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Coronavirus Update: Pfizer and BioNTech say data show COVID vaccine has more than 70% efficacy in small children, with cases now rising in just 7 states

Pfizer and German partner BioNTech on Tuesday offered updated COVID vaccine data supporting efficacy in children 6 months to 4 years old.

The companies


said updated analysis from 34 cases occurring at least seven days after a three-dose regimen showed 73.2% vaccine efficacy among children in that age group. The vaccine efficacy remained consistently above 70% in both children aged 6 months through 23 months and in those 2 through 4 years old.

Sequencing of the cases confirmed that most were caused by omicron BA.2, suggesting broader protection across variants.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine for very young children on June 17, and it’s currently under review by the European regulator.

“While these results confirm that three 3 [milligram] doses of our COVID-19 vaccine provide young children with a high level of protection at a time when the Omicron BA.2 strain was highly prevalent with a favorable safety profile, we are also developing an Omicron BA.4/BA.5-adapted bivalent vaccine in this age group to address these sublineages,” said Uğur Şahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. 

The news comes a day after Pfizer and BioNTech said they had formally completed an application asking the Food and Drug Administration to authorize their experimental bivalent COVID-19 booster for those who are 12 years old or older.

The new shot equally targets the original strain of the virus and the BA.4 and BA.5 strains, the latter of which is now the dominant strain of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in the U.S.

The news comes as U.S. known cases of COVID are continuing to ease, although the true tally is likely higher given how many people are testing at home, where the data are not being collected.

Cases are rising in Georgia, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri and Maine. They are falling in all other states.

The daily average for new cases stood at 92,602 on Monday, according to a New York Times tracker, down 16% from two weeks ago to the lowest level seen since mid-May. The daily average for hospitalizations was down 8% at 39,963, while the daily average for deaths is down 5% to 459.

Coronavirus Update: MarketWatch’s daily roundup has been curating and reporting all the latest developments every weekday since the coronavirus pandemic began

Other COVID-19 news you should know about:

• A study conducted by the University of Peking and Tsinghua University in Beijing has found that incubation period for COVID has been shrinking with each new variant. The study was published in the journal JAMA Network Open on Monday. Researchers analyzed data from 141 studies to find that the incubation period declined from an average five days with the alpha strain to 3.43 days with omicron, which is now dominant across the world. “The findings of this study suggest that SARS-CoV-2 has evolved and mutated continuously throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, producing variants with different enhanced transmission and virulence.,” the authors wrote. “Identifying the incubation period of different variants is a key factor in determining the isolation period.”

Read now: Dr. Fauci’s advice has always been simple and on the mark

• A West Virginia hospital will receive $313,700 in pandemic relief funds through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program, the Associated Press reported. The Potomac Valley Hospital in Mineral County was awarded the funds to help buy new medical equipment and reimburse labor expenses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat who represents the state, said in a news release Monday.

• Anti-mandate protesters are again converging on the New Zealand parliament, but there was no repeat of the occupation six months ago in which protesters camped on parliament grounds for more than three weeks, the AP reported separately. About 2,000 protesters upset with the government’s pandemic response gathered Tuesday but said they did not intend to stay. The previous protest created significant disruptions in the capital and ended in chaos as retreating protesters set fire to tents and hurled rocks at police.

• Zoom Video Communications Inc.
an early pandemic success story, is showing momentum with some newer business areas, but shares of the teleconferencing company were sliding in early trading Tuesday after the company indicated challenges in its core business, MarketWatch’s Emily Bary reported. While Zoom Chief Financial Officer Kelly Steckelberg called out “strong growth” in the company’s enterprise business, she also noted pressure related to the strength of the U.S. dollar and subscription growth in Zoom’s online channel, which is made up of customers who don’t engage with Zoom’s direct sales team or sales partners. “We have implemented initiatives focused on driving new online subscriptions, which have shown early promise, but were not enough to overcome the macro dynamics in the quarter,” she said on the company’s Monday afternoon earnings call.

See more: Zoom is struggling to convince consumers to pay, and the stock is sliding  

Here’s what the numbers say

The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 597.1 million on Tuesday, while the death toll rose above 6.45 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. leads the world with 93.6 million cases and 1,040,970 fatalities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 223.7 million people living in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, equal to 67.4% of the total population. But just 108.2 million have had a first booster, equal to 48.4% of the vaccinated population.

Just 21.4 million of the people 50 years old and over who are eligible for a second booster have had one, equal to 33.2% of those who had a first booster.

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