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The United States is on track to begin administering the coronavirus vaccine to children younger than 12 by early next year, health officials said Tuesday, a development that would mark another significant milestone in the country’s pandemic response.

Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s leading infectious-disease expert, said that “it is likely and almost certain” that regulators will have enough health and safety data by the end of this year or during the first quarter of 2022 “to be able to vaccinate children of any age.”

Speaking at a White House briefing Tuesday morning, Fauci said health-care companies are studying the risks and benefits of vaccines for different age groups, from children age 12 to infants and toddlers.

Getting children of all ages vaccinated is seen as a crucial step toward post-pandemic normalcy and Fauci’s comments come a week after the Food and Drug Administration cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in children as young as 12.

Here are some significant developments:

  • With the Tokyo Olympics two months away, a major Japanese doctors group is calling for the event to be canceled over fears that the country’s health-care system can’t handle the medical needs of thousands of international athletes, coaches and media amid a surge of coronavirus cases.
  • Vaccines may not work in some people with compromised immune systems. Early research shows that 15 to 80 percent of people with certain medical conditions such as specific blood cancers or organ transplants are generating few antibodies after being vaccinated.
  • British scientists are warning about the virus variant first found in India, advising the government that it could be as much as 50 percent more contagious than the highly transmissible U.K. variant that became dominant in many places around the world this spring.
  • An intensive care nurse who stood at the side of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he was hospitalized with covid-19 has resigned, citing lack of government support for health-care workers.
  • India registered a record 4,329 covid-19-related deaths in the previous 24-hour period but announced 263,533 new infections, the second consecutive day that the figure was below 300,000, amid hopes that the surge could be slackening.
  • The United States reported nearly 29,000 new coronavirus infections Tuesday. Cases have declined by 18 percent in the past week. The number of daily reported deaths has dropped by 11 percent over the same period.

Mask or no mask? For Democrats, it’s not as simple as ‘the CDC says.’

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RICHMOND — The event was outdoors, as usual. Virginia state Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (D) accepted the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia in front of the state’s Women’s Monument, flanked by supporters of her campaign for governor. Four days had passed since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that vaccinated people, inside or outside, didn’t need to wear masks.

Or did they?

“Mask on or off?” NARAL Pro-Voice Virginia Executive Director Tarina Keene asked McClellan. After a quick discussion, they compromised: The group would take one photo with volunteers and staffers wearing masks and one without, both to be shared on social media.

Democrats who spent 14 months following pandemic health practices are suddenly campaigning in the world they pined for. Herd immunity is getting closer. Shutdowns are ending. Zoom happy hours are giving way to outdoor meet-and-greets.

But unlike Republicans, who cast off the pandemic rules well before scientists favored it, Democrats are wrestling with how fast to move back to normal. Hand-washing has given way to hand-wringing. Republicans they mocked for dismissing coronavirus precautions are suddenly calling them “anti-science.” Candidates who’d gotten used to bumping fists and elbows are seeing outstretched hands again, with a nanosecond to decide whether it’s responsible to shake them.

Coronavirus variant from India could quickly become dominant, U.K. scientists warn

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LONDON — British scientists have raised alarm about the coronavirus variant first found in India, advising the government in technical papers that it could be as much as 50 percent more contagious than the highly transmissible U.K. variant that became dominant in many places around the world this spring.

Much remains unknown about the new variant — known as B. 1.617.2 — in part because India has done so little genetic sequencing. Indian officials cannot say how much it is responsible for the devastating outbreak there.

But Britain runs a world-leading consortium of genetic sequencing laboratories that are constantly on the lookout for new “variants of concern,” and the arrival of the Indian variant has scientists and government officials here very concerned.

British health authorities have recalibrated their vaccination strategy. Whereas previously people had to wait 12 weeks between their first and second doses, that has been reduced to eight weeks. And the extension of eligibility to younger age groups is being accelerated.

Cuomo to receive $5.1 million for his book on the coronavirus pandemic

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New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) will receive a total of $5.1 million for his book on the coronavirus pandemic, a contract driven by his national profile during the worst days of the virus and now seen through the prism of an investigation into his use of advisers to write the book.

The book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic,” was released in October. According to Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s director of communications and senior adviser, the book contract “calls for payment of $3,120,000 in the last taxable year and an additional $2 million over the following 2 years.” Details of the contract emerged Monday as Cuomo released his 2020 tax filings.

According to Azzopardi, Cuomo received $1,537,508 from the $3,120,000 after expenses and taxes. Of that amount, Cuomo donated one-third to the United Way of New York State for “statewide covid relief and vaccination effort,” Azzopardi said. The remainder will go into a trust for Cuomo’s three daughters.

