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Several Chinese provinces and cities say they'll start giving COVID-19 vaccines to children as young as 3 after already fully vaccinating 76% of the population. The expansion of its vaccination campaign comes as parts of China take new clampdown measures to try to stamp out small outbreaks. China maintains a zero-tolerance policy toward the pandemic, using lockdowns, quarantines and compulsory testing to eliminate the virus. Gansu, a northwestern province heavily dependent on tourism, closed all tourist sites Monday after finding new COVID-19 cases. The spread of the delta variant by travelers is of particular concern ahead of the Beijing Olympics in February. 

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Florida's top health official was asked to leave a meeting after refusing to wear a mask at the office of a state senator who told him she had a serious medical condition. The Florida Senate president sent a memo to senators saying it was disappointing to learn of the incident at the office of Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky and asking visitors to be respectful. Dr. Joseph Ladapo offered to go outside but the senator wanted to meet in her office. Polsky was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, but had not made it public. Ladapo was appointed to the post of Florida surgeon general by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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A team of young scientists in South Africa is assembling the equipment needed to reverse engineer Moderna's coronavirus vaccine. The scientists are effectively making an end run around an industry that has vastly prioritized rich countries over poor in vaccine sales and manufacturing. The research team in Cape Town is working with unusual backing from the World Health Organization. WHO is leading attempts to replicate proprietary technology in a zero-hour attempt to address global inequities in vaccine access. Moderna says it's more efficient to expand its own production than share its technology and has pledged to build a vaccine factory in Africa at some point. 

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Ukraine’s coronavirus infections and deaths have reached all-time highs for a second straight day, a growing challenge for the country where the share of vaccinated is one of Europe’s lowest. Ukrainian health authorities on Friday reported 23,785 new confirmed infections and 614 deaths in the past 24 hours. Authorities have blamed surging infections on a sluggish pace of vaccination in the nation of 41 million. Only about 15% of the population is fully vaccinated, Europe’s lowest level after Armenia. A spike in contagion has prompted the government to tighten restrictions. The Ukrainian capital shut schools for two weeks starting Friday, and similar measures were ordered in other areas with high contagion levels.

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Federal scientists say kid-size doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine appear highly effective at preventing symptomatic infections among elementary school children. The Food and Drug Administration posted its review late Friday ahead of a public meeting to consider opening vaccinations to kids 5 to 11. FDA scientists concluded that in almost every scenario the vaccine’s overall benefit for children would outweigh any serious potential side effects. The FDA will ask an outside panel of experts to review its analysis and vote on whether to recommend the shots next week. If regulators authorize the low-dose shots, vaccinations could begin early next month. 

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Federal health officials say millions more Americans can get a COVID-19 booster and choose a different vaccine for that next shot. Certain people who received Pfizer vaccinations months ago already are eligible for a booster. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday said specific Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients should qualify, too. And in a bigger change, the agency is allowing the flexibility of “mixing and matching” that extra dose. The Food and Drug Administration had already authorized such an expansion of the nation’s booster campaign on Wednesday, and it was also endorsed Thursday by a CDC advisory panel.