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

9:07 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Brazil approves two Covid-19 vaccines, one by SinoVac, the second by AstraZeneca/Oxford – AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine emergency approved in Nepal

18 January 2020

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has been granted permission by the Drugs Control General of India to conduct a Phase III clinical trial for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in India. The trial is expected to be conducted in India in 1,500 participants and will be a randomised, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study.

The Collegiate Board of Anvisa, the Brazilian healthcare regulator, has unanimously approved the use of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine, which was developed in partnership with the Brazilian Butantan Institute, as well as the Covishield vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca/University of Oxford/Fiocruz and produced by the Serum Institute of India. The temporary and exceptional authorisation aims at reducing the impact of the pandemic in Brazil.

Jubilant Therapeutics announced a collaboration with The Wistar Institute to evaluate Peptidyl Arginine Deiminase 4 (PAD4) inhibitors in blocking neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation in Covid-19-related cytokine storms. Cytokine storms occur in acute respiratory distress syndrome, a leading cause of death in severely infected Covid-19 patients.

Nepal’s department of drug administration (DDA) granted emergency use for AstraZeneca/University of Oxford’s India-made Covishield vaccine against the Covid-19 disease that has killed 1,950 people across the country. AstraZeneca has partnered with Serum Institute of India, to supply the vaccine to India and other low and middle-income countries.

8:49 am

International update: Global Covid deaths pass 2 million – Norway investigates post-vaccination deaths

18 January

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 2 million, reaching 2,031,032 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 95 million world wide.

US: US Covid-19 infections have are nearing 24 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 397,600 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Ron Klain, the incoming White House chief of staff, told CNN on Sunday that Biden’s team projected another 100,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the first five weeks of the administration.

Rebekah Jones, the founder of Florida’s coronavirus database who has clashed publicly with Governor Ron DeSantis in a dispute over data manipulation, said she would surrender on Sunday after a warrant was issued for her arrest.

California’s health department said it’s concerned the variant first found in the UK is increasingly being identified by viral genomic sequencing in multiple counties across the state. The variant was seen in several large outbreaks in Santa Clara County, it said. Los Angeles County, the epicenter of the latest wave, said Saturday it identified its first case with the variant and expects the spread within the community to have started. “The reality is that the risk of contracting Covid-19 has increased with the presence of B.1.1.7 here in our community,” Hilda Solis, chair of the county’s board of supervisors, said in a statement Sunday.

Virginia shattered its record for new infections Sunday, rising to a new daily high of 9,914, state health data show. The state had set a record of 6,757 new infections on Saturday. New fatalities slowed to 23, compared with 50 the previous day, for a total of 5,729.

China: Chinese health authorities say they have traced 102 infections to a “superspreader” case, a 45-year-old man who travelled around the northeast of the country giving lectures on health.

China’s Shanxi province banned sales of anti-fever drugs as part of efforts to prevent a virus outbreak, according to a statement from the region’s drug administration. Drug sellers must guide people with fever to see a doctor at designated hospitals. Drug stores are also told to monitor sales of antibacterial and cough medicines and report any irregularities.

China reported 93 confirmed local Covid-19 cases and 104 asymptomatic infections on Monday. Most of the asymptomatic infections were detected in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang. Beijing reported two new cases from its southern suburb. A 63-year-old woman was found over the weekend to have been infected, indicating there’s still hidden transmission after authorities brought a cluster on infections on the other end of the city largely under control. China has built temporary quarantine facilities to accommodate villagers living at the center of the outbreak in the northern city of Shijiazhuang that has seen infections hitting nearly 1,000 in less than a month. A total of 1,008 container quarantine modules are ready to accommodate close contacts of Covid-19 patients.

Thailand: Thailand reported 369 new coronavirus infections, with 357 categorized as local infections, according to Apisamai Srirangsan, Covid-19 center spokeswoman. Thailand has seen more than 8,000 infections since its worse outbreak began in mid-December, with 61 provinces have reported cases. Samut Sakhon province, the origin of the new outbreak, remains among the biggest clusters, along with capital Bangkok.

South Korea: President Moon Jae-in said the country may reach herd immunity by November at the latest, as inoculations may begin in late February or early March. He said it’s clear the third virus wave has reached its peak. The country reported 389 new cases on Monday, the lowest number since 29 November.

Vaccine news

Norway: Norway said over the weekend that vaccines may be too risky for elderly people with serious underlying health conditions, after 29 people died in the country a short time after receiving their first dose of the Pfizer shot. Pfizer and BioNTech SE are working with the Norwegian regulator to investigate the deaths.

Thailand: Norway’s reports of several dozen elderly people dying after receiving inoculations of the Pfizer Inc. shot is raising concerns among some Asian nations. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said Thailand “won’t rush to get the vaccines that haven’t been fully tested and refused to be an experimental country.” Thailand has no orders for a vaccine from Pfizer, but has inked deals for Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and AstraZeneca Plc shots.

Australia: Australia’s medical regulator said it will seek information from Pfizer and Norwegian health authorities, while the country’s foreign ministry will contact Norway’s government to discuss the issue.

Japan: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed in a speech to parliament to overcome the latest wave of coronavirus infections and reiterated that the government was preparing to start vaccinations by late February. Suga, who has seen his popularity slide over his handling of the pandemic as case numbers rise, said his government would pass a law adding penalties and incentives to a law on virus management.

UK: Coronavirus vaccines will be offered to millions of over 70s and the clinically extremely vulnerable from this week as the Government expands the rollout amid a border crackdown to keep out new strains. More than 3.8 million people in the UK – including over-80s, care home residents, and NHS and social care staff – have already received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but from Monday it will be rolled out to the next two priority groups.

Brazil: Brazil’s health regulator on Sunday approved the urgent use of coronavirus vaccines made by Sinovac and AstraZeneca, enabling Latin America’s largest nation to begin an immunisation program that’s been subject to delay and political disputes.

China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. defended the efficacy of its Covid-19 shot, saying the vaccine that’s being rolled out from Indonesia to Brazil despite inconsistent data readouts is more effective in preventing the disease if the two-dose regime is administered over a longer time frame.

US: President-elect Joe Biden’s promise of delivering 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in 100 days is “absolutely a doable thing,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he expects Biden not to hesitate to “use whatever mechanisms we can” to speed the production and distribution of the shots.

Lockdown updates

Singapore: Several foreign airlines have received approval from Singapore to transit passengers at Changi Airport to other destinations, a move to revive the city-state’s air hub after being battered by travel restrictions amid the pandamic, the Straits Times reported. Under Singapore transit rules, passengers will have to remain in designated facilities in the transit area. But those who come from places that Singapore have unilaterally opened its borders to, such as China and Vietnam, are exempted from the rule.

Australia: The Australian Open tennis tournament will go ahead as scheduled next month, even after the number of players sent into a 14-day hotel quarantine on arrival rises to 72. A passenger has tested positive on a third flight, arriving in Melbourne from Doha, the event organizers said in a statement on Sunday. This means an additional group of people, including a further 25 players, will need to complete a 14-day hotel quarantine. It brings the total number of players in a two-week isolation period to 72.

Sweden: Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has said he can’t rule out further restrictions under a temporary new law to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. “But I hope we won’t need to use it,” he said during an interview on state broadcaster SVT on Sunday evening. The law, which runs from January until September, gives Lofven’s government the right to shutter businesses and fine citizens that fail to comply with tougher restrictions.

Economy updates

UK: British business leaders called on the government to rescue Eurostar, reports said, after the firm said it was close to collapse following border closures to contain new Covid-19 strains.

7:03 am

International co-operation vital for Covid recovery

18 January

David Wessel, a journalist and director of the Hutchins Centre on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution, re-tweeted on Brahima S Coulibaly’s (the vice president and director of the Global Economy and Development programme at Brookings Institute) views on 2020 being an exceptionally difficult year for the world to recover from due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Coulibaly, the two most anticipated and consequential events of the global economy and society will be the end or containment of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as a change in the US administration.

Remaining optimistic about coronavirus vaccine developments, he states that a large fraction of the world will be vaccinated by the mid of 2021, which will also pave the way for normalisation of activity.

He also confirms that the pandemic is disproportionately affecting the more vulnerable countries and segments of the society.

As a result, global poverty and inequality will rise significantly.

For policymakers, spending the next few years on rebuilding efforts and prioritising international cooperation will be important, he added.

Read more

3:29 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Grim milestone reached as global Covid deaths exceed 2 million

15 January

Globally, a grim milestone has been reached, with more than two million deaths attributed to Covid-19 barely a year after the first case was announced. The total confirmed cases of Covid have reached over 93,418,000 with 51,487,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the top three most affected countries worldwide.

Within the US, California, Texas, and New York continue to experience the largest increases in daily confirmed cases at over 34,000, 27,000 and 14,000 new cases, respectively.

The positivity rate of testing within each state remains well over the threshold set by the WHO of <5% all tests coming back positive.

This indicates improvements could be made in the testing capacity of each state, in order to ensure sufficient testing is occurring relative to the size of the outbreak within each population.

Within the Hebei province, China has begun to build a new quarantine facility to handle the expected overflow of Covid-19 patients following Lunar New Year celebrations, traditionally one of the country’s most important festivals.

Despite relative containment of domestic spread of the virus, concerns are raised over the recent spike in terms of case numbers.

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

10:44 am

International update: Global Covid deaths near 2 million as cases pass 93 million

15 January

Global: Global coronavirus deaths near 2 million. The global Covid death toll has reached 1,995,806 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 93 million world wide.

The global death toll from Covid-19 could reach somewhere from 2.2 million to 5.1 million by the beginning of March while cases can rise to 110 to 170 million by that time, according to a study by researchers from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and other research institutes including those affiliated with the Chinese military.

The World Health Organization’s emergency committee will meet two weeks early on Thursday to discuss the new coronavirus variants from South Africa and Britain that have rapidly spread to at least 50 countries and sparked widespread alarm.

 US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 23 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 388,692 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 The Greater Los Angeles area may have had a far higher infection rate than expected, with county scientists estimating that one in three have had the disease since the start of the pandemic.

China: China’s worsening outbreak in Hebei does not appear to be slowing down, with yet another rise in case numbers on Thursday. After consecutive days above 100 confirmed cases, health authorities announced 144 new Covid-19 infections, including 135 local transmissions yesterday. It is the highest increase in ten months.

UK: In the UK, seriously ill Covid patients are being transferred from overstretched London hospitals to intensive care units almost 300 miles away in Newcastle, the Guardian newspaper revealed.

Vaccine news

Denmark: Denmark leads the EU in vaccinations against the novel coronavirus thanks to a swift and smooth roll-out, and even more people would have got the jab if it had more available doses. So far, 2.2% of Denmark’s population of 5.8 million has been vaccinated since the campaign began on 27 December.

Lockdown updates

UK: The UK has banned travellers from across South America from entering the UK amid growing concerns about a mutant coronavirus strain which has emerged in Brazil. The ban which, also covers the Central American state of Panama and Portugal – due to its strong travel links with Brazil – and the former Portuguese colony of Cape Verde, came into force at 4am on Friday.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing to tighten Germany’s lockdown, as the country’s death toll soared by more than 1,500 for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Merkel aims to meet with regional leaders soon to discuss additional curbs amid fears that a more contagious variant may cause infections to spiral out of control, a government official said. The number of daily fatalities jumped by 1,589 in the 24 hours through Friday morning, taking the total to more than 45,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Indonesia: Indonesians who have completed a coronavirus vaccination may be exempted from having to show a negative test result to travel by plane. The government will issue digital certificates stored on mobile phone apps that people can use as a waiver for the test requirement when they travel by plane, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in parliamentary hearing on Thursday. The plan is meant to encourage people to get vaccinated.

France: The French government will impose a daily nationwide curfew at 6 pm starting on Saturday to combat a worrying increase in Covid-19 cases, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday. Up to now, most of France has been under an 8 pm curfew, with some parts of the country, especially in the hard-hit east, already under the stricter 6 pm curfew that Castex said had resulted in an infection rate two or three times lower than in the rest of the country.

Economy updates

US: President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9tn stimulus package proposal that aims to bring new urgency to the nation’s coronavirus vaccination campaign and usher in another round of economic relief for struggling Americans.The US is facing its deadliest period of the pandemic so far. Detailing the plan in a speech on Thursday evening, Biden described the moment as “a crisis of deep human suffering”.“There’s no time to waste,” Biden said. “We have to act and we have to act now.”

China: China’s economy grew last year at its slowest pace since the 1970s, according to an AFP poll of economists, but finished the year strongly on an accelerating coronavirus recovery. The average forecast of analysts from 13 financial institutions was a 2.0% expansion for the world’s second-largest economy, down sharply from 6.1% in 2019, itself a three-decade low.

UK: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak came under pressure from a powerful bloc of Conservative lawmakers and one of the UK’s biggest business groups to step up coronavirus assistance, with the UK mired in its third lockdown. Sunak should extend tax breaks and a temporary uplift in benefits, as well as borrow money to help fund an “infrastructure revolution,” 50 Tory lawmakers in the Northern Research Group said late Thursday in a letter to the chancellor. The group warned of a series of “cliff edges” faced by families and businesses, with various support programs due to close.

8:48 am

Biden announces ‘American Rescue Plan’ – UK free school meals row continues

15 January

Gregory Daco, an economist, shared an article on US President-elect Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief plan which calls for unemployment support, stimulus cheques, and more.

The coronavirus rescue package titled the ‘American Rescue Plan’ has been unveiled to provide resilience to households and businesses till the vaccine is widely distributed across the country.

Some plans the President-elect has called for include direct payments of $1,400 to be provided to most citizens, bringing the total relief to $2,000, allocation of $50bn toward Covid-19 testing, and $20bn towards a national vaccine programme in collaboration with states, tribes, and territories, among others.

According to Biden officials, this is first of the two spending initiatives by Biden which is sought to be implemented during the first two months of his presidency.

The second bill is expected in February and will focus on long-term goals such as climate change, job creation, reforming infrastructure, and combating racial inequalities.

Meanwhile, The UK Government is again under fire over children going hungry, this time during half term school holidays.

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8:39 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine approved in the Philippines – US FDA awards fast track designation to Innovation’s Covid-19 drug

15 January 2021 

Innovation Pharmaceuticals announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the company fast track designation to investigate Brilacidin, a first-in-class Host Defence Protein mimetic with antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties for the treatment of Covid-19.

The FDA Philippines has granted its first emergency use authorisation (EUA) to Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine, BNT162b2. An EUA is granted to a particular vaccine being developed in a situation when there is no adequate, available, and approved substitute for a preventative vaccine.

Relay Medical and Glow LifeTech announced successful results from their Phase II double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial for ArtemiC, a Covid-19 treatment that is based on the latter’s MyCell Technology. The treatment met its primary and secondary endpoints during the trial.

2:20 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases exceed 92 million – UK death count nears 85,000 – worst in Europe

14 January

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 92,482,000 with over 1,981,000 deaths and 51,122,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the top three most affected countries worldwide.

Within Europe, the UK continues to be the worst affected country reporting both the highest total number of cases at over 3,220,000 and the highest total number of deaths at over 84,900.

However, Greece and Italy have reported the highest case fatality rates in Europe at approximately 3.5% (compared to the 2.64% observed in the UK).

Paediatric hospitalization rates have been observed to vary across US states and have increased over the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are concerns over a potential misperception of the lower risk of severe disease in paediatrics being interpreted as no-risk, which may lead to increased participation in risky behaviour.

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

2:27 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid infections pass 91.7 million – Japan reports new variant

13 January

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 91,717,000 with over 1,965,000 deaths and 50,751,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the top three most affected countries, with Brazil reporting the highest overall case fatality rate of the three at 2.5%.

The US and India are experiencing case fatality rates of 1.67% and 1.44%, respectively.

Japan’s Health Ministry has reported another new Covid-19 variant, with similarities to that of the variants detected in South Africa and the UK, in four people travelling from Brazil to Japan.

It is unclear whether the variant is more contagious, however, analysis is ongoing in light of the increased transmission observed with new variants sharing similar characteristics.

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

9:15 am

International update: Global Covid cases pass 91.6 million – concerns raised over vaccine efficacy

13 January

Global: Covid-19 has claimed 1.96 million lives worldwide as coronavirus infections pass 91.6 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 22.8 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 380,796 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

UK: More coronavirus patients are on mechanical ventilation in the UK than at any point in the pandemic. There are now 3,363 people on ventilation, compared with a previous peak of 3,301 set on 12 April last year, the latest data shows. The figure indicates that despite treatments that reduce the likelihood that a patient will be moved onto ventilation, the new strain of the disease has affected many more people than the April outbreak. More than 35,000 people are hospitalized with the disease, as of 10 January, significantly higher than the April peak of 21,600.

Private companies have been accused of cashing in on the coronavirus pandemic by offering expensive Covid tests to customers with urgent travel plans, then failing to deliver.

China: China reported 107 local coronavirus infections on 12 January, including 90 in the northern province of Hebei and 16 in the northeastern Heilongjiang province, the National Health Commission said in a statement. Hebei, which is near Beijing, now has more than 600 cases in the recent flareup as the province imposes lockdowns in multiple cities. Authorities in Heilongjiang have put the province in emergency status.

Japan: Japan is set to expand the area under the coronavirus state of emergency beyond the Tokyo region, encompassing the country’s three largest economic hubs as a surge in virus cases continues to grow. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will announce the expansion of the emergency area to seven more prefectures later on Wednesday, according to media reports.

France: France reported 19,753 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours on Tuesday, while the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units continued to rise.

Mexico: Mexico reported the highest daily increase in Covid-19 deaths as the government struggles to contain the outbreak. Deaths reached 1,314 on Tuesday, the single highest increase apart from Oct. 5, when health authorities adjusted their way of calculating fatalities from the novel coronavirus. The Latin America nation, which has the fourth-highest death toll from the virus, now counts 135,682 fatalities and 1,556,028 cases. The nation’s capital, Mexico City, has seen a surge in hospitalizations.

Vaccination updates

Philippines: The Philippines will sign a deal with AstraZeneca Plc on Thursday for up to 20 million additional doses of its Covid-19 vaccine. Private companies and local officials are helping the government secure the shots, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said at a televised briefing. Talks are ongoing with the company for first shipments to arrive this quarter, he said.

Indonesia: Indonesia has kicked off what is set to be Southeast Asia’s largest inoculation program against Covid-19 to curb its record increase in infections. President Joko Widodo received the first jab in a televised ceremony on Wednesday, to be followed by some social media influencers and religious leaders.

Indonesia also becomes a test case for the Sinovac Biotech Ltd. shots, being the first country to administer CoronaVac for mass vaccination outside of China. Questions have been raised about the vaccine’s efficacy rate amid scarce research data and varying levels of effectiveness reported in clinical trials in Brazil and Turkey.