In a letter to Cuomo dated Monday, the United Way expressed “our sincere gratitude to you for such an extraordinary and generous contribution of $500,000.” The timing of Cuomo’s donation was not immediately clear.

Bustin’ loose from the pandemic: A birthday party with D.C. power brokers shows what celebrations might look like

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Cora Masters Barry turned 75 in May of 2020, which deprived her of one of the milestone celebrations she so loves. But she’s never one to take “no” for an answer, and Sunday’s “Bustin’ Loose” bash did not celebrate her 76th birthday. It was, officially, her “75 Plus One.”

More important, it was a timely excuse for Washington’s former first lady — who was married to Marion “Mayor for Life” Barry Jr. — and her friends to return to a semblance of normal after 14 months of social distancing. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted many mask recommendations for those who have received coronavirus shots, which dovetailed nicely with Barry’s one but ironclad rule: Everyone at her backyard party had to be fully vaccinated and had to prove it by submitting their vaccination card with their RSVP.

It was one of the first big gatherings of local political elites, and served as an informal signal of how celebrations might play out as the social scene gingerly moves forward.

“I’m so grateful,” she said. “I survived mentally, physically, spiritually. There were a lot of silver linings. This is my opportunity to give everybody a chance to say we’re just glad to be here. We all made it. We’re ready to go on with our lives.”

Eviction filings in D.C. for nonpayment of rent could resume

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As coronavirus pandemic restrictions begin to lift, the D.C. Council is considering making it easier to resume evictions, too — a suggestion that has caused an outcry among some lawmakers and advocates, and also has raised concerns among landlords.

Since March 2020, the District of Columbia, like most of the country, has prohibited almost all evictions in the interest of keeping people in their homes so they could avoid catching the virus.

Now, with more and more of the population vaccinated against the coronavirus and other activities permitted to resume, the council faces a contentious vote Tuesday about how to slowly return to being a city where people can legally be evicted.

The faces of the Biden administration are still sometimes behind masks

7:23 p.m.
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A maskless President Biden delivered triumphant remarks Thursday, heralding the news that federal health guidelines had changed to say fully vaccinated Americans need not wear masks indoors or outside in most situations.

But within days, Biden was spotted in Wilmington, Del., walking out of church with his black mask still firmly fixed to his face. Vice President Harris was also photographed over the weekend wearing a mask when she dropped by Washington’s Eastern Market.

First lady Jill Biden was on a day trip to West Virginia as the guidance came out Thursday. She marked it by removing her face covering, and declaring “We feel naked!” But on Friday, as she toured a Washington museum, the mask was back in place.

The zigzagging images of the three most visible people in the White House illustrate the awkwardness of the current phase of the pandemic, in which local officials are interpreting the new federal guidance differently. After consistently wearing masks for the past year to model behavior, the leaders who ushered in this new policy found themselves switching up their face covering practice based largely on what has become a patchwork of local rules.

Hugs are coming back. Not everyone is thrilled.

6:35 p.m.
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Since coronavirus vaccine became widely available to the general population, it’s been evident in parks, restaurants and homes throughout America: Arms across your back are back. Grandparents are hugging grandkids again. Friends are hugging friends. Even epidemiologists, a notably cautious bunch, are hugging. For many, the return of hugs has been a welcome step toward the return of normalcy.

Others, though, have been dreading this moment for a long time.

In the frenzied, joyous rush to make up for a year of lost embraces, it’s easy to lose sight of people who cringe at the thought of having to endure a whole separate human body enveloping them with little to no prior notice. Personal-space enthusiasts are sad to see their year of living huglessly come to an end — even as they hold onto hope that some pandemic distancing habits might stick.

Nurse Jenny, who cared for Boris Johnson in ICU, resigns, citing lack of respect and pay for health workers

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LONDON — An intensive-care nurse who stood at the side of Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he was hospitalized with covid-19 has resigned, citing lack of government support for health-care workers.

Jenny McGee, who has worked as an intensive care nurse in Britain for 11 years, said: “We’re not getting the respect and now pay that we deserve. I’m just sick of it. So I’ve handed in my resignation.”

Johnson, one of the First World leaders diagnosed with covid-19, spent three days in a London intensive care unit in April 2020. After he recovered, he praised two nurses who stayed at his bedside for 48 hours, “when things could have gone either way.” They were Luis Pitarma, from Portugal, and McGee, from New Zealand.

