N.Y. Nears Biden’s Vaccine Goal; U.S. Deaths Slow: Virus Update
U.S. cases and deaths dropped further, in a week when vaccinations ticked up slightly after weeks of declining. New York state is nearing President Joe Biden’s vaccination goal of 70% of adults receiving at least one dose by July 4.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now less hopeful he will be able to lift England’s pandemic restrictions as planned on June 21, as cases fueled by the delta variant continue to surge.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin ordered the return of sweeping restrictions as infections in the capital spiked. The mayor’s order comes a day after the Federal Statistics Service raised the number of nationwide deaths directly attributed to the coronavirus last year by 38%.
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- Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here.
N.Y. Nears Biden’s Vaccine Goal (3:52 p.m. NY)
New York state is nearing President Joe Biden’s vaccination goal of 70% of adults receiving at least one dose by July 4. Governor Andrew Cuomo on Saturday reported two numbers: a state number of 67.2% receiving at least one dose and 69.5% he said is used by the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention. The statement said the latter number includes federally-administered doses “and other minor differences.”
The governor also reported a seven-day average positive test rate of 0.44%, a record and among the lowest in the U.S. He reported another 533 new infections and 11 deaths.
Zambia Hits Records (2:37 p.m. NY)
Zambia will receive a further 120,000 doses of vaccines under the Covax facility in August, adding to the 108,000 doses the country is expecting on June 21, the southern African nation’s Health Ministry said Saturday in a statement. The announcement came as the country recorded its highest number of new cases and hospital admissions since the pandemic began.
The country reported 2,358 new cases on Saturday, with a 20% positive test rate, bringing the total cumulative number of infections to 110,332, with 1,365 deaths.
FDA Details Contamination of J&J Shots (2:32 p.m. NY)
The Food and Drug Administration offered more details Saturday on doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine made at an Emergent Biosolutions Inc. facility in Baltimore they determined aren’t suitable for use. In a memo from Peter Marks, director of the FDA center that oversees vaccines, the agency revealed four batches, in addition to a batch already known to be contaminated, were of questionable quality.
In March, J&J notified the FDA it detected contamination from another Covid-19 vaccine made at the Emergent plant in its shot. The FDA moved to inspect the facility in April where it found numerous issues with the quality of manufacturing and determined four more batches were made using the same procedures as the one that had been cross contaminated, according to the memo. J&J couldn’t exclude the possibility that these batches weren’t also contaminated, the memo said.
The FDA determined through testing that two batches are suitable for use given they were made during a different time period, even though the manufacturing conditions were not up to standard. The FDA said it will allow those two batches to be distributed in the U.S. and internationally.
Study Shows Emergency Care Rare Among Vaccinated (1:04 p.m. NY)
Emergency care or hospitalization is “exceedingly rare” among fully vaccinated people who contract Covid-19, according to a study of “breakthrough infections” by doctors at Beaumont Health, Michigan’s largest healthcare system. In cases of breakthrough Covid-19, if emergency treatment is required, “elderly patients with significant comorbidities remain at high risk for severe outcomes regardless of vaccination status,” the study found.
While previous research as shown strongly reduced risk of serious disease or death among vaccinated patients with breakthrough infections, the authors said data on the need for emergency care and hospitalization has been “unclear.” The study of almost 12,000 people between December and April showed that fully vaccinated people who contracted Covid-19 were 96% less likely to require emergency care or hospitalization than those who were unvaccinated. The study, posted Friday on MedRxiv has not been peer reviewed.
France Passes Vaccine Milestone (12:15 p.m. NY)
The target of 30 million first vaccine shots was reached on Saturday, three days ahead of the official deadline of June 15, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said in a tweet, as the country is enjoying its first weekend with a later curfew and lower restrictions.
Specific vaccination campaigns targeting the regions most affected by the delta variant first found in India were being conducted over the weekend, notably in the east. At least a fifth of the French population has been fully vaccinated, according to data released late Friday by the French health agency Sante Publique France.
U.K.’s Johnson Less Optimistic About Lifting Lockdown (11:32 a.m. NY)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now less hopeful he will be able to lift England’s pandemic restrictions as planned on June 21, suggesting rules may need to be kept in place for longer as cases surge.
Johnson said the government must be “cautious” about when to take the final step out of lockdown to protect the success of the U.K.’s vaccine program in containing Covid-19. Officials will be studying the latest data on the spread of the now dominant delta variant first discovered in India before making an announcement Monday about the next step.
