Australian Open Will Require Players to Be Fully Vaccinated – The New York Times

Novak Djokovic in Melbourne, Australia, in February. He is the reigning Australian Open mens singles champion and has declined to divulge his vaccination status.Credit...Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters

The Australian Open in January will become the first Grand Slam tennis tournament to require that players be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, a decision that casts doubt on the participation of Novak Djokovic of Serbia, the No. 1-ranked mens player, who has declined to divulge his vaccination status.

Craig Tiley, the Australian Open tournament director, confirmed the tournaments policy in a television interview in Melbourne on Saturday.

The announcement ended months of speculation and mixed messages from Australian government officials. Federal authorities had indicated that unvaccinated players might be able to enter Australia and compete in the tournament in Melbourne after a 14-day quarantine period. But Daniel Andrews, the premier of the state of Victoria, has been adamant that players will need to be fully vaccinated, just as Australian Open spectators and on-site employees will be required to be vaccinated.

Melbourne, Victorias capital, has experienced some of the strictest coronavirus measures in the world, with six separate stay-at-home orders over an 18-month period.

It is the one direction that you can take that you can ensure everyones safety, and all the playing group understands it, Mr. Tiley said of requiring players to be vaccinated. Our patrons will need to be vaccinated. All the staff working the Australian Open will need to be vaccinated, but when were in a state where theres more than 90 percent of the population fully vaccinated theyve done a magnificent job with that its the right thing to do.

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.

Steve Simon, the chief executive of the Womens Tennis Association, said in an interview this past week that over 70 percent of the W.T.A.s top 300 singles players and top 100 doubles players had been vaccinated and that all of the singles and doubles players who competed in the recent W.T.A. finals in Mexico had been vaccinated.

Andrea Gaudenzi, the chairman of the mens tour, said in an interview on Friday that the vaccination rate for the top 100 mens singles players was above 80 percent.

We are moving toward 90 percent, 95 percent of fully vaccinated, he said. A lot will do it in the off-season with one shot.

But it seems all but certain that some qualified players will not make the journey to Australia because of the policy.

All four Grand Slam tournaments, including the U.S. Open, allowed unvaccinated players to participate this year, as have regular tour events.

Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open singles champion, has yet to confirm whether he will defend his title next year. He and his wife, Jelena, contracted the coronavirus in June 2020 during an exhibition tour that he had helped to organize in Serbia and Croatia.

He has expressed concern about vaccines and has said repeatedly that he would wait for the Australian Opens policy to be made clear before making a decision on participating.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday endorsed booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines for all adults, a move that brings tens of millions fully vaccinated people a step closer to a third shot.

Boosters are recommended six months after the second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. With this final step, boosters should be available this weekend, allowing many Americans to get a shot before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The new recommendations say that everyone 50 and older most of whom have other risk factors as well as those 18 and older living in long-term care facilities should get a booster. Other Americans who are 18 and older may opt for one if they wish, based on individual risk and benefit.

Several advisers said at the meeting that they hoped the simpler age-based guidelines would ease some of the confusion around who is eligible for the extra shots.

An advisory committee to the C.D.C. unanimously voted in favor of the booster shots. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the agencys director, later formally accepted the recommendation. The recommendations align with President Bidens promise in August that all adults would be eligible for extra doses.

Desperate to dampen even a dim echo of last winters horrors, the administration is betting that booster shots will shore up what some have characterized as waning immunity among the fully vaccinated.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for all adults on Friday, but the C.D.C. generally makes the recommendations followed by the medical profession.

In recent days, several states have broadened booster access to all adults on their own.

Addressing the panelists, Dr.SamPosner, the acting director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, acknowledged that previous eligibility categories were complicated to implement and said he hoped that simplifying them will reduce confusion.

After a brief respite, coronavirus infections are inching up again, particularly in parts of the country where cooler weather is hustling people indoors. Research suggests that the shots may help forestall at least some infections, particularly in older adults and those with certain health conditions.

The C.D.C.s decision lands just as Americans are preparing to spend the holidays with family and friends. Given the tens of millions of Americans who have yet to receive a single dose of vaccine, holiday travel and get-togethers could send cases skyrocketing, as they did last year.

Several European countries are also offering boosters to all adults in a bid to contain fresh waves of infections. France has gone so far as to mandate booster shots for people over age 65 who wish to get a health pass permitting access to public venues.

Noah Weiland and Dan Levin contributed reporting.

