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US To Vaccinate Low-Risk Teens As Covid Rages Globally

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US To Vaccinate Low-Risk Teens As Covid Rages Globally

US has pledged to release up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab (Representational)

Washington:

President Joe Biden wants 70 percent of American adults to have received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine by the July 4 holiday, and has made vaccinating adolescents a key part of the next phase of the country’s immunization campaign.

But targeting US teens is a controversial move among many experts, who argue it is a serious mistake to use the world’s limited supply of doses on a low-risk population while the pandemic surges in countries like India and Brazil.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said in March their two-dose regimen was shown to be safe and highly effective in a trial of 2,260 12-to-15-year-olds.

An emergency use authorization is expected in the coming days, and Biden told White House reporters Tuesday that “if that announcement comes, we are ready to move immediately.”

The president’s address comes as the nation’s immunization campaign is stalling after hitting a peak in early April.

More than 56 percent of adults have received one or more shots, but as the rate of uptake falls, officials are devising new ways to reach vaccine hold-outs.

These will include discounts to shoppers who get vaccinated at grocery stores, promotions for fans at sports stadiums, and more vaccines at rural health clinics, said Biden.

The federal government is also working on a program with pharmacies and pediatricians nationwide to reach the country’s estimated 17 million 12-to-15-year-olds ahead of school reopening in fall.

“Terrible error”

Many experts have, however, voiced concern whether now is the right moment to reach this group as the global situation deteriorates.

The issue of vaccine disparity has been brought into sharp focus by India, which reported 350,000 new cases Tuesday and recorded nearly 3,500 deaths — more than anywhere in the world.

“The overwhelming majority of 15-year-olds, we know are not at high risk of severe complications from COVID,” ER doctor Craig Spencer, director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at Columbia University, told AFP.

“It is absolutely raging around the world and we’re talking about how we’re going to vaccinate an incredibly low-risk population, when the overwhelming majority of health care workers around the world have zero protection,” he said.

Priya Sampathkumar, chair of Infection Prevention & Control at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, added that beyond being an ethics issue, exporting more vaccines was in America’s own best interest.

“Vaccinating more people in the US is not going to help us if the variants in India, Nepal and South Asia get out of control and hit our shores,” she told AFP.

The US has pledged to release up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but the experts believe much more can be done.

“I think if you vaccinate 12-to-15-year-olds in the United States before you vaccinate 70 year olds globally, you’re making a terrible error,” UCSF physician and epidemiologist Vinay Prasad told AFP.

Israel’s experience had shown that it is possible to achieve a “remarkable reduction” in cases without targeting teens, he added.

Low risk

Sampathkumar explained that the main reason to vaccinate teens is to drive down transmission — a goal which she agreed with, though with US cases declining, it is a question of timing.

Statistics show children are at extremely low risk from severe Covid.

In the United States, under-18s have accounted for 277 deaths in total, according to the latest official data, a miniscule fraction of the total of 574,000.

There have been a further 36 deaths from multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a rare but serious post-viral disease.

Still, low risk isn’t no risk, and pediatrician Lee Beers, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, welcomed the arrival of a vaccine for children.

She called vaccinating teens “an important tool in our toolbox for safe return to schools,” saying it may “increase the comfort for many families and school staff.”

Figures aggregated by the data company Burbio shows 67.1 percent of US school students are attending schools in-person, while 29.6 percent are in a “hybrid” set-up combining in-person and remote classes, and 3.3 percent are learning virtually.

But Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins, said that the government’s own research had shown it is entirely possible to reopen schools safely without vaccines.

“It’s just another barrier that’s been falsely erected to stand in the way of returning kids to education,” she stressed.

Nuzzo added global hotspots should be the priority.

“It’s not good for kids in the long run if we just let this virus spread unchecked across the globe,” she said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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All India Parisangh shares image from 2008 to target Modi govt

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On Saturday (May 15), Dalit organisation All India Parisangh (AIP) sparked controversy by taking potshots at the Modi government using a 13-year-old image. The organisation was founded by Dalit activist and Congress leader Udit Raj.

In a tweet, AIP wrote, “Unke ‘Mann ki baat’ kyu sunna, jab Ganga pe terti lasho par bhi khamosh raha.” It loosely translates as “Why should we listen to PM Modi’s monthly radio programme ‘Mann ki Baat’ when he is silent on dead bodies floating in the river Ganga?”. The Dalit organisation shared a picture of a dog mauling a human skeleton, along the banks of a water body. At the time of writing, the image was retweeted 167 times and had 463 likes.

