U.S. Cases Soar; New Side Effect Tied to J&J Shot: Virus Update

People stand in line to receive food donations near Central Market in Kuala Lumpur. (Photographer: Samsul Said/Bloomberg)

U.S. Cases Soar; New Side Effect Tied to J&J Shot: Virus Update

Confirmed cases in the U.S. soared 47% in the week ending Sunday, the largest weekly rise since April 2020. The increase came as the delta variant spreads while vaccination rates fall. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. virus specialist, said “ideological rigidity” is slowing use of the shots.

Federal health officials are monitoring reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome in about 100 of the 12.3 million people who received Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. The link to the rare immune-system disorder will be discussed at an upcoming vaccine advisory committee meeting, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Elsewhere, the United Nations reported that world hunger spiked last year, outpacing population growth and probably reaching the highest since 2005, as the pandemic curbed incomes and access to food. In Europe, both France and Greece are planning to mandate shots for at least some of their citizens, while Boris Johnson, the U.K.’s prime minister, is set to warn people to stay vigilant as he prepares to lift virtually all remaining curbs in England. Science advisers are concerned.

Key Developments:

U.S. Cases Soar; New Side Effect Tied to J&J Shot: Virus Update

Fire at Iraqi Hospital Kills 36 Covid Patients (4:43 p.m. NY)

A fire at the al-Hussein hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya killed at least 36 Covid-19 patients and injured dozens, according to the state-run Iraqi News Agency.

Warren Seeks Amazon Mask Probe (3:31 p.m. NY)

Senator Elizabeth Warren is urging the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to review her investigation of Amazon Inc. for deceiving search results on the sale of masks authorized by the U.S, Food and Drug Administration.

Finding the masks on Amazon “is a mess, and Amazon seems to be actively misleading customers,” she says on Twitter.

France to Mandate Shots for Some (3:29 p.m. NY)

France is set to make vaccines compulsory for health-care workers and those who work with vulnerable people, as President Emmanuel Macron tries to encourage the vaccine-shy French to get immunized.

While European countries are on the whole pushing ahead with plans to reopen, they are also looking at new pandemic measures as the rate of infection rises. Macron said he will also force people to use so-called health passes to visit bars and restaurants and step up border controls.

Meanwhile, the Spanish region of Catalonia will force restaurants and nightclubs to close at half-past midnight and limit meetings to 10 people, El Pais newspaper reported.

J&J Tie to Syndrome Weighed (1:42 p.m. NY)

U.S. health officials are monitoring reports of a rare immune-system disorder in some people who received the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine.

The adverse-event data indicate a “small possible risk” of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement on Monday.

There were 100 preliminary reports of the syndrome out of some 12.8 million doses of the vaccine administered, the CDC said. The cases were seen mostly in men over the age of 50, about two weeks after receiving the single-dose vaccine.The agency noted that the risk of severe adverse events from vaccines remains rare, and that everyone 12 years and older is recommended to receive a vaccine.

The issue will be discussed at an upcoming vaccine advisory committee meeting, the CDC reported.

Unrest Slows South Africa Inoculations (1:30 p.m. NY)

South Africa’s vaccination program faltered amid widespread unrest and looting following the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma.

The country vaccinated 146,577 people in the 24 hours to 5 p.m. local time compared with over 191,000 late last week, according to information on a National Department of Health website.

Inoculation numbers had been climbing steadily toward a target of 300,000 a day set by President Cyril Ramaphosa. There were reports of some sites not operating on Monday while many people kept off the streets amid the violence.

Greece Mandates Vaccinations (12:23 p.m. NY)

Greece is mandating vaccinations for those who work in senior citizen homes, within private or public health-care and for those in the military, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Monday in a national television address.

Meanwhile, all indoor areas -- including nightclubs and bars, cinemas and theaters -- will only be open for those who have been vaccinated, Mitsotakis said. Greece has seen a jump in the daily number of new coronavirus cases attributed mainly to large social gatherings of younger adults.

U.K. Risks Seen With Curbs Lifted (12:02 p.m. NY)

England is facing multiple “major risks” after pandemic restrictions are lifted next week -- including hospitals coming under intense pressure, a new vaccine-resistant variant emerging, and as many as 200 Covid-19 deaths per day.

U.S. Cases Soar; New Side Effect Tied to J&J Shot: Virus Update

Newly released data from the U.K.’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) suggests the picture could be far worse if the public immediately abandons basic precautions such as wearing face coverings on trains and in crowded indoor spaces when the rules are eased on July 19.

The findings, based on a clutch of studies commissioned by the government advisory group, will fuel the debate over whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson is taking too big a gamble by pressing ahead with his plan to lift curbs next Monday.

U.S. Cases Soar (11:45 a.m. NY)

Confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the U.S. soared 47% to 136,351 in the week ended Sunday, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg show. The largest weekly rise since April 2020 comes as the highly contagious delta variant spreads in the country amid declining vaccination rates. The death toll for the period ticked up to 1,629.

