Moderna Shot Works Against Delta; 3 Billion Doses: Virus Update

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and syringes. (Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

Moderna Shot Works Against Delta; 3 Billion Doses: Virus Update

Moderna Inc. said its vaccine produced protective antibodies against the contagious delta variant, which is fast becoming the dominant strain in France, Germany, South Africa and other nations. More than 3 billion doses of Covid vaccine have been administered around the world as the pace of the global rollout continues to accelerate.

Hong Kong banned flights from the U.K. amid rising infections, while Spain took visitors from the country off its restriction-free travel list. Officials are preparing to scrap an isolation requirement for schoolchildren in England who come into contact with a positive case, amid criticism of the disruption it’s causing.

Cases also continued to climb in Tokyo, with less than a month before the scheduled start of the Olympic Games. Vietnam’s economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City will maintain social distancing measures for an undetermined time, and Indonesia is set to enforce stricter curbs.

Key Developments:

Moderna Shot Works Against Delta; 3 Billion Doses: Virus Update

More Than 3 Billion Doses Administered Globally (4:18 p.m. NY)

At least 3.01 billion doses of Covid vaccine have been administered around the world, according to the latest data from Bloomberg, as the pace of the global rollout continues to accelerate.

Of the about 43 million doses now being administered every day, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker, almost half are being performed in China. China’s pace of vaccinations is enough to cover 75% of the population there with a two-dose vaccine in about a month from now, a remarkably rapid rollout that has eclipsed similar efforts in the U.S., the European Union and India.

The pace of the global vaccine effort continues to accelerate. It took 143 days to perform the first billion doses, and another 40 days for the second billion. The third billion doses were performed in 26 days, according to Bloomberg’s data.

Executives Freed From England Quarantine (12:55 p.m. NY)

Senior executives who have traveled to England can temporarily leave quarantine if their work is likely to bring major benefits to the U.K. economy, the government announced on Tuesday.

The exemption from isolation rules for newly arrived travelers applies to multinational executives who are visiting British branches of their firms. Critics of the decision questioned why it wasn’t also extended to smaller businesses.

Delta Variant May Spark Fourth Wave in Kenya (11:20 a.m. NY)

The highly contagious Covid-19 delta variant may spark a fourth wave of infections in Kenya over the next two months, according to the East African nation’s Health Ministry.

The rapidly transmissible strain, first identified in India, is dominant in western Kenya, where it was initially identified in the country. The government imposed restrictions on movement in the region to try and stem it from spreading nationwide.

“If there’s a fourth wave in July-August, it will most likely be due to delta,” said Patrick Amoth, the acting director-general for health at the ministry. Restrictions in western Kenya were imposed to try and “avoid a catastrophic fourth wave,” Amoth said.

Moderna Shot Produces Delta Antibodies (10:30 a.m. NY)

Moderna Inc. said its vaccine produced protective antibodies against the delta variant spreading in the U.S. and many other parts of the world.

Moderna researchers tested blood samples from eight people for antibodies against versions of the spike protein from different coronavirus variants, including delta, which emerged in India. The vaccine “produced neutralizing titers against all variants tested,” the company said in a statement. The results were released on the pre-print server bioRxiv.

Scotland’s New Cases Surge Again (10:30 a.m. NY)

Scotland reported 3,118 new cases of coronavirus during the last 24 hours, the second-highest daily figure since the start of the pandemic.

That’s only the second time Scotland has reported more than new 3,000 infections in a 24-hour period and is just shy of the record 3,285 announced on Monday.

Despite the rising numbers, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she’s still “hopeful” that all major restrictions will be lifted on Aug. 9 as planned, as progress with vaccinations helps break the link between infection and hospitalisation.

Russians Urged to Revaccinate After 6 Months (10:10 a.m. NY)

Russians who have inoculated against Covid-19 or recovered from the illness should consider re-vaccination after six months, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said at meeting of officials with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

Portugal Reports Highest Cases Since Mid-Feb. (9:42 a.m. NY)

Portugal reported 1,746 new cases on Tuesday, the most since Feb. 19, according to government data. The number of patients in intensive-care units rose by four to 119. There were six fatalities, taking the total to 17,092. The latest figures are still a fraction of the daily record reported at the end of January.

Gaps in U.S. Vaccination Rates (9:35 a.m. NY)

Moderna Shot Works Against Delta; 3 Billion Doses: Virus Update

The gap between the most and least vaccinated places in the U.S. has exploded in the past three months and continues to widen despite efforts to persuade more Americans to get a shot. In the bottom fifth of counties -- which tend to be more rural, more poor, less educated and more likely to lean politically to the right -- only 28% of people have received a first dose, on average, and 24% are fully vaccinated.

The slowing rate of new vaccinations shows that despite the Biden administration’s “month of action” to hit its vaccine target of 70% of adults with at least one dose by July 4, some areas are proving hard to reach.

