U.S. Eases Travel Warnings; Fauci Warns on Variant: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is easing travel advisories for dozens of nations, including France and Germany. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser on the coronavirus, issued a warning about the delta variant that was first identified in India.
The European Union and the U.S. are set to back a renewed push into investigating the origins of Covid-19 after conflicting assessments about where the outbreak started, according to a document seen by Bloomberg News.
India’s daily cases dropped below 100,000 for the first time in two months, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to speed up the nation’s inoculation drive.
- Global Tracker: Cases exceed 173.7 million; deaths pass 3.74 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 2.15 billion doses administered
- Haiti is only country in Western Hemisphere without vaccines
- Bankers in Toronto dodge Wall Street’s return-to-office pressure
- Fortunes spent on plastic shields with no proof they stop Covid
- Why impact of ‘long Covid’ could outlast the pandemic: QuickTake
Maldives Extends Curfew (5:05 p.m. NY)
Maldives extended a 16-hour curfew and other restrictions to a third week even as active cases fell to the lowest since April 29. The island nation expects to receive next month 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine made in Singapore. It has administered about 485,000 doses, enough to cover 65.2% of its population, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.
Pharmacist Gets 3 Years for Vaccine Tampering (3:15 p.m. NY)
A Wisconsin man was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison for tampering with vaccine doses at the hospital where he worked, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.
Steven R. Brandenburg, 46, of Grafton, pleaded guilty on Feb. 9, to two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products with reckless disregard for the risk that another person would be placed in danger of death or bodily injury. According to court documents, Brandenburg purposefully removed a box of Covid-19 vaccine vials manufactured by Moderna Inc. — which must be stored at specific cold temperatures to remain viable — from a hospital refrigeration unit during two successive overnight shifts in late December 2020.
According to his plea agreement, Brandenburg stated that he was skeptical of vaccines in general, and the Moderna vaccine specifically, and had communicated his beliefs about vaccines to his co-workers.
Germany Said Near Digital Vaccine Certificate (2:15 p.m. NY)
Germany’s launch of a digital vaccine certificate could be imminent, with Handelsblatt reporting that IBM will probably activate the technical infrastructure on Wednesday. The German newspaper cited a letter from the head of digital at the Federal Ministry of Health. Digital certificates will be available for citizens at “many” regular pharmacies starting June 14, according to a separate release by the ABDA Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists on Tuesday.
U.S. Eases Dozens of Travel Warnings (1:50 p.m. NY)
The U.S. State Department is easing travel advisories for dozens of nations including many in Europe, such as France and Germany.
The department changed its travel warnings Tuesday for many nations from level 4, or “do not travel,” to level 3, “reconsider travel,” according to the department’s website.
The State Department’s travel advisories aren’t binding but can help guide airlines on their own restrictions. Other countries often reciprocate for American citizens based on the department’s advisories.
Fauci Warns on Delta Variant (1:40 p.m. NY)
U.S. health officials said Tuesday that the more harmful Covid-19 variant known as delta has surged in the U.K., a country with high vaccination levels, in a warning to states as inoculation fades across the U.S.
Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden on the pandemic, said at a news briefing that the delta variant that was first reported in India now accounts for more than 6% of cases being sequenced in the U.S. while in the U.K. it has overtaken the alpha variant that originated there.
Alrosa Donates Sputnik Shots to Zimbabwe (12:02 p.m. NY)
Zimbabwe will take delivery on Wednesday of 50,000 Sputnik vaccines that were donated by Alrosa PJSC, Russia’s largest diamond mining company, to help bolster the southern African nation’s inoculation program, the state-owned Zimpapers Television Network reported on Tuesday. Alrosa, which has operations in Zimbabwe and Angola, first announced its plans to provide the shots -- which have been shipped to more than 30 countries -- to the two nations in February. Zimbabwe is set to receive another 500,000 vaccines on June 15, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told reporters on Tuesday. She didn’t provide the suppliers’ details.
Possible CureVac Vaccine Approval Delay (9:46 a.m. NY)
CureVac NV’s stock slumped after Reuters reported that the European Medicines Agency doesn’t expect to make a decision on the approval of its vaccine before August.
Pfizer Trials Shots in Under 12s (8:56 a.m. NY)
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine will be tested in children under the age of 12 in a late-stage study of as many as 4,500 participants.
