Covid-19 Live Updates: Vaccine for Children May Not Arrive Before Next School Year

A Covid-19 vaccine for children may not arrive before fall 2021.

The pandemic has many parents asking two questions. First, when can I get a vaccine? And second, when can my kids get it? The answers are not the same: Adults may be able to get a vaccine by next summer, but their children will have to wait longer. Perhaps a lot longer.

Thanks to the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed and other programs, a number of Covid-19 vaccines for adults are already in advanced clinical trials. But no trials have yet begun in the United States to determine whether these vaccines are safe and effective for children.

“Right now I’m pretty worried that we won’t have a vaccine available for kids by the start of next school year,” said Dr. Evan Anderson, a pediatrician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and a professor at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Many vaccines — including ones for measles, polio, and tetanus — were designed from the outset to be given to children. In such cases, vaccine developers would typically start with trials in adults to check for significant safety issues.

Only if researchers discovered no serious side effects would they start testing them in children, often beginning with teenagers, then working their way down to younger ages. Vaccine developers are keenly aware that children are not simply miniature adults. Their biology is different in ways that may affect the way vaccines work.

These trials allow vaccine developers to adjust the dose to achieve the best immune protection with the lowest risk of side effects. This process has proved safe and tremendously successful.

When the pandemic hit, some vaccine makers figured out how to combine phases, gathering more data in the same period of time. The result has been a swift march toward a vaccine. Just nine months into the pandemic, dozens of Covid-19 vaccines have reached clinical trials.

Dr. Anderson said that vaccine makers could have started running trials for children over the summer, as soon as they had gotten good Phase 2 results from adults. But that did not happen, and whenever those trials do start, it could take upward of a year to get vaccines ready for children.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain plans to impose new restrictions on nightlife, including the early closure of pubs and restaurants in England, as he ramps up the country’s efforts to curb a rising tide of coronavirus infections.

Pubs and restaurants will be restricted by law to offering table service only and must close at 10 p.m., beginning on Thursday, Downing Street said late on Monday; ordinarily, there is no mandatory closing time, though many close at 11 p.m. The new rules are the most stringent since restaurants, pubs and many other businesses were allowed to emerge from full lockdown in July.

And, after pushing hard for workers to return to the office over the summer, the British government is now encouraging people to work from home. “If we can encourage people to work from home, we will, but if people need to be in the office, we will work to make it as safe as possible,” Michael Gove, a senior cabinet minister official, said on Tuesday.

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Mr. Johnson was scheduled to officially announce his latest moves in Parliament on Tuesday before making a broadcast address in the evening. The intervention comes after days of speculation that Britons could face tougher enforcement of existing rules, new curbs on different households meeting up with each other and shorter opening hours for pubs and restaurants.

The restrictions imposed by the central government apply only to England; Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own policies, which have followed a similar pattern.

Tighter restrictions are already in place in some parts of the country, and the virus alert rating was raised on Monday to Level 4, signifying that the virus is in general circulation, with transmission high or rising exponentially.

Like much of Europe, Britain is firmly in the grip of a second wave of the pandemic. Confirmed new infections fell from more than 5,000 a day in April and May to about 600 in early July, but have rebounded to about 3,600.

An Iowa school district that had openly defied the state’s Republican governor by teaching remotely decided on Monday to begin moving toward a hybrid of in-person and online learning, starting next month.

But the district has still not decided what level of coronavirus prevalence in the community would force it to send students home.

The dispute between the Des Moines Independent Community School District and Gov. Kim Reynolds is a stark example of tension between Republican state officials, who have followed President Trump’s lead on education policy, and local administrators, often in Democratic-leaning cities, who fear that in-person instruction is too much of a public health risk.

Ms. Reynolds has said she is prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable students, and the state’s Education Department has threatened to require Des Moines to extend its school year — at a cost of about $1.5 million a day — if it does not comply with state regulations.

But the local school board has argued that the high caseload in Polk County, which includes Des Moines, makes it unsafe to hold in-person classes.

Of the more than 80,000 coronavirus cases in Iowa, Polk has more than 15,000, the most of any county in the state by far, according to a New York Times database.

The Des Moines school board on Monday voted 6 to 1 to start phasing in a “hybrid return to learn” plan. Preschool students will begin returning on Oct. 12, followed by elementary, middle and then high school students by Nov. 10, the Des Moines Register reported.

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However, the board delayed setting an infection rate that would force the district to revert to remote learning, deciding instead to invite public health issues to provide guidance on the subject at a subsequent meeting. That means the planned return to class could still be delayed.

