Caribbean Sees Travel Rebound; North Korea Crisis: Virus Update

A health worker prepares a dose of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine. (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

Caribbean Sees Travel Rebound; North Korea Crisis: Virus Update

The world was somewhat prepared for a pandemic before Covid-19 struck, but it anticipated the wrong kind, said Aurelia Nguyen, managing director of the Covax facility for the nonprofit Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Moderna Inc.’s chairman vowed to keep testing the drugmaker’s Covid vaccine against variants and advised against “putting our guard down” as new mutations continue to emerge. Some Caribbean nations are seeing signs of a recovery in tourism.

The European Union is closing in on a deal with Valneva SE to purchase its vaccine for the region after resurrecting talks abandoned earlier this year, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un said a “grave” situation stemming from quarantine negligence has created a “great crisis” in the country, according to a state media report. The country previously claimed to have avoided Covid.

Key Developments:

Caribbean Sees Travel Rebound; North Korea Crisis: Virus Update

J&J to Study Shot in Adolescents This Year (5:05 p.m. NY)

Johnson & Johnson expects to start studying its one-dose vaccine in children 12 to 17 years old this fall, a company official said at a Johns Hopkins University virtual event. The drugmaker plans to sign up at least 4,500 adolescents and will check their progress a year later, according to J&J’s Macaya Douoguih. The company plans four studies in minors, she said.

The Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine is already approved in the U.S. and Europe for that age group.

Caribbean Sees Signs of Travel Rebound (3:45 p.m. NY)

Some Caribbean nations are seeing signs of a recovery in tourism after border closures and the Covid-19 pandemic decimated their economies last year.

The Dominican Republic received 1.4 million visitors in the first five months of the year, a trend that should accelerate in the second half of 2021, Hector Manuel Valdez Albizu, the country’s central bank president, said in a webinar with Bloomberg. More than 390,000 people visited the country in May, a 20% increase on April, but still shy of the more than half a million visitors in May 2019.

The Bahamas, where GDP contracted 16% in 2020, is also starting to receive cruise ships at its ports, and hotels are rehiring some of the workers laid offlast year, Bahamas Central Bank Governor John A. Rolle said in the webinar.

World Prepared for ‘Wrong Pandemic’: Covax (3:45 p.m. NY)

The world was somewhat prepared for a pandemic before Covid-19 struck, but it anticipated the wrong kind, said Aurelia Nguyen, managing director of the Covax facility for the nonprofit Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

“A lot of the focus had been on influenza,” Nguyen said Wednesday at the Bloomberg New Economy Catalyst virtual event. “We had the machinery in place thanks to seasonal flu vaccines, but we were not prepared for a coronavirus.”

Now that Covid vaccines have been developed, the next step is to get them to countries worldwide -- the mission of Covax -- and ensure that vaccines are available to poorer nations when the next pandemic inevitably hits, she said.

Bulgaria to Assign Color Codes to Countries (12:40 p.m. NY)

Bulgaria, which has had its borders open to visitors from most countries, will introduce a color-code system from July 1, the health ministry said in a statement. The criteria for the three categories -- red, yellow and green -- will include rates of new cases and positivity of tests, identification of worrying new variants in the countries, as well as the lack of enough information. The government in the Balkan country, which has the EU’s lowest vaccination rate, is preparing for a new wave in the fall amid the spread of the delta variant in Europe and slow inoculation.

Scotland Reports New Case Record (9:22 a.m. NY)

Scotland reported almost 4,000 new cases over the last 24 hours, the highest daily figure since the start of the pandemic.

Even so, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a reduction in serious illness resulting from those new cases shows that vaccination is breaking the link between infection and hospitalisation. About 3.8 million of Scotland’s 5.5 million people have had their first jab, while more than 2.7 million have had both.

Finland Exceeds EU’s 70% Vaccination Target (9:03 a.m. NY)

Finland has exceeded the EU target to vaccinate more than 70% of its adult population. About 72% of Finns over the age of 18 have now received their first shot, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said on Wednesday. Roughly 18% of the population have been given two doses.

Portugal Premier Isolates Despite Negative Test (7:55 a.m. NY)

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa is self-isolating after being in contact with a member of his cabinet who tested positive for Covid-19.

Costa has tested negative for the coronavirus and received two doses of vaccine more than a month and a half ago. The premier will carry out his duties at a distance. Portugal reported 2,362 new cases on Wednesday, the most since Feb. 13, according to government data.

Valneva Said to Be Nearing EU Vaccine Deal (7:52 a.m. NY)

The European Union is closing in on a deal with Valneva SE to purchase its vaccine for the region after resurrecting talks abandoned earlier this year, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

The EU and the French biotech are a few weeks away from finalizing a so-called advance purchase agreement, said the people, who didn’t want to be identified because the discussions aren’t public

Moderna Chairman Warns on Variants (7:28 a.m. NY)

Moderna Inc.’s chairman vowed to keep testing the drugmaker’s vaccine on variants and advised against “putting our guard down” as mutations emerge.

The new strains stem from “a natural process but it is concerning,” Noubar Afeyan said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “We really don’t know where these variants are going to go.”

Caribbean Sees Travel Rebound; North Korea Crisis: Virus Update

The comments come after Moderna said its vaccine produced protective antibodies against the delta variant.

Germany Draws Level With U.S. on First Doses (4:09 a.m. NY)

Germany has administered at least one vaccine dose to 54.5% of the population, drawing level with the U.S. after a sluggish start, according to Health Minister Jens Spahn.

“This shows that the vaccination campaign needs staying power,” Spahn said in a tweet. “We are therefore keeping the pace high,” he said, adding that the delta variant’s contagiousness means it’s important for as many people as possible to get inoculated.

About 37% of the population, or 30.4 million, have been fully vaccinated, the latest health ministry data show.

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