The vaccine partners announced plans on Tuesday to kick-start the trial of the shot within weeks. It will be conducted at more than 90 sites, spanning the U.S., Finland, Poland and Spain.
Germany Waives Quarantine for Euro Soccer (8:33 a.m. NY)
Germany will approve changes to travel rules this week that mean people accredited for the European soccer championship won’t have to quarantine even if they arrive from areas affected by mutations.
“The European football championship is a major sporting event that the whole world is watching and Germany will do its part to make it a success,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in an emailed statement, adding that strict hygiene rules will still apply.
The tournament starts on Friday.
Mastercard Foundation Donates to Africa (8:18 a.m. NY)
The Mastercard Foundation will provide $1.3 billion to support the vaccination program in Africa.
Funding under the so-called Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative will be deployed in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control & Prevention to urgently procure shots for more than 50 million people. The foundation will also support the African Union’s push to manufacture locally.
More than 80% of the Mastercard Foundation funding will go toward purchasing vaccines from Johnson & Johnson, according to the organization’s president and chief executive officer, Reeta Roy.
Aspirin Doesn’t Help (8 a.m. NY)
Aspirin doesn’t improve chances of survival for patients hospitalized with Covid-19, according to a large study. The 120-year-old drug, widely used to thin the blood of heart-disease patients, made no difference in mortality after about a month in a clinical trial that involved almost 15,000 volunteers.
Survivors did spend one less day in the hospital compared with those who didn’t get a daily dose of aspirin, the researchers found.
Singapore Sequencing of Delta Strain (7:41 a.m. NY)
Sequencing in Singapore has revealed the emergence of the delta variant as the country’s major local strain, underscoring the highly infectious nature of the mutation that was first detected in India.
Of these cases to date, 449 have been found to be caused by variants of concern, among which 428 were infections of the delta strain, said the country’s health ministry. The next largest group was nine cases linked to the beta mutation that first emerged in South Africa.
Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Needs Shoppers (7:30 a.m. NY)
More than a fifth of retail space on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is vacant after shoppers were driven away by the pandemic and unrest. Now, the reopening city urgently needs them to return.
The corridor bolsters Chicago’s finances — the zip code where it’s located generated about $150 million from sales taxes in 2019. Last year, that plunged to around $60 million, according to local Alderman Brian Hopkins.
The empty storefronts are emblematic of the crisis facing cities around the world. But the Mag Mile’s decline has been even more dramatic than other downtown slumps.
Zimbabwe Delays J&J Shots (7:21 a.m. NY)
Zimbabwe asked the African Export-Import Bank to delay the arrival of Johnson & Johnson vaccines because of concerns about possible blood clots and its inability to keep the doses at the right temperature.
“Zimbabwe is not yet ready to participate in the August allocation as measures are still being put in place to establish the cold chain management framework for the vaccines, as well as on management of the anticipated adverse effects of the vaccines,” George Guvamatanga, secretary for finance, said in a letter to Afreximbank’s chief regional officer.
Rich Nations Fail Covid’s Mental Health Test (6 a.m. NY)
Governments are falling short in most areas where they could tackle mental health difficulties that sharply increased in the pandemic and already place a huge burden on economies around the world, the OECD said.
The warning comes as the Paris-based organization published its first attempt at benchmarking the efforts of its 38 members to address the social and economic costs of the phenomenon. It found the share of spending has declined in some countries in the last decade, and that even if access to services is improving, 67% of people who wanted care reported difficulty getting it.
Germany Advises Targeted Shots for Kids: FAZ (6 a.m. NY)
German vaccine commission STIKO recommended restricting use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine in children and teens to those with certain preexisting conditions, Frankfurter Allgemeine reported, citing a draft to be published Thursday.
Hong Kong Billionaires Boost Vaccine Incentives (6 a.m. NY)
In Hong Kong, top billionaires are ramping up incentives to boost vaccinations. The city’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, and his business empire, CK group, are giving away HK$20 million worth of shopping vouchers via lottery to those who get two shots, according to an announcement Tuesday. New World Development Co., led by Adrian Cheng, also announced a HK$10 million subsidy for lower-income people who get vaccinated.
BioNTech Sticks to 2022 Goal (6 a.m. NY)
BioNTech SE said it’s sticking to a goal of being able to produce more than 3 billion doses of its vaccine next year.
The company walked back comments made earlier by Chief Financial Officer Sierk Poetting at a conference hosted by German newspaper Handelsblatt, indicating that the production goal would be increased.
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