Covid-19 Coronavirus
  • Global confirmed cases
    138,805,923
  • Global deaths
    2,983,523
  • Global death rate
    2.15%
  • Global recoveries
    91,540,318
  • Global recovery rate
    65.95%
  • Global confirmed cases
    138,805,923
  • Global deaths
    2,983,523
  • Global death rate
    2.15%
  • Global recoveries
    91,540,318
  • Global recovery rate
    65.95%
Covid-19Powered by

Coronavirus: A timeline of how the deadly COVID-19 outbreak is evolving

4:29 pm

Why the US will outstrip Europe by running a ‘hot’ economic recovery

15 April

Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, an economist, shared an article on two types of recovery from the Covid recession, or how plutocratic populism cannot be fought by returning to the recent past.

According to Wren-Lewis, Biden is showing the European Union (EU) and the UK how to recover from the deep recession.

Forecasts reflect that the US has enacted a large stimulus package ($1.9tn mainly directed to individuals followed by at least $2bn on infrastructure), while Europe has been more modest in its expansionary measures with a 750bn recovery fund.

Wren-Lewis discusses the relative merits of undershooting and overshooting and thereby running the economy a little hot after the recovery.

He states that the downside risk is not a problem if you are trying to run the economy hot, because you will just be running it cooler.

However, the downside risk of undershooting are serious, as that means a more extended recession with interest rates unable to fall because they are stuck at their lower bound.

Read more

4:02 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Maharashtra state set to enter full lockdown as Covid cases surge in India

15 April

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 138,280,000, with over 2,970,000 deaths and over 91,200,000 recoveries.

India, surpassed in total confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths only by the US, has recorded the highest ever single-day spike with 200,739 infections for 24 hours.

After reporting less than 10,000 new cases per day at the start of the year, India has been one of the world’s worst hit countries in recent months.

The large surge of infection has led to significant shortages of oxygen in various hospitals throughout the country.

Maharshtra state, the country’s Covid epicentre, is set to enter a full lockdown.

The restrictions will last until the end of April in an effort to slow the surge of coronavirus infections.

Meanwhile, Brazil and US recorded over 73,500 and 8,000 new confirmed cases respectively, as US observes its lowest surge of new confirmed cases this month.

In the UK, daily confirmed cases and deaths remain relatively low, generally under 5,000 and 70, respectively since the beginning of April.

 

Kamal Duran, MPH, Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

10:09 am

International update: Vaccine discussions continue as global Covid infections approach 140 million

15 April

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.97 million. Meanwhile, infections have passed 138 million world wide, according to analysts at Johns Hopkins University.

US: US Covid -19 infections exceed 31.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is more than 564,000 according to analysts at Johns Hopkins University.

US spy agencies have yet to determine the source of the virus that causes Covid-19, top intelligence officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday. Avril Haines, the director of National Intelligence, said analysts are still examining two theories: animal-to-human transmission, and the possibility of a laboratory accident. “The intelligence community does not know exactly where, when or how Covid-19 virus was transmitted initially,” Haines said. CIA Director William Burns, echoed Haines’ assessment, adding that “the Chinese leadership has not been fully forthcoming or fully transparent” in working with the World Health Organization to pinpoint the origin of the coronavirus.

The risk of being exposed to the Covid-19 virus on an airline flight drop by as much as half when airlines keep middle seats open, a new study published by the US government concludes, a safety practice the carriers have abandoned. The study is the latest to roil the waters on a controversial topic: just how risky it is to travel during the pandemic. It didn’t attempt to estimate infection risks and was based on modelling done before the pandemic, so it didn’t consider rules that now require face masks on flights. The risk of coming in contact with the virus dropped by 23% to 57% if airlines limited passenger loads on both single-aisle and widebody jets, compared with full occupancy, according to research released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.

India: India reported more than 200,000 new infections on Thursday – its highest one-day surge since the pandemic broke out – as a deadlier new wave grips the world’s second worst-hit country. With 200,739 new cases, the outbreak in the South Asian nation has gone past 14 million cases. Casualties rose to 173,123 while more than 114 million vaccine doses have been administered, according to latest data from India’s health ministry.

Turkey: Turkey recorded 62,797 new coronavirus cases and 279 deaths in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Wednesday, registering the highest daily death toll and rise in cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Mexico: Mexico’s government reported 5,113 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 518 more fatalities, according to data from the health ministry on Wednesday. It brings the country’s total to 2,291,246 infections and 210,812 deaths, Reuters reports.

Singapore: Singapore’s latest community case of Covid-19 infection widened a new cluster in the city state to four patients, according to the health ministry. The lone reported community case that added to this cluster is a 44 year-old male Papua New Guinea citizen, with a short-term visit pass, who arrived from Australia on 25 March for a work project, the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. The linked spread of Covid-19 is the first after the ministry’s announcement on 25 March that there were no open clusters of infections.

Vaccine news

Global: The pace of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine production is unlikely to speed up markedly in the next few months, though the drugmaker expects its manufacturing capacity to expand significantly by 2022, chief executive Stephane Bancel said during an investor call, Reuters reports.

Johnson & Johnson said it continues to believe in the positive benefit-risk profile of its Covid-19 vaccine. “The safety and well-being of the people who use our products is our number one priority, and we strongly support awareness of the signs and symptoms of this extremely rare event to ensure the correct diagnosis, appropriate treatment and expedited reporting by health care professionals,” Scientific Director Paul Stoffels said in a statement. The company plans to proactively delay the rollout of the vaccine in Europe and pause vaccinations in all Janssen Covid vaccine clinical trials while it updates guidance for investigators and participants.

EU: EU countries will receive 50 million Covid-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and BioNTech by the end of June, the head of the EU commission said on Wednesday, as deliveries expected at the end of the year will be brought forward.

US: A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel ended discussion about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine without taking a vote, leaving it unclear how long the distribution of the shot will remain paused in the US. Some panel members advocated for a month long pause, while others were concerned about the effects of not having the J&J vaccine available, especially to the communities it was being targeted toward. As a result, distribution of the vaccine will remain halted at least until the panel meets next, perhaps in a week to ten days.

Vaccine hesitancy in the US is shrinking, though 1 in 7 residents remain wary about getting a Covid-19 vaccine, largely because of concerns about side effects. That segment is younger and less educated than average, according to a tracker released Wednesday by the US Census Bureau that uses Household Pulse Survey data. Residents were surveyed before US regulators on Tuesday recommended pausing Johnson & Johnson vaccines because of concerns about rare blood clots.

Denmark: Denmark will permanently cease to administer AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, broadcaster TV 2 reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.

South Africa: Johnson & Johnson will revise protocols on its Covid-19 vaccine study and exclude pregnant health workers from a trial in South Africa set to include 500,000 people. The move came after US regulators paused the shot’s rollout on concerns of a rare and severe blood-clotting side effect. While all studies are delayed, plans to run trials on children and pregnant women in South Africa have been set aside for now, said Glenda Gray, the co-lead of the South African studies, in an interview on Wednesday.

Canada: AstraZeneca’s vaccine may be linked to “very rare events of blood clots,” but the benefits of the shot outweigh its potential risk, Health Canada said in a statement following an assessment of scientific data. The federal agency has updated warnings about the possible side effects in product information and is providing information about potential symptoms as well as when to seek prompt medical attention following vaccination.

France: France will use Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine as planned despite its suspension in the US, a government spokesman said, adding France had received a first shipment of 200,000 doses.

Russia: The developers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine said it hasn’t produced any instances of the dangerous blood-clotting that forced US officials to urge a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

Sputnik’s first dose uses the same human adenovirus as the Johnson & Johnson inoculation, but they have “significant differences in their structure” and it isn’t appropriate to extrapolate safety data from one to the other, the state-run Gamaleya Center said in a statement. Meanwhile, Russia has announced the start of production of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Serbia, the first European country outside Russia and Belarus to begin manufacturing the jab.

Sweden: Sweden’s Health Agency said it would pause plans to start vaccinations using Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine following reports of rare blood clots similar to those reported for the AstraZeneca shot.

New Zealand: New Zealand medicines regulator Medsafe said it has requested additional information from Janssen ahead of making a decision about whether to approve the company’s Covid-19 vaccine. Medsafe expects to provide an update on the Janssen approval process in the next two to three weeks.

UK: The Astra vaccine generated a stronger cellular immune response than the Pfizer and BioNTech shot in people over 80 years old, a study by UK researchers shows. Responses in T cells – a type of white blood cell that helps fight viruses – were seen in 31% of participants receiving the Astra vaccine and 12% of the Pfizer-BioNTech group, according to the University of Birmingham and UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium. Elderly people receiving a single dose of either vaccine showed equivalent antibody responses after five weeks. It’s unclear if the different levels of T cell responses observed will have any impact on clinical effectiveness, the researchers said.

An NHS trust in England is planning to make Covid-19 vaccinations part of staff contracts, it has been reported. A letter from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust in London that is set to go out to staff is said to state: “We will be making Covid vaccination mandatory for all our employees and it will form part of the employment contract.”

Philippines: The Philippines said Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine suspension won’t affect ongoing supply negotiations, according to Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez in a mobile-phone reply to questions. The Philippine government has signed an agreement for the supply of 10 million Sputnik V vaccine doses from Russia’s Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Galvez said.

Lockdown updates

Portugal: Portugal’s parliament extended on Wednesday a state of emergency for 15 days as health experts warned that a gradual relaxation of strict lockdown rules now underway could soon lead to a significant jump in coronavirus cases.

Japan: A senior official in Japan’s ruling party indicated that cancelling the Tokyo Olympics was an option, according to a media report, as the country struggles with a surge in coronavirus cases less than 100 days before the Games are due to begin. Toshihiro Nikai, the secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said that if it was determined to be impossible to hold the Games, they would have to be cancelled, according to local newswire Jiji. Earlier on Thursday, Taro Kono, Japan’s vaccine czar and administrative reform minister, signalled the possibility of holding the Olympics without spectators, according to Kyodo.

The Japanese government will consider designating Tokyo’s neighbouring prefectures Saitama and Kanagawa as areas needing stricter coronavirus measures if their governors seek application of a quasi-state of emergency, public broadcaster NHK reported, without attribution. The government is also considering adding Aichi prefecture, in central Japan, to the status, the report said.

Thailand: Thailand is considering imposing a partial lockdown in Bangkok and other provinces after coronavirus cases rose by a record this week, the Bangkok Post reported, citing Natthapon Nakpanich, secretary general of the National Security Council. The government’s commission will discuss with the health ministry the proposal for a partial lockdown along with other possible measures this Thursday, the report said. Thailand reported a record 1,335 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday.

Argentina: Stores in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area cannot open earlier than 9am and must close by 7pm local time for the next two weeks beginning 16 April, President Alberto Fernandez said in a televised statement. Argentina needs to restrict social gatherings due to Covid-19 spike in Buenos Aires metropolitan area, Fernandez said

US: Michigan health officials won’t issue new orders shutting down parts of the state economy in an attempt to combat the state’s surging Covid-19 cases, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday. Health officials in the state are concerned tighter restrictions might just lead to more noncompliance. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 7,955 new cases Wednesday as roughly two dozen Michigan hospitals neared in-patient capacity. About 18% of Michigan hospital beds are occupied by people with the virus, state officials said Wednesday.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo moved the curfew on bars and restaurants to midnight from 11 pm The closing time for catered events will shift to 1 am from midnight, he said in a briefing Wednesday. The changes will take effect Monday.

Switzerland: Switzerland will allow theatres, cinemas and outdoor dining at restaurants to open starting Monday, pursuing once again a more liberal course than many of its European neighbours.

Economy updates

Australia: Qantas Airways Ltd. said its passenger traffic in Australia has almost completely recovered, highlighting the potential for speedier travel rebounds than previously expected more than a year into the pandemic. Capacity on domestic routes will top 90% of pre-Covid levels this quarter, the airline said in a statement Thursday, up from its previous forecast of reaching 80%. Low-cost unit Jetstar will have even more capacity than before the pandemic. Qantas said it has seen “extremely strong” demand for leisure trips and a return of business travel, which is back to about 65% of normal.

9:48 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Denmark becomes world’s first country to halt use of AZ Covid-19 vaccine entirely – Novavax candidate joins Oxford vaccine mixing study

Denmark has become the first country in the world to discontinue the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine altogether, following a potential link between the vaccine and an unusual but serious form of blood clots. The country’s health agency has reported “real and serious side effects” from the vaccine. The completion of Denmark’s vaccination has been pushed back from late July to August, although a third of the country’s contracted vaccine supply is for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the rollout of which is delayed in Europe over similar clotting concerns and the use of which Denmark has currently suspended.

Biotechnology company Novavax will participate in an expanded investigator-initiated Phase II clinical trial called the Comparing Covid-19 Vaccine Schedule Combinations – Stage 2 (Com-COV2), which is being conducted by the University of Oxford along with the UK Vaccines Taskforce. Novavax’s recombinant protein vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373, is among the four Covid-19 vaccines that will be studied to assess the benefits for combined regimens that will mix vaccines from various manufacturers to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Cyclica has collaborated with Canadian research institutions to identify a repurposed drug, capmatinib, that shows robust antiviral effects in experimental Covid-19 models. Capmatinib, a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved MET inhibitor, marketed by Novartis as Tabrecta, is clinically used to treat non-small cell lung cancer.

3:42 pm

Economists advise caution against overheating as US economy recovers

14 April

Greg Ip, a journalist and the chief economics commentator for The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), retweeted a labour market perspective that supports optimism about the economy if the vaccine-aided recovery is not complicated by Covid infections and/or new emerging variants.

Economists believe that the US Federal Reserve could not foresee Covid-19 when it switched from a preventive to a reactive approach.

Now it has to be careful not to overcorrect

Classical traditional economists believe that the shift in the monetary policy framework of the Fed from a forecast-based approach to an outcome-based one is possibly a policy mistake in the making.

Sequencing of such policy actions could lead to bouts of inflation that are difficult to control or reverse.

Another perspective stressed on the importance of the Fed to meet its inflation and employment objectives to revive the economy and prevent long-term Covid-induced effects.

The Fed’s reactive policy approach risks amplifying margin debts to record levels may be leading to financial near-accidents this year, experts opine.

However, the absence of a new headwind from Covid infections and new virus strains is set to cause the US economy to boom this year.

Read more

1:35 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 137 million – study looks at vaccine mix possibility

14 April

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 137,464,000, with over 2,959,000 deaths and over 90,810,000 recoveries.

The US, India and Brazil occupy the first, second and third positions respectively, for total confirmed cases. India maintains its lead of more than 270,000 cases over Brazil.

Covid deaths surges in South American countries have been observed as Argentina, Colombia and Chile all displayed an increase in death rates per million population.

Chile recorded the highest death rate with over 1,790 deaths followed by Colombia and Argentina with 1,350 and 1,320 respectively.

A major study led by the University of Oxford, UK, is looking at whether Covid vaccines can be mixed for first and second doses.

The researchers announced the programme will be extended to include both Moderna and Novavax vaccines.

Chief investigator of the trial says the focus is to explore if multiple Covid vaccines that are available can be used more flexibly.

‘Mix-Matching’ will result in more people completing their Covid-19 immunisation course more rapidly as scientists continue to look for ways to accelerate mass vaccination.

Kamal Duran, MPH, Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

9:38 am

Coronavirus company news summary – US agencies recommend pause of J&J vaccine rollout over rare blood clots – Moderna booster jab shows efficacy against viral variants

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have released a joint statement recommending a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. Both agencies are currently reviewing data involving six US cases of unusual blood clots among the 6.8 million shots administered in the country. The company is also reviewing these cases with health authorities in Europe, after delaying the rollout of the vaccine on the continent and pausing vaccinations in all Janssen Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials. The news follows the ongoing investigations into links between the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and rare blood clotting events.

Moderna has provided clinical and supply updates on its Covid-19 vaccine programme. New results from a preclinical study of the company’s Covid-19 variant-specific vaccine candidates showed that its variant-specific booster vaccine candidates (mRNA-1273.351 and mRNA-1273.211) increase neutralising titres against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. The company has delivered approximately 132 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine globally.

9:35 am

International update: Johnson & Johnson delay vaccine rollout in Europe – Global Covid infections pass 137 million

14 April

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.95 million. Meanwhile, infections have passed 137 million world wide, according to analysts at Johns Hopkins University.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday urged countries to suspend the sale of wild animals at so-called wet markets as an emergency measure, saying 70% of all emerging infectious diseases in humans have wildlife origins. The first outbreak of Covid-19 was linked to a wet market in Wuhan, China.

US: US Covid -19 infections exceed 31 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is more than 563,000 according to analysts at Johns Hopkins University.

India: India reported another record daily tally of Covid-19 cases, adding more than 184,000 overnight to push its total number of infections to more than 13.8 million, second only to the US It’s capital New Delhi also reported a record surge, with 13,500 new cases reported on Tuesday. It comes as the nation’s crematoriums and burial grounds work overtime to cope with the surging number of deaths and hospitals report being swamped with cases. The escalating public health crisis highlights just how ill-prepared Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has been to deal with this second wave.

Argentina: Argentina reported a record 27,001 new Covid-19 cases, hitting a total of 2.58 million, according to the country’s evening report. It recorded another 217 deaths, reaching a total of 58,174.

Vaccine news

Global: Regulators in New Zealand are slated to decide on Thursday on Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, and say they will take the latest information into account. The Philippines was expected to sign with J&J this week, while Thailand approved it for emergency use on March 25. India, facing a mounting outbreak, has said it will fast-track approvals of shots that other countries cleared, including the one from J&J. South Korea, which granted the company conditional approval last week and has placed the largest order in the region for it, said it will monitor the US suspension and track the shot’s safety. It isn’t expecting shipments until the third quarter. Japan also said it’s gathering information on J&J’s vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson is pausing the administration of its vaccine in all clinical trials while it updates guidance for investigators and participants. The decision follows the halt of J&J’s vaccine distribution in much of the US after six women who got the shot developed a rare and severe form of blood clotting. Most US states halted distribution of the shot following a recommendation for a pause from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration.

Moderna Inc.’s vaccine remained more than 90% effective after six months, according to a new analysis of data from the company’s final-stage trial. Beginning two weeks after the second dose, the shot was more than 90% effective overall, and more than 95% effective at preventing severe cases, according to a statement. The company didn’t release further details and said the follow-up results were preliminary as the study is continuing.

EU: The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it was reviewing cases of rare blood clots in women who had taken Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine after US federal health authorities recommended pausing the use of the shot. Johnson & Johnson has made the decision to “proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe”, the company said.

Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan will travel for face-to-face talks with ministerial counterparts in Germany, France and Brussels from Thursday, after the European Union restricted exports of Covid-19 vaccines. The talks will address “the supply of EU-produced Covid-19 vaccines that Australia has contracted and how we can work with the EU to enhance the global supply of vaccines,” Tehan said in an emailed statement.

Stella Kyriakides, the European Union’s health commissioner, asked member states to provide data on potential side effects from AstraZeneca’s vaccine by Friday at the latest, in order to develop a coordinated approach to restrictions in administering the shot.

US: Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Albert Bourla said on Twitter that the company ramped up production and will be able to deliver 10% more doses to the US by the end of next month than had been previously agreed on.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would pause all Johnson & Johnson vaccinations on Tuesday following guidance from US health officials. The city will reschedule upcoming J&J appointments for residents, who will instead receive vaccines made by Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc., de Blasio said in a Tuesday briefing. De Blasio, who received the J&J shot himself, said the city has given 234,000 doses of the vaccine and hasn’t seen any reports of blood clots. Overall, New York has delivered more than 5 million doses as it seeks to fully vaccinate 5 million residents by June.

South Africa: South Africa has temporarily suspended the rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, its health minister said on Tuesday, after US federal health agencies recommended pausing its use because of rare cases of blood clots.

Canada: Canada said it had recorded its first case of blood clotting with low platelets after someone received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, according to a health ministry statement. The person, who was not identified and who received the inoculation produced at the Serum Institute of India, is at home and recovering.

Brazil: A Brazilian Supreme Court justice has ordered health regulator Anvisa to decide within 30 days whether it would approve the emergency import of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine by the government of Maranhao state, Reuters reports.

China: Two inactivated vaccines developed by Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group have given given more than 100 million doses so far, the company says on its official WeChat account. The monthly supply of inactivated shots has reached 100 million doses since April. Annual production for the two inactivated vaccines will be boosted to 3 billion doses after completion of new facilities.

Indonesia: The Indonesian capital, Jakarta, is extending its Covid-19 inoculation drive to the general public by allowing those accompanying the elderly to also receive the shot, according to the provincial government. The initiative would enable Jakarta achieve its goal of vaccinating over 900,000 people, the government said in a statement. Each person between 18 and 59 years old would also get the vaccine when accompanying two people aged 60 and above to receive their first dose.

Lockdown updates

Canada: Canada is to reinstate enhanced screening measures for travellers who have been in Brazil in the previous 14 days, Reuters reports.

France: France suspended all flights to and from Brazil until further notice as concern grows over the spread of the Brazilian variant of the virus.

Turkey: Turkish president Tayyip Recep Erdogan announced several new restrictions and a “partial closure” for the first two weeks of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to curb a rise in coronavirus infections.

Colombia: Colombia’s capital Bogota will impose quarantines beginning on Friday 12 am to Monday 4 am amid an increase of virus cases, Mayor Claudia Lopez said at a press conference. The city decreed a “red alert” for its hospital network.

Netherlands: Lockdown measures in the Netherlands will be prolonged until at least April 28 as the number of new Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions continue to strain the country’s health system, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at a press briefing on Tuesday evening. If fewer patients are admitted, Rutte’s government announced a plan to reopen Dutch society, with first steps including reopening outdoor seating areas and end to a much-debated night-time curfew.

Economy updates

Philippines: The Philippines may miss its target of at least 6.5% economic growth this year after a resurgence of Covid-19 infections forced the capital into a two-week lockdown, Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said. “We were a healthy economy before Covid. Now, we’re struggling,” Chua said in an interview Tuesday. “We were too risk averse: We shut down a big part of the economy when other countries didn’t need to do that.”

New Zealand: New Zealand’s central bank signalled it’s in no rush to remove monetary stimulus, saying the outlook remains uncertain as the economy gradually recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. Policy makers are assessing whether an expected pick-up in inflation this year will be sustained, and whether the labor market’s gradual recovery will be hurt by the possibility of a double-dip recession.

1:33 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Europe passes grim milestone of 1 million Covid deaths

13 April

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 136,740,000, with more than 2,948,000 deaths and 90,320,000 recoveries.

The US, India and Brazil remain the most affected countries by Covid-19 globally.

Europe passed the grim milestone of one million Covid-19 deaths on Monday.

France, Russia and UK lead Europe for countries most affected by the pandemic.

Russia has the highest 7-day average of new confirmed cases at approximately 6,800, although this is trending downwards.

The UK and France have rates of 1,000 and 500 respectively and are also decreasing from recent weeks.
The UK continues its successful roll out of vaccines across the country with vaccination rate reaching 570 per 1,000 people (60% of total population).

This comes as the Prime Minister eased lockdown restrictions on Monday.

England becomes the latest Nation to offer the Moderna vaccines, providing an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, due to links with rare blood clots.

All individuals ages 50 and above have now been offered the first dose of Covid jabs as the country prepares to improve its economy in the coming weeks.

Kamal Duran, MPH, Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

2:37 pm

Inflation waits in the wings as economists predict post Covid boom for US

12 April

David Wessel, a journalist and director of the Hutchins Centre on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution, shared an article on the Wall Street Journals’ forecasters finding rising optimism of the US economy poised for the best growth since 1983, despite the highest ever recorded inflation lurking.

According to economists, federal stimulus and Covid-19 vaccinations have boosted the GDP outlook and consumer prices.

Forecasted data suggests a GDP of 5.59% in the first quarter of 2021, 8.15% in the second, 6.92% in the third quarter, and 5.09% in the last quarter of the year.

Economists state that the economy bore an incredible shock because of the coronavirus pandemic, but is now set for a rapid recovery in the next three to five years.

Experts also claim that the boom will be accompanied by inflation.

The latter is expected to jump sharply from 1.7% in February after the March data is released.

However, these figures will be tempered by the knowledge that declines in consumer prices, recorded at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020, will have dropped from the 12-month calculation.

Read more

2:15 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: India second most affected country as global Covid cases pass 136 million

12 April

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 136,064,00, with more than 2,937,095 deaths and over 89,944,436 recoveries.

The US, India and Brazil continue to occupy the top spots for the total confirmed Covid-19 cases.

India has overtaken Brazil and became the second-most affected country globally.

Of the three leading countries, Brazil remains the highest in case fatality rate at 2.6%, followed by the US and India at 1.8% and 1.2% respectively.

In Somalia, dramatic surges in Covid-19 cases in recent month cause concern, due to the country’s fragile health system.

Somalia was commended at the start of the pandemic with cases remaining below 100 new confirmed cases per day.

However, the country is now observing over 100 new confirmed cases per day since mid- February.

Somalia has received around 200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine donated by China over the weekend in hopes to slow down the pandemic in the horn of Africa State

Kamal Duran, MPH, Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

11:43 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer/BioNTech seek FDA approval for Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents – EMA investigates J&J single-dose vaccine for potential blood clot link

Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to expand the emergency use authorisation (EUA) for their Covid-19 vaccine to children aged between 12 and 15 years. The request comes immediately after Pfizer released data showing its vaccine to be 100% effective and well tolerated by the younger group. The findings also indicated that children had stronger immune responses than adults one month after the second dose.

After AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine made headlines due to a potential link to rare blood clots, European drug safety regulators are now investigating the possible clotting risks from Johnson  & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine. According to the European Medicines Agency’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee, four cases of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets following Covid-19 Vaccine Janssen have been reported in the US rollout. The vaccine is currently in use only in the US, under an emergency use authorisation.

According to real-world data from Israel, the South Africa coronavirus variant may evade the protection offered by the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. The study compared nearly 400 individuals infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, 14 days or more after receiving one or two doses of the vaccine, against the same number of unvaccinated patients with the disease. The study revealed that the B.1.351 variant made up 1% of all the Covid-19 cases across all the people studied, while those who had received two doses of the vaccine, the variant’s prevalence rate was eight times higher than those unvaccinated. The study has not been peer-reviewed.

9:32 am

International update: Concerns over post vaccination infections as global Covid cases pass 136 million

12 April

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.9 million. Meanwhile, infections have passed 136 million world wide, according to analysts at Johns Hopkins University.

US: US Covid -19 infections exceed 31 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is more than 562,000 according to analysts at Johns Hopkins University. The US added almost 67,000 cases on Saturday, broadly in line with the country’s seven-day rolling average. Another 728 deaths from Covid-19 were reported nationwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. California’s deaths rose 105 to 59,218, as Covid-19 fatalities edge closer to the 60,000 mark. The state reported 4,954 new cases, bringing the total to 3.6 million. Like hard-hit Michigan, California has been pushing for more vaccinations to combat the outbreak even as its positive test rate continued to decline, falling to 1.6% as of Sunday. Almost 22.8 million shots have been administered, with more than 70% of those 65 and older having received at least one dose.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken renewed US calls for China to provide a fuller accounting of the origins of the Covid-19 virus, saying Chinese secrecy meant the virus “got out of hand faster and with, I think, much more egregious results than it might otherwise.”

Indoor dining once a person is vaccinated is “still not okay for the simple reason that the level of infection, the dynamics of infection, in the community are still really disturbingly high,” US health official Anthony Fauci said on The Mehdi Hasan Show on MSNBC. Fauci continued to urge caution even by those who have been vaccinated, for instance by avoiding crowds. He also said people who have gotten the jabs should still wear masks “until we show definitively that a person who’s vaccinated does not get a sub-clinical infection and can spread to others.”

Italy: Italy reported 331 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday, compared with 344 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 15,746 from 17,567 the day before.

Mexico: Mexico’s government reported 1,793 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 126 more fatalities, according to new data from the health ministry, bringing the total to 2,280,213 infections and 209,338 deaths.

