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Post: Coronavirus Update: FDA panel to review Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for children aged six month to 4 years on June 15

The Food and Drug Administration said Monday an advisory panel would meet June 15 to discuss use of the vaccines developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, as well as the one developed by Moderna
 in children aged 6 months to four years old.

The announcement came after Pfizer and BioNTech said three doses of their vaccine proved 80% effective at preventing symptomatic infections in children in that cohort.

If the panel adopts a positive opinion on the shots, the FDA could authorize them by as soon as June 16 or 17, bringing relief to parents of children who will finally be eligible for vaccination.

The news comes as COVID cases continue to rise across the U.S. and trend at the highest levels seen since March, driven by the BA.2 variant of omicron, and two other subvariants that appear to be even more infectious.

The U.S. is averaging 107,316 cases a day, up 46% from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times tracker. Cases are higher in nearly every state, but the Northeast and Midwest are being particularly hard hit with case reports in both regions now higher than they were at the peak of last summer’s delta surge. There are concerns that case numbers are even higher, as many people are now testing at home and the data is not being collected.

Don’t miss: ‘This isn’t just gonna go away’: Long COVID is crashing the retirement hopes of many Americans

Also see: COVID-19 boosters for children to be rolled out

The country is averaging 24,747 hospitalizations a day, up 28% from two weeks ago. The daily death toll has fallen to 312 on average, down 15% from two weeks ago.

The presumptive Republican nominee for governor of Connecticut has tested positive for COVID, a day after attending an anti-face mask group’s so-called “Freedom Family Cookout,” the New York Times reported.

Bob Stefanowski said in a statement that he is asymptomatic. “I am vaccinated, boosted, and feeling fine so far. I will continue to follow all C.D.C. protocols,” he said.

Connecticut is one of the northeastern states that has seen a sharp surge in cases in recent months. Stefanowski had tweeted images of himself enjoying the event.

Coronavirus Update: MarketWatch’s daily roundup has been curating and reporting all the latest developments every weekday since the coronavirus pandemic began

Other COVID-19 news you should know about:

• Airbnb

 plans to close its domestic business in China after harsh COVID-19 lockdowns compounded the pain from mounting local competition, according to people familiar with its decision, the Wall Street Journal reported. Bookings of stays and experiences in China typically account for about 1% of Airbnb’s overall revenue, the people said. The home-sharing company is a small competitor in China’s travel industry. It had more than 500,000 active properties through April, according to market-research firm AirDNA, out of its more than 6 million active global listings.

See now: Philadelphia reinstates face-mask mandate for students and teachers, and WHO head warns pandemic is ‘most certainly not over’

If you’ve had Covid before, why can you get it again? WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez explains what the possibility of reinfections means for the future of public-health policy and the Covid-19 pandemic. Illustration: David Fang

• China is trying to navigate its biggest coronavirus outbreak without a tool it could have adopted many months ago, the kind of vaccines that have proven to offer the best protection against the worst outcomes from COVID-19, the Associated Press reported. As early as the spring of 2020 a Chinese pharmaceutical company, Fosun Pharma, reached an agreement to distribute — and eventually manufacture — the mRNA vaccine made by Pfizer

and BioNTech
It still has not been cleared in mainland China, despite being authorized for use by separate authorities in Hong Kong and Macao. Now health experts say that delay — a result of putting politics and national pride above public health — could lead to avoidable coronavirus deaths and deeper economic losses because whole cities would be locked down to insulate the country’s unprotected population.

• In another sign of the changing times, TaskRabbit on Monday announced it was closing its offices, including its San Francisco headquarters, and switching to a “remote-first” work policy, MarketWatch’s Mike Murphy reported. “For us, remote-first is the concept of putting virtual work and remote participation as priority and the primary way our employees work, with all other means of showing up to work as secondary,” the company said in a statement. “Most importantly, remote-first refers to how we work rather than where we work.” The company said it has surveyed employees a few times a year during the pandemic about the importance of flexibility and maintaining a work/life balance

• Billionaires around the world — particularly those in the food and energy sectors — raked it in during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbating wealth inequality at a time when low-income people were becoming poorer and sicker, MarketWatch’s Emma Ockerman reported. In fact, 573 new billionaires have cropped up in the past two years of the global health crisis, according to a report from the global charity Oxfam, released just as the world’s elite and ultra-wealthy convened in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum this week. That means the pandemic created a billionaire “at the rate of one every 30 hours,” the report said, all while an estimated 263 million more people were expected to fall into extreme poverty this year, a rate of 1 million people every 33 hours.

Here’s what the numbers say

The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 526.1 million on Monday, while the death toll rose above 6.27 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. leads the world with 83.4 million cases and 1,002,385 fatalities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 220.9 million people living in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, equal to 66.5% of the total population. But just 102.8 million have had a first booster, equal to 46.5% of the vaccinated population.

Just 12.5 million of the people aged 50 and over who are eligible for a second booster have had one, equal to 20% of those who had a first booster.

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