Germany Mulls Curfews; U.S. Travel Ban Spat: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding talks Tuesday on a possible extension of the country’s virus measures, with curfews under consideration. President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration rejected a move by President Donald Trump to rescind coronavirus-related travel bans for non-American citizens arriving from the European Union, the U.K. and Brazil.

Hong Kong said it will extend its outbreak control measures and introduce new restrictions in certain neighborhoods as cases surge. Singapore is also considering if additional virus measures are needed after an increase in cases there.

Japan confirmed three patients infected with the coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K., who have no travel history to the country. The European Union’s executive arm will urge member states to set a target for vaccinating at least 70% of the bloc’s population by this summer.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases exceed 95.4 million; deaths surpass 2 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 42.2 million shots given worldwideWhat to know about vaccine-linked deaths, allergies: QuickTakeVaccine disparities raise alarm as Covid variants multiplyFrom the bubonic plague to 2021, why lockdowns look set to stay‘No special treatment’: Tennis elite quarantined in AustraliaKids sign up for vaccine trials

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.

China’s Virus Flare-Up Stokes Oil Demand Fears (3:00 p.m. HK)

The resurgence of Covid-19 in China has led to lockdowns and calls for citizens not to travel during the upcoming Lunar New Years holidays, stoking concern that oil and fuel demand will take a near-term hit.

People are being encouraged to remain in their cities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, with some provinces offering cash incentives, or hongbao, and food vouchers to those who choose to stay home. China State Railway Group Co. cut its estimate for the number of travelers over the festive period to 296 million from 407 million amid low train ticket bookings, Xinhua news agency reported. While it’s a significant drop, it’s still higher than 2020.

Merkel Holds Talks on Extension of Virus Measures (2:00 p.m. HK)

Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding talks with state premiers on Tuesday on a possible extension and tightening of Germany’s virus measures, with curfews considered. There were 9,253 new cases in Europe’s biggest economy in the 24 hours through Tuesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University data. An additional 482 people died.

Philippines Allows Sinovac to Hold Covid Vaccine Trials (1:50 p.m. HK)

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration has allowed China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. to hold clinical trials in the Southeast Asian nation for its coronavirus vaccine, the regulator’s head Eric Domingo said.

The local regulator is still waiting for Sinovac to submit documents on late-stage trials before processing its separate application for emergency use in the Philippines, Domingo said in an interview with state-run PTV-4.

Singapore Moving Ahead With Vaccination Plans (12:55 p.m. HK)

Singapore is seeking to set up 36 vaccination centers from February to inoculate its population, the Straits Times reported, citing tender documents. The government is also looking to set up 10 mobile teams to provide mass vaccinations for sites such as nursing homes, according to the newspaper.

These new facilities together with the roving teams could potentially deliver more than 70,000 shots every day across the island, though the numbers could be subject to change, the Straits Times said. Vaccination sites could include vacant schools, community clubs and sports halls, and the assigned centers will operate for up to 12 months.

India Sees Lowest Cases Since Early June (12:25 p.m. HK)

India registered 10,064 coronavirus cases in its latest daily figures, according to government data. That’s the lowest figure since June 8. The country’s total confirmed virus cases stood at 10.58 million as of Jan. 19, the data showed.

Japan Taps Kono as Vaccine Minister as Approval Nears for Pfizer (11:35 a.m. HK)

Taro Kono. the outspoken reformer named by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to lead a massive vaccine rollout pledged to work quickly on inoculations as the country nears approval of Pfizer Inc.’s shot for the coronavirus.

The former defense minister, told a news conference Tuesday he will do everything he can to get as many people as possible inoculated when Japan looks to start vaccinations in late February.

Hong Kong to Extend Outbreak-Control Measures (10:45 a.m. HK)

Hong Kong will extend social-distancing measures, expand mandatory testing and introduce new restrictions in certain neighborhoods to battle an extended wave of coronavirus cases. The moves come after the Asian financial hub reported 107 daily Covid-19 infections on Monday, the most in a month, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam told a weekly news briefing Tuesday.

Lam said the city would announce specific new virus-control measures at a health department briefing later Tuesday.

