NFL Offers Stadiums; Race an Issue in NYC Vaccines: Virus Update
A person holds an informational packet while waiting to receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a large scale vaccination site in Sacramento, California, U.S. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

NFL Offers Stadiums; Race an Issue in NYC Vaccines: Virus Update

New York state trails only Arizona in Covid-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. More than a quarter of those getting a vaccine in New York City are nonresidents who tend to be younger and are more likely to be White than those who live there. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state will reallocate unused hospital-worker vaccines to those with medical preconditions.

As the NFL season winds down, the league offered its stadiums as vaccination sites. President Joe Biden’s insistence on another outsize relief package was bolstered on Friday with a surprisingly weak January employment report.

AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine is also effective against the new strain of the virus that emerged in the U.K., according to its co-developer, the University of Oxford. Germany is likely to extend its lockdown for another two weeks when Chancellor Angela Merkel and state government leaders meet next week, people familiar said.

Key Developments:

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NFL Offers Stadiums; Race an Issue in NYC Vaccines: Virus Update

Lots of NYC Vaccines Go to White Out-of-Towners (3:38 p.m. NY)

More than a quarter of those getting the Covid-19 vaccine in New York City are nonresidents, and they tend to be younger and are more likely to be White than those living in the city.

About 59% of the out-of-town recipients are White, according to data released Friday by the city’s health department. By comparison, 48% of the New Yorkers who received vaccines are White, the data show. Roughly half of the vaccinated nonresidents are younger than 65, compared with 44% of the New Yorkers getting the shots. New York City has been prioritizing health-care workers, the elderly and essential workers for immunization.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said late last month that initial data from New York City show “profound” racial disparities in who had received the vaccine.

Virginia Governor Pushes for In-Person Learning (3:29 p.m. NY)

Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia, whose state has been hit hard by the latest wave of the virus, said schools should begin to offer in-person learning by March 15. “Children learn better in classrooms, and that’s where they need to,” Northam, a Democrat and a pediatrician, said in a news conference.

Amid a political storm among parents, teachers, school officials and legislators, Northam said students have suffered everything from behavioral issues to academic decline -- and that guidance from the Biden administration shows that in-person learning can be done safely. He said that schools should also prepare for in-person summer-school sessions.

NFL Offers Stadiums as Vaccine Sites (3:17 p.m. NY)

As the NFL season draws to a close, the league offered to make all its stadiums available as mass vaccination sites, in a letter from Commissioner Roger Goodell to President Joe Biden. Goodell noted that several stadiums are already in use and that “we can expand our efforts to stadiums across the nation.” Seven clubs are already using their facilities as vaccine sites. “We look forward to further discussions with your administration as well as your partners in state and local government to advance this effort,” Goodell wrote in the letter dated Tuesday.

New York Trails Only Arizona in Hospitalizations (2:32 p.m. NY)

Covid-19 hospitalizations in New York are declining, but the improvement has been much slower than in other former hot spots. The upshot: New York now finds itself as the second-worst jurisdiction in America, behind only Arizona.

The Empire State has 410 people per million residents hospitalized with the virus, down 14% from Jan. 20, the latest peak, according to Covid Tracking Project data. Arizona and Georgia, also hit hard, have seen their numbers drop by 29% and 27%, respectively.

California’s Positive Test Rate Declines (2:25 p.m. NY)

California’s 14-day positive test rate dropped to 6.6%, down from 12.7% a month ago and the lowest since Nov. 30. The state has administered 43.4 million coronavirus tests in total.

There were 14,021 new Covid-19 cases in California yesterday, below the 14-day rolling average of 17,600, according to the health department’s website. Still, the number of deaths at 558 was higher than the 518 average. The total number of Covid-19 cases has topped 3.3 million, with 43,024 deaths.

Spain Limits Astra Vaccine’s Use (2:20 p.m. New York)

Spain is limiting use of the Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca Plc to people age 55 and younger, based on “scientific evidence,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Spain is the latest European Union country to set an upper age limit for recommended use of the shot. Countries including Germany, France and Italy have also set limits.

Paris Hospitals Warn of Coming New Wave (2 p.m. New York)

France’s Covid measures are failing to control the virus, and the country faces a new wave of infections at a time when pandemic activity is already at a high level, Bruno Riou, medical crisis director at Paris hospital operator AP-HP, said in a press briefing on Friday.

“It’s clear that we’re going to live very difficult times in the coming weeks,” Riou said, adding that the government has been slow to implement previous lockdowns, and he expects the same situation for a potential third lockdown.

Health authorities reported 22,139 new infections on Friday, with the seven-day rolling average little changed at 20,466 cases. Deaths increased by 651 to 78,603, with the numbers including several days of data from nursing homes.

Greece Tightens Curbs (1:21 p.m. NY)

The Greek government tightened restrictions on movement by citizens as the number of new cases and people hospitalized increased in the last days.

An existing national nighttime curfew will now begin at 6 p.m. during the weekend instead of 9 p.m. in so-called red areas that are considered higher risk, including the two largest cities of Athens and Thessaloniki and their greater regions.

Astra Vaccine Effective Against Variant, Study Shows (1:13 p.m. NY)

AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine is about as effective against the new strain of the virus that emerged in the U.K. as against the initial version, according to a study by the shot’s co-developer, the University of Oxford.

