Washington- While the devastating outbreak in India continues, the US approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 years old on Monday. The US Food and Drug Administration had previously approved the vaccine for emergency use in people aged 16 and up.
"This is a promising development in our fight against the virus," said President Joe Biden.
The B.1.617 variant spreading in India, however, has been classified as a "variant of concern at the global level" by the World Health Organization in Geneva.
The virus is now spreading in many nations, and the pandemic has claimed the lives of nearly 3.3 million people worldwide since late2019, upsetting everyday life and wreaking havoc on the global economy.
Rapid vaccination programs, on the other hand, have enabled a number of wealthy countries to begin to return to normalcy.
BioNTech/anti-Covid-19 Pfizer's vaccine may be approved for 12- to 15-year-olds in the EU as soon as this month, according to the head of the European Medicines Agency.
Ireland lifted domestic travel restrictions on Monday and began a phased reopening of non-essential stores, while Greece opened the nursery, primary, and middle schools in preparation for the tourist season, which begins on May 14.
The European Union said it was "completely on track" to ensure a Covid health pass will be ready in June to improve travel, which could help tourism.
Indoor seating in pubs and restaurants in England will reopen next week, according to the United Kingdom, which has the highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe.
Following a successful vaccination campaign, the country recorded no regular virus deaths for the first time in over a year.
Spain, which lifted a six-month state of emergency over the weekend and permitted cross-region travel, has issued a warning after cheering crowds danced in the streets without masks or social distance.
"The virus threat still exists,"," wrote Justice Minister Juan Carlos Campo in El Pais, urging Spaniards to act "responsibly."
Cyprus lifted a third partial lockdown on Monday, allowing citizens to move freely thanks to a new coronavirus "safety pass" scheme.
After a six-month closure due to the pandemic, Milan's famed La Scala opera house triumphantly reopened.
"I hope this is a new beginning and that we won't stop again after these sad months of silence," Laura Marzadori, first violinist, said with a wide smile.
In Germany, citizens who have been completely vaccinated against Covid-19 have been excluded from certain restrictions as of Sunday, thanks to new legislation passed by the parliament.
On Monday, Berlin lifted their vaccination priority system and made the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine available to all adults.
However, an expert government committee in Norway has recommended that the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines be discontinued due to the possibility of unusual yet severe side effects.
Meanwhile, BioNTech, a German company that developed a vaccine with Pfizer, announced a $200 million joint venture with Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical in China to manufacture up to one billion vaccines per year, as well as plans to establish its own Southeast Asia manufacturing facility in Singapore.
On Monday, India, which is experiencing one of the world's worst outbreaks, registered nearly 370,000 new infections and over 3,700 new deaths. BioNTech tried to assuage concerns about the mutation in India on Monday, claiming that "to date, there is no proof" that the vaccine needs to be modified to combat emerging variants.
The destructive COVID-19 tsunami has wreaked havoc on India's healthcare infrastructure, and experts claiming that official estimates for cases and deaths are much smaller than the true figures.
BioNTech tried to assuage India's concerns about the mutation on Monday, claiming that "to date, there is no evidence" that the jab needs to be adapted to fight the emerging variants.
Some of India's neighbours, including Nepal, have been affected by the outbreak.
China announced plans to construct a "separation line" on the summit of Mount Everest, which straddles the China-Nepal border, to prevent infections from Nepalese climbers, who have become ill in large numbers at base camp, according to state media.
The United States continues to be the worst-affected country in the world, with the highest number of reported deaths and infections. However, the true death toll may be higher than the official figure of 581,000, according to a report published last week by the University of Washington, which estimated that more than 900,000 people died.
As more than 114 million people have been fully vaccinated as per the country's ambitious vaccination drive, the cases of new infection have taken a downward turn since January.