Australia: The Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology said the Australian federal government should immediately pause the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine as it may not be effectively enough to generate herd immunity, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald. Phase-three trials show it’s only 62% effective in preventing Covid-19 when given in the recommended dose, the newspaper said. Immunology society President Stephen Turner said the efficacy rate meant it should not be widely rolled out, the herald reported.

India: India has kicked off one of the world’s biggest inoculation programs, which will be a crucial test of how quickly developing countries with limited health and transportation infrastructure can protect their populations. Refrigerated trucks and private planes, accompanied by police officers, fanned out from the western city of Pune on Tuesday to around 60 different locations as medical workers are on standby to start vaccinations this weekend.

Singapore: Some Singapore Airlines employees have been offered the Covid-19 vaccine as part of the country’s latest nationwide vaccination exercise, the Straits Times reported Tuesday. The vaccine is available to staff based in Singapore who are currently on a program that requires them to be tested regularly for the virus, the Straits Times said, citing a Singapore Airlines spokesman.

New Zealand: New Zealand wants access to Covid-19 vaccines as soon as possible but accepts that other nations where the death toll is rising have a higher priority, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said. “We’re doing every single thing that is possible to get the vaccines here as soon as we can, but I don’t think it will be a surprise to anybody that countries where there are literally thousands of people dying every day, that those are countries where the vaccines are going out right now,” Robertson told NewstalkZB Wednesday.

Lockdown updates

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested Germany’s hard lockdown may last a further eight to 10 weeks. Health officials are particularly concerned about the spread of the new, far more contagious variant from the UK, which is thought to have been in Germany for several weeks.

Netherlands: The Netherlands is extending coronavirus restrictions until 9 February as infections are still high and the government is “very concerned” about the UK variant of the disease, prime minister Mark Rutte said.

Sweden: After taking arguably the world’s softest approach to handling the coronavirus pandemic, Sweden is tightening the screws. As of Sunday, the government of Premier Stefan Lofven can fine and shutter businesses that fail to follow restrictions such as caps on visitors, as well as restrict private gatherings, under a new law that runs through September. It’s a departure from relying mainly on recommendations and trusting people to follow them. With the health-care system under increasing duress and deaths surging, some say it was too little too late.

Economy updates

Global: World Bank Chief Economist Carmen Reinhart is worried that the protracted nature of the Covid-19 pandemic may overwhelm household and business balance sheets and develop into a financial crisis. “It’s a cumulative toll,” Reinhart said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “This did not start as a financial problem. This started and continues to be, first and foremost, a health crisis. But it has elements that have morphed into your classic balance sheet problems.”

US: President-elect Joe Biden will seek a deal with Republicans on another round of Covid-19 relief, rather than attempting to ram a package through without their support, according to two people familiar with the matter. The approach could mean a smaller initial package that features some priorities favored by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. The idea is to forgo using a special budget process that would remove the need to get the support of at least 10 Republicans in the Senate, which will be split 50-50 and under Democratic control only thanks to the vice president’s vote.

South Korea: South Korea’s jobless rate hit a 10-year high in December as the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak forced businesses to slash hiring. The unemployment rate jumped to 4.6% last month, the highest since January 2010, the statistical office reported Wednesday. Economists had forecast a reading unchanged from November’s 4.1%.

Greece: Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged the EU to adopt a “standardised” vaccination certificate to boost travel this year.

9:00 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Switzerland approves Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine – US HHS and DOD secure supply of Regeneron’s antibody drug cocktail for hospitalised Covid-19 patients

13 January 2021

Moderna has announced that Swissmedic, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, has authorised the use of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine in Switzerland. The temporary approval was based on the regulator’s ordinary approvals procedure and a rolling submission of data and scientific evidence from Moderna’s its pivotal Phase III clinical study.

Regeneron, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the US Department of Defence (DOD) have entered into a purchase agreement. According to the agreement, Regeneron will supply casirivimab and imdevimab antibody cocktail doses for use in non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients to HHS and DODas part of the US Government’s Operation Warp Speed goals.

Sinovac has partnered with Malaysian pharma company Pharmaniaga to supply 14 million doses of the former’s inactivated Covid-19 vaccines to Malaysia. Pharmaniaga reported that the vaccines will be made available to the Malaysian public by the end of March 2021.

South Korea based biopharma Celltrion confirmed the efficacy of Regkirona, also known as CT-P59, its Covid-19 antibody therapeutic treatment in Phase II clinical trials. According to Kwon Ki-sung, the head of Celltrion’s research and development unit, Regkirona showed better therapeutic effective than other antibody treatments in the study, such as those developed by Eli Lilly and Regeneron.

8:22 am

Brazil CoronaVac data questions Covid vaccine efficacy

13 January

Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, a Federal Reserve and economy watcher at Market News International, re-tweeted on Brazilian data reporting a modest 50.4% efficacy for China’s CoronaVac vaccine in preventing the symptomatic infections of Covid-19 in a clinical trial.

The figure, as a result, did not qualify for regulatory approval and was below the rate announced.

This came as a disappointment for Brazil, as CoronaVac was one of the two vaccines lined up for immunisation during the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

Several scientists had protested against the partial data released by the Butantan biomedical centre just days ago, with President Jair Bolsonaro now criticising and questioning the origins of the coronavirus vaccine.

Chinese vaccine trials across the world have been raising significant concerns about not being subject to the same public scrutiny as the US and European alternatives.

Brazil’s national immunisation programme relies on CoronaVac and ChAdOx1 nCoV-2019 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca Plc, neither of which having received regulatory approval in the country.

However, Ricardo Palacios, medical director for clinical research at Butantan, confirmed that none of the volunteers who had been inoculated with CoronaVac had to be hospitalised with Covid symptoms.

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1:44 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 91 million – growing concern over surge across Europe

12 January

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have passed 91 million at 91,022,306 with over 1,948,000 deaths and 50,405,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the top three most affected countries with daily increases in the number of new confirmed cases observed across all.

California remains the most heavily affected US state with over 2.75 million confirmed cases. However, the mortality rate remains relatively low at 1.1%.

The US state with the highest mortality rate is New York at 3.46%, with over 1,149,000 total cases.

The EU has initiated its program of mass vaccination amidst growing concern over the surge in Covid-19 cases across Europe.

Countries within the EU are using different methods of vaccination distribution, with France prioritizing the elderly and Italy prioritizing health care workers.

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

9:07 am

International update: Global Covid cases near 91 million – herd immunity not achievable in 2021 say WHO

12 January

Global: Covid-19 has claimed 1.94 million lives worldwide as coronavirus infections near 91 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan warned that it will take time to produce and administer enough doses to halt the spread of the virus and that herd immunity is not achievable in 2021.

US: COVID-19 infections have passed 22.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 376,280 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Several gorillas at the San Diego zoo safari park have tested positive for coronavirus, with some experiencing symptoms, in what is believed to be the first outbreak among such primates in captivity.

US Representative Pramila Jayapal said she has tested positive for Covid-19, days after having shared a safe room with Republican colleagues who declined to wear masks as they sheltered while President Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building. “I just received a positive COVID-19 test result after being locked down in a secured room at the Capitol where several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one,” she wrote in Twitter post.

US Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, a New Jersey Democrat and lung-cancer survivor, also has tested positive for Covid-19. Watson Coleman, 75, believes she was exposed after sheltering during the storming of the Capitol, according to a statement from her office. She said she received a positive rapid test Monday and is awaiting the results of PCR testing.

UK: A quarter of coronavirus admissions to hospital are people under the age of 55, the head of NHS England has said. Sir Simon Stevens told MPs on Monday the virus was spreading out of control across much of the country, with worrying consequences for hospitals. “In London perhaps one in 30 people has the coronavirus, in parts of London it may be twice that number. In Merseyside in just the last week there has been a further 50% increase in the number of Covid hospitalisations,” he said.

India: India added 12,584 cases in a day, the lowest number since June 16. While the country has the second-highest number of cases in the world, with more than 10 million, it’s seen daily infections gradually ease from a peak of nearly 100,000 in September.

South Korea: South Korea reported 537 new cases over the last 24 hours, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website. While the number is up from 451 the previous day, it’s the eighth straight day infections have stayed below 1,000, indicating South Korea is making progress in taming its latest outbreak.

Japan: The Japanese government will declare a state of emergency for Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures as soon as Wednesday in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus, public broadcaster NHK reports, without attribution. Aichi and Gifu governments will also ask the central government to declare emergencies in the prefectures, according to the report.

Vaccination updates

Global: A WHO team is in China working with producers of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines to assess compliance with international quality-manufacturing practices ahead of a potential emergency-use listing. WHO officials also said they’re confident the rollout in lower-income countries can begin in February, though added a lot depends on country readiness and companies supplying doses.

Brazil: The general efficacy of the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. against coronavirus was between 50% and 60% in Brazil trials, website UOL reported citing unnamed people. Brazil’s Butantan Institute, which has partnered with the Chinese firm to produce the shot, said any information on the matter that isn’t presented by the institute “is purely speculative.” In a press conference last week, officials said the vaccine was 78% effective in preventing mild cases of Covid-19 and 100% effective against severe and moderate infections. It wasn’t apparent how the Brazilian researchers calculated that efficacy rate.

US: US CDC says nearly 9 million Americans vaccinated. The 8,987,322 people who have been given the first of two shots, according to the CDC, represent less than one-third of the total doses distributed to states by the US government.

Immunity from Moderna Inc’s Covid-19 vaccine should last at least a year, the company said on Monday at the JP Morgan Healthcare conference. The drugmaker said it was confident that the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology it used was well suited to deploy a vaccine based on the new variant of the coronavirus which has emerged in a handful of countries.

Finland: Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has asked the European Union to speed up the distribution of vaccines to member countries. Marin called for faster shipments of jointly procured vaccines in a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the Finnish government said in a statement late on Monday.

Singapore: Singapore is setting up special centers to administer Covid-19 vaccinations daily to large groups of people, on top of allowing the jabs to be taken at clinics and other established health-care facilities. Those centers will be ready “soon,” the city-state’s chief health scientist Tan Chorh Chuan told The Straits Times in an interview.

Thailand: Thailand is set to begin inoculating its citizens against Covid-19 before the end of February, with the goal of vaccinating at least 33 million people, half the nation’s population, by the end of 2021. The Southeast Asian nation, battling its biggest wave of coronavirus infections since the pandemic began, will start with doses from Sinovac Biotech Ltd. once the Thai Food and Drug Administration approves it, according to the Health Ministry.

Philippines: The Philippines is preparing cold storage for Covid-19 vaccines, with the government telling industry groups with facilities for storing meat and fish to be ready to help in keeping and distributing the shots.

Australia: Australia will rely on general practice doctors and drug stores to administer Covid-19 vaccines as the nation aims to inoculate its population this year. General practices and pharmacies will begin providing doses of the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine in the second part of the first phase of Australia’s program, Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters. Hospitals will use Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine due to the requirement it be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius, he said.

Lockdown updates

China: Authorities in China introduced new Covid-19 curbs in areas surrounding Beijing on Tuesday, putting 4.9 million residents under lockdown as new infections raised worries about a second wave in a nation that has mostly contained the diseases. The city of Langfang in Hebei on Tuesday said residents will be put under home quarantine for seven days and be subject to mass Covid testing in the latest attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

South Africa: President Cyril Ramaphosa extended a prohibition on alcohol sales, restricted cross-border travel and announced plans to buy millions of additional vaccines as hospitals struggle to cope with a surge in coronavirus cases. The country will remain on virus alert level 3, and the alcohol ban that was introduced on 28 December and was due to end on 15 January will remain in place, Ramaphosa said in a nationally televised address. All land-border posts will be closed to most travelers until 15 February, public gatherings other than funerals won’t be allowed, and a nationwide curfew will be enforced from 9 pm to 5 am, he said.

New Zealand: New Zealand will ask international travellers from most countries to show negative Covid-19 test results before boarding flights to the country as new contagious variants of Covid-19 spread across globally.

Philippines: The Philippines is expanding its travel ban to five other countries, including China, as a safeguard against the new coronavirus strain. Except for Filipinos returning home, travelers from China, Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg and Oman will not be allowed entry effective noon 13 January, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in media briefing. The travel ban will last until 15 January, subject to recommendation of the national taskforce on management of emerging infectious diseases.

Economy updates

Poland: Businesses have lodged their first class action against Poland’s state treasury over lockdown measures, newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported. the suit seeks to establish the state’s responsibility for losses incurred during the lockdown, without setting any specific compensation target. The suit alleges that restrictions on economic activity are illegal since authorities didn’t introduce the highest state of natural disaster.

8:44 am

Coronavirus company news summary – NeuroRx, Relief and Quantum Leap team up on I-SPY Covid-19 trial – Indonesia approves Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine

12 January 2021 

NeuroRx, Relief Therapeutics and the Quantum Leap Healthcare Collaborative announced a partnership agreement for the inclusion of ZYESAMI in the I-SPY Covid-19 clinical trial.  The I-SPY Covid-19 trial assesses various drugs for treating critical Covid-19 patients who are hospitalised or in intensive care units; the trial is being sponsored by Quantum Leap.

DalCor announced the launch of dal-COVID, a Phase II proof-of-concept study for Dalcetrapib as an oral anti-viral treatment for Covid-19. Dalcetrapib binds to the catalytic site of 3CLMpro of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, thereby impeding its activity and viral reproduction. dal-COVID is a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to be conducted in mild to moderate symptomatic Covid-19 patients.

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories announced that an ongoing Phase II trial of the Russian Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, has been reviewed by its independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB). The DSMB found that Sputnik V met the primary endpoint of safety and recommended submitting the data to regulators to decide on advancing to Phase III trials.

Indonesia’s food and drug authority (FDA) granted emergency use authorisation to Chinese Sinovac Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine, thereby becoming the first country outside China to give regulatory approval to the vaccine, as reported by Reuters. According to Penny K Lukito, who heads the country’s FDA, interim data from a late-stage clinical trial in Indonesia found the vaccine to be 65.3% effective.

8:18 am

US healthworkers face Covid vaccination uncertainty

12 January

Linda Nazareth, senior fellow for economics and population change at the Macdonald Laurier Institute, shared an article on the challenges and uncertainties around self-employed workers getting vaccinated in the US.

For instance, janitors, nurses, midwives, and others who are self-employed in jobs that expose them to the SARs-CoV-2 infection, are looking for answers as to when they will be vaccinated, the article noted.

Most of these workers remain worried about the risk of exposure, as they have been interacting with numerous people on a daily basis.

The disparities are so wide that even state-licenced midwives have not received the Covid-19 vaccine, despite frontline workers and staff being prioritised for inoculations before all other citizens.

The problem arises from the fact that these midwives are independent practitioners and are therefore neglected from the first supplies of the vaccines being prioritised for staff in hospitals and healthcare systems.

According to a study by UC Berkeley researchers, independent contractors and self-employed workers constituted 12% of California’s entire workforce.

Nurses, physical therapists, and physicians who aren’t directly associated with hospitals, have posted questions online.

Read more

1:34 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 90.3 million – UK averaging almost 61,000 daily

11 January

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 90,367,000 with over 1,936,000 deaths and 50,011,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the top three most affected countries in the new year with daily increases in the number of new confirmed cases observed across all.

The UK continues to see surges in daily confirmed new cases with a  seven day moving average of over 60,900, comparable to the 66,400 daily new cases observed in Brazil.

China has reversed a decision to block entry into the country to an independent team commissioned by the WHO to investigate the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning the team will arrive in China later this week.

New confirmed cases in China have surpassed 100 for the first time since July, 2020 during a recent outbreak in the Hubei province.

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

10:05 am

International update: One year since first Covid death announced the global toll nears 2 million

11 January

Global: Today marks a year since the first coronavirus death was announced in Wuhan. China announced the first death from a new virus in Wuhan on 11 January 2020. Twelve months later, Covid-19 has claimed more than 1.9 million lives worldwide. Coronavirus infections have passed 90 million.  Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,935,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

A World Health Organization team of international experts tasked with investigating the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic will arrive in China on 14 January, China’s national health authority said on Monday. The team was initially aiming to enter China in early January for the investigation but their arrival was delayed due to lack of authorisation from Beijing for their entry.

 US: Covid-19 infections have passed 22 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 374,329 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Lawmakers may have been exposed to the coronavirus while they were held in a secure room during Wednesday’s attack on Congress, the Capitol’s attending physician said Sunday.“Many members of the House community were in protective isolation in room located in a large committee hearing space,” physician Brian Monahan said in a statement. “During this time, individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”

About 150 US medical troops are arriving in Southern California to help overwhelmed hospital workers. Most of them are Air Force nurses and Army medics, KABC-TV reported Sunday. The Greater Los Angeles area added 14,482 new cases. Cases since the start of the pandemic exceeded 900,000 last week, meaning that more than one in 11 in the county’s 10 million residents have been infected at some point. Reported deaths increased by 166 on Sunday to 12,250. The county said it has tested almost 5 million people, equivalent to half of its population, with 17% of them reporting positive results.

China: Mainland China saw its biggest daily increase in Covid-19 cases in more than five months, the country’s national health authority said on Monday, as new infections in Hebei province surrounding Beijing continued to rise. Hebei accounted for 82 of the 85 new local infections reported on 10 January, the National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement, with Liaoning Province also reporting two new cases and Beijing reporting one new case. The country also saw 18 new imported infections from overseas.

UK: England’s chief medical officer has warned the NHS faces the “most dangerous situation” in living memory as the pandemic causes record deaths and hospital admissions. Chris Whitty has said the only way to prevent avoidable deaths is for the public to stay home wherever possible.

Brazil: Covid-19 cases in Brazil surpassed 8.1 million with the addition of almost 30,000 cases on Sunday, according to Health Ministry data. The death toll increased by 469 to 203,100. The governor of Sao Paulo State, Joao Doria, called on Brazil’s health regulator to show a “sense of urgency” about approving a vaccine made in partnership with China’s Sinovac.

South Korea: South Korea reported fewer than 500 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the first time since record high daily case numbers over the Christmas holiday period. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 451 new cases as of midnight on Sunday, driven by a lull in testing as well as an apparent easing in infections. The country reported a record 1,241 cases in one day during the Christmas holiday, the peak of the country’s largest wave of infections yet.

Japan: Tokyo found 1,219 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the local government said, marking a seventh straight day of more than 1,000 daily infections.

The Japanese government will start large-scale PCR testing for the coronavirus in big cities as early as March, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Monday.

Vaccination updates

US: Two mass vaccination locations opened in New York City on Sunday. The mass sites were open for part of the day on Sunday before they start operating round the clock, seven days a week on Monday as part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to set up 250 vaccination locations to meet the ambitious goal of inoculating 1 million New Yorkers by the end of the month. Three other smaller sites also opened on Sunday.

