U.S. States Relaunch J&J Shot After 10-Day Halt: Virus Update
A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen Covid-19 vaccine at the Atlantic County vaccination megasite in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. (Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg).

U.S. States Relaunch J&J Shot After 10-Day Halt: Virus Update

U.S. states from New York to Arizona moved to begin administering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine again, restoring one of the nation’s options even as inoculation rates slow. Illinois, Nevada, Maryland and Tennessee were among other states to resume giving the shots, a day after U.S. health agencies lifted the pause on the vaccine while they reviewed serious and rare cases of blood clots.

The first billion Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered around the world. The U.K. has given half of its population a first dose of vaccine, a key milestone to reviving an economy among the worst-hit in the early months of the pandemic.

India reported its highest number of new infections and deaths, airlifting oxygen from abroad for hard-pressed hospitals. Bangkok ordered the shutdown of dozens of businesses as the city tries to contain its biggest outbreak of the pandemic.

Key Developments

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U.S. States Relaunch J&J Shot After 10-Day Halt: Virus Update

U.S. State Cases Fall as Much as 37% (4:59 p.m. NY)

California and Connecticut are among five U.S. states with the biggest declines in new cases during the week ended Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Also in the group are Rhode Island, which reported a 37% decline, Connecticut, Vermont and Oklahoma. Cases in California fell by 25% compared with the previous seven-day period and deaths dropped by 27%, the most among the five states.

Tennessee, Nebraska, Louisiana, Oregon and Washington had the biggest percentage increases in cases in the continental U.S., ranging from 27% to 21%, according to CDC data.

Arkansas Vaccine Demand Falls (4:50 p.m. NY)

Almost a quarter of Arkansas’s counties will not immediately receive new first-dose vaccines because they have not requested them, the Democrat Gazette reported. No county is being denied doses, state epidemiologist Jennifer Dillaha was quoted as saying. “I would have to assume it’s because they had sufficient vaccine this time and didn’t need further shipments at this point,” Dillaha said. Second shots will still be sent.

In Arkansas, 34.7% of the population has received at least one dose, compared with the national average of 41.8%, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Demand for vaccines appears to be slackening nationwide. Average daily doses have fallen to 2.8 million from a high of 3.4 million on April 13, data from the tracker show.

California’s Positive Test Rate Improves (3:21 p.m. NY)

California’s seven-day positive test rate stood at 1.4%, down from 1.5% in the previous period, according to the health department’s website. The state reported 1,229 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday and 49 deaths. The Golden State, with a population of around 40 million people, has administered more than 27.8 million Covid vaccines to date.

California’s positive test rate is now the lowest in the nation, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It had soared as high as 17% at the end of the December.

France Adds Over 32,500 Cases (2:58 p.m. NY)

France recorded 32,633 new cases in the past 24 hours, with deaths rising by 217 to a total of 102,713 on Saturday. The country is still in its third national lockdown, with schools set to reopen progressively from Monday. The vaccination campaign continues, with Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer saying in a tweet he got his first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine. France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex said Thursday there will be a “cautious and progressive” reopening of the economy from mid May.

N.Y. Positive Tests Fall Below 2% (2:14 p.m. NY)

New York’s positive test rate dipped to 1.8%, one of the lowest in nation as the state’s outbreak continues to ease. Hospitalizations, which had been stuck above 4,000 for weeks, fell to 3,294, the lowest since Nov. 27, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. The state reported 4,164 new cases and 40 more deaths.

U.S. States Resume J&J Shots (1:59 p.m. NY)

U.S. states from New York to Arizona moved to begin administering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine again, restoring one of the nation’s options even as inoculation rates slow. Illinois, Nevada, Maryland and Tennessee were among other states to resume giving the shots, a day after U.S. health agencies lifted the pause on the vaccine while they reviewed serious and rare cases of blood clots.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who authorized administering the shots at state-run sites immediately, urged people to get whatever vaccine “is available to them first.”

“The sooner we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can put the long Covid nightmare behind us once and for all,” he said in a statement.

First Billion Doses Given Around the World (12:37 p.m. NY)

One billion syringes. A billion alcohol-soaked cotton balls, jabs to the skin and tiny bandages. One billion exhalations of relief. The first Covid-19 vaccine was approved for widespread use in the U.K. on Dec. 2, and 143 days later the first billion doses have been administered to a pandemic-weary world.

Today, more than 96% of the world’s people live in countries with active Covid-19 vaccine campaigns. That breadth marks an end to the start-up phase of the biggest public-health effort in history.

