Hilton.com or through the Hilton Honors app at participating hotels.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Travel trends are heading in a new direction in 2022 and in a good way!
In this week’s Rising Spotlight, Mann Travels Marketing Director, Roni Fishkin gives an update on travel and talks about some of the reasons why travel is expected to be busy going into the new year.
For more information visit manntravels.com.
As trailed in my Oral Statement on 20 September, as of the 4 October, we have:
- replaced the traffic light system with a single red list and simplified travel measures for
eligible arrivals from the rest of the world based on passengers’ vaccination status
- removed the requirement for eligible fully vaccinated passengers to take a pre-departure
test, providing that they are arriving into England from a non-red list country or territory and
have not been to a red list country or territory in the last 10 days – the Devolved
Administrations have also aligned on this policy
We have also made the following changes in respect of international travel:
Lateral flow devices for arrival tests
From 4am on 24 October, arrivals into England who are considered fully vaccinated, along with most under 18s, who have not been in a red list country in the last 10 days will be able to take a lateral flow test on or before day 2 of their arrival, instead of a PCR test. This change will cut the costs of tests in time for travellers returning from half-term breaks and these tests can be booked from 22 October.
Passengers will need to take a photo of their lateral flow test result and send it back to their
private testing provider for verification. Anyone who tests positive will need to self-isolate and take a free NHS confirmatory PCR test.
Red list review
The government has conducted the first review of the red list under our new and simplified system of international travel. As of 4am on Monday 11 October, 47 countries including South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Thailand were removed from the red list.
Given the success of the vaccination programme in the UK and the latest evidence of variants across the world, including the fact that the Delta variant is now dominant in many countries as it is in the UK, we have been able to significantly reduce the red list. However, we remain concerned about the presence of Mu and Lambda variants in the small number of countries we have kept on the red list. We will keep this list under review.
The following 7 countries and territories now make up the red list:
- Dominican Republic
All passengers arriving into England from a red list country, or those who have been in a red list country or territory in the last 10 days, will have to quarantine at a managed quarantine service facility for 10 days upon their arrival in England.
Expansion of the inbound vaccination policy
As of 4am on Monday 11 October, we also expanded our inbound vaccination policy to include eligible fully vaccinated passengers who have not been in a red list country in the 10 days before their arrival into England, to the below countries:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Hong Kong
- North Macedonia
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
In addition, we have expanded the policy to a further set of countries and territories which were removed from the red list at this review:
- The Philippines
- South Africa
Our inbound vaccination policy now covers over 100 countries and territories, and eligible fully vaccinated passengers will be treated the same as those vaccinated in the UK. Eligible fully vaccinated passengers who have not been in a red list country in the 10 days before their arrival into England will no longer need to take a pre-departure test before their departure, a post-arrival test on day 8 or self-isolate upon their arrival. This now includes UN staff and volunteers vaccinated as part of the United Nations vaccine rollout.
Clinical trial participants
From the end of October, we will also recognise as fully vaccinated people participating in
COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials from countries and territories including Japan, Canada, Australia and the EU, provided they can supply adequate proof of their participation. This is in recognition of their vital work in helping to tackle the virus and builds on the agreements made at the meetings with G7 counterparts that I chaired in May and September this year.
Acceptance of UK pre-departure test certification via the EU Digital COVID Certificate
As of 4am on Monday 11 October, non-vaccinated passengers arriving into England are allowed to present proof of a negative pre-departure test via the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC), in either paper or digital formats.
Changes to FCDO travel advice
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has lifted its advice against all but essential travel for over 80 countries and territories. The change means people will be able to travel to a larger number of destinations with greater ease.
The FCDO will no longer advise against travel to non-red list countries on COVID-19 grounds, except in exceptional circumstances such as if the local healthcare system is overwhelmed. Many travel insurance companies use FCDO travel advice as a reference point in their policies – typically excluding cover for places where government advises against essential travel, however people will now be able to purchase travel insurance for a wider range of destinations across the globe.
The FCDO will continue to advise against all but essential travel for all red list countries and
territories, where the risk to British travellers is ‘unacceptably high’.
Whilst public health is a devolved matter, the government works closely with the devolved
administrations on any changes to international travel and aims to ensure a whole UK approach.