India: India is preparing for a mass coronavirus vaccine rollout. India aims to begin vaccinating its 1.3 billion people against coronavirus from Saturday, a colossal and complex task compounded by safety worries, shaky infrastructure and public scepticism. In one of the world’s biggest rollouts, the planet’s second-most populous nation hopes to inoculate 300 million people – equal almost to the entire US population – by July.

UK: Seven mass vaccination sites are to open Monday in England. The new centres – including at a football stadium and a tennis club – will be joined later this week by hundreds more GP-led and hospital services along with the first pharmacy-led pilot sites, taking the total to around 1,200, NHS England said. The locations – Ashton Gate in Bristol, Epsom racecourse in Surrey, the Excel Centre where London’s Nightingale hospital is based, Newcastle’s Centre for Life, the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre, Robertson House in Stevenage and Birmingham’s Millennium Point – will offer jabs to people aged 80 and above, along with health and care staff.

Philippines: The Philippines targets to vaccinate its entire population of more than 100 million people by 2023, officials said. Vaccine rollout may start as early as February, although bulk of the inoculations will begin in the second half of 2021, vaccine czar Carlito Galvezsaid at a Senate hearing Monday.

Malaysia: will buy an additional 12.2 million of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, the Health Ministry said in a statement on Monday. Latest order ramps up availability to 25 million doses, enough to inoculate 39% of the population. Malaysia will begin receiving its first supply of Pfizer vaccines end of next month.

Algeria: Algeria granted emergency use authorization to Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V, the Russian Direct Investments Fund said in a statement.

Lockdown updates

UK: Nearly half of England’s headteachers are being forced to prioritise class places among vulnerable students and the children of key workers because of a huge increase in demand, according to a survey of school leaders.

Japan: About 80% of people in Japan are against holding the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer, amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the host city and other parts of Japan. A weekend poll by the Kyodo news agency found that 35.3% wanted the Games to be cancelled, while 44.8% favoured another delay. Local organisers and the International Olympic Committee have said that it will not be possible to postpone a second time. The Games, which are due to open on 23 July, were delayed by a year due to the Covid pandemic.

Japan’s government called on the public to stay home during a three-day weekend that includes Monday, but the nation’s second state of emergency in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures appears to have failed to reduce foot traffic as effectively as during the first in April, Yomiuri reported earlier.

Indonesia: President Joko Widodo agreed to extend the ban for foreigners to enter Indonesia for two weeks to 28 January, the Cabinet Secretariat said in a statement.

Pakistan: Pakistan’s hospital admissions and deaths have declined after peaking in December, Asad Umar, the planning commission minister who’s leading the nation’s virus nerve center, said in a Twitter post. The nation announced last week is would reopen schools in phases from January 18. Pakistan has seen about 505,000 infections and 10,500 deaths from the virus. Deaths have declined for three straight weeks.

Australia: Queensland state will lift the three-day lockdown on its capital city Brisbane from 6pm local time after zero new coronavirus cases were recorded overnight, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. However, some restrictions will remain on the amount of people allowed in shops and restaurants, and masks must be worn in public indoor places places like libraries and supermarkets, she told reporters Monday.

Czech Republic: Several thousand people protested in Old Town Square in central Prague on Sunday, demanding the government end lockdown restrictions, the police. The country of 10.7 million, which reported a record 17,730 new infections on Wednesday, is one of the world’s worst-hit by the current outbreak. It has recorded 13,115 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The government has closed most shops, services and schools, and imposed a curfew from 9 pm to 5 am It plans to keep the lockdown in place until at least 22 January.

Economy updates

Thailand: Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha has asked all government agencies to cut costs and cancel or delay any unnecessary projects as the Covid-19 outbreak has curbed revenue. Try to maximize spendings and consider other source of fundings apart from government budget including setting up funds and public-private partnership, Prayuth says in a webcast briefing on Monday.

Australia: Household spending jumped in November as the southeastern state of Victoria was released from lockdown and consumers took advantage of discounts during annual Black Friday sales. Retail sales advanced 7.1% from a month earlier, compared with the 7% gain forecast by economists and the 7% reported in late December as the preliminary figure, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed Monday.

9:12 am

Coronavirus company news summary – UK approves Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine – COVAXX starts studying a new vaccine that tackles emerging viral mutations and variants

11 January 2021

Moderna has announced that the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved Covid-19 Vaccine Moderna, its mRNA vaccine candidate to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus, under Regulation 174. The authorisation allows the Covid-19 Vaccine Moderna to be supplied to the UK on an emergency and temporary basis.

Humanigen and Eversana have announced a partnership to launch and commercialise Lenzilumab for treating hospitalised and hypoxic Covid-19 patients. However, this would only occur after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an emergency use authorisation (EUA) for the recombinant monoclonal antibody.

Biotech COVAXX has announced it has commenced pre-clinical work, design and testing of a second vaccine candidate to address the recent SARS-CoV-2 viral mutations, and particularly the South African variant.

The FDA of the Philippines has approved Clover Biopharmaceuticals’ clinical trial application for its Covid-19 vaccine in the country. The regulator also stated it has approved a clinical trial for the vaccine developed by Clover Australia. The approval makes Clover the second biopharmaceutical company to have received the go-ahead to conduct Covid-19 vaccine trials in the Philippines.

7:20 am

How Covid will slow human capital development

11 January

Global economic output is expected to expand by four percent in 2021 but will still remain more than five percent below pre-pandemic trends.

Harry A Patrinos, an education economist and manager at the World Bank, discusses how the Covid-19 is most likely to hold up human capital development.

He shared a World Bank Group Flagship report that highlights how the pandemic will lead to longer unemployment spells, higher rates of school dropouts, increased income disparities, reduced learning-adjusted years of education, and lower future earnings.

The pandemic has forced governments and firms to adapt to a changing economic landscape, where protecting the poor has become imperative, while at the same time having to build effective policies to allow labour, capital, and innovation for a greener and stronger post-Covid recovery.

The World Bank report also highlighted how investments have collapsed in many emerging and developing economies in 2020 due to the virus crisis but will eventually resume in 2021.

However, despite digital technology advancements, the increase will not be enough to compensate for the large 2020 decline, experts added.

Read more

1:29 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases exceed 88.1 million – UK nears 3 million

8 January

Globally, the total confirmed cases of COVID-19 have reached over 88,100,000, with over 1,900,000 deaths and 49,100,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the top three most affected countries in the new year.

The US has reported more than 3,800 COVID-19 deaths this week, continuing to break unwanted records.

Arizona is becoming one of the worst affected state in the country. Worldwide, vaccine distribution continues, with some people already having received the second dose of the vaccine.

However, overall, the vaccine distribution has fallen far behind projected coverage.

New strains of COVID-19 from the UK and South Africa are alarming public health officials, as the UK nears 3 million cases less than three weeks after passing the 2 million mark.

These two new strains appeared to have already become the dominant types in these two communities, which may be an indicator that they are more contagious.

The impact of these virus mutations on the effectiveness of the currently available vaccines are unclear.

Kasey Fu, MPH, Director of Epidemiology at GlobalData

8:17 am

Company coronavirus news summary – CureVac teams up with Bayer to support its Covid-19 vaccine – Bharat Biotech completes recruitment for its Phase III vaccine trial

8 January 2021

German biotech CureVac has struck an alliance with Bayer to support the achievement of regulatory approval for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, CVnCoV, as well as help initiate distribution of the vaccine. Bayer is expected to contribute its expertise in clinical trials, pharmacovigilance, regulatory affairs, medical information, supply chain performance, and backing in certain countries.

Oragenics has entered into a material transfer agreement with Adjuvance Technologies. The agreement centres around Oragenics using Adjuvance’s adjuvant TQL1055 in its Terra CoV-2 vaccine against Covid-19; adjuvants are used to enhance the immunogenicity of the vaccines. This agreement focuses on pre-clinical studies of TQL1055, but Oragenics expects to enter into a licensing agreement for Adjuvance’s adjuvant for clinical studies later in 2021.

Bharat Biotech has announced the completion of the recruitment of 25,800 people for its Phase III efficacy trial for Covaxin, its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Over 5,000 people have already received both shots of the vaccine in the study and efficacy data is expected in March.

Turkish pharma company Abdi Ibrahim has been granted a license by the country’s health ministry to produce and fill vials of inactive and messenger RNA vaccines against Covid-19. Nezih Barut, the company’s chairman further stated that it was capable of producing 20 million vaccines.

8:09 am

Rwanda leads battle against Covid pandemic

8 January

Steve Keen, an economist and author, shared a Project Syndicate article on Rwanda has set a shining example of how to fight the coronavirus pandemic and safeguard public health as against other advanced economies who have been struggling to battle the virus spread and associated morbidities.

The article notes how low and technologically less advanced economies like Africa have not only survived the pandemic but provide lessons on how to manage crises in the future.

Despite weak health systems and warnings, these countries have been resilient in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Rwanda rebuilt its healthcare system after the 1994 genocide, and just 26 years later, has emerged as a world leader in responding to the pandemic.

For instance, Covid-19 death tolls in the US exceeded 330,000 out of a population of 330 million, while Rwanda reported just 62 deaths amongst a population of 12.3 million.

Read more

10:15 am

International update: China stalls WHO – global Covid cases pass 87.2 million

7 January

Global: Global coronavirus infections pass 87.2 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,884,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

China has attempted to downplay concerns over its refusal to authorise a fact-finding mission to the country by the World Health Organization to study the origins of Covid-19, saying it is still negotiating access with the UN body.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 21.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 361,279 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

South America: The critical care wards of major hospitals in Peru and Bolivia stand at or near collapse after end-of-year holidays, reflecting wider regional public health capacity concerns as much of South America struggles to secure adequate Covid-19 vaccine supplies.

France: France is unlikely to avoid the new and more contagious “UK variant” of the coronavirus, the government’s chief scientific advisor on the epidemic said as it was reported the country already had about 22 confirmed cases of the UK variant.

Tunisia: Tunisia recorded 2,820 new confirmed coronavirus cases- the most since the start of the pandemic-the health ministry said on Wednesday. Seventy more deaths were reported, taking the death toll to more than 5,000.

Portugal: Portugal extends state of emergency amid record daily Covid cases. The daily number of Covid-19 cases in the nation of around 10 million people reached a record high of 10,027, putting increasing pressure on the health system.

South Africa: South Africa reported 21,832 new Covid-19 infections Wednesday, bringing its total to 1.15 million. The number of people who have died after being diagnosed with the disease rose by 844 to 31,368 deaths, the health ministry said.

Mexico: Mexico reported 1,165 Covid-19 deaths, the highest daily increase apart from Oct. 5, when it adjusted its counting strategy. The capital and metropolitan area, where more than 20 million people live, also saw a record number of virus hospitalizations. About 88% of Mexico City hospital beds for coronavirus patients are occupied.

Japan: Japan’s Covid-19 cases reached a new daily record of at least 6,001 on Wednesday, as the government faced mounting pressure from health experts to impose a strict state of emergency for the Tokyo greater metropolitan area.

China: Authorities in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province surrounding Beijing, banned people from leaving the city by train, China Central Television reported, citing local police. Many airlines have also canceled flights due to the worsening outbreak, the city’s airport said in a statement on Weibo, without elaborating. Infections spiked in Hebei after the New Year holiday. Ma Xiaowei, head of China’s National Health Commission, called the outbreak in the province “very severe,” while the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the strain is similar to those from Europe, but how it became locally transmitted is unknown. The first confirmed case was reported Saturday. The patient, a 61-year-old woman, visited relatives and attended events before being diagnosed.

Vaccine news

EU: The EMA has approved the Moderna vaccine, making it the second coronavirus shot to be cleared for general use across the EU, as tensions continued to rise over the slow progress of vaccination programmes in the bloc.

US: In the latest disagreement with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo said police officers and firefighters are not yet eligible to get the Covid-19 vaccine. De Blasio said Wednesday that police and firefighters can begin getting vaccinated this week. In response, Cuomo said that only police and firefighters who are also emergency-care providers are eligible. The rest will be able to get vaccinated when the state starts with its next tier.

US health officials encouraged states to start vaccinating people more widely, acknowledging that the immunization rollout has been slower than anticipated and opening the spigot for a broader range of Americans to begin getting shots. About 5.2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc. have been administered in the US since mid-December, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. That represents a fraction of the number of doses distributed so far.

Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser to the US Operation Warp Speed effort to develop Covid-19 vaccines, said he will stay on as a consultant to the incoming Biden administration.

Australia: Australia’s vaccination roll-out will begin by late February and 4 million people should have received at least their first dose by the end of March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra. The program will be implemented in five stages. The first will cover quarantine and border officials, health workers and residents in aged and disability care, providing a “ring of containment” around the whole population, he said. Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine should be approved for use by Australian authorities by the end of January, with the AstraZeneca Plc product following during February, according to Morrison.

Thailand: Thailand will allow private companies and hospitals to import and sell Covid-19 vaccinations – if the shots have been approved by the nation’s Food and Drug Administration. The government has set up a pathway for manufacturers to register their vaccines for approval, spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said. Domestic firms won’t be allowed to advertise or take advance orders if the shots haven’t been approved for use locally. Thailand reported 305 new cases, taking its total to 9,636.

Philippines: Almost half of Philippine citizens aren’t inclined to get a Covid-19 vaccine, mainly due to safety concerns, according to a survey of 2,400 adults by pollster Pulse Asia.

Lockdown updates

Malaysia: Malaysia’s Health Ministry is considering targeted lockdowns to manage the pandemic as the health system reaches breaking point, Malaysiakini reported, citing Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah. The country registered a record 2,593 in new coronavirus cases on Wednesday. Meanwhile, tensions are rising in the largest party in Malaysia’s ruling coalition over whether a general election should be held during the worsening pandemic.

Greece: In what had been described by some as a rebellion, by others a declaration of war, churches across Greece opened their doors on Wednesday – defying nationwide lockdown measures – to mark one of the holiest days in the Greek Orthodox calendar.

UK: National Express UK Coach said it will fully suspend its network of scheduled coach services from 11 January amid tighter restrictions and falling passenger numbers. The company set a provisional restart date of 1 March.

The UK government confirmed that GCSE and A-level exams will be canceled this year due to the pandemic, with pupils instead being graded using teacher assessments. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told members of Parliament it is right to “put our trust in teachers rather than algorithms” for generating grades. Earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised that England’s schools will be the first things to reopen after the national lockdown but warned that restrictions could last months.

Japan: Japan will revise legislation to allow imposing fines on business operators that don’t obey government shutdown orders, the Mainichi reported, citing a draft of the law. Violators will face fines of up to 500,000 yen ($4,855), the newspaper said.

Ireland: Ireland has ordered the closure of most schools and construction sites for at least three weeks in an effort to curb a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections, tightening a lockdown that has already closed most hospitality and retail outlets. From 9 January all passengers arriving at Irish airports and ports whose trip started in Great Britain or South Africa will need evidence of a recent negative virus test result.

Economy updates

Thailand: Thailand’s consumer confidence fell to 50.1 in December, its lowest since July, as a new Covid outbreak spread across the country, according to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce. It was also the first decline in three months. Hundreds of cases in the country have been traced to cockfighting arenas and casinos, which present a major risk as they bring many people together in tight quarters over an extended period of time, usually without face masks and with lots of talking and shouting.


9:23 am

Company coronavirus news summary – Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine approved in Europe – Morocco approves AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine

7 January 2021

The European Commission has granted the company a conditional marketing authorisation to Moderna for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. This will accelerate the rollout of Moderna’s vaccine across the European Union. The European Medicines Agency recommended the use of the two dose mRNA Covid-19 vaccine for active immunisation in individuals aged 18 years and older.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund has entered an agreement with Serbia where the former will supply two million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine to fight coronavirus to the country. The Sputnik V vaccination programmes commenced in Serbia on 6 January 2021 after the first doses of Sputnik V arrived on 30 December 2020.

University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers are expected to participate in a Phase III clinical trial of NVX-CoV2373, an investigational Covid-19 vaccine. The trial will test the safety and efficacy of the vaccine candidate that is being developed by Novavax. 

Morocco’s Ministry of Health announced that it has approved the use of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine for a year. A Covid-19 advisory committee had met on December 31 in Morocco’s capital Rabat to discuss the authorisation of the vaccine in the country. The committee analysed the vaccine’s safety and efficacy and international data that supports its standards and use and in its preclinical and clinical stage trials.

9:12 am

How Covid could stoke civil unrest in the US

7 January

Jason Schenker, an economist and chairman of The Futurist Institute, shared an article on how the economics of the stomach is a real thing.

In a LinkedIn post, Schenker explains how 20 million people in the US still remain without jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic, which is likely to result in some belligerent outcomes such as political upheaval, violent unrest, and uncertainty.

Schenker examines the revolts and revolutions of the past, the impact of Covid-19 in 2020 on the job market and the economy, and futurist scenarios in his book The Economics of Revolt and Revolution.

He states that the labour market takes a long time to recover from negative economic shocks, even when the recession ends.

Despite financial markets doing well during a crisis like the current pandemic, it is not the economy and the economy is not the labour market, which takes even longer to recuperate, Schenker adds.

Therefore, analysing historic trends and the current data is important for crafting future scenarios and preparedness for leaders.

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9:22 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Akston and LakePharma partner on second-generation Covid-19 vaccine – Emergex Vaccines partners with Oswaldo Cruz Foundation to study Covid-19 vaccine in Brazil

6 January 2021 

Medical insulin developer Akston Biosciences is partnering with biologics company and LakePharma to manufacture second-generation Covid-19 vaccine. According to the terms of the agreement, LakePharma will produce commercial quantities of AKS-452, Akston’s adjuvated Covid-19 vaccine candidate, which is expected to enter Phase I/II studies later this month.

Arch Biopartners announced that the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine has joined its Phase II trial for investigating its lead drug LSALT peptide (Metablok) for treating hospitalised Covid-19 patients. The drug prevents acute damage to the lungs, kidneys, and other associated complications caused by inflammation associated with Covid-19.

Emergex Vaccines has entered into an agreement with Oswaldo Cruz Foundation‘s  Institute of Technology on Immunobiologicals (Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz) in Brazil to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. The partners will employ Emergex’s next-generation synthetic T-Cell vaccine technology. They will work together to progress a vaccine through clinical trials and into use by the Brazilian health service.

Stemirna Therapeutics has obtained approval to conduct human trials of its Covid-19 vaccine from China’s medical regulator. Stemirna’s new vaccine is being jointly developed with Tibet Rhodiola Pharma and is based on the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, according to reporting by Reuters.