Momentum builds for free or reduced-fare transit after the pandemic

Transit systems for decades have been saddled with an obligation to partly support themselves through chasing ridership to increase revenue and reduce the burden on taxpayers. But the pandemic put buses and trains through a different prism. They were essential, transit advocates say, like the jobs of many of the people riding them.

Workers who abandoned offices are expected to return in lower numbers this fall. Left no other option but in-person work are service employees who disproportionately are people of color, according to data reviewed by The Washington Post.

That revelation led some transit and government leaders to ask if public transportation should not just be partially subsidized — as nearly all of it is — but fully government-funded, much like roads.

Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) introduced the Freedom to Move Act last summer, which would provide federal money to help transit make the switch to a fareless system.

Children under 12 could be vaccinated by next year, Fauci says

3:46 p.m.
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Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s leading infectious-disease expert, said Tuesday that the nation was on track to start giving coronavirus vaccines to children younger than 12 by early next year.

“It is likely and almost certain that by the time we get to the end of this calendar year and the first quarter of 2022 that we will have enough information regarding safety and immunogenicity to be able to vaccinate children of any age,” Fauci said in a White House briefing on the pandemic response.

Fauci noted that health-care companies were working on research known as “age and dose de-escalation studies.” In such studies, the risks and benefits of the vaccines are evaluated for different age groups, from children age 12 to infants and toddlers.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in children as young as 12. Health officials said the two-shot regimen was safe and effective for younger adolescents and that the immune response was even better than among the 18- to 25-year-olds who got the shots.

Taiwan, once a covid success story, struggles with a vaccine shortage

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TAIPEI, Taiwan — For most of the past year, it was as though the pandemic didn’t exist in Taiwan. Restaurants and bars remained crowded. Reservations were hard to come by. Large events from music festivals to marathons went ahead, while domestic tourism boomed. In April, as many as four million people crowded the streets in central Taiwan for a nine-day pilgrimage.

Life was so normal that when the government began offering AstraZeneca vaccines to certain groups in late March, few saw the need to get inoculated. Worried the unused doses would go to waste, authorities opened access to the general public for a fee.

Now, Taiwan faces its worst outbreak of the pandemic, with more than 1,000 new local infections in 10 days. Residents, suddenly eager to be vaccinated, are being turned away as authorities ration a supply of about 300,000 vaccine doses for a population of 24 million.

Transplant patients, some others with immune issues, stuck in limbo as country reopens

1:51 p.m.
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Maria Hoffman feels as though she has been left behind. Her adopted hometown of Charleston, S.C., is hopping — with restaurants and bars fully open, park concerts in full swing and maskless friends reuniting with hugs on streets.

Hoffman, 39, is fully vaccinated and eager to rejoin the world. But as a kidney transplant patient, she is hesitant to participate for fear of becoming infected. “Risk is very different for people in my situation,” she said. “I am 100 percent acting like I am not immunized.”

The state worker is among millions of immunocompromised Americans, about 3 to 4 percent of the U.S. population, for whom the shots may not work fully, or at all, and who are unsure of their place in a country that is increasingly opening up. Emerging research shows that 15 to 80 percent of those with certain conditions such as specific blood cancers or who have had organ transplants are generating few antibodies.

Fact-checking the Paul-Fauci flap over Wuhan lab funding

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In a May 11 hearing, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) asked top infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci about NIH funding of research in China. (The Washington Post)

“Juicing up super-viruses is not new. Scientists in the U.S. have long known how to mutate animal viruses to infect humans. For years, Dr. Ralph Baric, a virologist in the U.S., has been collaborating with Dr. Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Virology Institute, sharing his discoveries about how to create super-viruses. This gain-of-function research has been funded by the [National Institutes of Health]. … Dr. Fauci, do you still support funding of the NIH funding of the lab in Wuhan?”

— Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), remarks at a Senate hearing, May 11

“Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect that the NIH has not never and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

— Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in response

This showdown between Paul and Fauci quickly went viral last week. But the nature of their debate regarding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic may seem obscure to many people.

Will transit riders return after the pandemic changes to the workday?

Public transit demand during the pandemic has shifted to neighborhoods with high numbers of Black, Hispanic and lower-income workers, flattening peak travel periods and forcing transit agencies to respond to new patterns before more workers return to offices this fall, a Washington Post analysis of national transit data shows.

No longer does the 9-to-5 work schedule hold as much sway, with telework on the rise and office workers less bound to rigid daily commutes. Waves of commuters have dwindled to a trickle in the morning and evening hours — the commuting tides that transit schedules were built around.

Transit agencies are watching the emerging trends as they seek to lure riders after Labor Day, when offices are calling back workers who will decide whether to stick with early 2020 commuting habits or find new ways to get to work.