A single dose of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines were found to be 86.6 per cent effective in preventing infections among people over the age of 60, data released by South Korea showed on Wednesday.

The US’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to authorise the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 as early as next week, the New York Times reported. The official announcement is expected less than a month after the company found that its shot, which is already authorised for those over the age of 16, also protects younger people against the deadly infection.

Canada recorded its first death linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday. The death was confirmed in the Canadian province of Alberta, where a woman in her 50s died soon after she received a dose of the vaccine, Reuters reported.

In other news, the UK plans to offer a third Covid-19 vaccine jab to everyone over the age of 50 by autumn this year, in hopes of eradicating the threat posed by the pandemic entirely by Christmas, the Times newspaper reported. Meanwhile, countries around Europe have been ramping up their nationwide vaccination drives in recent weeks to drive forward reopening the economy.

Here is the latest on Covid-19 vaccines and inoculation drives from around the world

US President Joe Biden aims to vaccinate 70% of American adults by July 4

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden announced his plans to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of all adults in the country with at least one Covid-19 shot by the 4th of July weekend, when the country celebrates its Independence Day.

“Now that we have the vaccine supply, we’re focused on convincing even more Americans to show up and get the vaccine that is available to them,” Biden said at a White House press briefing, according to Reuters.

So far, the US has been able to administer 247,769,049 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday. The CDC tally includes two-dose vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech , as well as Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine.

The next generation of Covid vaccines could be nasal sprays, pills

Researchers currently working on developing the next generation of Covid-19 vaccines are saying that the vaccines may not longer be in injection form in the future, and will instead be administered as tablets or nasal sprays. With this, the vaccines will become much simpler to store and transport as compared to the shots that are presently being used to fight the deadly pandemic, researchers said.

These futuristic vaccines are being developed by government labs and private companies in the United States, such as Sanofi SA, Altimmune Inc and Gritstone Oncology Inc, the Wall Street Journal reported. Out of the 93 vaccine trials presently underway, only two are for pills and seven are for nasal sprays, according to data released by the World Health Organisation.

“There are really good ones coming, through nasal and oral vaccines,” WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said during an online panel last week. “That will make it much easier.”

South Korean study finds one shot of AstraZeneca, Pfizer Covid vaccines 87% effective

A single dose of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines were found to be 86.6 per cent effective in preventing infections among people over the age of 60, data released by South Korea showed on Wednesday.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) showed that the Pfizer vaccine was about 89.7 per cent effective in preventing the disease two weeks after the first dose was administered, while the AstraZeneca vaccine was 86 per cent effective, Reuters reported.

Covid vaccine patents dominate trade talks

Members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Wednesday are set to look at the progress in talks on a proposal by South Africa and India to waive patent rights on Covid vaccines to help reap up their export to developing nations, Reuters reported.

The two countries are asking for the strict rules under the WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement to be eased. For the WTO to alter its trade rules, all 164 members will need to be on board.

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