US President Joe Biden said on Friday that nearly 60 million Americans are eligible for a booster shot against the coronavirus.
His announcement came after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved a third Pfizer shot for those 65 and older, frontline workers and adults with underlying medical conditions.
Biden urged eligible Americans to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, and said he would get his shot as soon as possible.
In White House comments on Friday, Biden said, “Like your first and second shots, the booster shot is free and easily accessible.”
CDC approves boosters for Americans 65 or older; frontline workers such as teachers, health care workers and others whose jobs put them at risk of contracting COVID-19; and ages 50 to 64 with underlying conditions.
The booster shot will be available to people who received the Pfizer-BioEntech vaccine at least six months ago. The White House said Friday that 20 million Americans are eligible for the shot immediately, while a total of 60 million Pfizer-shot recipients will be eligible for the booster once the six-month mark is reached.
The European Union’s drug watchdog said Thursday it plans to decide in early October whether to approve a third dose of Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine for people over the age of 16 to go or not
Elsewhere, Norway’s government said on Friday it would end all remaining coronavirus restrictions on Saturday.
“It’s been 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in peacetime in Norway. … It’s time to return to normal daily life,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told a news conference.
In Australia, health officials announced on Friday that more than half the population has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
A wave of coronavirus infections has led to a lockdown in Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, as well as the capital, Canberra.
Health officials in South Korea said on Friday that the country hit a record daily number of cases with 2,434 in the past 24 hours, surpassing the previous month’s record.
Officials said that although the cases are increasing, the death rate and the number of serious cases are relatively low. He attributed this in large part to a vaccination campaign that prioritized older people and those who were at high risk for the disease.
In Singapore, the health ministry announced it was tightening restrictions to fight a wave of coronavirus infections. The new policies include limiting social gatherings to less than two people from five.
The ministry also recorded 1,650 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the highest since the start of the pandemic.
Earlier this week, Singapore said 92% of the population had been fully vaccinated. Officials said about 98% of confirmed coronavirus cases in the past four weeks were in people with mild or no symptoms.
Russia on Friday reported 828 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the highest daily number of deaths in the pandemic in the country. The toll broke the record set a day earlier.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a video address to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, “It is an indictment of humanity that more than 82% of the world’s vaccine doses have been achieved by rich countries, while less than 1% People have gone to low-income countries,”
The African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 4% of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated.
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa said in a pre-recorded message to the assembly on Thursday, “Hoarding and unequal distribution with the resulting uneven vaccination patterns across the world is not acceptable.”
“Vaccine nationalism is self-defeating and contrary to the mantra that ‘no one is safe until all are safe’. Whether global north or south, rich or poor, old or young, everyone in the world deserves access to vaccines.”
Some information for this report has been received from The Associated Press and Reuters.