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COVID-19

WHO, Global Leaders Call for ‘Pandemic Treaty’

There were few details to explain how such an agreement might actually compel countries to act more cooperatively

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and global leaders such as Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Italian Premier Mario Draghi were among over 20 “heads of government and global agencies” looking to form a ‘pandemic treaty.’ In a “commentary published Tuesday for an international treaty for pandemic preparedness that they say will protect future generations in the wake of COVID-19” reports the Associated Press.

However, “there were few details to explain how such an agreement might actually compel countries to act more cooperatively,” writes the AP. The proposal called for “a renewed collective commitment’ to reinforce preparedness and response systems by leveraging the U.N. health agency’s constitution.”

In a news conference, Tedros stated, “the world cannot afford to wait until the pandemic is over to start planning for the next one.” He said a treaty would provide “a framework for international cooperation and solidarity” and address issues like surveillance systems and responding to outbreaks” reports the AP.

The Associated Press writes that although international regulations governing health by WHO already exists, it “can be disregarded by countries with few consequences.” For example, “despite an obligation for nations to share critical epidemic data and materials quickly with WHO…China declined to do so when the coronavirus first broke out.”

An AP investigation last year found WHO officials “had little means of compelling them to share details.” WHO’s principal legal officer Steven Solomon said a pandemic treaty would need to be ratified by lawmakers in participating countries. Solomon added, “specifics about enforcement will be up to member states to decide on” which may account for the vague plans on how to get countries to abide and cooperate.

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COVID-19

Biden Admin Announces First COVID Shots For Kids Under 5 Likely By June 21

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Covid-19 vaccination record card with syringe and vial

On Thursday, the Biden administration announced that children under 5 will be able to get their first COVID-19 vaccination doses as soon as June 21, if regulators authorize the shots for this age group as expected.

According to the Associated Press, White House COVID-19 coordinator Ashish Jha “said the Food and Drug Administration’s outside panel of advisers will meet on June 14-15 to evaluate the Pfizer and Moderna shots for younger kids. Shipments to doctors’ offices and pediatric care facilities would begin soon after FDA authorization, with the first shots possible the following week.”

Jha added that states can begin placing orders for the pediatric vaccines on Friday and the administration will initially have 10 million doses available.

“Our expectation is that within weeks every parent who wants their child to get vaccinated will be able to get an appointment,” Jha said. “At the end of the day we all want to move fast, but we’ve got to get it right.”

The news comes the week after Pfizer announced that three doses of their vaccine offers strong protection against COVID-19 in children under 5.  However, according to former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a third dose is unnecessary because the vaccines do not prevent infection.

“I think the decision matrix has changed around the vaccine for [ages] 6 months to 4 years old and so far as we know that the vaccine isn’t as protective at preventing infection,” Gottlieb said. “Previously, we had data showing that the childhood vaccine for 6 months to 4 years wasn’t as protective against infection as the adult vaccine.”

“That’s the reason why they pushed it out and asked for that third dose. But now, if the goal of the vaccine is to get baseline immunity in the kids to prevent really bad outcomes, and you’re really not using the vaccine as a tool to prevent infection in the first place, two doses could do that,” he added.

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COVID-19

Kamala Harris Tests Positive For COVID-19

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Kamala Harris

On Tuesday, the White House announced that Vice President Kamala Harris has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not currently showing symptoms.

“Today, Vice President Harris tested positive for COVID-19 on rapid and PCR tests,” said Kirsten Allen, press secretary to the vice president. “She has exhibited no symptoms, will isolate and continue to work from the Vice President’s residence. She has not been a close contact to the President or First Lady due to their respective recent travel schedules. She will follow CDC guidelines and the advice of her physicians. The Vice President will return to the White House when she tests negative.”

Harris wrote on Twitter that she was going to continue to isolate and is showing no symptoms.

“Today I tested positive for COVID-19. I have no symptoms, and I will continue to isolate and follow CDC guidelines. I’m grateful to be both vaccinated and boosted,” Harris tweeted.

Harris last reportedly saw President Biden at the Easter Egg Roll on April 18 before leaving for California, which she returned from on April 25.

The vice president has been vaccinated against COVID-19 and has received two booster shots, receiving the second booster on April 1.

“Yesterday I received my second COVID-19 booster shot,” Harris tweeted on April 2. “We know that getting vaccinated is the best form of protection from this virus and boosters are critical in providing an additional level of protection. If you haven’t received your first booster—do it today.”

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