Fauci Sees Herd Immunity in Summer; Antibody Test: Virus Update
A healthcare worker administers a test at a Covid-19 testing tent outside a Bay Area Rapid Transit station in the Mission District of San Francisco, California. (Photographer: David Odisho/Bloomberg)

Fauci Sees Herd Immunity in Summer; Antibody Test: Virus Update

Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE sought regulatory clearance for their vaccine in the European Union. A Roche Holding AG test that detects the presence and level of coronavirus antibodies was cleared by U.S. regulators for emergency use.

The overwhelming majority of Americans could be vaccinated by the second quarter of next year, leading to herd immunity in the summer and a return to school and work in the fall, said Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease doctor.

New York City is urging older adults and those with underlying health conditions to stay home and not have guests in order to moderate case growth and preserve hospital capacity. Statewide, daily hospitalizations jumped the most since April, though they remain far below the peak last spring.

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Fauci Sees Herd Immunity in Summer; Antibody Test: Virus Update

San Francisco ‘In Trouble’ (5 p.m. NY)

In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed said that more-stringent measures may be coming as soon as this week. The city, already in California’s purple tier requiring widespread restrictions, is considering further capacity limits on businesses and outdoor gatherings, as well as requiring people to self-quarantine if they travel.

“Our dangerous winter has arrived,” Breed said Tuesday in a press briefing. “What we’re seeing now is a spike unlike anything we’ve seen since the beginning of this pandemic. We are in trouble.”

California Sets a Record (4:40 p.m. NY)

California has a record 9,049 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, for the first time exceeding levels hit during a July surge in cases, according to state health department data. The most-populous state reported 12,221 new infections Tuesday, while its 14-day average rate of positive tests climbed to 6.5%, the highest since August.

Hospitalizations have nearly doubled since mid-November and have yet to reflect a new spike of infections, which trail hospital stays by two to three weeks. Governor Gavin Newsom warned on Monday that hospitalizations may double or triple by Christmas and intensive-care capacity will exceed demand, potentially leading to new stay-at-home orders if trends don’t change.

U.S. Could Hit Herd Immunity This Summer, Fauci Says (3:10 p.m. NY)

The overwhelming majority of Americans could be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the second quarter of next year, leading to herd immunity by the fall, Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease doctor, said Tuesday.

In an online news conference with Colorado governor Jared Polis, Fauci said the ordinary man and woman on the street, without co-existing conditions or elevated risks, will start getting access to the vaccines now being considered by U.S regulators in April. If Americans embrace the immunization, most may have gotten the shot before August comes to a close, he said.

“That means you would have herd immunity that would allow you to safely get people back to school in the fall, to safely get people back to the kinds of work that would otherwise be difficult as you get to the middle and the end of the summer,” Fauci said.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also said he was surprised by the high efficacy of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

New Jersey Deaths Spike (1:45 p.m. NY)

New Jersey reported 90 deaths, by far the most in more than six months. The state now has 15,254 lab-confirmed virus fatalities and 1,829 with an untested but probable link.

New Jersey reported 4,661 new cases, marking the third time in 11 days that the figure exceeded 4,500. More than half the 601 patients in intensive-care units were breathing with the aid of ventilators.

Starting on Dec. 7, Governor Phil Murphy will limit outdoor gatherings to 25 people, from 150, and suspend most indoor sports. New Jersey has limits on indoor dining, retail and other activities. Murphy has said a broad statewide shutdown, along the lines of what he ordered in March and then slowly relaxed, remains a remote possibility.

Roche Antibody Test Cleared in U.S. (1:30 p.m. NY)

A Roche Holding AG test that detects the presence and level of coronavirus antibodies was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use.

The test, known as the Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 S, identifies antibodies tied to the virus’s distinctive spike protein, a target for several of the leading vaccines in development. The test could be used to evaluate how well the shots work, including over time, Roche said in a statement announcing the approval.

Like other antibody tests, the assay could also be used to identify potential plasma donors. The use of so-called convalescent plasma to treat people hospitalized with Covid-19 was granted emergency authorization by the FDA earlier this year.

UnitedHealth Expects $2 Billion Earnings Hit (1:20 p.m. NY)

UnitedHealth Group Inc. expects the pandemic to carve $2 billion out of its profits next year, with Covid-19 testing and treatment costs remaining steady even as more Americans return to their doctors’ offices for routine care.

Executives said costs for virus testing and treatment won’t be offset by widespread deferrals in care in 2021, as they were in 2020 when U.S. medical providers shut down most non-urgent in-person care for weeks during the spring.