India: India reported a record 168,912 new Covid-19 cases Monday with the total tally pushing past 13.5 million, potentially on track for the grim milestone of overtaking Brazil as the second-worst-hit nation. Brazil is yet to report Monday numbers. India has seen more than 170,000 casualties and administered 104.5 million vaccinations so far, according to data from its health ministry. After months of reporting ebbing daily surge in cases earlier this year, the South Asian nation is again facing an escalating health crisis amid a nastier second wave of infections which has begun to overwhelm hospitals, trigger vaccine supply shortages and forced some states to impose partial lockdowns.

India has prohibited exports of the drug Remdesivir, used to treat Covid-19, as the country registered a record number of daily new coronavirus cases. The government took the step amid a sudden spike in demand for the injection, the health ministry said in a statement on Sunday, adding that “there is a potential of further increase in this demand in the coming days.”

UK: The UK reported 1,730 new cases on Sunday, the lowest since Sept. 2. Infections have dropped 30% over the past week. Another seven people died within 28 days of a positive test. Figures are usually lower on Sundays, and fatalities are up 2.4% for the week. With more than 32 million first vaccine doses given, and almost 7.5 million people fully inoculated, the government is hoping the gradual easing of lockdown won’t lead to an increase in cases.

Canada: Ontario reported a record 4,456 new cases on Sunday and 1,513 hospitalizations. Canada’s most populous province is in the midst of a four-week emergency lockdown imposed April 3 amid a spread of virus variants and a slow rollout of vaccines across Canada.

Iran: Iran’s deaths from Covid-19 reached the highest in four months with 258 fatalities over the last 24 hours. The number of new cases rose by 21,063 overnight, just short of a record 22,586 infections set earlier this week. The country now has 64,490 deaths and more than 2 million cases.

Vaccine news

Singapore: A fully vaccinated migrant worker has tested positive for Covid-19 in Singapore, the Ministry of Health announced in an overnight statement, the only new case discovered in the city-state as of noon on Sunday. “This case is a reminder that it is possible for vaccinated individuals to get infected,” the ministry said, adding that the man had likely been asymptomatic but with a positive serology test because he had already produced antibodies.

France: France, which had a slow start to its inoculation rollout, will make vaccinations with the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson jabs available to all citizens over the age of 55 on Monday.

UK: The UK has distributed a further 586,339 Covid-19 vaccines, according to daily data published on Sunday. The UK has now given 32.12 million people a first dose of the vaccine and 7.47 million a second dose, putting it on track to start reopening its economy.

China: China’s top disease control official has admitted that the efficacy of the country’s domestically produced vaccines is low as it emerged the authorities are considering mixing them to try to offer greater protection against coronavirus.

Italy: About 80% of Sicilians are refusing to be inoculated against Covid-19 with the AstraZeneca vaccine, Sicily’s governor said on Sunday.

Philippines: The Philippines is expecting 500,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines this month. An initial 20,000 doses will be shipped in the coming weeks to test if the nation can handle logistics, said vaccine czar Carlito Galvez. The Southeast Asian nation also received 500,000 doses from Sinovac on Sunday, and is expecting another 3 million through May.

Japan: Japan’s vaccination drive finally kicks into gear Monday around four months after the start of inoculations in the US and the UK, a slow rollout that has generated further criticism of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s handling of the pandemic. The doses for people 65 and over are the first vaccinations for members of the public in Japan after priority was given to inoculating front-line medical staff first.

Australia: Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he won’t set a new target date for all Australians to receive their first Covid-19 vaccine dose, as health concerns about the AstraZeneca Plc shot and European export restrictions delay the rollout.

Lockdown updates

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic’s state of emergency and the associated ban for people to move outside their home districts will end at midnight from Sunday to Monday, alongside the scrapping of a night curfew and a partial reopening of schools, Czech Radio reports.

Netherlands: The Dutch government on Sunday dashed hopes of an early easing of lockdown, saying a night-time curfew and other restrictions would remain until at least 28 April as daily infections rose to a two-week high.

India: Chief executive officers of companies in India are against more lockdowns and are instead working with the government to vaccinate their employees, according to a survey conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry.

France: “It’s too early to say yet when it’ll be possible to resume travel to Europe,” French Junior Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said on RTL radio on Sunday. “Hopefully it’ll be possible this summer. We’re doing everything we can to restore travel within France before the summer to start with, then in Europe, and then more globally, but it’s impossible to give more precise a timetable.”

Economy updates

US: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the US economy is at an “inflection point” with stronger growth and hiring ahead thanks to vaccinations and powerful policy support, but that Covid-19 remains a threat. “The principal risk to our economy right now really is that the disease would spread again. It’s going to be smart if people could continue to socially distance and wear masks,” Powell told CBS’s “60 Minutes” in an interview conducted Wednesday.

1:17 pm

‘Biggest inflation scare in 40 years’ predicted post Covid

9 April

Doctor Constantin Gurdgiev, an economist, retweeted an article on investors being less likely to ignore a possible permanent upward shift in prices with aluminium, copper, oil, lumber and housing prices surging, while the Fed continues to dismiss the rising prices as temporary,

According to experts, it is unclear whether inflationary pressures can be stabilised.

However, a booming, stimulus-fed US economy that has rebounded from the coronavirus pandemic, is certain to send some near-term inflationary shock waves through financial markets in the months ahead.

Economists state that the ‘biggest inflation scare in 40 years’ is coming, with base effects being abnormally low due to the pandemic.

However, this meant that inflation will be distinct even if prices return to pre-pandemic levels or move slightly above.

Read more

1:02 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid infections pass 134 million as deaths approach 3 million

9 April

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 134,038,180 with more than 2,904,000 deaths and over 88,636,000 recoveries.

The US, Brazil and India occupy the first, second and third positions, respectively for total confirmed Covid-19 cases.

The gap between Brazil and India for second and third position is closing, with Brazil now reporting only 200,000 total confirmed cases more than India.

This will likely continue to close considering the upward trend of new daily confirmed cases within India, which has been steadily increasing since the beginning of March, and the decrease in new daily confirmed cases observed recently within Brazil.

The ten countries with the highest death rate per capita worldwide are located within Eastern Europe.

Czechia has the highest number of deaths per million population at over 2,700, followed by Hungary, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Belgium, Slovakia, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Kosovo and Latvia, which rounds out the top ten with a death rate of 1,900 per million population.

This is in contrast to the early days of the pandemic in 2020, where most regions in Eastern Europe reported decreased fatalities compared to other European countries such as Italy or the UK.

Ellie Sutcliffe, BSc, Senior Analyst and Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData

11:51 am

International update: Global Covid infections near 134 million as ‘fourth wave’ hits Asia

9 April

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 2.9 million with a figure of 2,902,328 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 133.9 million world wide.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 31 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 560,116 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Brazil: Brazil registered a record 4,249 deaths on Thursday, pushing the total to 345,025, the Health Ministry said. Confirmed cases rose by 86,652, totalling almost 13.3 million as the pandemic continues to worsen in Latin America’s largest country. President Jair Bolsonaro has argued against lockdowns, suggesting on Wednesday there’s little point because the virus is “here to stay.” A poll last week reported a 48% disapproval rating for his government, compared with 31% in October.

Thailand: The bad news from Thailand continued on Friday, as the south-east Asian nation reported 559 new coronavirus cases and one new death. At least 12 hospitals in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, said as of Friday they were suspending testing for Covid-19 due to high demand and shortage of supplies, amid a new spike in cases.

Vaccine news

US: North Carolina stopped administering Johnson & Johnson doses at a mass vaccination site in Raleigh as well as clinics in Hillsborough and Chapel Hill after at least 26 people experienced adverse reactions, AP reports, citing local health officials. Reactions included fainting and at least four people were taken to hospitals for further examination, the report said. The CDC said that reactions like fainting are not uncommon after someone is vaccinated. All those taken to hospitals are expected to recover, local health officials said, according to the report

The US stockpile of the controversial AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has grown to more than 20 million doses, according to people familiar with the matter, even as the shot looks increasingly unlikely to factor into President Joe Biden’s domestic vaccination campaign. AstraZeneca has yet to request Food and Drug Administration authorization for the two-dose vaccine, and the company faces safety questions abroad and scrutiny from US regulators who’ve already rebuked it for missteps during clinical trials and partial data releases.

Thailand: Thailand has approved a list of eight Covid-19 vaccine makers, including Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and Pfizer Inc., for foreign visitors seeking to shorten a mandatory quarantine on arrival.

China: China’s ambitious efforts to vaccinate 560 million people by the end of June is running into a supply shortage, forcing health authorities to extend the intervals between doses, and leaving some people unable to book second shots.

Australia: the government’s announcement last night that people under 50 should not receive the AstraZeneca vaccine due to risk of blood clots, unless it is clear the benefits outweigh the risks, has been wreaking havoc with Australia’s already fraught vaccine rollout.

France: France’s top health body is reportedly set to announce today that recipients of a first dose of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine who are under 55 should get a second shot with a new-style messenger-RNA vaccine.

France met its target of inoculating 10 million people with a first dose of vaccine on Thursday, a week ahead of schedule, as the country endures its third lockdown. France opened mass vaccination centers across the country this week in a bid to further accelerate the roll-out of the shots, in a campaign that started sluggishly after the first vaccine was administered on 27 December.

Netherlands: The Netherlands won’t administer the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to people under the age of 60 for the time being, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said, according to a report on Dutch news agency ANP.

Portugal: Portugal’s Directorate-General for Health said it recommends the Astra vaccine be used only by people over 60 years old.

Slovakia: Slovakia and Russia clashed over the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine after the European Union member accused Moscow of delivering shots that were different from those used in a peer-reviewed study. Russia rejected the allegations and demanded Bratislava return the 200,000 doses it sent. The dispute may set back efforts to use Sputnik widely in Europe. Slovakia was one of a few members of the bloc pushing to use the Russia-developed vaccine to help speed the roll-out of inoculations.

EU: The EU has exported more than 80 million vaccine doses since the beginning of February, a document with updated data circulated among the bloc’s governments and seen by Bloomberg shows. A total of 112 million doses had been delivered to EU member states as of April 5, according to the memo circulated to diplomats in Brussels. Japan has overtaken the UK as the main export destination, getting 17.7 million shots produced in the EU, versus 13.3 million for shipment to Britain. European governments have been under pressure to curb exports as their rollout lags behind vaccination rates in the US and the UK. However, out of the 534 export requests submitted by drugmakers so far, only one has been refused and two are pending, according to the memo dated 8 April.

India: India is attempting to boost its capacity to make vaccines, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday, as new coronavirus cases in the world’s second-most populous nation surged to a record. Modi made the comments during a meeting with chief ministers to discuss ways to check the rapid rise of infections in the South Asian nation. Some states have said that they are facing a shortage of vaccines.

Lockdown updates

UK: The UK will decide by early next month whether Britons can resume taking international holidays on May 17, with destination countries rated according to their Covid-19 risk in a traffic light system. Different Covid testing and quarantine regimes will be compulsory according to whether a destination is rated green, amber or red under the new system, the Department for Transport said.

South Korea: South Korea will reimpose a ban on nightclubs, karaoke bars and other nightly entertainment facilities, as cases grow. “Signs of a fourth wave of epidemics that we had so striven to head off are drawing nearer and becoming stronger,” said prime minister Chung Sye-kyun.

Japan: Tokyo has asked the central government for permission to implement emergency measures to curb a surge in a rapidly spreading and more contagious coronavirus variant, just over three months before the start of the Olympics.

10:31 am

Coronavirus company news summary – J&J vaccine US allocations down 85% amid uneven production – Lilly/Incyte’s baricitinib misses primary endpoint in Phase III trial in hospitalised Covid-19 patients

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US government will allocate approximately 85% fewer doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine to states next week due to uneven production, partly a result of issues at a Baltimore manufacturing facility. The week’s allocation is expected to drop to 785,500 doses from 4.95 million doses, although this data does not include allocations to a federal retail pharmacy programme.

Eli Lilly and Incyte have announced results from the Phase III COV-BARRIER study of baricitinib 4mg for treating hospitalised Covid-19 patients. The study did not meet statistical significance in 1,525 patients, although data revealed a 38% fall in deaths by the 28th day among patients treated with baricitinib along with standard-of-care treatment, including corticosteroids and/or remdesivir. Patients receiving baricitinib were 2.7% less likely to progress to ventilation or death, a difference that was not statistically significant.

The Institute of Public Health of Chile has granted emergency use approval to CanSinoBIO’s single-dose Covid-19 recombinant vaccine, Convidecia. It is the first single-dose vaccine to be approved for emergency use in Chile, and the first approval of Convidecia in South America. Interim Phase III trial results suggest the vaccine is 65.28% effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 28 days after dosing, with an efficacy rate of 90.07% in preventing severe illness 28 days after the single-dose vaccination.

4:39 pm

How Covid second wave will stall India’s economic recovery

8 April

Christophe Barraud, an economist, tweeted on a new double mutant variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus having been detected in India and how amidst a second wave of the Covid-19 crisis, events such as the months-long Kumbh Mela took place.

Citing a 1.1% drop in the Indian rupee to 74.2201 per USD, Barraud claims that it is the weakest since 23 November 2020.

Barraud refers to a Goldman Sachs projection which downgrades India’s growth forecast as Covid cases spike.

The investment bank lowered the country’s growth forecast for the second quarter of 2021 from 34% year-on-year to 31.3%.

India reported over 100,000 new coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period on Monday, surpassing peak numbers reported in September last year.

The country registered more than 96,000 infected individuals on the following day.

The second wave of Covid-19 infections is expected to slow India’s pandemic-induced economic recovery, with states and federal governments ramping up local restrictions and curfews and allowing only essential services to remain open to battle the new outbreak.

State authorities are also worried about the shortage of beds in hospitals and doctors.

Read more

2:22 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Olympic torch removed from Osaka streets as Covid cases climb in Japan

8 April

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 133,131,462, with more than 2,887,000 deaths and over 88,178,000 recoveries.

The US, Brazil and India occupy the first, second and third positions, respectively for total confirmed Covid-19 cases, with Brazil maintaining its lead of more than 300,000 cases over India.

The US continues to lead the world in the total number of vaccinations delivered at over 168,592,000, likely driven by its high rate of deaths at over 1,700 per million population.

Within Europe, the UK has experienced the highest death rate with over 1,900 deaths per million population and has similarly administered the highest numbers of vaccine doses, at over 37,119,000.

In Japan, cases of Covid-19 are steadily rising and have reached the highest levels observed since February, with over 3,400 daily new cases being reported earlier this week.

After lifting the state of emergency in multiple prefectures during early March, the government could have lifted restrictions too early.

Officials in Osaka, the current center of the pandemic in Japan, removed the Olympic torch from the streets as a state of emergency was declared in the prefecture.

The uptick in cases observed could largely be due to more contagious variants of the virus, making up approximately half of confirmed cases in the prefecture.

Ellie Sutcliffe, BSc, Senior Analyst and Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:35 am

International update: Brazil daily Covid death rate hits record levels as Bolsonaro rules out national lockdown

8 April

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.88 million. Meanwhile, infections have passed 133 million world wide, according to analysts at Johns Hopkins University.

US: US Covid -19 infections are nearing 31 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is more than 559,000 according to analysts at Johns Hopkins University.

The B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus, first found in the UK, has overtaken the initial form of the virus in the US and is now the country’s most common strain, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

South America: South America is now the most worrying region for Covid-19 infections, as cases mount in nearly every country, the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

Brazil: Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has insisted there would be “no national lockdown,” ignoring growing calls from health experts a day after the nation saw its highest number of coronavirus deaths in 24 hours since the pandemic began. Brazil has also recorded its first confirmed case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa.

France: The French health ministry reported on Wednesday that the number of people in intensive care units with Covid-19 increased by 103 to a new 2021 record of 5,729 people.

Bangladesh: Bangladesh discovered a “dramatic change” in the distribution of coronavirus variants after a new South African strain appeared, Dhaka-based health research organization Icddr,b said in a report. It became the country’s most prevalent strain in the third week of March, according to the report. Researchers tested 16,265 specimens between January 1 and March 24, of which 2,751 were positive. The South African variant accounted for 81% of the positive cases, Icddr,b said. Bangladesh on Wednesday reported 7,626 new coronavirus infections, taking its tally to 659,278.

India: India’s battle to curtail a renewed wave of Covid-19 is beset by vaccine shortages in several states and cities – including Mumbai. Its worst-hit state, Maharashtra, only has three days’ worth of vaccines in stock. The steep jump in infections from early February has forced Indian states to reinstate restrictions including movement curbs. Maharashtra has stopped all non-essential services and ordered private companies to work from home, along with closing malls and restaurants through April.

Vaccine news

Global: Moderna Inc’s chief medical officer Tal Zaks said the company should be able to provide a booster shot for protection against variants of the coronavirus by the end of this year, Reuters reports.

EU: The EU drug regulator will begin an investigation next week on whether clinical trials of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine followed global clinical and scientific guidelines, the Financial Times reported. But the official twitter handle for Sputnik V called the FT report “fake” and “incorrect”.

The European Union failed to form a united response to links between AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine and a rare type of blood clots. At a meeting that ran until late Wednesday, EU health ministers promised in a statement to continue discussions on vaccination planning. The EU’s immunization program has been bogged down by poor planning, supply delays and increasingly a lack of solidarity.

US: Eleven people suffered adverse effects such as nausea and dizziness Wednesday after receiving the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine at a community vaccination event in a Denver suburb, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said. Two of the people were transported to a hospital for observation “out of an abundance of caution” and the others received first aid at the site in Commerce City, the department said.

US President Joe Biden will offer Covid-19 vaccine shipments to all of the nation’s community health centers, adding 2,500 delivery sites in a program aimed at closing the racial gap in inoculations. The White House will announce Wednesday that 520 more such centers will be eligible to receive vaccine shipments, increasing the total to about 1,470 across the US, an official familiar with the plans said, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement.

Mexico: Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard will soon travel to the US to press for more vaccines from its northern neighbor to help get through a supply crunch during the next three months, Ebrad’s deputy said Wednesday. Delgado said Mexico had a “permanent petition” for any available vaccines from the US, such as the AstraZeneca shot that has yet to be approved by regulators there.

Belgium: The Belgian government has said it will restrict access to the AstraZeneca vaccine to just those people over 55 in light of the European medicines agency’s advice that blood clots are a potential side-effect of the jab.

Italy: Italy is recommending the use of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine for people over 60 years of age, government health adviser Franco Locatelli said during a press conference in Rome. France and Germany made similar recommendations.

UK: Adults under 30 should be offered an alternative vaccine instead of the AstraZeneca jab if there is one available in their area and they are healthy and not at high risk of Covid, the UK government’s vaccination advisory body said.

Uruguay: Uruguay could start to see the benefits of its vaccination program as soon as late April or early May, President Luis Lacalle Pou said. Some 860,000 people will have received two Coronavac doses by the end of May, and the government is seeking more vaccines in case it decides to inoculate people under age 18 – or give adults a third dose.

Lockdown updates

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel is in favour of tightening virus restrictions for a short period to stem rising case numbers, her spokeswoman said. AFP reports that Merkel backs calls for a “short national lockdown”, Ulrike Demmer said, noting that the country’s health system was under growing pressure.

Canada: Ontario – home to more than 14.7 million people – declared a state of emergency, forcing most retail stores to operate under new restrictions. It said it would change its inoculation strategy as it battles a new, more dangerous Covid wave. Ontario issued a stay-at-home order starting 8 April at 12:01 am Toronto time, in place for four weeks. Most categories of stores will be required to shut their doors, serving customers only through delivery or outdoor pickup.

Japan: Tokyo plans to seek a return to stricter Covid measures as infections in the city hit a two-month high less than three weeks after the lifting of a state of emergency. The Japanese capital recorded 555 cases on Wednesday – the most since early February – as officials feared a “rebound” in cases had begun hitting earlier than expected amid an increase in virus variants.

Qatar: Qatar re-imposed strict restrictions on group activities and businesses after recording three consecutive days of more than 900 new cases – the highest official counts since June. According to state-run QNA, restaurants will close to in-person dining starting Friday, while cinemas and salons will close completely. Offices will be limited to 50% capacity, and gatherings in open spaces will be limited to five vaccinated people. The steeper restrictions come days before the month-long Muslim holiday Ramadan.

10:33 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna vaccine-elicited antibodies found to persist at six months – NIAID investigates allergic reactions to Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines

Moderna has highlighted the publication of antibody persistence data out to six months following the second dose of the Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine. The study evaluated 33 healthy adults in a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-led Phase I trial of Moderna’s vaccine six months after the second dose of 100µg on day 209, and found that antibodies elicited by the vaccine persisted through six months after the second dose. Studies looking into immune responses beyond six months are ongoing.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health, has initiated a Phase II clinical trial called the Systemic Allergic Reactions to SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination to identify severe allergic reactions to the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines. The researchers will also investigate the biological mechanism behind the reactions and whether a genetic pattern or other factors can determine who is most at risk.

Akili Interactive is collaborating with Weill Cornell Medicine, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the Vanderbilt University Medical Centre to investigate its digital therapeutic, AKL-T01, for treating patients suffering with cognitive dysfunction after Covid-19, also described as ‘Covid brain fog’. There are currently no existing treatments for cognitive impairments in Covid-19 survivors.

12:34 pm

Why governments can’t rely on the ‘magic of the markets’ during the Covid pandemic

7 April

Dina D Pomeranz, economist and assistant professor of applied economics at the University of Zurich, retweeted an article on how a year ago, economists had published a kind of Covid-19 economic policy manifesto that has stood the test of time, and calls for more generosity by governments than for the magic of markets.

As large parts of the world economy have been put on hold by government fiat because of the Covid-19 health crisis, experts argue that the state should generously support not only labour but also capital costs – the latter through corona loans.

In addition, the exact criteria for reimbursement of these loans can be determined based on the sectors’ severity of lockdown-induced income losses.

This temporary state of Covid-induced economic coma has caused the collapse of sales in many industries, with most companies being unable to pay wages and other fixed costs.

The real challenge for  governments is to avoid a severe recession or bankruptcies in the fight to stop the virus spread.

Experts, however, do not advocate 100% compensation packages, despite agreeing that the state should bear the bulk of the coronavirus costs for workers and companies.

The primary reason for this is the suspicion that full wage replacement would eliminate the incentive to take on jobs that have been expanding during the lockdown, such as in healthcare and logistics.

Read more

11:57 am

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: France enters third lockdown as Covid cases surge

7 April

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 132,447,462, with more than 2,873,000 deaths and over 87,708,000 recoveries.

The US, Brazil and India occupy the first, second and third positions, respectively for total confirmed Covid-19 cases, with Brazil maintaining its lead of more than 300,000 cases over India.

Of the three leading countries, Brazil has the highest 7-day average of daily new confirmed cases at approximately 295, although this is trending downwards.

The US and India have rates of 195 and 55 per day, respectively.

Within the major markets in Europe, France has the highest daily new cases, over 584 per day, and has entered its third national lockdown amidst a recent surge in the virus.

Following a nationwide review of “excess deaths” and death certificates, Mexico has revised its figures previously published detailing the death toll of Covid-19 which are now over 60% higher than before.

It is now reported that there have been over 321,000 deaths due to Covid-19 in the country, placing it below only the US as the second highest death toll worldwide.

Ellie Sutcliffe, BSc, Senior Analyst and Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData

11:08 am

International update: Global Covid death toll passes 3 million as infections rise past 132 million

7 April

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 3 million according to Reuters. Meanwhile, infections have passed 132 million world wide.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 30.8 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is more than 556,000.

Brazil: Brazil’s coronavirus catastrophe has deepened further after more than 4,000 daily deaths were reported for the first time since the outbreak began in February last year.

France: France’s health ministry reported on Tuesday that the number of people in intensive care with Covid-19 had increased by 193 in the space of 24 hours to 5,626, the highest number for almost a year.

Turkey: Turkey recorded 49,584 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Tuesday, the highest level since the start of the pandemic.

Canada: Canada’s Covid-19 hospitalisations are surging, intensive care beds are filling up and coronavirus variants are spreading as a third wave of the pandemic sweeps across much of the country, the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said on Tuesday.

India: India reported a record number of new infections, adding 115,736 cases in a day and pushing the total past 12.8 million. The Asian nation has the third-largest outbreak and is closing on Brazil to reclaim a spot as the second-worst hit country. Deaths rose to 166,177, according to health ministry data. More than 87 million have received a vaccination shot.

South Korea: South Korea added 668 new coronavirus cases, the largest daily increase in 13 weeks, raising its total to 106,898. The number of people given a first dose of vaccine topped 1 million, with only 33,000 having received the second shot in a nation of more than 50 million people. The government may tighten social distancing rules when it reviews the measures later this week.

Vaccine news

Global: The World Health Organization (WHO) expects there will be no reason to change its assessment that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 outweigh any risks, its regulatory director said on Tuesday.

It is a travesty that some countries still have not had enough access to vaccines to begin inoculating health workers and the most vulnerable people against Covid-19, the head of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

US: President Joe Biden said he wants all American adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by 19 April, two weeks earlier than his previous goal. All but two states are already set to meet that goal, with Oregon and Hawaii having planned to open up vaccines to all non-minors on 1 May. Biden said there will be no more confusing restrictions. But the president added it’s not time to celebrate yet and the fight against the virus isn’t over because new variants are still spreading quickly. “The pandemic remains dangerous,” Biden said.

Indonesia: Indonesia has reported its first case of a more transmissible new variant of the coronavirus known for reducing vaccine protection, but the government on Tuesday said vaccines being used in the country could withstand the mutation.

UK: A vaccine trial into the safety and efficacy of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine in children has been paused while the UK medicines regulator investigates a possible link to rare blood clots in adults who had the jab.

The UK will begin rolling out the Moderna vaccine on Wednesday, around two weeks earlier than expected, bolstering Britain’s Covid-19 immunization program amid concerns over AstraZeneca Plc’s shot and a shortfall of doses this month. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Moderna shot would first be offered in west Wales. It’s the third approved vaccine to be offered in Britain, alongside shots from AstraZeneca and partners Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE. The UK has ordered 17 million doses of Moderna’s two-shot vaccine, enough for 8.5 million people.

Antibodies to the Covid-19 virus persist for at least six months after patients receive the second dose of Moderna Inc.’s vaccine, according to a new analysis of lab results from 33 healthy adults in the drugmaker’s phase one trial. Moderna’s shares jumped.

Mexico: Mexico’s health agency Cofepris approved the Covaxin shot from India’s Bharat Biotech for emergency use against the coronavirus, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter. Mexico has now approved six Covid-19 vaccines, Ebrard said, naming AstraZeneca, CanSino, Covaxin, Pfizer, Sinovac and Sputnik V. The country has administered more than 9.6 million shots so far.

Lockdown updates

Thailand: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said he’s concerned about a new wave of Covid-19 infections sweeping the nation’s capital and hinted at fresh controls to stem the outbreak that’s forced the closure of dozens of nightlife venues. The government may unveil more measures later on Wednesday, Prayuth said, urging people to be more cautious about the latest outbreak.

China: Beijing is putting up color-coded signs on buildings in its financial district to indicate what percentage of workers inside have received Covid-19 vaccines, a move aimed at accelerating the Chinese capital’s immunization rollout amid intensifying government pressure. The financial district is leading the campaign to ‘green code’ its buildings, putting up green circular signs that indicate more than 80% of those working in the building have been vaccinated. Yellow notices are for those with 40% to 80% immunization rates, while red logos indicate fewer than 40% of people are protected.

US: The US government won’t issue so-called vaccine passports, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, though the Biden administration plans guidance for companies developing the credentials. The administration doesn’t want vaccine passports “used against people unfairly” and will provide guidance “that will look like an FAQ” for private-sector development of the credentials, she said at a briefing.

US cruises could resume by mid-summer with restrictions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday after Carnival Corp., the largest operator, threatened to relocate ships to other markets.The industry has been pressuring the agency, saying it’s restricting their return to the seas even as other hospitality industries like hotels and theme parks reopen. Earlier Tuesday, Carnival threatened to move some US ships to other ports, more than a year after the industry essentially went on hiatus.

California officials plan to fully reopen the economy on 15 June – if the pandemic continues to abate – after driving down coronavirus case loads in the most populous US state. Capacity limits on restaurants, movie theaters and other businesses will be lifted, Secretary of Health and Human Services Mark Ghaly said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

Economy updates

Global: China will drive global economic growth as the world recovers from the pandemic, contributing more than one-fifth of the increase in the world’s gross domestic product in the five years through 2026, according to Bloomberg calculations based on IMF forecasts. Global GDP is expected to rise by more than $28 trillion over the period, after falling $2.8 trillion last year in the biggest peacetime drop since the Great Depression. The US and India will be the second and third-biggest contributors to growth in the period, according to the IMF, which warned that growth may be unevenly spread, with developing economies expected to have bigger losses and slower recoveries.