WHO’s Independent Panel Criticizes Global Pandemic Handling (9:45 a.m. HK)

An independent panel established by the World Health Organization has criticized missteps in the global handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Led by former New Ze
aland Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the panel recounted in an interim report issued Monday that critical elements of the global pandemic alert system are “slow, cumbersome and indecisive.”

The report pointed out that the WHO has been underpowered to do the job expected of it and said that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by Chinese authorities in January last year. It identified that international, regional and national institutions have struggled to deliver the necessary responses, and that inequalities both within and between nations have worsened as vulnerable and marginalized people have been left without access to health care.

The panel suggests that the pandemic be a catalyst for fundamental and systemic change in preparedness for future events. It will present a final report to the World Health Assembly scheduled for May.

Biden Rejects Trump Plan to Rescind Travel Bans (8:35 a.m. HK)

President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration rejected a move by President Donald Trump to rescind coronavirus-related travel bans for non-American citizens arriving from the European Union, the U.K. and Brazil, which means the curbs will stay in effect.

Trump said in a White House announcement Monday that the bans could be lifted because of a decision last week by the administration to require international travelers to present either the results of a negative recent coronavirus test or evidence that they had already recovered from the disease. The change would go into effect starting Jan. 26, six days after Biden takes office.

Japan Confirms Variant Cases Without Travel History (8:00 a.m. HK)

Japan’s health ministry said Monday that it found three patients infected with the new coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K., who have no travel history to the country.

All three, who are residents of Shizuoka prefecture in central Japan, developed symptoms in early January and are currently self-isolating at home.

Singapore Considering If Additional’ Virus Measures Needed (7:25 a.m. HK)

Singapore is seeing “more new infected cases in the community in recent days,” Education Minister Lawrence Wong says in post on Facebook. Wong highlighted a local cluster linked to a police para-vet and several recent cases who did not seek medical treatment.

“We are also monitoring the situation carefully and considering if additional measures are necessary to ensure the infection remains under control,” he said.

Takeda to Start Japan Trial of Novavax Vaccine in Feb. (7:20 a.m. HK)

Takeda Pharmaceutical plans to start the clinical trials of Novavax’s Covid vaccine candidate around Feb. 20, Yomiuri reported, citing the Japanese drugmaker.

California Urges Pause for Some Moderna Vaccine Doses (7:14 a.m. HK)

California’s state epidemiologist recommended that distribution of more than 300,000 doses of Moderna Inc.’s vaccine be paused in the state after some people who received it had possible severe allergic reactions, the Associated Press reported.

Erica S. Pan said care providers should stop using doses from a single lot of the vaccine until state officials, the company and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration can complete an investigation. Doses from the lot were sent to 287 providers, according to Pan.

Fewer than 10 people, who all received their shots at the same site, needed medical attention over a 24-hour period. Moderna said in a statement to the AP that it is unaware of comparable adverse events at vaccination centers that may have used doses from the same lot.

Bolsonaro, Under Pressure, Speeds Up Vaccine Plan (5:21 p.m. NY)

Brazil accelerated its vaccination plans after the state of Sao Paulo publicly launched a drive to immunize residents, increasing pressure on President Jair Bolsonaro, a vaccine skeptic, to move faster.

The government began distributing 6 million doses of a shot from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd in partnership with Sao Paulo’s Butantan Institute to all of its 27 states, giving the green light for immunizations to begin right away, according to an official statement. Less than 24 hours before, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello had said the nationwide campaign would kick off on Wednesday.

a group of people playing a video game: Sao Paulo Gives First Shot Today After Vaccine Approval

© Bloomberg
Sao Paulo Gives First Shot Today After Vaccine Approval

Healthcare workers receive a dose of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine in Sao Paulo, Jan. 17.

Photographer: Patricia Monteiro/Bloomberg

Portugal Limits Travel on Weekends (2:10 p.m. NY)

The Portuguese government reintroduced travel restrictions between municipalities on weekends. Most stores that are still allowed to stay open will have to close by 8 p.m. on weekdays and 1 p.m. on weekends, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said at a press conference on Monday. The government also limited certain takeaway services.