N.Y. Daily Hospitalizations Jump (11:50 a.m. NY)

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations in New York jumped by 242 in one day, the most since early April. There were 3,774 hospitalizations on Monday, and 66 virus-related fatalities, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday during a virus briefing conference call.

Hospital capacity is a top priority for the state, which issued orders on Monday calling on health systems to begin increasing the number of beds available, he said.

Still, the rate of growth is “nowhere close to what it was back in March,” said Gareth Rhodes, a member of Cuomo’s Covid-19 task force. At the end of March into April, the number of new hospitalizations went from about 3,500 daily to more than 13,000 in about a week, he said.

Statewide 146,675 tests were reported on Monday, of which 4.96%, or 7,285, were positive, including hot spot areas, according to state data.

NYC Warns Older Residents (11:05 a.m. NY)

New York City is urging older adults and those with underlying health conditions to stay home and not have guests in order to moderate case growth and preserve hospital capacity.

City hospitalizations have doubled in recent weeks and are now 1,100, the highest since June. The seven-day average of daily reported cases has climbed to 1,685, the highest since May. A month ago, the daily case average was 621. The percentage of people testing positive continues to climb, to a seven-day average of 4.14%.

“We are seeing a tragically familiar pattern,” as cases increase and hospitalizations follow, Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said at a virus press briefing on Tuesday.

New Yorkers who are older and have health conditions should wear face coverings at all times, indoors and outdoors, health officials urged.

Denmark Tightens Restrictions (10:40 a.m. NY)

Denmark unveiled a new wave of restrictions that will hit the greater Copenhagen area next week, as the country struggles to contain the latest surge in coronavirus cases.

The new measures include extended guidelines on working from home, virtual classes for students in higher education and mandatory limits on how many customers can visit a store at any one time.

The restrictions follow a spike in cases, including among younger Danes, and the government now wants people between the ages of 15 and 21 to ensure they’re regularly tested for coronavirus ahead of the Christmas season.

France to Prioritize Nursing Homes for Vaccines (10:05 a.m. NY)

France will first vaccinate residents of nursing homes and some personnel there as part of its Covid vaccination strategy, following recommendations by the country’s High Authority of Health, Prime Minister Jean Castex said in response to parliamentary questions on Tuesday.

Castex said indicators of pandemic activity in France are now the most favorable in Europe, and better than those in Germany “for the first time,” even if numbers remain higher than at the end of the country’s first lockdown.

France will start vaccinating a “more general public” some time between April and June, President Emmanuel Macron said at a press conference in Paris. The first vaccination phase for vulnerable people will most likely start between end-December and early January, he said.

Johnson: Pfizer Shot Rollout Possible Before Christmas (8:24 a.m. NY)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine could start being administered before Christmas if the regulator gives approval. He spoke during a House of Commons debate on pandemic restrictions. The country has ordered 40 million doses.

The U.K. invoked a special rule to allow its regulator to bypass its European Union counterpart and may be the first to sign off on the vaccine. The U.S. isn’t far behind, with a Food and Drug Administration panel set to meet on Dec. 10 to discuss the shot.

Dutch Weekly Cases Fall (8:07 a.m. NY)

The number of cases in the Netherlands fell in the past week, health agency RIVM said. In the week ended Tuesday, 33,949 new patients were confirmed, an 8% drop. The reported number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 and those admitted to intensive care also declined. As of Tuesday, wearing a face mask in public spaces is mandatory for all people aged 13 or over.

Vietnam PM Orders Halt to International Flights (7:57 a.m. NY)

Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered the country’s aviation authority to halt international commercial flights after the nation reported its first local cases in almost three months, according to a posting on the government’s website.

The premier, who said “rescue” flights bringing Vietnamese home from abroad should continue, instructed the Ho Chi Minh City government to quickly trace and isolate everyone who came in contact with those who tested positive this week.

Ireland Starts Reopening (7:45 a.m. NY)

Ireland, one of the first countries in western Europe to return to lockdown in late October, began reopening its economy on Tuesday. Non-essential stores welcomed shoppers back. Restaurants will reopen later this week, as well as bars serving food. Bars that only serve drinks will remain closed.

CureVac Chairman Expects Shot to Be Ready in 1st Quarter (7:01 a.m. NY)

Jean Stephenne, chairman of German biotech company CureVac NV, said he is confident the company’s Covid vaccine will be ready in the first quarter of 2021, and there is no reason to suggest its efficiency won’t match that of rivals.

“We’re running a few months behind Pfizer, but confident on prospect for February-March,” he said at the European Health Summit in a panel moderated by Bloomberg.

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