“Income inequality is likely to increase significantly because of the pandemic,” the Fund said in its World Economic Outlook report. “Close to 95 million more people are estimated to have fallen below the threshold of extreme poverty in 2020 compared with pre-pandemic projections.”

9:44 am

Coronavirus company news summary – AZ vaccine trial in under-18s paused as regulators investigate blood clot link – Catalent to provide new vial filling capacity for Moderna Covid-19 vaccine

The University of Oxford stated that it has stopped a small UK trial that involved the use of its Covid-19 vaccine developed with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca in children and teenagers. The trial is awaiting more data on rare blood clotting problems experienced by adults after receiving the shot. According to the university, around 300 volunteers aged between six and 17 years are part of this study. Health authorities including the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are currently reviewing reports of a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis in a small fraction of those vaccinated with the jab.

Moderna and Catalent have extended their strategic collaboration to include a new high-speed vial filling line to develop the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and carry out other investigational programmes at Catalent’s biologics facility in Bloomington, Indiana. Catalent has been providing aseptic vial filling and packaging, as well as additional staffing for the production of an initial 100 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine since June 2020. Catalent will also provide labelling, inspection, cartoning, and final packaging for the programmes.

Pharma firm AB Science and the University of Chicago have entered into an exclusive licensing agreement to conduct research on the prevention and treatment of humans infected with coronaviruses, nidoviruses, and picornaviruses. The collaboration comes after the university’s discovery of masitinib, which inhibits the main protease (3CLpro) necessary for the SARS-CoV-2 viral replication cycle. AB Science will supply masitinib and more than 130 other proprietary drugs through virtual screening and will also take advantage of the university’s research platform.

2:04 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases near 132 million while deaths approach 3 million

6 April

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 131,906,000, with more than 2,862,000 deaths and over 87,337,000 recoveries.

The US, Brazil and India occupy the first, second and third positions, respectively for total confirmed Covid-19 cases, with Brazil maintaining its lead of more than 300,000 cases over India.

Of the three leading countries, Brazil has the highest case fatality rate at 2.5%, with lower rates of 1.8% and 1.3% reported in the US and India, respectively.

All residents in England will be offered free, twice-weekly Covid-19 testing as the country continues to ease nationwide lockdown restrictions, starting with the re-opening of non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants in mid-April.

Rapid-acting lateral flow tests will be available for individuals who are both symptomatic and asymptomatic, with test results delivered in under 30 minutes.

The tests are being rolled out in the hope of stopping new outbreaks and control new variants of the disease before they take wider hold within the population.

Ellie Sutcliffe, BSc, Senior Analyst and Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData

12:41 pm

International update: Global Covid infections pass 131 million – UK begins to ease lockdown

6 April

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 2.8 million with a figure of 2,850,821 according to the WHO. Meanwhile, infections have passed 131 million world wide.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 30.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 555,615 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Gayle Smith, a former US Agency for International Development administrator and chief executive officer of the ONE Campaign to eradicate preventable disease, was named the coordinator for global Covid response and health security at the US State Department. Smith, who helped lead the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014, was introduced Monday by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Smith will help oversee the Biden administration’s effort to get more Covid-19 vaccine to poor countries amid concern that rich nations like the US have been too stingy with their supplies.

France: In France the number of people in intensive care units with Covid rose by 92 to 5,433 on Monday.

Italy: Another 296 people have died in Italy, bringing its death toll to 111,326. New infections fell from 18,025 to 10,680.

Spain: The infection rate in Spain has risen again to an average of 163.4 per 100,000 over the last fortnight, as it reported 85 more deaths.

Mexico: Mexico’s government reported another 252 more deaths on Monday. It means that 204,399 have now died from the virus.

India: India now has the highest daily Covid caseload in the world, with more than 100,000 new infections reported Monday, yet the ratio of reported deaths to cases has fallen to around 1.3% from as high as 3.6% a year ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The trend could be caused by increased testing, better hospital treatment, improved immunity, the age of those infected and even vaccinations.

Japan: With just over 100 days to go to the Tokyo Olympics, Japanese health authorities are concerned that variants of the coronavirus are driving a nascent fourth wave. Meanwhile, North Korea has decided not to participate in the Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus, a state-run sports website reported, making it the first country to skip the games because of the pandemic.

Hong Kong: Most toddlers infected with Covid-19 don’t have symptoms, but have a high viral load and a long duration of live viral shedding, making them potential silent spreaders of the infection in the community, according to a study by the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. To identify any hidden transmission chain, the authors recommend testing stool samples from young children. “While we are working intensively to prevent high-risk individuals from being infected, it is important to come up with a solution to avoid unfavorable outcomes in young children,” said Siew Chien Ng, associate director of the university’s Centre for Gut Microbiota Research.

Chile: A record virus surge is eroding support for the Chilean government’s Covid-19 policies and tarnishing one of the world’s fastest vaccination drives, according to a survey. Thirty-eight percent of Chileans back President Sebastian Pinera’s response to the coronavirus, down from 58% on Feb. 26, according to a Cadem poll published Monday. Meanwhile, 85% of respondents say it will take more than six months for daily life to return to normal, with open schools and stores. Pinera’s administration is grappling with a resurgence of the virus that’s driven hospitalizations and daily infections to all-time highs. Critics say Chile shouldn’t have encouraged travel during the Southern Hemisphere summer, and that the economy was reopened too quickly.

Vaccine news

US: The US has now administered 167,187,795 vaccines and distributed a total of 207,891,395 to clinics, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.

President Joe Biden’s administration is working with AstraZeneca Plc to find new manufacturing capacity in the US after the company agreed to abandon a Baltimore Covid-19 vaccine plant that will focus exclusively on making doses for Johnson & Johnson. The talks are the latest development after an error at the Emergent BioSolutions Inc. facility – in which ingredients for the two companies’ vaccines were mixed up – led to a batch of 15 million doses worth of drug substance being spoiled.

Washington, DC residents aged 16 and older will be eligible for Covid vaccinations starting April 19, Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Twitter. She urged those eligible to pre-register.

Brazil: Brazil expects to vaccinate 1 million people per day in April, doubling that number in May, Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco said in an interview with CNN. The pandemic scenario for April is bad, Pacheco said. The country reported 1,319 deaths related to Covid-19 in the last 24 hours and 28,645 new cases.

South Africa: South Africa has finalized a deal for 20 million shots of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, with deliveries starting mid-April, allowing it to begin a broad roll-out of inoculations, Business Day reported. The deal had been delayed by Pfizer’s insistence that South Africa’s health and finance ministers personally sign the pact, which includes indemnity clauses to protect the company.

Russia: Russian officials have slowed authorization of China’s CanSino Biologics Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine, the only foreign inoculation that’s undergoing domestic testing, because local authorities are prioritizing Russian-developed inoculations, according to three people familiar with the situation. When CanSino’s local partner, Petrovax Pharm LLC, filed for approval in November, it wasn’t clear how quickly Russia would be able to scale up production of its domestic vaccines, according to one of the people, who is a government official.

France: French drug maker Valneva SE plans to start final-phase clinical trials on its vaccine candidate this month after a phase 1/2 test gave positive results for a high dose. The vaccine uses a sample of the coronavirus that has been killed to stimulate an immune response, an approach that has been used for decades in inoculations against other diseases. Valneva has said it believes the well-established safety profile of inactivated jabs will allow a successful shot to be used in a broader group of people than newer technologies being tested by other drugmakers. The results are very promising, UK Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zawahi said in the company’s statement. The UK has signed a deal worth as much as 1.4 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) to receive as many as 190 million doses of the shot between 2021 and 2025. The British government is also investing in the biotech’s Scottish manufacturing plant, where the vaccine will be created.

UK: People aged under-30 in the UK may stop being given the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine over concerns about rare blood clots.

India: Many Indian state leaders have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open up vaccinations to most of the country’s hundreds of millions of adults, following a second surge in infections that has eclipsed the first wave, Reuters reports.

Australia: Australia’s vaccine rollout has slowed after delay in AstraZeneca exports from the EU.

Lockdown updates

UK: Prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed the UK will move to the second stage of its lockdown lifting from next week, as non-essential shops, pub gardens and hairdressers will reopen. Meanwhile, up to 200 workers at Goldman Sachs’ office in London will return to the office this week.

In the UK, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has called on government ministers to be clear about plans for the use of so-called vaccine passports. – The Vaccine minister has ruled out English pubs and restaurants requiring vaccine certificates as economy reopens.

Thailand: Thailand reported 250 new virus cases Tuesday as testing of hundreds of patrons of Bangkok bars confirmed several new infection clusters. The flareup prompted authorities to close almost 200 night-life entertainment venues Monday for two weeks, including bars, pubs and karaoke centers. The surge in new cases comes ahead of Thailand’s New Year holiday next week, when millions of Thais travel across the country, and can potentially derail a government plan to gradually ease quarantine requirements for vaccinated foreign visitors.

Saudi Arabia: Authorities in Saudi Arabia said only people who have been vaccinated or had the virus will be able to do the umrah pilgrimage later this month.

France: An investigation has been launched in France after a TV exposé revealed “clandestine” luxury dinners in Paris despite the pandemic.

New Zealand: New Zealand has agreed to open a quarantine-free travel corridor with Australia as of April 19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday, restoring unrestricted, two-way travel across the Tasman Sea for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began. “The bubble will give our economic recovery a boost and represents a world leading arrangement of safely opening up international travel while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and keeping the virus out,” Ardern said. “We have worked hard to ensure travel is safe and that the necessary public health measures are in place.”

Singapore: People flying to Singapore will be able to use the International Air Transport Association’s travel pass to share their pre-departure Covid-19 PCR test results at check-in and on arrival from May 1.

Economy updates

Global: A plan to end the pandemic by speeding up immunizations could be financed through a record asset allocation via the International Monetary Fund, according to the Rockefeller Foundation. The IMF should approve and swiftly distribute $650 billion in additional reserve assets to help developing economies vaccinate as much as 70% of their populations by the end of next year, the foundation said in a report.

Sweden: Sweden’s government will spend a further 6.9 billion kronor ($792 million) on measures to fight the pandemic, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said at a presser. The money will be used to prevent the spread of the disease and carry out vaccinations, and to extend support measures for individuals that need to work from home until 30 June. Each month the pandemic can be cut shorter means a boost to GDP worth 25 billion kronor, and 20 billion kronor for public finances, Andersson said.

UK: The UK’s Recovery Loan Scheme starts Tuesday, offering loans of as much as 10 million pounds ($14 million) to businesses, the Treasury said in a statement. The government is providing an 80% guarantee for all loans, and interest rates have been capped at 14.99% — though they’re expected to be much lower in most cases. The program runs until the end of the year and replaces various emergency loan programs that have distributed more than 75 billion pounds of loans since the pandemic began.

Indonesia: Indonesia’s government expanded movement restrictions to Aceh, Riau, South Sumatra, North Kalimantan and Papua, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said in a statement Tuesday. Curbs are now being implemented in 20 provinces through 19 April.

9:54 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Novavax starts crossover arms in Covid-19 vaccine trials – FDA gives positive opinion on Tetra’s investigational therapy for Covid-related inflammation

Novavax has initiated crossover arms in two of its ongoing trials of NVX-CoV2373, the company’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Crossover ensures the administration of the vaccine to all participants in the trials taking place in Novavax’s Phase IIb trial in South Africa and Phase III trial in the UK. The company is also planning to include paediatric and adolescent arms in the trial, which is expected to begin in the second quarter.

Tetra Bio-Pharma has announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed the preclinical and clinical development plans of ARDS-003 in the treatment of Covid-19. ARDS-003 is a new therapy developed to treat hyperinflammatory disorders caused by Covid-19. The FDA agreed with the animal toxicology and safety data of ARDS-003 and its safe use in humans for treating severe Covid-19. The company is now working on filing an investigational new drug (IND) application to initiate clinical trials.

Anixa Biosciences will advance into the next stage of development of its antiviral Covid-19 therapy based on proof-of-concept (POC) animal study results. Anixa will collaborate with OntoChem, which specialises in data and bio-IT services, to develop an oral, room temperature-stable, antiviral therapy against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The partners recently completed POC studies in a Syrian hamster model of the Covid-19 disease.

2:34 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 129 million – attributed US deaths make grim reading

1 April

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 129,006,000, with more than 2,817,000 deaths and 85,678,000 recoveries.

The US leads the world in confirmed Covid-19 cases with over 30,460,000 confirmed cases and is immediately followed by Brazil and India with 12,748,000 and 12,221,000 cases, respectively.

Rounding out the top ten are France, Russia, the UK, Italy, Turkey, Spain, and Germany.

Brazil currently has the highest rolling 7-day average in new cases and is followed by the US, India, and Russia.

Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the US after heart disease and cancer last year, according to a report released by the CDC on Wednesday.

Further, the report indicated that Covid-19 was responsible for roughly 375,000 deaths in 2020, which accounted for 91.5 deaths per 100,000 Americans.

At the end of March, the US death toll stood at over 551,000 underscoring the severity of the Covid-19 epidemic in the US during the first few months of 2021, as roughly 31.4% of total deaths since the onset of the pandemic came between January and March.

Meanwhile, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the country will remain under alert throughout the Easter holiday to prevent another outbreak.

The news comes as South African cases have remained relatively stable with notable declines in hospitalization and mortality.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

12:18 pm

International update: Global Covid infections pass 129 million as more variants discovered

1 April

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 2.8 million with a figure of 2,817,939 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 129 million world wide.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 30 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 552,073 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

A more contagious strain of the coronavirus is now predominant in five US regions and accounts for a quarter of new cases nationally, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The B.1.1.7 variant, first uncovered in the UK makes up from 4% to 35% cases depending on the region, and 26% of cases nationally, Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing Wednesday. US officials had warned it could become the predominant strain of the virus in the US by early April.

Italy: Italy has made coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for all health workers, in a potentially controversial move aimed at protecting vulnerable patients and pushing back against significant ‘no-vax’ sentiment in the country.

Brazil: Brazil has detected a new Covid variant in São Paulo state that is similar to the one first seen in South Africa, it was reported earlier.

Brazil hit a record number of Covid-19 deaths for a second day, with 3,869 fatalities in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry reported. Total deaths rose to 321,515 and the country reported 90,638 new cases, pushing the total to 12.7 million, the second highest tally globally. Brazil’s healthcare system is collapsing with 18 of 27 states reporting over 90% intensive-care beds occupied, the Fiocruz foundation reported. President Jair Bolsonaro said that “only without a lockdown policy it is possible to return to normality.”

China: China reported six new confirmed cases and 23 asymptomatic cases in the city of Ruili in the southwestern province of Yunnan, near the border with Myanmar. The cluster is China’s first since mid-February, and authorities are testing Ruili’s entire population of 210,400. Yunnan boasts caves that are the natural habitat for bats, from which Chinese scientists found a distant relative of the Sars-CoV-2 virus years before the pathogen caused an outbreak in Wuhan. Four of the six confirmed cases are Chinese nationals, while the other two are from Myanmar. All Ruili residents must quarantine at home for one week.

Vaccine news

Global: Coronavirus vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and Sinopharm Group Co. appeared safe and effective in an interim analysis, though the World Health Organization wants more details on the elderly and infirm. The companies applied for the WHO’s emergency-use listing and the group’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization reviewed the information gathered thus far, according to details reported by Agence France Presse and confirmed by a person familiar with the matter.

A manufacturing error at a Baltimore plant affected 15 million doses worth of an ingredient for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, according to two sources familiar with the matter, but the company downplayed the situation and said it met its most recent vaccine delivery target. In a statement, J&J said a batch of drug substance failed its quality test. Johnson & Johnson said it beat its March delivery target, providing the US government more than 20 million doses, and that it expects to deliver another 24 million by the end of April.

Pfizer Inc. said its vaccine was 100% effective in a final-stage trial in kids ages 12 to 15, a finding that could pave the way for shots for teens and pre-teens before the next school year. The vaccine is already authorized in the U.S. for people ages 16 and up. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech SE said they planned to submit the data to regulators in the US and Europe as soon as possible, seeking to amend their vaccine authorizations to include the younger age group.

EU: The European Union will have delivered 107 million vaccines by the end of this week, reaching the bloc’s targeted goal for the first three months of the year. The milestone was confirmed by European Commission spokesperson Dana Spinant. It was a revised goal that had to take into account multiple delays in the deliveries from AstraZeneca Plc.

Meanwhile, Europe’s drug regulator is investigating 62 cases worldwide of a rare blood clotting condition which has prompted some countries to limit the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, its chief said in a briefing.

Israel: Israel plans to administer the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech Covid vaccine to 12- to 15-year-olds upon FDA approval, the health minister said after the manufacturer deemed the shots safe and effective on the cohort.

Lockdown updates

US: President Joe Biden called it “a mistake” for the Texas Rangers baseball team to allow full attendance at games as the season kicks off while the country continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. “They should listen to Dr. Fauci and the experts,” Biden said during an ESPN interview broadcast on Wednesday night, referring to Anthony Fauci, his health adviser and top infectious disease expert.

Finland: Finland’s government has withdrawn a proposal to confine people largely to their own homes in several cities to help curb the spread of Covid, the prime minister said.

Sweden: Sweden’s government will postpone a planned easing of some Covid restrictions until at least 3 May amid a severe third wave, the prime minister said. Meanwhile, Sweden’s Public Health Authority has decided to halt inoculations using AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine while the European Medicines Agency reviews possible side effects from the jab.

Germany: The premiers of two southern German states badly hit by the pandemic (Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg) urged leaders in the rest of the country to reintroduce tougher lockdown measures to try to contain a third wave of infections.

The head of Germany’s intensive-care and emergency medicine association said he’s “deeply worried” about the pressure Covid-19 patients are putting on ICUs and called for tougher lockdown measures. “We are in an especially critical phase of the pandemic, if not the most critical,” Gernot Marx, president of the DIVI lobby group, said in an interview with ARD television. “If we wait longer then we’ll have 6,000 or 7,000 intensive-care patients and we are really scared about that because it would mean the system is overburdened.” The number of virus patients in ICUs climbed to 3,668 on Wednesday and the occupancy rate rose to 86% according to the latest data from DIVI.

Canada: The Canadian province of Ontario will return to a lockdown on Saturday, placing additional restrictions on stores and closing gyms and hair salons for 28 days in an effort to get Covid-19 under control, CBC News reported, citing multiple sources.

Japan: Japan’s government is seeking to impose new restrictions on Osaka and two other regions to control the coronavirus, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said Thursday. The new measures would allow local governments in Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi to order bars and restaurants to close early, and impose fines on those that refuse. Case numbers in Osaka hit 599 Wednesday, higher than Tokyo, despite having a population only two-thirds the size of the capital. Infections have been rising in Osaka since a state of emergency was lifted at the end of February.

France: President Emmanuel Macron announced a nationwide four-week lockdown, shutting down schools and business. “We did everything we could to make these decisions as late as possible, until they became strictly necessary, which is now,” Macron warned in an address to the nation on Wednesday. “The virus is more contagious and deadlier.” He implored people to make an extra effort as the lockdown begins to come into force on Saturday. Restrictions will be flexible this weekend, during the Easter holidays, to allow people to relocate.

Greece: Greece will ease certain lockdown measures even as new cases surge. The country will allow non-essential shops to reopen from 5 April but only with online ordering and pickup, and appointment-only in-store shopping, Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said Wednesday. At weekends only, starting 3 April, a maximum of three citizens or families will be allowed to move outside the municipality where they live for personal exercise. Greece reported 3,616 new Covid-19 cases Wednesday, the second-highest daily increase since the start of the pandemic. That followed Tuesday’s record 4,340 new cases.

10:25 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine shows 100% efficacy in adolescents – Moderna’s B.1.351 variant vaccine starts trial in adult volunteers

Pfizer and BioNTech have announced positive topline results from a pivotal Phase III trial of BNT162b2, their Covid-19 vaccine, in adolescents aged between 12 and 15 years who may or may not have had prior SARS-CoV-2 infection. The vaccine, tested in 2,260 adolescents, showed 100% efficacy and robust antibody responses exceeding those recorded earlier in vaccinated individuals aged between 16 and 25 years.

A new Phase I clinical trial has been initiated to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273.351, in adult volunteers. The investigational vaccine is expected to provide protection against the B.1.351 SARS-CoV-2 variant. The trial is being led and funded by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Biopharma company Kamada has announced topline results from a Phase I/II clinical trial of its anti-SARS-CoV-2 plasma-derived hyperimmune globulin (IgG) treatment for Covid-19 in a single-arm, multi-centre clinical trial held in Israel. Interim results of the study were announced in September 2020. The trial evaluated the safety, anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG levels, virus neutralisation activity, and other outcomes in hospitalised, non-ventilated Covid-19 patients suffering with pneumonia. The treatment showed a favourable safety profile, with two serious adverse events considered not related to the study drug. Eleven of the 12 patients dosed with the treatment went on to recover, while one patient died on day 37 post-treatment due to Covid-19 complications.

3:04 pm

US economy predicted to bounce back after pause

31 March

Pedro Nicolica da Costa, a Federal Reserve and economy correspondent at Market News International, retweeted an article on Federal policymakers remaining optimistic about the performance of the US economy.

According to Richmond Fed President, Thomas Barkin, the pandemic economy will pause just before taking off, as excess savings and fiscal stimulus funds will now be utilised by consumers and businesses alike, and with growing vaccinations and warmer weather.

The Fed president believes that the economy’s growth and spending will remain strong through 2022 and 2023.

Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President, Raphael Bostic, also stated that a burst of business activity during the summer could add a million jobs during the month.

Economists have further predicted an addition of 650,000 jobs by the end of March 2021.

Read more

2:51 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Double mutant Covid variant discovered in India as global cases pass 128 million

31 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 128,377,000, with more than 2,806,000 deaths and 85,324,000 recoveries.

The US leads all countries in confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths, and fears a ‘fourth wave’ of both.

Following the US in cases are Brazil and India, with the remaining countries in the top-ten concentrated in Europe, as France, Russia, the UK, Italy, Turkey, Spain, and Germany follow suit.

Following the US in deaths are Brazil, Mexico, India, the UK, Italy, Russia, France, Germany, and Spain.

In India, a double mutant variant threatens India’s gains at halting the pandemic as the country grapples with an increasing case-load.

The variant carries the E484Q and L452R mutations, which could make the virus more contagious.

In addition, these mutations could also lead to reinfections, according to a former Obama Administration official.

While news of the variant is concerning, Indian officials have not associated the spike in cases with the new variant.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

10:31 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Celonic to produce 100 million CureVac jabs at German plant – Tetra gets Health Canada nod to apply for trial of cannabinoid-based Covid-19 treatment

Contract manufacturing organisation Celonic has signed an agreement with CureVac to produce 100 million doses of the latter’s mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate, CVnCoV. More than 50 million doses are expected to be produced by the end of 2021 at Celonic’s facility in Heidelberg, Germany. CureVac confirmed its expected output capacity of its European manufacturing network to be 300 million doses in 2021.

Pharmaceutical company Tetra Biopharma has received Health Canada approval for clinical trial application for evaluating ARDS-003 in Covid-19 patients. ARDS-003 is derived from cannabinoids, and is designed to treat severe inflammatory responses that can be fatal after Covid-19 infection. The study will assess the safety, efficacy, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of ARDS-003 in hospitalised patients with pneumonia who are at a risk of developing acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Tiziana Life Sciences plans to continue the development of its anti-CD3 human monoclonal antibody, Foramulab, against Covid-19. Early-stage data of the nasally-administered drug’s performance in patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 showed reductions in pulmonary and systemic inflammation, with good tolerability. The company is now planning a randomised, placebo-controlled Phase II trial in Brazil for patients hospitalised with moderate to severe Covid-19.

9:47 am

International update: US braces for increased Covid fatalities as vaccine race intensifies

31 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has now passed 2.8 million with a figure of 2,804,036 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 128 million world wide.

The World Health Organization’s chief said a mission to study the origins of the coronavirus in China didn’t adequately analyze the possibility of a lab leak before it concluded that the pathogen probably spread from bats to humans via another animal. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said even though the international team of scientists determined that a leak is the least likely hypothesis for the origin of the pandemic, it requires further investigation. He said he’s ready to deploy additional missions involving specialist experts as he doesn’t believe the assessment was extensive enough. He made the comments in a briefing to WHO member countries Tuesday.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 30.39 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 550,996 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Covid-19 deaths in the US are expected to bottom out in the next two weeks and then may inch higher as the nation races to blunt an incipient new wave of cases with its vaccination campaign. A plateau or small increase – instead of the hoped-for decline – could mean tens of thousands of additional fatalities.

Brazil: Brazil hit a record of 3,780 on Covid-19 deaths as the pandemic spirals out of control in Latin America’s largest country. Total coronavirus fatalities reached 317,646 and 84,494 new cases were registered in the last 24 hours, totaling almost 12.7 million, while the country works to speed up vaccination under new Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga. The country’s health regulator issued a good practices certificate for Janssen’s facilities, but denied the same certification for Bharat Biotech. Brazilian foundation Fiocruz expects to file a request to start testing the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine in children, the head of the organization Nisia Trindade, said in an online event promoted by the World Health Organization.

India: The government of Maharashtra, the Indian state that houses Mumbai, on Tuesday ordered oxygen suppliers to reserve 80% for medical use. The new rule will stay in force through 30 June. India has seen a recent resurgence in infections that threatens the nation’s economic recovery.

Greece: Greece reported 4,340 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, its highest daily tally.

Netherlands: In the Netherlands, despite the lockdown, new Covid cases increased for a seventh consecutive week, health authorities said earlier.

Sweden: The number of people in Sweden needing intensive care as a result of Covid-19 infection increased 9% compared to last week, health officials said.

Australia: Demand for public transportation fell in Australia in the past week while consumption, spending and other alternative indicators mainly increased amid little change in coronavirus-related restrictions. In Sydney, in the week ended 24 March, demand for public transport was down 12.4% from the week earlier, while the number of seated diners in Australian restaurants was 79% higher on 29 March compared with the same day a year earlier, an improvement from the 53% increase recorded on 22 March, according to OpenTable Inc. Australia had 29,296 confirmed Covid-19 cases as of March 30, a 0.2% increase in the week to date.

Vaccine news

Global: BioNTech and Pfizer raised this year’s production target for their vaccine to as many as 2.5 billion doses, with the German biotech’s chief executive officer predicting a version of the shot that can be stored in refrigerators will be ready within months. The new target represents an increase of about one quarter from an earlier estimate. BioNTech said it expects 9.8 billion euros ($11.5 billion) in revenue from the supply contracts signed already, which amount to 1.4 billion doses. Revenue expectations include milestone payments from BioNTech’s partners and will rise as more orders are signed, the company said.

US: Google will donate $1 million to help New York City reach its goal of 5 million vaccinations by the end of June, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The donation includes advertising grants to run ads on where, when and how to get a vaccine, as well as a grant from the tech giant’s philanthropic arm to set up an inoculation center at the Fulton Houses public-housing complex in Chelsea, near Google’s main New York office. De Blasio said Tuesday that the city is approaching 4 million vaccine doses.

Germany: Germany’s standing vaccination commission (Stiko) has recommended that no-one aged under 60 should be given Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, according to a report in Augsburger Allgemeine. Meanwhile, Berlin’s state hospital groups Charite and Vivantes stopped giving female staff under the age of 55 shots of AstraZeneca vaccine following further reports of a rare brain blood disorder. They also stopped giving women under 55 shots of the vaccine.

Chile: Chile signed an agreement with CanSino Biologics Inc. for 1.8 million Covid vaccine doses that will start to arrive in May, the government’s Vice Minister of Trade Rodrigo Yanez said in an interview. The country has already received close to 13 million total shots against Covid-19 and it’s expecting the arrival of an extra 15 million doses by June to reach herd immunity in the first half of the year, Yanez said. CanSino, which is a one-shot vaccine, will provide 1.8 million doses, while the remaining supply will come from Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and AstraZeneca.

