Vaccinated Americans don't need a mask most of the time, CDC says

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 0225 GMT (1025 HKT) May 14, 2021
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12:50 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Maldives temporarily suspends tourists from South Asian countries

From CNN’s Swati Gupta in New Delhi and CNN’s Sophie Jeong in Hong Kong

Maldives has temporarily suspended entry of tourists traveling from South Asian countries from Thursday, authorities announced Tuesday.

The countries include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

A statement from Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism said the suspension includes "those with a transit time exceeding 24 hours and have a travel history to the above stated countries within the past 14 days."
The order begins May 13 "until further notice," it said.

Health care professionals with valid work permits are exempted, according to Maldives Immigration.

Maldives recorded 1,572 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections to 40,092, according to the country's Health Protection Agency. 

The country was one of the first countries to fully reopen to travelers last year.

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11:00 p.m. ET, May 12, 2021

Pfizer vaccine authorization for 12 to 15-year-olds is a "big day," Biden administration official says

From CNN's Ryan Prior

The decision by public health agencies to recommend the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for young people ages 12 to 15 makes today "a big day," the Biden Administration's scientific lead for the pandemic said.

"The immunogenicity was strong. It was compared to young adults. The safety profile was reviewed. There was nothing that stood out in that safety profile," said Dr. David Kessler, the science officer of Covid-19 response with the US Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday on SiriusXM's "Doctor Radio Reports" show.

"And, remarkably, there was 100% efficacy in the treatment compared to the placebo in preventing Covid infection," he said, adding that he would be "very comfortable" urging parents of adolescents age 12 to 15 to take their kids to get a Covid-19 vaccine.

He noted that attention should now turn to getting the vaccines authorized for younger children as well.

"I don't see the 12-15-year-old group as being any different than those that have come before," he said. "I think we still have to get the data on children below the ages of 12. You know, as a pediatrician I understand fully that children are not just little adults. It's not just that you make the dose adjustment. They can react differently, so we have to get the data. We have the data in on adolescents and it's extraordinary. It's highly effective, 100%. Who would have ever thought, Dr. Siegel, that we would be sitting here and say we have a vaccine that in this age group is 100% effective?"
10:58 p.m. ET, May 12, 2021

Covid-19 infections in England fall 50% since March but variants remain a threat, new study finds

From CNN’s Lindsay Isaac in London

Cases of Covid-19 in England have halved since March pointing to the effectiveness of vaccination, according to the latest series study REACT-1, commissioned by the UK Department of Health and published online Thursday.  

In its 11th report since the pandemic began, researchers from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI for REACT (Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission) conducted 127,000 PCR tests on volunteers in England between April 15 and May 3, to examine levels of Covid-19 infection in the general population.

It found the prevalence of the virus dropped by 50% from 0.20% in March to 0.10%, with only 1 in 1,000 people infected. Additionally, prevalence was the lowest in the over 75 age group at 0.05% and fell the most in the 55-64 year old group from 0.17% to 0.06%, which researchers said may be attributed to the timeline of the vaccination program. The age group with the highest prevalence of the virus, 25-34 at 0.21%, is not yet eligible for vaccination. Researchers say the data points to the impact of the vaccine rollout but warns “new variants remain a threat.”

Participants of Asian ethnicity had the highest level of infection at 0.31% compared with White participants at 0.09%. The B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the UK accounted for 92% of infections. The B.1.617 variant, first identified in India and recently classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the WHO, accounted for 7.7% of infections. The study also found a “divergence between the prevalence of infections and hospitalizations and deaths,” suggesting “infections may have led to fewer hospitalizations and deaths since the start of widespread vaccination.”

With England and most of the UK set to start further easing of restrictions next week, the UK Minister of Health Matt Hancock said the study indicates the country is “going in the right direction,” but warned that due to the presence of variants, people must still exercise caution. 

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the REACT study said it is “very encouraging that infections have continued to fall while rules have been relaxed in England, and it’s likely that the vaccine roll out has played a key part in helping keep the virus at bay.”