EU Leaders Turn Up Heat on Vaccines; U.K. Fears: Virus Update

Morning commuters head to work on a metro train in Paris, France. (Photographer: Nathan Laine/Bloomberg)

EU Leaders Turn Up Heat on Vaccines; U.K. Fears: Virus Update

More than half of adults in the European Union are now vaccinated, and regional leaders turned up the pressure to get even more people immunized. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that will be the deciding factor for the future course of the pandemic.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing warnings that his plan to ease pandemic restrictions in England could lead to a rise in infections that will strain hospitals and undermine an economic recovery. In Scotland, face masks remain mandatory in public places and the government is maintaining its work-from-home policy. In Greece and the Netherlands, cases surged.

Russia signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India to boost annual production of Sputnik V shots. In the U.S., regulators added a warning to Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine about a rare immune-system disorder.

Key Developments:

EU Leaders Turn Up Heat on Vaccines; U.K. Fears: Virus Update

Mexico Cases Rise Most Since Feb. 10 (4:15 p.m. NY)

Mexico recorded 11,137 Covid-19 cases Tuesday, the most since Feb. 10, according to government data. Deaths rose by 219. Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said while cases have increased there have been fewer deaths due to the vaccinations.

CDC Panel to Review Vaccine Safety (12:59 p.m. NY)

Vaccine safety and Guillain-Barré Syndrome will be the focus of an immunization advisory committee scheduled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on July 22.

The announcement comes a day after the fact sheet for Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 shot was revised by federal regulators to warn about a “small possible risk” for the rare condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves.

Greeks Sees Highest Case Rate in Two Months (11:45 a.m. NY)

Greece reported 3,109 new cases Tuesday, the highest daily rise in just over two months. To combat the recent increase amid concerns for its tourism industry, authorities said customers of indoor restaurants and indoor areas at entertainment venues will need to show they’ve been vaccinated or have tested negative within the last three days.

The requirement will remain in force until the end of August at the earliest, and doesn’t concern outdoor areas.

Spain Safe for Tourists, Minister Says (11:40 a.m. NY)

Spain, Europe’s second largest tourism market pre-pandemic, is still a safe destination, Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said on Tuesday after Germany and France earlier warned citizens about the risks of heading there.

Catalonia and Valencia, two of the most popular vacation spots, have both seen a surge in infections in recent days as restrictions are relaxed.

Cases Surge in Netherlands (10:21 a.m. NY)

Weekly cases in the Netherlands surged more than sixfold with 51,957 infections reported by the Dutch health service in the week ending July 13. Last week’s tally was 8,541 cases.

On Friday, the Dutch government announced it would reintroduce some pandemic restrictions in a bid to reduce the rising number of infections. Nightclubs were closed until August 13 and the opening hours of bars were reduced.

Dutch caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte publicly apologized on Monday for making an “error in judgement” and easing restrictions too quickly.

Scotland to Keep Face Masks, Home Office (9:32 a.m. NY)

Scotland will stick with its plan to lift more coronavirus restrictions, though it will diverge from England’s reopening next week by keeping face coverings mandatory in stores and other public places and maintaining working from home as government policy.

Hospitality venues will need to close at midnight and there will still be social-distancing restrictions at bars and restaurants.

Moscow’s Covid Mortality Rate Hits 3.9% (9:03 a.m. NY)

The ratio of deaths per 100 confirmed cases would place it fourth-highest among countries tracked by Johns Hopkins University, trailing only Peru, Mexico and Afghanistan. The rate falls to 2.8% if only cases where Covid-19 was determined to be the main cause of death are included, according to the city’s health department.

Tanzania Begins Sinovac Inoculations (7:45 a.m. NY)

Tanzania’s semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago began vaccinations after downplaying the extent of the pandemic for more than a year.

“The Sinovac vaccines were originally meant to be administered to people who wanted to attend the annual Hajj pilgrimage,” Zanzibar’s Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Omar Shajak said. “After Saudi Arabia prohibited foreign visitors due to the coronavirus outbreak, we decided to give those vaccines to our front-line workers.”

