FDA Clears Pfizer Shot for Teens; U.S. Cases Slow: Virus Update
A healthcare worker registers a person to receive a dose Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccination at Gramps bar in Miami. (Photographer: Alicia Vera/Bloomberg)

FDA Clears Pfizer Shot for Teens; U.S. Cases Slow: Virus Update

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15. The number of new 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.

India’s capital of New Delhi extended its lockdown for another week as it battled a wave of infections and warned about a potentially deadly fungal infection in Covid-19 patients. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization sees the highly contagious variant spreading in India as a global concern.

In New York, public college and university students will require to be vaccinated before returning to class in person in September. Free subway and train rides are being offered to those who get shots at city mass-transit terminals.

Key Developments

  • Global Tracker: Cases reach 158.5 million; deaths exceed 3.3 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 1.29 billion doses have been given
  • CDC stirs concern by paring studies of post-vaccine cases
  • Unused shots pile up as mistrust blights Hong Kong vaccine drive
  • Employers Face Pitfalls in Requiring Covid-19 Shots for Workers
  • Tokyo gives a taste of what Covid era Olympic games will be like

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.

FDA Clears Pfizer Shot for Teens; U.S. Cases Slow: Virus Update

FDA Authorizes Pfizer Shot for Ages 12-15 (5:19 p.m.)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age.

The FDA amended the EUA originally issued on Dec. 11, 2020 for administration in individuals 16 years of age and older.

“Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from Covid-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock.

NY College Students Need Vaccines for Class (4:35 p.m. NY)

Students attending public colleges and universities in New York state will be required to be fully vaccinated to attend in person, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

“No excuses,” Cuomo said at a virus briefing, urging state and city university system students to get vaccinated now instead of waiting until September.

The state can’t legally mandate the vaccination requirement unless the federal government fully approves the vaccine for permanent use beyond the current emergency use authorization, Cuomo said. “We believe that they will do that in the near future.”

NY Offers Free MTA Rides for Shots (12:10 p.m. NY)

New York is setting up vaccination sites at Grand Central, Penn Station and other mass transit stops, and will offer free Metropolitan Transportation Authority rides for everyone who gets a shot.

“We want to see more and more customers return to the system,” MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said at a press briefing with Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Riders will be given the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot. On Friday, the subway and the Long Island Rail Road both had the most riders since the pandemic began.

WHO Says India Variant a Global Concern (12:08 p.m. NY)

The World Health Organization considers a highly contagious Covid variant spreading in India as a “variant of concern” at the global level, according to Maria Van Kerkhove, the group’s technical lead for Covid-19.

The WHO will provide more details in a report Tuesday, Van Kerkhove said in a news briefing Monday. She called for more targeted sequencing to be done to track the variant.

“There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility,” according to Van Kerhove. She said a paper that hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed studied a limited number of patients and found a suggestion of some reduced neutralization as well.

Illinois to Open Clinics in Office Buildings (11:27 a.m. NY)

Illinois will begin offering vaccine clinics at major commercial office buildings, Governor J.B. Pritzker said. The clinics will reach workers in Chicago sites such as the Merchandise Mart and Wrigley Building as well as several suburban office buildings, with slots available during shift changes, Pritzker said during a press conference.

“More vaccinations will mean more of a return to normal for everyone,” said Pritzker, who last week announced that his state is on track to reopen as soon as June 11.

Chicago’s reopening, which is planned for July 4, also partly depends on vaccination rates, and the city is working to increase uptake in young Black residents as well as in communities including the South side, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during the event.

NYC Offers Free Tickets to Get Vaccinated (11:20 a.m. NY)

New York City will give away free tickets to Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Cyclones baseball, botanical gardens and other venues as incentives to get a Covid-19 vaccine in a bid to increase protection in the most populous U.S. city.

De Blasio said the city has administered more than 7 million shots but that the rate has dropped precipitously since April, when it doled out as many as 115,000 vaccinations in a single day. On Friday, fewer than 60,000 shots were distributed, and fewer than 16,000 were given to residents on Sunday, which was the Mothers Day holiday.

