U.S. Deaths Surpass 300,000 as Vaccinations Begin: Virus Update
Wes Wheeler, president of healthcare logistics at United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS), holds an example of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine vial during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Samuel Corum/The New York Times/Bloomberg)

U.S. Deaths Surpass 300,000 as Vaccinations Begin: Virus Update

The first Covid-19 vaccine shots were administered by U.S. hospitals Monday, the initial step in a historic drive to immunize millions of people as deaths passed the grim milestone of 300,000.

In New York, the original epicenter of the U.S. pandemic, critical-care nurse Sandra Lindsay received the first shot in that state at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens. The state is headed toward a second full shutdown if new infections and hospitalizations continue at their current pace, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

U.S. Deaths Surpass 300,000 as Vaccinations Begin: Virus Update

European governments are tightening restrictions. London will be placed under England’s toughest coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday. The Dutch government is expected to lay out extra measures and Ireland is facing the possibility of more curbs next month after an easing in December. Germany is set to enter into hard lockdown Wednesday.

Singapore approved Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s vaccine and expects the first shipments by the end of the month, when it also plans to ease curbs. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the government will suspend its “Go To” domestic travel incentive campaign.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases exceed 72.6 million; deaths surpass 1.6 million
  • Trump says White House should get vaccine later
  • Astra plots post-Covid future with $39 billion Alexion deal
  • Covid quickens exodus from N.Y., California
  • Europe hit with tougher curbs ahead of vaccine

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID

U.S. Deaths Surpass 300,000 as Vaccinations Begin: Virus Update

Vaccine Meets New Cases in California (5:10 p.m. NY)

California Governor Gavin Newsom looking on, a Kaiser Permanente hospital in Los Angeles began vaccinating health-care workers Monday, as the first 33,150 doses arrived in the state. The first round of Pfizer vaccine doses went to four California hospitals -- in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Eureka -- with 29 more facilities scheduled to receive shipments in the next two days, Newsom said.

The pandemic continues to rage across the state, and Newsom noted that the number of doses that arrived Monday was roughly equal to the number of new cases recorded in the state on Sunday.

“I’m down here in the spirit that is this moment, enthusiastic that there is light at the end of the tunnel, but mindful that we’re still in the tunnel,” he said at a press conference at the hospital.

California will vaccinate its roughly 2 million health-care workers first, and hasn’t released its plan for giving doses to anyone else, except for residents of nursing homes.

Munger Sees Virus Impact Fading (4:45 p.m.)

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Vice Chairman Charlie Munger said he expects the Covid-19 pandemic to shrink to insignificance in about a year as the vaccines are widely distributed.

“It’s amazing, I watched the polio get totally killed by vaccinations,” Munger, 96, said Monday at a California Institute of Technology event held online. “They’ll spread these vaccines over the world so fast, it’ll make your head spin.”

N.Y.’s Finger Lakes Region State’s Hardest-Hit (3 p.m. NY)

The Finger Lakes have the highest percentage of coronavirus cases and positive tests than any region of New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.

There are 681 Covid-19 patients hospitalized in the region, about 0.06% of its population, compared with 1,857 in New York City, which is about 0.02% of its population, Cuomo said during a virtual virus briefing. The total testing positivity rate in the Finger Lakes is 8.09%.

The news comes as cases continue to rise statewide.

Of the 159,844 tests conducted on Sunday, 5.66%, or 9,044, were positive, including hot spot areas, Cuomo said. There were 83 virus-related fatalities, and 5,712 hospitalizations, up 302 from the day prior, the biggest jump since early April.

The state is increasing restrictions in several areas including Genesee, Oneida and and Niagara counties, he said.

If the state continues at its current rate, in one month hospitalizations could be at 11,000 and the number of fatalities could be at 3,500, Cuomo said. “If we do not change the trajectory, we could very well be headed to shutdown,” he said.

South Africa Limits Alcohol, Shuts Beaches (2:25 p.m. NY)

South Africa’s government will curb alcohol sales and close some of the nation’s beaches at the height of the summer-holiday season, among a series of new restrictions to rein in surging coronavirus infections.

The government declared the start of a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic on Dec. 10 as the number of daily new cases doubled this month. The country is fast-approaching 1 million infections, with 866,127 people having contracted the disease so far, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

Czechs Close Bars, Restaurants Again (2 p.m. NY)

The Czech Republic reintroduced measures to combat a surge in coronavirus cases, reversing a decision two weeks ago to relax restrictions as neighbor Germany imposed a hard holiday lockdown.

The government shut hotels and restaurants, prolonged Christmas school holidays and imposed an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, according to Health Minister Jan Blatny. Shops and services will remain open. The cabinet approved an additional 10 billion-koruna ($460 million) aid package to cover rent and wages of the affected businesses for three months.

