Delta Strain Spreads in U.S., Canada Eases Travel: Virus Update

AstraZeneca Plc Covid-19 vaccines donated by Japan at a vaccination center in Taipei, Taiwan. (Photographer: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg)

Delta Strain Spreads in U.S., Canada Eases Travel: Virus Update

The highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is gaining steam in undervaccinated pockets of the U.S., according to a study. Coupled with accelerating cases in the South, the finding casts a pall on the inoculation effort in the country even though more than 45% of the population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Canada announced a loosening of travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said England is on track for curbs to be lifted in July, while Germany warned a fourth wave is possible. South Africa is planning to make vaccines locally using messenger RNA.

Cases surged in Indonesia, and China said it needs to fully vaccinate 80%-85% of the population, or just over 1 billion people, to reach herd immunity. The Tokyo Olympics will limit the number of spectators to 10,000 people per venue.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases exceed 178.6 million; deaths pass 3.87 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 2.62 billion doses administered
  • Delta variant seen spreading in undervaccinated U.S. counties
  • Covid counting sees new era as threat shifts away from cases
  • Many Brazilians insist on Pfizer even with 500,000 dead
  • U.K. is a test case for Covid endgame as variant upends the math
Delta Strain Spreads in U.S., Canada Eases Travel: Virus Update

Covid Rebounds in U.S. South (3:50 p.m. NY)

Covid-19 transmission is accelerating in several poorly vaccinated states, primarily in the South, and more young people are turning up at hospitals. The data present the clearest sign of a rebound in the U.S. in months.

In Missouri, Arkansas and Utah, the seven-day average of hospital admissions with confirmed Covid-19 has increased more than 30% in the past two weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In Mississippi, the hospitalization rate is up 5% in the period.

South Africa Plans to Make Vaccine (12:30 p.m. NY)

South Africa is planning to make vaccines locally using messenger RNA, the breakthrough technology of the global inoculation effort against Covid-19.

The manufacturing will be conducted by the state-owned Biovac Institute, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, told reporters Monday. That will be part of a broader vaccine technology-transfer hub in the country, he said.

The WHO is speaking to a number of drugmakers about establishing the hub, though the talks are so far mainly with “smaller companies,” said Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist. “We are having discussions with the larger companies with proven mRNA technology,” she added.

U.S. Says 150 Million Fully Vaccinated (12:01 p.m. NY)

The U.S. said 150 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to a statement on Twitter by Cyrus Shahpar, White House Covid data director.

S. Africa’s Biovac to Make mRNA Shots: WHO (11:30 a.m. NY)

South Africa’s Biovac Institute will make mRNA Covid-19 vaccines as part of the establishment of an mRNA technology transfer hub, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization. Tedros, who said his organization is speaking to a consortium of companies to establish the hub, spoke at a press conference on Monday.

Canada Begins to Ease Border Rules (11:20 a.m. NY)

The Canadian government announced a loosening of Covid-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people amid warnings that a return to a completely open border will take awhile longer.

Fully vaccinated Canadians and residents will exempt from the mandatory three-day hotel stay as well as a 14-day quarantine requirement on arrival to the country, Justin Trudeau’s government said in a statement on Monday. Travelers will still need to have tested negative for Covid-19 before their trip, and take a second test at the border.

The move -- effective July 5 -- is a first, incremental step to ease restrictions amid mounting impatience for the government to reopen the border between the U.S. and Canada. A fuller reopening won’t happen until 75% of Canadians are fully vaccinated, Canada’s border chief said on Sunday. The world’s longest undefended border has been closed to most travel since March 2020. On Friday, the government extended the restrictions until at least July 21.

Germany Sees Potential for Fourth Wave (8:48 a.m. NY)

German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned of the possibility of a fourth wave of the pandemic as the delta variant spreads, saying it’s important to remain cautious as the country plans for a potentially challenging autumn and winter.

“As you can see in the U.K., there is a risk,” Spahn said in an online panel hosted by industry group BDI. “Just remember the figures they had just some weeks ago regarding vaccination as well as the infection rate, and actually how quickly that can change.”

S. Africa, France Plan African mRNA Facility (8:15 a.m. NY)

South Africa, France and the World Health Organization are set to announce plans for Africa’s first Covid-19 vaccine facility using messenger RNA, the breakthrough technology of the global inoculation effort.

The “technology transfer hub” will be located in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement on Monday. The announcement is scheduled for 5 p.m. local time.

South Africa, along with India, has been at the forefront of a campaign at the World Trade Organization to push pharmaceutical companies to waive their intellectual property rights and share their technology for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments to help end the pandemic.

Kenya to Receive More Vaccines (8:13 a.m. NY)

Kenya will receive 358,000 AstraZeneca doses donated by Denmark on Monday to shore up depleting stocks for the second round of vaccinations, according to Willis Akhwale, chairman of the Covid-19 vaccine advisory task force.

A total of 1.18 million vaccines have so far been administered across Kenya, but fewer than 200,000 people had received a second dose as at June 20, according to the Health Ministry.

Johnson Says Curbs to Be Lifted as Planned (7:16 a.m. NY)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said England is on course to be able to lift coronavirus restrictions as planned on July 19, despite the spread of the delta variant.

But Johnson also warned that foreign travel is likely to continue to be disrupted this year, with delays and complications for travelers.

Sinovac’s S. Africa Application Advances (6:47 a.m. NY)

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority said an application by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. to have its Coronavac vaccine approved “is at a very advanced stage.”

So far South Africa has only approved the Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for use. Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is also being evaluated.

U.K. Travel Chiefs Set to Challenge Curbs (6:13 a.m. NY)

Britain’s surging coronavirus infection rate is widening a rift between airlines and health authorities over the government’s decision to maintain some of the tightest rules on travel in Europe.

Travel industry officials plan to hold events on Wednesday in London, Edinburgh and Belfast to draw attention to some 195,000 jobs they say are at risk from restrictions on overseas trips. Meanwhile, an adviser from Public Health England warned that a fourth national lockdown may be needed this year to control the virus.

Indonesia’s Virus Cases Hit 2 Million (5:55 a.m. NY)

Indonesia’s total Covid-19 cases reached 2 million and hospitals started to fill up as the country grapples with the highly transmissible delta variant.

The government confirmed 14,536 new cases on Monday, a record. Deaths have begun to pick up as the Covid-19 hospitalization rates exceed 70% in 87 cities across the country, with 294 fatalities recorded in the past 24 hours.

Delta Strain Spreads in U.S., Canada Eases Travel: Virus Update

China Herd Immunity Requires 80% Vaccinated (5:18 a.m. N)

China needs to fully vaccinate 80%-85% of the population, or just over 1 billion people, to reach herd immunity, the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told state media on Monday.

The world’s most populous country has already administered 1 billion doses, but most were Sinovac and Sinopharm that require two jabs. China’s “covid-zero” containment strategy means it’s still being cautious about opening its borders and loosening quarantine restrictions. Administration.

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