Pregnant women who had Covid-19 when they delivered their babies were almost twice as likely to have a stillbirth as healthy women who did not have Covid, according to a Centers for Disease Control study released on Friday that examined more than 1.2 million deliveries in the United States from March 2020 to September 2021.

While stillbirths were rare overall, representing less than 1 percent of all births, 1.26 percent of the 21,653 women with Covid experienced a stillbirth, compared with 0.64 percent of women without Covid. Even after adjustments were made to control for differences between the groups, women with Covid were 1.9 times as likely as healthy women to have a stillbirth.

The risk of stillbirth has been even higher for women with Covid since the Delta variant has been dominant: While the risk of stillbirth for women with Covid was 1.5 times as high as that of healthy women before July, when Delta became dominant, it was four times as high from July to September. As many as 2.7 percent of deliveries to women with Covid were stillbirths during the period studied while Delta was dominant.

There had been reports suggesting an increased risk, but stillbirths are hard to study, because luckily they are uncommon, said Dr. Denise Jamieson, the chief of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory Healthcare. This is some of the strongest evidence of the increased risk, and probably the strongest data pointing to the risks specifically tied to Delta.

The C.D.C. strongly encourages pregnant and breastfeeding women and women planning or trying to become pregnant to be vaccinated against Covid, but resistance has been strong, even though pregnancy is on the C.D.C.s list of health conditions that increase the risk of severe disease.

Studies have shown that pregnant patients who are symptomatic are more than twice as likely as other symptomatic patients to require admission to intensive care or interventions like mechanical ventilation, and they may be more likely to die. They are also more likely to experience a preterm birth.

Another C.D.C. study issued on Wednesday described the cases of 15 pregnant women in Mississippi who died of Covid during their pregnancy or shortly afterward, including six who died before the Delta variant became dominant and nine who died from July to October, while Delta was dominant.

Of the women who died, nine were Black, three were white and three were Hispanic. The median age was 30. Fourteen of the women had underlying medical conditions, and none were vaccinated. Five of the deaths occurred before vaccinations were available.

Austria on Friday became the first Western democracy to announce that it would mandate Covid vaccinations for its entire adult population as it prepared for a nationwide lockdown starting Monday.

The extraordinary measure by Austria, which only days ago separated itself from the rest of Europe by introducing a lockdown for the unvaccinated, who are driving a surge of infections, made for another alarming statement about the severity of the fourth wave of the virus in Europe, now the epicenter of the pandemic.

But it also showed that increasingly desperate governments are losing their patience with vaccine skeptics and shifting from voluntary to obligatory measures to promote vaccinations and beat back a virus that shows no sign of waning, rattling global markets at the prospect that still tentative economic recoveries will be undone.

Some European countries, including Germany, which once seemed a model of how to manage the virus, are now facing their worst levels of infections in the nearly two years since the pandemic began. The surge, health authorities say, is being driven by stubborn resistance to getting vaccinated in deep pockets of the population, cold weather driving people indoors, loosened restrictions and possibly waning immunity among those previously vaccinated.

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.

For a long time maybe too long I and others assumed that it must be possible to convince people in Austria to voluntarily get vaccinated, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg of Austria said on Friday. We therefore have reached a very difficult decision to introduce a national vaccine mandate.

With its latest move, Austria significantly moved ahead of other European countries that have inched up to, but not crossed, a threshold that once seemed unthinkable. The announcement drew an immediate threat of violent protest this weekend by leaders of anti-vaccine movements and the far-right Freedom Party, which compared the governments latest mandates with those of a dictatorship.

Many European countries have already instituted mandates in all but name only requiring strict health passes as proof of vaccination, recovery from infection or a negative test to partake in most social functions, travel or to go to work. Many already require children to be vaccinated against measles and other illnesses to attend school.

The notion of requiring vaccination in adults against Covid was a line that Europe had seemed unwilling to cross, however, with leaders often contrasting their respect for civil liberties with authoritarian-styled countries.

But just as lockdowns have become a fact of life, vaccine mandates are increasingly becoming plausible. German lawmakers in Parliament voted on Thursday to force unvaccinated people going to work or using public transit to provide daily test results. The countrys vaccination rate among adults is about 79 percent, one of the lowest in Western Europe.

On Friday, Jens Spahn, the acting health minister in Germany, was asked whether a general lockdown was possible for the country. We are in a position where nothing should be ruled out, he said.

The specter of a lockdown in Germany, Europes largest economy, sent jitters through European markets hungering for economic recovery and sales during the Christmas shopping season.