Tanzania’s move leaves Eritrea and Burundi as the only African countries yet to start vaccinating.

Riots Force South Africa to Halt Some Vaccines (7:41 a.m. NY)

South Africa’s vaccination program has been partially halted as violent protests following the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma rage in two key provinces. State-administered inoculations have been suspended in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng, the economic hub, said Nicholas Crisp, a consultant to the National Health Department who helps oversee the program.

“We are clearly not going to be putting our staff in harm’s way,” Crisp said in an interview Tuesday, adding that those queuing for vaccines could also be in danger. “It will just have to wait until things calm down.” The health department had expected to exceed 200,000 vaccinations on Monday, but only 146,000 people got vaccinated.

Delta Causes 60% of New Cases in France (7:18 a.m. NY)

The incidence rate of Covid has increased by 60% in the past week, and has reached alarming levels in eight French regions including the Paris area, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Tuesday. The Delta variant now represents more than 60% of new infections, he said.

Merkel Makes Urgent Appeal for Shots (6:51 a.m. NY)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reinforced the government’s urgent appeal for people to get vaccinated, saying the inoculation campaign will be the deciding factor for the future course of the pandemic.

“The more are vaccinated, the more free we can be again,” Merkel said Tuesday during a visit to the RKI public-health institute. Still, Germany won’t follow France in requiring compulsory vaccination for health workers, she said.

Indonesia’s Curbs Fall Short for Government (6:51 a.m. NY)

The tightest curbs so far imposed on Java, Indonesia’s most-populated island, and Bali, the tourism spot, haven’t eased people’s movement as much as the government expected.

Mobility has only eased by 6%-16% since the restrictions whereas authorities had expected a 20% drop, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in a hearing with lawmakers on Tuesday. The government had earlier said that a 50% drop in mobility is needed to cut back on infections.

Russia Reports Record Number of Deaths (6:10 a.m. NY)

Russia reported 780 deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic as its health-care system strained against a third wave of infections.

A spike in hospitalizations driven by the delta variant has led several regions to announce mandatory vaccinations in the last month. The measures have boosted demand for home-grown inoculations, with about 20% of Russians receiving at least one dose of a vaccine to date.

Germany to Simplify Travel Rules (5:29 p.m. HK)

Germany plans to simplify its travel rules, the Funke media group reported, citing a draft of a Health Ministry document.

The proposals include reducing the number of Covid-19 risk area types to two from three. A very high incidence rate and “other quantitative and qualitative” factors would dictate which countries are high risk.

France Keeps U.K. on Orange List, Demands Tests (5 p.m. HK)

France added Tunisia, Mozambique, Cuba and Indonesia to its so-called red list, an official said.

The U.K. remains on the orange list, but non-vaccinated people arriving in the country will have to show a negative test no older than 24 hours. Spain and Portugal remain on the green list, but non-vaccinated travelers will also need to present a test.

Singapore Karaoke Clubs Become Hotspots (4:55 p.m. HK)

Singapore’s daily infection tally hit the highest in almost a month as authorities started investigating new cases from karaoke lounges and clubs.

The uptick in cases may fuel concerns of a delay in rolling back restrictions although the government has said it is drawing up a roadmap that treats Covid-19 as endemic.

World’s Top Vaccine Maker to Buoy Sputnik Rollout (4 p.m. HK)

Russia signed a deal with the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer to boost annual production of Sputnik V shots by 300 million doses in India as the South Asian nation struggles with supplies.

The Serum Institute of India Ltd., which is already producing AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine, aims to deliver its first batch of Sputnik V by September, the company and the state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund, which backed the vaccine’s development and is in charge of its foreign sales, said in a joint statement.

More Than Half of EU Adults Vaccinated (3:52 p.m. HK)

More than half of all adults in the EU are fully vaccinated, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet. The bloc has enough doses to immunize 70% of its adult population, she said.

India’s Covid Deaths Surge After Data Revision (3:01 p.m. HK)

Covid-related deaths in India jumped by 2,020 in a day to 410,784 as one of the states revised its fatality data.