8:21 am

International update: Singapore police use Covid contact tracing data in murder investigation – Global Covid infections pass 86.4 million

6 January

Global: Global coronavirus infections pass 86.4 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,868,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The WHO team investigating the origins of the Covid-19 virus has been temporarily prevented from entering China because of visa issues, according to Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Tedros said he has been in contact with senior Chinese officials, who assured him that China is speeding up the procedure. The delay comes as Beijing faces criticism for stonewalling efforts to trace the virus’s origins. WHO experts were kept out of Wuhan in 2020 and an independent probe was rebuffed.

 US: Covid-19 infections have passed 21 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 357,377 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Singapore: The government defended the use of its widely-adopted TraceTogether contact-tracing data for police investigations, including a murder case. The disclosure could fuel concerns about privacy issues in contact tracing programs designed to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. Efforts by many countries to use mobile apps have mostly stalled or have been abandoned amid dismal take-up rates and worries that the technology poses a threat to privacy rights.

Separately, Singapore is requiring an additional seven day testing routine for newly arrived foreign workers, adding to the 14-day stay-home notice currently mandated, to minimize risk of Covid-19 cases in dormitories. The rule takes effect on 6 Janbuary.

UK: Total Covid cases have passed 2.78 million with more than 76,000 deaths – the highest in Europe. The UK has recorded a further 60,916 lab-confirmed cases – the highest daily total reported so far.

One person in every 50 now has coronavirus in England, the British government said, as medics raced to vaccinate millions of people against the disease.

France: The more transmissible Covid variant discovered in the UK has been found in a patient in the Paris region, Paris hospitals head Martin Hirsch said on France 2 TV. Health authorities have completed contact tracing on the patient and the case “is under control,” Hirsch said.

South Africa: There is no indication that the coronavirus variant identified in South Africa is more transmissible than the one spreading fast in Britain, the World Health Organization’s technical chief on Covid-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, said.

Australia: Authorities are urging thousands of cricket fans to self-isolate after a man who attended the second day of the Boxing Day Test between Australia and India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground later tested positive for Covid-19. As many as 8,000 people were in the affected zone of the iconic stadium on 27 December, and they should isolate until they receive a negative result, the Victoria state government said Wednesday.

China: China’s northeastern Covid-19 cluster continues to grow, with 23 confirmed local cases reported on Wednesday. All but three were detected in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province. Shijiazhuang city was recently ordered to roll out a mass testing campaign covering a population of 11 million, according to a press briefing late Tuesday. The city will also suspend in-person classes for young children.

South Korea: South Korea reported 840 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, versus 715 the previous day, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website. Of the total, 809 were locally infected with 263 new cases in Seoul.

Japan: An expert panel tasked with advising the Japanese government on virus measures said the outbreak in Tokyo and surrounding areas has been “explosive” and strident measures need to be taken, including declaring a state of emergency, according to findings published late Tuesday.

Indonesia: The Indonesia government called for people to become donors for a convalescent plasma bank to boost the Covid-19 recovery rate, Wiku Adisasmito, spokesman for pandemic task force, said in a Tuesday briefing.

Vaccine news

Global: Experts advising the World Health Organization on vaccine policies recommended against spreading the interval between two doses beyond 28 days, following a move by the UK to extend the period between shots to as much as 12 weeks in an effort to maximize coverage. Countries facing “exceptional circumstances of vaccine supply constraints” can delay administration of the second dose of two-shot vaccines for a few weeks, according to a statement from Alejandro Cravioto, chairman of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, but data on safety and efficacy after only one dose is lacking.

India: Tens of millions of vaccine doses prepared for India are sitting in storage despite having been authorized for use. While distribution in other nations started soon after approval with pricing deals signed ahead of time, New Delhi and Serum Institute of India Ltd. – the world’s biggest vaccine maker by volume and AstraZeneca Plc’s local partner – have engaged in months of haggling behind closed doors and are yet to sign a formal supply agreement. That has left at least 70 million vaccine doses in limbo despite the urgent need in a country facing the world’s second-largest outbreak.

A survey of Indian citizens conducted after their country granted emergency approval to two coronavirus vaccines over the weekend found that 69% remained hesitant around getting Covid-19 jabs and wouldn’t rush to get them immediately – the same level as last month before the regulatory nods.

US: US Republican Representative Kevin Brady said he tested positive for Covid-19 despite having received his first dose of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine on Dec. 18. Brady said he had tested negative for the virus as recently as the beginning of the month. Data from Pfizer has shown the vaccine to be about 95% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 – figures that were echoed in a US Food and Drug Administration report issued last month – but the FDA study found the efficacy ratio to be only about 52% after just one dose.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed back against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s threat to levy fines on hospitals that don’t administer vaccines quickly enough. “Why don’t we stop talking about fines and start talking about the freedom to vaccinate?” de Blasio said during a Tuesday briefing. New York City has administered only about 119,000 doses out of the 480,550 vaccines delivered. The city began inoculations in mid-December. “I take full responsibility” for speeding up the vaccinations, the mayor said.

Chile: Chilean lawmakers are considering making vaccination against the coronavirus mandatory as the country’s centre-right government pushes to inoculate most of its population by mid-year.

Lockdown updates

Germany: Germany is extending its nationwide lockdown until the end of the month and is introducing new tougher restrictions in order to get control of surging coronavirus infections, the chancellor, Angela Merkel, said. Merkel and state leaders agreed on Tuesday to limit non-essential travel to 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) for people living in areas with more than 200 cases per 100,000 people, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

UK: Students in England will not be asked to sit GCSE and A-level exams this summer, the Department for Education has said.

Pupils in Northern Ireland will learn remotely until the half-term break, the executive has agreed, but it remains unclear whether A-level and GCSE exams will take place this summer.

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe recorded 1,365 coronavirus cases and 34 deaths on Tuesday – its single biggest daily rise for both as it began a month-long lockdown to curb surging infections.

Israel: Israel’s cabinet has agreed to impose a “full lockdown” that will see current restrictions increased to shutter virtually the entire education system, including nurseries, and ban non-essential international travel, according to local media.

Ireland: People travelling to Ireland from any country will have to show a negative PCR test from the last 72 hours, the Irish Times reports.

7:21 am

Starmer challenges Johnson to deliver on vaccinations

6 January

Konstantina Beleli, an economist, re-tweeted about how the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for a massive, immediate, and round-the-clock effort to vaccinate the public in a TV address.

He challenged UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ensure that the UK is the first country in the world to vaccinate its entire population against the coronavirus disease.

As England entered into its third phase of the lockdown, Starmer demanded a new contract between the government and the UK citizens that while people stayed home, the government should be able to deliver the vaccines.

Aiming to be the first country in the world to have its entire population vaccinated, the Labour leader stated that millions of vaccines would be arriving in every village, town, street, and at every general practitioner (GP) surgery by the end of the month.

Reports suggest that approximately 1.3 million people across the UK have received one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, among which 23% of those are aged above 80 years.

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10:58 am

International update: Global Covid cases pass 85.7 million – Pfizer warn against booster delays – North Korea asks for help

5 January

Global: Global coronavirus infections pass 85.7 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,853,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 US: Covid-19 infections have passed 20.8 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 353,621 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

New York State has found its first case of the UK variant of coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. A man in his 60s who lives in Saratoga County in upstate New York tested positive for the B117 variant, Cuomo said. The man had not traveled recently, which suggests it was the result of community spread, Cuomo said on a conference call.

Coronavirus hospitalizations in Texas climbed to 20% of capacity on Monday as 12,961 Texans, another record, sought medical care. Eighteen of the state’s 22 trauma-service areas reported hospital occupancy rates of more than 15%, a threshold set by Governor Greg Abbott for potentially imposing more lockdown measures. Seven of the areas are reporting fewer than 10 available intensive-care beds, with two saying they have none left. Monday saw 15,978 new virus cases, short of last week’s record of more than 26,000.

Singapore: Singapore said its police would be allowed to use contact-tracing data for criminal investigations. The technology, deployed as both a phone app and a physical device and made mandatory in some places, is being used by nearly 80% of the 5.7m population.

UK: Total Covid cases have passed 2.72 million, outstripping France.

Australia: Authorities appear to be on top of controlling virus clusters in its two-most populous states, for now. New South Wales on Tuesday recorded four new locally acquired cases from the day before, while Victoria had three. However, New South Wales authorities are concerned after an 18-year-old Sydney man tested positive after traveling to Outback areas including Broken Hill for a camping trip. Testing clinics are being set up in the remote towns he visited.

Brazil: Brazil confirmed its first two cases of the new variant. A 25-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man were confirmed as having been infected.

South Korea: South Korean President Moon Jae-in says the spread of coronavirus is being slowly contained after reaching a peak considering the reproduction rate is falling. Earlier, the country reported 715 new cases over the past 24 hours versus 1,020 the previous day, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website. Total deaths passed the 1,000 mark, reaching 1,007.

Ireland: Ireland will start suspending non-essential hospital services, in an effort to preserve capacity to handle surging coronavirus cases. The country reported a record 6,110 new cases Monday, with six deaths. “This is a really serious situation that demands immediate action,” Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan told reporters in Dublin. People with flu-like symptoms should now assume they have Covid-19, he said, while the positivity rate is now at about 20%. The government may delay reopening schools until the end of January, state broadcaster RTE reported. Schools are due to open on 11 January.

Vaccine news

Global: BioNTech and Pfizer warned they had no evidence their vaccine would continue to work if the booster shot was given later than tested in trials. They said the “safety and efficacy of the vaccine has not been evaluated on different dosing schedules”. The European Medicines Agency said the maximum interval between doses should be respected. It said the second dose should be administered no more than 42 days after the first.

Moderna Inc. said it will make at least 600 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine in 2021, with a goal of finishing the year with as many as 1 billion doses produced. The announcement increased the bottom end of the company’s production forecast by 100 million doses. Moderna is “continuing to invest and add staff” to produce the two-shot vaccine, according to a statement by the Cambridge, Massachusetts biotech company on Monday.

EU: The European Union’s drug regulator said a decision on the safety and efficacy of Moderna Inc.’s Covid vaccine would come on Wednesday at the earliest. There had been speculation that a decision would come during a meeting Monday, but a spokesman for the European Medicines Agency said the discussion had not concluded and will continue Wednesday. Approval would give the EU a second cleared shot, after one from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE got the go-ahead in December.

US: The US Food and Drug Administration delivered a clear rebuke to health officials attempting to alter the timing and dosage of Covid-19 vaccines. The agency, in a statement late Monday, urged that vaccines be given according to how the FDA has authorized them after a key US official proposed cutting dosage levels for Moderna Inc.’s shot as a way to immunize more people. Governments and health officials have also considered extending the length of time between doses or mixing and matching vaccines.

New York state governor Andrew Cuomo called on the state’s public and private hospitals to administer coronavirus vaccines more quickly, warning of fines of as much as $100,000 for those who don’t comply. The 194 hospitals in the state have received about 46% of the state’s total vaccine allocation, he said at a briefing Monday. “I need those public officials to step in and manage those systems. You have the allocation; we want it in people’s arms as soon as possible.”

New York City aims to materially speed up the pace of Covid-19 vaccinations, expanding the groups of people it gives the shots to beyond health-care workers to include educators and first responders in the next few weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a briefing Monday. De Blasio said he expects the city to administer 400,000 vaccinations a week at 250 sites by the end of January. The city has only administered around 100,000 doses since it began vaccinating residents about three weeks ago.

Germany: The German health ministry considered delaying second doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to make scarce supplies go further. According to a document seen by Reuters, the ministry was seeking the view of an independent vaccination commission on whether to delay a second shot beyond the current 42-day maximum.

Israel: Israel plans to vaccinate 70% to 80% of its population by April or May, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Monday. The inoculation drive, which leads efforts around the world on a per capita basis, has already administered first doses of the Pfizer Inc. shot to about 1.2 million residents, or more than 12% of the population.

South Africa: Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE offered to supply South Africa with their Covid-19 vaccine at a discounted $10 a dose, yet the president’s office still described the cost as prohibitive. The discount reflects South Africa’s status as a middle-income country and the site of a vaccine trial being conducted by the companies, the person said. The price is about half the cost of a shot in the US.

UK: The UK became the first country to administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. NHS England tweeted that Brian Pinker, an 82-year-old dialysis patient, had become the first person to be given the jab.

North Korea: North Korea asked for virus vaccines from the main global alliance helping lower-income countries fight the pandemic, the Wall Street Journal said, citing a person familiar with the matter. Gavi, the international vaccine alliance, declined to comment on North Korea’s application, the WSJ said. North Korea has reached out to several European embassies, asking how the country might get vaccines, the newspaper said.

Philippines: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he will not allow members of his security team to face a congressional probe for their use of an unauthorized vaccine, warning legislators of a “crisis” if they push through with an investigation. Health Secretary Francisco Duque earlier in the day said his agency will investigate how unauthorized Covid-19 vaccines were given to Duterte’s security team and reportedly to thousands of Chinese workers. Duque was reacting to a media report that around 100,000 Chinese nationals working in the Philippines have been vaccinated as early as November even as regulators have yet to approve any vaccines for use in the Philippines.

Lockdown updates

Germany: German media reported that country’s lockdown would be extended until 31 January. Bild reported that national and federal authorities had agreed to continue the existing restrictions, which include the closures of schools, most shops, restaurants and bars.

UK: Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a third coronavirus lockdown across England, shutting schools and ordering the public to stay at home, amid dire warnings that the National Health Service is being pushed to breaking point. The full emergency lockdown will start immediately and last until at least 15 February, potentially devastating retail and hospitality businesses and threatening to push the economy into a double-dip recession, as medics try to get a grip on the pandemic. The UK reported an increase of 58,784 new coronavirus cases on 4 January, the most on record. It also reported 407 deaths, compared with a seven-day average of 604.

Scotland will implement another lockdown from midnight, including keeping schools closed and ordering people to largely remain at home. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there was no choice but to take more drastic action as hospital admissions reached levels not seen since the previous peak of the pandemic in April. School closures will be reviewed in the middle of January.

Thailand: Thailand’s prime minister urged the public to stay home. Authorities confirmed 745 new infections; the country’s worst daily total and the government declared 28 provinces – including Bangkok – high-risk zones.

Australia: Qantas Airways has started taking bookings for international flights from 1 July. Ticket sales for Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, which had been set to start in March, have been pushed back to July, while other destinations like London have been brought forward from October, Australia’s national carrier said. New Zealand is the only overseas destination to which Qantas is currently flying.

US: Minnesota Governor Tim Walz will announce a loosening of virus restrictions on indoor dining and other settings Wednesday, according to a report from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that cited the governor’s spokesman. The statement cited an improvement in case numbers “following the pause on activities around the holidays.”

8:52 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna’s vaccine is approved in Israel – Inovio signs an agreement with Advaccine

5 January 2020 

Inovio and Advaccine Biopharmaceuticals announced that they have entered into a collaborative agreement to commercialise INO-4800, a Covid-19 DNA vaccine candidate. As per the terms of the agreement, Advaccine will develop, manufacture and commercialise the vaccine across Greater China, including Mainland China, Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The company will also make an upfront payment of $3m to Inovio and an aggregate of $108m for achieving its specified milestones for INO-4800 in Greater China.

Moderna announced that Israel has authorised Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine. This marks the third regulatory authorisation of the company’s vaccine candidate, and the first outside of North America. The country has sought six million doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, with first deliveries expected to commence soon.

aTyr Pharma has announced positive topline results from its Phase II double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of ATYR1923, its lead therapeutic candidate for treating hospitalised Covid-19 patients suffering severe respiratory conditions and who do not require mechanical ventilation. The trial met its safety endpoint and showed that a single, intravenous  dose of ATYR1923 was safe and also well-tolerated among 1.0 and 3.0 mg/kg treatment groups.

Arcturus Therapeutics has sought US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the Investigational New Drug  application to proceed with its Phase II clinical study of ARCT-021 in the US and Singapore. The study will evaluate single and double doses of the company’s vaccine candidate on approximately 600 participants, with anticipated Phase II data to be released in early 2021.

7:24 am

How Covid is driving the US property market

5 January

Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, re-tweeted about home prices rising faster in the middle of the US as the coronavirus pandemic forces people out of the large cities on the coasts.

Historically, these cities have witnessed a sharp price rise in housing due to leaner supply and high demand.

However, this is not the case now say economists, who point at smaller metropolitan markets such as Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Austin, Texas, Idaho, and Boise to be experiencing the strongest price gains.

Reports have suggested a remarkable rise in home prices of about 8.4% in October 2020 compared to last year, and a 7% up since September 2020 which is being considered as the largest monthly increase in a decade.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, home prices in the smaller cities have now increased by 10% compared to the previous year, the article noted.

These cities have been known to be affordable, and with more inventory of homes available for sale.

However, the sudden strong price gains in these smaller markets is indicative of the prevalence of remote working trends, and how people are making the move from more expensive markets to affordable markets due to the pandemic.

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11:25 am

International update: Global Covid cases exceed 85 million – US records 20.6 million – global deaths approach 2 million

4 January

Global: Global coronavirus infections pass 85 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,844,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 US: Covid-19 infections have passed 20.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 351,590 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Incidence of the new, more infectious strain of the coronavirus will rise sharply in the US over the next few months, said former Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb. “There are some estimates that the new variant probably represents about 1% of all infections in this country. By March, it’s going to be the majority of infections. It’s going to grow quickly,” Gottlieb said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” The new variant has been found in at least three states after emerging in the UK.

New York City’s rolling seven-day average of positive tests topped 9% for the third consecutive day, a level that compares with less than 2% in November. New hospitalizations increased to 213 and new cases rose to 3,885, based on a seven-day average, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted.

UK: Coronavirus deaths in the UK have passed 75,000 with 54,990 new cases reported on Sunday as well as 454 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test. Total cases have passed 2.6 million.

Ireland: Ireland has reported a further 4,962 cases of Covid-19, taking the total number of cases past 100,000. Sunday’s figure breaks the previous day’s record of 3,394 cases – itself almost double the highest number of cases previously recorded in 24 hours.

France: France has recorded 12,489 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, up from the 3,466 reported a day earlier, according to the country’s health ministry.

Italy: Italy reported 347 Covid-19 deaths on Sunday, down from 364 a day earlier, and 14,245 new cases versus 11,831 the previous day as the government struggled to tame the outbreak. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met with leaders of his ruling coalition’s parties to discuss new measures to combat the pandemic after winter holiday travel and business restrictions expire on 6 January.

South Korea: South Korea reported 1,020 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, rising above 1,000 again after infection levels eased over the previous two days. Over the weekend, South Korea extended its current social-distancing rules by two weeks as authorities continue to restrict private gatherings before nationwide vaccination is expected next month.

Vaccine news

Brazil: Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa has approved the import of 2 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, although the jab is not yet approved for use in the country.

