Health & Fitness

Covid-19 Dwell Updates: Youngsters Will Need to Await a Vaccine

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.

These trials come in three phases, going from small to large. Phase 1 and 2 trials let vaccine developers figure out which dose will likely be safest, while also delivering the best immune protection. Phase 3 trials, the last stage in vaccine testing, are carried out on thousands or tens of thousands of volunteers. It’s during these studies that scientists can get clear evidence that a vaccine protects people from a disease. They can also reveal side effects that were missed by smaller studies.

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 on Tuesday announced new virus-related restrictions and said that the country had reached a “perilous turning point” in the pandemic.

“This is the moment when we must act,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement in Parliament, as he announced new measures designed to save “lives and livelihoods” that could stay in place for the next six months.

Greater penalties for breaking virus restrictions in England will be introduced, and Mr. Johnson promised mask-wearing rules would be more strongly enforced. He also announced new restrictions on nightlife and encouraged people to work from home, ramping up the country’s efforts to curb a rising tide of confirmed cases.

Pubs and restaurants will be restricted to offering table service only and must close at 10 p.m., beginning on Thursday, Downing Street revealed on Monday night; 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.

After pushing hard for workers to return to the office over the summer, the British government is now encouraging people to work from home. For workers who cannot do their jobs from home, Mr. Johnson said rules on making workplaces “Covid-secure” would become a legal obligation.

Mr. Johnson also announced that fines for failing to wear a mask or for meeting more than six people would double to 200 pounds (about $260). Repeat offenders can currently be fined up to 3,200 pounds (not 10,000 pounds as an earlier version of this post said). Staff in retail and indoor hospitality, as well as passengers in taxis and for-hire vehicles, will also now be required to wear masks.

Wedding ceremonies and receptions will be downsized to a maximum of 15 people starting Monday, adult indoor sports teams will be restricted to six people, and a partial reopening of sports stadiums expected for the beginning of October was postponed.

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.

Britain’s opposition leader, Keir Starmer, took aim on Tuesday at Mr. Johnson’s handling of the crisis, denouncing him as “just not up to the job” and saying that a second national lockdown would be a “sign of government failure.”

In his first major address since becoming the leader of Labour Party in April, Mr. Starmer said, “It makes me angry that, just when the country needs leadership, we get serial incompetence.”

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 Britain reported 4,368 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, according to a New York Times database.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin offered an upbeat view of the economic recovery on Tuesday, calling it the fastest rebound from any crisis in American history. Yet he acknowledged that more than half of the jobs that had been lost as a result of the pandemic had yet to be restored.

Mr. Mnuchin and Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, projected optimism as they testified Tuesday before the House Financial Services Committee. But Mr. Powell made clear that many of those gains were predicated on strong fiscal support, including additional jobless benefits and stimulus checks — economic support that has largely run out and that lawmakers show little indication of being able to agree on another package.

Mr. Powell told Congress that the economy had made meaningful progress but that the outlook was uncertain and policymakers will need to do more to help the millions of Americans who are out of work.

Mr. Mnuchin projected “tremendous” economic growth in the third quarter, noting increases in business activity, manufacturing and the housing market. He said that the 8.4 percent jobless rate was a “notable achievement” considering his own projections earlier this year that unemployment could hit 25 percent.

Nonetheless, Mr. Mnuchin said that more stimulus was needed and that he would continue working with Congress to strike a deal.

“The President and I remain committed to providing support for American workers and businesses,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “I believe a targeted package is still needed, and the administration is ready to reach a bipartisan agreement.”

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.

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.

Russia has reported a sharp rise in the number of new cases, with Moscow the epicenter of a nationwide spike in infections.

Official figures released on Tuesday showed 6,215 new cases over the previous 24 hours — a marked increase from the start of the month and the highest number of daily cases since mid-July. Of those, 980 were reported in Moscow.

Despite the increase, Russia still has far fewer new cases each day than Spain or France, smaller countries where the seven-day average of new cases was around 10,000 in each country on Monday. Russia’s average of new daily cases over the past seven days was 5,801 on Monday, or four cases per 100,000 people, according to a Times database.

Russia lifted draconian restrictions in June to allow the holding of a huge military parade in Red Square and a vote on constitutional amendments that would allow President Vladimir V. Putin to remain in office until 2036.

Only in recent weeks, however, has the number of new cases begun to climb rapidly, particularly in Moscow. Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, insisted over the weekend that there was no cause for alarm, saying that the spike was primarily because of increased testing. Moscow now carries out 66,000 tests each day, he said.

Russia, the world’s fourth hardest-hit country, has reported a total of 1.1 million cases, far behind the 6.8 million cases recorded in the United States.

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 virus 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.

The German state of Bavaria announced new rules on Tuesday to try to stem an increasing number of coronavirus cases, a day after the region’s capital, Munich, also set new lockdown rules. The new restrictions in Bavaria prohibit more than five people or two families from meeting and force pubs and restaurants to close at 11 p.m. in areas that registered more than 50 new infections per 100,000 citizens within seven days. It also makes masks obligatory and forbids public alcohol consumption in specified crowded public outdoor spaces in those districts. Only two municipalities — Munich and Würzburg — are currently over the threshold that requires the rules to go into effect, but another town, Bad Königshofen, was forced to close all its schools and day-care centers after the virus spread during a local wedding. Bavaria, which is both the largest and the most affected state in Germany, registered new 412 cases yesterday, according to the German health officials.

Sixteen more residential areas in Madrid exceeded the infection rate criteria to return to lockdown restrictions, government data showed Tuesday. Those areas are in addition to 37 areas that went back under lockdown on Monday, raising the prospect that restrictions on movement will soon spread further across Spain’s capital region. Ignacio Aguado, the deputy head of the Madrid region, said that health care services were struggling to control the spread of the virus, while Salvador Illa, Spain’s health minister, urged residents of Madrid to stay at home as much as possible.

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.

‘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, Andrew Higgins, Mike Ives, Patrick McGeehan, Raphael Minder, Claire Moses, Anna Schaverien, Christopher F. Schuetze, Megan Specia and Carl Zimmer.

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