U.S. Hospitalizations Fall; U.K. Reopening Doubts: Virus Update

U.S. hospitalizations fell, with the share of beds filled by Covid-19 patients at the lowest level since March 2020. Utah’s new cases are rising after the Memorial Day holiday but at about two more infections a day, compared with almost 50 a day last year, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The U.K. could start vaccinating children as soon as August, the Telegraph reported, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock warning that children make up a “huge proportion” of the latest cases. Separately, Hancock said it’s too early to say whether a planned easing of restrictions on June 21 can go ahead.

Officials from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation said they would work to expedite the distribution and flow of coronavirus vaccines and other essential medical supplies.

Key Developments:

U.S. Hospitalizations Fall; U.K. Reopening Doubts: Virus Update

U.S. Administers 1.6 Million Daily Shots (4:26 p.m. NY)

About 1.6 million doses of vaccine were recorded in the U.S. on Sunday, a day after the total rose to more than 300 million, according to data collected by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. The number was almost half a million more than the previous day, which contrasts with a decline since vaccinations peaked in mid-April.

President Joe Biden has set a goal for 70% of all adults to get at least one dose by July 4. That number is now 63.5%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Another 376 deaths linked to Covid-19 were reported on Saturday, in line with recent numbers. Almost 580,000 people in the U.S. have died since the pandemic began in early 2020. The nation added 14,089 new cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

U.S. Hospitalizations Fall; U.K. Reopening Doubts: Virus Update

U.S. Vaccines Promised to Taiwan (3:41 p.m. NY)

Taiwan was promised 750,000 vaccine doses from the U.S., as it battles a viral surge and what it says are China’s efforts to block a deal for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The pledge came on a visit Sunday by three U.S. senators, Democrats Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Christopher Coons of Delaware, and Republican Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

“I’m here to tell you that the United States will not let you stand alone,” Duckworth said, according to the Associated Press.

On Thursday, the Biden administration announced that it would send 25 million vaccine doses to countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America but didn’t specify the breakdown by country. The White House reiterated then that it would send at least 80 million vaccines abroad by the end of June. Late last week, Japan sent 1.2 million doses to Taiwan.

Utah Cases Rise After Memorial Day, but Barely (3:05 p.m. NY)

Utah is reporting a jump in cases after Memorial Day but only about two per day compared with the previous week, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. That compares with the week after Memorial Day 2020, when cases rose an average almost 50 a day compared with the previous week.

Utah has administered at least one dose of vaccine to 45.7% of people in the state, compared with the U.S. average of 51.3%, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Nationally, daily cases are below the week before Memorial Day.

Canada Eases Border Rules for Hockey Teams (2:20 p.m. NY)

Canada has granted an exemption to virus border restrictions to National Hockey League teams, allowing them to go back and forth with the U.S. during the remainder of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The announcement means the Canadian team that makes it to the league’s semi-finals will be able to play games in its home arena. Players and team staff will have to remain in a bubble and avoid contact with the general public.

U.S. Hospitalizations Slow (11:19 a.m. NY)

U.S. hospitalizations continue to fall, with 3.17% of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients on June 4, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That percentage dropped from 3.67% on May 28 and is the lowest since March 14, 2020.

Washington state has the biggest share of hospital beds taken up by Covid-19 patients at 5.92%, followed by Maryland at 5.32%. Florida has the highest number of beds occupied at 2,177, followed by Texas with 2,035 patients. Those numbers declined in both states from the previous day.

Governor Says Mississippi Has Little Virus (10:38 a.m. NY)

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said his state’s low rate of vaccination is partly because a large number of people have already had Covid-19 and have built up immunity.

“We’ve got somewhere probably between a million or so Mississippians that have natural immunity and because of that, there is very, very, very little virus in our state,” Reeves said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The Republican governor said he encouraged vaccinations, “but that’s an individual choice.”

In Mississippi, 27.5% of people have been fully vaccinated, far below the U.S. average of 41.6%, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who have already had Covid-19 get vaccinated because it is uncertain how long natural immunity lasts. It is also unknown how long immunity from vaccines lasts.

S. Africa Mulls Buying 5 Million Sputnik Doses (6:19 a.m. NY)

South Africa may have to pay 680 million rand ($51 million) to access 5 million doses of Sputnik V from Russia, just months after the health regulator turned down a donation of 15 million doses on fears about how people with HIV/Aids would react to the vaccine, City Press reported.

Iran Cases Slow (6:16 a.m. NY)

Iran reported 5,612 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, its lowest daily infection count since Dec. 27, the country’s Health Ministry said, adding that 122 people had died from the disease overnight, the lowest number since April 3.

Not Enough Russians Vaccinated Yet (4:32 p.m. HK)

Russia registered 9,163 new Covid-19 infections in the past day, little changed from a day earlier, according to data from the government’s coronavirus monitoring center. The illness resulted in 351 deaths, down from 399 the previous day, the data showed.

While the country is making progress, not enough Russians have been vaccinated yet, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko told state news agency RIA Novosti on Saturday. “The number of people with Covid immunity in Russia isn’t bad, but it’s still not enough for elimination. Our goal is elimination,” he was cited as saying.

Hancock: ‘Too Early’ on U.K. Easing (4:23 p.m. HK)

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it’s too early to say whether a planned easing of coronavirus restrictions on June 21 can go ahead, as ministers continue to weigh the threat of a potential fresh wave of the pandemic.

“We’ll be looking at all of the data over the next week,” Hancock said on Sky News on Sunday. “We are not saying no to the 21st of June at this point.”

German Cases Slow (4:17 p.m. HK)

Germany reported 2,249 cases on Sunday, down from 2,993 the day before. The total number of infections in the country since the start of the pandemic exceeds 3.7 million. The number of Covid-related deaths reached 89,228.

U.K. Reported to Donate More Than 100 Million Shots (3:02 p.m. HK)

The U.K. is set to donate more than 100 million Covid jabs to developing countries, the Sunday Times reported, without saying where it got the information.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will pledge a donation of more than 2 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) of shots at a summit of leaders of the Group of Seven nations starting Friday -- and promise more next year, it said.

Senegal Could Produce Shots Next Year (2:07 p.m. HK)

Senegal could begin producing Covid vaccines next year under an agreement with Belgian biotech group Univercells, Reuters reported, citing people involved in funding the project.

Under an agreement, the Institut Pasteur de Dakar would use vaccine production technology developed by the Belgian firm to supply shots across West Africa, Reuters reported. Univercells announced the signing of a letter of intent for collaboration in Senegal’s capital in April.

The institute would begin packaging and distributing vaccines produced by Univercells in Belgium early next year, Reuters said.

U.K. Could Start Shots for Kids in August (8:54 a.m. HK)

Coronavirus vaccines could be rolled out to children in the U.K. from as early as August, The Telegraph newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the plan.

Under current modeling, the U.K. would be ready to start vaccinating 12-to 15-year-olds by the second half of August, or early September at the latest, a government source told the paper. Ministers are awaiting advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation before making a final decision, it said.

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