Dose Mixing Shows Strong Response; U.K. Cases Jump: Virus Update

A health worker prepares a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. (Photographer: Samsul Said/Bloomberg)

Dose Mixing Shows Strong Response; U.K. Cases Jump: Virus Update

Mixing doses of Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc creates a strong immune response, according to results from a University of Oxford study, a finding that could enable greater flexibility in the use of scarce supplies.

The U.K. on Monday reported the most new cases since January, fueled by the delta variant first identified in India. Even so, an end to restrictions in England is “very likely” to go ahead on July 19, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. Governments from Europe to Asia imposed new limits on travel from Britain.

U.S. Army General Gustave Perna, a top official in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in both the Trump and Biden administrations, is set to retire July 2. The four-star general’s departure marks yet another shift in the leadership and vision of the U.S. pandemic response.

Key Developments:

Dose Mixing Shows Strong Response; U.K. Cases Jump: Virus Update

Biden to Mark ‘Independence’ From Virus (5:11 a.m. NY)

U.S. President Joe Biden and his White House are planning a slate of travel and events this weekend -- including a barbecue for more than a thousand people -- to celebrate his administration’s progress combating the pandemic, though the country fell short of his July 4 vaccination goal.

While coronavirus infections and deaths have fallen dramatically since Biden took office, thanks to an expansive vaccination campaign, the White House fell short of its goal of 70% of U.S. adults receiving at least one shot by July 4. As of Monday, 66.1% of adults had gotten at least one shot.

The country is still recording more than 11,000 cases of Covid-19 per day, on average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that’s a better than 95% reduction since U.S. cases peaked on Jan. 10. There have been 287 deaths per day from the disease, on average, for the last seven days.

Perna Retiring From U.S. Covid Task Force (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. Army General Gustave Perna, a top official in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in both the Trump and Biden administrations, is set to retire July 2.

Robert Johnson, an official at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, will serve as interim chief operating officer for the pandemic effort, according to Jeffrey Zients, President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 coordinator. The four-star general’s departure marks yet another shift in the leadership and vision of the U.S. pandemic response.

Romania Selling Pfizer Doses to Denmark (3:15 p.m. NY)

Romania will sell about 1 million doses of Pfizer vaccine to Denmark as the eastern European country currently has a surplus and vaccine intention among citizens is declining, according to Prime Minister Florin Citu.

South Africa Official Death Toll Tops 60,000 (2:30 p.m. NY)

South Africa’s official death toll from Covid-19 has passed 60,000, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases said. Over the last 24 hours 138 deaths from the disease were reported, bringing the total to 60,038, the NICD said in a statement on Monday.

South Africa’s actual number of deaths from the virus could exceed 170,000, according to excess death studies by the South African Medical Research Council, which tracks the number of deaths above the historical norm in weekly reports.

Abu Dhabi to Keep Unvaccinated From Malls (1:30 p.m. NY)

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, will restrict access to some public places like schools and restaurants unless people are vaccinated. It takes effect Aug. 20.

The Abu Dhabi media office said the decision came after 93% of target groups had been vaccinated. It covers shopping centers, restaurants, recreational facilities, resorts, nurseries, schools and universities. Children under 15 are exempt.

Tanzania to Spend $470 Million to Fight Virus (11:45 a.m. NY)

Tanzania plans to spend at least $470 million to battle the coronavirus after the nation’s new leader shifted the government’s policy to be more proactive against the pandemic.

Half of the funds “will go toward vaccines and other medical equipment,” President Samia Suluhu Hassan told journalists in the commercial hub, Dar es Salaam on Monday. “The other half will go toward bailing out sectors affected by the pandemic.”

The East African nation has 100 known active cases of the virus, including 70 patients on oxygen, Hassan said, marking the first time the government has released Covid-19 data in about a year. Hassan’s predecessor, John Magufuli, played down the threat of the disease and hadn’t announced any plans for acquiring vaccines before he died in March.

U.K. Reports Most Cases Since January (11:15 a.m. NY)

The U.K. reported 22,868 new Covid-19 cases, the most since Jan. 30, according to its latest update. The number of reported deaths stayed low, with three more reported within 28 days of a positive test. More than 84% of adults in the U.K. have had one vaccine and nearly 62% of adults have had two.

England is “very likely” to see the end of pandemic restrictions on July 19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday, despite the surge in infections fueled by the delta variant first identified in India.

Mixing Doses Found to Offer Strong Protection (11:10 a.m. NY)

Mixing doses of Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc creates a strong immune response, according to results from a University of Oxford study, a finding that could enable greater flexibility in the use of scarce supplies.

