Flights to U.S. Reopen; German Cases Spike: Virus Update
Flights for fully-vaccinated travelers from Europe to the U.S. begin Monday, though the lucrative market will be very different from the one before the pandemic. The U.S. is lifting entry restrictions for more than 30 countries, including China, Brazil and India.
Europe, meantime, is confronting its new wave of infection. France is to consider spending an extra 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) to bolster the hospital system. Italy plans to vaccinate children in December.
In the U.K., a return to lockdown restrictions is still under consideration, the Guardian reported.
New antiviral treatments under development for Covid-19 show promise but vaccination remains the surest way to end the pandemic, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said.
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- Child vaccine demand underscores deep divisions in U.S.
- Moderna finds that inventing a Covid vaccine was the easy part
- Rise of the robots speeds up in pandemic With U.S. labor scarce
- Why new pills to treat Covid could be game changers: QuickTake
Strict L.A. Vaccine Mandate Goes Into Effect (4:22 p.m. NY)
Los Angeles County is set on Monday to impose one of the strictest vaccine mandates in the U.S., requiring proof for most indoor public places.
Proof of full vaccination must be presented for entrance to restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, shopping centers, concerts and some government buildings. Enforcement doesn’t begin until Nov. 29. Establishments that don’t enforce the mandate will be subject to fines starting at $1,000 for the second violation and rising to $5,000.
New infections in the county have risen to their highest levels since September.
New York City imposed similar rules in August, requiring at least one vaccine dose to enter many indoor spaces.
Biden Adviser Defends Mandate’s Legality (2:19 p.m. NY)
President Joe Biden’s requirement for employees at companies with more than 100 workers to get Covid-19 vaccinations or regular testing is on solid legal ground, presidential adviser Cedric Richmond said.
“We’re very confident we’re on statutory and legal grounds,” Richmond said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
A federal appeals court in New Orleans temporarily halted the mandate’s nationwide rollout on Friday and gave the Biden administration until Monday to respond. Republican state attorney-generals and companies have been challenging the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rule, which sets a Jan. 4 deadline.
U.S.-Europe Flights Reopen Monday (12:15 p.m. NY)
Flights for fully-vaccinated travelers from Europe to U.S. begin Monday, though the lucrative market will be very different from the one before the pandemic.
Demand compared with before the pandemic will be lower. The corporate road warriors who were once the North Atlantic’s lifeblood are still largely grounded as firms avoid unnecessary travel, putting the onus on attracting leisure passengers.
And the U.S. is letting in Europeans just as virus infections surge again across the continent. On Friday, German cases rose by a record for a second day as a fourth wave of the pandemic hits the region.
The U.S. is lifting entry restrictions for more than 30 countries, including China, Brazil and India.
Murthy Says Covid Pills Can’t Replace Vaccines (11:56 a.m. NY)
New treatments under development for Covid-19 show promise but vaccination remains the surest way to end the pandemic, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said.
“There is an 100% effective strategy to avoid hospitalization and death, and that’s not getting Covid in the first place,” Murthy said on ABC’s “This Week.” “A therapeutic, a pill is not a substitute for getting vaccinated.”
Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. Inc. have presented data showing their new antiviral drugs can significantly reduce the risk of serious infection. Both must go before U.S. regulators for approval.
German Parties Plan Legislation to Fight Covid (8:39 a.m. NY)
The German parties currently in talks to form the next government under Social Democrat Olaf Scholz will introduce draft legislation in the lower house of parliament on Monday to address the country’s surge in new infections.
The SPD, Green party and the Free Democrats will propose a bill for an “appropriate and decisive” measure to fight the country’s fourth wave, FDP parliamentary whip Marco Buschmann tweeted on Sunday.
The incidence in Germany spiked again, rising to 191.5 cases per 100,000 people, with 23,543 new infections and 37 fatalities, according to the Robert Koch Institute.
France Proposes More Spending on Hospitals (8:28 a.m. NY)
Budget Minister Dussopt and Health Minister Olivier Veran will present the budget to the Senate on Monday, Dussopt said in a radio interview.