Kenya: Kenyans have begun getting inoculated with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines for a fee after the nation’s authorities approved the shots for emergency purposes. A single shot costs 7,700 shillings ($70.30), according to Nairobi-based lawyer Donald Kipkorir, who got an injection Tuesday.

Lockdown updates

US: Wells Fargo, the US bank with the largest workforce has about 200,000 employees working from home and is extending that arrangement through 6 September. It aims to return to a “more normal operating model” that month, according to a memo from Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf and Chief Operating Officer Scott Powell. “The significant increase in vaccination availability” has encouraged the bank and allowed it to begin planning for the employees’ return, the executives said in the memo.

Ireland: Ireland will begin easing some restrictions from April 12, after more than three months in lockdown. Travel restrictions will be loosened while some sports and construction will resume, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said in a national address. Limits on household mixing will also be reduced. The government may open so-called non-essential retail in May and hotels in June, depending on the state of the virus, Martin said. Vaccines are to ramp up sharply in the second quarter he added. “We are on the final stretch of this terrible journey,” he said.

Bulgaria: Bulgaria will reopen restaurants and pubs with open-air space, as well as gyms, theaters and museums with limited capacity from 1 April, the health ministry said in a statement. Kindergartens will reopen 5 April. The Balkan country reported Tuesday 203 new coronavirus death cases, the highest since 5 January, amid a new wave of infections caused by the UK strain, as it is preparing to hold a general election on Sunday.

Iceland: Iceland said travellers from so-called danger zones, which is most of Europe, will need to stay in a special hotel for their obligatory five-day quarantine upon arrival. The reason is that infections have been spread by visitors who have broken quarantine to view a new volcanic eruption.

2:52 pm

Why Russia is lagging behind with its Covid vaccine rollout

30 March

Jacob F Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and German Marshall Fund, shared an article revealing how Russia’s vaccine geopolitics may fail its cause, as the country still relies upon imported vaccines for its Covid-19 inoculation programme.

Russia is exporting its domestic Sputnik V vaccine to needy countries, but the country itself is facing a slower rollout of vaccine at home and depends on cross-border trade to satisfy its vaccine supplies.

Russia is making up for the gap through overseas manufacturing and has made a few production deals with India and South Korea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that a sufficient number of Sputnik V vaccine doses have been distributed to inoculate 8.9 million people across the country, since August 2020.

Vaccine imports are expected to ramp up in the coming weeks helping the country overcome its vaccination rollout, which is lagging behind its counterparts.

However, the role of imports in reducing the vaccine shortage in the country remains unclear, the article noted.

Read more

2:05 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Hungary becoming a Covid hotspot as global cases near 128 million

30 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 127,794,000, with over 2,790,000 deaths and 84,990,000 recoveries.

The US, Brazil, and India lead all countries in confirmed cases and are followed by France, Russia, the UK, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and Germany, as Europe remains heavily impacted.

Turning to vaccine distribution, the US also leads all countries in terms of doses administered.

Behind the US is China, which is followed by India, the UK, Brazil, Turkey, and Germany.

France is notably behind in the tenth spot after Indonesia despite having the fourth most cases worldwide.

Data compiled by Bloomberg over the past week indicates that Eastern Europe is now facing the brunt of the Covid-19 epidemic, despite having fewer cases than its western counterpart.

Currently, the region is home to nine countries in the top ten list of deaths per capita.

Moreover, Hungary, which has had a particularly rapid vaccine rollout, is becoming a global hotspot.

The news comes as the government of Hungary continues talks about reopening the country.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

10:36 am

International update: US head of CDC fears fourth Covid wave as hospitalisations and deaths increase

30 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 2.79 million with a figure of 2,792,268 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 127.6 million world wide.

The World Health Organization said that a long-awaited report into the origins of Covid-19 following a mission to China where the virus first emerged will be released publicly on Tuesday, but that further study is required. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “As I have said, all hypotheses are on the table and warrant complete and further studies.”

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 30.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 550,036 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The seven-day average of hospital admissions with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 increased in 25 US states plus the nation’s capital and Puerto Rico last week, compared with same period a week earlier, according to US Department of Health and Human Services data through Saturday.

The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pleaded with Americans to wear masks and stick with Covid-19 mitigation measures, warning of “impending doom” as cases, hospitalizations and deaths begin to rise again. Rochelle Walensky, speaking at a press briefing Monday, fought back tears as she outlined a series of warning signals and said she was frightened about a looming fourth wave of Covid cases. She said the US trajectory looks “similar” to that in the EU a few weeks ago, before spikes in cases took hold.

Singapore: Scientists from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University have developed a Covid-19 rapid test that detects variants in the virus, The Straits Times reported. The results are produced within 30 minutes and are about 10 times more accurate than rapid antigen tests currently in use, according to the report.

France: France recorded the highest number of people in intensive care units with Covid-19 since the second lockdown in November and the number of people in hospital with the disease rose by over 600 in a day, the biggest jump in more than four months.

Germany: Angela Merkel threatened to centralise Germany’s pandemic response as several of the country’s federal states refuse to implement an emergency brake mechanism on easing restrictions in spite of rapidly rising infection rates. “We need action in the federal states,” the German leader said. “We need to take the appropriate measures very seriously. Some states are doing it; others are not yet doing it.”

Vaccine news

Global: Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. effectively prevented coronavirus infections, not just illness, with substantial protection evident two weeks after the first dose, government researchers said. Two doses of the vaccines provide as much as 90% protection against infection, according to data from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published Monday. Earlier clinical trials had established that the shots also prevent illness, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Ethiopia: Ethiopia on Monday said it would receive 300,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses from China’s state-backed China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) on Tuesday. Ethiopia is struggling to administer shots and tame infections, which have risen to the highest number of new cases in the last week of any country on the continent.

UK: The UK does not have a surplus of Covid-19 vaccines to share with other countries, but will consider how to share any future surplus if there is one, the prime minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said.

Canada: Health officials in at least five Canadian provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, are halting the rollout of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to people under 55 over concerns it could lead to blood clots in rare circumstances. The move could cast further doubt about the safety of the vaccine after concerns were raised in Europe about potential side effects. It’s also another setback for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vaccine effort, which is off to the second-slowest start among Group of Seven nations.

US: President Joe Biden said Monday that 90% of U.S. adults will be eligible to get a Covid-19 vaccine in three weeks, and that his administration will more than double the number of pharmacies where shots are available, as cases begin to rise again. “Look at what we have done in the last 10 weeks. No other country has come close,” Biden said at the White House. But he urged states that have eased restrictions on masks and other prevention measures to reinstate them: “The war against Covid-19 is far from won.”

New York state will make coronavirus vaccine eligibility universal by 6 April, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday. It became one of the last U.S. states to take that step. Vaccine eligibility will expand to those age 30 years and older starting on Tuesday, and will then increase to those age 16 and older the following week, Cuomo said. The news comes ahead of the federal 1 May deadline aimed to increase eligibility for all those age 16 and older.

White House officials said that the push for vaccine passports should come from the private sector and that the federal government won’t take the lead in creating a centralized document-proving vaccination.

Apple is encouraging employees to get Covid-19 vaccines by offering paid time off for appointments and paid sick leave for those experiencing side effects. In California, where Apple has its main offices and more than 50 stores, people over the age of 16 will be eligible for vaccination on 15 April, the state said last week. Many other states are also expanding vaccine eligibility.

Philippines: Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte said he will allow private companies to import vaccines “at will” to boost inoculations amid a global supply crunch and to help speed up the reopening of the economy. Businesses can choose where to source and import vaccines. The move comes amid the Philippines’ vaccination campaign lagging behind its Southeast Asian neighbours as the country faces a new surge in infections and an economic recession that’s seen persisting into this quarter.

Lockdown updates

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia said it would allow people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 to attend sporting events at stadiums at a capacity of 40%, starting on 17 May. Face masks and social distancing would be required, the sports ministry said.

Pakistan: Pakistan’s president, Arif Alvi, tested positive for Covid-19, he said on Twitter on Monday, after receiving his first dose of a vaccine. It came as Pakistan imposed a partial lockdown in several more high-risk areas in the capital, Islamabad, and elsewhere in the country after the positivity rate from coronavirus infections jumped to over 11%.

Australia: Australians with working-from-home arrangements appear to be on a permanent foothold, with the popularity of the arrangement rising even as workplaces reopen, global jobs website Indeed Inc. said. The trend dovetails with Australians opting to rebase to regional areas during the pandemic as remote working arrangements allowed them to tap more affordable housing or enjoy a better lifestyle.

Singapore: Singapore received a proposal from Hong Kong about re-opening borders for travel and will respond shortly, the island-city’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a statement Monday. Hong Kong has kept the pandemic under “good control” and this is a positive development, Ong said. In November, Singapore and Hong Kong halted what would have been the world’s first travel bubble due to a rising number of cases in Hong Kong.

10:14 am

Coronavirus company news summary – J&J to deliver 220m doses of single-shot Covid-19 vaccine to African Union member states – GSK agrees to produce Novavax vaccine in the UK

Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutica has signed an advance purchase agreement with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to manufacture and deliver up to 220 million doses of its single-shot Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccines will be supplied to the African Union’s 55 member states by Q3 2021. Under the agreement, AVAT has an option to order an additional 180 million doses, for a total of up to 400 million doses by 2022.

British pharmaceutical giant GSK has signed an agreement with Novavax and the UK Government Vaccines Taskforce to support the production of up to 60 million doses of Novavax’s coronavirus vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, for use in the UK. GSK will provide its fill-finish site in Barnard Castle for the production of the vaccine. The UK government ordered the 60 million doses from Novavax under an advance purchase contract.

Russian Direct Investment Fund and Chinese biotech company Shenzhen Yuanxing Gene-tech have agreed to produce over 60 million doses of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in China, enough to vaccinate 30 million individuals. Commercial production of the vaccines is expected to begin in May 2021.

3:55 pm

How lockdowns and lagging vaccination rates are slowing Europe’s economic recovery

29 March

Yannis Koutsomitis, a European affairs analyst, shared an article on how the reimposition of lockdowns across Europe amid resurgence of Covid-19, are quashing hopes of economic recovery.

The mass vaccination drive in the region was expected to control the damage caused by the pandemic and increase spending among consumers, but the third wave of the pandemic disrupted the plans.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that European Union (EU) will have to enhance its €750bn ($885bn) coronavirus recovery fund in view of the third wave.

The EU is seven weeks behind its target of inoculating 70% of its population with the vaccine against coronavirus by summer-end, which could cause losses of €123bn ($145bn) to the 27 nations belonging to the bloc.

European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde recently hinting at an economic recovery in the second half of 2021, while Dutch bank ING revised the eurozone’s growth projection to 3% in 2021, reducing it marginally from its previous estimate.

Economist Andrew Kenningham; however, noted that economic activity in the EU will not bounce back to pre-Covid-19 levels until second half of next year.

Read more

1:39 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Mexico Covid deaths could be 60% higher than official figure of 201,623

29 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 127,275,000, with over 2,785,000 deaths and 84,692,000 recoveries.

The US leads all countries in confirmed Covid-19 cases and is followed by Brazil and India as cases in Brazil continue to escalate, and the country has the highest 7-day average in new cases.

Behind the top three are France, Russia, the UK, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and Germany.

The US continues to lead the world in Covid-19 deaths and is followed by Brazil, Mexico, India, the UK, Italy, Russia, France, Germany, and Spain as cases remain concentrated in these countries.

Mexico’s Covid-19 deaths may be up to 60% higher in the country than what has been officially reported.

According to the Mexico health ministry’s data on excess deaths, over 294,000 deaths have been attributed to Covid-19 per information from death certificates, a stark difference from the official figure of 182,300.

Moreover, using data from 2015–2019 as a baseline, Mexico reported 417,000 excess deaths through the first six weeks of the year. Of these, 70.6% have been directly attributed to Covid-19.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

10:37 am

Coronavirus company news summary – GSK and Vir submit EUA application to FDA for Covid-19 monoclonal antibody treatment – EMA recommends Celltrion’s regdanvimab for severe Covid-19

GSK and Vir Biotechnology have submitted an application for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use of investigational monoclonal antibody VIR-7831 (GSK4182136) in the treatment of adults and adolescents with mild symptoms of Covid-19. The two companies made the EUA submission based on the interim analysis of effectiveness and safety data from their Phase III COMET-ICE (COVID-19 Monoclonal antibody Efficacy Trial – Intent to Care Early) trial.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has advised EU member states to use Celltrion Group’s regdanvimab (CT-959) for patients with severe Covid-19, based on a positive opinion given by the agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP). Regdanvimab has demonstrated an ability to neutralise the SARS-CoV-2 wild-type virus, as well as prominent mutations such as the UK variant (B.1.17).

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has announced that the health ministry of Antigua and Barbuda has authorised the use of Sputnik V, the Russian-made Covid-19 vaccine. Sputnik V has now received authorisation for use in 57 countries across the world making it the second most approved coronavirus vaccine in terms of government approvals.

10:01 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 127 million as EU threatens to block AstraZeneca exports again

29 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.78 million with a figure of 2,784,377 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 127 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 30 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 549,335 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Top Biden administration officials expressed concern about the way a pivotal report examining the origins of the Covid pandemic was crafted, including the possibility that the Chinese government had a hand in writing it. The Geneva-based World Health Organization has said the findings from its mission to Wuhan, China, in early 2021 will be ready in a few days.

Brazil: Brazil has recorded 44,326 new coronavirus cases and 1,656 further deaths, Reuters reports. The total number of cases has surpassed 12.53m while the number of fatalities is over 312,000.

UK: The UK reported a further 3,862 Covid-19 cases and 19 more deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, according to official data.

France: The number of Covid-19 patients in France’s intensive care units has risen to a new high for this year, health ministry data showed on Sunday, as doctors warned a third wave of infections could soon overwhelm hospitals. There were 4,872 ICU patients being treated for Covid-19, close to a November peak during France’s second wave of the virus. The number of new infections fell, however, by around 5,600 to 37,014.

Chile: Chile’s government will ask congress to postpone April’s highly anticipated elections as policy makers struggle to halt the country’s most severe virus wave yet. “The entire world is witnessing a new outbreak of coronavirus, and new and more contagious variants have appeared,” President Sebastian Pinera said in a televised speech.

Vaccine news

Global: Sinovac has started developing updated versions of its inactivated vaccine against the South African and Brazilian strains of coronavirus, company general manager Gao Qiang said at a briefing in Beijing on Sunday. Work has begun on a vaccine against the South African strain, while the company is waiting for the Brazilian strain to arrive. Only a small-scale clinical trial is needed to confirm the new vaccines’ ability to elicit an immune response in humans before mass manufacturing, according to Gao.

US: President Joe Biden said most US states are meeting his goal of opening up vaccinations to all adults by 1 May, while pointing out four that haven’t: New York, South Carolina, Arkansas and Wyoming. Asked why cases have crept up again in the US, Biden told reporters on Sunday that “apparently people are letting their guard down.” He said he’ll meet with his pandemic response team on Monday and “get a better sense.”

EU: The EU will block AstraZeneca exports if the company fails to deliver the doses bought by the region on time, according to Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner in charge of fixing the bloc’s vaccination drive.

AstraZeneca has met about 30% of its commitment to deliver 70 million doses to the EU in the second quarter, Breton said on RTL radio Sunday. “As long as AstraZeneca doesn’t make good on its obligations, everything that’s produced on European soil is distributed to Europeans,” he said.

The head of the EU’s vaccine taskforce said he hoped Europe would have a summer tourist season “comparable to last year”, supported by the bloc’s vaccine rollout. A new poll shows that 68% of Britons have not booked any summer holiday this year.

Kosovo: Kosovo received its first shipment of Covid-19 jabs on Sunday through the UN-backed Covax scheme to help poorer nations.

UK: More than 30 million people in the UK have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. A total of 30,151,287 people between 8 December and 27 March received their first jabs – around 57% of all UK adults, the country’s Department of Health and Social Care announced.

France: President Emmanuel Macron said France’s vaccination rollout will have caught up with the UK’s “in a few weeks” amid tensions over vaccine supplies.

Sweden: Sweden will not meet its target of fully vaccinating all adults by 30 June, the country’s vaccine coordinator said, citing delays in deliveries. He said it may take “a couple of weeks into July” before the goal is reached.

South Africa: South Africa plans to vaccinate to up to 200,000 people daily from mid-May, according to a report in the South African Sunday Times newspaper. So far, only 231,605 people have been vaccinated.

Venezuela: Venezuela will pay for Covid-19 vaccines with oil shipments as an alternative if government funds frozen in banks abroad are not available, President Nicolas Maduro said on state TV. Venezuela is working on two scenarios to pay for the United Nations’ Covax system, which is lobbying for the unfreezing of government foreign accounts via legal and diplomatic claims and the payments with oil.

Lockdown updates

India: Authorities imposed a nighttime curfew on India’s western state of Maharashtra after the state capital, Mumbai, reported a record daily rise in cases. The state-wide curfew, which is between 8pm and 7am, begins on Sunday and will be in force until 15 April.

Pakistan: Pakistan will allow some businesses and factories to operate in the third wave of the pandemic, Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has tested positive for the virus, said in a televised speech. Among steps in the latest lockdown, Pakistan has closed schools and shut shops and restaurants on the weekend in cities with positivity rate higher than 8%. It is also banning large gatherings and weddings receptions. Khan said he got the virus during the campaigning for indirect elections for Senate. He has made a steady clinical recovery and may resume his routine work over the next few days, the nation’s health chief Faisal Sultan said in a Twitter post.

Philippines: The Philippines’ key economic area plunged back into another lockdown for a week starting Monday as the Southeast Asian nation faces its worst coronavirus surge and a slow vaccine rollout. Metro Manila and the adjacent provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal were placed under enhanced community quarantine or ECQ, the nation’s strictest classification of movement curbs, from March 29 to April 4. A curfew from 6pm to 5am will be imposed during the lockdown.

Malta: Malta tightened its coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings on Sunday as it sought to avert a surge in infections over Easter. The limit on the number of people from different households who can meet outdoors has been reduced from four to two.

UK: The UK’s culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, refused to guarantee that there would be no further lockdowns, saying, “You can’t rule things out.” Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show before the minister, Prof Mark Woolhouse said that another lockdown should be regarded as “a failure of public health policy”, underlining that government has the knowledge to avoid that route.

Meanwhile, Britons are being urged to follow the rules or risk a resurgence of the coronavirus as England takes a much-anticipated step toward exiting restrictions that have pummeled the economy and curtailed civil liberties. Starting Monday, six people, or two households, can gather outdoors and outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts will be allowed to reopen. It’s the second in a series of steps the government hopes will see all lockdown curbs removed by 21 June.

Australia: Brisbane, Australia’s third most-populous city, will enter a three-day lockdown from 5 pm local time Monday due to an outbreak of the UK strain of the coronavirus. Residents will only be able to leave their homes for food, exercise, essential work and medical reasons, Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuktold reporters. Mask wearing in public will becom compulsory for people in the rest of the state and home gatherings limited to 30 people, the premier said, after announcing four new cases of community transmission.

Brazil: Protesters took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro on Sunday in response to restrictions curbing crowds on beaches, restaurants and bars, even as daily deaths and new infections reach the highest point of the nation’s outbreak. Dozens of demonstrators waving Brazilians flags and chanting, “we want to work,” marched down the main drag along the iconic Copacabana Beach, capping a week in which Brazil passed the milestone of 300,000 registered coronavirus deaths.

Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel threatened to assert federal control over measures to stem the Covid-19 pandemic, picking a legal fight that reflects the gravity of the latest surge in infections. In an extraordinary turn of events, Merkel said she may use federal law to regain the initiative after rescinding a wide-ranging lockdown for the Easter holidays amid a storm of criticism. She expressed exasperation with what she described as broken commitments by the leaders of Germany’s 16 states.

Italy: Italy reported 19,611 new cases and 297 deaths on Sunday, reflecting a 7.2% positive test rate. New cases in the country remain stable as some regions, including the one around Rome, are set to slightly ease restrictions starting Tuesday. Deputy health minister Pierpaolo Sileri said the slower rate of increase in new infections shows that tight restrictions introduced by Mario Draghi’s government are showing the first results.

3:11 pm

Brazil business leaders attack Bolsonaro’s handling of Covid crisis

26 March

Adam Tooze, a historian and director of the European Institute, shared an article on the rising conflict between hundreds of Brazilian private sector leaders and president Jair Bolsonaro’s mishandling of the Covid-19 crisis.

Prominent leaders including the central bank chief, economists, and bankers, signed an open letter to the Brazilian government demanding stronger Covid-19 action such as implementing a mask mandate and speeding up vaccinations, as the country’s death tolls mounts.

According to official data, approximately 300,000 Brazilians have died from Covid-19, the second highest toll after the US.

Brazil is currently witnessing a brutal second wave of Covid-19 infections, with overwhelmed hospitals and some even facing shortages of critical equipment and oxygen.

The country’s data reported 3,251 deaths in a single day this week, the highest daily toll since the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020.

The business leaders’ letter was published after Verde Asset Management criticised the government in a letter to investors for failing to acquire coronavirus vaccines on time.

Experts from the financial sector believe that the government should follow science and implement the necessary steps to tackle the pandemic.

For example, the federal government should implement effective lockdowns, increase the supply of vaccines, and distribute masks for free.

Data further revealed that less than 8% of the Brazilian population has received the first dose of the vaccine, despite rapid immunisation programmes.

Critics have stated that slow implementation and disorganisation within the country’s health ministry has led to the mishandling of the crisis.

Read more

3:01 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: France worst affected country in Europe as Global Covid cases pass 125.6 million

26 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 125,650,000, with more than 2,757,000 deaths and 83,686,000 recoveries.

The US, Brazil, and India continue to occupy the top three spots for total confirmed Covid-19 cases.

France has overtaken Russia for fourth in total confirmed cases, with slightly over 33,000 cases separating the two countries.

Daily confirmed cases in France spiked toward the end of last week but have trended downward in recent days.

In India, daily confirmed cases continue to rise, although daily confirmed deaths remain below 300.

A study published in The Lancet by He and colleagues at the end of March has shown SARS-CoV-2 antibodies can last for at least nine months after infection.

The study obtained blood samples from more than 9,500 people in Wuhan, China at three separate times over the course of 2020 and tested the samples for antibodies.

Nearly 40% of the infected people in the study produced neutralizing antibodies that could be detected for the entire study period.

Shaina Stacy, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:02 am

International update: Global Covid death toll passes 2.75 million as outbreak in Brazil worsens

26 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 2.75 million with a figure of 2,755,540 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 125.5 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 30 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 546,822. Covid cases in the US are rising again, reversing course after months of decline and threatening another setback in the return to normality. The seven-day average of new cases jumped to 57,695 Wednesday, 9.5% above the prior week, marking the biggest increase since 12 January, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

New US Labour Secretary Marty Walsh said that he’s inserting himself into the agency’s stalled rule-making to protect workers from Covid-19. The planned emergency regulation would require businesses to take steps to safeguard their workers against virus spread. “The priority of the Department of Labour, and the priority of the president, is making sure that the workers’ health and safety is a top priority,” Walsh told reporters on Thursday.

Brazil: Brazil reported more than 100,000 new infections in the last 24 hours, again setting a record as the outbreak there continues to worsen. Total cases neared 12.3 million, the most after the US. Latin America’s top economy also reported 2,777 fatalities, totalling 303,462, the Health Ministry reported, as leaders remained at loggerheads. President Jair Bolsonaro criticized lockdown measures again while Vice President Hamilton Mourao said virus deaths have risen above any acceptable level.

Mexico’s Covid-19 death toll topped 200,000 on Thursday, making it the third country in the world to reach the devastating milestone as the country struggles with its vaccination rollout.

Romania: Romania battles a surge of Covid-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm its hospitals, as the government announces that Easter celebrations are planned to go ahead.

Vaccine news

Global: An epidemiologist from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told a briefing that while newly vaccinated people had a right to celebrate, they should act as if they are unvaccinated until two weeks after their second dose.

Growing vaccine nationalism in major producers India and the EU are hitting the most disadvantaged nations the hardest, leaving them waiting for doses promised through a World Health Organization-backed inoculation initiative.

EU: EU leaders appear to have given a luke-warm response to plans by the European Commission to potentially block vaccine exports to highly vaccinated countries. In a statement issued after the EU virtual summit, the leaders failed to offer their support for the commission approach, instead saying they blacked “global value chains” and reaffirmed that “companies must ensure predictability of their vaccine production and respect contractual delivery deadlines.”

EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen advocated support for the plan to block vaccine exports if necessary: “While remaining open, the EU needs to ensure Europeans get a fair share of vaccines,” she tweeted.

Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, said while the EU had to “provide [for] our own population” the bloc would not damage the supply chains necessary for the production and distribution of vaccines.

US: President, Joe Biden, has doubled his vaccine goal in his first 100 days in office, saying he wants 200m jabs to be administered in that time.

Turkey: Turkey has begun initial talks to acquire the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, the health minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday. The minister added that the capital, Ankara would receive a total of 100m doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of May.

Lockdown updates

Argentina: Argentina’s government will suspend flights arriving from Brazil, Mexico and Chile amid a spike in virus cases in parts of Latin America. The curbs will start on 27 March, according to a government official, who asked not be identified because the decision hasn’t been officially published.

Japan: Japan’s government isn’t planning to resume its Go-To Travel tourism campaign until at least June and instead will offer travel vouchers that can be used locally from 1 April, the Sankei newspaper reported late Thursday, without attribution.

France: President Emmanuel Macron said new measures to contain the epidemic might be needed in the coming weeks. More than a third of France, including Paris, is already locked down, in addition to a national curfew. “The next few weeks will be tough,” he said after a European Council summit Thursday.

UK: Prime Minister Boris Johnson won the support of Parliament for his plan to bring England slowly out of lockdown, even as some members of his own Conservative Party protested continued curbs to civil liberties and frustration at the ongoing damage to the economy. Members of Parliament voted 484 to 76 to extend the government’s coronavirus emergency powers, with Johnson’s “road map” for easing lockdown also entering law. Key dates include the outdoor mixing of households on 29 March and the potential for all social-distancing rules to be lifted on 21 June.

9:48 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Sputnik V production set to start in Serbia – Sorrento reports positive results from Phase Ib stem cell trial in Covid-induced ARD

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Serbia’s Institute of Virology, Vaccines and Sera (Torlak Institute), have announced an agreement to produce the Sputnik V vaccine in Serbia. This will make the country the first in Southern Europe to produce the Sputnik V vaccine, which could later be exported to other countries across the region. Production is expected to start in March 2021 at the Torlak Institute’s facilities.

Biopharmaceutical firm Sorrento Therapeutics has reported positive results from its Phase Ib study of human allogeneic adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (COVI-MSC) for patients suffering from Covid-induced acute respiratory distress (ARD) or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The single-arm, non-randomised trial evaluated the safety and preliminary efficacy of adipose MSC cells in patients being treated in intensive care. All nine patients with Covid-induced ARDS were discharged from hospital within days after three COVI-MSC infusions. The company is now planning a placebo-controlled Phase II trial to be conducted at sites across the US, Mexico and Brazil.

ImmunoPrecise Antibodies has identified a novel antibody, 23-H7, which from its preclinical data indicates strong, protective, antiviral effects against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Syrian hamsters through an uncommon mechanism. The 23-H7 is anticipated to be less vulnerable to escape mutations within the spike protein/ACE2 binding interface, such as escape mutation of concern E484K.

3:55 pm

Should Big Pharma waive intellectual property rights to Covid vaccines?

25 March

Dean Baker, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, retweeted a debate on the case for waiving some intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines, while experts from the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations argued that the focus should be on companies’ profits first.

According to Baker, Covid-19 vaccines should be free for everyone for several reasons. In his view, much of the world still does not have access to vaccines.

As a result, it could be 2023 and 2024when the entire world gets completely vaccinated.

There is also the risk of having to develop new vaccines altogether to combat the new virus strains, which can be deadlier than the circulating ones, he opines.

In addition, government have aided in funding these vaccines, right picking up the tab for clinical testing, to research and regulatory approvals.

However, Thomas B. Cueni, director general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, argued that waiving intellectual property rights is not the way to get the everyone vaccinated.

Cueni suggested that passing on a patent would discourage companies that have been working incessantly on developing these vaccines within restricted time.