The second-worst hit nation added 32,906 new cases Tuesday, the lowest daily count since mid-March before the second wave overwhelmed the country. An advisor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Bloomberg that fiscal deficit worries should not stop the government from spending more to save “the lives and livelihoods” impacted by pandemic.

French Book Appointments After Macron Speech (2:57 p.m. HK)

Close to 1 million people booked vaccination appointments following President Emmanuel Macron’s speech late Monday, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Franceinfo radio.

Macron said vaccination will become mandatory for health-care personnel and those working with the vulnerable while so-called health passes -- which show proof of testing or immunization -- will be required in venues such as restaurants and cafes. In a further effort to drive people to get their shots, Macron said the reimbursement for Covid tests without prescription will end.

Bangladesh Lifts Curbs for Eid (2:52 p.m. HK)

Bangladesh is suspending lockdown restrictions from July 14 to July 23, allowing public transport to restart ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid-ul-Adha, according to a government notice.

German Firms More Bullish (1:56 p.m. HK)

Fewer German companies are worried they may go out of business due to the pandemic, according to a June survey by the Ifo research institute, with only 14% of those polled saying they feared for their existence, down from 19% in February.

Companies in the events industry “are still particularly at risk,” with more than 70% concerned about going out of business, said Ifo’s head of polling, Klaus Wohlrabe.

Goldman on Pandemic and U.S. Economy (1:02 p.m. HK)

Covid is fueling a productivity boost for the U.S. economy by speeding up workplace digitization, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which said annualized growth in output per hour has risen 3.1% since the crisis began, compared with 1.4% in the previous business cycle.

Cases at Malaysian Vaccination Center (12:25 p.m. HK)

A vaccination center in the Malaysian state of Selangor was closed down for a day after staff tested positive, Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said. It’s the first time the country has shuttered a center since beginning its vaccination campaign in February.

U.K. Virus Gamble Sparks Fears (12:01 p.m. HK)

With social distancing and the mandatory wearing of masks due to end in England on July 19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pushing ahead with dropping virus measures even as a new wave of the pandemic takes hold.

Daily hospital admissions are expected to hit 1,000-2,000 per day at a peak in August and there could be as many as 200 daily deaths, according to modeling by the U.K.’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. Economists expect a dip in consumer confidence in the coming weeks due to the greater perceived threat to public safety.​

EU Leaders Turn Up Heat on Vaccines; U.K. Fears: Virus Update

Japan to Give Vietnam Vaccines (10:45 a.m. HK)

Japan will provide 1 million more vaccine doses to Vietnam, with delivery expected on July 16, bringing its total donations to the Southeast Asian country to 3 million, according to a Vietnam health ministry publication.

Sydney Hospital Admissions Rise (9:55 a.m. HK)

The number of Sydney residents hospitalized from Covid-19 increased to 65 as the Australian city struggles to contain an outbreak of the delta variant. A man in his 70s died, the second fatality in the past week from an outbreak that’s grown to more than 700 cases since mid-June.

The hospitalizations are a worrying sign that authorities may impose tighter movement restrictions after Sydney was placed into a lockdown on June 26 as the city battles its largest coronavirus outbreak in more than a year.

Mary-Louise McLaws, a professor at the University of New South Wales and adviser to the World Health Organization, told Bloomberg Television that Sydney should have locked down earlier. Watch the interview here.

New Zealand Border Restrictions (9:06 a.m. HK)

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said New Zealand’s border curbs “will be with us for some time” as the pandemic continues to evolve, but there are opportunities to refine the approach as vaccination rates increase.

Australia-Singapore Travel Bubble Talks (8:53 a.m. HK)

Australia has a “firm commitment” to launch a quarantine-free travel bubble with Singapore, Australia’s top diplomat to the city-state said. The plan is now more likely to occur by the end of the year due to the outbreak in Sydney, Australia’s High Commissioner to Singapore Will Hodgman said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

“There’s a very strong commitment for officials, both governments in Australia and here in Singapore, to progress the systems -- the operational capabilities, the requirements -- that will be necessary to ensure safe travel,” Hodgman said.

EU Leaders Turn Up Heat on Vaccines; U.K. Fears: Virus Update

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