Covid news live: Pfizer says Omicron-specific vaccine could be available by March; Mexico president tests positive again

LIVE – Updated at 01:37

Pfizer chief says a redesigned Covid vaccine is likely needed and plans for manufacture are in the works; Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador contracts Covid for the second time, reporting only light symptoms.

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Pfizer to make Omicron-specific vaccine

Pfizer Inc chief executive Albert Bourla on Monday said a redesigned Covid-19 vaccine that specifically targets 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 as well as a shot that would include both the previous vaccine as well as one targeted at the fast-spreading variant.

“I think it is the most likely scenario,” Bourla said on Monday. “We’re working on higher doses. We’re working different schedules. We’re doing a lot of things right now, as we speak.”

Bourla said Pfizer could be ready to file for US regulatory approval for a redesigned vaccine and launch it as soon as March and with so much manufacturing capacity for the vaccine it would not be a problem to switch immediately.

The vaccine could be ready to distribute by June, Bourla added in an interview with CNBC.

This vaccine will be ready in March.

We [are] already starting manufacturing some of these quantities at risk.

The hope is that we will achieve something that will have way, way better protection particularly against infections, because the protection against the hospitalisations and the severe disease – it is reasonable right now, with the current vaccines as long as you are having let’s say the third dose.”

France eases Covid rules for schools as infections soar

France has announced an easing of Covid rules for schools as record-high case numbers shut down thousands of classes and sparked concern 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 cancelled because of Covid outbreaks, but that the government would not “shut down the schools or the country”, Agence France-Presse reports.

France on Monday reported more than 125,000 new coronavirus cases as the Omicron variant drives up daily infections to record highs.



Students head back to class in Nice as France announces an easing of Covid rules for schools. Photograph: SYSPEO/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock


© Provided by The Guardian
Students head back to class in Nice as France announces an easing of Covid rules for schools. Photograph: SYSPEO/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

Under the first change, from Tuesday, parents will no longer be obliged to pick up their child immediately for Covid testing if he or she is a contact case of a virus sufferer.

Home-testing will be deemed sufficient in such cases rather than testing at an officially approved site, with the parents signing a certificate to confirm the result.

The test kits, available from pharmacies, will be free.

Castex announced the news on Twitter on Monday evening, saying:

The school health protocol will be 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 will suffice for contact cases [and] only one parental certificate will be necessary.”

 

Hello it’s Samantha Lock back with you on the blog, ready to take you through all the Covid news this Tuesday.

Let’s dive right in with the news that Pfizer Inc chief executive Albert Bourla on Monday said a redesigned Covid-19 vaccine that specifically targets 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 as well as a shot that would include both the previous vaccine as well as one targeted at the fast-spreading variant.

“I think it is the most likely scenario,” Bourla said on Monday. “We’re working on higher doses. We’re working different schedules. We’re doing a lot of things right now, as we speak.”

Bourla said Pfizer could be ready to file for US regulatory approval for a redesigned vaccine and launch it as soon as March.

Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also announced he has tested positive for Covid-19 for a second time, saying that he only has light symptoms.

Lopez Obrador, who had tested positive for the virus in January last year, sounded hoarse in his morning press conference earlier in the day, prompting reporters to inquire about his health.

“Although the symptoms are mild, I will remain in isolation and will only do office work and communicate virtually,” until recovering, Lopez Obrador said in a tweet.

Mexico has recorded more than 300,000 deaths since the pandemic began, according to health ministry data.

Here’s a quick rundown of all the latest headlines:

  • Boris Johnson was accused on Monday night of an “utterly outrageous” breach of lockdown rules as a leaked email showed one of his top officials invited more than 100 Downing Street staff to a “bring your own booze” party during the first lockdown. The police are now investigating.
  • Boris Johnson has ordered officials to examine plans to cut Covid isolation to five days in England as scientists urged caution over the lack of evidence to support a change.
  • NHS England has struck a deal with private healthcare providers under which their hospitals will be ready to start treating 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 Bourla said on Monday that moving toward a redesigned Covid-19 vaccine that is specifically targeted to combat the Omicron variant is the “most likely scenario.”
  • The small number of people in Italy’s population who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19 are largely responsible for the continued health crisis, prime minister Mario Draghi said on Monday.
  • In the US, a new record has been set for the number of people admitted to hospital 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 about $18.5bn (£13.6bn) in contracts for its Covid vaccine in 2022.
  • Novak Djokovic’s brother reportedly ended a press conference after questions about why the tennis ace appeared in public in Belgrade a day after he had tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Emmanuel Macron has condemned protesters on the French overseas territory of Saint Pierre and Miquelon who pelted an MP with seaweed and dirt during a protest against vaccine passes.
  • Stricter pandemic measures are to be introduced in Sweden in response to a rising number of Covid cases and pressure on hospitals, the prime minister has said.
  • The prime minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, has called for European officials to consider ditching detailed pandemic tracking for Covid in favour of a flu-like monitoring system. The change would mean treating Covid-19 as an “endemic illness” rather than a pandemic, Sánchez said on Monday. He pointed out that deaths as a proportion of recorded cases has fallen since the pandemic began.

Source: Thanks msn.com