Weekly cases in the U.K. increased by 53% to 47,868, the government said Saturday. It reported 7,738 new infections on Saturday, down from more than 8,000 on Friday but the fourth straight day above 7,000. Daily cases averaged around 3,000 at the start of the month. Deaths have remained steady, with 12 reported Saturday.
U.S. Air Travelers Top 2 Million (10:42 a.m. NY)
Daily U.S. air travelers exceeded 2 million for the first time since the pandemic began, reaching almost three-quarters of the volume recorded on the same day in 2019, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
TSA officials screened 2,028,961 people at airport security checkpoints on Friday, which was 1.5 million more than on June 11, 2020 and 74% of the number on the same day two years ago, the agency said in a statement.
Moscow Reimposes Restrictions (9:42 a.m. NY)
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin ordered the return of sweeping restrictions in an attempt to curb a spike in Covid-19 infections and said authorities are making thousands of hospital beds available.
Sobyanin declared June 15-19 as non-working days in the Russian capital following a public holiday Monday, and he urged the elderly and those with chronic illnesses to stay home. He also ordered bars and restaurants to stop service from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Previous restrictions were lifted in January.
Russia reported 13,510 new cases in the past day, the highest since Feb. 15. There were 6,701 additional cases in Moscow, the most since Dec. 26.
U.S. Outbreak Continues to Slow (9:12 a.m. NY)
U.S. cases and deaths dropped further, in a week when vaccinations ticked up slightly after weeks of declining. Almost 11,400 new cases and 436 new deaths were reported, with weekly caseloads the lowest since U.S. states began lockdowns in late March 2020, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.
The pace of vaccination improved slightly over the last week, with the seven-day average now just over 1 million. That compares with a peak of almost 4 million daily doses in mid-April. At least one dose has been administered to 52% of all Americans, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.
Vietnam’s Vingroup to Make a Vaccine (8:57 a.m. NY)
Vietnam’s health ministry said Vingroup JSC is expected to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines after negotiating a technology transfer deal with an unidentified U.S. producer.
The vaccine will be mRNA-based, the health ministry said on its website. Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. deploy the same technology in their vaccines. Earlier, the government said it expects to vaccinate all workers at industrial parks across the Southeast Asian country by the end of August.
India’s Rise in Deaths Due to Clearing Backlog: ToI (7 a.m. NY)
The increase in India’s daily virus-related toll stems from the inclusion of previously unrecorded deaths in a western province. The count rose by 4,002, compared with 3,403 a day earlier, according to federal government data released Saturday.
The jump may stem from the inclusion of as many as 2,213 previously unrecorded deaths in Maharashtra state. The clearing of a data backlog has found as many as 13,830 deaths in the state, according to a Times of India report.
Saudi Arabia Bars Overseas Hajj Pilgrims Again (6:40 a.m. NY)
Saudi Arabia will only allow nationals and residents to attend the annual Hajj for the second year in a row to contain the spread of the coronavirus and its variants inside the kingdom.
The Hajj and Umra Ministry said it would allow access to 60,000 pilgrims between the ages of 18 and 65 who have received the vaccine and do not suffer any chronic diseases, state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Hajj is obligatory for all able-bodied adult Muslims once in their lifetime if they can afford it. Last year, Saudi Arabia restricted the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca to a “very limited” number of Muslims.
J&J Delivery to S. Africa in Limbo (6:15 am NY)
Johnson & Johnson vaccines intended for South Africa remain suspended following a U.S. ruling that ingredients for the country’s doses may have been contaminated during production in a plant in Baltimore.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday that some batches of the J&J version were not fit to use, while others are still under review. Two lots have been approved, though it’s not clear where those are headed or how many that covers.
South Africa is heavily reliant on the J&J vaccine to meet a target of inoculating two-thirds of its 60 million population this year, having ordered more than 31 million of the single-dose shot.
Germany Reports Second Straight Decline in Cases (4:30 p.m. HK)
Germany reported 2,194 new Covid-19 cases, the second daily decline in a row. The number of deaths rose to 128 from 101 a day earlier and 121 a week earlier. The number of patients in intensive care is 28% lower than a week ago, according to an overview provided by newspaper Zeit.
Delta Variant Transmits Readily in Homes, U.K. Report Says (8:26 a.m. HK)
The delta variant that drove India’s catastrophic second surge is 64% more likely to spread among household members than the alpha strain, researchers from Public Health England reported Friday.
The findings support existing evidence that delta, also known as B.1.617.2, has “a substantially increased transmissibility advantage,” and that households are important settings for its rapid spread, they said. Delta became the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant in England at the end of May and accounts for more than 90% of all new cases there.
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