While last week’s figures are a fraction of the weekly numbers during the winter, about half of Americans remain unvaccinated, slowing the battle against the virus. The U.S. has administered 334 million doses of vaccine, enough to cover about 52% of residents, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Globally, cases were up 12% to about 3 million last week, with fatalities at 53,576.

U.S. Cases Soar; New Side Effect Tied to J&J Shot: Virus Update

Pfizer Meeting Regulators on Booster (11:30 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. said it is meeting with U.S. health officials Monday to discuss its plans to request an emergency authorization for a third booster dose of its Covid-19 vaccine.

The drugmaker announced Thursday it would seek clearance in August for the booster dose it developed with BioNTech SE on the basis of compelling early data demonstrating it can sharply increase immune protection against the virus. Within hours, federal health officials released a statement suggesting they’d take a cautious approach to potential booster shots, and would not rely on data exclusively from pharmaceutical companies.

The Biden administration declined to comment on the Monday meeting of Pfizer executives and U.S. health officials.

Sputnik Vaccine Is Effective Against Variants (9:02 a.m. NY)

Sputnik V was shown to be effective against new Covid-19 variants, including the alpha, beta, gamma and delta strains, as well as two mutations detected in Moscow, according to a study published in Vaccines magazine.

Pandemic Sparks Worst Hunger Since 2005: UN (9 a.m. NY)

As many as 811 million people -- more than a 10th of the global population -- were undernourished in 2020, the UN said in a report on Monday. The agency said it will now take a “tremendous” effort for the world to fulfill a pledge to end hunger by 2030, and reiterated a call to transform food systems.

The fallout from the pandemic put healthy food further out of reach for many people, and this year’s surge in food prices to the highest in almost a decade is particularly bad news for poorer countries dependent on imports. Conflict, climate change and economic downturns -- the major drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition -- continue to increase in both frequency and intensity, and are occurring more often in combination.

U.S. Cases Soar; New Side Effect Tied to J&J Shot: Virus Update

U.S. Ships J&J Vaccines to Nepal (8:42 a.m. NY)

The U.S. is delivering more than 1.5 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine to Nepal, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in on Twitter.

Zimbabwe Speeds Up Vaccinations (8:27 a.m. NY)

Zimbabwe ramped up daily Covid-19 vaccinations to a record as the government expects a faster rollout to help the economy recover from its second contraction into two years.

On Thursday 29,750 people were vaccinated, the highest number since the public rollout plan began earlier this year. To date, 895,980 people have received their first dose and 595,417 a second, according to Ministry of Health data.

Israel Clears Way for Third Pfizer-BioNTech Dose (7:13 a.m. NY)

Israel’s Health Ministry granted permission to health providers to offer a third dose of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE coronavirus vaccine to immunocompromised patients, Channel 12 news reported Monday.

Patients eligible for the third dose include people who have undergone liver transplants and cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, the report said.

Indonesia Posts Record Number of Cases (6:32 a.m. NY)

Indonesia added the highest number of new cases since the outbreak began, reporting 40,427 people infected with the virus in the 24 hours through midday Monday.

Fatalities remained high at 891 people as hospitals are overwhelmed, with oxygen supplies falling short of demand. The government expects curbs placed on the most populated islands of Java and Bali to help bring down the number of new infections to less than 10,000 a day in August.

Belgium Fully Vaccinates Over Half of Adults (5:32 p.m. HK)

Belgium has fully vaccinated 52.7% of its adult population, up from 49.8% in the last update, on Friday. More than 81% of Belgium’s adult population has received at least one shot.

Delta Variant Spreads Rapidly in Seoul (4:30 p.m. HK)

The Delta variant accounted for 26.5% of total Covid-19 cases in the greater Seoul area in the first week of July, compared with 2.8% in the second week of June, Jeong Eun Kyeong, head of Disease Control & Prevention Agency, said.

It’s estimated that, if the current situation continues with a 1.22 reproduction rate, daily cases will increase to about 2,300 in mid-August before decreasing.

German Minister Urges Vaccination (4:10 a.m. HK)

German Health Minister Jens Spahn again urged citizens to get vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus, after new data provided more evidence that the inoculation drive is slowing.

“We last had as few initial vaccinations as yesterday in February, but unlike in February there are now enough vaccines,” Spahn wrote in a tweet. Germany administered 221,720 shots on Sunday, meaning that 58.5% of the population has had at least one dose and 42.6% are fully inoculated.

U.S. Cases Soar; New Side Effect Tied to J&J Shot: Virus Update

Thailand Approves Mixing Vaccines (3:18 p.m. HK)

Thailand approved mixing Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots, in an effort to stem infections and serious illnesses from the delta variant, which is the dominant strain found in the Southeast Asian nation.

Mixed shots of Sinovac followed by AstraZeneca were approved, as well as the administering of a third booster shot using a different vaccine for medical personnel and at-risk individuals to boost protection. Antigen test kits will also be allowed for private use to reduce waiting times and congestion at public testing facilities.

