COVID uptick among children prompts govt to “urgently” seek Pfizer vaccine

COVID uptick among children prompts govt to “urgently” seek Pfizer vaccine

Trend of more young people being infected could be result of variant strains, says Wells

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — An increasing percentage of young people and adolescents have been contracting COVID-19 amid the third wave of the virus since early April, prompting the government to “urgently” seek the Pfizer vaccine — the only approved vaccine for use among children above the age of 12.

“Recognizing the phenomena of increasing cases among young and adolescents, the government has moved with urgency to secure doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which is the only EUL-approved vaccine for administration to the under-18-years age group,” Minister of Health Renward Wells advised Parliament yesterday.

During debate on a resolution to extend the emergency orders to August 13, the minister said the statistics make it clear The Bahamas is still in a state of emergency.

“The age distribution of COVID-19 cases provided added insight into the epidemiologic profile and we are troubled by the trend that is evolving,” the minister continued.

Minister of Health Renward Wells.

“During the first wave, 40 years and older contributed to the greatest share of the national COVID-19 burden.

“In the second wave, this shifted to those who were 49 years or younger.

“At this point in the third wave, Mr Speaker, we are seeing COVID-19 infections in the very young and the adolescent population and they are being hospitalized.”

According to the data, COVID-19 cases among those aged zero to nine in the entire first and second waves represented just one percent of cumulative cases for each respective wave.

However, the same age bracket accounts for 106 cases or three percent of infections in the ongoing third wave.

“We cannot dismiss the likelihood that this phenomenon is as a result of variants,” Wells said.

“Screening of COVID-19-positive samples for mutations that characterize variants of concern at the NRL indicted the possibility of variants in the country.

“While we await confirmation, the changing epi profile is in keeping with the presence of variants, and we are taking action.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) granted emergency use validation to BioNTech-Pfizer last December.

The two-dose vaccine was approved by the FDA for use in adolescents 12 through 15 on May 10.

The Bahamas has previously sought access to Pfizer doses, but was told by the manufactures that because of its arrangement with the COVAX Facility, it would not be able to receive the vaccine.

The Bahamas continues to record moderate to high double-digit infections each day.

On Monday, there were another 53 confirmed cases, bringing the total up to 11,278.

There has been 3,729 new infections in the third wave in The Bahamas.

This accounts for 33.1 percent of the total cases.

A total of 48 cases remained hospitalized.

While the figure is down over the nearly 60 hospitalizations earlier this month, Wells has noted that a shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals, fatigue and the balancing act of managing other health services has challenges the healthcare system once again.

Of the 11,278 cases, 859 were active, while 10,121 had recovered.

This represented an 89.74 percent recovery rate, down from the 92.6 percent recovery rate.

There have been 221 COVID-19 deaths, of which 53 cases have died in the third wave.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.