Most Vaccinated Nation Sees Case Surge (10:45 a.m. NY)

Seychelles, which has vaccinated the largest proportion of its population of any country against Covid-19, said active cases of the disease more than doubled in the week to May 7. The health ministry of the archipelago off Africa’s east coast said in a statement on Monday that 2,486 people currently have Covid-19 and of those, 37% have received two doses of vaccine. The number of active cases rose from 1,068 a week earlier. Of those in the country who have taken two doses, 57% were inoculated with Sinopharm shots and the rest with Covishield, a vaccine made in India under license from AstraZeneca Plc.

U.S. New Cases Continue to Slow (10:15 a.m. NY)

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.

There were 286,107 new infections in the week ended Sunday, a 0.9% increase from the prior week and the lowest total since the seven days ended Sept. 20, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The total on Sunday of 21,767 new cases was the lowest single-day tally since June 14, also a Sunday.

Deaths, which typically lag behind new cases by several weeks, also rose at the slowest rate of the pandemic, 0.82%. The 4,709 new fatalities were the least since the week ended July 5.

Spain Hopes for Immunity in 100 Days (9:38 a.m. NY)

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said during a visit to Greece that Spain was about 100 days from reaching herd immunity with 70% of the population vaccinated.

That’s in line with a previous government prediction that immunity would be achieved at the end of August. Spain has so far administered about 19 million vaccine doses, with nearly 6 million people receiving two doses.

Lockdown Easing in Austria Given Green Light (8:26 a.m. NY)

Austria will reopen restaurants, hotels and allow sport and music events from May 19 as part of a planned easing of lockdown restrictions. Schools will also return to regular teaching next week after the nation registered 820 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the least since October.

Attending social events will require a negative virus test, or proof of vaccination or immunity, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told reporters on Monday. Family gatherings will still be limited to four adults and their children indoors, and 10 adults outdoors, until a further decline in infections.

Gabon Gets 300,000 Sinopharm Doses (8:04 a.m. NY)

The Central African nation got its second batch of Sinopharm shots on May 9 following a first shipment of 100,000 doses in March, the health ministry said. Gabon has relied largely on the Chinese-manufactured shot for its inoculation program. A total of 8,035 people were vaccinated by April 30, according to the health ministry.

China ‘Quarantine Rope’ for Everest Summit (8 a.m. NY)

China pledged to deploy a “quarantine rope” on the summit of Mount Everest to prevent the close contact of climbers on the world’s highest peak. The rope is a bid to prevent climbers who reach the summit from the Nepal and China approaches from spreading infection, according to Nyima Tsering, the head of the Tibet Sports Bureau.

Bali Eyes Tourism After Vaccinations (7:45 am NY)

The Indonesian island of Bali expects to have vaccinated 70% of its population against Covid-19, by July, potentially enough to achieve “herd immunity” and allow it to begin reopening to foreigners, said Governor Wayan Koster in a statement. The local government has secured enough doses to do so, with more than 1.3 million having received at least their first shots.

Malaysia Tightens Curbs as Cases Rise (7:12 a.m.)

Malaysia has tightened restrictions on movements across the country to contain a rise in infections, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said.

The restrictions, in place from May 12 to June 7, mean that schools are to close, social gatherings are banned and no social visits are allowed during the coming Eid festival. Travel between districts and states will also be banned.

U.K. Lowers Covid Alert Level (7:10 a.m. NY)

Chief medical officers from around the U.K. agreed to lower the Covid-19 alert status from Level 4 to Level 3, citing falling case numbers and deaths after months of restrictions and a fast-paced vaccination effort.

The move comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that indoor mixing and overnight stays with friends or family would be allowed from May 17.

Vaccine Demand Boosts BioNTech Forecast (7 a.m. NY)

BioNTech raised its Covid-19 vaccine sales estimate to 12.4 billion euros ($15.1 billion) for this year, issuing a new target for the shot it sells with Pfizer Inc. BioNTech had previously predicted 9.8 billion euros in 2021 revenue from the shot, its first marketed product.

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