EU Seeks Bans on India Travel; WHO Overhaul Urged: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- A group of medical experts said children ages 12 to 15 years old can safely take the vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, opening an important new phase of the U.S. immunization effort.
The European Union’s executive arm asked the bloc’s 27 member states to ban all non-essential travel to and from India. The World Health Organization should be overhauled and given more authority to investigate global disease threats, a new report recommended.
A full public inquiry will be launched next spring into how the U.K. government handled the pandemic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced. Greece plans to ease most remaining restrictions.
- Global Tracker: Cases top 159.8 million; deaths exceed 3.3 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 1.35 billion doses have been given
- Big Take: India’s Covid catastrophe shows danger of complacency
- Chinese Shot Takes Controversial Path to Vaccinating the World
- People are flying to nowhere just to shop duty free during Covid
- Microbiologist Anirban Mahapatra on India’s crisis (Video)
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Brazil May Run Out of Astra Ingredients (5:38 p.m. NY)
Brazil could run out of ingredients to produce AstraZeneca Plc’s shot by the end of the week, Fiocruz’s Bio-Manguinhos Director Mauricio Zuma said in an interview.
Butantan Institute has enough inputs until Friday -- after that, it will halt vaccine production, Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria said on Wednesday.
The country reported a total of 15,359,397 Covid-19 cases, with 76,692 confirmed in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data.
South Africa Says It Hasn’t Hit Third Wave (3:50 p.m. NY)
South Africa’s Department of Health said that while Covid-19 infections climbed 46% in the past week the country hasn’t yet reached a “resurgence threshold.” Cases are rising fastest in the Northern Cape and Gauteng provinces, the department said in a statement on Wednesday. While deaths rose 18% in the week, the number of hospitalizations hasn’t increased, it said.“We have not yet hit the third wave; however we are at risk,” the department said.
CDC Advisers Back Pfizer Shot for Young Teens (3:20 p.m. NY)
A group of medical experts said children ages 12 to 15 years old can safely take the Covid-19 vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, opening an important new phase of the U.S. immunization effort.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 14 to 0, with one recusal, on Wednesday to support the two-dose vaccine’s emergency authorization after it was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration on Monday. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky must now sign off on the recommendation before it becomes final.
Brazil Running Out of Ingredients for Vaccines (3:10 p.m. NY)
Ingredients used to produce AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 shot in Brazil could run out by the end of the week, exacerbating an already precarious mass vaccine campaign that has struggled to ramp up local production.
The Rio de Janeiro-based research institute Fiocruz, which partnered with Astra to produce the shot locally, has enough of the so called IFA -- the active ingredient to make the vaccines -- to sustain output until early next week. It may have to halt production if the next batch doesn’t arrive by Saturday, Fiocruz’s Bio-Manguinhos Director Mauricio Zuma said in an interview.
EU Seeks Bans on Most Travel to India (1:30 p.m. NY)
The European Union’s executive arm asked the bloc’s 27 member states to ban all non-essential travel to and from India, according to a statement on Wednesday.
“It is important to limit to the strict minimum the categories of travellers that can travel from India for essential reasons and to subject those who may still travel from India to strict testing and quarantine arrangements,” the European Commission said.
The so-called emergency brake is intended to limit the spread of the B.1.617.2 variant first detected in India. “EU citizens and long-term residents, as well as their family members, should still be able to travel to Europe, subject to strict testing and quarantine arrangements,” the commission said.
CDC Forecasts Drop in Deaths, Hospital Use (12:30 p.m. NY)
Newly reported Covid deaths and hospitalizations in the U.S. will likely decrease over the next four weeks, according to ensemble forecasts published Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The median forecast for new weekly deaths drops to 3,366 for the week ending June 5 from 4,357 for the week ending May 15. The median forecast for new daily hospitalizations falls to 2,024 for June 7 from 3,915 for May 13.
Over the same period, the number of newly reported deaths per week are likely to decrease in 15 jurisdictions, according to state- and territory-level ensemble forecasts. The number of daily hospitalizations are predicted to likely decrease in 32 jurisdictions.
The number of new coronavirus cases in U.S. rose last week at the slowest pace since the pandemic began, as more Americans are vaccinated and the nation recovers from a winter spike fueled by holiday travel.
Greece to Lift Remaining Restrictions (11:50 a.m. NY)
Greece will lift most remaining restriction measures from May 14 including the need for citizens to send a text message with a specific code in order to leave home, Deputy Minister for Coordination of Government Work Akis Skertsos said.
The current ban on inter-regional travel on the mainland will end. Trips to islands will be allowed on presentation of a vaccination certificate or negative test. Shoppers will be allowed to freely visit stores without pre-booking appointments with number dependent on the size of the store.
While a nighttime curfew will continue, it will begin at 30 minutes after midnight in order to give restaurants and bars more time to operate. The move comes ahead of Greece opening to international tourism from May 15.
Major Overhaul of WHO Needed, Panel Says (10:35 a.m. NY)
The World Health Organization should be overhauled and given more authority to investigate global disease threats, according to a review of the international Covid-19 response that found a myriad of failures, gaps, and delays allowed the coronavirus to mushroom into a pandemic.
While stopping short of assigning blame to any particular factor, the report released Wednesday by an independent panel co-chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark linked the severity of the global outbreak to deficiencies across governments, the WHO and other multilateral organizations, and regulations that guide official actions.
Swiss Press Ahead With Reopening (9:15 a.m. NY)
Switzerland plans to ease restrictions on indoor dining at restaurants and public gatherings after a decline in coronavirus infections.
Restaurants will be able to welcome guests indoors again starting May 31, while theaters will be able to accommodate more guests, the government said on Wednesday. A final decision will be made on May 26, following input from the cantons, or states, and will depend on how the Covid-19 case load develops.
U.K. Public Pandemic Inquiry (7:39 a.m. NY)
A full public inquiry will be launched from spring next year into how the U.K. government handled the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced.
The premier told members of Parliament it will be important to wait until after a likely resurgence in the disease over the winter before opening the inquiry.
Seychelles Says Shots Work (7:33 a.m. NY)
Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan said vaccines that have been widely administered to the nation’s population are working, even as the Indian Ocean archipelago experiences a surge in coronavirus cases.
The country has fully inoculated 62.2% of its population, the biggest proportion of any nation, issuing them with either Sinopharm shots or Covishield vaccines that are made under license from AstraZeneca Plc. Most infections have been mild, according to Ramkalawan.
“Imagine if we did not have our people vaccinated?” he said in an interview late Tuesday. “We have only a few people needing intensive care.”
Russian Vaccine Hesitancy (7:25 a.m. NY)
Fully 62% of Russians say they don’t want to get the country’s Sputnik V vaccine, unchanged from February despite a Kremlin campaign to push the shot. Only 26% said they want to get the shot, while 10% said they already had, according to the survey conducted by the independent Levada Center in late April.
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