It would indicate that they do not have intellectual property rights even during a global catastrophe such as the pandemic, and will thereby reduce their incentive to rapidly develop vaccines in future emergencies.

Read more

1:32 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases near 125 million as Brazil death toll exceeds 300,000

25 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 124,924,000, with more than 2,746,000 deaths and 83,362,000 recoveries.

Brazil, surpassed in total confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths only by the US, has now exceeded the grim figure of 300,000 total confirmed deaths.

India, ranked third for total cases, continues to see increases in daily confirmed cases.

However, in the UK, daily confirmed cases and deaths remain relatively low, generally under 10,000 and 200, respectively.

In Papua New Guinea, a dramatic surge in Covid-19 daily confirmed cases was observed in recent weeks.

The country, which saw daily confirmed cases mostly stay below 100 since the start of the pandemic through February, has now reached an all-time high of nearly 800 daily confirmed cases.

The reasons for such a recent, severe outbreak are unclear, but may be the result of the virus circulating more widely in the country than realized, particularly among asymptomatic cases, and growing complacency in public health measures to curb the spread.

Shaina Stacy, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:15 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Hong Kong and Macao suspend BioNTech Covid-19 vaccination after packaging flaw – Clover and Dynavax dose first patients in Phase II/III SPECTRA vaccine trial

Fosun Pharma, BioNTech’s partner in the development and distribution of the Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine in greater China, have notified Hong Kong and Macao of a packaging flaw in batch 210102 of the vaccine. Shares of China’s Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group fell 5% after the cities suspended BioNTech vaccinations as a precautionary measure. The cities stated that the German vaccine maker and Fosun are currently investigating the cause of the vial cap defect.

Clover Biopharmaceuticals and Dynavax Technologies have dosed the first participants in the global Phase II/III SPECTRA trial to test the safety, efficacy, and immunogenicity of Clover’s protein-based S-Trimer Covid-19 vaccine candidate adjuvanted with Dynavax’s CpG 1018 plus alum. The double-blinded, randomised, controlled study of the Covid-19 vaccine will see the vaccine administered in two doses, given 21 days apart.

Health Canada has issued a guidance for updating the label or product monograph for the Astrazeneca and Covishield Covid-19 vaccines to provide information on rare reports of blood clots linked to low levels of blood platelets following immunisation with the AstraZeneca vaccine. The agency has also issued guidance for various healthcare professionals and vaccine recipients on monitoring the potential symptoms of the vaccine.

9:51 am

International update: US Covid infections pass 30 million – Brazil death toll reaches 300,000

25 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.7 million with a figure of 2,744,827 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 124.8 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections now exceed 30 million at 30,010,933. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 545,281 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil: Brazil became just the second country to cross the mark of 300,000 deaths from Covid-19 as the virus continues to rage and overrun hospitals. It took just two-and-a-half months for Brazil to go from 200,000 to 300,000 deaths, compared with five months between 100,000 and 200,000 fatalities, showing the velocity at which the virus and its P.1 variant is spreading. The Health Ministry reported 2,009 additional deaths on Wednesday, taking the toll to 300,685. New confirmed cases jumped 89,992 in the past 24 hours, to a total of 12.2 million. Both totals are the highest globally after the US.

Africa: African countries’ loosening coronavirus-related controls and the emergence of more transmissible variants fuelled a second wave of infections more severe than the first, according to a study published in The Lancet journal.

Turkey: Turkey registered its highest daily number of new infections this year on Wednesday, adding 29,762 infections to its tally in the last 24 hours.

Vaccine news

EU: The European commission will extend the bloc’s powers to potentially halt vaccine exports to the UK and other areas with much higher inoculation rates.

AstraZeneca has dismissed as “inaccurate” a report in the Italian press that 29m doses of its Covid-19 vaccine found in factory near Rome were destined for the UK. The manufacturer said no exports were currently planned other than to developing countries via the Covax facility.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen after the EU moved to tighten vaccine export restrictions. According to a readout from Trudeau’s office, “they agreed on the importance of rolling out safe and effective vaccines as quickly as possible, including with respect to continued close Canada-EU cooperation.”

US: AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine was 76% effective in a US study – a slightly downgraded estimate based on the latest data collected from a contentious clinical trial, and a twist that creates another layer of uncertainty for the shots.

Louisiana, Idaho and Utah joined the growing list of US. states allowing anyone age 16 and older to receive coronavirus vaccines in coming weeks.

Philippines: President Rodrigo Duterte warned officials against jumping the vaccine queue, saying the nation risks losing donated doses from the World Health Organization-backed Covax facility if health workers aren’t prioritized.

Spain: Spain has restarted its AstraZeneca vaccination drive after a week-long suspension of the jab over fears about potential side-effects.

India: India has temporarily suspended exports of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to meet domestic demand as cases rise, two sources have told Reuters.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong halted online bookings of shots manufactured by BioNTech SE, after authoritied suspended the vaccine’s rollout because of packaging defects on some vials. Bookings for the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine were still available. The bookings’ suspension had been flagged Wednesday, when Hong Kong announced that the shots were halted. Secretary for Civil Service Patrick Nip said the vaccinations would have to be suspended until further notice.

Portugal: Portuguese Health Minister Marta Temido reaffirmed that the country will meet a goal to administer a vaccine dose to at least 80% of people over 80 by the end of March. “Naturally, if we had access to more vaccines we would have the possibility of vaccinating more people,” Temido told reporters.

Lockdown updates

UK: The UK may need tougher border measures “very soon” to prevent the arrival of Covid-19 variants from continental Europe that risk undermining the country’s vaccine drive, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament.

US: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is holding firm on a phased return to cruise-line operations, dashing the industry’s hopes for a swift restart.

Belgium: Belgium will impose fresh lockdown restrictions, shutting schools, hairdressers and non-essential stores.

Iceland: Iceland has tightened Covid-19 measures following a spike in the number of new cases recorded in the country.

France: Coronavirus lockdowns are to be imposed in three more regions in France, including the city of Lyon, the country’s government has said.

Luxembourg: Luxembourg has announced a partial reopening of its hospitality industry, with cafés and restaurants able to serve customers again in outdoor areas from 7 April.

Cyprus: Cyprus will open its borders starting 1 April to visitors from the US, Russia and Ukraine, the tourism ministry said Wednesday. All travellers who were tested and proven to be Covid-free and who haven’t come into close contact with a confirmed case will be guaranteed a quarantine-free stay.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel asked the German people for forgiveness after making a rare public apology for sparking massive criticism with plans for a five-day Easter shutdown. Merkel dropped the proposal, calling it a “mistake,” after a hastily-arranged video conference with the heads of Germany’s 16 states around 33 hours after announcing the move.

2:40 pm

Did Russia prioritise economy over people during pandemic?

24 March

Russian economist Serge Guriev, re-tweeted an article on why the Russian economy may have performed better than Europe’s during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Guriev, Putin’s Covid-19 policy to prioritise economy over people and healthcare could have restored the economy more to some extent than others.

However, the choices have led to high mortality rates. While Russia’s GDP declined by 4% in 2020, the country’s official numbers revealed that coronavirus deaths accounted for nearly 60,000.

According to President Putin, Russia’s Sputnik V is the first Covid-19 vaccine to be registered in the world, with mass vaccinations having started in 2020 and thousands of doses supplied to Argentina.

Guriev argues that some of the statements are correct and some false.

Firstly, it is true that the Russia’s Covid-induced economic recession will not be as deep as Europe’s.

While in the first half of 2020 international organisations forecasted a Russian GDP decline of 6, 8 or even 10% in 2020, they conceded back to 4%.

In fact, the Russian government’s projections are a bit better than the 4% decline, and also better than the numbers for the UK (-9.8), the Euro area (-8.3), Japan (-5.3), and the US (-4.3).

Read more

1:33 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Brazil Covid cases pass 12 million as ‘pandemic epicenter’ struggles with variants

24 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 124,330,000, with more than 2,736,000 deaths and 83,037,000 recoveries.

The US, which leads the world in total confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths, is approaching 30 million total confirmed cases.

Following are Brazil, India, Russia, and France.

Israel, which has had over 829,000 total confirmed cases to date, continues to see declines in both daily confirmed cases and deaths.

The country has also administered over 9,684,000 doses of vaccine, with slightly over 50% of its population fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the US has administered over 126,509,000 total vaccine doses, while China is nearing 65,000,000 doses.

Brazil is now widely considered to be the epicenter of the pandemic, with total confirmed Covid-19 cases continuing to rise past 12 million, and total confirmed deaths approaching 300,000.

ICU occupancy rates have hit at least 90% in more than half of Brazil’s 26 states.

Covid-19 variants such as P.1, first discovered in Manaus, Brazil, are likely responsible for the surge in cases.

Shaina Stacy, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:11 am

Coronavirus company news summary – REGEN-COV antibody cocktail meets endpoint in Phase III trial – Pfizer trials oral antiviral therapy against SARS-CoV-2

Roche and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have reported topline results from a Phase III trial of the REGEN-COV antibody cocktail in infected non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients. The study in high-risk non-hospitalised Covid patients met its primary endpoint showing that REGEN-COV (casirivimab with imdevimab) reduced the risk of hospitalisation or death by 70% (1,200mg) and 71% (2,400mg) respectively, compared to placebo.

Pfizer has commenced clinical trials for its oral, antiviral therapeutic to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The company is progressing to multiple ascending doses after completing single ascending doses in its Phase I study. The Phase I trial of the therapeutic candidate PF-07321332, a SARS-CoV2-3CL protease inhibitor, is taking place in the US. It has shown potent in vitro anti-viral activity against SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses. Pfizer is also evaluating PF-07304814, an investigational protease inhibitor, currently in a Phase Ib multi-dose trial in hospitalised Covid-19 participants.

Preclinical data has demonstrated that CureVac’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, CVnCoV, provides protection against the South African variant of the novel coronavirus, also called B.1.351. The data found that the vaccine protected against a strain of the original SARS-CoV-2 B1 lineage (BavPat1) in a transgenic mouse model. CVnCoV was seen to effectively block viral replication of B.1.351 in the lower respiratory tract and brain, and reduced viral replication in the upper respiratory tract of vaccinated and challenged animals.

9:50 am

International update: Global Covid cases pass 124 million – specialist warns against ‘too much optimism’

24 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.7 million with a figure of 2,734,668 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 124 million world wide. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the recent rise in Covid-19 deaths and cases are “truly worrying trends.” Speaking at a World Trade Organization virtual event, Tedros urged nations to waive intellectual property rights for vaccines as a “mid- to long-term solution” to help developing countries manufacture their own shots.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Farrar, an infectious-disease specialist and director of Wellcome, the UK research foundation, said at a conference. “There remains in my view too much optimism that there will be a single magic bullet that solves it all.” After one year, the world remains closer to the start of the pandemic than to its conclusion, as new waves take place around the world, Farrar said.

Pfizer Inc. said it has begun human safety testing of a new pill to treat the coronavirus that could be used at the first sign of illness. If it succeeds in trials, the pill could be prescribed early on in an infection to block viral replication before patients get very sick. The drug binds to an enzyme called a protease to keep the virus from replicating. Protease-inhibiting medicines have been successful in treating other types of viruses, include HIV and Hepatitis C. The new protease inhibitor is the second such medicine Pfizer has brought into human trials to treat Covid-19. Pfizer is testing another given intravenously to hospitalized virus patients.

US: Covid -19 infections are nearing 30 million at 29,922,391. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 543,843 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Chicago is seeing an uptick in several of its Covid-19 metrics. The city’s daily cases, positivity rate and related emergency-room visits have moved up in the last few weeks. The city is seeing about 350 cases per day, up from an average of around 270 to 280 daily for the last couple of weeks.

Vaccine news

EU: The European Union will abolish a list of more than 90 countries that are currently exempt from requiring vaccine export authorizations and will apply potential restrictions even to those pharmaceutical companies that fulfill their contracts with the bloc. The European Commission will revise its vaccine export transparency and authorization mechanism. The controversial tool introduced in January aims to help EU governments screen vaccine export requests, with the option to turn them down in certain cases.

US: Anthony Fauci, the US’s top health official, said the AstraZeneca vaccine was likely to be very good, but that an independent review board assessing the jab’s efficacy “got concerned” that the data in its public statement “were somewhat outdated and might in fact be misleading a bit”, adding that the “unforced error” would only add to public doubts about vaccines.

Millions more doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine are expected to be released after US regulators cleared the way for contract manufacturer Catalent Inc. to help produce them. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a Catalent facility in Bloomington, Indiana, to make the single-dose vaccine’s active ingredient.

Texas is to become the largest US state to make Covid vaccines available for all adults, with the drastic expansion for the state’s nearly 30 million residents beginning from Monday.

Australia: General practitioners in Australia have been told the Covid-19 vaccine rollout experienced “significant” week-one delivery errors, including a failure to send some shipments of needles to accompany the vials.

India: India’s government opened one of the biggest coronavirus immunization campaigns to everyone over the age of 45 as the nation grapples with a case resurgence amid tensions over delayed vaccine supplies to other countries.

Russia: President Vladimir Putin reportedly had his first dose of a Russian-made coronavirus vaccine in private, after months of delaying his jab, in an apparent effort to boost Russia’s fledgling vaccination drive.

Portugal: Portuguese Health Minister Marta Temido reaffirmed that the country will meet a goal to administer a vaccine dose to at least 80% of people over 80 by the end of March. “Naturally, if we had access to more vaccines we would have the possibility of vaccinating more people,” Temido told reporters.

Lockdown updates

Norway: Norway is introducing new national measures to contain the pandemic, including a ban on the public serving of alcohol, and would postpone the introduction of a plan to reopen society, health minister Bent Høie has said.

Poland: Poland is to announce new restrictions for the next two weeks by Thursday at the latest, prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, as the country braces for what could be a second Easter spent under a strict lockdown.

Netherlands:The Dutch government is to extend its lockdown measures by three weeks until 20 April due to rising numbers of Covid-19 infections and hospital admissions, prime minister Mark Rutte said.

Spain: Spain will lift restrictions on 30 March, on arrivals from Britain that have been in place since December in an attempt to contain the spread of new strains of coronavirus.

Germany: German hotel owners are unhappy over an extension to measures that bizarrely bar citizens from going on vacation in their own country but allow them to travel abroad.

US: San Francisco will open offices, outdoor bars and indoor recreational facilities as it moves to California’s orange tier, the state’s second-least restrictive level. Non-essential offices can open at 25% capacity starting Wednesday under the new guidelines, while already-open indoor businesses including restaurants and stores can expand capacity to 50%. The city also plans to allow outdoor concerts, theater performances and festivals for up to 50 people as of April 1, Mayor London Breed said. Santa Clara County, home to many of Silicon Valley’s large employers, also moved to the orange tier Tuesday, along with Marin County, a wealthy area north of San Francisco. The majority of California’s counties – representing 83% of the population – are in the state’s red, or second-most restrictive, tier for economic activity.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said about 80,000 city workers will return to their offices beginning May 3, a promise he outlined in his State of the City address in January. The city has administered more than 3.4 million vaccines and is expecting a “major boost” in supply in early April, the mayor said. All New Yorkers 50 and older are eligible to get their Covid-19 shots.

Meanwhile, Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser has barred internal video calls on Fridays and encouraged vacations in an effort to combat workplace malaise brought on by the pandemic. Fraser, who succeeded Michael Corbat earlier this year, said the final day of the working week shall be known as “Zoom-Free Fridays” and designated 28 May as a holiday to be known as “Citi Reset Day.”

Cyprus: Cyprus will open its borders starting 1 April to visitors from Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the UK Those with a negative test result who haven’t come into close contact with a confirmed case will be guaranteed a quarantine-free stay. Vaccinated travelers from Israel won’t need to be tested, and the same will apply to Britain starting 1 May.

Kuwait: Kuwait said arrivals who have taken one of the vaccines it has approved would be exempt from hotel quarantine requirements.

1:27 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid spikes see rapid case rises in India and France as more lockdowns loom

23 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 123,778,000, with more than 2,725,000 deaths and 82,728,000 recoveries.

The US continues to lead the world in total confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths, and saw a small spike in daily confirmed cases over the weekend.

Otherwise, daily confirmed cases in the country have remained generally below 100,000 during March.

Following the US in total confirmed cases are Brazil, India, Russia, and several of the EU countries.

France and Italy, are once again seeing upward trends in both daily confirmed cases and deaths, as France has overtaken the UK with 4,358,910 Covid infections to be the worst in Europe.

Random testing for the coronavirus has begun in Mumbai, India, in an effort to contain the recent surge in cases and avoid another lockdown.

Daily confirmed cases in India have climbed from nearly 15,000 at the beginning of March to over 46,000 in recent days and now number more than 11.6 million.

The surge is likely due to circulating coronavirus variants and commercial activity returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Shaina Stacy, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:57 am

ECB pledges to maintain pandemic emergency purchase programme to ‘at least March 2022’

23 March

Andrea Garnero, an economist at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), retweeted an article on how the PEPP, which was launched a year ago to support euro area citizens in sustaining their households and stabilise financial markets during the Covid-19 pandemic, is being extended through 2021.

This was undertaken to keep the euro economy afloat amid the resurgence of Covid-19 infection cases, opines Christine Lagarde, the president of the ECB.

The ECB initiated PEPP with €750bn ($829.9bn) as a temporary measure to absorb the economic shock in response to the Covid-19 crisis when a major part of the economy and public life came to a standstill.

The bank purchased assets at a pace of more than €100bn ($110.6bn) per month under the asset purchase programme because private investors’ buying capacity deteriorated during the pandemic.

The assets were distributed across the euro area to benefit all the sectors across countries from their monetary policy response, the article noted.

Additional, far-reaching measures were taken to ensure that banks carry out their monetary policy, improving corporate funding situation and capital markets.

The PEPP was expanded twice in 2020, to a total of €1,850bn ($2,047.5bn), which was more than 15% of the GDP of the euro area before the pandemic.

Lagarde emphasises that the ECB has committed to continuing its assets purchase programme until March 2022, to keep financial conditions stable and support public sentiments during the crisis as vaccinations pick pace across the European countries.

Read more

10:30 am

Coronavirus company news summary – health agencies question Phase III data from US trial – Moderna to supply 7m extra doses of mRNA vaccine to Philippines

The US National Institutes of Health have questioned the validity of data from AstraZeneca’s US Phase III trial of its Covid-19 vaccine. The health agency said the trial’s Data and Safety Monitoring Board had contacted several US authorities as well as AstraZeneca to express concerns that “outdated” trial information may have been included in the results. The trial’s recent data readout showed 79% efficacy in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 and 100% efficacy in preventing severe disease and hospitalisation. The interim safety and efficacy trial enrolled 32,449 participants with 141 symptomatic Covid-19 cases. Vaccine effectiveness was also found to be consistent across ethnicity and age, with 80% efficacy in participants aged 65 years and older. The trial also found no link between the vaccine and blood clotting events.

Moderna has entered into a new supply agreement with the Philippines for additional seven million doses of its Covid-19 Vaccine Moderna. This brings the total confirmed order to 20 million doses for the country, with the additional doses agreement being sought through a partnership with the private sector. The delivery of the initial 13 million doses is expected to commence in mid-2021.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Virchow Biotech have announced a partnership to manufacture up to 200 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in India. The technology transfer is scheduled to be completed in the second quarter of 2021, followed by full-scale commercial production of the vaccine. Virchow will also supply Sputnik V to international partners of RDIF.

8:33 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 123.6 million as cases spike again in France

23 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.7 million with a figure of 2,723,353 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 123.6 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections are nearing 30 million at 29,869,518. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 542,949 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Americans must recommit to wearing masks and taking other Covid-19 mitigation measures to avoid a new surge of the virus in the US, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Rochelle Walensky said cases have begun to rise slightly again, while hospital admissions remain stable and deaths continue to decline. Variants, which are in some cases more contagious or more dangerous, continue to spread. Walensky repeated a warning that states are lifting restrictions too early, and called on Americans to continue to wear masks, avoid crowds and wait to travel, even if they’ve been vaccinated.

France: France reported 15,792 new coronavirus cases on Monday, more than double the 6,471 reported the previous Monday, Reuters reports. The number of people in intensive care with the virus rose by 142 to a new 2021 high of 4,548, health ministry data showed.

Turkey: Turkey recorded 22,216 new coronavirus cases in a period of 24 hours, the highest daily number since mid-December, Reuters reports. Health ministry data showed the cumulative number of cases stood at 3,035,338, data also showed, while the death toll rose by 117 to 30,178.

Jordan: Jordan reported 109 new deaths from Covid-19 on Monday, the highest daily death toll since the pandemic surfaced in the country, the health ministry said.

UK: The UK is marking one year since the start of its first coronavirus lockdown, as the government reflects on the best and worst of its response to the pandemic. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will privately hold a minute’s silence Tuesday for more than 126,000 people who have died from Covid-19 in the UK, the fifth-biggest death toll in the world according to Bloomberg’s Covid-19 tracker. It comes as the country’s health service presses on with a vaccination program that has seen more than half of all adults receive their first dose of the vaccine, by far the fastest of all European countries.

Vaccine news

EU: AstraZeneca expects the EU drug regulator to give approval for a factory in the Netherlands that is helping make its Covid-19 vaccine later this month or in early April, a senior executive said.

The Irish prime minister, Micheál Martin, has warned that any European Union restrictions on vaccine exports would be a “retrograde step” that could undermine the supply of raw materials for vaccine production.

European Union leaders are aiming to break their deadlock with the UK over deliveries of AstraZeneca’s vaccine by sharing a Dutch plant’s output, according to diplomats familiar with the matter. The appeal stems from the EU’s view that the drugmaker had double booked its production and that both Brussels and London have valid claims. Earlier, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he’s “reassured” that the EU is not seeking a vaccine blockade, as government and opposition politicians showed a rare united front on the issue. Both sides were critical of the bloc over reports that it plans to restrict exports of vaccines to its former member.

US: New York will lower its vaccination age to 50 from 60 on Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in a tweet. Meanwhile, Arizona joined a growing list of states that are expanding vaccine eligibility to anyone over age 16. The change, which affects Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties, will take place Wednesday at 8 a.m., Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement.

Russia: The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said he would receive a coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, the Russian industry minister, Denis Manturov, said it was set to produce over 80m doses of home-grown vaccines in the first half of this year.

Philippines: The Philippines may sign a supply deal this week with Johnson & Johnson, from which the nation plans to buy 5 million doses, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said Monday night. Talks with Russia’s Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology will also start this week for the supply of as many as 15 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine.

China: Sinovac Biotech Ltd. will be able to produce 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses annually soon, Chief Executive Officer Yin Weidong told a forum on Monday. The company has supplied 160 million shots globally so far, he said. Sinovac’s vaccine produces higher levels of Covid-19 antibodies in children and adolescents compared to adults, Zeng Gang, the company’s medical director, said at the forum.

Lockdown updates

Indonesia: Indonesia has added Batam and Bintan to a travel corridor arrangement with Singapore that would see foreign visitors back in the resort islands for the first time since the pandemic began last year, according to Indonesian Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno. Tourism sites in Nongsa in Batam and Lagoi in Bintan will be reopened on 21  April, under very strict health protocols, Uno said in a statement on the ministry’s website.

Germany: Germany is extending its partial lockdown until 18 April, scrapping plans to loosen restrictions that have been in place since 16 December in the face of rising infection rates. The chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the heads of 16 federal states agreed to pull the emergency break on a lockdown exit agreed only three weeks earlier, the country’s media reported.Greece: Greece has ended its ban on flights from Turkey, Albania and North Macedonia, the civil aviation authority announced on Sunday in a statement reported by Reuters.

Austria: Austria has postponed the reopening of cafe, restaurant and bar terraces planned for 27 March 27 owing to rising coronavirus cases, Reuters reports. The government is preparing for regions to adapt restrictions locally.

Denmark: Denmark will ease more restrictions next month and will end its lockdown entirely once all Danes over the age of 50 have been vaccinated by June, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. Denmark will allow some businesses, including shopping malls and hairdressers, to open in stages next month, according to an agreement reached late Monday between the government and most parties in the country’s parliament. More children will also return to schools and restaurants will be allowed to serve outdoors.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she would look into reducing the city’s three-week mandatory quarantine for arrivals, one of the strictest in the world, adding that she was “aware” of the pressure it had put on residents. Hong Kong will also consider allowing anyone 16 or older to receive vaccinations when more doses arrive in the city, she said. Adults above the age of 30 are currently eligible.

1:22 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: UK Covid variant prompts more lockdowns as it continues to sweep across Europe

22 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 123,292,000, with over 2,716,000 deaths and 82,372,000 recoveries.

The US and Brazil continue to hold the top two spots for total confirmed Covid-19 cases.

India has the third highest number of total confirmed cases, trailing Brazil by a little over 350,000 cases.

Trends in total deaths follow a similar pattern, with the US exceeding 542,000 deaths, followed by Brazil, Mexico, and India.

Brazil in particular has seen steep increases in both daily confirmed cases and deaths, with daily deaths exceeding 5,000 in the last several days and far surpassing previous peaks for that country.

France has reinstated a partial lockdown, affecting 21 million people in 16 areas, as the country faces a sharp rise in cases.

Daily confirmed cases in France surpassed 70,000 toward the end of last week, a level not seen since the end of October last year.

Poland has also closed non-essential shops and hotels for three weeks as cases rise.

The B.1.1.7 variant of the virus, first discovered in the UK, is the likely driver for these increases in infections as it continues to spread throughout Europe.

Shaina Stacy, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:50 am

Coronavirus company news summary – new joint venture to develop oral Covid-19 vaccines – Health Canada confirms benefits, safety of AZ vaccine

Oramed Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage pharmaceutical firm, announced that it has entered into definitive agreements for a joint venture to develop novel oral Covid-19 vaccines. The new company, Oravax Medical, is based on Oramed’s proprietary POD oral delivery technology and Premas Biotech’s novel vaccine technology. The virus like particle (VLP) triple antigen vaccine targets three structural proteins, providing broader protection to individuals against emerging mutations. Oravax plans to start a clinical study in the second quarter of 2021.

Health Canada has confirmed that the benefits of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for Canadians. The agency has advised that all citizens should get immunised with any of the Covid-19 vaccines authorised in the country. The agency has been investigating the available data on reported events of blood clots following the administration of the vaccine and confirmed that the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the risk of blood clots.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Stelis Biopharma, the biopharmaceutical arm of pharma company Strides Pharma Science, have partnered to manufacture and supply 200 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, enough to vaccinate 100 million individuals. The agreement was reached with the support of Enso Healthcare, RDIF’s coordination partner for sourcing Sputnik V vaccines in India. Sputnik V is a two-dose vaccine that has been approved for use in more than 50 countries. It has demonstrated an efficacy rate of 91.6% in a peer-reviewed study.

10:46 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 123 million as US nears 30 million cases

22 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.7 million with a figure of 2,715,626 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 123 million world wide. Global weekly Covid-19 deaths rose for the first time since January, with fatalities for the week ended Sunday climbing by more than 61,000. Infections increased for a fourth straight week, by more than 3 million. Brazil continues to be the global hot spot, seeing a record number of cases and deaths. Eastern Europe is seeing a resurgence, with Poland introducing some of the strictest lockdown measures in months as it struggles against a new wave. India reported more than 46,000 cases on Monday. The country is seeing infections escalate rapidly after earlier reducing cases to less than 20,000 a day.

US: Covid -19 infections are nearing 30 million at 29,818,934. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 542,359 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The US added almost 55,000 cases on Saturday, ending a week in which the highest daily number of infections exceeded 60,000 for the first time since early March. However, fatalities in the country were the lowest since November.

Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb remains focused on the virus variants swirling around New York City. Even as cases overall decline, “you’re seeing a lot of infection surging in pockets,” including parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, he said Sunday on CBS. “What we don’t understand with B.1.526,” a variant that began to show in New York City samples in November, “is whether or not people are being reinfected with it, and whether or not people who might have been vaccinated are now getting infected with it.”

UK: There have been a further 5,312 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, according to government data, and 33 deaths – the lowest fatality count since early October. Public Health England’s head of immunisation has said “lower-level” restrictions such as social distancing rules and face masks may be required for “a few years”.