Austrias new vaccine mandate will take effect in February, in the hopes that as many people as possible will be motivated to sign up for their initial inoculations, but also booster shots, Austrias health minister, Wolfgang Mckstein, said.

It also gave leaders time to formalize legal guidelines for the mandate, he said, adding that there would be exceptions for people who are not able to be vaccinated.

An earlier version of this briefing item incorrectly described the nature of Austrias planned nationwide lockdown. It will be among the first in Europe since the spring, not the first.

Gov. Bill Lee said on Friday that he would not renew Tennessees state of emergency, ending measures that he first put in place in response to the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020.

The governor announced the decision in a tweet:

Mr. Lee added that he would consider temporarily reinstating the measures should the state face any future surges, but that his administration was evaluating opportunities for permanent deregulation.

Recently, cases in Tennessee reached a peak in early September before dropping steeply, but infections have been rising again in recent days.

Source: State and local health agencies. Daily cases are the number of new cases reported each day. The seven-day average is the average of a day and the previous six days of data.

Mr. Lee, a Republican, has been active in rolling back pandemic restrictions. Last week, he signed a bill into law that prohibited government entities, schools and private businesses in Tennessee from requiring Covid vaccinations or proof of vaccination and limited their ability to impose mask mandates. The law also prohibited health care providers from vaccinating minors without the written consent of a parent or legal guardian.

On Wednesday, the governor made a pitch to law enforcement personnel who were leaving states with restrictive mandates to join the Tennessee Highway Patrol, going so far as offering to help pay their moving expenses.

With the holiday travel season nearing, Canadian officials announced several measures on Friday meant to standardize international travel and make it easier for Canadians taking short trips to re-enter the country.

Travelers who are fully vaccinated with the shots from Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covaxin will be allowed to enter Canada starting Nov. 30, opening the door wider to people from countries like India, Brazil and China, where those vaccines are more frequently administered.

Currently, Canada only accepts travelers who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the four shots approved in the country. The expanded list will align with the vaccines cleared for use by the World Health Organization.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canadas chief public health officer, said that the case rates associated with each of the vaccines were about the same.

All that is very reassuring, Dr. Tam said. She added that although Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covaxin are not authorized in Canada, because theyve gone through the W.H.O. process in terms of evaluation of safety, of efficacy and of quality, weve taken that into account as we increase the list of vaccines for Canadian border measures.

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.

Additionally, people leaving Canada by land or by air for less than 72 hours will no longer be required to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test to re-enter the country. The price and processing time of P.C.R. tests which can cost more than $100 and take longer than a day for results were widely seen as deterrents to travel.

This change applies only to Canadians, permanent residents and Indigenous people registered under the Indian Act. It also takes effect Nov. 30.

The government will take a firm stance against unvaccinated travelers entering and leaving the country beginning on that date as well, with very few exemptions, said Omar Alghabra, Canadas transport minister. He added that only fully vaccinated travelers would be able to fly from a Canadian airport or board a Via Rail or Rocky Mountaineer train.

Starting Jan. 15, Canada will also phase out most previously granted travel exemptions for those who are unvaccinated. This will affect professional and amateur athletes, foreign students, truck drivers and other essential workers who cross the border, and adults over 18 traveling to reunite with a family member.

Other categories of unvaccinated or partly vaccinated travelers such as refugees, marine crews and agricultural workers will be able to enter only with limited approval.

BRUSSELS The European Unions drug regulator on Friday recommended the use of a pill, developed by Merck, that was found in a clinical trial to halve the rate of hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk Covid patients who took it soon after infection.

The drug, molnupiravir, has yet to be authorized by E.U. countries, but in recommending its administration, the European Medicines Agency paved the way for its use within the next few months.

Several E.U. countries, including France and Italy, have already placed orders for supplies of the drug.

Britain became the first country this month to authorize the use of the pill. Its regulator authorized it for vaccinated and unvaccinated people who have Covid and are at high risk of becoming severely ill. The treatment could be authorized in the United States as soon as early December.

The European Medicines Agency said the drug could be taken by adults who do not require supplemental oxygen and who are at increased risk of developing severe coronavirus cases. The pill should be administered as soon as possible after diagnosis of Covid-19 and within five days of the start of symptoms, the agency said in a news release.

The agency also said on Friday that it had begun reviewing a similar drug developed by Pfizer, called Paxlovid.

