The phase 2/3 study will test approximately 4,000 healthy, pregnant women 18 years of age or older, according to Pfizer and BioNTech. The women will get the shot between 24 to 34 weeks of gestation in the randomized, placebo-controlled, observer-blind trial.
US Extends Travel Restrictions at Land Borders
U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least March 21, the one-year anniversary of the restrictions to address CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus transmission concerns, the U.S. government said Friday.
The new 30-day extension is the first announced under President Joe Biden and comes as the White House has been holding meetings about potentially tightening requirements for crossing at U.S. land borders in North America, officials said.
Africa Deaths Surpass 100,000
Africa’s reported CCP virus death toll surpassed 100,000 on Friday, a fraction of those reported on other continents but rising fast as a second wave of infections overwhelms hospitals.
The continent’s reported deaths, at 100,354 are rising sharply across Africa, driven by its southern region, especially economic powerhouse South Africa, which accounts for nearly half. South Africa was ravaged by a second wave caused by a more contagious variant that has jammed up casualty wards.
Japan Finds New Virus Strain, While Immigration Center Reports Infections
Japan confirmed a new variant of the CCP virus, and an infection cluster emerged at a Tokyo immigration facility, presenting new challenges as the country tries to overcome a third wave of the pandemic.
The new variant has been found in 91 cases in the Kanto area of eastern Japan and in 2 cases at airports, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters on Friday.
Norway Easing Some Restrictions
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg eased some CCP virus restrictions for higher education students, children, and young people under the age of 20, for whom the measures had been “a great burden.”
Children and young people can resume sports activities indoors with a maximum of 50 people and a limit of 200 people was set for outdoor events. Higher education students can physically attend teaching in smaller groups, she said.
Vatican Backtracks on Vaccine Directive After Backlash
The Vatican on Feb. 18 backtracked on a decree signed earlier this month that threatened termination for any employee in the city-state who refused to receive a CCP virus vaccination, following widespread condemnation against the policy.
Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, the governor of the Vatican on Feb. 8 signed the directive that said employees who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus, without providing valid medical reason for doing so, could be punished by “the interruption of the relationship of employment.”
Czechs Tighten Restrictions Amid Surge of New Variant
The Czech government moved to further tighten restrictions Friday amid a surge of a highly contagious CCP virus variant in one of the hardest-hit European Union’s nations.
Health Minister Jan Blatny said residents will have to wear better protection than just a face mask in places like stores, public transportation, and hospitals where large numbers of people gather. He added that a respirator and a mask made of nanomaterials or two surgical face masks will be required and homemade textile masks won’t be considered sufficient.
Isabel van Brugen, Zachary Stieber, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.