US: Officials from Operation Warp Speed, the US government’s vaccine drive, are asking Moderna Inc. and the US Food and Drug Administration to cut in half the dose of the company’s Covid-19 vaccination for people ages 18 to 55 after finding that it induces the same immune response, Chief Scientific Adviser Moncef Slaoui. That would double the amount of vaccine available for the age group, while providing the same level of protection, he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

The US government’s top infectious-disease doctor said the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines is picking up speed and could be fully on track within a week or so. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that in the past 72 hours, about 1.5 million vaccine doses have been administered, or about 500,000 per day, a substantial pickup in pace.

Lockdown updates

UK: The Labour Party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has urged Boris Johnson to bring in new national Covid restrictions in England within the next 24 hours, rather than hint that he will do so soon.

A number of local councils in England have asked the government to allow primary schools to remain shut ahead of the first day of term tomorrow, including Southampton city council and Cumbria county council, both of which have said they support schools in prioritising education for children of key workers and vulnerable children in light of staffing shortages.

Kuwait: Kuwait’s civil aviation authority has suspended direct commercial flights to and from the UK, according to a tweet published today.

Japan: Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he’s considering issuing another state of emergency for the Tokyo area in light of the “extremely severe” infection situation. Suga said Japan is working to start vaccinations in late February.

Australia: Authorities are concerned about a growing cluster of cases linked to a liquor store and supermarket in western Sydney, and are urging people with even the mildest of symptoms to come forward and get tested. Two new local cases were detected overnight in the suburb of Berala, where potentially thousands of people who visited the stores in the past two weeks have been urged to isolate until they test negative. Mask-wearing across Sydney, a city of 5 million people, is now mandatory in most indoor venues, as authorities try to contain other clusters across the city.

Denmark: Denmark extended its ban on travelers arriving from the UK and also advised Danes against visiting the country on business trips due to fears over the new mutation of the coronavirus. The ban on travelers from the UK., which covers all non-Danish citizens or citizens without a Danish residence, will last until 17 January, the ministry of justice in Copenhagen said in a statement on Sunday.

Norway: Norway is tightening restrictions amid evidence that infections are rising after the Christmas and New Year holidays. Prime Minister Erna Solberg said it will be forbidden to serve alcohol in restaurants and bars, while private gatherings outside the home will be limited to five people. The measures, which also advise limiting social visits and postponing sporting and cultural events, will be in place for an initial 14 days.

10:20 am

Coronavirus company news summary – India grants emergency approval to two Covid-19 vaccines – Brazil to import two million doses of AZ vaccine

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has given restricted emergency approval for two Covid-19 vaccines following a recommendation by the Subject Expert Committee of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO). One of the approved vaccines is Covaxin, which has been developed domestically by Bharat Biotech, a company based in Hyderabad. The other vaccine is Covishield, which has been developed by AstraZeneca in association with Oxford University and produced in India by Serum Institute of India, based in Pune.

India’s CDSCO has permitted Cadila Healthcare to conduct Phase III clinical trials on its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, ZyCoV-D. Developed using the company’s DNS platform technology, the novel coronavirus vaccine is currently undergoing phase I/II trials in 1,000 participants in India. Its safety and immunogenicity have been demonstrated during the trials, in which three doses of the vaccine were administered intradermally, interim data showed.

Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) has given an approval to Fiocruz to import two million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine even before approving the vaccine in the country. Fiocruz is a public health research and development institution affiliated with the Brazilian Ministry of Health. The exceptional import approval was given to ensure availability of the jabs once ANVISA approves the vaccine.

7:39 am

Why harder Covid lockdowns protect economies

4 January

Angella MacEwen, economist at CUPE National, shared an article on how Canada handled the Covid-19 pandemic compared to other countries.

During the initial stages of the pandemic, Canada performed poorly as the government and public health officials were unprepared.

Between April and June the government was able to control coronavirus infections by imposing restrictions and lockdowns, but the country’s GDP shrunk by 13.4%.

Several countries followed a similar strategy of imposing lockdowns and restrictions during the period.

The article noted that those countries that imposed strict restrictions during the initial stages kept the deaths per million low but also had a low decline in GDP.

The approach to handling the pandemic was considered as a trade-off between health and the economy by several experts.

The article noted that this is not the case and that an aggressive action to control the spread of Covid-19 is the best economic policy.

Read more

12:17 pm

Scientists say new UK strain may not affect Covid-19 vaccines’ efficacy

Scientists have said that the new coronavirus strain, which has been initially detected in the UK, may not affect the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines as of now but may require to appropriately alter preventives if more mutations occur.

The new viral strain, VUI-202012/0, was detected on 21 September, PTI reported.

The UK communicated preliminary modelling results that show the variant is more transmissible than previously ones.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the variant has an estimated surge in reproductive number (R) by 0.4 or greater and an estimated increased transmissibility of up to 70%.

The new virus strain is believed to have 13 mutations in the spike protein. The N501Y mutation of these causes it to spread 70% faster than earlier versions.

8:16 am

WHO says new variant of Covid-19 virus in UK not out of control

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the new variant of Covid-19 virus discovered in the UK with a higher transmission rate is ‘not out of control’ and could be contained with the help of existing measures.

Earlier, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock had claimed that the variant was out of control, while officials said that it was 70% more transmissible than the main strain, AFP reported.

The new agency quoted WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan as saying in a press conference: “We have had a much higher (contamination rate) at different points in this pandemic and we’ve got it under control.
“So this situation is not in that sense out of control. But it cannot be left to its own devices.”

Earlier this week, the UK found that the new variant identified through Public Health England’s genomic surveillance could spread faster.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a media briefing: “In the past few days, there have been reports of new variants of the Covid-19 virus in South Africa and the United Kingdom. Viruses mutate over time; that’s natural and expected.”

“WHO is working with scientists to understand how these genetic changes affect how the virus behaves.”

6:48 am

International update: Global Covid cases pass 77 million – Sweden joins countries banning travel from UK

22 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections pass 77.3 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,702,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 18 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 319,364 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

There are no intensive care beds available in densely populated southern California or the state’s agricultural San Joaquin Valley, together home to nearly 30 million people, amid a deadly surge of Covid-19, governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday.

Texas state’s hospitals tallied 10,009 virus patients on Monday, the highest since 24 July, state health department figures showed. Almost half the state’s 22 trauma service areas have more than 15% of hospital capacity occupied by Covid-19 patients. Earlier in the day, Governor Greg Abbott announced plans to reopen the state capitol on 4 January as lawmakers prepare to convene their bi-annual legislative session.

Australia: Australia’s most-populous state reported eight new local cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday as authorities battled to bring an outbreak in Sydney under control without having to resort to lockdowns over Christmas. Seven of the cases are linked to infections in the Northern Beaches area of the city, bringing that cluster to 90, New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters. The other case was a health care worker, who transported infected overseas travellers from Sydney airport to hotel quarantine.

Vaccine news

US: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said new guidance from the US Department of Health and Human Services could lead to the deployment of the National Guard to help vaccinate people across the state, particularly in rural areas. “There will certainly be opportunities where we’ll want the Guard to come in and get the job done,” he said at a news briefing. He also said a decrease in the expected number of Pfizer Inc. vaccine doses shipped this week to Ohio is less of a concern than receiving additional vaccines developed by other companies.

President-Elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, received the coronavirus vaccine on Monday, joining a list of US political leaders who’ve sought to boost public confidence in the shot. Joe Biden received the first of a two-shot regimen at a public event at Christiana Care Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday. Jill Biden got the vaccine earlier in the day. Both received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The US National Institutes of Health plans to begin a clinical trial that aims to help doctors “predict and manage” allergic reactions related to the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE Covid-19 vaccine, according to Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, the US vaccine program.

Slaoui said during a Monday news briefing that the aim of the trial, which will also study the Moderna Inc. shot just authorized for emergency use, will be to pinpoint why the incidents, known as anaphylaxis, are occurring.

EU: Europe’s medicines regulator approved the use of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The approval puts Europe on course to start inoculations within a week. EU countries including Germany, France, Austria and Italy have said they plan to start vaccinations from 27 December. Having gained the green light from the EMA, the final step is approval by the European commission, which is expected in the coming days. The commission typically follows the EMA’s advice.

UK: More than half a million people in the UK have been vaccinated against Covid-19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

Singapore: The first batch of coronavirus shots arrived in Singapore on Monday, marking an important step in the city-state’s plan to vaccinate its population and serve as a global hub for distribution of the jabs. Singapore Airlines Ltd. delivered the vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE from Brussels, the airline said in a statement on Monday. The shots were sent to ground handling operator SATS Ltd.’s cold-chain facility for subsequent storage and transportation.

Philippines: The Philippines expects to soon sign deals for the supply of as many as 60 million coronavirus vaccine doses for delivery as early as the second quarter of 2021, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said. The Southeast Asian nation will next week sign an agreement with AstraZeneca Plc for 20 million vaccine doses, and was assured of 30 million doses by Serum Institute of India which will produce Novavax Inc.’s vaccine, Galvez said in a televised briefing late Monday.

Brazil: China’s Sinovac vaccine, which scientists hope can be used to combat Covid-19 in much of the developing world, has shown to be effective in late-stage trials in Brazil, people involved in its development told The Wall Street Journal. Brazil is the first country in the world to complete Phase 3 trials of Sinovac’s vaccine, CoronaVac, which is also being tested in Indonesia and Turkey, the Journal reported. With Covid-19 largely under control in China, the country’s vaccine developers have had to conduct their clinical trials abroad.

New Covid variant updates

UK: The UK’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, warned the public to stay local to keep the new coronavirus strain in check, but said some areas of England will face tighter restrictions with the variant likely to spread across the country. Speaking at a press conference alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who ordered London and much of southeast England into lockdown over the weekend, Vallance said current vaccines should work against the latest Covid-19 mutation.

Boris Johnson the UK prime minister said he had an “excellent” conversation with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and said he was keen to get the situation at Dover sorted out “in a few hours” if it was possible. Johnson said he and Macron are working to “resolve these issues as fast as possible” so that freight traffic can get moving again.

UK PM Boris Johnson insisted that Channel port delays at Dover will only affect a small amount of food and medicine shipments coming into the UK. Johnson says the delays only involve “human-handled freight”, which only amounts to about 20% of the goods going to continental Europe.

British supermarket group Tesco warned on Monday that there may be a shortage of some fruit and vegetables later this week if transport ties are not quickly restored with mainland Europe. The supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s has warned that some products could be missing from UK shelves due to restrictions at ports, but said food for a traditional Christmas lunch is available and already in the country.

Sweden: Sweden has joined the list of countries, which include France, Israel, and Germany, that will stop allowing in foreign travellers from Britain in a bid to curb the rapid spread of a new strain of the coronavirus, the government said today. Sweden is also barring travellers from Denmark.

US: All three airlines that fly from the UK to New York have agreed to test for Covid-19, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office. British Airways, Delta and Virgin Airlines all will require passenger testing, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said on Twitter. Cuomo on Monday said he had asked the three airlines to add the state to a list of 120 countries requiring pre-boarding Covid tests. Cuomo blasted the US government for not enacting a travel ban from the UK or requiring testing. The new strain of the virus that has been discovered in the UK “is flying around the world,” he said.

Lockdown updates

China: China’s north eastern Dalian locked down five residential districts and halted school as the coastal city has detected five confirmed cases in the most recent flare-up. In Beijing, the small cluster started by some imported cases seems to be under control after authorities escalated the risk level and strengthened control of relevant area.

South Korea: South Korea will close its ski resorts and tourist spots from 24 December to 3 January in an attempt to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further, Prime Minister Chung Sye-Kyun said. South Korea reported 869 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours versus 926 a day earlier, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website.

2:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases close in on 77 million – sharp rise for UK as infections pass 2 million

21 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 76,928,000, with over 1,693,000 deaths and 43,308,000 recoveries.

Total Covid-19 cases continue to rise across the world, with the US, India and Brazil remaining as the top-3 most heavily affected countries.

Daily increases in the number of new confirmed cases are observed in both the US and Brazil, while numbers are declining in India.

The number of new daily confirmed cases in the UK reached an all-time high on Sunday (35,928) at nearly double the number of cases reported a week ago (18,447).

London and large parts of south-east England are now under a new, stricter level of restrictions in a bid to curb the rapidly spreading virus, meaning that households will not be able to mix indoors with other households at Christmas.

The rapid increase in cases is thought to be partly attributable to the new Covid-19 variant, which is thought to be up to 70% more transmissible.

On Sunday, multiple European nations including Germany, France, Bulgaria and Italy announced a travel ban from the UK, in an attempt to limit the spread of the new variant.

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

11:44 am

International update: Global Covid infections near 77 million – new variant prompts travel restrictions

21 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections pass 76.9 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,693,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 17.8 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 317,670 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Inc. has closed a warehouse in northern New Jersey until 26 December after more of its workers tested positive for coronavirus without showing symptoms, CNBC reported, citing a notice sent to employees. Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski confirmed in a statement to CNBC that employees at the facility will be paid for any shifts missed during shutdown. She declined to comment on the total number of cases found.

France: Deaths linked to the coronavirus rose by 131 to 60,549 on Sunday, the smallest increase since 25 October. The country registered 12,799 new cases, with the pace of infections increasing for the fifth straight day. Hospitalizations and patients in intensive care increased, after falling for most of the past week.

Italy: Italy has reported352 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday, down from yesterdays 553, the health ministry has said.

South Korea: South Korea reported 926 new Covid cases in 24 hours, dropping below 1,000 for the first time in a week, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website.

UK: The UK reported 35,928 cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, the most for a day since the pandemic began and more than 10,000 above the weekly average. Fatalities, often lower on weekends due to reporting delays, were 326, less than the trailing seven-day average

US: The US has administered more than half a million Covid-19 vaccine doses in the first week of the country’s mass inoculation campaign, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday. The elderly and front-line essential workers, including firefighters, teachers and grocery store workers, should be next in line for coronavirus vaccines, an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted on Sunday.

Covid-19 immunizations with the newly-authorized Moderna Inc. shot are likely to begin Monday morning, said Moncef Slaoui, head of the US government’s vaccine drive. Operation Warp Speed plans call for 5.9 million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 2 million doses of the Pfizer Inc./BioNTech SE vaccine to ship on Monday, Slaoui said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

New Covid variant updates

France: Has announced a 48-hour travel suspension from the UK from midnight on Sunday because of the new strain of Covid-19. The UK transport secretary said it was expected to cause “significant disruption”.

Ireland: Will suspend flights from Britain from midnight on Sunday until Tuesday, following a cabinet review.

Germany: Has announced a travel suspension until 31 December from the UK. Exemptions to the ban are the repatriation of aeroplanes and their crews, alongside, flights with medical personnel. Israel is barring entry to non-citizens arriving from the UK, Denmark, and South Africa to avoid importing the new virus mutation.

Israel: Israeli citizens arriving from UK, Denmark, and South Africa will need to isolate for 14-days.

Bulgaria: Will suspend all flights to and from the UK from midnight tonight until 31 January, reports Reuters. The government had initially decided on a 10-day quarantine but has now opted for the temporary suspension.

Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government suspended flights between Canada and the UK for 72 hours effective midnight Sunday due to “the high number of cases of a variant Covid-19 virus observed in some areas in the United Kingdom.”

Turkey: Temporarily halted flights from the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands and South Africa after the UK government warned that a new, fast-spreading strain of the coronavirus was “out of control,” Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a Twitter post. Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the suspension in coordination with the Transportation Ministry, Koca said. He didn’t elaborate on the time frame.

Italy: The health ministry said a patient who entered the country in recent days from the UK was diagnosed with the new virus variant. The person and his close contacts are in isolation and followed all protocols, the ministry said in a press release.

US: The US doesn’t need to suspend flights from the UK because of the coronavirus mutation that helped prompt an emergency lockdown for London, a member of the White House virus task force said. “I really don’t believe we need to do that yet,” Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

Lockdown updates

Indonesia: The capital has extended its virus restrictions by another two weeks as cases continue to rise and to prevent any further spikes from the holiday season. Jakarta, which is home to more than 10 million people, will keep capacity and operation limits for offices, restaurants and shopping malls under its so-called transition phase, according to a statement from the local government.

Colombia: The capital Bogota will return to partial mobility restrictions where citizens are only allowed to buy staples, go to restaurants, shopping malls, among other spots, depending on the last digit of their ID, Mayor Claudia López said in a video posted on Twitter. The new measures will take place from Monday.

Australia: Christmas travel plans have been hit hard by a new outbreak in the country’s biggest city, Sydney. Authorities in New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, of which Sydney is the capital, are concerned over the possible scale of infections after a new outbreak on the city’s northern beaches was discovered last week.

UK: Britain’s biggest port stopped all traffic heading to Europe and food supplies into the nation face major disruption after the discovery of a new variant of the Covid-19 virus prompted its nearest neighbours to limit travel links with the UK. The crisis prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to convene a meeting of the government’s emergency committee on Monday in a bid to keep goods flowing. Further meetings are happening Sunday evening and Monday morning “to ensure robust plans are in place,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

Economy updates

US: Congressional leaders have reached agreement on a $900 billion package to provide the first new aid in months to an economy hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, the Senate’s top Republican and Democrat said on Sunday, but it remained unclear when Congress would vote to seal the deal.

1:50 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 75 million – WHO scientists to visit Wuhan

18 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 75,075,000, with over 1,664,000 deaths and 42,451,000 recoveries.

Total Covid-19 cases continue to rise across the world, with the US, India and Brazil remaining as the top-3 most heavily affected countries.

Daily increases in the number of new confirmed cases are observed in both the US and Brazil, while declining in India.

Within the US, California, Texas and Florida have the highest numbers of total confirmed cases, with California reporting a record 53,711 new cases on Wednesday this week.

An independent team of ten scientists from the World Health Organization will travel to the Chinese city of Wuhan next month to investigate the origins of Covid-19. The virus is thought to have come from a ‘wet-market’ in the city selling animals.

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

12:26 pm

International update: Global Covid infections pass 75 million – Putin signals caution over Sputnik vaccine

18 December

Global: Coronavirus infections pass 75 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,663,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 17.2 million. The United States on Thursday surpassed a total of 17m coronavirus cases, with infections rising by more than a million a week during the early winter surge – at the start of the year it took three months for the US to accumulate its first million cases. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 310,782 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US president-elect Joe Biden tested negative for Covid-19, after an incoming White House adviser, Cedric Richmond, contracted the virus, a spokeswoman for Biden said in a statement. Richmond was not in close contact with Biden as defined by the Centers for Disease Control.

Florida reported 13,164 new cases among residents, the most for a single day since a summer surge in mid-July. The state’s positive-test rate, which stayed below 8% on most days in December, came in at 8.8% on Wednesday, according to health department data.

France: Emmanuel Macron ‘very likely’ infected with Covid-19 during EU council. The French President tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, prompting a track-and-trace effort across Europe following numerous meetings between the French leader and EU heads of government in recent days.

