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The White House says the booster dose will be given from next month

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WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has decided that most Americans should get a coronavirus booster vaccination eight months after they received their second shot, and could begin offering third shots as early as mid-September, according to administration officials familiar with the discussions.

Officials are planning to announce the decision as early as this week. Their goal is to let Americans who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines know now that they will need additional protection against the Delta variant that is causing caseloads to surge across much of the nation. The new policy will depend on the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of additional shots.

Officials said they expect that recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was authorized as a one-dose regimen, will also require an additional dose. But they are waiting for the results of that firm’s two-dose clinical trial, expected later this month.

The first boosters are likely to go to nursing home residents, health care workers and emergency workers. They would probably be followed by other older people who were near the front of the line when vaccinations began late last year, then by the general population. Officials envision giving people the same vaccine they originally received.

The decision comes as the Biden administration is struggling to regain control of a pandemic that it had claimed to have tamed little more than a month ago. President Biden had declared the nation reopened for normal life for the July 4 holiday, but the wildfire spread of the Delta variant has thwarted that. Covid-19 patients are again overwhelming hospitals in some states, and federal officials are worried about an increase in the number of children hospitalized just as the school year is set to begin.

For weeks, Biden administration officials have been analyzing the rise in Covid-19 cases, trying to figure out if the Delta variant is better able to evade the vaccines or if the vaccines have waned in strength over time. According to some administration experts, both could be true, a distressing combination that is re-energizing a pandemic that the nation fervently hoped had been curbed.

Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told  that “there is a concern that the vaccine may start to wane.” That, combined with the Delta variant’s ferocity, could dictate boosters, he said.

Federal health officials have been particularly concerned about data from Israel suggesting that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s protection against severe disease has fallen significantly for elderly people who got their second shot in January or February.

Israel can in some ways be viewed as a template for the United States because it vaccinated more of its population faster and has almost exclusively used the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that made up much of the U.S. stock. Unlike the United States, though, Israel has a nationalized health care system that allows it to systematically track patients.

The latest Israeli data, posted on the government’s website on Monday, shows what some experts described as continued erosion of the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine against mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 infections in general and against severe disease among the elderly who were vaccinated early in the year.

One slide suggests that for those 65 years or older who got their second shots in January, the vaccine is now only about 55 percent effective against severe disease. But researchers noted that the data has a wide margin of error, and some said other Israeli government data suggested the decline in efficacy was less severe.

“It shows a pretty steep decline in effectiveness against infection, but it’s still a bit murky about protection against severe disease,” said Dr. Peter J. Hotez, a vaccine expert at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who reviewed the data at the request of The New York Times.

Dr. Jesse L. Goodman, a former chief scientist with the Food and Drug Administration who also reviewed the data, said it suggests “worrisome trends” that could signal waning of vaccine effectiveness. But he said he would like to see further detail from Israel and, more important, data indicating whether the United States is headed in the same direction.

Federal officials said the booster program will most likely follow much the same scenario as the initial vaccination program. The first shots for the general public in the United States were administered on Dec. 14, days after the F.D.A. authorized the Pfizer shot for emergency use. People started receiving the Moderna vaccine a week later.

While frontline health care workers and nursing home residents were among the first to get inoculated nationwide, states followed their own plans for who else was eligible for shots in the early weeks and months of the vaccination campaign.

But almost everyone 65 and older qualified for vaccination by late February, as did many police officers, teachers, grocery store employees and other people at risk of being exposed to the virus on the job.

The regulatory path for additional shots is not entirely clear. Pfizer-BioNTech filed data to the F.D.A. on Monday that it said showed the safety and effectiveness of a booster shot. But the data was preliminary, from Phase 1 of a clinical trial. Moderna is on a similar track, exploring the safety and efficacy of both a half-dose and a full dose as a third shot.

The World Health Organization has called for a moratorium on booster shots until the end of September, saying available doses should be used to help countries that are far behind in vaccinations. But Israel is already offering third shots to those at least 50 years old. Germany and France have said they plan to offer additional shots to vulnerable segments of their populations next month. Britain has a plan to do so, but is holding off for now.

Late last week, the F.D.A. authorized third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for certain people with weakened immune systems, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended them. The authorities decided those individuals, who make up fewer than 3 percent of Americans, merited extra shots because many fail to respond to the standard dosage. The agency has not yet authorized any of the vaccines for children younger than 12.

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Elderly Eritrean Pastors Continue to Suffer in Prison

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Eritrea – Two pastors who were arrested and imprisoned by the Eritrean government in July are still being held in prison, sources with knowledge of the situation told ICC. Both in their mid-seventies, Pastor Girmay Araya and Pastor Samuel Okbamichael were arrested in the middle of the night before being taken to the Wengel Mermera interrogation center run by the Ministry of Justice in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea.

Both pastors were largely retired from the ministry when they were arrested, raising questions about why they were targeted. Eritrea has a long history of targeting religious figures and is currently detaining many others pastors.

Called “Africa’s North Korea” by some, Eritrea is a one-party state ruled by an oppressive, totalitarian government that is openly hostile to religion. Religious prisoners are often subjected to long or indefinite terms in prisons where they suffer unimaginably inhumane conditions.

