N.Y. Has Fewest Cases Since December; Merkel’s Vow: Virus Update
A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a colleague at the Santa Maria hospital in Lisbon. (Photographer: Jose Sarmento Matos/Bloomberg)

N.Y. Has Fewest Cases Since December; Merkel’s Vow: Virus Update

The U.S. recorded more than 95,500 Covid-related deaths in January, the worst monthly total since the pandemic began, though fatalities this month are expected to be lower. A major snowstorm forced New York City to halt vaccinations for two days.

Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to offer all Germans a vaccine by the end of September, even if new shots aren’t approved. Europe’s largest economy will have sufficient supplies to stand by its target despite delivery delays, she said after crisis talks with pharmaceutical executives, regional German leaders and European Commission officials.

In a shot of welcome news before the meeting, Bayer AG agreed to produce CureVac NV’s experimental coronavirus vaccine to help speed up the rollout of a promising shot. Meanwhile, Valneva SE, a French vaccine developer, said the U.K. government exercised an option to order 40 million extra doses of its shot for next year.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases top 103 million; deaths surpass 2.2 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 98.3 million shots given worldwide
  • U.S. Hot Spots: Deaths are starting to drop across the nation
  • Governments exploit Covid data for other uses, risking backlash
  • J&J’s one-dose shot gives U.S. a chance to plug vaccination gaps
  • Yay vaccines, but here’s why Covid will never go away: QuickTake

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on cases and deaths.

N.Y. Has Fewest Cases Since December; Merkel’s Vow: Virus Update

U.S. Reaches a Pandemic Milestone (5 p.m. NY)

More Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine than have tested positive for the virus, an early but hopeful milestone in the race to end the pandemic.

As of Monday afternoon, 26.5 million Americans had received one or both doses of the current vaccines, according to data gathered by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Since the first U.S. patient tested positive outside of Seattle a year ago, 26.2 million people in the country have tested positive for the disease, and 441,000 have died.

Covid Tracking Project to End Data Collection (3:50 p.m. NY)

The Covid Tracking Project, a widely cited resource that compiles figures on coronavirus cases, testing, hospitalizations and deaths and is staffed by a small army of volunteers, said on Monday that it would stop compiling data next month.

In a posting on the group’s website, co-founders Erin Kissane and Alexis Madrigal said the site would release its final daily data update on March 7, the one-year anniversary of its launch. Covid Tracking, which is supported by The Atlantic magazine, will continue to do documentation, analysis and archival work for two months before closing in May, they said.

Kissane and Madrigal said that while gaps remain, they have seen evidence that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services are taking steps designed to address the shortcomings that Covid Tracking Project was started to address.

South Africa Secures Additional Doses (2:50 p.m. NY)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his administration has secured millions of additional coronavirus vaccines to help bring the disease under control and eased a ban on alcohol sales after a two-month spike in cases abated.

The country will remain on virus alert level 3, but liquor stores will be allowed to resume trading between Mondays and Thursdays and bars and restaurants can sell alcohol again throughout the week. Beaches, parks, dams and lakes that were closed in Covid-19 hot spots late last year will be reopened, a night-time curfew will be shortened by three hours and religious gatherings will be permitted.

N.Y. Has Fewest New Cases Since December (2:25 p.m. NY)

New York state reported 8,508 new Covid-19 cases for Jan. 31, the first time new infections have been below 10,000 since late December, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a tweet. The state also reported 141 new Covid-19 deaths.

Separately, Cuomo said a briefing he would be open to making the coronavirus vaccine available to restaurant workers but said it’s not possible with the current supply coming from the federal government.

The state has administered 1.96 million vaccinations to date but only receives about 300,000 doses from the federal government each week, he said. Currently 7 million people are eligible, including health-care and essential workers, and those age 65 and over.

Portugal ICUs at 94% Capacity (1:05 p.m. NY)

Portugal, which is facing one of world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, now has an occupancy rate of about 94% at its intensive-care units, Secretary of State for Health Antonio Lacerda Sales said.

Austrian Retail Reopening (1 p.m. NY)

Austrian retail opens for business from Feb. 8, albeit under strict Covid measures. Consumers need an FFP2 mask and 20 square meters space in order to shop. Schools will partially reopen two days a week for kids who test negative. Those seeking a haircut need a negative test within 48 hours before booking an appointment. Hotels, bars and cafes? Out of luck. The next review is scheduled for Feb. 15.

WHO: China Mission Focusing on Early Cases (12:50 p.m. NY)

The team of international scientists investigating the origins of the coronavirus is focusing on early cases and is having “very good discussions around that,” World Health Organization officials said Monday.

“They’re having very productive discussions with their Chinese counterparts, they’re visiting hospitals and had a good visit to the market, seeing first-hand the stalls and walking through,” said Maria van Kerkhove, the group’s technical lead officer on Covid-19.

The coronavirus was first found in people who shopped or worked at a so-called wet market in the central city of Wuhan, where live animals were sold.