France registered 18,254 new Covid-19 cases over 24 hours, the most since 20 November. The rolling seven-day average of cases, which smooths out fluctuations over a week, jumped 5.3% to 12,764, back to levels last seen at the end of November.

Colombia: Daily confirmed cases of coronavirus reached their highest level since mid-August on Thursday, as the government warned people against large holiday gatherings.

UK: The UK recorded its highest daily increase of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, in part because Wales added thousands of previously unreported infections. A further 35,383 new cases were reported, about 11,000 of them as a result of “system maintenance in the NHS Wales Laboratory Information Management System.”

Sweden: The king of Sweden said the country has failed in its response to Covid-19, as hospitals in the Stockholm region warned they were struggling to cope with a surge in cases and polls showed public confidence in the authorities had plunged to a new low.

Vaccine news

US: Many US states are going to get fewer vaccine doses than originally planned, according to Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, marking what could be a significant hiccup in the effort to distribute shots to all Americans. Next week’s allocation for Washington, the state that saw the first outbreak of the epidemic in the US, was cut by 40%, Inslee, a Democrat, said on Twitter. “All states are seeing similar cuts,” he said, adding the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention didn’t give the state any explanation.

Pfizer Inc. said it has shipped all 2.9 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine that the US government ordered this week and that it has millions more doses sitting in warehouses awaiting instructions for where to ship.

US FDA advisers agreed on Thursday that the benefits of Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine outweigh any risk, giving a boost to efforts to ramp up the US immunization campaign. The effort is initially focusing on health-care workers and seniors who live in long-term care facilities. The FDA could authorize the shot within the next day.

Pfizer Inc. and US drug regulators are revising information for use and monitoring of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine developed with BioNTech SE after rare allergic reactions were seen in some recipients. The revisions reflect guidelines from the CDC for following vaccine recipients and managing potential reactions, Doran Fink, deputy director of FDA’s division of vaccines and related products applications, said Thursday in a meeting of FDA advisers. Two people in Alaska who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine suffered reactions, which have also been seen in vaccine recipients in the UK

China: China is planning to distribute 100 million vaccines made by Sinopharm and Sinovac before Lunar New Year to prevent coronavirus outbreaks during the holiday travel season, South China Morning Post reports, citing an unnamed health specialist “with knowledge of” a training meeting to prepare for mass inoculations. It is planning to vaccinate high-priority groups such as health workers, police officers and transport and logistic workers, while inoculations for the general public aren’t expected to start until after the Chinese New Year.

Russia: Comments by President Vladimir Putin signalling caution about Russia’s coronavirus vaccine reverberated in Argentina, where the government plans to use it on priority groups, including the elderly. Argentina will await the final results before importing the vaccines by plane to Buenos Aires, said a person familiar with the matter. Putin, 68, expressed caution about taking the Sputnik V vaccine, saying at a news conference earlier Thursday that it hasn’t been fully tested on people his age.

Lockdown updates

US: Microsoft Corp. called for an accelerated reopening of elementary schools in Washington State and pledged protective equipment, cleaning supplies and technology to track Covid-19 tests. The company, based in Redmond, Washington, also called for teachers to be prioritized in the state’s vaccination plans.

Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland is preparing for a sweeping lockdown and the deployment of paramedics from the Republic of Ireland in an effort to control Covid-19. Health officials on Thursday proposed a six-week lockdown and approved a plan to reinforce the ambulance service with units from across the border.

Portugal: An overnight curfew from 11pm will come into force in Portugal on New Year’s Eve, prime minister António Costa said, as the country introduces measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus during the usually busy night.

Australia: Sydney reported an additional 10 cases on Friday, taking the total cluster on Sydney’s northern beaches to 28, prompting states to reimpose restrictions on visitors coming from New South Wales.

9:40 am

Why US jobs recovery is Covid vaccine dependant

18 December

Konstantina Beleli, an economist, shared an article on how most economists have forecasted the US labour market to cool off until the Covid vaccines are distributed.

Jobless claims rose to 885,000 with layoffs remaining high in the previous week, indicative that the economy was entering a winter slowdown due to a rise in Covid infections and tighter restrictions on business activities, the article detailed.

Economists also found job claims to have dramatically fallen from a peak high of approximately 7 million in March, but to be gradually increasing as per the four-week moving average.

However, weekly numbers were observed to be volatile around holidays and seasonal adjustments.

Many economists expect the labour market to cool until the distribution of vaccines, which will cause a spurt in business activities and job hiring in the second quarter of 2021.

Although job claims declined in many US states last week, they continued to rise in some populous states such as California and Illinois, which are currently witnessing a rise in Covid cases and tighter restrictions, the article noted.

Read more

1:48 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 74 million – deaths exceed 1.6 million

17 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 74,356,000, with over 1,651,000 deaths and 42,097,000 recoveries.

Japan reported record numbers of confirmed new daily cases this week, surpassing the 3,000 threshold for the first time, in what could be described as a third wave affecting both Japan and neighbouring South Korea.

Sweden experienced a death toll higher than its neighbouring countries during its second Covid-19 resurgence observed in November.

Sweden stood out among European nations for the way it has handled the pandemic, by not mandating lockdowns like other nations but instead relying on citizens’ sense of civic duty.

An independent commission reported that the government failed to protect the nation’s elderly and the country proved unprepared to meet the pandemic.

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

9:02 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 74 million – Brazil cases top 7 million

17 December

Global: Coronavirus infections have passed 74 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,649,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: Covid-19 infections are nearing 17 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 307,501 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Australia: Australia’s largest city Sydney is battling to prevent an outbreak of Covid-19 after five new cases in the past two days ended a more than month-long run with limited community transmission in New South Wales.

Brazil: Brazil sees record daily Covid-19 infections as cases top 7 million. Brazil registered over 70,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, a daily record, as a second wave of infections spreads across the country.

Canada: Oil workers in Alberta are falling victim to a growing spread of the pandemic in the Canadian province’s remote north, with a Chevron Corp. site among the latest to be struck.

France: France reported 17,615 new confirmed Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, sharply up from the 11,532 on Tuesday and 14,595 a week ago.

Ireland: Ireland Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan warned of “significant and concerning indicators that this disease in moving in the wrong direction” after figures Wednesday showed daily cases rising about a third to 431. Health authorities will meet Thursday to consider the renewed surge, which came after Ireland reopened non-essential stores, restaurants and some bars even as many governments across Europe tighten restrictions over Christmas.

Japan: Tokyo will report at least 800 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, a record daily amount, NHK reported, citing a metropolitan government official. That beats the previous record of 678 cases on 17 December. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government raised its warning on the city’s medical system to “under strain”, the highest of four levels, for the first time since the alert system was laid out in July.

Vaccine news

Global: Twitter bans harmful false claims about Covid-19 vaccinations. Twitter has said users will be required to remove new tweets that advance harmful false or misleading claims about Covid-19 vaccinations, in an expansion of its rules on coronavirus misinformation.

The global scheme to deliver vaccines to poorer countries faces a “very high” risk of failure, potentially leaving billions of people with no access to vaccines until as late as 2024, internal documents have revealed. The risk of failure of the Covax project is higher because the scheme was set up so quickly, operating in “uncharted territory”, one internal report says.

EU: European authorities are pushing for a compressed approval timeline for the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, according to people familiar with the plan, which could enable a rollout on the continent before Christmas. Should the vaccine win the backing of a key drugs oversight committee on Monday, the European Commission is planning for a sign-off as soon as the same day, two people said. That would enable shipping the first shots to vaccine centers as early as 23 December, one of the people said.

Germany: Germany aims to roll out BioNTech/Pfizer Covid vaccine on 27 December. Germany will begin coronavirus vaccinations on 27 December with elderly care home residents, health minister Jens Spahn announced, with the EU aiming for all 27 member states to begin on the same day.

France: France expects to receive 1.16 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by 30 December, Prime Minister Jean Castex said in a parliamentary debate. He said France, in coordination with other European countries, will do “everything possible” to start vaccinating in the last week of the year. France is counting on a further delivery around 5 January, and an additional 1.6 million doses in February.

Japan: Japan’s health ministry has found it difficult to reach a conclusion on the effectiveness of Fujifilm Holdings Corp.’s anti-viral drug Avigan in treating Covid-19 patients, according to domestic media reports citing unidentified government sources. Fujifilm’s stock fell as much as 4.2% in Tokyo trading Wednesday on the news. Fujifilm had applied in October to expand usage of Avigan to include treatment for coronavirus in Japan, where the drug is already approved for use against novel influenza. Japan’s health ministry is likely to make the decision on Monday, according to the news reports.

US: Vice President Mike Pence will publicly receive the coronavirus vaccine on Friday, and President-elect Joe Biden is expected get vaccinated as soon as next week, amid concern that many Americans may refuse the injection.

About 1,600 health-care workers have been vaccinated in New York City in 48 hours, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.

Some vials of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine may contain usable extra doses, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

New Zealand: New Zealand aims to begin vaccinating its entire population against Covid-19 in the second half of next year in its largest-ever immunization program, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. The government has secured two additional vaccines from pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Novavax and will have enough for all 5 million New Zealanders, Ardern said Thursday in Wellington. If proven to be safe and effective, immunization will begin with border workers and essential staff in the second quarter of 2021 followed by the general population in the second half, she said. The vaccines will be free to the public.

Lockdown updates

New Zealand: New Zealand has eliminated community transmission of the virus, but its border remains closed, a big blow for the important tourism industry and the economy. Vaccines will be key to the reopening of the border, but the government cautioned Thursday that the start of the immunization program “will not mean any changes to our borders initially.”

Denmark: Danish PM confirms Christmas lockdown. Shopping malls will close starting on Thursday and other stores, with the exception of supermarkets and food shops, will close from 25 December. Students still in school will be sent home as of Monday.

Spain: Spain granted regional administrations the power to further restrict movement and limit the size of Christmas gatherings, as new cases rose to the highest in almost a month.

8:25 am

How Covid is fuelling a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe

17 December

Economists believe that food shortages and lockdowns have led to an acute rise in malnutrition cases among children in Zimbabwe.

Data reveals that one in three children in the country are malnourished amid a deepening health crisis.

Prof. Steve Hanke, an applied economist at the John Hopkins University, shared an article on one in three children in Zimbabwe suffering from malnourishment due to food shortages and economic insecurity of lockdowns.

In his view, what is making the scenario worse is the unstoppable Covid-19 disease and inflation, which is raging at 379.23% per year.

According to a Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment (ZimVac) report the proportion of children receiving the minimum acceptable diet necessary for growth and development fell to 2.1% in 2020 from 6.9% in 2019.

Matabeleland, a region located in the south-west of the country, reported the highest rates of global acute malnutrition, with approximately 74,267 children aged five years and below going hungry and with an estimated 38,425 suffering from acute malnutrition.

ZimVac has expressed concerns over infant and child malnutrition, with only 19% of the women in their childbearing age having met the minimum nutritional limit in 2020, compared to 43% in 2019.

Humanitarian agencies suggest that these factors have to led to high maternal and child mortality rates in the country.

Read more

2:57 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 73.6 million – EMA vaccine approval meeting pulled forward

16 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 73,613,000, with over 1,638,000 deaths and 41,732,000 recoveries.

Despite having a high number of total cases in India (9,932,547), the number of deaths and subsequent death rate is lower than that seen in Brazil and the US, at 106.6 deaths per 1,000,000 population as opposed to 874.6 and 929.3 deaths per 1,000,000 respectively.

Doubt remains as to whether this low rate is due in part to India’s relatively young population or potential under-reporting of Covid-19 related deaths.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is set to meet sooner than planned to consider approving a vaccine.

The regulator will now meet on 21 December to discuss whether the German-developed Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should be rolled out across Europe.

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

11:50 am

International update: Global Covid cases exceed 73.5 million – US hospitalizations on the rise

16 December

Global: Coronavirus infections have passed 73.5 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,638,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 16.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 303,867 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US president, Donald Trump, will “absolutely” encourage Americans to take Covid-19 vaccines and will receive a vaccine himself as soon as his medical team determines it’s best. The White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the Republican president also wanted to show that vulnerable Americans are the top priority to receive the vaccines.

US hospitalizations for the coronavirus increased by more than 1,200 patients a day in the six days through Tuesday, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show. There were 112,483 Covid-19 patients in US hospitals as of 15 December, a 7.1% increase since 9 December, California and New York accounted for almost three-quarters of the increase. New Mexico recorded 102% occupancy in its intensive-care units, while Covid-19 cases accounted for more than a quarter of hospital in-patients in Arizona, Nevada and Rhode Island. The number of cases in California hospitals increased 70% to 13,920 from December 1-15.

Singapore: Serology testing has revealed nearly half of the 323,000 migrant workers living in Singapore dormitories were infected with Covid-19, far higher than the official tally and indicating the virus spreads widely among people who may not have any symptoms. The city-state has reported more than 54,500 infections in dormitories since the pandemic began, making up more than 93% of all confirmed cases. Another 98,289 workers were found positive through serology testing – which identifies past infections – contributing to an overall prevalence rate of 47%, according to the Ministry of Manpower.

India: Cipla is to market the rapid antigen test kits for Covid-19 that will be manufactured by Premier Medical Corp., the Indian drugmaker said. The test directly detects the presence or absence of coronavirus antigen in the patient’s body, generating results within 15-20 minutes, Cipla said. Marketed under the brand name CIPtest, the kit is found to have specificity and sensitivity of 98.09% and up to 75%, respectively.

Vaccine news

EU: EU countries could begin inoculations as soon as this year, the head of the European commission said. This followed the decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to bring forward its possible approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by eight days to 21 December.

Germany, France, Italy and five other European states will coordinate the start of their Covid-19 vaccination campaigns, the countries’ health ministers said. The countries will promote “the coordination of the launch of the vaccination campaigns” and will rapidly share information on how it is proceeding, the statement said, along with other commitments on areas such as transparency.

US: The US Food and Drug Administration raised no new concerns over data on Moderna vaccine in documents made public on Tuesday. It prepared the way for US authorisation of a second, easier-to-handle vaccine.

The US is discussing helping Pfizer secure raw materials required to produce tens of millions additional doses of its Covid-19 vaccine for domestic market between April and the end-June, New York Times reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation. The Trump administration negotiating a deal to use its power to free up supplies of raw materials. The move follows Pfizer’s indication that it can make more doses if the government orders suppliers to prioritize its purchase requests.

Pfizer rebutted comments by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that the company has had a “production issue” that’s delaying deliveries of its vaccine to the state. “Pfizer hasn’t had any production issues with our Covid-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed,” company spokeswoman Amy Rose said. “We’re continuing to dispatch our orders to the locations specified by the US government.”

US states and territories will get $140 million to prepare for Covid-19 vaccination campaigns and $87 million for tracking and testing, the US Department of Health and Human Services said.

China: A Chinese drugmaker has secured 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine co-developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, as the country seeks overseas shots in addition to home-made ones to ensure immunization for the world’s most populous nation. Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co., which in March made an agreement with BioNTech to develop and market the mRNA shot in China, will make an advance payment of 250 million euros ($300 million) for an initial 50 million doses. The German vaccine maker will supply no fewer than 100 million doses for China by 2021, Fosun said in a statement filed with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Wednesday.

Lockdown updates

South Korea: Authorities are reviewing the possibility of raising the social distancing to level 3 and are exchanging opinions with experts, health ministry official Yoon Tae-ho says in a briefing. The Asia nation reported a record 1,078 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, up from 880 a day earlier, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website.

Economy updates

Asia-Pacific: The economic blow from coronavirus has wiped out 81 million jobs across Asia-Pacific this year, with women and young people disproportionately affected, according to the International Labour Organization. Employment in Asia-Pacific showed a 4.2% decline compared with the pre-crisis trend, with the gap at 4.6% for women and 4% for men, the ILO said in a report.

8:08 am

How the gig economy helps spread Covid in nursing homes

16 December

Nursing homes accounted for 40% of the US Covid-related mortalities towards the end of August, highlighting the urgent need to cut SARS-CoV-2 transmission routes in these facilities.

Direct connections between nursing homes bridges other clusters of homes, potentially importing or exporting SARS-CoV-2 infection across different subnetworks.

Frolian Ederer, an economist, re-tweeted on how nursing home workers shifting across facilities were forming a Covid transmission network according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of the United States of America, a scientific journal.

Experts suggest that even in non-pandemic times, understaffing at long-term care facilities and nursing homes leads to poor services and regulatory violations.

As a result, care facilities rely on staffing agencies to employ nurses and nurse aides on an on-call basis.

This leads to some of the cross movement of workers between facilities, the paper noted.

Researchers found that a major challenge of nursing homes was that every connection was a possible link to other connections and to the SARS-CoV2 transmission.

For instance, the Alabama subnetwork reported eight Covid cases among its residents and 30 confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases among its staff.

This facility is directly connected to another nursing home in Alabama, which reported 68 residents and 48 staff members to have contracted the Covid-19 infection.

Again, both of these facilities are connected to other nursing homes.

Read more

5:12 pm

International update: Global Covid cases pass 73 million – US infections pass 16.5 million

15 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 73 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,624,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The World Health Organization is aware of a genetic variant of the virus identified in about 1,000 individuals in the UK, Executive Director Michael Ryan said during a press briefing on Monday. “This virus evolves and changes over time, and we’ve seen different variants emerge,” Ryan said. “The question is whether there is significance in public health terms,” since mutations of the virus are “quite common.” The WHO is working with an international laboratory network to see if the variant is becoming more prevalent internationally, he adds.

US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 16.5 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 300,723 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

France: France has reported 3,063 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours, sharply down from Sunday’s 11,533, but the number of people admitted to hospital with the disease went up for the third consecutive day.

Poland: Poland faces a real threat of a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, health minister Adam Niedzielski said on Monday, adding he would recommend that current restrictions continue until at least 17 January.

UK: The UK reported 20,263 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday, taking the total figure over the past seven days to 131,708, up 21.6% compared with the previous seven-day number, official data showed.

India: India added 22,065 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the federal Health Ministry reported Tuesday, the lowest number since early July. With more than 9.9 million cases, the country remains the world’s second-most affected nation after the US As many as 143,709 people have died from the virus in the country, the third-highest in the world.

Vaccine news

US: An intensive care unit nurse who became the first person in the US to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Monday called it a sign that “healing is coming”. Sandra Lindsay, who has treated some of the sickest Covid-19 patients for months, was given the vaccine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in the New York City borough of Queens, an early centre of the country’s Covid-19 outbreak.

Moderna was informed by the European Medicines Agency that pre-submission talks of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate were unlawfully accessed in a cyberattack on the regulator, Reuters reported, citing the company. EMA said earlier this month it was targeted in a cyberattack. Moderna said its submission to the EMA didn’t include any data identifying individual study participants and there is no information currently that any participants have been identified.

