S. Africa Seeks Access to Shots; U.K. Boosters: Virus Update
Commuters wait for public transport ahead of the evening curfew in Quezon City, Manila, the Philippines. (Photographer: Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg)

S. Africa Seeks Access to Shots; U.K. Boosters: Virus Update

New global coronavirus cases rose for the ninth consecutive week, by a record 5.7 million, as a 52% surge in India outweighed declines in most regions, the World Health Organization said. Companies around the world are stepping in to help ease the crisis, as India’s death toll surpassed 200,000.

Deutsche Bank AG is considering one of the most flexible return-to-office policies among large international banks. Moves to restart travel in Europe are gathering pace, as Britain followed France with plans for a digital vaccine passport.

Countries including Poland are making plans to ease restrictions to boost their economies. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s deputy prime minister warned of a “very high” threat of a new outbreak after the nation reported its first domestic case in a month.

Key Developments

  • Global Tracker: Cases top 149 million; deaths exceed 3.14 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 1.08 billion doses have been given
  • Inside a hospital in New Delhi desperate for oxygen
  • Heading back to the office? Ask for air filters, not bleach
  • The U.S. has enough vaccines, but doubt is extending the pandemic
  • Glacial pace of vaccinations threatens Japan’s Olympic moment

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.

S. Africa Seeks Access to Shots; U.K. Boosters: Virus Update

South Africa Calls for End to Vaccine Monopoly (5:40 NY)

Countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America must engage the international human rights movement to ensure equitable access to vaccines, particularly for poor countries, South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said.

“All of us should be committed to opposing what we refer to as ‘vaccine narrow nationalism’, the tendency by rich countries to want to accumulate the vaccines unto themselves and by so doing making vulnerable, poor countries to be unable to access the vaccine,” Mboweni said at a virtual event hosted by the South African Jewish Report newspaper.

Maryland Drops Outdoor Mask Requirement (4:36 p.m. NY)

Maryland is dropping most outdoor mask requirements effective immediately and loosening other restrictions that were in place to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Masks will still be required at all large venues, such as stadiums and concerts and indoors at all private and public businesses, Kata D. Hall, a spokeswoman for Governor Larry Hogan, said on Twitter.

All restrictions will also be lifted on outdoor dining as of May 1 and standing service will be allowed at outdoor bars and restaurants, Hall said.

The mask rules follow a Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention guidance that said they’re no longer required outdoors for those who have been vaccinated.

U.K. Secures 60 Million Doses for Boosters (1:20 p.m. NY)

The U.K. government has secured an extra 60 million doses of the vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE to form part of a booster program to protect the most vulnerable people against Covid-19 before winter.

Scientists at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization are deciding which groups of people should get the booster shot later this year, after they have been given their first two doses.

Teva Ends Search for Vaccine Partners (12:30 p.m. NY)

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. has stopped searching for opportunities to produce Covid-19 vaccines for a developer partner, according to the generic drug giant’s chief executive officer, who said the vaccine makers have already secured needed manufacturing capacity.

Chief Executive Officer Kare Schultz said in February that Teva was in discussions with top-tier shot makers about helping with production and distribution. Those talks ended after the companies clinched other manufacturing agreements and determined they had sufficient capacity to meet targets, he said Wednesday.

N.Y. Lawmakers to Repeal Cuomo Covid Rules (11:30 a.m. NY)

New York’s legislature plans to repeal several of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus-related executive orders, nearly two months after stripping him of pandemic-era emergency powers.

The Senate and Assembly on Wednesday will reverse a Cuomo directive that required customers to order food with alcohol in bars and restaurants, according to a Senate Majority news release.

Mauritius Donates Oxygen Devices to India (11:30 a.m. NY)

The Indian Ocean Island nation of Mauritius has donated 200 oxygen concentrators to India to help its medical staff treat patients suffering from the coronavirus, Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth said on Twitter. Mauritius began its Covid-19 inoculation campaign in January using 100,000 Covishield vaccines it received from India’s government.

Vaccines Cut Hospital Use in Older Adults: CDC (11 a.m. NY)

Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna reduced the risk of being hospitalized for Covid-19 among fully immunized older adults by 94%, and by 64% for those who received only one of the two-shot regimens, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. The study evaluated 417 hospitalized patients who were 65 and older between January and late March, 130 of whom had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The results were in line with clinical trial findings, the report’s authors noted.

Cuomo to Allow Seating at NYC Bars (10 a.m. NY)

New York City patrons can resume sitting and drinking at bars next week, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. The move aligns the city with regulations in the rest of the state.

The ban on bar seating will be lifted on May 3. Cuomo also is eliminating the midnight food and beverage service curfew for outdoor dining on May 17 and the one for indoor dining beginning May 31.

Cuomo has been easing restrictions as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations drop.

Tokyo Olympic Athletes to Be Tested Daily (9:24 a.m. NY)

Athletes at the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer will be required to take daily coronavirus tests, a stricter requirement than previously announced.

All participants are also required to take two virus tests before flying to Japan, according to a joint statement on the updated playbook released following a five-party meeting, including Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee.

U.K. Deploys Thousands of Ravers in Test (8:43 a.m. NY)

Thousands of people at a mass nightclub rave in the U.K. this week will be a key test of whether live events halted during the pandemic can reopen at full capacity as planned from the end of June. The two-day event in Liverpool, northwest England, is part of a national research program that so far appears to show people are happy to be tested to secure entry to large-scale events.

S. Africa Seeks Access to Shots; U.K. Boosters: Virus Update

Separately, Switzerland is considering permitting large public events to be held again from July. The government unveiled a program that will shoulder some of the costs -- up to 5 million francs ($5.5 million) -- if an event gets cancelled due to the pandemic.

Pandemic Fuels Big Government Appetite (8:30 a.m. NY)

An OECD report on Wednesday showed the economic disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic combined with heightened concerns about health and finances is fueling demands for greater government spending in most of the world’s richest countries.

That’s despite an awareness it could mean more taxation.

S. Africa Seeks Access to Shots; U.K. Boosters: Virus Update

Thai Tycoons Step In to Speed Up Vaccination (7:36 a.m. NY)

Thailand’s top business groups offered to join the government in a mass vaccination rollout from June as the Southeast Asian nation grapples with its worst outbreak since the pandemic began.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha met with representatives of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Thai Bankers Association and the Tourism Council of Thailand on Wednesday and identified specific roles for the private sector in the rollout that aims to cover 70% of the nation’s population by the end of this year.

Blackstone, Amazon Join Race to Help India (7:29 a.m. NY)

Companies ranging from India’s biggest conglomerate to global giants like Amazon.com Inc. are stepping in to help ease the country’s Covid crisis.

Reliance Industries Ltd., the Tata group, global drug giants like Gilead Sciences Inc. and technology titans such as Alphabet Inc. are all rushing in supplies and funds. Blackstone Group Inc. Chairman Stephen Schwarzman said his private equity firm is committing $5 million to support India’s relief and vaccination services to “marginalized communities.”

S. Africa Seeks Access to Shots; U.K. Boosters: Virus Update

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