Italy Reports Fewest New Cases Since October (12:01 p.m. NY)

Italy registered the lowest daily increase in virus cases since Oct. 14 on Monday, with 7,925 new infections, down from 11,252 the day before. The country reported 329 deaths, from 237 on Sunday. The Italian government has eased restrictions for most of regions in the country, including the Rome and Milan areas, as of Feb. 1.

Dubai Tightens Restrictions (11:20 a.m. NY)

Dubai imposed a new set of restrictions Monday, requiring restaurants and cafes to close by 1 a.m. It also asked hotels to operate at 70% capacity, and indoor venues like cinemas to operate at 50%. The government also vowed tougher penalties for violators. Those measures are to remain in effect until the end of the month.

The UAE has seen a rise in coronavirus cases as it accelerates its vaccination drive. It has so far administered 3.4 million doses.

Fake Test Results for Sale, Europol Warns (11 a.m. NY)

An Irish organized crime gang is behind a scheme to forge coronavirus test results for people traveling between countries, according to Europol.

Europol has received “intelligence on the alleged use of a mobile application by the Rathkeale Rovers Mobile Organised Crime Group which allows members of the organized crime group to manually falsify test results,” the law-enforcement group said in a statement Monday.

EU Nations Tighten Rules for Arrivals (11 a.m. NY)

European Union governments agreed to tighten rules for travelers to the bloc by requiring them to get a Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure, highlighting concerns about new virus variants. The move covers essential and non-essential travelers to the EU except “transport and frontier workers,” officials said on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations on Monday in Brussels were confidential.

Diplomats also decided to open the door for member countries to impose self-isolation, quarantine and contract-tracing obligations for as many as 14 days after arrival from outside the EU, according to the officials. The deal among EU member-country envoys still needs formal approval -- a step that is usually a formality.

Snow Forces NYC to Postpone Shots (10:45 a.m. NY)

A massive snowstorm has shut down most of New York City and all vaccination appointments will be canceled on Monday and Tuesday.

New York City continues face shortages: The city has fewer than 43,000 doses on hand for first vaccinations. New York has another 310,000 shots on hand reserved for second doses. The city has administered more than 815,000 doses since it began its vaccine campaign last December.

U.S. Recorded Most Deaths in January (10:40 a.m. NY)

The U.S. recorded the worst monthly death toll from the pandemic in January, more than 95,500, but fatalities in February are likely to be lower, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. That’s because the seven-day average of daily confirmed cases at the end of last month dropped to about 151,000, a level last seen in November and down from a peak of nearly 282,000 in early January. Confirmed cases in January were 6.2 million, down from from 6.4 million in December.

N.Y. Has Fewest Cases Since December; Merkel’s Vow: Virus Update

Puerto Rico to Limit First-Responder Shots (10:30 a.m. NY)

Puerto Rico will quit providing vaccines to first-responders for four weeks to focus on the island’s seniors.

Health Secretary Carlos Mellado Lopez said he will be signing an order Monday restricting the island’s vaccine supply to people 65 and older -- save a handful of clinics that are providing vaccines to teachers. Mellado said first-responders can resume getting shots after the four-week period is over. The change doesn’t affect medical personnel, most of whom have already been vaccinated.

EU Official Confident Drugmakers to Deliver Doses (10 a.m. NY)

The chief European Union negotiator for the EU’s agreements securing a total of around 2.3 billion vaccine doses for member countries says the drugmakers will meet their delivery pledges.

“These are companies that have started the production, they are ramping up production -- we have found that there were a few glitches -- but let me say I have full confidence that they will deliver according to schedule,” Sandra Gallina told a European Parliament committee on Monday in Brussels. “They have committed to that.”

Gallina is director-general for health in the European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s executive arm.

No Masks, No Social Distancing (7:11 a.m NY)

The Isle of Man, a small island that sits between Great Britain and Ireland, removed all of its coronavirus restrictions on Monday, leaving it surrounded by countries under lockdown.

The community of about 85,000 people will not ask for social distancing, mandate masks or restrict socializing. Schools will reopen and everyone can return to work. The island has just 15 active coronavirus cases. In a bid to retain its freedom, travel onto the island for non-residents is banned.

Malawi Secures AstraZeneca Vaccines (7 am NY)

Malawi has secured doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine through the Covax initiative to inoculate its population, the government said.

The first consignment of the vaccine is expected to arrive in the South-East African country at the end of February in readiness for the rollout in March, said President Lazarus Chakwera, who leads the nation of about 19 people.

Bayer to Help CureVac Produce Covid-Vaccine (4:20 p.m. HK)

Bayer AG agreed to produce CureVac NV’s experimental coronavirus vaccine to help speed up the roll out of a promising shot that’s in advanced clinical tests.

The move extends Bayer’s current pact with CureVac beyond simply helping with regulatory clearances and global distribution. It follows commitments from fellow European pharma giants Sanofi and Novartis AG to put their manufacturing capacities behind scaling up Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 injection.

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