Canada: Canada began vaccinating its citizens against Covid-19 today, following the UK and New York state. Five frontline workers in Ontario were among the first Canadians to receive the vaccine at one of Toronto’s hospitals.

UK: It would take almost a year to vaccinate the entire UK population against Covid-19, even with no interruptions in vaccine supply, leading scientists have said.

Lockdown updates

Turkey: President, Recep Tayip Erdoğan, has said Turkey will impose a five-day full lockdown beginning on 31 December, as official data showed new daily coronavirus deaths hit a record 229. Erdoğan, speaking after a cabinet meeting, said the stay at home order would begin at 9pm on New Year’s Eve and run to 4 January.

US: New York is moving toward a second full shutdown if Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations continue at their current pace, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “If we do not change the trajectory, we could very well be headed to shut down” all non-essential businesses, Cuomo said Monday at a virus briefing.

UK: Millions of Londoners will be ordered to comply with England’s toughest coronavirus rules from Wednesday, as U.K. authorities warned a “new variant” of the disease may be driving a rapid rise in cases. Government scientists at the Porton Down military research facility are analyzing the new variant, which Health Secretary Matt Hancock said may be linked to the recent fast spread of infections in the capital. The switch to tier 3 rules from tier 2 in London and parts of southeast England will see pubs, bars and restaurants closed, except for serving takeaway meals. Theaters and museums will also shut to the public.

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic reintroduced measures to combat a surge in coronavirus cases, reversing a decision two weeks ago to relax restrictions as neighbour Germany imposed a hard holiday lockdown. The government shut hotels and restaurants, prolonged Christmas school holidays and imposed an 11 pm to 5 am curfew, according to Health Minister Jan Blatny. Shops and services will remain open. The cabinet approved an additional 10 billion-koruna ($460 million) aid package to cover rent and wages of the affected businesses for three months.

Singapore: Singapore will start a new travel lane for “business, official and high economic value travelers” that will allow people to come to the city-state without quarantine for short-term stays and reside in a dedicated “bubble” facility near the airport.

Philippines: The Philippines will test a return to in-person classes next month in areas with low Covid-19 risk, even as it warned of a possible post-holiday surge in infections. President Rodrigo Duterte and his cabinet approved the Department of Education’s recommendation to hold a dry run of face-to-face classes in some schools through January, spokesman Harry Roque said Monday night. Health measures will be observed, and students won’t be required to go to schools unless permitted by their parents.

Economy updates

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s government plans to submit a funding proposal to the Legislative Council before Christmas for a new round of virus relief measures to support industries affected by social distancing restrictions, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a briefing. She offered no further details.

China: China’s recovery gathered pace in November, supported by strong demand from home and abroad, putting the economy further ahead of its peers as the only major one likely to expand this year.

2:21 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases near 73 million – new Covid variant identified in South East England

15 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 72,957,000, with over 1,623,000 deaths and 47,604,000 recoveries.

Total Covid-19 cases continue to rise across the world, with the US, India and Brazil remaining as the top three most heavily affected countries.

A new variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 has been identified across the South East of England and is currently under investigation by Public Health England.

The impact of this new variant will be monitored in the coming days and weeks as it includes a mutation in the ‘spike’ protein with the potential to result in the virus becoming more infectious.

On Sunday 13th December, 2020 Italy surpassed the United Kingdom to become the European country with the highest Covid-19 death toll.

Despite being one of its lowest one-day death counts in about a month, Italy registered another 484 Covid-19 deaths in one-day, increasing its total to 64,520 while Britain’s stood at 64,267.

Approximately half of the Covid-19 deaths in Italy were recorded during the first wave of infection earlier this year.

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

7:10 am

Covid vaccines are arriving – and so are new problems

15 December

David Wessel, a journalist and director of the Hutchins Centre on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, shared an article on the next six months after vaccine approvals being vaccine purgatory, a period where people will despair, worry and be confused about who will be prioritised for inoculations and how long will people have to wait their turn.

While the end of the pandemic is in sight, economists believe that developed nations such as the US will take several months for people to be vaccinated to resume normal life.

Therefore, the next six months will be chaotic for people, with possibilities in vaccine delays, fights over prioritising inoculation, and how the vaccinated are recovering and how they should exercise caution, the article detailed.

The question before nations is how long will the purgatory last, and how effective will programmes such as the Operation Warp Speed be in meeting their required deadline of vaccinating nearly all of the US by June, the article noted.

Economists further believe that vaccine developers such as Pfizer and Moderna, the FDA-approved forerunners in the vaccine race, cannot remain complacent and hit delays in manufacturing.

Likewise, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson need to fast-track approval of their vaccine candidates early next year.

Additionally, one’s anguish will also depend on where one lives.

For instance, every state in the US is authorised to use the vaccines the way it wants once it receives them.

Consequently, one could qualify as an essential worker in Illinois but not in Indiana.

Therefore, the process of vaccine administration will be local, flexible, and most likely inconsistent and unfair, the article noted.

Read more

1:46 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 72.3 million – deaths exceed 1.6 million

14 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 72,352,000, with over 1,614,000 deaths and 47,334,000 recoveries.

Total Covid-19 cases continue to rise across the world, with the US, India and Brazil remaining as the top three most heavily affected countries. Daily increases in the number of new confirmed cases are observed in both the US and Brazil, while declining in India. Despite the decrease in India’s daily cases, concerns rise over the seasonal deterioration of the air quality within Northern India’s urban areas and its potential to worsen the outcome for those with Covid-19.

On Saturday 11 December, 2020 the US Food and Drug Administration issued the first emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Pfizer plans to have 6.4 million doses ready for the US in its first rollout round due in late December.

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

10:00 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 72.25 million – Brazil population pushes back on vaccines

14 December

 Global: Global coronavirus infections pass 72.25 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,612,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 16.25 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 299,168 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 A slowing of new Covid-19 cases in the US Midwest and West offers “hopeful signs,” even as infections on the east and west coasts are accelerate, former Food and Drug Administration head Scott Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

New Jersey’s coronavirus cases passed 400,000 on Sunday with another 4,170 positive tests reported. An additional 24 people in the state died of illness related to Covid-19, bringing the toll to 15,883, which is the nation’s fifth-highest. The first vaccines in New Jersey will be administered on Tuesday, according to Governor Phil Murphy.

Ireland: Ireland’s pace of Covid-19 infections is increasing and a cause for concern, two weeks after the government rolled back a nationwide lockdown, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan said. The rolling five-day average of cases is back to more than 300 after declining for weeks, he said. Ireland reported 429 new cases Sunday, “a large number by the standard of recent weeks,” Holohan said.

France: Covid-19 patients in intensive-care units in France increased for the first time in almost four weeks, rising by 10 to 2,871, according to the Health Ministry. Hospitalizations for illness related to the virus, which include ICUs, climbed by 259, the most in three weeks.

ESwatini: ESwatini (formerly Swaziland) Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini, who tested positive for Covid-19 four weeks ago, has died at age 52 after being hospitalised in neighbouring South Africa, the tiny absolute monarchy’s government said late on Sunday.

Greece: Greece has reported 693 new coronavirus cases, the lowest daily figure since mid-October. There have been a further 85 deaths.

South Korea: South Korea reported a drop in new cases to 718 after posting a record of more than 1,000 infections on Sunday. Health authorities announced it was setting up nearly 60 temporary testing centers at subway stations in Seoul to stem the latest spread.

Vaccine news

US: President Donald Trump said those working in the White House “should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary,” following news that he and other top US officials will be offered the vaccine within days. Trump said he’s “not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time.” The vaccinations will be offered to critical personnel in all three branches of government deemed essential and could start as soon as Monday.

CDC Director Robert Redfield said he signed an advisory panel’s recommendation to use the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in people 16 and older, a formality required to kick off the US vaccine drive. Vaccinations are “set to start as early as Monday,” Redfield said in a statement Sunday.

As many as eight in 10 people in the US could be vaccinated by next summer, according to Moncef Slaoui, who heads the government’s push to approve and distribute vaccines. After the FDA authorized emergency use of the the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, a Moderna Inc. vaccine “likely will be approved by Friday,” Slaoui said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE may soon allow participants in its Covid-19 vaccine trial to learn whether they received a placebo, rather than the real thing, and get the actual shot if they wish. “Pending required approvals, Pfizer and BioNTech plan to provide an option for clinical trial participants who received the placebo to get the vaccine at scheduled time points in the study,” Pfizer said in an emailed statement. “This option will be voluntary and implemented in alignment with the regulatory authorities where the trial is being conducted.”

Brazil: Half of Brazilians wouldn’t take the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. with Instituto Butantan in Sao Paulo, a Datafolha poll shows. The Chinese vaccine, known as CoronaVac, has the highest rejection rate among those polled, at 50%, according to data published Saturday by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. More than a third wouldn’t take a vaccine developed by Russia and a quarter would reject one produced by the UK The lowest rejection rate, of 23%, is for a US-developed vaccine.

EU: European Council President Charles Michel said he expects the first Covid vaccines to be approved in the EU “in the coming weeks, maybe even before the end of the year.”

Bahrain: Bahrain has approved a Covid-19 vaccine developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and launched online registration for the vaccine for citizens and residents. Citizens and residents above 18 years of age could register online to receive the vaccine for free. Meanwhile, nearby Kuwait authorized the use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine.

Lockdown updates

Netherlands: The Dutch government will decide on stricter measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak in the Netherlands on Monday, as the country reported the biggest rise in infections in more than six weeks.

UK: Schools in Greenwich, south-east London, have been asked to close from Monday evening after “exponential growth” of coronavirus demanded “immediate action”, the council said, amid reports that the capital is likely to enter tier 3 soon.

Mauritania: Mauritania has reimposed a night-time curfew in the face of a “worrying surge” in Covid-19 cases and deaths, the president’s office said.

Japan: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to ask stores to keep their reduced opening hours in place until 11 January, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported, citing an unidentified person.

New Zealand: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a travel bubble with Australia could begin in the first quarter once final details have been worked out. Addressing reporters after a Cabinet meeting, Ardern said the quarantine-free arrangements depend on levels of Covid-19 in both countries not getting worse. Australia and New Zealand already have a limited travel corridor, but anyone returning from a trip from Australia must quarantine for 14 days on their return.

8:05 am

How conspiracy theories and politics could derail Covid vaccine programmes

14 December

Konstantina Beleli, an economist, re-tweeted an article on how many Europeans are sceptical about the Covid-19 vaccines.

According to an Economist article, despite clinical trials revealing the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccines, a number of people in Europe remain hesitant about being administered with the newly developed vaccines, thereby making the fight against the Covid-19 disease even more difficult.

According to a sample survey by Ipsos Mori, approximately 46% of the French, highest among other Europeans, and more than 40% of Poles and Hungarians refuse to be vaccinated with the coronavirus vaccines.

A number of conspiracy theories are also black painting the new coronavirus vaccines, calling them Bill Gates’ efforts to insert chips into the body, the article noted. Economists believe that while the 18th and 19th century reactions against vaccines were mainly religious, today’s resistance against the vaccines is due to political reasons.

As elites fear and distrust the new generation of Covid vaccines, politicians believe that people will eventually agree to get vaccinated in countries like France and Italy. Governments will have to bolster their Covid-19 vaccination programmes, to the effect that they are carried out smoothly and effectively, the article noted.

Read more

12:13 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid infections pass 69.7 million – Germany considers full lockdown

11 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 69,704,000, with over 1,584,000 deaths and 44,986,000 recoveries.

In the majority of countries in the European, African, Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asian, and Western Pacific regions, daily confirmed cases continue to decrease, while the Americas continue to see a rise in daily cases.

The US and Brazil primarily drive these daily increases, contributing approximately 40% of new cases to the global daily confirmed total.

In Germany, cases continue to surge with over 23,600 new coronavirus cases reported, and a record number of nearly 600 daily deaths reported earlier this week.

According to German officials, a full lockdown may be implemented for several days, possibly extending to weeks, following the Christmas holiday.

Natasha Karim, MPH, Managing Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:36 am

International update: Global Covid infections approach 70 million – Australia terminates vaccine agreement

11 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 69.6 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,583,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 15.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 292,179 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

A top coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden delivered a stern holiday message to Americans on Thursday – “no Christmas parties” – and warned they face a Covid-19 siege for weeks to come despite the latest moves toward US government approval of a vaccine.

New York’s new cases declined to 10,178 from 10,600 a day earlier, while the number of patients in intensive care units increased and another 92 people in the state died, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

Sweden: Stockholm’s ICU capacity reached 99% this week, as infection rates in the largest Nordic capital soar. Across Sweden, there were only 148 ICU beds left as of Thursday. Efforts to expand capacity are being complicated by a shortage of trained staff, with many on sick leave after months of overtime. Others quit their jobs after the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.

Russia: Russia reported a record monthly death toll of 22,571 in October, more than 80% above the previous peak in May, according to the State Statistics Service. The data, released on Thursday and based on death certificates, are considered more accurate than the daily figures reported by the government’s virus-response office. Russia has the fourth-most cases in the world. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said this week that its death rate is lower than those in many other countries.

Italy: Italy reported 887 new virus-linked deaths on Thursday, compared with 499 the day before, bringing the total to 62,626. Cases increased by 16,999, compared with 12,756 on Wednesday. Italy, which was Europe’s early epicenter of the pandemic last winter, reported has reported almost 1.79 million cases since the outbreak began.

South Korea: South Korea will mobilise military forces in the capital Seoul to help frontline health workers deal with a surge in coronavirus, with 689 new cases reported on Friday, and as the death toll and number of patients in critical care rose.

Vaccine news

US: FDA panel approves Pfizer vaccine. A panel of outside advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration voted overwhelmingly to recommend emergency-use authorization of a vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and its German partner, BioNTech SE.

The largest union of US airline pilots is asking the government to give cockpit crews preference for receiving the coronavirus vaccine to ensure its shipment by air cargo isn’t interrupted. Cargo-airline pilots “have experienced an alarming increase in Covid-19 exposure and infections,” Joseph DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, said in a letter to Senate lawmakers dated Wednesday.

Canada: Canada on Wednesday approved the use of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE and vaccinations are expected to start next week with high-risk people such as healthcare workers receiving the first doses. Ontario expects to receive “a very small number” of Covid-19 vaccines in the coming days and will prioritize health workers in long-term care homes and other high-risk settings, Premier Doug Ford said on Thursday. The province will administer the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine to those workers on 15 December in Toronto and Ottawa.

Mexico: An advisory committee for Mexican health regulator Cofepris will review Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine application on Friday, a health official said, as the country registered another 11,897 coronavirus cases and 671 more deaths.

Australia: The Australian government has terminated its agreement with Australian biotech company CSL Limited to supply 51m doses of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Queensland, after vaccine trial participants returned false positive test results for HIV.

Singapore: Biotech company Tychan will start a phase 3 clinical trial in Singapore for its novel monoclonal antibody TY027, according to a statement. TY027 is being explored for treatment of Covid-19 patients to slow the progression of the disease, accelerate recovery and potentially provide temporary protection from infection.

Lockdown updates

Japan: An expert panel that advises the Japanese government called for a suspension of its “Go To Travel” campaign in areas where the outbreak is most severe, Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of coronavirus policy, told reporters in Tokyo.

US: Pennsylvania is suspending indoor dining from Saturday and prohibiting gatherings and events of more than 10 people, Governor Tom Wolf said on Twitter. The measures will remain in place until 4 January. Daily cases in the state hit a record of more than 12,000 last week. The latest count was 11,064 on Wednesday, according to state health data. Meanwhile, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced a “modified stay-at-home order” that requires people to stay at home from midnight to 5 am, with exemptions including grocery shopping, work travel and medical emergencies, from Monday through to 31 January. Virginia counted a record 4,398 new cases a day earlier.

France: Theatres, museums and cinemas, along with sports facilities, will remain shut, instead of reopening as planned next week, Prime Minister Jean Castex said Thursday. A nighttime curfew will take effect on 15 December, he said. Meanwhile, travel across the country will now be permitted. Some 14,000 new Covid cases were reported nationwide on Thursday, almost triple a target set by President Emmanuel Macron, who said the lockdown could be lifted by mid-December if new cases averaged 5,000 a day.

Economy updates

Hong Kong: Hong Kong Airlines said it’s making 250 flight attendants redundant due to the prolonged impact of the pandemic. “Hong Kong Airlines has been compelled to adjust our operations significantly in the past year due to travel restrictions,” the company said in an emailed statement.

9:12 am

Company coronavirus news summary – Pfizer moves one step closer to emergency approval in the US – Moderna does adolescents into its Phase II/III study

11 December 2020 

Pfizer and BioNTech announced that the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee has offered 17 to 4 votes in support of emergency use authorisation (EUA) of BNT162b2, the companies’ Covid-19 mRNA vaccine candidate. The FDA’s final decision on emergency approval is expected in the next few days.

Inovio and Advaccine Biopharmaceuticals announced the first dosing of a subject in their  Phase II clinical trial of INO-4800, a Covid-19 DNA vaccine candidate, in China. The Phase II clinical trial is independent of the ongoing INNOVATE Phase II/III clinical trial of INO-4800 in the US.

Moderna announced the first dosing of its Covid-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, v in adolescent participants aged between 12 and 18 years in its Phase II/III study.  The study is being carried out in collaborate with the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and aims to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine in younger people.

Pharming Group has enrolled its first patient into a randomised, open label, parallel group, controlled, pilot clinical trial among 120 hospitalised Covid-19 positive patients. The patients will be administered RUCONEST to prevent them progressing to severe disease. The trial is initially being conducted at the Valley Hospital in New Jersey but will be extended to patients in other centres across the US.

8:48 am

How Covid has hit humanitarian aid programs

11 December

Adam Tooze, the director of the European Institute, shared an article on how the initial funding of $29bn to curb the coronavirus pandemic surged to $39bn in mid-November to support nearly 265 million of the 441 million people across 64 countries.

The Global Humanitarian Overview for 2020 found that donors gave approximately $17bn to inter-agency plans towards the end of November 2020.

However, despite the generous contributions, the gap between requirements and funding has never been larger, approximately $22bn.

The overview for 2021 further revealed that 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance in the year ahead, indicating 1 in 33 people need help globally compared to 1 in 45 people in the previous year.

The United Nation (UN) and partner organisations are working towards protecting almost 160 million people across 56 countries with funding requirements of approximately $35bn.

Despite the pressure of the pandemic on donor economies, additional funding was secured on several occasions, the article detailed.

However, humanitarian organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) continue to be underfunded and have been unable to carry out activities planned in 2020.

Read more

1:34 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 69 million – Japan hit by third wave

10 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 69,027,000, with more than 1,572,000 deaths and 44,518,000 recoveries.