Germany Eyes Hospitalization Rate (1:20 p.m. H.K.)

Germany’s RKI public-health institute will look at the hospitalization rate as an additional main indicator for a more precise evaluation of the pandemic, Bild newspaper reported, citing an internal presentation.

This would mean moving away from the “incidence rate,” or the number of cases per 100,000 people over a week, as the most important indicator. Germany’s incidence rate rose for a sixth straight day on Monday, but remains at a low level of 6.2 after reaching almost 170 at the end of April.

Taiwan Makes Progress on Vaccines (1:15 p.m. H.K.)

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.’s Yonglin Healthcare Foundation agreed to buy 10 million doses of BioNTech’s vaccine, which they will donate to Taiwan. The deal ends a months-long impasse over the island’s attempts to get doses from the German firm, and is a massive boost to its lagging vaccination efforts.

The island’s government also announced it plans to buy at least 15 million doses of Moderna Inc. vaccines in 2022 and 2023.

U.K. Johnson to Urge Caution (12:50 p.m. H.K.)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will warn people to stay vigilant as he prepares to lift virtually all remaining virus curbs in England.

In a news conference on Monday, Johnson is expected to confirm that mandatory curbs will end as planned on July 19, including a legal requirement to wear masks indoors. But he’ll also warn that the change will spark new cases and that people must “all take responsibility” to keep infections at a manageable level, his office said in an emailed statement.

Tokyo Enters State of Emergency (11:25 a.m. H.K.)

Tokyo entered a state of emergency for the fourth time on Monday, with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga having decreed it will run through August 22, covering the entire duration of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Japan has plenty of vaccines, but faces a slowing inoculation rate due to distribution issues. Just 11 days before the games, Japan has given enough shots to cover about 23% of its people, with some Olympic volunteers still awaiting second shots.

Organizers decided to ban all spectators from the Olympics after the state of emergency was announced last week. Though Japan has done better than most rich nations in the pandemic, polls show the public is concerned about the safety of the games.

Sydney Surge May Prolong Curbs (10:00 a.m. H.K.)

Australia’s most-populous city had 112 new coronavirus cases on Monday, and at the weekend recorded its first death since April.

The delta-strain leaked into the local community in mid-June and the city has been in lockdown since June 26. New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian indicated that the current stay-at-home orders may be extended beyond Friday. “We just want people to stay at home,” she said. “The virus won’t spread if people don’t leave home. That is the bottom line.”

Thailand Has 80 Deaths, Economy Is Hit (9:15 a.m. H.K.)

Thailand reported 8,656 new infections on Monday, taking the nation’s cumulative cases to 345,027, according to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration. It had 80 fatalities.

The greater Bangkok area, accounting for about 50% of Thailand’s gross domestic product, will shutter shopping malls, spas, massage and beauty clinics for at least two weeks starting today. A mandatory work-from-home rule for most government staff, overnight curfews and curbs on domestic travel are set to hurt retailers, airlines and restaurant operators, already reeling from some form of Covid restrictions for more than a year.

Vietnam Imposes Curbs in the South (8:45 a.m. H.K.)

Authorities across Vietnam’s south issued social-distancing curbs following last week’s imposition of a stay-home order in Ho Chi Minh City. In Binh Duong province, home to 30 industrial parks, stay-home orders were issued for seven of nine localities as virus infections topped 1,500 cases. Authorities in the nation’s Mekong Delta rice bowl put in place similar anti-virus measures.

Cubans Protest as Outbreak Grows (8:10 a.m. H.K.)

U.S. Cases Soar; New Side Effect Tied to J&J Shot: Virus Update

Thousands of Cubans demonstrated to protest food shortages and high prices as the pandemic devastates an economy already suffering from U.S. sanctions. The mass gatherings came even as Cuba grapples with a serious coronavirus outbreak.

The country of 11 million people has about 32,000 active cases of Covid-19 and reported 6,923 daily cases and 47 deaths on Sunday, breaking a record set Friday, the New York Times reported, citing the health ministry. Only about 15 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

France Warns of New Viral Wave (2:32 p.m. NY)

As the French government warns of a “fourth wave” due to the now-dominant delta variant, France reported 4,256 new cases in 24 hours, up 60% in a week based on a 7-day rolling average. There were four deaths, though the number of patients needing intensive care continues to fall.

President Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to address the nation Monday evening, when he’s expected to speak about the risks of the delta variant and measures to counter its rapid spread, including mandatory vaccination for healthcare personnel. A key Macron ally said France must “live with the virus” rather than count on a new lockdown.

Fauci Voices Frustration at Vaccine Lag (10:34 a.m. NY)

Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease specialist, said “ideological rigidity” is preventing people from getting Covid-19 shots and voiced frustration at the struggle to boost vaccination rates in parts of the country.

“It’s not an easy solution,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We’ve got to get away from this divisiveness that has really been a problem right from the very beginning.”

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