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US to recommend COVID vaccine boosters 8 months after second dose, sources

Washington: US health experts are expected to recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all Americans, regardless of age, eight months after they received their second dose of the shot.

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US to recommend COVID vaccine boosters 8 months after second dose, sources
US to recommend COVID vaccine boosters 8 months after second dose, sources

As per details, the recommendation is to ensure lasting protection against the coronavirus as the delta variant spreads across the country.

Federal health officials have been actively looking at whether extra shots for the vaccinated would be needed as early as this fall, reviewing case numbers in the U.S. as well as the situation in other countries such as Israel, where preliminary studies suggest the vaccine’s protection against serious illness dropped among those vaccinated in January.

An announcement on the U.S. booster recommendation was expected as soon as this week, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Doses would only begin to be administered widely once the Food and Drug Administration formally approves the vaccines. That action is expected for the Pfizer shot in the coming weeks.

Last week, U.S. health officials recommended boosters for some with weakened immune systems, citing their higher risk of catching the virus and evidence that the vaccines’ effectiveness waned over time.

The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, said Sunday the U.S. could decide in the next couple weeks whether to offer coronavirus booster shots to Americans this fall.

Among the first to receive them could be health care workers, nursing home residents and other older Americans, who were some of the first Americans to be vaccinated once the shots received emergency use authorization last December.

Since then, more than 198 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with more than 168 million fully vaccinated. Still, the country is experiencing a fourth surge of virus cases due to the more transmissible delta variant, which is spreading aggressively through unvaccinated communities but is also responsible for an increasing number of so-called “breakthrough infections” of fully vaccinated people.

Israel, which exclusively administered the Pfizer shot, has been offering a coronavirus booster to people over 60 who were already vaccinated more than five months ago in an effort to control its own surge in cases from the delta variant.

For months, officials had said data still indicated that people remain highly protected from COVID-19, including the delta variant, after receiving the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna regimen or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But U.S. health officials made clear Sunday they are preparing for the possibility that the time for boosters may come sooner than later.

“There is a concern that the vaccine may start to wane in its effectiveness,” Collins said. “And delta is a nasty one for us to try to deal with. The combination of those two means we may need boosters, maybe beginning first with health care providers, as well as people in nursing homes, and then gradually moving forward” with others, such as older Americans who were among the first to get vaccinations.

He said because the delta variant only started hitting the U.S. hard in July, the “next couple of weeks” of case data will help the U.S. make a decision.

Officials were continuing to collect information as well about the J&J vaccine, which was only approved in the U.S. in late February, to determine when to recommend boosters, one of the officials said.

The White House has said that even though the U.S. has begun sharing more than 110 million vaccine doses with the world, the nation has enough domestic supply to deliver boosters to Americans should they be recommended by health officials.

Global health officials, including the World Health Organization, have called on wealthier and more-vaccinated countries to hold off on booster shots to ensure the supply of first doses for people in the developing world.

SOURCE: AP

Pakistan

President urges youth to participate in monsoon plantation drive to cope with climate change

"Pakistan was the eighth country most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change"

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President urges youth to participate in monsoon plantation drive to cope with climate change

Islamabad: President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday called for concerted efforts by all segments of society to carry out extensive plantations in a bid to save the country from the horrendous effects of climate change.

In his message on the launch of the national monsoon tree plantation drive, he urged every citizen, particularly youth, to actively participate in the campaign by planting trees in residential areas, on roadsides, and near industrial zones.

President Alvi said Pakistan was the eighth country most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change.

He mentioned that rising mercury levels were resulting in glacier melting and urban flooding.

During the last 19 years, he said, Pakistan suffered around 173 incidents related to climate change besides the massive destruction this year as well.

The president said as per international standards, a country required 25 percent forest cover, however, pointed out that Pakistan only had 4.8 percent of the green area according to a World Bank report.

