Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now



Sept 20 (Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Pfizer, BioNTech say data show vaccine safe in kids

Pfizer and BioNTech said on Monday their COVID-19 vaccine induced a robust immune response in 5-to-11 year-olds, and they plan to seek authorisation to use the vaccine in children in that age range in Europe, the United States and elsewhere as soon as possible.

The companies said the vaccine generated an immune response in the 5-to-11 year-olds in their Phase II/III clinical trial that matched that previously observed in 16-to-25 age-group. The safety profile was also generally comparable, they said.

Thailand to try alternative vaccination method

Doctors in Thailand have been given the go-ahead to start giving booster shots under the skin, rather than injecting them into muscles, officials said on Monday, in an effort to strengthen immunity and stretch vaccine supplies.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the method, which doctors began exploring last month, could be used at the discretion of medical professionals, providing it was supported by evidence.

Chalermpong Sukonthaphon, director of the Vachira Hospital in Phuket, said his hospital had been given the green light to use the technique from Friday, as trials had showed it triggered a similar immune response to the regular method.

India to restart COVID vaccine exports

India will resume exports of COVID-19 vaccines from the next quarter, prioritising the global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX and neighbouring countries first as supplies rise, the health minister said on Monday.

India, the world's biggest maker of vaccines, stopped exports of COVID shots in April to focus on inoculating its own population as infections exploded.

The country's monthly vaccine output has since more than doubled and is set to quadruple to over 300 million doses next month, minister Mansukh Mandaviya said, adding that only excess supplies would be exported.

Sydney cases fall as curbs ease in virus hotspots

Australia's New South Wales (NSW) state on Monday reported its lowest rise in daily cases in more than three weeks as some lockdown restrictions were eased in Sydney, the state capital, amid higher vaccination levels.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said 935 new cases had been detected in the state, the lowest daily tally since Aug. 27, and down from 1,083 on Sunday. The state reported four more deaths.

New Zealand eased curbs slightly on Monday in its largest city of Auckland, as the government expressed confidence that there was no widespread regional transmission of the Delta variant.

Indonesia logs fewest daily cases in over a year

Indonesia on Monday reported 1,932 new daily infections, the lowest since August 2020, data from country's COVID-19 task force showed, and the government further eased restrictions in Java and on its resort island Bali.

Indonesia, once Asia's coronavirus epicentre, has reported nearly 4.2 million infections overall and over 140,000 deaths, but new cases have dropped 98% from their peak in July, senior cabinet minister Luhut Pandjaitan said.

Its average positivity rate - the percentage of tests that are positive - was just below 4% this month, under the World Health Organization's 5% threshold for determining whether an outbreak is under control.

Ukraine extends restrictions until Dec. 31

Ukraine has extended a state of emergency that allows regional authorities to impose restrictions until the end of 2021 to tackle a surge in infections, the government said on Monday.

The state of emergency had been due to expire at the end of September.
Compiled by Linda Noakes; editing by Barbara Lewis

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