Bahrain announces Pfizer booster shots as Covid-19 cases rise globally

Booster availability comes amidst backdrop of 52 per cent increase in cases in past four weeks

FILE PHOTO: A member of medical staff wearing protective gloves carries a swab tested during a drive-thru coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing at Bahrain Exhibition Center, in Manama, Bahrain April 9, 2020. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo
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Bahrain has become one of the first countries to offer the latest Pfizer XBB 1.5 booster shot as a defence against Covid-19 and its new variants.

The World Health Organisation has reported a 52 per cent increase in new Covid cases over the past four weeks, with over 850,000 new cases recorded.

With over 3,000 fatalities, concerns have risen over the emergence of the JN. 1 variant, which accounts for 44.1 per cent of Covid-19 cases globally.

JN. 1 was listed as a separate “variant of interest” this week after it was found in China, India and the US. The first case of JN. 1 was recorded in the US in September.

JN. 1 is descended from the Omicron variant of Sars-CoV-2, although it has more than two dozen mutations.

The Bahrain Health Ministry announced that Pfizer XBB 1.5 vaccines would be available at several healthcare centres.

For those over the age of 12, the Pfizer XBB 1.5 vaccine will be given at Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait Health Centre in Hidd, Jidhafs Health Centre, Sitra Health Centre, Youssef Engineer Health Centre and Mohammed Jassim Kanoo Health Centre between 7.30am and 7pm, the Health Ministry said.

Those aged between 5 and 11 will be able to receive the vaccine from December 27 at the Halat Bu Maher Health Centre, Hamad Kanoo Health Centre and Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah Health Centre.

Dr Mohammed Al Awadhi, director of public health at the Ministry of Health, said taking new booster vaccinations would enhance the immunity of people, especially groups at high risk of contracting Covid.

Egypt's Ministry of Health and Population issued notices outlining the specific symptoms of the JN. 1 variant, although no cases have been detected in the country.

“We cannot say that major waves of Covid infections are returning, but the new variant is highly contagious and can infect even those who have been vaccinated,” said Dr Hossam Hosny, head of the Scientific Committee for Coronavirus Control at the ministry.

Updated: December 24, 2023, 12:38 PM