Wyoming Hospitals Strained; Rome Erupts in Protest: Virus Update
The U.S. gave more than 7 million vaccine doses in the last week, the most since early July. The increase has been driven in part by the demand for booster shots.
Protests erupted in central Rome against rules that will require all public and private-sector workers to have a valid Covid passport, the so-called Green Pass, starting Oct. 15.
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Boosters Push Rise in Vaccine Demand (4:17 p.m. NY)
The U.S. gave more than 7 million vaccine doses in the last week, the most since early July. The increase has been driven in part by the demand for booster shots. Of the 1.15 million doses reported on Saturday, boosters made up 502,000, Cyrus Shahpar, the White House’s Covid-19 data director, tweeted.
Demand for the vaccine has been rising steadily since third Pfizer doses have become more widely available in the last two weeks, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. The U.S. has given 7.79 million third doses since they became available to the medically vulnerable in mid-August, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Average daily vaccinations have fallen from a peak of more than 3.3 million doses in mid-April to about 1 million now.
Rome Protests Health Passes (3:12 p.m. NY)
Clashes erupted in central Rome on Saturday afternoon between anti-vaccine protesters and police forces. The headquarters of the CGIL union were attacked by the demonstrators, which held a rally in the streets of Italy’s capital against rules that will require all public and private-sector workers to have a valid Covid passport, the so-called Green Pass, starting Oct. 15. The pass documents vaccination, a recent negative test or past infection.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi condemned the violence, which took place on Saturday in several other Italian cities. He said the government is committed to completing the nation’s vaccination campaign. About 80% of eligible Italians are fully vaccinated.
Southwest Pilots Seek to Block Shot Mandate (2:10 p.m. NY)
Southwest Airlines Co. pilots asked a court to temporarily block the company from carrying out federally mandated coronavirus vaccinations until an existing lawsuit over alleged U.S. labor law violations is resolved.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association’s filing Friday also asked for an immediate hearing on the request before a federal court in Dallas, claiming the carrier has continued to take unilateral actions that violate terms of the Railway Labor Act, which governs airline-union relations. Those steps include the Covid-19 vaccination requirement.
San Francisco Extends Worker Vaccine Mandate (12:24 p.m. NY)
San Francisco, which has one of the nation’s highest vaccination rates, is requiring all contractors who work with the city to be vaccinated, Mayor London Breed announced. The deadline for full vaccination is Dec. 31, she said in a statement on Friday.
More than 94% of San Francisco’s municipal employees are vaccinated. All must be fully vaccinated or supply an accepted medical of religious exemption by Nov. 1, with earlier deadlines for places like jails and hospitals.
Cruise ships will return to the city’s port on Monday for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Wyoming Hospital Runs Out of ICU Beds (11:18 a.m. NY)
Wyoming’s largest hospital ran out of intensive care beds Friday amid a surge of mostly unvaccinated Covid-19 patients, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Fewer than 10 inpatient beds were available at the Wyoming Medical Center, the newspaper reported.
The strain from the spread of the delta variant, now hitting the northwest of the U.S., led several Wyoming hospitals this week to request from state health officials rules for potentially rationing medical care. So-called “crisis standards of care” are in place at some hospitals in Alaska, Idaho and Montana.
Namibia Wants Fast Rollout, Tourists (8:40 a.m. NY)
Namibia’s central bank governor warned that a slow rollout of vaccines could prove “disastrous” for the southern African economy.
“Now that we have the vaccines, there is so much hesitancy,” Johannes Gawaxab said at a lecture late Friday. “Aggressive vaccine rollout is the only way to bring tourists back and revive the economy.”
Iran’s Infection Rate Lowest Since Summer (8:30 a.m. NY)
Iran’s daily new cases dropped to the lowest since June 26 with 7,654 new infections over the last 24 hours, the latest health ministry data showed. The country added 173 fatalities overnight, the least since July. Iran now has had 112,370 deaths from the virus with more than 5.6 million infections.
U.K. May Stop Giving Free Tests (7:32 a.m. NY)
The U.K. may end free mass Covid-19 tests in order to save the government billions of pounds, the Daily Telegraph reported, without saying where it got the information.
The system of providing free lateral flow tests for everyone could be replaced by one limited to care homes, hospitals, schools and people with symptoms, the newspaper said, adding that the details hadn’t yet been agreed and were currently being discussed by the government.
Travel and holiday bookings in the U.K. spiked dramatically after the government said the number of countries on its so-called “red list” will drop to just 7 from 54, the Financial Times reported, citing travel and airline companies.
U.K. Cases Worst in Europe (7:15 a.m. NY)
The seven-day average of new U.K. cases is running at about 35,000 per day, far above that of its European peers, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg through Friday. The rolling average for France has fallen from a peak of about 25,000 in mid-August to about 5,000, bringing it under the rate for Germany which has remained relatively steady near 10,000. Italy’s recent cases are even lower.
On a per capita basis, the U.K.’s infection rate is more than five times higher than France and Germany. Daily coronavirus-linked deaths in the U.K. are about 1.6 per million people, about twice the rate in the other two countries.
Moderna to Expand Vaccine Capacity (6:21 a.m. NY)
Moderna is investing to expand capacity to deliver another 1 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to low-income countries in 2022, CEO Stephane Bancel said in a letter on the company’s website on Friday. To date, more than 250 million people have been vaccinated globally with the Moderna vaccine, he said.
Co-founder Noubar Afeyan said in an interview with the Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore on Saturday that “it’s time to build a global shield against pathogens” to be able to quickly develop and distribute new vaccines in response to new diseases, “as it has been and is for Covid.”
Russia Deaths Hit Record (4:47 p.m. HK)
Russia reported 29,362 daily cases, the second-worst result since the pandemic outbreak, bringing its total to 7.74 million. A further 968 people died, a record, pushing the toll to 215,453, data from the government’s virus response center showed.
Separately, the Federal Statistics Service reported on Friday that total Covid deaths in Russia had risen above 400,000 by the end of August. While the two sets of data are different, they both show a rising trend.
Singapore Urges ‘Living With Virus’ (12:30 p.m. HK)
Singapore will allow vaccinated travel to and from nine more countries without having to quarantine. The countries to qualify are the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, as of Oct. 19, and South Korea from Nov. 15, the government said Saturday.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a televised address that Singapore can’t stay “locked down and closed off indefinitely,” pushing ahead with the strategy of living with Covid-19 despite a record surge in cases.
Singaporeans need to “respect Covid-19, but we must not be paralyzed by fear,” Lee said, outlining a “new normal,” possibly after three to six months, where Singapore will ease off restrictions, have light social distancing measures in place, and cases come down to hundreds a day.
U.S. to Accept WHO-Approved Vaccines (11 a.m. HK)
The U.S. will accept the use of Covid-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization or U.S. regulators for international travelers, Reuters reported, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. announced last month that it would allow entry to most foreign air travelers if they are fully vaccinated, but didn’t specify at the time which vaccines would be accepted.
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