Biden in Michigan; Delta Clouds Summer Plans: Virus Update
President Joe Biden traveled to Michigan, a trip the White House says is meant to celebrate U.S. independence from the virus, even as the delta variant spreads quickly across the nation and casts increasing uncertainty over Americans’ hopes for a carefree summer.
The number of travelers passing through U.S. airports topped 2 million for a second straight day, as cities prepare for an influx of visitors over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
In the U.K., the government said it’s considering scrapping all self-isolation measures for those who have been fully vaccinated, potentially risking another clash with the country’s medical profession.
In Indonesia, new cases reached the highest levels to date, and the government said it will work with telecommunications providers to track mobility. Tokyo reported the highest number of infections since May, less than three weeks before the start of the Olympic Games.
- Global Tracker: Cases top 183 million; deaths near 3.97 million
- Vaccine Tracker: Almost 3.2 billion doses administered
- Putin’s ‘lockdown lite’ as Moscow stops millions from dining out
- Pound takes the spotlight for traders gauging vaccine success
- U.K. and EU try to ease travel fears over India’s Astra vaccine
- From alpha to delta, why virus mutations cause alarm: QuickTake
California’s Positive Test Rate Jumps (2:15 p.m. NY)
California’s test positivity rate jumped to 1.5%, the highest in about 2 1/2 months, as the state warned of a rise in cases with the spread of the delta variant.
Hospitalizations rose 2.9% to 1,405. The state added 1,792 new cases, bringing the total to 3.7 million, while deaths climbed 45 to 63,141. Almost 42 million vaccination doses have been administered.
“We know the delta variant is contagious -- and is on the rise,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a tweet, urging more people to get vaccinated. “We know our hospitalizations are creeping up -- and most of the patients are unvaccinated.”
Biden Takes ‘Independence’ Message to Michigan (1:38 p.m. NY)
President Joe Biden traveled to Michigan to celebrate U.S. progress in fighting Covid and promote infrastructure spending, part of a slate of Fourth of July weekend events by the administration to signal a return to pre-pandemic life.
Slightly less than 67% of the U.S. adult population has at least one dose of a vaccine, short of the president’s goal of getting that number to 70% by Independence Day.
Brazil Court Authorizes Bolsonaro Vaccine Probe (1:37 p.m. NY)
Brazil’s Supreme Court Justice Rosa Weber authorized the start of an investigation into President Jair Bolsonaro for possible negligence in the handling of corruption allegations related to the purchase of vaccines from India.
Negotiations to buy the Covaxin shot produced by Bharat Biotech International Ltd. turned into a scandal when a government ally said he had personally warned Bolsonaro that a contract signed by the Health Ministry to acquire 20 million doses of the vaccine for 1.6 billion reais ($317 million) was plagued with irregularities.
British Doctors Say Restrictions Should Remain (12:40 p.m. NY)
Leading doctors in the U.K. urged the government to keep some pandemic restrictions in place in England, pushing back against Downing Street’s plans to relax measures from July 19.
“The idea that on the 19th of July we can return to a pre-Covid world of having no restrictions, we think is not sensible in light of what are spiraling infection rates,” Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association Council said in an interview with the BBC. While the link between cases and hospitalizations has weakened, it hasn’t been broken, he added.
The U.K. should avoid putting further strain on the nation’s health care system and instead focus on bringing down the infection rate, particularly with so many cases of long-Covid, Nagpaul said.
Latest figures show almost 25,000 people tested positive for Covid over the previous 24 hours in the U.K., underlining how cases have spiked to the highest levels since January.
U.S. Airports at Busiest Since Pandemic Began (12:30 p.m. NY)
The Transportation Security Administration screened almost 2.2 million travelers at U.S. airports on Friday, the highest number since the start of the pandemic, according to a tweet Saturday from a spokesperson.
On Thursday, the TSA said many U.S. airports were already at or exceeding the pre-pandemic numbers of passengers going through security checkpoints, especially near popular summer beach spots.
Domestic airline passenger volumes this week were down just 17% from 2019, according to Airlines for America, and an average 89.2% of available aircraft seats were filled, just one percentage point below the same week two years ago.
Delta Variant Clouds U.S. Revival Hopes (9 a.m. NY)
The fast-spreading delta variant is clouding Americans’ hopes for a carefree summer -- and casting a shadow of doubt over plans to get back to business as usual in the fall.