Rebuke From S. Africa Medical Association (9:26 a.m. NY)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent move to increase virus restrictions came at least two weeks too late, the South African Medical Association said in an emailed statement.

“We must note that there was poor government planning to have health-care facilities ready for the third wave, and we are deeply disturbed by this,” the statement said. “It is leading to mistrust of the government, specifically the capabilities of the Department of Health.”

Japan Eyes Extending Measures: Report (9:03 a.m. NY)

The Japanese government is planning to extend strong virus measures it has in place in Tokyo and other areas by two to four weeks to coincide with the early days of the Olympics, the Mainichi newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information.

Government officials have started floating the idea of holding the Olympics without spectators if the measures are extended beyond July 11, when they are set to expire, the report said. Some government officials as seeing the prospect of the games held without spectators as “unavoidable” given recent developments, according to the Mainichi.

Tokyo reported 476 confirmed cases on Tuesday. The seven-day average of new cases is now 22% higher than what it was a week ago. Jiji reported earlier that Tokyo will suspend part of the Olympic Torch relay due to start July 9 in the outskirts of the city because of concern about the virus spread.

Ireland Delays Easing Some Restrictions (8:23 a.m. NY)

Ireland will delay easing some lockdown restrictions amid the spread of the delta variant. Indoor hospitality, which was due to resume on July 5, has been pushed back indefinitely.

There is a “real risk of greatly increased spread of the virus” if the government does not slow the reopening, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said in a national address. The government plans to devise a vaccine certificate program to allow those who have either recovered from Covid-19 or received their jabs to eat indoors. Other measures, such as increasing the number of attendees at outdoor events, will continue as planned.

More Than 60% of Europe’s Adults Vaccinated (8:06 a.m. NY)

More than 60% of European adults have received at least one shot, and 41% are fully vaccinated, Ursula Von Der Leyen said at the Brussels Economic Forum.

“We also have to support our neighbors; we have to support the rest of the world because we will only be able to turn this page when we have reached immunity worldwide,” she said.

Delta Variant Spreads (8 a.m. NY)

The variant now accounts for about 20% of new cases in France, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on France2 TV. That’s double what it was over the past week. While cases overall continue to drop, the variant first found in India “is gradually becoming dominant, like it is in all countries in the world,” he said. The pace of vaccinations is slowing, Veran said, calling on people to sign up for shots.

Separately, German Chancellery Minister Helge Braun said the variant probably accounts for about half of cases in Germany, and authorities are pushing to rapidly increase the number of fully vaccinated. Germany already has the strictest inbound travel rules in Europe for arrivals from designated virus-variant areas, and the interior ministry is ready to introduce spot checks at the borders if needed, Braun said in an interview with ZDF television.

Delta also became dominant in South Africa’s Gauteng province in June, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said. Samples analyzed showed that 53% of infections this month in Gauteng were due to delta and 37% to the beta variant first identified in South Africa, the NICD said in a statement on Tuesday. In May, 64% of Gauteng’s cases were due to beta.

Indonesia to Enforce Stricter Curbs (7:51 a.m. NY)

Indonesia is set to enforce stricter curbs in a bid to halt increasing infections. The new restrictions will be comprehensive, and people living in worst-infected areas will be encouraged to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel, Alexander Ginting, a member of the Covid-19 task force, said in an interview with MetroTV. The government is still finalizing the plan.

Moderna Shot Works Against Delta; 3 Billion Doses: Virus Update

Denmark to Buy Pfizer Shots from Romania: DR (7:41 a.m. NY)

Denmark is planning to buy a “substantial” amount of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines from Romania, state broadcaster DR reported, citing a letter from the health ministry shared with parties in parliament.

The opportunity to buy the extra shots is possible because of low uptake of vaccines in Romania, the report said. Denmark is currently only using the jabs from Pfizer and Moderna after removing shots from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca over blood clot concerns.

EU Identifies 5 Potential Therapies (6:30 a.m. NY)

Five drug candidates have been identified in the European Union as therapies that may help fight the pandemic. Four are monoclonal antibodies under rolling review by the European Medicines Agency. A fifth is Eli Lilly’s baricitinib immunosuppressant, which has a marketing authorization that could be extended to include the treatment of Covid-19.

The agency will start more rolling reviews of promising therapeutics by year-end, subject to research and development outcomes.

Russia to Miss Target Vaccination Rate (6:27 a.m. NY)

Russia will miss President Vladimir Putin’s goal of vaccinating 60% of adults by the fall, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The country is in the midst of a new wave of infections driven by the delta variant, with authorities reporting the highest daily number of new deaths Tuesday. About 14% of the population has received at least one shot.

Singapore Cases Stay Low (5:15 a.m. NY)

Singaporean officials identified five new local cases, staying within range of the previous day’s figures, as the government speeds up its vaccination program. All cases detected were linked to earlier infections.

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