Thu. Apr 15th, 2021

Pfizer plans to seek emergency approval for its Covid vaccine in younger people after a US trial found the jab prevented the disease and was “well-tolerated” in 12- to 15-year-olds.

The US pharmaceutical company, which partnered with the German firm BioNTech to manufacture the vaccine, said it would submit the trial data to the US Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks and to other regulators thereafter.

In a statement, Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive, said approval would pave the way for vaccinations to start in the new age group before the next school year. The vaccine is already approved for use in those aged 16 and above.

Researchers in the US examined the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in a trial of 2,260 children aged 12 to 15. Half were given the jab and half a placebo. The trial recorded 18 cases of Covid among 1,129 people in the placebo group, and zero cases among the 1,131 who received the vaccine.

“We share the urgency to expand the authorisation of our vaccine to use in younger populations and are encouraged by the clinical trial data from adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15,” Bourla added.

The US Chamber of Commerce has released a statement criticizing Joe Biden’s proposals on how to pay for his massive infrastructure proposal.

The lobbying group praised the president for recognizing the need to revitalize the country’s infrastructure, but the chamber argued it should be paid for over a longer period of time than what the Biden administration is proposing.

“We need a big and bold program to modernize our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and we applaud the Biden administration for making infrastructure a top priority,” the chamber said in a statement released this morning.

“However, we believe the proposal is dangerously misguided when it comes to how to pay for infrastructure. Properly done, a major investment in infrastructure today is an investment in the future, and like a new home, should be paid for over time – say 30 years — by the users who benefit from the investment.

“We strongly oppose the general tax increases proposed by the administration which will slow the economic recovery and make the U.S. less competitive globally – the exact opposite of the goals of the infrastructure plan.”

The chamber encouraged Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work together to “avoid further partisan gridlock and provide productive solutions to get an infrastructure bill passed this year”.

Republicans have similarly voiced criticism of Biden’s proposals to pay for the $2tn package by rolling back some of the tax cuts that Donald Trump signed into law.

Speaking of clean water, Ryan Felton and Lisa Gill of Consumer Reports and Lewis Kendall for the Guardian have this investigation of tap water in America:

In Connecticut, a condo had lead in its drinking water at levels more than double what the federal government deems acceptable. At a church in North Carolina, the water was contaminated with extremely high levels of potentially toxic PFAS chemicals ( a group of compounds found in hundreds of household products). The water flowing into a Texas home had both – and concerning amounts of arsenic too.

All three were among locations that had water tested as part of a nine-month investigation by Consumer Reports (CR) and the Guardian into the US’s drinking water.

Since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, access to safe water for all Americans has been a US government goal. Yet millions of people continue to face serious water quality problems because of contamination, deteriorating infrastructure, and inadequate treatment at water plants.

CR and the Guardian selected 120 people from around the US, out of a pool of more than 6,000 volunteers, to test for arsenic, lead, PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), and other contaminants. The samples came from water systems that together service more than 19 million people.

A total of 118 of the 120 samples had concerning levels of PFAS or arsenic above CR’s recommended maximum, or detectable amounts of lead.

Read the full report:

As part of his infrastructure plan, Joe Biden is pledging to ensure that every American has access to clean water.

“Every single American has a right to clean drinking water,” the president said in a tweet this morning. “It’s just plain wrong that in the United States of America today, millions of children still receive their water through lead service pipes. It’s long past time we fix that.”

The tweet includes a video noting that as many as 10 million US homes still receive drinking water through lead pipes.

On a call about the infrastructure plan yesterday, a senior Biden administration official said the president’s proposal was “a bold but a very practical goal”.

“Today, 400,000 schools and childcare centers are serviced by lead pipes, even as our health experts say that there is no safe amount of lead in drinking water,” the official said.

“This is a national project which is urgent; it’s economically efficient and will create jobs. And it would help improve health and the health of our families.”

The trial of Derek Chauvin will soon start its third day in Minneapolis, where the former police officer is facing murder charges over the killing of George Floyd.

Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis firefighter, will be back on the witness stand this morning. Hansen testified yesterday that she pleaded with Chauvin to check Floyd’s pulse, but she was blocked from administering medical care.

The Guardian’s Chris McGreal has more on yesterday’s court testimony:

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

Joe Biden will deliver a speech today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to lay out his $2tn infrastructure proposal, the next plank of his “Build Back Better” agenda.

The Guardian’s Lauren Gambino has more details on the proposal:

Those payment proposals will likely deter most, if not all, congressional Republicans from supporting the package, given that many of them have already said they oppose rolling back the Trump-era tax cuts.

The White House has indicated it hopes the infrastructure plan will gain bipartisan support in Congress, after Biden’s coronavirus relief package passed without the assistance of a single Republican.

But Democrats appear to also be ready to go it alone if Republicans attempt to obstruct the the passage of the legislation, which administration officials are hoping to pass by this summer.

Biden’s speech will get underway this afternoon, and the blog will have more updates and analysis before then, so stay tuned.

By admin