The shift in sentiment marks a reversal from the spring, when it looked like the U.S. immunization campaign would turn the tide definitively against the coronavirus. As hospitalizations rise in some states, the Biden administration is sending response teams to less-vaccinated areas to try to combat its spread.
Separately, Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease official, said he doesn’t expect another nationwide spike of cases over the variant, given that a “substantial proportion” of the U.S. population has been vaccinated. His full comments are set to air in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
U.K. to End Quarantine for Vaccinated (8:10 a.m. NY)
The U.K. is set to scrap quarantine measures for fully vaccinated people who’ve been in contact with someone infected with Covid-19, the Times reported, without saying where it got the information.
Instead of following the U.K.’s current rules of self-isolating for 10 days, anyone fully vaccinated who’s come into contact with a positive case would instead be advised to take daily tests, the Times said. Government officials will meet Monday to sign off on the proposals and look to introduce them next month, according to the paper.
Official estimates indicate the U.K.’s infection rate will surge as much as 26% under the measures, but the government is expected to accept the risk to prevent further disruptions to daily life, the Times reported. A U.K. government representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by Bloomberg.
Five Malaysian States to Ease Curbs (5:16 p.m. HK)
Malaysia said five states will move into the second phase of the national recovery plan from Monday, after meeting threshold limits in reducing Covid infections.
The country posted 6,658 new cases on Saturday, with Selangor, the most-industrialized state, alone accounting for about half the tally. The five states set to move to the second phase posted fewer than 500 cases combined, health ministry data showed.
Indonesia Infections Hit Record (5:04 p.m. HK)
Indonesia reported record daily Covid-19 cases on Saturday as it kicked off a “micro” lockdown that shut malls, banned public gatherings and restricted travel in the Java and Bali islands. The nation added 27,913 new infections to take its total to nearly 2.3 million, the most in Southeast Asia. Health authorities expect the surge to peak in the first week of July and begin flattening after that.
The government plans to work with telecommunications providers and other agencies to track mobility, and local authorities will be called on to enforce curbs properly if public activity is still high, according to Jodi Mahardi, spokesman for the coordinating ministry for maritime and investment affairs.
Belgium Cases Rise First Time in Months (4:25 p.m. HK)
Belgium reported its first increase in cases in months, with an average of 378 new infections per day, up 5% on a weekly average from June 23-29. Testing increased by 23% on a weekly basis, as summer vacations get under way. Average deaths per day stood at four and hospitalizations at 16 -- both a decline from the week before. Health officials reported a 1% positivity rate out of all people tested. More than 60% of the total population has received at least one vaccination dose.
Russia Again Reports Record Deaths (4:16 p.m. HK)
Russia reported record-high deaths from Covid-19 for a fifth straight day on Saturday, with 697 fatalities, according to data from the state-run monitoring center. That’s up from 679 previously. The number of new cases in the past day rose to 24,439, the highest level since January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Tokyo Sees Most Cases Since May (4:11 p.m. HK)
Japan’s capital reported 716 new cases Saturday, the highest number in more than five weeks. The seven-day average of new cases rose to 563.1, in a worrying sign as Japan prepares to host the Tokyo Olympics in less than three weeks.
The new cases remained largely among people in their 20s and 30s, with only 40 new patients over the age of 65. The number of serious cases fell to 50, from 54 the previous day.
Bangladesh Gets Moderna, Sinopharm (3:36 p.m. HK)
The Bangladesh government received 4.5 million Covid vaccine doses, bolstering inoculation efforts amid a surge in virus cases and deaths across the South Asian nation.
The U.S. delivered 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine under the Covax initiative, the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka said in a statement on Saturday. Separately, Bangladesh received 2 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, part of the government’s plan to purchase 15 million doses from the Chinese drug maker, the foreign ministry in Dhaka said in a statement.
Inoculations in Bangladesh slowed to a crawl after India banned vaccine exports. Bangladesh deployed troops alongside other security forces to enforce a stringent lockdown amid the spike in cases. Bangladesh on Friday reported 132 new deaths from the disease, taking the toll to 14,778, as cases surged by 8,483 to 930,042.
South Africa Approves CoronaVac Shot (2:15 p.m. HK)
South African regulators have approved Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s coronavirus vaccine, the first shot developed for the disease by a Chinese company to be sanctioned locally.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority backed the double-dose CoronaVac candidate made by Sinovac’s Life Sciences unit with conditions, according to a statement on Saturday. Those include satisfactory results of ongoing studies and periodic safety updates, SAHPRA said.
