Delta to Dominate in U.S.; Soccer Crowds in Focus: Virus Update

Pedestrians wearing protective masks walk across a road during a lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus in Sydney. (Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg)

Delta to Dominate in U.S.; Soccer Crowds in Focus: Virus Update

The “hyper-transmissible” delta variant may eclipse other virus mutations in the U.S. within weeks, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. Some 1,000 U.S. counties with low vaccination rates, notably in the Southeast and Midwest, are particularly vulnerable.

President Joe Biden’s administration is sending response teams to hot spots to stem the spread of the delta variant. In August, New York plans to celebrate its comeback from Covid-19 with a Central Park concert.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson said extra precautions might be needed even after July 19, the date he says Covid-19 restrictions will end. New cases in England and Scotland are rising, potentially linked to the thousands of soccer fans gathering to watch matches at the Euro 2020 tournament.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases top 182 million; deaths pass 3.94 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 3 billion doses administered
  • J&J to begin first teens Covid-19 vaccine study this fall
  • New York risks missing window to turn hotels into housing
  • From Alpha to Delta, Why Virus Mutations Cause Alarm: QuickTake
  • Anti-vaxxer propaganda spreads in Asia, endangering millions
Delta to Dominate in U.S.; Soccer Crowds in Focus: Virus Update

Biden Sends Out Teams to Stem Delta’s Spread (2:45 p.m.)

The Biden administration is sending response teams to unvaccinated pockets of the U.S. in an attempt to combat the spread of the highly transmissible delta Covid-19 variant.

U.S. health officials will boost testing, provide therapeutics and deploy federal personnel where needed and requested, said Jeffrey Zients, President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator. Staff will come from the Health and Human Services Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Delta Variant to Eclipse Others in U.S. (2:05 p.m. NY)

The “hyper-transmissible” delta variant is likely to become the dominant one in the U.S., underscoring the importance of further expanding vaccination, said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Delta accounts for almost 50% of newly recorded infections in parts of the U.S., she said.

“The delta variant is predicted to be the second-most prevalent variant in the United States and I expect that in the coming weeks it will eclipse the alpha variant,” Walensky said in a briefing.

About 1,000 U.S. counties have vaccination coverage of less than 30%, primarily in the Southeast and Midwest, and rates of the disease are increasing in those locations, she said. Those areas “are our most vulnerable,” Walensky said.

German Minister Blasts England Soccer Crowds (1:05 p.m. NY)

A senior German official criticized European soccer’s governing body for allowing large crowds to attend European Championship matches in England, calling the decision “absolutely irresponsible.”

With the U.K. hit by the delta variant, health authorities say 1,991 Covid-positive people from Scotland have attended one or more Euro 2020 events since June 11. Scotland on Thursday reported more than 4,000 cases, a one-day record. Wembley Stadium will host the tournament’s semifinals and final.

UEFA should shift to “a common-sense policy” to limit crowds, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in Berlin.

Greece Tightens Rules on Island Travel (11:34 a.m. NY)

Adults traveling from the Greek mainland to the country’s numerous islands will be required to show a Covid-19 vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test carried out no earlier than 72 hours before travel or a negative rapid test no older than 48 hours, Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said.

The requirement comes into effect on July 5, including for foreign tourists. Greece has seen a slight increase in the cases over the past week.

NYC Concert Planned to Mark Comeback (11:30 a.m. NY)

Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Jennifer Hudson will be among the performers at an Aug. 21 Central Park celebration of New York City’s comeback from the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The concert will be part of a “Homecoming Week” intended to market the city to tourists in an effort to bring back an industry that once welcomed more than 60 million visitors a year.

U.K. New Cases Reach 5-Month High (11 a.m. NY)

The U.K. recorded 27,989 new cases, the second straight day that the total is at a five-month high.

Hospital admissions in England are rising sharply, according to the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group. The 7-day average climbed to 227, three times as many as in mid-May, with nearly all regions showing a strong increase.

First DNA Covid Vaccine 67% Effective (9:30 a.m. NY)

India’s Cadila Healthcare Ltd. has sought approval from the local drug regulator for its DNA-based vaccine against Covid-19 after the shot proved effective in clinical trials.

The drugmaker applied for emergency use authorization for the shot, which uses DNA to instruct the body’s cells to produce proteins that spark a protective response, according to an exchange filing Thursday. The Phase 3 trials on more than 28,000 volunteers across 50 centers showed an efficacy rate of 67%, Cadila said. That is below the rates of the shots from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer-BioNTech that use messenger RNA technology.

Scotland Has Biggest-Ever Case Increase (9:10 a.m. NY)

Scotland reported the biggest daily increase in cases since the start of the pandemic. The country’s devolved government, which is responsible for health, identified 4,234 new infections in the last 24 hours, the third daily record in the space of four days.

The Scottish government is counting on vaccinations breaking the link between infection and serious illness and is still planning to ease most of the remaining restrictions on movement and social interaction in early August, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday.

Germany Recommends mRNA as 2nd Shot (8:54 a.m. NY)

German vaccine authority STIKO recommended that people who received AstraZeneca as the first Covid-19 shot get an mRNA shot as their second jab regardless of age, according to a statement. The authority cited studies that show the immune response from a mixture of vaccine technologies is better than two shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Delta to Dominate in U.S.; Soccer Crowds in Focus: Virus Update

Africa Faces Worst Week of Pandemic (7:38 a.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in Africa are rising so quickly that the continent will soon face its worst week since the start of the pandemic, with the more infectious delta variant becoming more widespread.

Almost 202,000 new cases of the illness were reported in the past week, and infections are doubling every three weeks, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said in an online briefing Thursday. More than 5.4 million cases have been reported on the continent, with 141,000 deaths, she said.

Johnson Warns on U.K. Covid Rules (7:33 a.m. NY)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said some “extra precautions” could still be required even after the July 19 date he has said will mark the end of the country’s Covid restrictions.

The premier said he was “impatient” to get back to normal life but would not rule out keeping regulations or guidance in place on wearing masks in crowded public areas or on people keeping a specified distance apart.

Singapore Eyes More Easing (7:30 a.m. NY)

Singapore is slated to announce a further easing of Covid-19 restrictions in mid-July as part of a strategy for reopening the economy that may also include the long-awaited return of leisure travel by the end of the year, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told the Straits Times.

With virus clusters in the community coming under control, Ong told the newspaper that the government was looking at raising the number of people allowed to dine together in restaurants from two come July 12, while exploring “other openings” as well.

Delta to Dominate in U.S.; Soccer Crowds in Focus: Virus Update

Malaysia Tightens Curbs (7:28 a.m. NY)

Malaysia will impose tightened movement restrictions in dozens of sub-districts across Selangor, its richest state, and several localities in Kuala Lumpur beginning Saturday to curb a worsening coronavirus outbreak.

People staying in districts such as Petaling and Klang must remain at home throughout the so-called Enhanced Movement Control Order from July 3 until July 16, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a statement Thursday. Only one person may leave the home at a time to purchase essential items, he said.

Six Fully Vaccinated People Died in Seychelles (7:14 a.m. NY)

Six fully vaccinated people died in the Seychelles, which has the highest per-capita vaccinations in the world. Five had received Covishield, an Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and one got the Sinopharm shot, Jude Gedeon, the island nation’s public health commissioner, told reporters.

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