U.S. Warns China on Covid Origin; Cruise Sets Sail: Virus Update

A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. (Photographer: Eva Marie Uzctegui/Bloomberg)

U.S. Warns China on Covid Origin; Cruise Sets Sail: Virus Update

China will risk international isolation if it fails to allow a “real” investigation on its territory into the origins of the virus that caused the pandemic, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said. President Joe Biden is traveling to North Carolina on Thursday to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated.

Russia, Germany and Portugal reported an expanding spread of the highly transmissible delta variant that first appeared in India. Scott Gottlieb, a former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said vaccination remains the best defense against the variant.

Guests lined up to board Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s Freedom of the Seas in Florida on Sunday, marking the first cruise from a U.S. port since the pandemic suspended operations 15 months ago. The U.S. border is unlikely to reopen completely until 75% of Canadians are fully vaccinated, Canada’s border chief said.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases exceed 178.3 million; deaths pass 3.8 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 2.62 billion doses administered
  • Epidemiologists are starting to shift focus away from Covid case counts
  • Many Brazilians insist on Pfizer even with 500,000 dead
  • Covid counts hit zero in U.S. hospitals once overrun by victims
  • U.K. is a test case for Covid endgame as variant upends the math
U.S. Warns China on Covid Origin; Cruise Sets Sail: Virus Update

Canada Not Vaccinated Enough to Reopen to U.S.: Chief (4:04 p.m. NY)

The U.S. border is unlikely to be completely reopened until 75% of Canadians are fully vaccinated, Canada’s border chief said on Sunday in comments likely to fuel mounting impatience in both countries at the restrictions.

“We haven’t reached the finish line, and the finish line is when a significant majority of Canadians, approximately 75%, are fully vaccinated,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told national broadcaster CBC on Sunday. At present, less than a fifth of Canadians have received two shots, according to data compiled by CTV News.

First Cruise Sets Sail from U.S. Port (2:56 p.m. NY)

Guests lined up to board Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s Freedom of the Seas on Sunday, marking the first cruise from a U.S. port since the pandemic suspended operations 15 months ago.

Passengers filed into PortMiami with suitcases in tow, a sight last seen in the world’s largest cruise port in March 2020. Freedom of the Seas can carry around 4,500 guests, and it’s expected to take about 650 on this first two-night loop, all of them Royal Caribbean employees who volunteered and were allowed to bring an 18-and-over guest.

The trip is being dubbed a “simulated voyage,” a concept designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to essentially prove the ships are safe to sail with Covid-19 still circulating around the globe.

Biden to Pitch Vaccines on N. Carolina Trip (2 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden is traveling to North Carolina on Thursday to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated.

The president’s trip to Raleigh comes 10 days before July 4, Biden’s stated target date to see at least 70% of adult Americans at least partially vaccinated — a goal that risks slipping out of reach. So far, slightly more than 65% of adults in the U.S. have had at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite a vaccine supply that has become plentiful across the nation.

North Carolina is lagging many other states and the U.S. average. In North Carolina, 44.6% of the whole population has been inoculated, compared with 53.2% in the U.S. as a whole, according to CDC data. So far, 23 states and other jurisdictions have vaccinated at least 50% of their populations, the data show.

Germany Warns Against Soccer Tourism to U.K. (1:37 p.m. NY)

German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned against traveling to London for the final game of the UEFA European Football Championship, citing the prevalence there of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

“Soccer is lovely, but one doesn’t absolutely have to be there in London,” Spahn told German broadcaster ARD. Germany requires a two-week quarantine for travelers from the U.K.

Delta Strain Driving Spike in Lisbon (12:28 p.m. NY)

Preliminary results from June indicate the delta variant has a prevalence of more than 60% in the Lisbon region, Portugal’s National Institute of Health said on Sunday.

The government on Thursday announced it would restrict travel to and from the greater Lisbon area during the weekend as it tries to contain the spread of new infections. The restrictions on movement were applied from 3 p.m. on Friday, with exceptions including international travel.