The conditional approval comes as the number of South African daily cases surged to a record. President Cyril Ramaphosa has placed the country in the strictest form of lockdown since May 2020 as the nation grapples with a surge in infections driven by the delta variant.
The World Health Organization authorized the Sinovac vaccine on June 1, paving the way for a wider roll-out in countries scrambling for a supply of immunizations.
Bharat’s Covaxin Shows 77.8% Efficacy (11:27 a.m. HK)
Phase 3 trial data for the Covaxin vaccine shows 77.8% efficacy at preventing symptomatic infections and 93.4% for severe symptoms, according to data released by India’s Bharat Biotech International Ltd. and its partner Ocugen.
The final analysis is similar to interim data in April. Covaxin was rolled out in India earlier this year.
The two-shot injection that uses an inactivated or dead form of the virus showed 65.2% protection against the delta variant, the company said Saturday. Safety analysis showed serious adverse effects in fewer than 0.5% of subjects.
Seoul Cases Double Since Rules Relaxed (9:19 a.m. HK)
Virus cases in the South Korean capital and its metropolitan area hovered above 600 for a fourth day, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, more than doubling from two weeks ago when authorities announced plans to relax social-distancing rules.
Measures that would allow restaurants and bars to extend indoor dining and raise the cap on the number of people permitted to gather were scheduled to be introduced nationwide at the start of July. But provincial governments in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province held off the adoption of those plans by at least a week, due to the recent spike in cases in the region.
Overall, South Korea reported 794 cases nationwide Saturday, down from 826 on Friday when it reported its biggest daily jump in about half a year. Seoul and its metropolitan area were responsible for most of the cases with 614.
Volcano Threatens Philippines Covid Fight (9:10 a.m. HK)
Forced evacuation of hundreds of residents near the Philippines’ Taal volcano, which threatens to erupt after spewing kilometer-high steam and fragments in recent days, could complicate the nation’s fight against coronavirus.
Local governments in Batangas province where the volcano is located are appealing to the central government to prioritize vaccine delivery to small villages affected by Taal to prevent infections in evacuation centers. About 1,300 residents have been evacuated as of Friday.
Senator Joel Villanueva urged the government to prepare for possible delays in vaccine shipments due to disruptions on inbound and outbound flights should Taal erupt, the Philippine Star reported.
Nevada Leads U.S. in Covid Cases (8:07 a.m. HK)
Nevada is reporting the highest-in-the nation rate of new cases, just as the gambling mecca of Las Vegas prepares for what could be its biggest weekends since reopening.
The state ranked first in the U.S. with almost 112 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The average daily hospital admissions have jumped 44% from a week earlier to about 55 a day, with a surprising increase in the 30-to-39-year-old cohort.
Singapore Firms Can Make Jab Mandatory in Risky Settings (8 a.m. HK)
Employers in Singapore should not make getting a Covid-19 vaccination mandatory, but may do so for those working in high-risk settings, according to an advisory from the government, unions and employers. The advisory states that while an employer may not terminate an employee in such a setting for refusing the vaccine, they may redeploy them to another job with lower risk of infection.
Argentina Changes Rule to Speed Vaccine Access (7:53 a.m. HK)
Argentina is changing local vaccine regulations to speed access to a wider range of vaccines including those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, as the Biden administration steps up donations.
The government on Saturday will publish a presidential decree aimed at smoothing over certain legal and technical terminology, to find a middle ground between labs’ needs and government interests, according to a Friday evening announcement. The decree will allow the purchase of pediatric vaccines and pave the way for the country to receive donations.
Saudi Arabia Halts Travel to UAE, Other Countries (7:36 a.m. HK)
The Saudi government has decided to temporarily prohibit travel to the UAE, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Afghanistan due to concerns of the spread of a new mutated strain of the coronavirus, according to an official source in the Ministry of Interior, state-run SPA reported. Travel will not be permitted without obtaining prior permission from authorities.
J&J Vaccine Batch Cleared by FDA (4:30 p.m. NY)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized another batch of the main ingredient for Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine for use after a safety review, the drug regulator said on Friday.
The drug substance was produced at an Emergent BioSolutions Inc. plant in Baltimore. A past mix-up at the Bayview facility, which had been producing two vaccines, triggered a sprawling safety review.
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