Scientists and government leaders have called the drugs game changers in efforts to end the pandemic if their efficacy in clinical trials holds up in the real world. Unlike monoclonal antibodies, which are typically administered by health care professionals at a hospital or clinic, the pills would be dispensed at pharmacies and taken at home, providing a cheaper and easier way to treat coronavirus infections, including in poorer countries.

Merck has agreed to let other manufacturers make and sell its pill in 105 developing nations, including many where vaccination rates are critically low. It has also licensed eight large Indian drug makers to produce generic and cheaper versions of Mercks pill.

In the United States, Pfizer applied to the Food and Drug Administration this past week to authorize Paxlovid, and the Biden administration plans to buy a stockpile of the pill that could be administered to as many as 10 million people.

Canada approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTechs coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 on Friday, adding more than 2.8 million young people to those eligible for a shot.

Some provinces, including Ontario and Saskatchewan, have already announced plans to start scheduling appointments for young children as soon as the doses arrive. Canadas first order enough for all eligible children to receive one dose is expected to begin arriving on Sunday, Filomena Tassi, Canadas minister of public services and procurement, said at a news conference. She added that the government was working with Pfizer on a second order.

Overall, this is very good news for adults and children alike, Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada, the agency responsible for drug authorization in the country, said at another news conference. It provides another tool to protect Canadians and, to the relief of many parents, will help bring back a degree of normality to childrens lives, allowing them to more safely do the things that they have missed during the last 20 months.

Pfizers is the first coronavirus vaccine to be approved in Canada for children ages 5 to 11. Health Canada based its approval on a clinical trial comprising 4,600 children, Dr. Sharma said, with 3,100 children receiving two doses of the vaccine spaced three weeks apart and 1,500 receiving a placebo.

There were four adverse reactions unconnected to the vaccinations, and none of the children experienced heart inflammation or severe allergic reactions.

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.

The pediatric doses each one-third of the adult dose will be stored in vials with an orange cap, and the cartons labels will have orange borders, to differentiate them from the adult vials, Christina Antoniou, a spokeswoman for Pfizer Canada, said in an email.

The reduced dose for children results in antibody levels comparable to those from the larger dose in adults, said Dr. Jeffrey Pernica, an infectious diseases specialist at McMaster Childrens Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. For parents wondering if they should wait until their child turns 12 to get the larger dose, Dr. Pernica noted, the immune response produced by the pediatric vaccine is just as strong.

I dont think waiting would have any significant benefit, he said.

Nearly 75 percent of all Canadians, or more than 28.5 million people, are fully vaccinated.

More than 16,800 coronavirus cases have been reported in Canada in the past seven days, according to national public health data, with the highest per capita rates in Yukon and the Northwest Territories. First Nations reserves are also experiencing high per capita infection rates.

While the number of severe cases has declined nationwide, hospitals in some areas are inching closer to capacity limits, said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canadas chief public health officer. She added that newly reported cases were highest among children.

As Austria prepares to go into a national lockdown next week, the health minister in neighboring Germany suggested on Friday that a similar measure remained an option for his far larger country as coronavirus cases there continue to reach record levels.

We are in a position where nothing should be ruled out, the minister, Jens Spahn, told a news conference in response to a reporters question about a lockdown for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

His remarks came one day after lawmakers in Parliament voted to force unvaccinated people going to work or using public transit to provide daily test results. The countrys vaccination rate among adults is about 79 percent.

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and state governors also agreed on Thursday night to require proof of vaccination or recovery from coronavirus infection for people entering restaurants, bars and hair salons or attending events in states where hospital beds are becoming scarce.

But some German states are going it alone.

On Friday, the governor of Bavaria, which has some of the countrys worst hot spots, announced measures including the cancellation of all Christmas markets and the closing of bars, clubs and nightclubs until at least Dec. 15. The celebrated Christmas market in the states capital, Munich, was canceled earlier this week.

Theaters, cinemas, operas and spectator sports will be allowed to remain open at 25 percent capacity for people who are vaccinated or who have recovered from the virus and show a negative test result. Restaurants will close at 10 p.m.

Districts with high infection rates will close down completely, leaving only essential shops, day cares and schools open.

We are facing a corona drama, the states governor, Markus Sder, said. The numbers are exploding in the shortest time span and the beds are full, he added, referring to overwhelmed hospitals. Some patients there are being moved to less crowded hospitals in northern Germany.

The governor of Saxony also announced new restrictions on Friday. Starting on Monday, a ban will be introduced on some events and larger gatherings regardless of the inoculation status of those attending.

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Australian Open Will Require Players to Be Fully Vaccinated - The New York Times

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