The UK government is developing new testing technology that would identify whether positive Covid-19 test samples contain variants of concern, and provide more rapid results. The “genotype assay test” would halve the time it takes to identify the variants and could be used in addition to standard testing to find cases more quickly, the UK government’s health ministry said in a statement.

France: France, where about a third of the population has been subjected to a lockdown since Saturday, reported 30,581 new daily cases and 138 deaths on Sunday evening. That brings the total to 92,305 deaths in the country, as hospitalizations and critical cases keep rising.

Turkey: Turkey has reported a further 20,428 cases, taking the number of infections registered since the pandemic began beyond 3 million.

Philippines: A surge of new coronavirus cases in the Philippines has pushed the nation’s seven-day moving average for infections to the highest in Southeast Asia, surpassing Indonesia for the first time since September. Although Indonesia still has the most cases in the region, it has seen a steady decline in the pace of new infections since early February, while the Philippines has experienced a marked increase. As a result, Manila and nearby areas have been placed under tighter movement curbs for two weeks, reversing the re-opening of businesses that had begun after last year’s record economic slump.

Ireland: Ireland reported the most new cases in nearly a month, threatening government plans to ease restrictions. There were 769 newly confirmed cases with two deaths, the health ministry said. Ireland has been effectively locked down since Christmas, and the government had planned to ease limits on travel and construction early next month. Cases have started to increase in recent days despite the current restrictions, while hospitalizations are increasing again too.

Vaccine news

EU: European Union officials will probably block future exports of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine to the UK according to an EU official, deepening a post-Brexit conflict that has festered as Europe seeks to get its vaccination drive on track. Any AstraZeneca vaccines and components produced in the EU are set to be reserved for local use and the EU isn’t responsible for helping the company meet commitments to Britain, said the official, who asked not to be named discussing internal EU deliberations. UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace earlier Sunday called on the European Commission to honor Covid-19 vaccine contracts.

Australia: Australia’s vaccine rollout is being hampered by torrential rain and flooding with thousands of residents in parts of Sydney and along the New South Wales coast evacuated as rivers overflow. The severe wet weather is expected to intensify into the middle of the week and comes as the government moves into the next phase of its vaccine program amid criticism for poor organization and a slower-than-expected start to the rollout. General practitioners are due to begin inoculating patients from Monday, with about 6 million Australians eligible.

Cuba: Cuba will vaccinate 150,000 key workers with its Covid-19 vaccine candidate as part of the final stage of its clinical trial, authorities have said as cases rise.

Palestinian Authority: The Palestinian Authority is stepping up is vaccination drive after about 60,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca doses arrived in the Israeli-occupied West Bank via the Covax scheme.

South Africa: South Africa has sold 1m AstraZeneca vaccine doses to the African Union, the health ministry announced on Sunday in a statement reported by AFP, after it suspended its rollout of the jab.

Niger: China has sent Niger 400,000 doses of its Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, the country’s health ministry said on Sunday.

Brazil: Brazil will no longer require local authorities to keep half their Covid-19 vaccine stockpiles for second doses as it seeks to hasten its lagging vaccination campaign amid a deadly surge.

 

Lockdown updates

US: Miami Beach extended a curfew aimed at controlling large spring-break crowds to 12 April, the Miami Herald reported. After imposing the 8 pm curfew on Saturday, the Florida city’s police dispersed revelers with pepper spray balls and SWAT teams. The curfew and ban on traffic on central roads was announced only a few hours before going into effect, after city officials said a larger-than-usual number of people flocked to the city as one of the few places open during Covid-19 restrictions. The curfew was initially imposed for 72 hours. The city’s police say they have made more than 1,000 arrests related to spring break since February.

Massachusetts will reopen further on Monday, as the outbreak there continues to recede. Indoor and outdoor stadiums, including Fenway Park, can open at 12% capacity, and the numbers allowed at public and private gatherings will increase. The quarantine for high-risk states will end, replaced with an advisory. Overnight summer camps are now permitted.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed keeping German lockdown restrictions in force for another four weeks after Covid-19 cases rose beyond a level that may prompt government action to avoid health-care overload. The plan would extend existing curbs through 18 April, according to a chancellery draft seen by Bloomberg. Merkel and regional government leaders will discuss the proposals on Monday during talks on how to proceed with the lockdown amid an upward curve of infections in Europe’s biggest economy.

Greece: Greece has ended its ban on flights from Turkey, Albania and North Macedonia, the civil aviation authority announced on Sunday in a statement reported by Reuters.

Malaysia/Singapore: Malaysia and Singapore are set to explore reciprocal vaccination certification as part of the post Covid-19 collaboration between the Southeast Asian neighbors. The arrangement will be discussed when Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan visits Malaysia for a two-day visit starting 23March, Malaysia’s foreign affairs minister said in a statement on Monday.

New Zealand/Australia: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a date for the commencement of a quarantine-free travel corridor between New Zealand and Australia will be announced on 6 April. The so-called travel bubble is “highly complex” and several conditions must be met before any final decision is made by the cabinet, Ardern said.

Hong Kong: HSBC Holdings Plc will reopen its main Hong Kong office on Monday, after being closed last week in the wake of three people testing positive for Covid-19. The outbreak came as a wave of infections hit the city’s business and expatriate community. In a memo, HSBC is advising that only critical staff should come into any of its premises, with staff required to maintain a distance of at least 1.5 meters apart and wear masks at all times.

10:12 am

Coronavirus company news summary – EMA and MHRA deem AZ vaccine safe after blood clots investigation – Lilly’s Covid-19 therapy bamlanivimab suspended in three US states due to viral variant

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) have confirmed the safe use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, reiterating that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks. While a detailed review on any link between the vaccine and blood clots is currently underway, the EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) concluded that AstraZeneca’s vaccine did not raise the overall risk of thromboembolic events.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that the government is no longer distributing Eli Lilly’s Covid-19 drug bamlanivimab in Arizona, California and Nevada because of a viral variant that is prevalent in the states and may not be susceptible to the monoclonal antibody. FDA acting commissioner Janet Woodcock said the agency will screen monoclonal antibody treatments against different variants.

University of Oxford scientists have released data on the antibody levels that can neutralise or stop infection from Covid-19 variants such those prevalent in Brazil, South Africa, the UK and elsewhere. The data suggests that natural and vaccine-induced antibodies can neutralise these variants, but at lower levels. The data also revealed the P1 Brazilian strain to be less resistant to vaccine and convalescent immune responses than feared earlier, when compared to the UK and South African variants.

10:04 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Tonix reports positive results in preclinical study of vaccine candidate – Australia requests one million vaccine doses to address Covid-19 surge in Papua New Guinea

Tonix Pharmaceutical, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, has reported positive efficacy results for modified live coronavirus vaccine candidate TNX-1800 in non-human primates. The immunogenicity and protective efficacy of a single dose of TNX-1800 were evaluated at two dose levels. The research found that all the animals vaccinated with TNX-1800 had undetectable SARS-CoV-2 in their upper and lower airways six days after challenge with SARS-CoV-2.

Australia has requested one million vaccines from AstraZeneca and the European Union (EU) to fight a Covid-19 surge in neighbouring Papua New Guinea. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated that the country will divert doses of the vaccine ordered and paid for to curb the virus crisis on the island-state. Papua New Guinea has registered over 1,000 new Covid-19 cases since 1 March 2021, almost doubling the number of infections in the country since the start of the pandemic a year ago.

Cloud communications provider Twilio has announced that one billion people will receive Covid-19 communications using its tech within two years to accelerate the pace of vaccine rollout and distribution. The company has received $11m in funding to support local and global efforts to provide equal access to vaccines, particularly for under-served communities.

10:11 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna begins trial of Covid-19 vaccine in children under 12 – Sweden joins list of countries pausing AZ vaccine rollout amid blood clotting concerns

Moderna has started dosing the first participants in a Phase II/III clinical trial called the KidCOVE study, of mRNA-1273, the company’s Covid-19 vaccine. The KidCOVE study is being conducted in children aged from six months to 12 years, and is being conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Sweden’s health agency has paused the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to fight the disease as a precautionary measure as several countries such as France, Italy, and Germany have done the same due to possible serious side effects. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is currently investigating any link between the vaccine and blood clots, after reported deaths in the vaccinated population.

Indian pharmaceutical company Gland Pharma has struck a deal with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to produce up to 252 million doses of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine’s production is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2021, with deliveries expected to start in the last quarter. The company did not disclose which countries would be receiving the deliveries. Sputnik V was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute in Moscow and has been approved in 22 countries.

2:25 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases exceed 120 million – Egypt braces for increase during Ramadan

16 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 120,338,000, with more than 2,662,000 deaths and 79,126,000 recoveries.

Total global cases topped 120 million yesterday as the US, Brazil, and India continue to lead the world in confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Behind them are Russia, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and Germany.

The US is also in the lead among Covid-19 vaccine doses administered, with over 109,081,000 shots reaching people’s arms.

China has administered the second most vaccines but lags the US after administering over 52,520,000 vaccines to date.

Behind the US and China are India, the UK, Brazil, Turkey, Israel, Germany, Russia, and France.

However, these countries are much further behind the US and China, as India has administered roughly 60% of the number of doses as China.

Egypt’s Presidential Health Advisor has warned that it anticipates Covid-19 cases to increase next month as Ramadan is set to begin and many large family gatherings are expected.

His concern is underscored by an increase in the number of familial infections in Egypt, which may catalyze infection.

To mitigate this concern, the Egyptian Government has stressed adherence to precautionary measures and has already banned communal activities and mass prayers.

This action resembles the country’s night time curfew during last year’s Ramadan to halt the spread of infection.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

11:20 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 120 million amid AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine concerns

16 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.6 million with a figure of 2,662,067 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 120 million world wide. The world has seen an 11% jump in transmission in the past week, according to Maria van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead officer on Covid-19. Five out of six WHO regions have reported increases.

US: Covid -19 infections are nearing 29.5 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 535,628 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Coronavirus cases in the US rose 1.25% in the week ended Sunday, the slowest increase since the pandemic began. It was the second straight week in which the rate of new infections hit a record low. The US recorded 362,743 new infections last week, down from 417,173 in the period ended 7 March, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The slowdown comes as the US vaccination effort ramps up. Last week, an average of 2.39 million doses a day were administered, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker. So far, 69.8 million Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, or roughly a quarter of the adult population.

Brazil: Brazil registered 1,015 new coronavirus deaths, the health ministry said, bringing the total to 279,286 since the pandemic began. Confirmed cases rose by 36,239 to 11,519,609. The country has also signed a deal with Pfizer to purchase 100m doses of its Covid-19 vaccine, a source told Reuters.

President Jair Bolsonaro replaced General Eduardo Pazuello at the helm of the health ministry as daily records of infections and deaths add pressure on Brazil to get the coronavirus pandemic under control. Cardiologist Marcelo Queiroga will be the fourth person in charge of the health ministry since the coronavirus arrived in the country a little over a year ago. Two of his predecessors left after disagreements with Bolsonaro over social distancing and unproven treatments against Covid-19.

Turkey: Turkey recorded 15,503 new Covid-19 cases in the space of 24 hours, the highest daily rise this year, health ministry data indicated.

Japan: Japan is considering testing 40% of all positive coronavirus samples for variants, up from the 10% being checked now, FNN reported, without attribution. It’s also looking at increasing random screening nationwide to 10,000 people a day to get a better picture of overall infections.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong required all staff from the US consulate in the city to undergo Covid-19 testing after two workers there tested preliminary positive and were admitted to the hospital for isolation and treatment.

AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine update

The WHO has said countries should keep using the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and has scheduled a meeting of its experts on Tuesday to discuss the vaccine’s safety.

The European Medicines Agency echoed the WHO’s calls for calm and said it was better to get the Oxford vaccine than not.

Limiting the use of the AstraZeneca shot as a precautionary measure could push back EU countries’ efforts to immunize three-quarters of their populations to September instead of August, according to London-based research firm Airfinity Ltd.

A number of countries have paused the vaccine, including Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, Cyprus pending an assessment by the EU’s medicine regulator. Spain said it will stop using the AZ vaccine for at least two weeks.

Norway: One of three people hospitalized in Norway on Saturday with blood clots, bleeding and low platelet counts after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine has died, the Norwegian Medicines Agency said. The other two are in a stable condition. An investigation to establish whether there is a connection with the vaccine is underway and to uncover if there are similarities between the three cases. All three were healthy before they were vaccinated and worked in the health care industry.

Australia: Australia has no plans to halt the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

Canada: Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization is expected to change its position and recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for people over the age of 65, CTV reported, citing an unidentified senior government source.

Japan: Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he received the first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine ahead of his planned visit to the US in the first half of April. In comments to reporters in Tokyo aired live by broadcaster NHK, Suga said the vaccination went “smoothly” and “didn’t hurt.” He said Japan will gather and study information before making a decision on whether to approve AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

Thailand: has started its rollout of AstraZeneca vaccines, with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha among the first in the country to receive the British-Swedish shot, a live broadcast from the Government House showed. The country had delayed the program on March 12 following reports of blood clots in Europe.

Mexico: has asked the US to share doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine it has in stock, Reuters reported, citing sources. The AstraZeneca vaccine is a good candidate for sharing as it’s not approved in the US and Mexico has started using it, the report cited Mexico Deputy Foreign Minister Martha Delgado as saying. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador asked US counterpart Joe Biden for a vaccine “loan” during a virtual meeting. Delays in Mexico mean the first dose won’t ship until early May, rather than March as originally planned.

Vaccine news

Global: New Covid-19 vaccines, including ones that don’t require needles and can be stored at room temperature, may be ready for use later this year or next year, the World Health Organization’s top scientist said. Six-to-eight new immunizations may complete clinical studies and undergo regulatory review by the end of the year, Soumya Swaminathan, the Geneva-based agency’s chief scientist, said in an interview Saturday.

China: The Chinese capital Beijing is offering Covid vaccine shots to people aged 60 and above who are in good heath, Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control said in a statement.

China plans to donate 300,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses to United Nations peacekeepers, with priority given to peacekeeping missions in Africa, the Chinese mission to the UN said in a statement.

US: Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said he is accelerating the state’s age-based rollout of the Covid vaccine, with plans for anyone over age 16 to become eligible by 5 April. The next step will be on 19 March, when the age cutoff will drop to 45 from the current 55, he said in a statement.

Lockdown updates

Australia: Direct flights from Australia to the Ok Tedi copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea have been suspended indefinitely as a wave of coronavirus infections rocks the Pacific region’s most populous nation. Ok Tedi Mining Ltd., which initially suspended charter flights for its fly in-fly out expatriate workers for two weeks, has announced the tougher action after talking with health authorities in Australia’s Queensland state. Six workers from the mine have been treated in Queensland’s Cairns Hospital after contracting Covid-19.

Hong Kong: The government is exploring arrangements facilitating the direct return of its residents in the UK without compromising public health of the local community, according to an official statement issued late Monday.

9:49 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna starts Phase I study of next-gen vaccine mRNA-1283 – Takeda/IDT Biologika to support production of single-shot J&J vaccine

Moderna has dosed the first patients in a Phase I study of mRNA-1283, the company’s next-generation Covid-19 vaccine candidate. mRNA-1283 is a potential refrigerator-stable vaccine that is designed to allow easy distribution and administration across settings, especially in developing countries. The safety and immunogenicity of mRNA-1283 will be assessed in this Phase I dose-ranging study.

Japanese biopharma giant Takeda has announced a mutual agreement with IDT Biologika, a contract development and manufacturing organisation, to use its capacity previously reserved for Takeda’s dengue vaccine, TAK-003, to produce the single-shot Covid-19 vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies. The capacity will be returned to Takeda for critical production of its dengue vaccine after three months.

Fulgent Genetics, a technology company, has been awarded a contract by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide genomic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 samples on a continuous basis by leveraging the company’s next-generation sequencing (NSG) capabilities. As per the agreement, Fulgent will sequence the genomes of random Covid-19 samples. Fulgent will use its NGS platform and sequencing data to perform a large-scale genomic survey of the virus using random samples from across the US.

2:22 pm

How Covid worsened Lebanon’s economic problems

15 March

Steve Hanke, an economist at the Johns Hopkins University, shared an article on the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating the economic problems faced by the West Asian nation Lebanon.

The ongoing pandemic induced financial slump led to the erosion of rights of citizens, as they are unable to get access to basic human necessities food, clothing, healthcare, and shelter.

In May 2020, during the peak of the pandemic, the Lebanese government started negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) requesting the latter for around $10bn financial aid to overcome the crisis.

The two parties also discussed strategy to bail out the Lebanese economy from the economic crisis, but the talks were stalled as there was no consensus among politicians of the extent of the country’s financial losses.

The economic downturn and Covid-19 pandemic also cast a shadow on the medical sector, jeopardising the capability of hospitals to provide care.

The migrant workers in the country were among the worst hit sections of the society during the pandemic, as they were denied access to labour protection laws and subjected to a restrictive sponsorship system.

Read more

 

1:36 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases near 120 million – virus variants cause concern in Canada

15 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 119,956,000, with over 2,655,000 deaths and 78,845,000 recoveries.

The US leads the world in confirmed Covid-19 cases with over 29,439,000 confirmed cases and is followed by Brazil, which has overtaken India in second most confirmed cases globally with over 11,483,000 confirmed cases.

Rounding out the top ten are Russia, the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Germany. Official Covid-19 deaths follow a similar pattern, with the US leading all countries, followed by Brazil, Mexico, India, the UK, Italy, France, Russia, Germany, and Spain.

In Canada, the declining number of active cases has plateaued over the last week, worrying health officials as the number of infections from variants of concern (VOC) have increased by over 1,300 since 4 March.

Moreover, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer re-emphasized the need for structural change across the health sector after outlining this priority in the Public Health Agency of Canada’s 2020 annual report.

This call comes as the agency admitted its failure to protect the most vulnerable such as seniors, the homeless, low-income groups, and marginalized racial groups such as the indigenous community.

In Manitoba alone, nearly 70% of the cases came from First Nations people despite only comprising 10% of the population.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

9:56 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Sanofi/Translate Bio begin trials of mRNA vaccine candidate – EMA investigates potential vaccine link in bleeding events

Sanofi and Translate Bio, an mRNA therapeutics company, have initiated a human trial of their mRNA Covid-19 vaccine. This is the French drugmaker’s second coronavirus vaccine project, after the first protein-based jab developed with GlaxoSmithKline that was delayed last year. Sanofi and Translate Bio expect interim results of the Phase I/II study during the third quarter of 2021.

France’s health regulator, Haute Autorité de Santé, has approved the single-dose Covid-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson for use in the country. The Janssen Covid-19 vaccine has already been approved by European Union authorities, and can be administered among patients aged 18 years and older, including those aged 65 years and older, and patients suffering with other illnesses. Janssen’s vaccine will be the fourth Covid-19 vaccine to launch in the French market.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is currently investigating whether any of the three approved Covid-19 vaccines in the bloc may be linked to a blood clotting deficiency that can cause internal bleeding. According to the EMA, several instances of immune thrombocytopenia, a shortage of blood platelets that can lead to bruising and bleeding, have been identified in vaccine safety monitoring process. The agency is monitoring the reports of individuals who have received the Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines.

8:35 am

International update:

15 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.6 million with a figure of 2,653,652 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll continues to decline. Fatalities for the week ended Sunday – about 60,000 – were the lowest since early November. Meanwhile, infections have passed 119.8 million world wide. New coronavirus cases rose worldwide for a third straight week, even as the death toll continues to slow and the US is seeing fewer infections.

Brazil over the weekend passed India to retake the post of the second worst-hit country in the world. Countries that had appeared to bring cases under control are seeing a resurgence, with India and Italy in recent days reporting the most daily infections of the year. At the same time, smaller hotspots are emerging in places like Papua New Guinea that had seemingly escaped the pandemic last year. The increases come amid growing fears about fast-spreading variants and as some governments continue to ease social-distancing restrictions.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 29.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 534,888 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US President Joe Biden has selected Gene Sperling, a former White House economic adviser to both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, to oversee implementation of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law last week.

California’s seven-day positive test rate fell to a record low 2%, according to the health department’s website. The state reported 2,772 new cases yesterday, along with 140 more deaths. California has administered more than 11.8 million vaccines in total. The data came a day before the county, which was the epicenter of the post-holiday surge, eases its restrictions on indoor dining and allows restaurants, gyms, museums and movie theaters to reopen. California theme parks such as Disneyland, as well as stadiums, will also be allowed to reopen in April with capacity limits.

There’s reason to be “concerned” about the virus trends in New York City, more so than many other parts of the country, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said. The New York variant, along with the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the UK is pushing cases back up in one of the original Covid-19 epicenters in the US, Gottlieb said on CBS.

UK: The head of the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said he has “no doubt” that there will be a further wave of coronavirus infections in the autumn.

Meanwhile, there have been a further 4,618 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, according to government data – compared with 5,177 cases last Sunday.

France: The government has said today it plans to evacuate around 100 Covid-19 patients from intensive care units in the Paris region this week as hospitals struggle to keep up with a surge in cases.

Brazil: Brazil’s health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, is set to be replaced by the Bolsonaro administration, according to Brazilian media reports.

Vaccine news

Global: Arcturus Therapeutics, which is jointly developing a vaccine with Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, is preparing to test its single low-dose shot in phase 3 trials in the second quarter, the Straits Times reported. The trial will involve about 15,000 people across multiple countries, he said. The Arcturus vaccine leverages the same mRNA technology that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Inc. use for their vaccines, which have already been approved for use in the Southeast Asian country.

AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine remains shrouded in controversy as more countries limit its use even as regulators and scientists attest to its benefits. Astra has defended the vaccine, saying in a Sunday statement that more than 17 million doses have been administered in Europe and UK with no evidence that the shot increased the risk of blood clots.

US: Reluctance among certain parts of the US population to receiving a vaccine is one of the biggest risks to coronavirus control efforts, said Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser. His comments came when he was asked about polling showing many Republicans, especially men, don’t want a vaccine. He continued to warn against becoming complacent in the US even as cases and hospitalizations drop sharply and the pace of vaccinations accelerates. A quarter of US House lawmakers aren’t confirmed as vaccinated even though Congress has its own supply, Axios reported. The members have either refused, have not reported getting the shot elsewhere or won’t because of medical conditions, Axios said.

Europe: The European Union will be able to stick to its vaccination targets this quarter despite AstraZeneca delivery delays as Pfizer is producing faster than planned, according to the EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton.

Philippines: The Philippines is on track with its Covid-19 inoculation drive, the head of the government’s vaccine strategy said on Sunday, addressing criticisms the rollout has been slow as worries grow about a surge in new cases.

Ireland: Irish health authorities have recommended that the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine should be temporarily “deferred” in Ireland in the wake of a report by Norwegian regulators.

UK: Northern Ireland’s department of health has asked the UK’s medicines regulator for an update on the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout in light of the Republic of Ireland’s suspension of the jab, the department has said in a statement, confirming that it will continue.

Italy: Italy’s northern region of Piedmont has said it would temporarily suspend AstraZeneca coronavirus shots after a teacher from the town of Biella died following his vaccination on Saturday.

Lockdown updates

Bahrain: Bahrain eased some of its coronavirus restrictions on Sunday, including allowing eating inside restaurants and re-opening educational institutions to students, as case numbers fall.

Netherlands: Dutch police have been using water cannon to disperse anti-lockdown protesters in The Hague.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong sent hundreds of people, including a playgroup of infants, into quarantine and locked down more residential areas as it tried to contain a coronavirus outbreak that began in a gym near the city center last week. The number of confirmed cases linked to the outbreak has spiked to 109 since the first infection was reported on 10 March. About 750 close contacts of people infected have been quarantined, the Health Department said at a press conference on Sunday.

Singapore: Singapore is “very keen” to work with Australia on a proof-of-vaccination certificate, Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said in a statement after talks with his Singapore counterpart. Singapore’s foreign ministry said in a statement over the weekend that any travel bubble would allow residents of Singapore and Australia to travel between both countries without the need for quarantine.

US: Duke University put its undergraduates on a one-week lockdown early Sunday after the worst outbreak “by far” since the start of the pandemic. It said that 180 students at the university in Durham, North Carolina, tested positive and another 200 were in quarantine. The university said the spread was driven largely by “recruitment parties” by fraternities and sororities.

3:02 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases near 119 million with India and Brazil still trending upwards

12 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 118,719,000, with more than 2,632,000 deaths and over 76,967,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil occupy the first, second and third positions, respectively for total confirmed Covid-19 cases, with Brazil closing the gap on second position with around 30,000 cases separating its total with that of India.

Average daily numbers of new cases continues to decrease within the US while trending upward in both India and Brazil.

Within the major countries of Europe, small daily increases in the numbers of new cases have been observed in Italy, Germany and Spain, while rates are trending downwards within France and the UK.

Despite early reports of a remarkably low Covid-19-related death rate within Russia during 2020, the country appears to have been hit particularly hard by the ongoing pandemic.

The official death toll is currently sits at 89,000  but the true toll is expected to be closer to 180,000.

The discrepancy was made apparent when the Rosstat statistics agency published the number of deaths from all causes within Russia between January and November 2020, reporting 229,700 more death than during the same time period in 2019, of which 81% were due to Covid-19.

Ellie Sutcliffe, BSc, Senior Analyst and Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:47 am

International update: EMA gives AstraZeneca vaccine the all clear – Australia continues with roll out

12 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 2.6 million with a figure of 2,631,694 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 118.6 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 29.25 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 530,821 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

President Joe Biden offered Americans a glimpse of hope that life would begin to return to normal this summer as he marked a year of US shutdowns and death, ordering a further acceleration of efforts to end the pandemic. In his first prime-time address to the country since his inauguration, the president directed states to make all US adults eligible for vaccinations by 1 May, and he said his administration would reach his goal of 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office by his 60th day as president.

Vaccine news

Europe: AstraZeneca Plc will deliver less than half the planned number of Covid-19 vaccines to the European Union in the second quarter after attempts to tap the company’s global supply chain were unsuccessful. The pharmaceutical giant will deliver about 76 million out of a planned 180 million doses to the bloc in the three-month period through June.

Meanwhile, more than 11.5 million Covid vaccine doses that have been delivered to European Union countries have not yet been used, official figures showed. The number of shots sent by manufacturers now totals 54.2 million, compared to 46 million a week previously. The data covers the week to 7 March. According to the ECDC, 8.2% of adults have received one shot of vaccine, a rise from 6.5% over the week, with 3.7% being fully vaccinated, up from 3.1%.

Europe’s medicines regulator (EMA) said there appeared to be no higher risk of blood clots in those vaccinated against Covid-19, after Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and another five European countries withdrew a batch.

Slovakia: Slovakia’s health minister announced his resignation in an attempt to defuse a political crisis over the government’s mishandling of the pandemic and a row over the purchase of vaccines from Russia.

Israel: Pfizer and BioNTech said that real-world data from Israel suggests that their vaccine is 94% effective in preventing asymptomatic infections, meaning the vaccine could significantly reduce transmission.

Russia: Russia is ramping up overseas output of its Covid-19 vaccine, pledging to supply shots to almost one in ten people on the planet this year even as it’s produced only a tiny fraction of that so far.

Australia: Australia won’t pause the rollout of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine, even as some European countries temporarily suspend use of the shots while possible blood clots are investigated. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that health authorities had not raised any concerns about the vaccine and would continue to monitor developments overseas. Officials spoke with the European Medicines Agency overnight, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Thailand: Thailand’s Health Ministry said that the nation would temporarily halt the use of AstraZeneca Plc vaccines until there’s more clarity from the investigations of possible blood clots. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha and some of his cabinet members who were scheduled to get their AstraZeneca shots on Friday, have postponed their appointments after suspensions of the vaccine in some European countries, including in Denmark, Italy and Norway.

China: China has entered into an agreement with the International Olympics Committee to pay for vaccines for athletes in the games in Tokyo and Beijing.

Lockdown updates

Portugal: Portugal’s government announced it would start to gradually ease its strict rules from next week, nearly two months into a lockdown imposed in mid-January to tackle what was then the world’s worst coronavirus surge. And controls on the country’s land border with neighbouring Spain will remain in place until Easter.