What comes next won’t be easy. It will take another 19 months to vaccinate 75% of the world’s population at the current pace of 18.5 million shots a day.

U.K. Passes Vaccine Milestone (12:02 p.m. NY)

The U.K. has given half of its population a first dose of coronavirus vaccine, a key milestone in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s efforts to revive an economy that was among the worst-hit in the early months of the pandemic.

The government has given first doses to 33.5 million people, health authorities said today. That’s more more than half the the Office of National Statistics’ most recent population estimate of 66.8 million. More than 12 million people have been given second doses.

Reaching the 50% point sets the U.K. apart from most of its peers around the world.

Bangkok Shutters Businesses (11:44 a.m. NY)

The Thai capital Bangkok has ordered the shutdown of dozens of businesses considered at high risk for Covid infections as the city tries to contain its biggest outbreak since the pandemic began.

Establishments such as cinemas, gyms, and convention centers will be closed for two weeks starting Monday, while malls and convenience stores can still open but with shortened hours, according to the announcement Saturday night by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

U.S. Cases Slow (8:02 a.m. NY)

The U.S. added more than 63,300 new cases Friday, amid a general easing of the latest viral wave, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. New cases have been slowing in hard-hit states in the Midwest, including Michigan, the data show.

Another 877 people died, the data show. Daily fatalities have not exceeded 1,000 for more than two weeks, roughly a quarter of the number at the peak of the post-holiday surge.

Pakistan Death Toll Climbs (7:43 a.m. NY)

Pakistan reported 157 deaths, the second-highest number since the pandemic started, according to the latest government data. The nation reported 5,908 new infections.

Nations Curb India Travel (7:08 a.m. NY)

German Health Minister Jens Spahn told Funke Mediengruppe that the country will declare India a virus variant area, which will allow only Germans to enter from that country, under strict testing and quarantine rules. The regulation will apply after midnight on Sunday German time, Spahn told Funke.

Kuwait suspended all commercial flights with India both directly and through other countries as cases there surge, the state-run Kuwait News Agency said Saturday, citing the government’s communication center. Indian nationals residing outside of the South Asian nation will still be allowed to enter Kuwait.

Iran will prohibit any flights to and from India and Pakistan as of Sunday to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 mutation that has pushed coronavirus fatalities in India to record levels, the Civil Aviation Organization said in a statement. Earlier Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani said “the worst variant” of the virus in India would put further strain on Iran’s health care system if it spreads to his country. Iran has recorded about 69,000 deaths and more than 2.3 million infections.

German Restrictions Kick In (5:42 p.m.)

Germany’s latest lock-down measures went into effect on Saturday after both houses of parliament backed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s bill this week. The law -- which expires at the end of June -- triggers tighter restrictions in virus hot spots, including nighttime curfews and closing schools and non-essential stores.

“This is something new in our fight against the pandemic and I am convinced it is urgently needed”, Merkel said in her weekly podcast, published on Saturday. “We are in the middle of the third wave. The more contagious variant of the virus has also taken hold in Germany.”

U.K Weighs Options to Astra Shot (5:10 p.m. HK)

U.K. medical advisers are considering whether to offer an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine to those under 40 amid fears of blood clots, the Telegraph reported. The nation’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has already advised that under-30s should be offered a different shot because of the risks of serious blood clotting. The panel is now considering whether a “further change of policy” is required, the paper reported.

Polish Infections Slow (4:41 p.m. HK)

Poland registered 9,505 new Covid cases and 513 deaths linked to the virus over the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data. That was a 40% drop in new infections compared with a week ago, adding to pressure on the government to loosen restrictions.

India Airlifts Oxygen (3:55 p.m. HK)

India airlifted supplies of liquid oxygen from Singapore to meet demand from its hospitals, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a tweet. The country’s hospitals have reported acute shortages of beds, medical oxygen and crucial drugs.

German Cases Slow (3:01 p.m. HK)

The pace of new infections in Germany slowed to 22,262 on Saturday, the lowest in four days, taking the total to 3.28 million. The seven-day incidence rate, a measure of new infections per 100,000 people, rose to 164.4, the highest in five days.

A total of 24.3 million Covid vaccine doses have now been administered in Germany, or around 30 doses per 100 people.

India Hits Records for Cases and Deaths (12:37 p.m. HK)

India reported a record 346,786 new infections on Saturday, bringing its total to 16.61 million. Deaths also rose by a record 2,624 to total 189,544.

Doctors Without Borders is restarting its emergency response amid the surging wave in Mumbai, the international medical aid group said in a statement on Friday.

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