Irish Surge Shows Signs of Slowing (1:55 p.m. NY)

Ireland reported its fewest new coronavirus cases since Jan. 1, in a sign that one of the world’s worst outbreaks is beginning to slow. The country reported 2,121 new cases — the fourth day in a row cases have fallen — with eight deaths. The positivity rate fell to 10.2% from 25% a fortnight ago. Still, case numbers are not close to being at an acceptable level, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan told reporters in Dublin. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but not nearly as much as we need to take,” he said.

Cuomo Seeks to Buy Vaccines Directly (12:27 p.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he asked Pfizer Inc. if the state could buy vaccines directly from the company because the U.S. government has failed to increase supply.

No state has ever purchased vaccines directly from the producer, but “my job is to pursue every avenue,” the governor said.

U.K. First-Dose Vaccines Top 4 Million (12:13 p.m. NY)

The U.K. reported that the number of people who have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine increased by 225,407 as of Jan. 17, compared with 277,915 the day before. The first dose total is currently at 4,062,501, according to government data.

The number of individuals who received their second dose was 2,565 as of Jan. 17, compared with 2,475 the day before. The second dose total is currently at 452,301, the government’s data website should.

NYC’s Hospitalizations Rise (11:35 a.m. NY)

The rate reached a seven-day average of 4.94 per 100,000 residents, from less than 1 per 100,000 in November. It’s still down from the initial outbreak last spring, when the city had an average of 13 new Covid-19 admissions per 100,000 residents every day.

New York reported a seven-day average of 4,805 confirmed and probable cases on Jan. 16, continuing a decline from 6,371 on Jan. 8.

In all, 8,868 patients are being treated in New York hospitals for the virus.

Italy’s New Cases Drop Below 10,000 (11:10 a.m. NY)

Italy registered 8,825 new virus cases, below the 10,000 threshold for the first time this year, dropping from 12,545 the day before. The country reported 377 deaths, the same number as Sunday.

Russia May Vaccinate 14% of Population by April (9:08 a.m. NY)

Russia expects to start Covid-19 vaccinations for as much as 14% of the population in the first quarter after President Vladimir Putin last week told authorities to provide universal access to the inoculations.

Russia should have the production capacity to provide the first shot of one of its two registered vaccines to more than 20 million people this quarter, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said Monday in a televised meeting.

EU to Push for Vaccinating 70% of Population (8:46 a.m. NY)

The European Union’s executive arm will urge member states to set a target for vaccinating at least 70% of the bloc’s population by this summer, according to a draft of the latest pandemic response recommendations due to be released Tuesday.

The European Commission will also vow to agree with member states by the end of this month on a protocol for vaccination certificates, according to the draft of the document seen by Bloomberg.

Hong Kong to Ask for Vaccine Deaths Information (6:45 a.m. NY)

Hong Kong’s government-appointed vaccine advisory panel is seeking more data from the Norwegian and German governments on the reported deaths of elderly people after they received the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE shot, the panel’s experts said at a press briefing on Monday.

The panel recommended the shot for use in Hong Kong but would ask the government to stop administering it “as soon as we receive information that tips the balance ratio of risks and benefits,” the panel convenor Wallace Lau said.

U.K. May Start Relaxing Rules in Early March (6:30 a.m. NY)

The U.K. may begin to relax restrictions in the first half of March, according to vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi. The current lockdown is set to be reviewed in mid-February.

“There will be a point at which we can begin to gradually lift the non-pharmaceutical interventions,” Zahawi told Times Radio. Using the mid-February target for vaccinating the highest priority groups and adding 2-3 weeks for the shots to take effect, “you’re talking about the first, second week of March,” he said.

WHO Chides Countries, Vaccine Makers on Inequities (6:20 a.m. NY)

It’s wrong that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and old people in poorer countries, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at an executive board meeting Monday.

“The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure,” he said. “Even as they speak the language of equitable access, some countries and companies continue to prioritize bilateral deals — going around Covax, driving up prices and attempting to jump to the front of the queue.”

He also said manufacturers have prioritized regulatory approval in rich countries, where profits are highest, rather than submitting full dossiers to the WHO.

France to Meet 1 Million Vaccination Target for January (6:15 a.m. NY)

France will comfortably reach its target for 1 million Covid vaccinations by the end of January, Health Minister Olivier Veran said. Vaccine doses are being made available as they arrive, with appointments for the French to get the jab corresponding to available supplies, he said.

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