France jabs children as variant surges

Published December 23, 2021
A medical worker administers a dose of a coronavirus vaccine to a child at a vaccination centre in Les Pavillons-sous-Bois, near Paris, France, December 18. — Reuters
A medical worker administers a dose of a coronavirus vaccine to a child at a vaccination centre in Les Pavillons-sous-Bois, near Paris, France, December 18. — Reuters

PARIS: France started vaccinating children over five and China plunged a city into a strict lockdown on Wednesday as governments scramble to contain fresh virus surges driven by the Omicron variant.

The UK meanwhile approved Pfizer’s jab for children aged five and up, while the World Health Organisation warned that getting booster shots did not mean tossing aside safety measures at end-of-year celebrations. The threat of the highly-mutated Omicron variant is looming large over the holidays, prompting governments to roll out new restrictions and urge citizens to get vaccinated.

The latest data suggests Omicron does not cause more severe illness than previous variants, including Delta, but scientists warn it could cause more deaths if soaring infection numbers overwhelm health systems.

France on Wednesday opened vaccinations to children aged between five and 11, as it warned daily infections rates could hit 100,000 by year-end up from a weekly average of 54,000 daily cases. “There is one certainty. Omicron is very contagious, it will spread, and no country will be spared,” Health Minister Olivier Veran, emphasising that vaccines have an effect on the variant.

The UK is also seeing an alarming rise in new cases and on Wednesday appro­ved Pfizer’s Covid jab for kids aged five to 11. The country clocked another daily new cases record of 106,122 as it announced it would buy millions of Covid pills.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2021

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