Covid news live: Pfizer says Omicron-specific vaccine could be available in March; President Mexico tests positive again
France relaxes Covid rules for schools as infections rise
France has announced an easing of Covid rules for schools as a record number of cases have closed thousands of classes and raised concerns among parents and teachers.
Prime Minister Jean Castex told France 2 television on Monday that more than 10,000 classes – 2% of the total – had to be canceled due to Covid outbreaks, but that the government would “not close the schools or the country,” reports Agence France-Presse.
France reported more than 125,000 new cases of coronavirus on Monday as the Omicron variant pushes daily infections to record highs.
Under the first change, from Tuesday, parents will no longer be required to immediately pick up their child for Covid testing if it is a contact case of a virus patient.
Home testing is considered sufficient in such cases rather than testing at an officially approved location, where the parents sign a certificate to confirm the result.
The test kits, available at pharmacies, are free.
Castex announced the news on Twitter Monday night, saying:
The school health protocol is simplified: if a positive case is detected in a class, the students can stay there until the end of the day, 3 negative self-tests are enough for contact cases [and] only one parental certificate is needed.”
Hi, it’s Samantha Lock back with you on the blog, ready to walk you through all the Covid news this Tuesday.
Let’s dive right in with the news that Pfizer Inc chief executive Albert Bourlac on Monday said a redesigned Covid-19 vaccine specifically targeting the Omicron variant is likely needed and his company could have one ready to launch by March.
Bourla said Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE are working on both an Omicron-targeted vaccine version and an injection that would contain both the previous vaccine and a vaccine targeting the rapidly spreading variant.
“I think this is the most likely scenario,” Bourla said Monday. “We are working on higher doses. We work with different schedules. We’re doing a lot of things right now, as we speak.”
Bourla said Pfizer could be ready to file US regulatory approval for a redesigned vaccine and launch it as soon as possible in March.
Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also announced that he has tested positive for Covid-19 for the second time and says he has only mild symptoms.
Lopez Obrador, who had tested positive for the virus in January last year, sounded hoarse earlier in the morning during his morning press conference, prompting reporters to question his health.
“Although the symptoms are mild, I will remain isolated and will only do office work and communicate virtually,” Lopez Obrador said in a tweet until I recovered.
Mexico has recorded more than 300,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
Here’s a quick rundown of all the latest headlines:
- Boris JohnsonN was charged Monday night with a “utterly outrageous” breach of lockdown rules as a leaked email showed one of his top officials invited more than 100 Downing Street employees to a “bring your own booze” party during the initial lockdown . The police are now investigating.
- Boris Johnson has ordered officials to investigate plans to shorten Covid isolation to five days England while scientists urged caution due to the lack of evidence to support a change.
- NHS England has struck a deal with private healthcare providers where their hospitals will be ready to treat NHS patients who cannot get the Covid or non-Covid care they need because their local NHS hospital is under too much pressure.
- Pfizer Inc chief executive Albert Bourlac said Monday the move to a redesigned Covid-19 vaccine specifically aimed at combating the Omicron variant is the “most likely scenario”.
- The small number of people in Italy’s Populations refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19 are largely responsible for ongoing health crisis, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Monday.
- In the U.S, a new record has been set for the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19, with 132,646 currently on wards, according to Reuters. The latest figure, which comes as the highly contagious Omicron strain spreads across the country, surpassed the record of 132,051 set in January last year.
- moderna has announced it expects record sales of around $18.5 billion (£13.6 billion) in contracts for its Covid vaccine by 2022.
- Novak Djokovic’s brother reportedly ended a press conference after questions about why the tennis star appeared in public in Belgrade a day after testing positive for Covid-19.
- Emmanuel Macron has condemned protesters in the French overseas territory of Saint Pierre and Miquelon who pelted a member of parliament with seaweed and dirt during a protest against vaccine passes.
- Stricter pandemic measures are introduced in Sweden in response to an increasing number of Covid cases and pressure on hospitals, the prime minister said.
- The Prime Minister of SpainPedro Sánchez has called on European officials to consider scrapping detailed pandemic tracking for Covid in favor of a flu-like monitoring system. The change would mean treating Covid-19 as an “endemic disease” rather than a pandemic, Sanchez said Monday. He pointed out that the number of deaths as a percentage of recorded cases has fallen since the start of the pandemic.