France: The Covid-19 situation in greater Paris is “especially worrying” and the government will take extra restrictive measures there if the pandemic continues at its current pace, France’s health minister said on Thursday. While new infections are not growing exponentially, the numbers taken into intensive care have reached a new three and a half months high nationally, close to 4,000 as France faces more dangerous variants.

France is to ease some Covid restrictions on international travel outside Europe, the foreign ministry said. Travellers to or from Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Britain and Singapore will no longer have to need a compelling reason to travel.

Brazil: The governor of Brazil’s most populous state, São Paulo, declared a two-week emergency shutdown as the South American country’s coronavirus outbreak continues to spiral out of control.

Poland: The Polish capital, Warsaw, will be among cities facing tougher restrictions from Monday, the country’s health minister said, as several central European nations face surges in infections.

Hong Kong: Concern spread among Hong Kong’s business and expatriate community as a coronavirus outbreak linked to a gym widened and hundreds of people were taken to government centers for lengthy stays in quarantine. While the cluster is smaller than previous flareups such as one linked to dance halls in November, it has engulfed a tightly-knit world of mostly Western expatriates who work for global financial institutions and whose children attend international schools with annual fees of HK$250,000 ($32,000) or more.

South Korea will extend social distancing rules, including bans on gatherings of five or more people, for another two weeks as daily virus cases still hover around 300-400, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said in a meeting on Friday.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Auckland will move to alert level 1 at midday Friday, meaning social distancing requirements will be lifted. The outbreak in the city has been contained and it has been 14 days since the last exposure event, Ardern said at a news conference Friday.

8:54 am

Coronavirus company news summary – the EC approves J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine – Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine found to be 97% effective after two doses in Israeli real-world study

12 March 2021

Israel’s Ministry of Health, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that real-world evidence demonstrates lower incidence of Covid-19 disease among individuals fully vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine (BNT162b2), highlighting the significant public health impact of Israel’s quick, nationwide immunisation programme. The latest analysis showed that two weeks after the second dose, the vaccine was 97% effective in preventing symptomatic disease, severe or critical disease, and death.

The Danish Health Authority has announced that it will suspend the use of  AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine for the next 14 days because of concerns about blood clots. Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is also currently investigating the link between the Covid-19 vaccine and severe blood clots. Two individuals are reported to have died of conditions related with blood clots soon after receiving the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.

The European Commission (EC) has approved a conditional marketing authorisation (CMA) for Johnson & Johnson (J&J)’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine in individuals aged 18 and older. Results from the Phase III ENSEMBLE study found the J&J Covid-19 vaccine was well tolerated and 67% effective in reducing symptomatic Covid-19 disease.

7:35 am

Post pandemic challenges lie in wait for the ECB

12 March

Danae Kyriakopoulou, Chief Economist and Director of Research at the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, shared her article on The European Central Bank (ECB) playing a critical role in supporting the economy during the pandemic, but now having to consider the challenges lying ahead its strategy review, which is most likely to reignite tensions within its governing council.

Although the debate on inflation revival has resurfaced in view of the size of the pandemic stimulus in the US, the ECB’s aim of inflation ‘below, but close to, 2%’ may not be fit for purpose.

Experts have stated that if the ECB is not meeting its target, it will lose credibility.

The pandemic has also prevented serious discussions of ‘normalisation’ and balance sheet unwinding.

However, experts opine that the closer Europe gets to recovery, the more pressing these questions will become, and that the announcement of the review’s conclusions will see the beginning of genuine economic recovery.

Read more

1:31 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid infections pass 29 million in US against a downward trend across most states

11 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 118,134,000, with more than 2,622,000 deaths and over 76,967,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil lead the world for total confirmed Covid-19 cases, with India maintaining its lead ahead of Brazil by less than 90,000 cases.

The US has more than 29 million cases; however, daily numbers of new cases continue to trend down across the majority of states, with the exception of Columbia, Michigan, Vermont and Minnesota which have all reported increasing seven day moving averages of new cases.

Following criticism of the communication and outreach strategy of New Zealand’s government following a number of recent coronavirus outbreaks within the country, an advisory group has been launched to review the handling of the ongoing pandemic, aiming to improve future response.

The city of Auckland went into lockdown twice in February due to confirmed cases reportedly denying stay-at-home orders.

New Zealand has been relatively successful in containing the virus with a total of only 2,400 confirmed cases overall.

Ellie Sutcliffe, BSc, Senior Analyst and Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData

11:36 am

How US Covid relief package will benefit schools

11 March

Joshua Goodman, an associate professor of education and economics at the Boston University, retweeted an article by Matt Barnum on the US Congress having approved a massive infusion of funds for schools and high-poverty districts, included as part of the pandemic relief package that includes $128bn for K-12 education and billions for state governments.

This is expected to lead to a dramatic reversal in fortune with some school districts going from fearing budget cuts to being cash rich.

The funds, which is part of the American Rescue Plan for Covid recovery, is expected to become law later this week.

Experts had earlier predicted that the Covid-induced economic dip would threaten US’s disadvantaged schools the most.

However, the new money amounts to approximately $2,500 per student across the nation, although high-poverty districts will see more.

Cleveland’s school district, for instance, where a majority of students come from low-income households, will be allocated approximately $8,000 per student, on top of the $4,500 per student it has already received as part of the pandemic relief.

The education funds are being seen as the biggest single federal plan for K-12 education in US history and is expected to be used by October 2023.

Districts have been advised on using at least 20% of the money to fix learning loss, while the rest can be used for anything related to Covid safety kits such as masks, retaining teachers, and building after-school programmes.

Read more

8:40 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 118 million – variant strains becoming dominant in US

11 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2,619,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 118 million world wide. The highly infectious British variant of Covid-19 is between 30% and 100% more deadly than previous strains, researchers have said.

The world will likely have a better idea about the origins of Covid-19 in a few years as scientists continue to analyze the data, according to a member of the international team of experts that travelled to China to trace the pandemic’s emergence. Despite the shortage of clues to the virus’s roots and the political tensions around the search, the scientific process will eventually prevail, Peter Daszak, a New York-based zoologist assisting the mission, said at a webinar organized by UK think tank Chatham House on Wednesday.

US: Covid -19 infections have now passed 29 million having reached 29,152,716. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 529,203 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

A highly infectious Covid-19 variant is probably the dominant strain in Florida, Texas and Georgia, and gaining a foothold across the US, according to new data from testing company Helix. In all three states, more than 50% of the latest samples exhibited S gene target failure, a key characteristic of the variant first identified in the United Kingdom, known as B.1.1.7. The variant has prompted warnings of a possible resurgence, even as the seven-day average of new cases fell to the lowest since 18 October in Johns Hopkins University data.

Meanwhile, New virus variants account for 51% of New York City’s Covid cases, health officials said on a virus briefing Wednesday. The variants, known as B.1.1.7, which originated in the UK, and B.1.526, which was first detected in New York, appear to be more infectious than older strains of the virus. But research doesn’t indicate that the variants cause more severe illness or reduce effectiveness of vaccines, said Jay Varma, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s senior public health adviser. Varma warned that the data is still preliminary.

Turkey: The daily number of new coronavirus cases in Turkey rose on Wednesday to the highest level this year, standing at 14,556, health ministry data showed.

Brazil: Brazil reported record deaths from Covid-19 as slow progress of vaccinations adds to worries with the near collapse of the health system. Latin America’s largest country saw deaths rise by 2,286 in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said, pushing the total to 270,656. Confirmed cases increased by 79,876 to 11,202,305.

France: France reported 30,303 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours on Wednesday, rising above 30,000 for the first time in two weeks.

Poland: Poland has reported 17,260 new daily Covid cases, the highest number since November.

Bulgaria: Bulgaria has reported 3,502 new Covid cases, its highest daily tally in three months, as government data shows the number of deaths also increased to 132.

Vaccine news

Global: Moderna Inc. said it had dosed the first participants in a study to examine whether booster shots of its Covid-19 vaccines may help protect against emerging variants. In the study, 60 people who received two doses of Moderna’s vaccine as part of its original phase 2 study last year, will receive a third shot as part of the study. One third of the participants will receive a booster shot that contains a low dose of the existing vaccine; the second third will receive a booster shot that is customized against the variant that arose in South Africa, called B.1.351; and the final third will receive a single vaccine that contains both the existing vaccine and the one customized against B.1.351. The company says it’s pursuing booster shots out of an abundance of caution.

US: President Biden will double the U.S. order of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine – seeking another 100 million doses – bringing the country’s total vaccine supply to enough for 500 million people. Biden made the announcement during an event at the White House on Wednesday with J&J Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky and Merck & Co. chairman and CEO Ken Frazier. The companies last week struck a collaboration to boost production of J&J’s recently authorized Covid-19 vaccine.

Vir Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline plan to submit an emergency use authorization application to the US FDA and for authorizations in other countries after phase three trial found 85% reduction in hospitalization or death compared with placebo, the primary endpoint of the trial. The two had teamed up with Eli Lilly and Co. to test a combination of their Covid-19 antibody treatments to see whether they can better combat the virus and its variants together.

Europe: There is nothing to suggest so far that vaccination was responsible for the death and illness of two people who had been given AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine in Austria, the European Medicines Agency said. Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia have along with Austria suspended using the vaccine to allow time for the EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee to conduct an investigation.

The European commission said on Wednesday it has reached a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for the supply of an additional 4m Covid vaccine doses to be delivered this month.

Germany: Far more people in Germany will receive a Covid vaccination from April when family doctors start giving them but the idea that 25% of the population can get a shot in just a month is unrealistic, its health minister warned on Wednesday.

Hong Kong: Fewer residents in the city are showing up to get vaccines from Chinese maker Sinovac Biotech Ltd. amid reports of side effects, even as demand was strong for shots developed by BioNTech SE-Pfizer Inc. on the day of their debut. The number of people who received their scheduled Sinovac immunizations at community vaccination centers fell to 72% on Wednesday, down from a high of more than 90% last week. More than one-third of those who signed up for the vaccine, 36%, were no-shows on Tuesday.

South Korea: South Korea will offer AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 65 and older as efficacy is confirmed and European nations, including Germany and Italy, recommend the use, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said.

Kenya: Kenya approved the use of the Sputnik V Covid-19 shots for emergency purposes, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Other African nations that have allowed their use include Angola, the Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ghana and Guinea, the sovereign fund said in a statement. Sputnik V has a 91.6% efficacy and provides full protection against severe cases of the illness, it said.

Lockdown updates

Malta: The Maltese government has ordered non-essential shops and schools to close amid a surge in Covid-19 cases on the Mediterranean island.

Mauritius: Mauritius has started a two-week nationwide lockdown following 14 local Covid cases, with all residents and visitors asked to stay at home or in their hotels until 25 March.

Hong Kong: Some international schools in Hong Kong were closed Thursday after a Covid-19 outbreak at a gym, where at least nine staff members and clients were found to be infected with the virus. Hong Kong schools only resumed in-person teaching last month after about a year of at-home learning.

Germany: German Chancellor Angela Meriel warned citizens to prepare for several more tough months before vaccinations start to have a tangible impact on the pandemic. “We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel,” Merkel said during an online dialog with emergency telephone service operators. “There will be three or four more difficult months and then we’ll be so far along with vaccinations that we will also really see actual effects and things will clearly improve.”

Economy updates

US: Households will begin receiving the $1,400 stimulus payments included in the pandemic-relief bill approved by Congress before the end of March, according to the White House. President Biden plans to sign the $1.9 trillion stimulus legislation into law on Friday, a package that includes more than $410 billion of direct payments for most Americans. Individuals who earn as much as $75,000, or couples making $150,000, plus their children or adult dependents, qualify for the full $1,400 per person.

The Colorado state legislature unveiled a $700 million pandemic recovery fund. The spending program, which has bipartisan support, is aimed at improving infrastructure, helping small businesses and providing workforce development.

Brazil: Brazil’s lower house of congress backed a $7.5 billion Covid aid bill in a first vote, hours after Latin America’s largest economy posted a record virus death toll for a single day. Lawmakers voted early Thursday in favor of a so-called emergency bill that revives last year’s monthly stipends that kept millions of poor households afloat. To assuage investor concern, the bill also includes compensatory fiscal measures to demonstrate a commitment to austerity. As a constitutional amendment, the bill requires a second-round vote in the house, scheduled for Thursday morning.

Australia: Australia’s government will subsidize 800,000 half-price airfares as part of a A$1.2 billion ($920 million) package to prop up the nation’s ailing tourism industry. The discounted fares are designed to help tourism-dependent regions and should support airlines, hotels and hospitality venues, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.

7:48 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna starts studying modified vaccines targeting variants – CEPI to support VBI’s variant vaccine development

11 March 2021

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and biopharmaceutical company VBI Vaccines have entered into a partnership to advance and develop the latter’s enveloped virus like particle (eVLP) vaccine candidates against Covid-19 variants. CEPI will offer up to $33m to support the development of VBI-2905, a monovalent eVLP candidate, in a Phase I clinical trial.

Softbox announced that it will be supporting Pfizer in the global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. The vaccines will be transported in a high-performance temperature controlled parcel shipper developed precisely for ultra-low temperature products.

Moderna announced that it has successfully dosed the first participants with its modified Covid-19 vaccines in an amended ongoing Phase II clinical study. mRNA-1273.351 is being evaluated as a booster vaccine to assess a broader immune response to emerging variants, while mRNA-1273.211 is a multivalent candidate which combines mRNA-1273, Moderna’s authorised vaccine against ancestral strains.

1:27 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 117.6 million – Brazil sees rise in infections and deaths

10 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 117,660,000, with more than 2,612,000 deaths and 76,967,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil lead the world for total confirmed Covid-19 cases, with India maintaining its lead ahead of Brazil by less than 200,000 cases.

The US also leads the world in the total number of active cases with over 17,000,000 cases ongoing.

The rest of the top five countries with the highest numbers of active cases are within Europe, with the UK in second position, followed by France, Spain and the Netherlands.

Of the Nordic countries, Sweden has been the worst effected with over 680,000 total cases and 1,300 deaths per million population, approximately three times higher than the next worst affect country, Denmark, with 470 deaths per million population.

The difference in case numbers and deaths is likely attributable to the difference in Sweden’s national Covid-19 strategy, which aimed to reach herd immunity by allowing community transmission to occur without drastic prevention measures.

Incremental prevention measures started to be introduced from the end of 2020.

Ellie Sutcliffe, BSc, Senior Analyst and Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData

12:12 pm

International update: Brazil reports record deaths – UK parliament watchdog finds test-and-trace failed to deliver

10 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2,612,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 117.6 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have now passed 29 million having reached 29,096,052. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 527,699 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

UK: The UK’s coronavirus test-and-trace program has failed to demonstrate it has contributed to a fall in infection rates, despite its “unimaginable” 22 billion-pound ($30.6 billion) cost so far, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee said in a report. Parliament’s spending watchdog said the program had failed to deliver on its “central promise” to prevent a second national lockdown in England – or a third. “British taxpayers cannot be treated by government like an ATM machine,” committee Chair Meg Hillier said in a statement. “Despite the unimaginable resources thrown at this project, test-and-trace cannot point to a measurable difference to the progress of the pandemic.” UK Covid infections have passed 4.2 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil: Brazil reported a record number of deaths from coronavirus as the country rushes to seal new vaccine deals. The Health Ministry said 1,972 died from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, pushing the total to 268,370. Confirmed cases increased by 70,764, to 11,122,429. Brazil trails only the US in number of deaths globally, and ranks third in infections. Hospitals across the country are reaching capacity, as a combination of year-end and carnival gatherings and a new, more contagious variant contribute to a spike of infections even as the virus recedes in most of the world. At the same time, a short supply of vaccines is slowing a mass immunization campaign in the country of 212 million.

China: China reported five new infections, but all were imported. The last time the country had a local transmission was 6 February, underscoring the success of a stringent strategy that includes border curbs, mass testing and hard lockdowns on anywhere with Covid-19 cases. Those tough measures included the likes of January’s full lockdown of Tonghua, a city of 2 million people in Jilin province, in which residents were banned from leaving their homes.

Mexico: Mexico had a further 866 Covid-19 deaths, bringing the total to 191,789, according to the Health Ministry. Some 26% of general hospital beds are occupied, and 30% of beds with ventilators are occupied, it said.

Vaccine news

Global: The World Trade Organization director-general called for urgent action on boosting Covid-19 vaccine production in developing countries, saying manufacturing sites could be prepared in six to seven months or less than half the time previously thought.

BioNTech could have capacity to make 3 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine with US partner Pfizer next year, the German company’s chief executive officer said, making their pioneering shot far more widely available around the world.

EU: Johnson & Johnson told the EU it was facing supply issues that may complicate plans to deliver 55 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the bloc in the second quarter of the year, an EU official told Reuters.

The developers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine have questioned the neutrality of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) after an EMA official urged EU members to hold off approving the vaccine.

The UK’s foreign secretary Dominic Raab has written to the European Council president after he claimed the UK imposed an “outright ban” on coronavirus vaccine exports. Raab said he is seeking to “set the record straight”.

Bosnia’s foreign minister said she and her compatriots were “justifiably unhappy” after failing to yet to receive any of the promised vaccines from the EU-backed Covax scheme.

Mexico: Mexico has administered 3,100,868 vaccine doses. with 605,801 people having received a second dose. Separately, El Financiero reported that Health Ministry official Ruy Lopez Ridaura confirmed that eight Mexican states received Sinovac’s vaccine at between 11 and 12 degrees Celsius, when it should be kept between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius. Lopez Ridaura said the vaccine can be kept up to 25 degrees for more than a week without losing its potency, and at that temperature it wouldn’t begin to lose effectiveness until day 14, the report said.

US: Alaska will allow everyone living and working in the state aged 16 and older to get a vaccine, the state’s health department said, making it the first state in the US where the immunization is so widely available. Alaska leads the US in vaccination rates, with more than a quarter of the population having had at least one Covid-19 shot and 16% being fully inoculated. It also has the third-smallest population, with fewer than 750,000 people.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccine shipments to U.S. states, tribes and territories will rise next week to 15.8 million doses, from 15.2 million a week earlier, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. Shipments to pharmacies will rise to 2.7 million from 2.4 million a week earlier.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would lower the age for vaccine eligibility to age 60 starting Wednesday as the state ramps up its vaccine campaign. The governor said the state will also open up vaccine eligibility to public employees and non-profit emergency workers as of 17 March. Public-facing building workers will also be eligible, he said in a Tuesday virus briefing.

Germany: Germany’s leading industry associations have resolved a spat with Chancellor Angela Merkel over Covid-19 tests and issued an appeal to companies to help expand rapid- and self-testing of employees. “Until a vaccination offer can be made to all citizens, we want to support the testing strategy of the federal and state governments with all our energy,” four of the biggest industry lobbies, which represent more than 90% of Germany’s workers, said in a joint statement coordinated with Merkel’s administration. Merkel last week canceled a video call with business leaders because she wanted more substantial proposals on testing workers than those initially on the table.

Lockdown updates

EU: The European Union will propose a certificate that may ease travel for those who have taken EU-approved vaccines or others, like the Chinese and Russian shots, that have had emergency national authorizations. The “EU Covid Card/digital green certificate” will show if holders have had a vaccine and which one; the results of any test; and details on whether they have recovered from an infection, a person familiar with the draft regulation said.

China: China has announced a digital vaccine passport. A health certificate showing a person’s vaccination status links to a program on China’s most widely-used messaging app WeChat. Outbound travelers can use the certificate, which is only issued to Chinese nationals who have had nucleic-acid tests and Covid vaccines, to prove their health status. It’s unclear if any countries have yet recognized the certification.

US: US airlines, joined by travel groups and labor, separately wrote to the Biden administration saying the U.S. “must be a leader” in global efforts to introduce health credentials that can be used for travel.

The Los Angeles Unified school district and United Teachers Los Angeles reached a tentative deal on how to reopen schools for in-person instruction over the next few weeks. They plan a hybrid model combining online and in-person instruction, with a progressive reopening. All students and staff will be tested for Covid-19 before returning, and other rules include requiring masks and social distancing for students, staff and visitors.

Japan: The Japanese government decided to exclude overseas spectators from attending the Tokyo Olympics, Kyodo reported, citing officials with knowledge of the matter. The government concluded that fans from abroad aren’t possible given concerns about the virus and different variants detected in other countries.

Estonia: Estonia’s government has banned groups larger than two people, closed non-essential shops and told restaurants to switch to take-aways as part of a drive to contain a surge in Covid-19 infections.

Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins on Tuesday offered to take in some of neighboring Estonia’s Covid patients after its prime minister announced a lockdown and tighter restrictions to control the spread of the British strain and rising cases.

Denmark: Denmark’s health minister Magnus Heunicke said there were grounds to ease restrictions further since the epidemic was not worsening in the Nordic country.

Greece: People who are vaccinated against Covid-19, have antibodies or test negative can travel to Greece this summer, tourism minister Harry Theocharis has said, after the country led calls for an EU-wide vaccination certificate.

Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, announced some limited relaxations to outdoor mixing in Scotland, in particular for teenagers.

Economy updates

Honk Kong: Underscoring the continued economic damage from travel lockdowns, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. had a net loss of HK$21.65 billion ($2.8 billion) for 2020, a period the carrier called the “most challenging 12 months” of its more than 70-year history. With the pandemic continuing to hit travel, the Hong Kong airline is maintaining executive pay cuts and other cash-preservation measures.

UK: The British government will launch a consultation to reform the levy for internal UK flights, the Department for Transport said. This could mean a “return leg exemption” so passengers only pay for their outward flight, or a new lower domestic rate. The proposal is part of a review aimed at exploring how transport can better connect all parts of the UK, after the collapse of Flybe at the start of the pandemic.

9:21 am

US Senate votes through $1.9tn Covid-19 relief bill

10 March

Economist and author Branko Milanovic, shared an article on the passing of the $1.9tn Covid-19 relief bill by the US Senate.

The relief package includes $1,400 cheques for middle- and lower-income households, extended unemployment insurance through the summer, and $70bn to boost vaccination distribution and Covid-19 testing.

As the current Covid unemployment benefits expire on 14 March 2021, the relief bill extended the programme through September at $300 per week.

The bill also called for non-taxable unemployment benefits for the first $10,200 of the benefits to those households earning less than $150,000.

Child tax credit for most families have also been raised by $1,000, to $3,000 per child in the coming year.

This cap is even higher for families with young children. For example, many families can now receive a credit of $3,600 for each child under the age of six.

All of these credits are expected to be fully refundable, as some researchers state that these measures could possibly help in cutting child poverty by nearly half.

The bill is also focused on supporting state and local governments, and public schools by allocating $350bn in cash towards the former, and $150bn to allow elementary, middle and high schools to reopen.

Local budgets suffered a massive blow during the coronavirus pandemic in the US.

In September, the Brookings Institute projected state and local revenues to fall by $155bn in 2020, $167bn in 2021 and $145bn in 2022 respectively.

The funding for schools will help in improving ventilation systems, hiring more janitors, and reducing class sizes to ensure social distancing.

Read more

9:10 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Sorrento Therapeutics and Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine collaborate on antibody combinations – Novartis-supported Molecular Therapeutics publish promising interim Phase I results for triple antiviral drug

10 March 2021

Molecular Partners and Novartis announced positive initial results from an ongoing Phase I study of ensovibep, the former’s first tri-specific Covid-19 antiviral treatment, among healthy individuals. Initial findings show the drug was safe and effective; a Phase II/III registrational study is being planned for the second quarter of 2021.

US pharmacy Walgreens has administered approximately five million Covid-19 vaccinations across its stores, long-term care facilities, and through dedicated clinics.  The company is supporting  vaccination efforts across 43 US states and jurisdictions as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

Sorrento Therapeutics announced major progress in developing COVISHIELD antibody combinations through a license agreement with researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The agreement allows for the collection of antibodies which have the SARS-CoV-2 virus neutralising properties developed by Mount Sinai. This follows on from the success of Sorrento’s intravenous STI-2020 (COVI-AMG) and its intranasal STI-2099 (COVIDROPS).

2:53 pm

Can the care economy ease Canada’s Covid driven ‘she-cession’?

9 March

Armine Yalnizyan, a Canadian economist and Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers, shared an article on building up the care economy to recover from the recession.

According to economists, the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected women’s livelihoods and pockets being dubbed as the ‘she-cession’, characterised by many more women being pushed out of the labour force due to pressures of providing caring functions to those around them.

Yalnizyan believes that the pathway to a broader economic recovery is to build up the caring economy, comprising the often invisible and unpaid workers.

The pandemic, she opines, has revealed that the economy essentially relies on the caring economy, which is currently chronically undersupplied. Consequently, governments could create better jobs keeping in mind the unpaid and unaccounted work that goes into supporting lives and people to propel economic recovery.

Abi Sriharan, an academic with the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto, stated that women have carried an increasing burden due to the Covid-19 crisis, as children have to be home-schooled and taken care of during the lockdowns.

Studies have also suggested that childcare as a complicating factor for working women even before the pandemic arrived. A 2019 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report found that the monthly cost of childcare ranged from a median of $179 in Quebec to $1,774 in Toronto.

Read more

2:27 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases exceed 117.25 million – US cases pass 29 million

9 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 117,250,000, with more than 2,604,000 deaths and 76,967,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil lead the world for total confirmed Covid-19 cases, with India maintaining its lead ahead of Brazil by less than 200,000 cases, while the US has registered in excess of 29 million infections.

The US, Brazil and India also rank in the top five countries leading the world in the total number of Covid-19-related deaths, accompanied by Mexico with the third highest deaths and the UK rounding out the fifth position.

The number of deaths reported by these five countries ranges from over 525,000 within the US to 124,000 in the UK.

Despite continuing increases in case numbers within Brazil and reported deaths of over 36,000 last month alone, President Jair Bolsonaro has said he will not use the nation’s army to enforce national lockdown or any other restrictive measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.

This is consistent with the President’s controversial governance during the pandemic to date, consistently prioritising the right-to-work of the Brazilian people over preventing spread of the virus.

This stance was responsible for national protests calling for his resignation earlier this year, amid steep rises in both case numbers and deaths.

Ellie Sutcliffe, BSc, Senior Analyst and Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:06 am

Coronavirus company news summary – IQVIA supports J&J’s vaccine clinical trials – Moderna teams up with Baxter for vaccine manufacturing

9 March 2021

Abivax is stopping its miR-AGE Phase IIb/III clinical trial of high-risk Covid-19 patients. This came after the trial’s independent Data Safety and Monitoring Board (DSMB) found a lack of efficacy in interim analysis from 305 high-risk patients who had completed the study period. The data found lower than expected rate of progression to severe disease or death, with no difference in the severity rate in the drug or the placebo group.

IQVIA has been collaborating with Johnson & Johnson‘s Janssen Research & Development on Phase III Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials since September 2020. The studies use IQVIA’s suite of decentralised trial solutions for both on-site and remote study delivery through telehealth technologies, digital patient engagement, and virtual oversight strategies.

Baxter International and Moderna have entered into an agreement for the former’s Baxter BioPharma Solutions to provide fill and finish sterile manufacturing services, as well as supply packaging, for up to 90 million doses of the Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine in 2021 in the US. The vaccine will be manufactured at the BioPharma Solutions facilities in Bloomington, Indiana.

8:31 am

International update: Global Covid death toll passes 2.6 million as infections exceed 117 million

9 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2,600,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 117 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have now passed 29 million having reached 29,044,109. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 525,752 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Italy: Italy’s coronavirus death toll eclipsed 100,000 on Monday, as prime minister Mario Draghi reiterated his pledge to speed up the vaccination programme.

Vaccine news

Global: The World Health Organization expressed concern about nations facing conflicts that could halt or slow the response to the pandemic, including vaccinations, officials said at a briefing on Monday. “The response to the pandemic needs to be a public health response and we have to take out politics,” said Kate O’Brien, head of the WHO’s vaccination division. She said vaccines have a shelf life and risk being wasted if they’re not distributed on time. Myanmar, Yemen, Syria and Libya have all faced disruption to general health services.

EU: The European Commission is “tired of being the scapegoat” for the slow rollout of vaccines, its president, Ursula von der Leyen, said as she continues to face pressure over the EU’s uncertain response to the pandemic. In a blistering counter-attack against criticism over the European Union’s sluggish Covid-19 vaccination program, von der Leyen refocused blame on manufacturers, notably AstraZeneca Plc, which she said hadn’t stockpiled doses as it started producing in Europe.