Screengrab of the post by the All India Parisangh

By posting the image, the organisation tried to insinuate that it is a recent image showing the mortal remains of a Covid-19 victim whose last rites were not performed. Reports of bodies of Covid victims floating on Ganga river have emerged in the last few days, and All India Parisangh tried to say the image also shows such an incident.

What is the Truth?

It may be noted that the image posted by All India Parisangh has the watermark of Alarmy on it, an stock image platform. Popular Twitter user ‘Befitting Facts’ pointed out that the stock image from Alarmy dates back to February 20, 2008. The disturbing picture was taken by one Dinodia Photos RM and captioned, “Dog eating dead man on Varanasi ghat, Uttar Pradesh in India.” Given the picture dates back to 2008, it must be remembered that the BJP did not have its government at the Centre nor at the State level. And as such, the unfortunate incident is not the result of PM Modi’s negligence.

Screengrab of the image via Alarmy

Earlier, close to 100 unidentified and decomposed bodies were found floating in the Ganga, sparking fear among the locals in several districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. While 71 bodies were recovered from Bihar’s Buxar district, other 25 bodies were fished from Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district with locals suspecting them to be the bodies of Covid victims.

After Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, in a horrifying video, at least half a dozen corpses were seen floating in the Runj river in the Panna district of Madhya Pradesh. Buxar police suspected the bodies might have floated from the neighbouring Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh. Authorities of both the districts were yet to confirm if the bodies were of Covid victims. As such, All India Parisangh seized the opportunity and shared a 13-year-old picture to blame the Modi government.

All India Parisangh compared Brahmins to pigs last year

Besides fake news, the Dalit organisation has been at the forefront of peddling Anti-Hindu hatred. It has time and again resorted to such vile derogatory casteist hurls targeting Brahmins, and resorted to the anti-Brahmin propaganda by posting an image of a pig wearing ‘Janeu’ – the sacred thread in July last year.

By openly propagating anti-Brahmin sentiments and comparing Brahmins to ‘pigs’, the Parisangh claimed that the Indian judiciary is only comprised of Brahmins. Expressing its contempt for the country’s judiciary, the Dalit organisation claimed that ‘Brahmin’ judges in the Indian courts only recommended fellow people from the community, who were then selected as judges by the third set of Brahmins. The derogatory comments were not only directed at the Brahmins of the country but also an attack on the independence of the judiciary.

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12-Year-Old Among 4 Killed as Slabs Collapse in Ulhasnagar Building, 1 Missing

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Rescue operation at the Ulhasnagar building. (Image: Twitter/ANI)

Rescue operation at the Ulhasnagar building. (Image: Twitter/ANI)

The incident took place in a ground-plus four-storey residential building in camp no 1 around 1.40 pm.

  • News18.com Thane
  • Last Updated:May 15, 2021, 19:16 IST
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At least 4 people were killed after slabs of a residential building collapsed in Ulhasnagar town of Maharashtra’s Thane district on Saturday, Thane Municipal Corporation said. A 12-year-old child is among the four people who lost their lives. According to latest update, one person is still missing.

The incident took place in a ground-plus four-storey residential building in camp no 1 around 1.40 pm, said Santosh Kadam, chief of the regional disaster management cell of the Thane Municipal Corporation.

A slab on the fourth floor came crashing down on other slabs, trapping people in the process, he said. Local firemen rushed to the scene and rescued 11 residents, who were taken to a local hospital for first aid, the official said.

A team from the Thane Disaster Response Force is at the scene to help firemen remove the debris and rescue five others who are trapped, he added.

(With inputs from PTI and ANI)

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IDF says demolished building that housed Al Jazeera was used by Hamas

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The Israel Defense Forces have issued a statement over the demolition of the Al Jalaa Building that housed the offices of Al Jazeera and other international media houses. The IDF has said that the building was being used by Islamic terror group Hamas, making it a valid military target.

The IDF said on social media, “Hamas has turned residential areas in the Gaza Strip into military strongholds. It uses tall buildings in Gaza for multiple military purposes such as intelligence gathering, planning attacks, command and control, and communications.”

Source: Twitter

“When Hamas uses a tall building for military purposes, it becomes a lawful military target,” it added. It stated further, “The Israel Defense Forces struck a number of such buildings in recent days, but before we did so, we took steps to try and ensure that civilians would not be harmed.”

Significantly, the IDF said, “All the multi-story buildings targeted by the IDF were used for military purposes within each building.”

Earlier, Israel had demolished the Al Jalaa building that housed the offices of Al Jazeera and other international media houses. A warning had been provided one hour prior to the demolition. The demolition comes during a phase of heightened tensions between Israel and Palestine.

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