A mixed schedule of the Pfizer shot followed by the Astra vaccine, and vice versa, resulted in high concentrations of antibodies against Covid-19 when given four weeks apart, researchers reported Monday in the Lancet medical journal.

Scotland Reports Record Number of Cases (10:30 a.m. NY)

Scotland reported a record 3,285 new cases of coronavirus during the last 24 hours, the biggest daily increase since the start of the pandemic.

That exceeds the previous daily record of 2,999, which was reported last week, according to official figures from the devolved Scottish government, which is responsible for health.

Scotland’s semi-autonomous government, led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, has said it’s aiming to lift all the remaining restrictions on movement and social interaction by Aug. 9, as vaccinations break the link between infection and hospitalization. So far, about 3.8 million of Scotland’s 5.5 million people have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Johnson Sees End to English Curbs in July (8 a.m. NY)

England is “very likely” to see the end of pandemic restrictions on July 19, Johnson said, despite a surge in infections of the new delta variant.

Hospitalization and death rates remain relatively low as the U.K.’s vaccine program progresses, Johnson said, adding that it would be “sensible” to take a few more weeks to analyze the infection patterns and deliver more second vaccine doses before lifting the curbs.

“With every day that goes by it’s clearer to me and all our scientific advisers that we’re very likely to be in a position on July 19 to say that really is the terminus, and we can go back to life as it was before Covid as far as possible,” Johnson told reporters Monday.

Long Gap Boosts Astra Antibody Response (7:01 a.m. NY)

Immune responses to the AstraZeneca Plc Covid-19 vaccine improve with a longer gap of as long as 45 weeks between doses, with a third shot able to boost antibody levels even further, according to a study.

Leaving a gap of as long as 10 months between the first and second doses increased the level of protective antibodies, according to research from the University of Oxford published Monday. The researchers were also able to show for the first time that a booster dose induced a strong response and increased activity against variants.

Dose Mixing Shows Strong Response; U.K. Cases Jump: Virus Update

Hong Kong to Ban Flights From U.K. (6:56 a.m. NY)

Hong Kong will ban all passenger flights from Britain starting Thursday as it puts the country on its “extremely high risk” Covid-19 category, just as it loosens entry requirements for most other places.

The U.K. was on Hong Kong’s extremely high-risk category from December to May, when it was lowered to very high risk as its epidemic situation eased.

Only a handful of other countries are in Hong Kong’s highest risk category: Brazil, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa.

Portugal, Spain Tighten Rules on U.K. (6:52 a.m. NY)

Spain and Portugal imposed new restrictions on visitors arriving from the U.K., where infections are rising sharply.

Unvaccinated arrivals to Portugal from Britain will face mandatory quarantine, while Spain will request proof of full vaccination or a negative PCR test for British travelers to the Balearic Islands, including Mallorca and Ibiza, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Monday. Spain’s decision comes after the U.K. allowed quarantine-free travel to the islands and as Spain gears up for the summer vacation season.

Spain previously allowed all travelers from the U.K. to enter without a PCR test as long as they had been in the U.K. for the previous 14 days. New rules for the rest of Spain have not been detailed yet and there have been no details regarding children.

Indonesia to Start Vaccinating Teens (6:27 a.m. NY)

Indonesia will start offering Covid-19 vaccinations to those of age 12 to 17-years old, after last week extending inoculation to all adults in order to curb a worsening virus resurgence.

Southeast Asia’s coronavirus hotspot is battling a rapid spike in coronavirus cases. President Joko Widod has set a target of administering 1 million doses a day, rising to 2 million a day in August. On Monday, only about 377,000 shots were given, down from about 700,000 a day last week.

U.S. Best Place to Ride Out Pandemic (5 a.m. NY)

Dose Mixing Shows Strong Response; U.K. Cases Jump: Virus Update

Almost a year and a half into the pandemic, the best and worst places to be in the Covid-19 era are increasingly defined by one thing: normalization. With this in mind, Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking now includes flight capacity recovery and vaccinated travel routes -- indicators that track progress in reopening.

The new metrics, and the waning of outbreaks in highly vaccinated places using Messenger RNA vaccines, means June’s ranking has a new No. 1: the U.S.

European nations like Switzerland, France and Spain also jump into the top 10 on the back of their vaccination plus normalization drives. Meanwhile, previous top performers like New Zealand and Singapore drop, as they struggle to find a path to reopen to the world after early aggressive, isolationist policies.

A rich-poor divide has also solidified, with developing nations like India, Argentina and the Philippines ranked at the bottom as they face a perfect storm of vaccine inadequacy, the spread of variants and global isolation.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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