Italy: Italy approved the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people aged over 65 on Monday, after the Italian government had initially blocked the use for over-65s over doubts regarding the vaccine’s efficacy in that age groups and a lack of data.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi pledged strong action to turn around Italy’s slow vaccination campaign, saying an exit path out of the coronavirus pandemic isn’t far away if the country can move faster on inoculations.

A Swiss biopharmaceutical company will produce the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine at its Italian facilities, marking the first European production agreement for the Russian shot. Lugano, Switzerland-based Adienne Pharma & Biotech SA signed an agreement with Russian sovereign wealth fund RDIF to manufacture the vaccine at its production site near Milan, according to a statement on the company’s website. Italian regulators must still approve the production but several million doses are expected to be made by the end of the year.

Brazil: Preliminary data from a study in Brazil indicates that the Covid-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd is effective against the P1 variant of the virus first discovered in Brazil.

US: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the state is opening up the vaccine to everyone 60 and over starting on 15 March, expanding general eligibility by five years from the previous starting age of 65.

UK: More than one-third of the UK population has received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as deaths from the disease continue to fall. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the milestone at a news conference on Monday, the same day the government took its first major step in easing lockdown restrictions by reopening schools.

Lockdown updates

UK: The reopening of schools in England will have an impact on infection rates that could affect the roadmap for lifting restrictions, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned, despite the number of new cases recorded in the UK having fallen to its lowest total since late September.

Netherlands: Most Dutch coronavirus restrictions must remain in place for now, prime minister Mark Rutte said on Monday, with the evening curfew being extended until 31 March and foreign travel advised against until mid April.

Belgium: The EU’s executive criticised Belgium on Monday for extending its blanket ban on non-essential travel to and from the country despite the European commission asking it to ease restrictions on movement.

US: Vaccinated people can visit indoors without masks but must still wear them in public and avoid large gatherings when around those who aren’t immunized or are at high risk for contracting Covid-19, the US. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday. The agency issued its long-awaited guidance for what fully vaccinated people can safely do, as inoculations rise but as health experts warn that the risk of the virus remains, especially with new variants. Broadly, the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated people can meet freely in private settings with other fully vaccinated people, but that several restrictions remain, including advising against travel and recommending mask-wearing in public.

High schools in New York City will welcome students back to the classroom for in-person instruction on 22 March, mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday.

Wyoming will lift its mask requirement and permit bars, restaurants, theaters and gyms to resume normal operations 16 March, Governor Mark Gordon said Monday. Health officials in neighbouring Colorado last week directed counties to maintain safety protocols and Governor Jared Polis extended Colorado’s mask order for at least another 30 days. Gordon is a Republican. Polis is a Democrat.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs, and Guaranteed Rate Field, home to the Chicago White Sox, will allow up to 20% capacity, starting on each baseball team’s opening day in April. That capacity may grow as vaccination and recovery efforts continue, but any jump in Covid-19 cases could prompt closures, the city said. Wrigley Field, the oldest ballpark in the National League, will be limited to 8,274 fans per game starting on 1 April, the city said. Normal capacity is 41,374. Guaranteed Rate Field, home to the Chicago White Sox on the South Side, will be limited to 8,122 fans. Normally, the ballpark seats just over 40,000 guests.

Economy updates

US: The US federal government should be able to launch the delivery of $1,400 checks to around 160m American households almost immediately once Congress finalises the new coronavirus aid bill and president Joe Biden signs it.

US airlines carried an average of more than 1 million passengers a day in the past week, the highest non-holiday total since the Covid-19 pandemic began gutting travel demand in the country almost a year ago. Sunday’s total of 1.28 million was the third highest since travel collapsed in mid-March 2020, according to data reported by the Transportation Security Administration. The only equivalent periods with that many fliers since March 17, 2020, have been during the traditionally busy Thanksgiving and Christmas periods.

Italy: Prime Minister Mario Draghi told a Rome conference that his priorities include fuelling a recovery for Italy’s economy, which contracted by 8.9% last year.

12:29 pm

How the gendered nature of the pandemic recession on Australia’s labour market has worsened pay inequality

8 March

Jim Stanford, an Director at the Centre for Future Work, tweeted an article by Alison Pennington, senior economist at the Centre for Future Work and author of a new research report on Australia’s post Covid recovery.

The report stated that the gendered nature of the pandemic recession on the country’s labour market has worsened pay inequality.

According to the report, women had lost more jobs than men when the pandemic hit, declining by almost 8% between February and May 2020, which was more than 2 percentage points worse than for men.

Meanwhile, job recovery has also been gendered.

For example, women held 53,000 fewer jobs in January 2021 than last year, while male employment grew by approximately 7,000 jobs.

In addition, women disproportionately returned to work in on a casual and part-time basis, as the economy reopened with easing of restrictions and vaccination efforts.

Ms Pennington further believes that having a job is not enough for women facing historic undervaluation of paid work.

The report highlights the expansion of casual work in the industrial relations package, public sector pay caps, and a high-cost inaccessible childcare system which could further widen pay inequality in the year ahead.

Read more

11:54 am

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: US study suggests secondary transmission in schools less than in the wider community

8 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 116,879,000, with more than 2,594,000 deaths and 76,967,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil lead the world for total confirmed Covid-19 cases, with India maintaining its lead ahead of Brazil by only 200,000 cases.

Brazil now leads the world in the number of daily new confirmed cases, with over 468,000 new cases confirmed in the past seven days.

Daily new cases appear to be trending upwards within India as well as Brazil.

However, even though cases continue to decrease across the US, numbers there are rapidly approaching 29 million.

A recent study has found that secondary transmission within schools may be less common than that seen within the community when the appropriate mitigation policies are implemented.

The study took place over a nine week period of in-class teaching across 11 school districts in the US state of North Carolina, registering a total of 32 SARS-CoV-2 infections within schools compared to 773 community-based transmissions.

Schools within the study were participating within an educational program focused on prevention and transmission of infection, aimed at administration, teachers and parents of students.

These data could support the re-opening of schools provided adequate control measures are in place.

Ellie Sutcliffe, BSc, Senior Analyst and Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData

11:24 am

International update: US Covid infections near 29 million as super-spreader event feared

8 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2,594,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 116 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections are nearing 29 million having passed 28,999,000. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 525,035 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The US recorded a full week with fewer than 70,000 daily cases for the first time since mid-October. The nation added 62,103 cases on Saturday, capping a week with some 60,700 new infections a day, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

UK: The UK has reported a further 82 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, bringing the total to 124,501. This compares with 144 last Sunday, and is the first time fatalities have dropped below triple digits since October.

Mexico: Mexico’s health ministry has reported 2,734 new confirmed Covid-19 cases and 247 further fatalities, bringing the total tally to 2,128,600 infections and 190,604 deaths, Reuters reports.

Germany: A German MP has announced his resignation after it was revealed that his company had made hundreds of thousands through deals to procure face masks.

Vaccine news

US: The US has administered 90.35m doses of vaccine according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency said 59m people had received one or more doses while 30.6m people have received the second dose as of Sunday.

Macedonia: North Macedonia received its first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccines on Sunday, after beginning its vaccine rollout last month.

France: France has donated 15,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses to Slovakia as the country battles against the world’s highest coronavirus mortality rate.

New Zealand: New Zealand has purchased an additional 8.5 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, meaning it will have enough to vaccinate the entire population, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in an emailed statement. The vaccines are expected to arrive during the second half of the year. Ardern said the decision to make Pfizer New Zealand’s primary vaccine provider was based on the fact that the shot has been shown to be about 95% effective at preventing symptomatic infection. Having a single vaccine will also simplify the roll out.

Vietnam: Vietnam began vaccinations with medical workers in Hanoi, Hai Duong and Ho Chi Minh City getting the first shots Monday morning, the government website reported. The health ministry is initially distributing vaccines only to medical facilities treating virus patients in 13 provinces and cities, according to the government website post.

China: China needs to vaccinate 70% to 80% of its population to reach herd immunity against Covid-19, and it can only accomplish that by mid-2022 at the earliest, said George Gao, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in an interview with Chinese News Service.

Austria: Austria stopped shots from one batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine after two incidents involving women who received shots from that batch. One 49-year-old woman died from a severe coagulation dysfunction, and one 35 year-old woman developed a pulmonary embolism but is now recovering. The Austrian Federal Office for Safety in Health Care said on its website that “there is no evidence of a causal relationship” with the vaccination, and that “thrombotic events in particular are not among the known or typical side effects of the vaccine in question.”

Lockdown updates

Netherlands: More than a thousand clubbers in Amsterdam were given a short break from lockdown as part of a trial investigating how large events can operate safely amid the pandemic.

Greece: Police used tear gas against protesters in Athens on Sunday night after footage of an officer beating a man during a coronavirus lockdown patrol went viral.

Taiwan: Taiwan could set up a “travel bubble” with the island nation of Palau as early as next week, subjecting tourists from each side to fewer quarantine restrictions, Taipei-based Apple Daily reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The details aren’t finalized yet, the report said.

US: A year into the pandemic, new CDC guidelines expected soon on what people can do after they’re vaccinated need to be grounded in reality, said the former head of the US Food and Drug Administration. “Public health guidance needs to take into consideration what people want to do. We can’t be so far behind the aspirations of the public that the guidance itself gets ignored,” Scott Gottlieb said on CBS.

Thousands of US students tired of a year of Covid-19 restrictions have descended on Florida for spring break, despite travel warnings and fears of another viral wave. “This spring break feels like a different order of chaos,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said, according to the Miami Herald. “It feels different. Part of it, clearly, is we’re the only place open.” Local officials worry the break will become a super-spreader event, especially with the rise of more-transmissible variants. Florida is the US state with the most cases of the B.1.1.7 strain first found in the UK, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said it did not recommend traveling for spring break.

US cases remain “very high” and a rush to lift virus-related restrictions risks triggering another surge, Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Meanwhile, Fauci said that new federal guidelines for how vaccinated people can interact with non-vaccinated folks would be coming out likely in the next couple of days.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said Sunday he would keep Arkansas’s mask mandate at least through the end of the month. He said wanted a more gradual “off ramp” to easing than states like Texas or Mississippi that abruptly ended their mandates last week.

Republicans Greg Abbott of Texas and Tate Reeves of Mississippi announced last week they’re eliminating state mask mandates and allowing businesses to reopen at full capacity, setting expectations for other GOP-led states to follow suit. The moves drew dire warnings from Democrats and health officials that they risk igniting another spike in cases and deaths and stood in stark contrast to Joe Biden’s cautious approach.

Restaurants outside of New York City will be able to increase capacity to 75% from 50% starting March 19, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a briefing Sunday.

9:05 am

Coronavirus company news summary – EMA’s CHMP recommends use of Lilly’s monoclonal antibodies for Covid-19 – Moderna will supply 13 million doses of its vaccine to the Philippines

8 March 2021

Moderna announced that the company will be providing 13 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the Philippines. According to the terms of the supply agreement, delivery of the vaccines is expected to begin in mid-2021. The company’s vaccine is currently not approved for use in the Philippines, while the company is working with regulators to get the necessary approvals before distribution.

Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced preliminary findings from the latter’s Phase IIa trial of molnupiravir, an oral antiviral agent to tackle SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19. The study found a reduction in days to negativity of infectious virus isolation in nasal swabs in symptomatic participants. Primary efficacy, endpoint safety, and other secondary findings will be presented in an upcoming medical meeting.

Eli Lilly and Company announced that the European Medicines Agency (EMA)’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has recommended  Bamlanivimab alone and Bamlanivimab taken together with Etesevimab. The CHMP advises that both forms of monoclonal antibody treatment can be used for confirmed Covid-19 patients aged 12 or older who do not require supplemental oxygen and who are at high risk of developing severe forms of the disease.

2:41 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid infections climb in central and eastern Europe

5 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 115,578,000, with over 2,567,000 deaths and 76,188,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil lead the world for total confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Daily confirmed cases in India have ticked upwards slightly in the past several days, although daily numbers remain below 20,000.

Germany is tenth in total confirmed cases, but daily cases are trending upwards.

The US, Brazil, Mexico, and India continue to be the top four for total deaths.

Central and Eastern Europe are experiencing a resurgence in coronavirus infections, which the World Health Organization attributes to both new variants and the premature relaxing of restrictions.

For example, daily confirmed cases have been climbing in Poland for the last few weeks, starting to surpass 15,000 cases per day.

Similar trends are seen for countries like Romania and Hungary, although daily cases remain well below 10,000.

These increases come as several coronavirus variants, including the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the UK, gain footholds in Europe.

Shaina Stacy, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

11:43 am

International update: Italy halts vaccine shipment to Australia as Europe ‘scrambles to save shots”

5 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2,569,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 115 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 28.8 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 520,356 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

More than a dozen US states reported increases in hospitalizations for the coronavirus, threatening to reverse a national trend that’s pushed in-patient numbers to the lowest level since the fall. US hospitals were treating 49,519 patients as of Thursday, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show.

Vaccine news

Italy: Italy halted a shipment of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine due for Australia. It came after the EU introduced new rules governing the shipment of vaccines outside the bloc, although this is the first intervention of its kind. Meanwhile, Italy and Germany will both administer just a single coronavirus vaccine dose to people who have been infected with the virus up to six months beforehand, amid a scramble to save shots.

Australia: Health minister Greg Hunt, downplayed the impact of Italy blocking supplies of AstraZeneca vaccines even as the nation starts its rollout. The company had a “deep, broad, global supply chain,” Hunt said. Australia began its rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine about two weeks ago. It’s set to start domestic production of the AstraZeneca product, targeting 1 million doses a week from late March.

France: France has criticised a push by Austria and Denmark to coordinate with Israel on developing new Covid-19 jabs, as EU unity frays even further over its troubled vaccine rollout

Russia: Russia expects several EU countries to approve the use of its Sputnik V vaccine this month and Moscow could provide vaccines for 50 million Europeans starting from June if the shot wins EU-wide approval, Russia’s RDIF fund said.

US: New York City has received 16,300 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses, its first delivery of the one-shot vaccine, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The city will use the J&J shots to begin vaccinating home-bound seniors, the mayor said in a Thursday briefing. De Blasio said when he becomes eligible to get the vaccine, he hopes to get the J&J shot. The city surpassed 2 million vaccinations this week and the city’s health commissioner has said vaccines may be available to all residents by late April.

Cuba: Cuba has begun late-stage trials of its most advanced experimental Covid-19 vaccine, edging closer to a potential home-grown inoculation campaign after shunning foreign jabs.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong has seen vaccination rates in the city decline for two straight days, in a sign the government may face difficulties keeping up the momentum of the inoculation program. The city administered vaccines to 10,300 people on Thursday, 12% lower than Wednesday’s rate, which itself was a 10% drop from the previous day. Tuesday’s total of 13,000 was the largest number of vaccinations since Hong Kong began giving shots to the public at the end of February.

Taiwan: The National Health Research Institutes will apply to build a second plant to expand vaccine production capacity, Taipei-based Apple Daily reported, citing Health Minister Chen Shih-chung. The government expects mass production of Taiwan’s Covid vaccines to start in July, the newspaper said.

Indonesia: Indonesia holds phase-3 trial for China vaccine. A trial on the Covid-19 vaccine produced by China’s Anhui Zhifei Longkema Biological Pharmaceutical will enroll as many as 4,000 participants in Bandung and Jakarta, CNN Indonesia reports. Approval for an emergency use of the vaccine is expected in September, CNN reports.

Canada: The Canadian minister in charge of vaccines said it’s “highly likely” the government will be able to move up its target date of September for inoculating every citizen who wants a Covid-19 shot. Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Thursday in an interview that more people could get their jabs at a faster pace as the delivery of doses ramps up.

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe has become the first African country to authorize the use of India’s only homegrown coronavirus vaccine, which the developers this week said showed strong efficacy. The first batch of Covaxin, which was co-developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Ltd. and the Indian Council of Medical Research, is due to arrive shortly, the Indian Embassy in the southern African nation said on its Twitter account.

Lockdown updates

Italy: Almost one year after Milan became the first European region to enter into a hard lockdown, the Italian financial capital is again facing major restrictions. All schools will be closed until 14March and no person will be able to leave town if not for business and health reasons. Milan citizens won’t be allowed to reach their holiday houses, with bars and restaurants remaining closed while shops can stay open.

France: France plans to tighten restrictions and accelerate vaccinations in parts of the country as the government continues to shy away from a third nationwide lockdown on hopes that improvement is just weeks away. The Pas-de-Calais department on the northern coast of France will be put under a weekend lockdown as of Saturday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said at a weekly news conference. “A lockdown, even limited to the weekend, is a heavy measure,” he said.

Kuwait: Kuwait has imposed a partial curfew as daily cases jumped to the highest on record. The curfew comes into force from 7 March for a month, the Council of Ministers said in a statement. The Gulf nation reported 1,716 new cases on Thursday, taking the total to 196,497 with 1,105 deaths.

Brazil: Brazil’s second biggest city of Rio de Janeiro will be the latest to adopt new Covid restrictions from tomorrow, including a night curfew, in a bid to stall a second wave of the virus

UK: In the UK more than four in 10 over-80s in England may have met with someone outside of their support bubble within three weeks of receiving the first jab, an official survey suggested.

Japan: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government aims to bring daily coronavirus infections down to a 7-day average of about 140 before lifting the state of emergency in the capital, Nikkei reports, citing an unidentified person. Infections by that measure are about 269 now and the government is also aiming to lower hospitalized patients to about 1,000 from the current 1,519.

New Zealand: Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, will exit a seven-day lockdown this weekend after a small community outbreak of Covid-19 was contained, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. Auckland’s alert level will drop to 2 from 3 at 6 am local time Sunday, allowing schools and businesses to reopen, Ardern said after a cabinet meeting Friday in Wellington. The remainder of New Zealand will move to level 1, meaning people no longer have to observe social distancing or limit the size of gatherings.

US: Southern New Hampshire University has agreed to pay $1.25 million to resolve a class action in federal court by students demanding refunds after the school canceled in-person classes last spring because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The deal appears to be among the first to be reached in a sea of hundreds of lawsuits filed by students against colleges and universities in federal court after Covid-19 disrupted in-person curricula last year.

Economy updates

US: California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order extending authorization for local governments to halt evictions for commercial renters impacted by the Covid -19 pandemic through June 30, 2021, according to a statement. The order extends protections against price gouging for emergency and medical supplies amid the ongoing response to the pandemic.

China: China has set a conservative economic growth target of above 6% for the year, well below what economists forecast, and outlined ongoing fiscal support with prudent monetary policy. The government will narrow the budget deficit to 3.2% of gross domestic product this year from 3.6% in 2020, Premier Li Keqiang said Friday at the opening of the National People’s Congress.

8:47 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Novartis will support CureVac in vaccine manufacturing – GC Pharma will support Moderna’s vaccine distribution in South Korea

5 March 2021 

GC Pharma announced that it will be supporting Moderna and the South Korean Government to distribute 40 million doses of the Covid-19 Vaccine Moderna in the country. The Korea Diseases Control and Prevention Agency had previously announced that it will receive 40 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine starting from the second quarter of 2021.

JCR Pharmaceuticals announced that it will be building a new plant in Japan to expand the production of solutions for Covid-19 vaccines. JCR Pharma, Daiichi Sankyo and other Japanese partners have been collaborating to produce and distribute the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford. The Japanese Government will be buying 120 million doses of the vaccine.

CureVac and Novartis have signed an initial agreement to manufacture CVnCoV, CureVac’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The companies are currently preparing to start the production; technology transfers and test runs are already underway. Following the final agreement, Novartis will be manufacturing the mRNA and bulk drug product  for up to 50 million doses of CVnCoV by the end of 2021, and up to 200 million doses in 2022.

8:09 am

How Covid containment has helped economies to bounce back

5 March

Fabio Ghironi, an economist, retweeted an article on the gross domestic product (GDP) having rebounded sharply in countries that have been successfully in containing Covid-19.

In addition, countries with widespread vaccination programmes have also been able to reduce coronavirus cases and deaths, and subsequently revive their economies.

Real world evidence further suggests that countries such as the UK and Israel have been able to blunt the severity of the disease and symptomatic infections because of the planned vaccination rollouts.

The US, on the other hand, expects to have enough vaccines for every adult by the end of May 2021, with the $1.9tn stimulus package moving closer to becoming a law.

While Israel leads the pack with more than half of its population having received the first jab of the Covid vaccine, the US and UK fair better than other advanced economies.

Recent studies also suggest that coronavirus vaccines have been effective in reducing infections, with both Israel and the UK reporting falling number of hospitalisations among the older age groups.

Given a scenario that a vaccine-resistant strain does not become dominant, experts believe that the rapid rollout of Covid vaccines will help in reducing deaths and hospitalisations, and transmissions altogether.

However, some countries such as Australia, New Zealand, China, and Taiwan have been able to curb the virus and revive their economies without vaccines.

It is being hoped that other countries follow a similar path to curb the virus via vaccination efforts.

Read more

1:44 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Germany considers extending lockdown – global infections pass 115 million

4 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 115,297,000, with more than 2,561,000 deaths and 75,907,000 recoveries.

After trending downwards in mid-February, the daily confirmed cases and deaths in Brazil both continue to climb.

Brazil is surpassed by the US and India for total confirmed Covid-19 cases and followed by Russia, the UK, France, and Spain.

Italy, which is eighth in total cases, has seen an uptick in daily confirmed cases in the past week, although daily deaths have remained fairly steady.

The US and Brazil continue to lead the world in total deaths.

Germany will consider extending its 11-week lockdown, set to expire next week, if weekly infection rates continue to surpass 100 per 100,000 people.

Meanwhile, in the US, several states are beginning to ease restrictions.

Texas and Mississippi are fully lifting business capacity limits and statewide mask mandates later this month.

Shaina Stacy, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:05 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 115 million – concern over fake vaccines

4 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.56 million with a figure of 2,560,965 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 115 million world wide.

Police in China and South Africa have seized thousands of fake doses of Covid-19 jabs, adding that Interpol has warned this represented only the “tip of the iceberg” in vaccine-related crime.

US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 28,760,000. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 518,453 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

New infections are dropping in the United States, Canada and Mexico but vaccinations have hardly begun in Latin America, raising the risk of dangerous new variants emerging, the Pan American Health Organization has said.

Serbia: Serbia is struggling to contain a wave of new cases triggered by more infectious strains and health experts have urged the government to impose another lockdown despite the country’s massive vaccine rollout.

Brazil: Brazil’s senate backed a $7.8 billion round of Covid aid for the poor in a first-round vote as a new wave of the pandemic batters the economy and pushes the health system to the brink of collapse. The vote came after a day of 1,910 fatalities, the second day of record deaths. The country said it reached an agreement to buy Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine.

Vaccine news

EU: The Czech Republic and Slovakia, which have come under severe strain in recent weeks, will be given an extra 100,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses each by the EU.

UK: A further 208,968 Covid-19 vaccinations have been carried out in England, according to provisional NHS England data, including first and second doses.

A single shot from AstraZeneca’s or Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines protected people aged 80 and over from being hospitalized based on data collected in the UK supporting the rationale for spacing out injections to protect more people.

India: Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech has said its Covid-19 vaccine is almost 81% effective at preventing infection following interim phase 3 trials.

US: The US is administering an average of 2.01 million doses a day, the first time it has crossed that threshold, according to the latest analysis from the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Michigan lowered its vaccine eligibility age to 50 from 65, becoming one of the first US states to take that step, and Texas opened its inoculation drive to teachers, school staff and licensed childcare providers. Meanwhile, Texas teachers are elgibile immediately, according to the state health department.

Rwanda: Rwanda received 102,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses on Wednesday, according to Unicef. It’s the first African nation to receive mRNA vaccines through Covax, the global alliance working to ensure equitable access to vaccines. Rwanda also received 240,000 AstraZeneca/Oxford doses.

Lockdown updates

Brazil: Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous state, on Wednesday announced tough new measures to slow a snowballing coronavirus pandemic in the country with the world’s second highest death toll.

Greece: Greece has extended its coronavirus lockdown to 16 March as it reported the highest number of new cases recorded so far in 2021.

Estonia: Estonia has imposed new restrictions on restaurants and non-essential shops as part of efforts to curb rising infections.

Lithuania: Lithuania eased some of its lockdown restrictions to allow contacts between two households outdoors, as well as sports or cultural sessions of up to five people outdoors. The government is also introducing a requirement to hold a negative Covid-19 test taken within the previous three days to be eligible for entry to the country.

Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel set out a plan to gradually unwind restrictions on Europe’s largest economy, bowing to pressure from the pandemic-weary public. After hairdressers resumed operations on Monday, the next step will start on 8 March, the German leader said late Wednesday after more than nine hours of tense talks with regional officials. Remaining restrictions – including the closure of hotels, restaurants and other non-essential retail outlets – will continue with further easing steps tied to local contagion rates. An “emergency brake” was set up to react to hot spots.

US: New York state said starting 22 March the outdoor limit on residential gatherings will increase to 25 from 10. Limits for social events will rise from 50 to 100 people indoors and to 200 outdoors. Venues that hold fewer than 10,000 people can open at 33% capacity from April 2, with up to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. Social distancing and face coverings are still required for attendance. Governor Andrew Cuomo also said domestic travelers would no longer be required to quarantine or test-out within 90 days of full vaccination.

Federal health officials called on Texas and Mississippi residents to keep wearing masks as governors there lift Covid-19 restrictions, saying it’s premature to abandon mitigation efforts and that the virus can still erupt again. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that though cases have halted their decline from January highs, it’s not yet time to lift restrictions. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Tuesday that the state would lift its mask mandate and reopen businesses next week. He also banned counties from fining or jailing people who disregard local measures, in defiance of previous warnings from Walensky and others.

Montenegro: Montenegro, with one of the highest infection rates in Europe, is relying on police and the army to enforce virus restrictions, including mandatory face masks and social distancing, according to a government statement Wednesday. The Adriatic state of 650,000 is also curbing intercity travel and suspending non-essential services as a last-ditch attempt to avoid a complete lockdown, Finance Minister Milojko Spajic said in a briefing in the capital city of Podgorica. “The pandemic is also a financial problem, but we cannot chose between health and the economy,” Spajic said.

Economy updates

UK: UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak extended emergency tax cuts to help the country mired in a third national lockdown, making clear that safeguarding jobs is his priority in the short term. He said he’s adding another £65 billion ($90.7 billion) of pandemic support to help the country recover this year and next. However, Sunak sketched out a plan to start plugging the deficit, with an increase in corporation tax to 25% from the current 19%, taking effect in 2023.

9:28 am

Can open-source research prevent a Covid resurgence?

4 March

Dean Baker, senior economist at the Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), shared an article on preventing the resurgence of the pandemic with open-source research.

In his opinion, even though the current pandemic seemed to be nearing its end, public health officials have been cautioning about new virus strains, which the current vaccines are not designed to fight.

The issue of protecting intellectual property claims in the pandemic has also been gaining significant attention, with India and South Africa putting forward a resolution to suspend patent and other intellectual property claims on vaccines, tests, and treatments, during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the US and other rich countries stand to oppose it.

Economists believe it is time for drug manufacturers such as Pfizer and Moderna, who have specific knowledge of the manufacturing processes involved, to directly share their expertise.

Baker also highlights the problem of transparency in the results shared by vaccine makers.

He opines that it would be ideal if all the companies fully disclosed their clinical trial results so that the world could benefit from them.

Read more

8:38 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Sputnik V is approved in 3 more countries – Health Canada allows Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be transported at standard freezer temperature

4 March 2021

Ocugen and Bharat Biotech announced the former’s whole inactivated Covid-19 vaccine COVAXIN achieved 81% efficacy in its first interim analysis of the Phase II study. Analysis from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) indicate that the vaccine’s has the ability to protection against the UK and other variants.

Health Canada has approved a submission from Pfizer and BioNTech to allow their Covid-19 vaccine to be transported and stored at standard freezer temperatures, between -25°C and -15°C, instead of ultra-cold conditions for two weeks. This facilitates more flexible transportation, as well as local re-distribution of the vaccine.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF)’s  Sputnik V Covid-19 has been approved by regulatory agencies in the Republic of Angola, the Congo and Djibouti. Sputnik V is now emergency approved in 42 countries worldwide.