If the current increase in Covid cases causes a short-term hospital crisis, the government will act further, Dussopt said. “Each time it’s been necessary to respond to the crisis, we’ve released emergency funds, and if it’s necessary, we’ll do it again,” he said.
Italy to Start Immunizing Children (8:31 a.m. NY)
Health Minister Speranza says that that if hospitalizations remain under control, the country won’t face any additional restrictions during the Christmas holidays. Italy is working to persuade the roughly 12% of population that opposes the vaccine to get a shot, the minister said.
U.K. Still Considering Lockdowns (8:33 a.m. NY)
Professor Anne Johnson, president of Academy of Medical Sciences and a member of SAGE, told LBC radio that she understood a “Plan B” for lowdown restrictions is still on the cards, according to the Guardian.
“If we want to avoid any restrictions in the future, or indeed reduce the damage, we need to think about all the things that we can do, which include not just vaccinating, which is very important, but also going to isolate when we’re sick, get tested,” the Guardian quoted her as saying. “All these things we can continue to do, and all those things are going to reduce the risk of having to go to plan B.”
U.S. Donates More Pfizer Doses to Vietnam (6:30 p.m. HK)
Vietnam’s health ministry said the U.S. has donated 2.5 million additional doses of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine. That brings the total doses sent from the U.S. to Vietnam to more than 14.6 million, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.
German Infections Spike (6:38 p.m. HK)
Germany’s nationwide seven-day incidence climbed, with the Robert Koch Institute saying on Sunday the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants reached 191.5, according to the Guardian. The previous day, the incidence was 183.7, and a week ago it was 149.4. Last month, it was 62.6.
U.K. Plans to Bring Back Tests, Quarantine (5 p.m. HK)
Officials are divided over how soon to implement the measures and are discussing a grace period that would allow people to travel without quarantine if they had sought a booster six months after their second jab but had not yet been offered an appointment.
The news came as Health Secretary Sajid Javid said almost 10 million people have now received their booster jab, but encouraged people to urge their elderly relatives to come forward.
U.K. to Roll Out Antiviral Pill This Month (6:45 p.m. HK)
Britain will start to roll out Merck’s molnupiravir Covid-19 antiviral pill through a drug trial later this month, Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the U.K. Health Security Agency said on Sunday, according to Reuters.
Last week Britain became the first country in the world to approve the potentially game-changing Covid-19 antiviral pill, jointly developed by U.S.-based Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
Anti-Vaccination Protests in Australia (12:35 p.m. HK)
Hundreds of people protested mandatory vaccinations in western Sydney and other areas of Australia’s New South Wales state on Sunday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, as a further easing of virus-related restrictions is set to ease Monday for the fully inoculated.
The demonstration was proceeding peacefully, police said, according to the newspaper, which added that people held held anti-vaccine placards with slogans like “Your Body Your Choice.”
China Reports 50 More Local Cases (10:17 a.m. HK)
China reported 50 additional local Covid infections, as authorities said strict curbs would remain in place to disrupt the spread of transmission.
Twenty-one cases were recorded in Hebei province, which is in close proximity to Beijing, the National Health Commission said. The infections come as Chinese authorities ring-fencing the capital ahead of February’s Winter Olympics.
The outbreak is fueled by the delta variant and has now reached 20 out of 31 mainland provinces, the broadest virus spread in China since the pathogen first emerged in Wuhan.
U.S. Passes Vaccine Milestone as Pace Picks Up (6:42 a.m. HK)
The U.S. crossed the milestone of 70% of people 18 and older fully vaccinated, according data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Almost 11 months after the first shots were given in the U.S., the pace of vaccination has been rising after a steep drop starting in April. Booster doses, now approved for all three vaccines given in the U.S., accounted for about 904,000 of the 1.5 million doses recorded on Saturday, according to a tweet from Cyrus Shahpar, the White House’s Covid-19 data director.
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