U.S. Hits 200 Million Doses; Moderna Sees Shortage: Virus Update
Healthcare administer Covid-19 vaccines at Midland Center for the Arts in Midland, Michigan, U.S. (Photographer: Emily Elconin/Bloomberg)

U.S. Hits 200 Million Doses; Moderna Sees Shortage: Virus Update

The U.S. has administered 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, a White House official said Friday, as the rollout picks up pace. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is sticking to his call to start bringing city workers back to the office on May 3.

Moderna Inc. said it will deliver fewer vaccines than planned to the U.K., Canada and other countries this quarter due to a shortfall in doses in its European supply chain. German Chancellor Angela Merkel got her first shot of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine, despite possible links to rare blood clots that have led to its use being limited in some countries.

India’s new variant, which has a so-called double mutation, is thought to be fueling the country’s deadlier wave of infections. China is planning to approve its first foreign vaccine before July, according to people familiar with the matter.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 139.4 million; deaths approach 3 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 869 million shots given worldwide
  • J&J’s limbo status crimps U.S. vaccine drive at a pivotal moment
  • The U.S. South is fast closing the country’s widest Black vaccine gap
  • How Europe’s vaccine rollout turned into a nightmare
  • Covid is much deadlier in Brazil than India and no one knows why

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U.S. Hits 200 Million Doses; Moderna Sees Shortage: Virus Update

Oregon Won’t Reimpose Curbs (4:40 p.m. NY)

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said she wouldn’t reimpose tougher restrictions despite a worsening outbreak in the state. “Oregonians at this point know how to take personal responsibility” by wearing masks and socially distancing, the Democratic governor said at a media briefing. She also said that the “dynamic has shifted” as more of the state is vaccinated. Oregon has administered vaccinations at just below the national average, covering almost 31% of the population, according the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Governors around the U.S. have been reluctant to extend restrictions even as virus caseloads have increased in recent weeks, citing the economy, vaccines and general fatigue after more than a year of limitations under the pandemic.

Michigan Requires Masks for Children as Young as Two (3:59 p.m. NY)

Michigan will require children as young as two years old to wear masks in gatherings, as it extended health emergency orders to combat the worst U.S. outbreak. “Expanding the mask rule to children ages 2 to 4 requires a good faith effort to ensure that these children wear masks while in gatherings at childcare facilities or camps,” the state’s Department of Health and Human Services said in a press release Friday.

The state listed exceptions to the new rule, including medical problems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics also recommend masks for children as young as two with similar exceptions.

U.S. Hospitalizations Reach Almost Six-Week High (3:40 p.m. NY)

Hospital beds in the U.S. filled up with Covid-19 patients this week to the highest level in almost six weeks, according to Health and Human Services Department data. Michigan reported the highest share of occupied beds with 20.1%, followed by Maryland at 15.6%.

The hospitalization rate rose to 6.5% on Tuesday from 6.4% a day earlier, latest available HHS data show.

North Dakota and South Dakota had the biggest weekly increases in hospitalizations for Covid-19 relative to each state’s number of hospital beds, followed by Puerto Rico, Vermont and New Mexico, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The CDC data compare the week through Tuesday with the previous seven-day span.

France’s Museums to Reopen in Mid-May (2 p.m. NY)

In France, the government confirmed Friday that some cultural venues and outdoor dining will start reopening in mid-May. The country is currently under national lockdown as hospital intensive care unit capacity hovers at 117%. The country reported 36,442 new Covid cases on Friday, while deaths rose by 331 to 100,404.

Qatar Weighs Vaccines for World Cup (1:01 p.m. NY)

Qatar is looking into vaccinating World Cup 2022 attendees, and it’s currently developing programs to secure the vaccines, state-run Qatar News Agency reported, citing Deputy Premier Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. Qatar has so far administered 1.2 million vaccine doses.

Study Finds 40% Death Rate From Clots (12:53 p.m. NY)

Rare blood clots and high platelet counts after taking AstraZeneca’s vaccine led to death in about 40% of 39 identified cases, according to an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Most of the reports were women younger than age 50, the editorial said. The authors called for more study of whether certain population groups would be more suitable for certain Covid vaccines.

U.S. Vaccinations Reach 200 Million (12:35 p.m. NY)

The U.S. has administered 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, a White House official said Friday. Just under 40% of Americans have had at least one dose, and about a quarter have completed the one- and two-dose vaccinations.

The vaccine rollout has been accelerating as supply increases, with the U.S. giving shots to about 1% of the population every day, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. It took the U.S. 89 days to administer the first 100 million doses, a milestone reached on March 12. The second 100 million has come in just 36 days.

NYC Mayor Urges Workers Back (12:12 p.m. NY)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is sticking to his call to start bringing city workers back to the office on May 3, refuting claims by some employees that it’s too soon.

“It’s definitely time to come back,” de Blasio said Friday after a city employee asserted on WNYC radio that many people don’t feel comfortable returning to the office. Other workers have objected on social media, and union officials have questioned whether work sites have made appropriate health and safety changes.