He emphasized carrying out plantation at a large scale across the country and mentioned the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami as the largest such plantation project in the country’s history.

Under the project, he said, 1.81 billion trees had been planted by June 2022. By 2023, around 3.29 billion trees will be planted.

President Alvi said 10,000 saplings were planted in the premises of the Aiwan-e-Sadr in 2021, while a Miyawaki forest was also raised at an area of 1.5 acres under the Green Presidency Initiative.

He expressed confidence that an increase in forest cover would help mitigate the effects of climate change in the country and would also control urban flooding.

Also, the extensive plantation would result in the preservation of wildlife and flora and fauna in the country, he added.

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Pakistan

New aircraft being inducted into PIA to improve performance, Senate told

The house will now meet tomorrow at 10:30 am.

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New aircraft being inducted into PIA to improve performance, Senate told

Islamabad: Minister for Aviation Khawaja Saad Rafique says new aircraft are being inducted into the PIA to improve its performance.

Speaking in the Senate on Thursday, he said there is no proposal under consideration to sell out the assets of the national flag carrier.

Saad Rafique said it is our effort to operationalize this year about three hundred rooms of Hotel Roosevelt. He said we want to enter into a joint venture for the complete revival of this hotel which will help bring revenue to the country.

The Minister for Railways and Aviation said one hundred and thirty four kilometers rail track of the Sibi-Harnai-Khost section has been completed. He said we have to install a bridge on this section. However, operationalization of this section is linked with the security situation.

Minister of State for Law Shahadat Awan assured the house during question hour that the present government has initiated strict action against illegal housing societies.

He said those who hoodwinked the masses will not be spared and they will land in prisons.He said cases of illegal housing societies are before the NAB and FIA. He said a campaign has also been started to create awareness amongst masses about these illegal housing societies.

The Minister of State told the house that Pakistanis enjoy visa free access to forty six countries. He said efforts are afoot to further improve the image of Pakistan in the world.

Shahadat Awan further informed that the Korang Bridge project on Islamabad Expressway will be completed by the end of this year.

Minister of State for Law said the contract for the project was awarded in September 2020. However, the contractor slow down work on the project due to price escalation in construction material. He said the contract has now been assigned to Frontier Works Organization.

Responding to another question, the Minister of State for Law said beggary has been reduced to a great extent in the federal capital territory. He said two anti-beggary squads have been established to apprehend the beggars. He said the patrolling system within Islamabad has been revamped and SHOs of all the police stations have been strictly directed to utilize their mobiles as well as staff from Rescue 15 to curb this menace.

Shahadat Awan said action has also been taken against the gang leaders of beggars. Cases have been registered against them and they have also been sentenced.

The Minister of State said the government has also established shelter homes in the federal capital for the poor and needy people. He said there are also centers for rehabilitation of women and children.

Responding to points raised by the opposition leader Shahzad Wasim, Leader of House in the Senate Azam Nazeer Tarar said it was the PTI government which victimized political opponents during its tenure. He said a case was registered against Shehbaz Gill as per the law for inciting mutiny in a state institution.

Assuring there will be no custodial torture of the PTI leader, he, however said nobody can be allowed to escape investigation and that the law will take its course in the case.

The house will now meet tomorrow at 10:30 am.

 

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Pakistan

PM directs to speed-up relief operations in flood-affected areas immediately

"50000 rupees should be provided immediately to each victim's family"

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PM directs to speed-up relief operations in flood-affected areas immediately

Islamabad: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has directed NDMA, PDMA, and the provincial government to speed up relief operations in the flood-affected areas immediately.

According to PM Office, Shehbaz Sharif said the first priority in a flood situation is the rescue of the affected people and their immediate assistance.

He also directed that 50000 rupees should be provided immediately to each victim's family.

The Prime Minister directed for immediate provision of accommodation, medical facilities, food, and clean drinking water to the victims.

He expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives and properties due to floods in southern Sindh.

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