Biden: 60 million Americans eligible for COVID-19 boosters


U.S. President Joe Biden said Friday that around 60 million Americans are eligible for a booster shot against the coronavirus.

Biden urged eligible Americans to get COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, and he said he would get his own shot as soon as possible.

In comments from the White House Friday, Biden said, “Like your first and second shot, the booster shot is free and easily accessible.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday approved the Pfizer boosters for Americans 65 or older, frontline workers such as teachers, health care workers and others whose jobs place them at risk of contracting COVID-19, and those ages 50 to 64 with underlying conditions.

The booster shot will be available for those who received the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago. The White House said Friday 20 million Americans are eligible for the shot immediately, while a total of 60 million Pfizer-shot recipients will be eligible for boosters once they reach the six-month mark.

The European Union’s drug watchdog said Thursday it plans to decide in early October whether to approve a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those over age 16.

Also Friday, two hosts of the popular U.S. ABC-TV daytime show The View were abruptly asked to leave the set during a live broadcast, ahead of a much-anticipated interview with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. Show hosts Sunny Hostin and Ana Navarro had tested positive for COVID-19.

Joy Behar, another host, said, “No matter how hard we try, these things happen, they probably have a breakthrough case. They’ll be OK, I’m sure, because they are both vaccinated up the wazoo.”

Harris had been scheduled to do an interview on the set with the four hosts, but after the positive tests, the first U.S. female vice president did a remote interview with the show’s remaining two hosts – Behar and Sara Haines. Whoopi Goldberg, also a show host, was not on set Friday.

Meanwhile, The Guardian is reporting that schools in England are “struggling” to stay open in the face of student COVID-19 outbreaks.

Some schools have resorted to reinstating restrictions imposed last school year, such as social distancing and mask-wearing.

Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, told The Guardian, “We have seen a significant increase in the number of calls to our advice lines from school leaders asking for support and guidance about how best to manage COVID outbreaks.”

Elsewhere, Norway’s government said Friday it would end all remaining coronavirus restrictions on Saturday.

“It is 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime. … Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told a news conference.

In Australia, health officials announced Friday that more than half the population had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

A wave of coronavirus infections has led to lockdowns in Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, as well as the capital, Canberra.

Health officials in South Korea said Saturday the daily COVID-19 cases in the previous 24-hour period had passed 3,000. Authorities believe a three-day holiday this week may be the source of the recent surge in cases,

Officials said that although cases were spiking, the mortality rate and the number of severe cases remain relatively low. They attributed that in large part to a vaccination campaign that prioritized older people and those who were at high risk for disease.

In Singapore, the health ministry announced it was tightening restrictions to fight a wave of coronavirus infections. The new policies include limiting social gatherings to two people, down from five.

The ministry also reported 1,650 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.

Earlier this week, Singapore said 92% of the population had been fully vaccinated. Officials said about 98% of the confirmed coronavirus cases in the past four weeks were in people who had mild or no symptoms.

Russia reported 828 deaths from COVID-19 in previous 24 hours on Friday, the country’s highest daily number of the pandemic. The toll breaks the record set a day earlier.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Thursday in a video address to the United Nations General Assembly, “It is an indictment on humanity that more than 82% of the world’s vaccine doses have been acquired by wealthy countries, while less than 1% has gone to low-income countries,”

The African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 4% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated.

“The hoarding and inequitable distribution with the resultant uneven vaccination patterns across the globe is not acceptable,” Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said in a prerecorded message to the assembly on Thursday.

“Vaccine nationalism is self-defeating and contrary to the mantra that ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe.’ Whether in the global North or South, rich or poor, old or young, all people of the world deserve access to vaccines.”

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