Former prisoners at Mai Serwa, another prison in Asmara, report being held in shipping containers, each holding 8-22 detainees and extremely susceptible to the extreme weather swings of the desert around them. According to the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCR), “inmates are subjected to total darkness, which increases their suffering. A torture chamber made of concrete is reportedly located at the back of the containers. [One] detainee… was interrogated and tortured four nights per week for two months.”

“Individuals who are arrested for religious reasons are systematically subjected to ill-treatment and torture,” the OHCR said. “It is common practice to coerce renunciation of faith.”

Despite its similarities to North Korea, Eritrea seems to have largely managed to escape that country’s penchant for attracting sanctions. In fact, the U.S. is actually lifting sanctions off of the country. However commendable this may be from a diplomatic or economic perspective, it is important that the U.S. not lose sight of the real, systematic abuses at play in Eritrea. It should continue to pressure Eritrea, including through targeted sanctions designed to force behavior change at every level of the abusive system.

“If it does decide to improve relations with Eritrea, the U.S. must use that closeness to pressure the country to begin respecting human rights,” said Jay Church, ICC’s Advocacy Manager for Africa. “A thorough rehauling of its judicial system, the abolishment of its horrendous penal system and the creation of a professional one in its place, and respect for religious freedom would be a good place to start.”
Sources:persecution

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ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോകറന്‍സികള്‍ക്ക് സമ്പൂർണ വിലക്ക്,ലോകത്തെ ഞെട്ടിച്ച് ചൈന

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ബീജിങ്: ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോ കറന്‍സികള്‍ക്ക് സമ്പൂര്‍ണ നിരോധനവുമായി ചൈന രംഗത്ത്. ലോകത്ത് ആദ്യമായാണ് ഒരു രാജ്യം ഇക്കാര്യത്തില്‍ ഇത്രയും കടുത്ത തീരുമാനവുമായി രംഗത്ത് വരുന്നത്. ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോകറന്‍സികളും അവയുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട എല്ലാ ഇടപാടുകളും നിയമവിരുദ്ധമായി പ്രഖ്യാപിക്കുകയും ചെയ്തിട്ടുണ്ട് ചൈന.

ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോകറന്‍സികളുടെ കാര്യത്തില്‍ തീരെ ഉദാരമല്ലാത്ത സമീപനം ആണ് ചൈന സ്വീകരിച്ചുവരുന്നത്. ഇതുസംബന്ധിച്ച് ചൈനയുടെ പല നിയന്ത്രണങ്ങളും നേരത്തേ തന്നെ ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോ വിപണിയെ വലിയ തോതില്‍ ബാധിക്കുകയും ചെയ്തിരുന്നു. എന്നാല്‍, ഇപ്പോഴത്തെ നീക്കം ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോവിപണികളുടെ അടിത്തറ തന്നെ ഇളക്കിയേക്കും. ചൈനീസ് തീരുമാനം വന്നതിന് പിറകെ ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോകറന്‍സികളുടെ മൂല്യത്തില്‍ വലിയ ഇടിവും സംഭവിച്ചു.

ചൈനയുടെ കേന്ദ്ര ബാങ്ക് ആയ പീപ്പിള്‍സ് ബാങ്ക് ഓഫ് ചൈനയാണ് ഇക്കാര്യത്തില്‍ കൃത്യമായ നിര്‍ദ്ദേശങ്ങള്‍ പുറപ്പെടുവിച്ചിട്ടുള്ളത്. ക്രിപറ്റോകറന്‍സികളുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട് എല്ലാ ഇടപാടുകളും നിയമവിരുദ്ധമായിരിക്കുമെന്നും നിര്‍ബന്ധമായും നിരോധിക്കപ്പെടേണ്ടതാണെന്നും ബാങ്ക് അവരുടെ വെബ്‌സൈറ്റ് മുഖേന വ്യക്തമാക്കിക്കഴിഞ്ഞു. ബിറ്റ്‌കോയിന്‍ എന്നോ, എഥേറിയം എന്നോ ടെഥര്‍ എന്നോ വ്യത്യാസമില്ലാത്തെ എല്ലാ ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോ കറന്‍സികള്‍ക്കും ഇത് ബാധകമായിരിക്കും.

ചൈനക്കാരുടെ കൈവശമുള്ളവരുടെ ബിറ്റ്‌കോയിനുകള്‍ക്ക് ഇനി എന്ത് സംഭവിക്കും എന്നത് സംബന്ധിച്ച ചര്‍ച്ചകളും പുരോഗമിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുകയാണ്. ചൈനയിലെ താമസക്കാര്‍ക്ക് ഓഫ്‌ഷോര്‍ എക്‌സ്‌ചേഞ്ചുകള്‍ വഴി നല്ഡകപ്പെട്ടിരുന്ന ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോ സേവനങ്ങള്‍ കൂടി നിരോധനത്തിന്റെ പരിധിയില്‍ വരുന്ന സാഹചര്യത്തിലാണ് ഇത്തരം ഒരു ആശങ്ക ഉയര്‍ന്നിരിക്കുന്നത്.
Sources:globalindiannews

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ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോകറന്‍സികള്‍ക്ക് സമ്പൂർണ വിലക്ക്,ലോകത്തെ ഞെട്ടിച്ച് ചൈന

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