U.S. Unvaccinated Areas Vulnerable to Variant: Gottlieb (11:50 a.m. NY)

The highly transmissible delta variant first found in India is driving infections in parts of the U.S. with low vaccination rates while having little effect in vaccinated areas, said Scott Gottlieb, former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Connecticut, for example, where I am, shows no upsurge of infection, but Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri show very substantial upsurges of infections,” Gottlieb, who’s on the board of Pfizer Inc., said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “That’s based entirely on how much population wide immunity you have based on vaccination.”

The variant, which is delaying the final reopening in England, now makes up 10% of U.S. cases. The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week it’s expected to become the dominant strain.

Biden Aide Warns Over Covid Origin Study (11:17 a.m. NY)

China will risk international isolation if it fails to allow a “real” investigation on its territory into the origins of the virus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Sullivan’s comments follow last week’s call by Group of Seven leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden for another probe into how the virus originated. Biden last month ordered the U.S. intelligence community to “redouble” its efforts to determine where the coronavirus came from and to report back in 90 days.

China has rejected the theory that the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first cases were reported.

Israel Reinstates Masks for Two Schools (5:41 p.m. HK)

Israel’s Health Ministry ordered schools in two towns to reinstate mask wearing after detecting new coronavirus infections. While the origin of the outbreak is being investigated, “there is a connection to a family that recently returned from abroad,” according to a statement late Saturday.

Israel dropped indoor mask requirements last week as new cases have remained under 100 for more than two months.

Ifo Sees Delta Variant as Danger to German Economy (5:36 p.m. HK)

The German economy faces a “serious danger” due to the delta variant of the coronavirus, Ifo President Clemens Fuest was cited as saying in an interview with T-Online.

“The recovery would be delayed” if Covid incidence rates rise again in the country, the news portal quoted Fuest as saying. “We would face a difficult autumn.”

Russia Cases Remain High (4:04 p.m. HK)

Russia added a further 17,611 cases, the nation’s coronavirus emergency response center reported. That compares to 17,906 new infections registered on Saturday, which was the highest number since January 31.

Russia is experiencing a resurgence of the virus amid a rapid spread of the more contagious delta strain first identified in India.

South Korea to Ease Virus Curbs (3:15 p.m. HK)

South Korea will relax its social-distancing rules starting next month as coronavirus cases slow amid rising vaccinations. The country will increase the maximum number of people who can gather privately from July 1, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Sunday in a televised briefing, and shops will be able to stay open for longer.

China Surpasses 1 Billion Doses (3 p.m. HK)

China has given out more than one billion doses of vaccine as the world’s most populous country speeds up its inoculation campaign. As of Saturday, 1.01 billion doses have been administered, according to data from the National Health Commission on Sunday, though it’s unclear how many people are fully vaccinated.

The Chinese capital Beijing had fully vaccinated more than 80% of the city’s adults as of Wednesday, the most among the world’s major cities and financial hubs. Even after 1 billion doses are given, China has only given enough doses to cover some 30% of its 1.4 billion people, and is still trailing behind the U.S., the U.K. and leading European nations where vaccination coverage approaches or has exceeded half of their respective population, Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker shows.

Switzerland Rolls Out Shots for Teens (2:42 p.m. HK)

Switzerland plans to allow young people aged 12-to-15 years to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as next week, the government’s vaccine chief Christoph Berger said in an interview published Sunday by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

The development comes two weeks after Switzerland’s medicines regulators, Swissmedic, extended its temporary ordinary authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to include people in that age group.

Dubai Airport Hopes to Near Normal by Fall (2:14 p.m. HK)

Dubai Airport, the world’s largest by international passenger numbers, expects to recover as much as 90% of its pre-pandemic capacity by autumn and will reopen a terminal as demand picks up.

Air travel will get a boost as countries start to remove restrictions, while an upcoming holiday in the Middle East and Expo 2020 Dubai, which begins in October, will also help shore up demand, Dubai Airports Chief Executive Officer Paul Griffiths said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Sunday.

The airport plans to reopen a terminal and concourse that were shut in March 2020, and will add 3,500 jobs to meet growing demand.

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