WHO Says It’s Aware of Virus Variant (12:50 p.m NY)

The World Health Organization is aware of a genetic variant of the virus identified in about 1,000 individuals in the U.K., Executive Director Michael Ryan said during a press briefing on Monday.

“This virus evolves and changes over time, and we’ve seen different variants emerge,” Ryan said. “The question is whether there is significance in public health terms,” since mutations of the virus are “quite common.”

The WHO is working with an international laboratory network to see if the variant is becoming more prevalent internationally, he adds.

France Reports More than 3,000 New Cases (12:30 p.m. NY)

France reported 3,063 new confirmed Covid cases on Monday, when numbers are usually low due to a lull in testing over the weekend.

The seven-day average of cases fell for the first time in a week to 12,001. Deaths increased by 371 to 55,282. France is set on Tuesday to end some Covid-19-related restrictions on Tuesday, such as a written justification for trips outside the home. Instead, an 8 p.m. curfew comes into force, with an exception made for Christmas Eve.

Colorado Receives Vaccine Shipment (12:30 p.m. NY)

A masked Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who recently recovered from Covid-19, signed for the FedEx vaccine shipment that arrived at the state laboratory loading dock in Denver on Monday.

“I’ve been waiting to do this signature for nine months,” Polis told the FedEx truck driver. The governor also pushed the button to open the rolling door.

The vaccine was packed in dry ice in a white cardboard box and carted into the lab by a staff member in a white coat.

Polis used a box cutter to open the box and pushed a button on a wireless device to alert Pfizer Inc. the shipment arrived.

Polis also helped unload the box -- carrying a refrigerated case inside -- and led a cheer.

Colorado’s first doses are to be administered Monday to staff at the University of Colorado Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins.

N.J. Sees Spike in Ventilator Use (11:30 a.m. NY)

New Jersey’s sickest virus patients, those on ventilators, increased 26% for the week ending Dec. 13. In the most recent 24 hours, 10% more people were breathing with the machines’ assistance, for a total of 491 patients. In all, New Jersey has 3,635 hospital patients, a 9% increase in one week.

The state’s first vaccinations, starting with 76,000 Pfizer Inc. doses for 38,000 people, will start on Tuesday morning in Newark with health-care workers at University Hospital. “This is really good news but I think the next six, eight weeks are going to be really tough in New Jersey and in our country,” Governor Phil Murphy said in a CNBC “Squawk Box” interview. “There’s a lot of fatigue, a lot of private spread, a lot of holidays, cold weather -- all of that’s conspiring.”

NYC Mayor Says Prepare for Possible Shutdown (10:53 a.m. NY)

New York City should prepare for the possibility of a full shutdown, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“The governor said we should prepare for the possibility for a full shutdown, I agree with that,” de Blasio said Monday. “We need to recognize that that may be coming, and we need to get ready for that now.”

NYC Moving Toward 5-Day Classes (10:40 a.m. NY)

New York City plans to move as many schools as possible to five days a week of in-person lessons, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The city has opened 878 schools in the past week. Of those, 250 will be going to five days this week. That number will grow week by week, de Blasio said Monday at a virus briefing. “You’re going to be seeing a lot more,” he said.

U.K. Plans to Move London Into Tier 3 Covid Rules (10:05 a. m. NY)

London will be placed under England’s toughest coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday, a person familiar with the matter said. Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who is briefing lawmakers in a call, says hospitalization and infection rates in London underlined the need for harsher measures. Under Tier 3 rules, pubs, restaurants, bars and indoor entertainment venues must close. Schools and shops can remain open

Infection levels in the capital have risen rapidly over the past few days and are now high across the city, rather than being restricted to eastern and northern hot spots, members of Parliament were told in a video call Monday.

Russian Vaccine’s Efficacy Over 90%, Developer Says (9:30 a.m. NY)

The efficacy of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is 91%, based on the analysis of the final control point from its Phase 3 trials, its developers said Monday. The calculation was based on data obtained 21 days after the first dose in trial of 22,714 volunteers, the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Gamaleya Center said in a statement.

No unexpected adverse events were identified, the developers said, adding that the data will be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Infection levels in the capital have risen rapidly over the past few days and are now high across the city, rather than being restricted to eastern and northern hot spots, members of Parliament were told in a video call Monday.

Netherlands Heading for Tighter Lockdown (7 a.m. NY)

The Dutch government is expected to set out plans on Monday to close non-essential stores from midnight until Jan. 19 after a jump in daily cases, public broadcaster NOS reported.

Museums and theaters are among sites that will also have to shutter, while schools have to close from Wednesday and switch to online classes, NOS said. Prime Minister Mark Rutte will address the nation this evening for the second time during the pandemic. The steps come on top of October’s curbs, which included bar and restaurant closures.

Americans Show Little Hesitation on Vaccine, Poll Shows (6:50 a.m. NY)

More than eight in 10 Americans would receive the coronavirus vaccine, with 40% saying they would take it as soon as it’s available, according to new ABCNews/Ipsos poll.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.