Iowa officials have said that 15 percent of a county’s coronavirus tests must be positive over a two-week period before its schools can close their doors — a threshold that is at least triple what many public health experts have recommended. The rules also say that districts in counties that remain below 15 percent must offer at least 50 percent of their classes in person.

In two weeks across late August and early September, Polk County had an average positivity rate of about 8 percent.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand has apologized after being photographed with supporters without social distancing or masks last week while on the campaign trail, drawing criticism from the public and opposition politicians.

Ms. Ardern, who on Monday announced an easing of coronavirus restrictions across the country, said that she had “made a mistake” by standing close to workers while touring a construction site at Palmerston North, a city on the North Island of New Zealand. She also took a selfie with a group of students who were huddled together without masks.

David Seymour, an opposition politician, criticized Ms. Ardern on Twitter for what he described as “self-serving” behavior on the campaign trail. Judith Collins, the leader of the National Party and Ms. Ardern’s main challenger in the upcoming election, said she was “staggered” by the prime minister’s choices. On Tuesday, Ms. Collins and Ms. Ardern will engage in the first of four debates ahead of the election, which will be held Oct 17.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Ms. Ardern apologized, saying she had worked hard through her campaign trail not to shake people’s hands. “I sanitize, I wear my mask in Auckland. And I work hard to try and keep my social distance,” she said.

“I should have stepped further forward,” she added, acknowledging that it could be difficult to refrain from shaking hands in “those awkward moments.”

After a virus outbreak in Auckland and a resulting lockdown last month, New Zealand has again begun easing restrictions. While masks are not mandatory in public, they are compulsory on public transportation in Auckland and are recommended across the rest of the country.

In other news around the world:

  • Mexico has surpassed 700,000 confirmed cases of the virus. The country, which has the world’s seventh-highest caseload, has also recorded 73,697 deaths, according to a New York Times database. The seven-day average for daily cases in the country is above 4,000, but those numbers have been in decline.

  • South Korea on Tuesday suspended a plan to provide free flu shots for about 19 million people, amid reports of problems with storing some of the vaccines during transport. The number of newly confirmed cases in the country, which is battling a second wave of infections, has stayed below 100 for the past three days. But millions are set to travel domestically next week to celebrate a five-day holiday.

  • Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands had a blunt piece of advice after soccer fans ignored virus restrictions and yelled and sang at a stadium during a game over the weekend: “Just shut up when you’re sitting there. No yelling.” The prime minister later told a Dutch broadcaster that he should have said “be quiet” instead but that “the message remains unchanged.”

  • A Formula 1 Grand Prix Race will be held in front of 20,000 spectators next month outside Cologne, in western Germany, the organizer announced on Monday after securing permission from the local health authorities. The venue, the Nürburgring, usually holds at least five times as many fans, but seating will be limited because of the pandemic.

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‘A complete washout’: Some New York City hotels begin closing their doors for good.

Many of New York City’s biggest hotels closed their doors in March when the coronavirus wiped out tourism and business travel. The shutdowns were supposed to be temporary, but six months later, with no potential influx of visitors in sight, a wave of permanent closures has begun.

In the past two weeks, the 478-room Hilton Times Square and two Courtyard by Marriott hotels in Manhattan said they would not reopen, joining several others that had already closed for good, including the 399-room Omni Berkshire Place in Midtown.

All told, more than 25,000 hotel employees have been out of work for more than six months, making the industry one of the hardest hit in the city and emblematic of the challenges New York faces as it tries to recover.

Financial experts say they expect the pace of hotel failures to accelerate as lenders lose patience half a year into the pandemic.

“The fall is really in New York the strongest season of the year for hotels,” said Douglas Hercher, the managing director of Robert Douglas, an investment banking firm that specializes in hotels. “It kicks off with the United Nations General Assembly, conventions, the holidays, the Rockettes. That whole season is basically going to be a wipeout.”

Vijay Dandapani, the president of the Hotel Association of New York City, which represents 300 of the city’s hotels, was equally glum about the industry’s prospects.

“The year’s a washout,” he said in an interview.

Mr. Dandapani said in late summer as few as 7 percent of the roughly 120,000 hotel rooms in the city were filled with traditional guests.

Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Stephen Castle, Mike Ives, Patrick McGeehan, Claire Moses, Anna Schaverien, Christopher F. Schuetze and Carl Zimmer.

Source NY Times

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