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The European medicines watchdog today approved the use of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 17, making it the second jab for adolescents for use on the continent.

"The use of the Spikevax vaccine in children from 12 to 17 years of age will be the same as in people aged 18 and above," the European Medicines Agency said, adding it will be given in two injections, four weeks apart.

Meanwhile, during the first 14 months of the pandemic, an estimated 1.5 million children worldwide experienced the death of a parent, custodial grandparent, or other relative who cared for them, as a result of coronavirus, as per a study published in The Lancet.

The orphanhood estimates are drawn from mortality data from 21 countries that account for 77% of global coronavirus deaths and from the United Nations Population Division.

"For every two COVID-19 deaths worldwide, one child is left behind to face the death of a parent or caregiver," Dr. Susan Hillis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Response Team, who led the study, said in a statement.

The number of coronavirus orphans will increase as the pandemic progresses, she added. There is an urgent need to prioritize these children and "support them for many years into the future," Hillis said. Said study coauthor Lucie Cluver of Oxford University: "And we need to respond fast because every 12 seconds a child loses their caregiver to COVID-19."

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