Meanwhile, an index of New York City regional service-sector firms expanded in April after declining for 13 straight months, marking the first signs of life in a key industry battered during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Australia Reports Clot Death (12:05 p.m. NY)

Australia regulators said a link is likely between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the nation’s first death from a blood clot after inoculation, Reuters reported. The nation’s Vaccine Safety Investigation Group said “a causative link to vaccination should be assumed at this time,” according to the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The victim was a 48-year-old woman from New South Wales who was vaccinated with AstraZeneca on April 8.

Michigan Surge Hits Key Truck Plant (11:46 a.m. NY)

The outbreak in Michigan, which has emerged as the worst U.S. hotspot, is surging in a critical factory for Stellantis NV’s Ram pickup truck with an estimated 10% of production employees out for Covid-related reasons.

About 630 production workers were absent on Tuesday because they’d either tested positive or were in quarantine, according to three people familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified.

Moderna Cuts Supply to U.K., Canada (11:13 a.m. NY)

Moderna said it will deliver fewer Covid-19 vaccines than planned to the U.K., Canada and other countries this quarter due to a shortfall in doses in its European supply chain.

Deliveries to the U.K. will be reduced from this month, just days after the vaccine was rolled out in Britain, which will affect the overall number of doses previously expected to be supplied by the end of June. Moderna is working with Lonza Group AG to make the shots in Europe.

U.S. to Track Variants More Closely (11:03 a.m. NY)

President Joe Biden’s administration is allocating $1.7 billion in funding to track the spread of Covid-19 variants, which are proving dangerous as they spread quickly and risk dragging out the pandemic.

The announcement, with funding from the aid package Biden signed a month ago, comes as mutations of the virus fuel new outbreaks across the U.S. -- especially in the upper Midwest.

Italy Eases Lockdown (11:01 a.m NY)

Prime Minister Mario Draghi said many business activities in much of Italy can resume starting April 26 in a bet on an economic rebound fueled by what he called “good debt.”

Government and regional leaders on Friday decided to ease Italy’s lockdown, reintroducing so-called yellow risk areas where restaurants with open-air seating can reopen and residents have more freedom of movement, Draghi told reporters in Rome. All schools will reopen in medium-risk and lower-risk areas as the coronavirus contagion slows.

Merkel Gets Astra Shot (10:01 a.m. NY)

Chancellor Angela Merkel got her first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday as Germany’s immunization drive continued to gather pace after a sluggish start.

Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz was also due to get the AstraZeneca shot Friday, with both opting for the company’s vaccine despite possible links to rare blood clots that have led to its use being limited in some countries, including Germany.

India Worries Over Double Mutation (9:32 a.m. NY)

As India’s daily tally of Covid-19 infections surged by a record 200,000-plus cases on two consecutive days, public health experts worry that a new -- possibly more virulent -- coronavirus variant could be racing through the crowded nation of more than 1.3 billion people.

The new variant, which has a so-called double mutation, is thought to be fueling India’s deadlier new wave of infections that has made it the world’s second worst-hit country, surpassing Brazil, and has already begun to overwhelm its hospitals and crematoriums. The Asian nation has reported more than 14 million cases so far and more than 174,300 fatalities.

Sinovac Efficacy Reported at 67% (9:30 a.m. NY)

A Chilean study said Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s vaccine was 67% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 infections, the first such evidence from a mass vaccination program.

The report also said the vaccine was 85% effective in preventing hospitalizations, 89% effective in preventing people from entering intensive care units and 80% effective in preventing fatalities.

China to Approve First Foreign Shot (8:07 a.m. NY)

China is planning to approve its first foreign Covid-19 vaccine before July, according to people familiar with the matter, as pressure mounts from domestic scientists and the foreign business community to expand beyond the country’s own roster of shots.

Chinese officials have been scrutinizing clinical-trial data for the coronavirus vaccine made by Germany’s BioNTech SE and are expected to green light domestic distribution of the shot within the next 10 weeks, people privy to these discussions say.

Germany Allows U.K. Travelers (7:03 a.m. NY)

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute has taken the U.K. off its list of virus risk areas, meaning travelers will no longer have to quarantine upon arrival in Germany. At the same time, Argentina was upgraded to a high-incidence area, while the UAE was downgraded from a high incidence to a risk area.

J&J Reached Out to Rivals (7 a.m. NY)

Johnson & Johnson privately reached out to Covid-19 vaccine rivals to ask them to join an effort to study the risks of blood clots and speak with one voice about safety, but Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. declined, Dow Jones reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Communities across the U.S. are revamping their vaccination campaigns to adjust to an indefinite halt in J&J’s doses.

EU Sours on Astra, J&J (2:50 a.m. NY)

The EU “most probably” won’t renew its coronavirus vaccine contracts with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, French Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said on BFM TV on Friday.

“The decision has not been taken as of today, but I can tell you we haven’t initiated discussions with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson about another contract, whereas we have already started discussions about contracts with BioNTech, Pfizer and Moderna,” Pannier-Runacher said.

A delay to J&J’s vaccine could push EU efforts to vaccinate three-quarters of its population back to December, from the end of September, Airfinity estimates.

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