Brazil Deaths Reach 500,000; U.S. Shots to Taiwan: Virus Update

Brazil reached 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 on Saturday, a toll second only to the U.S. As the milestone was officially passed, thousands protested in major cities against President Jair Bolsonaro and his handling of the pandemic.

U.S infections have fallen to the level of the first lockdowns in March 2020, though President Joe Biden warned of a “deadly threat” from the highly-transmissible delta variant first found in India and now expected to become the dominant strain in the U.S.

The U.S. sent 2.5 million doses of Moderna Inc.’s vaccine to Taiwan, reflecting part of Biden’s pledge to donate 25 million shots worldwide to stem the pandemic.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases exceed 177.9 million; deaths pass 3.8 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 2.55 billion doses administered
  • Many Brazilians insist on Pfizer even with 500,000 dead of Covid
  • Covid counts hit zero in U.S. hospitals once overrun by victims
  • U.K. is a test case for Covid endgame as variant upends the math
  • Subscribe to a daily update from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here.
Brazil Deaths Reach 500,000; U.S. Shots to Taiwan: Virus Update

Brazil Passes 500,000 Fatalities (5:03 p.m. NY)

Brazil reached 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 on Saturday, a toll second only to the U.S. As the milestone was officially passed, thousands protested in major cities against President Jair Bolsonaro and his handling of the pandemic.

Demonstrators asked for the president’s impeachment, a faster vaccination pace and an increase in cash assistance during a third wave of Covid-19 in Latin America’s largest economy.

“I am working tirelessly to vaccinate all Brazilians in the shortest time possible and to change this scenario that has plagued us for over a year,” Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga tweeted on Saturday before the official toll was announced. Almost 30% of the nation has received at least one dose of vaccine, and 11.6% is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Mexico City to Close Schools (2:35 p.m. NY)

Mexico City schools will suspend in-person classes as of June 21 after the local government moved to a yellow code alert from a green light according to the country’s stoplight system.

The federal education authority for Mexico City said that it is suspending classes including public and private elementary, high school, college-level and teacher training, according to a joint statement with the education ministry.

U.S. Sends Taiwan 2.5 Million Doses (12:22 p.m. NY)

The U.S. sent 2.5 million doses of Moderna Inc.’s vaccine to Taiwan, reflecting part of President Joe Biden’s pledge to donate 25 million shots worldwide to stem the pandemic.

While the U.S. has criticized China for what it says have been attempts to block vaccine supplies to Taiwan, an administration official said the U.S. shipment came with no political strings attached.

Taiwan is receiving Moderna shots on a plane that left Memphis on Saturday morning, according to two administration officials.

Malawi Runs Out of Vaccines (11:53 a.m. NY)

Malawi has run out of vaccines because of delays in shipping, its health ministry said on Saturday, according to Agence France Presse. The nation’s inoculation campaign began in April, and many people are due for their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

With a new viral wave sweeping across Africa, Gambia said on Thursday that it too had run out of its AstraZeneca shots. It didn’t say when new doses will be imported.

Delta Strain Likely to Dominate in Germany (11:26 a.m. NY)

The delta variant will probably dominate in Germany within three to four weeks, Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder warned at a meeting of the youth wing of his party on Saturday, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported.

“If you get out of bed too soon after being sick, you risk a severe relapse,” the newspaper cited Soeder as saying. He defended a cautious re-opening strategy as authorities seek to speed the pace of inoculations, in particular second doses.

Israel Defends Vaccine Shipment (11:23 a.m. NY)

The first batch of Pfizer vaccines Israel sent to the Palestinian Authority on Friday as part of a larger swap deal was “completely normal” and identical to the vaccines being given to Israeli citizens, Israel’s Health Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

On Friday, the Palestinian Authority canceled the exchange agreement, saying the doses were about to expire.

The Israeli Health Ministry said it sent vaccines with expiration dates that were “known, agreed upon and in accordance with the agreement between the parties.”

U.S. Outbreak Improves as Variant Threatens (8:01 a.m. NY)

The U.S. reported just over 13,000 new cases on Friday as new infections dropped to the level seen in the first lockdown in March 2020, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Friday’s number was a 10th that of the same day six months ago.

Another 368 deaths were reported, with average daily deaths about half of a month ago.

The continued improvement is clouded by the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant first found in India and hampering a final reopening in England. On Friday, President Biden called it “a serious and deadly threat” and urged Americans to get vaccinated. Full vaccination has been shown effective against the variant.

Oman Locks Down (6:55 a.m. NY)

Oman announced a partial lockdown as the nation deals with its worst coronavirus outbreak since the start of the pandemic as variants spread rapidly. Movement of individuals and vehicles will be banned from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m. starting on Sunday, and public spaces and commercial activity will be shut, state-run Oman TV reported. Some essential businesses such as pharmacies and supermarkets may remain open.

The Gulf nation has over the past two weeks reported the highest number of daily deaths since the start of the pandemic. Hospitalizations have also increased after reporting cases of the delta, alpha and beta Covid-19 variants.

U.K Considers New Quarantine Rules (5:33 p.m. HK)

Britons who have been double-vaccinated could be spared a 10-day period in quarantine if they come into contact with a Covid-19 carrier, under new rules being considered by the U.K. government, according to the Times of London.

Instead, people who have been contacted under the U.K.’s test-and-trace system could opt to take a Covid-19 test each morning for a week, with each negative result giving them a 24-hour waiver from the legal requirement to self-isolate, the paper reported, citing unidentified sources.

Russia Cases Spike (5:00 p.m. HK)

Russia added the highest number of new cases since January 31, reporting 17,906 more infections on Saturday. Moscow remains the nation’s virus hot spot, registering 9,120 new cases, the highest on record.

Russia is experiencing a resurgence of the virus amid a rapid spread of the more contagious delta strain first identified in India. The resurgence has forced Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia’s two largest cities, to restore some public restrictions just as many cities in the U.S. and Europe are easing them.

Moscow mayor Mayor Sergei Sobyanin earlier this week ordered mandatory vaccination for at least 2 million workers in the capital as rising cases threaten to overwhelm the capital’s hospitals.

Uganda Demand for Oxygen to Soars (4:50 p.m. HK)

Demand for oxygen in Uganda may rise almost nine-fold in a month as surging Covid-19 infections stretch health-care capacity in the East African country.

Daily oxygen consumption by coronavirus patients could climb to 25,800 cylinders from about 3,000 cylinders now, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said in a televised address. Confirmed cases have jumped by 46% this month to 68,779.

India Holds Off on Vaccine Exports (12:20 p.m. HK)

India won’t resume exports of Covid-19 vaccines until it meets domestic needs, Dr. Vinod K. Paul, the head of the country’s Covid-19 task force said in an interview with the Associated Press.

“Once our immediate need of vaccinating a significant proportion of Indian people is achieved and vaccine stockpiles are visible from multiple sources, we would then like to play the role of serving others,” Paul said. India can expect at least 740 million doses between August and December, he said.

The world’s biggest producer of vaccines was sending jabs to over 90 countries in January, but curtailed the export program by April after a virulent second wave made India the world’s worst hotspot. Paul declined to say when he thought exports may recommence. Last month, the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest supplier of vaccines, said it may not be able to start delivering doses until the end of the year.

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