Protection against symptomatic infection was comparable for the new variants well as the earlier strain, according to the study, which analyzed swabs taken from volunteers from October through mid-January. The findings are disclosed in a preprint version of the study that wasn’t peer-reviewed.

Denver Scientists Get Approval for Antibody Test (12:54 p.m. NY)

The University of Denver announced its scientists received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for a Covid-19 antibody test designed to predict the severity of virus symptoms.

“This antibody test has more test points than others that have been approved by the FDA,” said Lotta Granholm-Bentley of the university’s Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging.

German Lockdown Likely to Be Extended (12:39 p.m. NY)

Germany is likely to extend its lockdown for another two weeks when Chancellor Angela Merkel and state government leaders meet next week, people familiar with the discussions said.

Chancellery officials in Berlin have concluded it’s too early to lift the restrictions even though new infections are declining, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions aren’t public.

WHO Calls on Countries to Share Vaccines (12:31 p.m. NY)

Countries should share their vaccine doses once they’ve inoculated their health staff and elderly, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing. He also called on companies to partner up to boost manufacturing and to share full dossiers with the WHO for emergency use listings.

More than three-quarter of administered vaccinations are in just 10 countries that account for almost 60% of global GDP, he said. Around 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose.

N.Y. to Reallocate Unused Hospital-Worker Doses (12:22 p.m. NY)

New York state will reallocate unused hospital-worker vaccines to those with medical comorbidities starting Feb. 15, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Hospital-worker vaccination rates reached 75% as of Feb. 4, from 63% on Jan. 18, Cuomo said Friday at a press briefing. Hospitals have one more week to vaccinate their staff, and then unused doses will be shifted to local health departments to give to those with medical conditions that put them at higher risk, he said.

Biden to Deploy Troops (11:27 a.m. NY)

President Biden will send approximately 1,000 troops across the country to assist states with mass vaccination sites, said Andy Slavitt, a senior adviser to the White House Covid-19 response team. The first deployment will head to California next week.

Dutch Limit Vaccine to People Under 65 (10:50 a.m. NY)

The AstraZeneca vaccine will initially be used for people age 60 to 64 as well as for long-term care workers, Dutch Health Care Minister Hugo de Jonge said in a letter to parliament. The Health Council advised on Thursday that the vaccine shouldn’t be used for people over 65.

Biden’s Go-Big Push on Stimulus Gets Help (10:37 a.m. NY)

President Joe Biden’s insistence on another outsize Covid-19 relief package was bolstered on Friday with a surprisingly weak January employment report and action in the Senate to smooth the legislative path for his proposal.

Private-sector payrolls barely grew in January, while the restaurant and lodging sector logged almost 600,000 in job losses over the past two months, the Labor Department reported Friday. While the jobless rate dipped to 6.3%, that was partly because some Americans gave up looking for work.

Norway Reports Four Serious Allergic Reactions (9:31 a.m. NY)

The Norwegian Medicines Agency said four serious allergic reactions have been reported in the country following inoculations with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Norwegian and European medicines regulatory authorities are “monitoring this situation closely” as “no serious allergic reactions were detected in the major vaccine studies” that served as the basis for authorization of the shot, it added. The agency has assessed 282 suspected adverse reactions, or 0.25% of the first dose recipients totaling 112,080.

Republic of Congo to Get Vaccine From China (9:15 a.m. NY)

The Republic of Congo will receive a donation of 100,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines from China.

The shots will be sufficient for 50,000 people, Chinese Ambassador Ma Fulin said in a broadcast by state-owned Tele Congo after a meeting with Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso. Ma didn’t say which vaccine would be provided.

U.K. to Offer Vaccine to Over-50s by May (9:10 a.m. NY)

The U.K. said it plans to offer all over-50s a first dose of vaccine by May, the first time that Boris Johnson’s government has set a target for the next stage of its vaccination program.

The plan was included in an announcement that local and mayoral elections will go ahead on May 6, after they were delayed by a year due to the pandemic.

Finland Plans Electronic Vaccination Certificates (9 a.m. NY)

Finland is planning to issue electronic vaccination certificates for those inoculated against Covid-19, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said on Friday. The plan is for the certificates to be accessible via a mobile phone, bar code or a QR code, and they could be printed on paper, the authorities said.

U.K. Strain Found in Samples From March (7:15 a.m. NY)

Mutations that are part of the fast-spreading coronavirus strain found in the U.K. emerged months earlier than the variant was identified, underscoring the need for faster monitoring of the virus’s changes, according to a study led by BioNTech SE’s chief executive officer.

Some of the 17 mutations that characterize the more infectious strain -- eight of which are on the spike protein -- were found as early as March and April, according to a report whose authors include BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin. It analyzed about 150,000 sequences collected from around the world through early October.

CureVac to Supply Variant Vaccines to U.K. (7:03 a.m. NY)

CureVac NV and the U.K. plan to collaborate on the development of vaccine candidates against coronavirus variants, with the government securing 50 million doses of any successful shot.

The German biotech firm will work with Britain’s vaccines taskforce in assessing mutated strains that emerge, and clinical studies in the U.K. may be expedited for faster regulatory clearance, according to a statement Friday.

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