Worldwide, daily confirmed cases continue to increase.

The US continues to rank highest in the world with over 15.3 million total confirmed cases, followed by India with over 9.7 million total confirmed cases, and Brazil with over 6.7 million total confirmed cases.

Additionally, the US continues to report a high death toll, contributing approximately 20% to global deaths; this is about the same percentage of deaths that India and Brazil combined contribute to the global death toll.

In Japan, a record number of over 2,800 new coronavirus cases were reported. This marks an all-time high since the start of the pandemic.

Record daily confirmed cases were also reported in six of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

Natasha Karim, MPH, Managing Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:17 am

One off wealth tax to aid Covid recovery proposed for UK

10 December

Robert Palmer, a tax reform campaigner and executive director of Tax Justice UK, re-tweeted about a wealth tax to fund Covid recovery.

In his views, too often during the crisis, the government has been on the back foot but that should not be the case when the next shock hits.

Experts from the Warwick University and London School of Economics announced a plan that could raise $348bn through a one-off 5% wealth tax on millionaires.

The Wealth Tax Commission comprises lawyers, economists, professionals, and think tanks who advise the rich and wealthy.

The wealth tax will be paid by UK residents with personal wealth above a set threshold. It will include all assets but not debts such as mortgages.

The tax will be paid in instalments over a five-year tenure and will apply on the wealth above the threshold, the article highlighted.

The tax will not only aid in Covid recovery but also gain the trust of people about the government confronting issues related to inequality, and racial and gender injustices, the article highlighted.

Read more

9:08 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Canada grants emergency approval to Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine – Sinopharm’s vaccine achieves 86% efficacy in UAE trials

10 December 2020

Pfizer and BioNTech announced that Health Canada has granted emergency use authorisation to their mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BNT162b2. The vaccine will be distributed across populations as per the guidance and supervision of Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunisations. Pfizer Canada will have commercialisation rights, while BioNTech will hold regulatory approval in Canada.

Sorrento Therapeutics announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had accepted its investigational new drug (IND) application to conduct Phase I clinical trials of STI-2020 (COVI-AMG). The trials will assess the safety, efficacy, and pharmacokinetics of a single dose of STI-2020 among healthy participants and recently diagnosed Covid-19 patients.

According to the UAE’s national health authorities, Chinese-based Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate yielded 86% efficacy in its human trials in the country. The Ministry of Health for the UAE confirmed that the interim analysis was conducted by Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group. The Gulf country began the Phase III human trials in July and granted emergency use authorisation for the vaccine’s use in health care workers in September.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has granted conditional permission for Gennova Pharmaceuticals to conduct Phase I and II human clinical trials of its mRNA vaccine (HGCO19) developed in collaboration with HDT Biotech Corporation. The trials will be conducted based on recommendations by a DCGI Subject Expert Committee (SEC). All results from the Phase I study are also required to be submitted to the SEC before moving into the next phase

9:04 am

International update: Global Covid infections approach 70 million – anti-vaxxers push back in US and France

10 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections pass 68.9 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,569,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 15.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 289,431 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University It looks like the US will again confirm a record new death toll for Wednesday, for the first time exceeding 3,000 deaths – higher than the toll of 9/11 – in 24 hours.

The pace of Covid-19 hospitalizations appears to be slowing in the US., with the average number of in-patients increasing by fewer than 500 a day from December 4 to 9, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show. There were 105,035 coronavirus patients hospitalized as of Wednesday, up 2.4% from 102,579 on Friday. California accounted for about half of the national increase, with 1,289 additional Covid-19 hospitalizations over the period. It had 10,230 coronavirus cases in hospitals as of Wednesday, more than any other state.

New Mexico recorded 100% utilization of its intensive-care beds, with 23.4% of all hospitalized patients in the states suffering Covid-19. Coronavirus cases accounted for at least a fifth of all hospitalized patients in Nevada, Arizona, South Dakota and Rhode Island.

Italy: The coronavirus was circulating in Italy as early as the end of November 2019, according to a new report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lending weight to other studies that have suggested an earlier appearance of the disease in Europe.

South Africa: South Africa is now experiencing Covid-19 ‘second wave’, the health minister declared Wednesday.“ As it stands as a country we now meet that criteria,” Zweli Mkhize said in a statement, as the country registered nearly 7,000 new cases in the last 24-hour cycle. The country now counts 828,598 infections after 6,709 new cases were detected between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Australia: Australian scientists said on Thursday they had developed a rapid genome sequencing method that would cut to within four hours the time taken to trace the source of coronavirus cases, helping to quickly contain any future outbreaks.

Japan: Japan has reported a record daily number of coronavirus cases, prompting health experts to urge people not to travel in the run-up to the New Year holidays. The country reported 2,811 new infections on Wednesday, as well as a record 555 people with serious Covid symptoms, the Kyodo news agency said.

China: A citizen journalist detained for more than six months after reporting on the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak has had a feeding tube forcibly inserted and her arms restrained to stop her pulling it out, her lawyer has claimed. Zhang Zhan, a 37-year-old former lawyer, has been on a hunger strike at a detention facility near Shanghai. Zhang was arrested in May and accused of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble”, an accusation frequently used against critics and activists inside China, after reporting on social media and streaming accounts. Last month she was formally indicted on charges of spreading false information.

South Korea: Citizens in the greater Seoul area can take virus tests for free for the next three weeks regardless of their symptoms, South Korean Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said in a government meeting Thursday. The nation reported 682 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours compared with 686 a day earlier, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website.

Vaccine news

India: A drug approval panel in India has asked the Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd. and Bharat Biotech to submit more data on the safety and efficacy of their coronavirus vaccines before it can consider their applications for accelerated approvals of their shots.

Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd., India’s largest hospital chain, says it’s ready to administer one million coronavirus vaccine doses a day, but the government has not made clear how vaccines will be distributed and whether private health-care networks will be involved.

UK: The UK’s National Health Service warning about allergies came a day after the U.K. became the first western nation to begin a Covid vaccination program.

US: Half of Americans would take vaccine, poll shows. A survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows about a quarter of US adults aren’t sure if they want to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Roughly another quarter say they won’t.

Less than half of the available 6.4 million doses of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine will be initially sent out to states, and 500,000 will be held separately in reserve by the government, according to a top official at Operation Warp Speed, Gustave Perna.

Pfizer Inc. said some documents it had submitted to Europe’s top drug regulator regarding its Covid-19 vaccine had been accessed in a cyberattack on the agency. The drugmaker and partner BioNTech SE said in a statement that they had been told by the European Medicines Agency that some documents relating to the regulatory submission for their vaccine and that had been stored on the EMA server had been unlawfully accessed.

France: More than half of the French don’t plan to get a shot against Covid-19, according to a survey by pollster Elabe for BFM TV published on Wednesday. Of those surveyed, 52% said they certainly or probably won’t get vaccinated, up four points from two weeks earlier. That’s even as 70% of respondents said they’re worried about the coronavirus. Resistance to the vaccine is greatest in political groups opposed to the government of Emmanuel Macron, the survey found.

Lockdown updates

US: The White House coronavirus task force recommended to President Donald Trump that the US start allowing in travellers from Brazil, the UK and 27 other EU countries, CNBC reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. Travel restrictions on travelers from China and Iran wouldn’t be relaxed, according to the recommendation, which wasn’t unanimous.

1:01 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases exceed 68.3 million – continued surge in South Korea

9 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 68,367,000, with over 1,559,000 deaths and 44,095,000 recoveries.

Worldwide, total confirmed cases and total deaths continue to rise.

The US, India, and Brazil primarily drive these increases due to the sheer magnitude of cases that consistently positions them in the top three most affected countries.

Overall, these countries contribute about 46% of cases to the global confirmed case burden, and approximately 40% of deaths to the global death toll.

In South Korea, Covid-19 cases continue to surge, with around 700 new cases reported. This has prompted the government to suspend in-person classes for nearly 1,000 schools, primarily located in the capital city of Seoul.

Since the start of the pandemic, over 1,600 students and 300 teachers have tested positive for coronavirus.

Natasha Karim, MPH, Managing Epidemiologist at GlobalData

11:21 am

International update: Global Covid cases pass 68.3 million – more than 15.1 million in US

9 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections pass 68.3 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,559,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 15 million. Record cases in at least three states – Arizona, Alabama and Ohio – pushed the cumulative case load to over 15 million, according to a Reuters tally of state and county data. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 286,338 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Texas logged more than 15,000 new Covid cases in a 24-hour period. The second-largest US state reported 15,103 new infections, just a week after posting a record 15,182.

Rudy Giuliani is expected to leave hospital on Wednesday. US president Donald Trump’s lawyer said he is feeling better after contracting Covid-19.

Americans are expected to continue with their travel plans for the Christmas holiday with more than a million air passengers anticipated for the balance of December and into January for the holiday, David Pekoske, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, said Tuesday. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious-disease expert, said that the Christmas holiday season could pose greater risks than Thanksgiving when it comes to spreading the coronavirus, and urged Americans to double down on measures such as wearing masks, avoiding crowds and social distancing.

South Korea: South Korea reported 686 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday as it battles a third wave of infection that is threatening to overwhelm its medical system. The daily tally was the second-highest since the start of the pandemic, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

UK: People in the United Kingdom may still be wearing face masks in a year’s time despite the country’s national vaccination programme getting under way, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, told the Telegraph.

Cases were low in schools that reopened in England after the first nationwide lockdown, suggesting there was little risk of spreading the disease, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. The research covered nurseries and schools that reopened after implementing measures such as smaller classes and the formation of social bubbles. The virus was most often spread among staff, while student-to-student transmission was rare.

Vaccine news

Global: Nine out of 10 people in 70 low-income countries are unlikely to be vaccinated against Covid-19 next year because the majority of the most promising vaccines coming on-stream have been bought up by the west, campaigners have said.

Kenya: Kenya may choose the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine as it can be kept using standard refrigeration rather than complex cold storage, the Daily Nation newspaper reported, citing the health department’s chief administrative secretary.

Iran: Iran’s attempts to procure vaccines to curb the worst outbreak of coronavirus in the Middle East are being hampered by US sanctions, officials in Tehran said, as it is unable to utilize a payment system intended to ensure fair global access to the shots.

US: The US government’s plan to vaccinate most Americans by next summer rests heavily on two Covid-19 shots that US regulators won’t get a chance to rule on until early in 2021. AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson together would provide 150 million to 200 million shots in the first quarter, said Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific officer of Operation Warp Speed. This could immunize 110 million to 150 million people, if the doses are evenly split between J&J’s single-dose vaccine and Astra’s two-dose regimen.

The vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech meets the requirements for an emergency-use authorization set out by the US Food and Drug Administration, according to a 92-page staff report analyzing the companies’ clinical development program. The report offers a first look at the US review of the vaccine ahead of a public meeting Thursday of outside advisers to the agency. The FDA could clear the shot shortly after the meeting, with as many as 6.4 million doses immediately available to kick off a vast immunization effort designed to end a pandemic that has killed more than 283,000 Americans.

Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine prevents symptomatic cases of the virus, but it’s not clear if the shot keeps the disease from being transmitted, US Food and Drug Administration staff found in a report issued Tuesday. The conclusion highlights a major unknown about vaccine candidates that persists ahead of an ambitious US rollout of millions of shots: How effective they’ll be in stemming the spread of coronavirus at a population level.

CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. are aggressively recruiting pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and nurses to administer vaccines in long-term care facilities, just days before the drugstore giants are expected to play a key role in a large immunization effort. Representatives from the two companies are making in-person and virtual pitches to independent pharmacists, according to National Community Pharmacists Association Chief Executive Officer Douglas Hoey. The outreach has surprised the group’s members because it suggests the chains don’t have enough people to run the massive effort, he said.

Lockdown updates

Thailand: Thailand will deploy drones and increase military patrols along its border with Myanmar following a small cluster of cases linked to people crossing undetected into the country. At least 19 cases of the coronavirus have been linked to people passing over the border without undergoing mandatory quarantine.

France: France is mulling “many options” related to the planned loosening of lockdown measures as the number of Covid-19 cases remains high, Health Minister Olivier Veran said in an interview on LCI TV. Options include introducing a new curfew or sticking to the current lockdown for some additional days to observe developments, Veran said. The government will discuss the Covid-19 situation Wednesday, and an announcement is due before end of the week, he said.

Mongolia: Prime Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa announced plans to ease lockdown restrictions in the capital Ulaanbaatar from 14 December, Bloomberg TV Mongolia reported. Businesses including restaurants, cafes and shopping malls will be allowed to reopen from 6 a.m. local time Monday. The lockdown was previously scheduled to be lifted this Friday. Ulaanbaatar has been subject to strict measures, including a ban on public gatherings and restricted movement in and out of the city since 11 November.

Canada: The province of Alberta announced strict new limits in an attempt to control a surge in cases, banning all social gatherings for at least four weeks from Sunday and requiring masks in all indoor areas. Casinos, gyms, salons and entertainment facilities will close, while bars and restaurants are limited to takeout and delivery orders. Retail stores, malls and religious houses will be limited to 15% of capacity, and people must work from home unless they’re physically required at their workplace.

Hong Kong: officials have discussed limiting air passenger arrivals if there is a shortfall of hotels willing to serve as quarantine centers, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a government pandemic adviser. The cap would only be considered in “extreme conditions.”

The Netherlands: Have extended a partial lockdown for the holiday season, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte warning that stricter measures may be announced before Christmas if numbers don’t come down. “It is really not going well,” Rutte said at a press conference in The Hague on Tuesday.

Switzerland: The federal government plans to work with cantons, or states, to unify restrictions to fight the pandemic. The proposed new measures, including reducing opening hours for shops and restaurants, would take effect from 12 December and last until 20 January. Measures could be tightened further on 18 December, when restaurants and shops might shut altogether, if case loads don’t come down. The country of about 8.5 million on Tuesday reported 4,262 new infections, up 12% from a week ago. The canton of Zurich will close casinos, sex clubs and saunas from 10 December in an effort to curb infections.

UK: Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned London is facing a rise in infections as he urged the public to stick to the pandemic rules. The government is due to review the restrictions on 16 December and could impose tighter curbs on regions where cases are rising.

9:14 am

Company coronavirus news summary – AstraZeneca published interim Phase III data in the Lancet – Moderna expands supply deal with Switzerland

9 December 2020 

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford have published interim data from the UK and Brazil Phase III trials of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222. These results, which were published in a peer-reviewed article in The Lancet, confirmed that AZD1222 was 70.4% effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 when results from two different dosing regimens were pooled. The data also showed that AZD1222 was safe and was effective at preventing severe Covid-19 disease.

Cyxone announced has received regulatory approval from Poland‘s ethics committee to commence a Phase II clinical trial of Rabeximod among Covid-19 patients suffering with moderate symptoms. The oral treatment aims to prevent disease progression and  acute respiratory distress symptoms (ARDS) in Covid-19 patients.

HALIX and AstraZeneca are collaborating on large-scale commercial manufacturing of AZD1222, an adenovirus vector-based Covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford. Under the terms of the agreement, HALIX will carry out commercial manufacturing of the vaccine at its cGMP facility in the Netherlands.

Indian vaccine and pharmaceutical company Biological E and the Ohio State Innovation Foundation (OSIF) have signed an exclusive license agreement for a Covid-19 vaccine technology. OSIF licensed the novel live attenuated recombinant measles virus (rMeV)-based vaccine approaches and candidates to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus to Biological E. The technology was invented by Ohio State University‘s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Moderna announced that the Swiss Federal Government has increased its purchase commitment order for Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine from 4.5 million to 7.5 million doses. Moderna is most likely to transport the Covid-19 vaccine as early as December if regulatory approval is achieved during the month. Swissmedic has started a rolling review progress of the company’s mRNA vaccine.

8:31 am

House prices to rise in spite of Covid

9 December

Stephen Koukoulas, an economist and research fellow at Per Capita, a progressive think tank, re-tweeted on the global pandemic and deep recession not being enough to weaken house prices in Australia, with the cost of property set to climb in 2021.

While some experts forecasted a 40-45% dip in house prices in the next three years starting from September 2018 when house merchants feared the collapse in house prices, the chances of a 35% price fall before the end of 2021 are also looking slim, with cost of property set to rise in the year ahead, Koukoulas highlighted.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) further revealed that house prices in eight capital cities rose 0.8% in the third quarter of 2020 and was 4.5% higher than in 2019. Data also suggested that Sydney’s house prices rebounded 9.2% after the second quarter of 2019, while Melbourne prices were up 8.5% and the eight capital cities were up 7.0% respectively.

Although unofficial house price data for the fourth quarter of 2020 confirm rising prices across all cities, driven and supported by low interest rates, it is likely to be offset by the low demand linked to low immigration and increased supply from new construction activity, Koukoulas adds.

Read more

2:28 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid infections pass 67.7 million – vaccinations begin in UK

8 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 67,719,000, with more than 1,547,000 deaths and 43,639,000 recoveries.

Across the world, daily confirmed cases continue to rise.

Of the top ten most affected countries, only two continue to report consistent, increasing trends in daily confirmed cases: the US and Russia.

However, these countries contribute roughly 40% to the top ten total confirmed case burden, and just over 25% to the global total confirmed case burden.

In the UK, the first mass vaccination effort has been launched; this positions the UK as the first Western nation to vaccinate its citizens, and marks a significant turning point in the pandemic.

Natasha Karim, MPH, Managing Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:02 am

Company coronavirus news summary – Relief, NeuroRx complete enrolment for critical Covid-19 drug trial – Canada doubles its vaccine supply agreement with Moderna

8 December 2020

Chinese vaccine developer Sinovac Life Sciences announced that it has secured $500m in funding from Sino Biopharmaceutical to develop, manufacture, and increase capacity of CoronaVac, its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Weidong Yin, the president and CEO of Sinovac stated that the coronavirus vaccine has achieved critical milestones in Asian and Latin American trials.

NeuroRx and Relief Therapeutics announced that they have successfully enrolled 165 patients as agreed with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into an ongoing Phase IIb/III trial of RLF-100 (aviptadil) for treating respiratory failure in critical Covid-19 patients. Currently, there is no FDA-approved drug to treat these critical patients.

Canada has confirmed an order of 20 million doses of mRNA-1273, Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, bringing the total confirmed purchase commitment to a total of 40 million doses. The vaccine was recently proved safe and efficacious in the Phase III COVE study.

According to official sources, Bharat Biotech has ought emergency use authorisation approval from India‘s drug regulator for Covaxin, its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Bharat Biotech have collaborated in the development of the of the vaccine

9:02 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 67.5 million – US cases near 15 million

8 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections pass 67.5 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1.54 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: US Covid-19 infections are nearing 15 million, meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 283,703 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Rebekah Jones, the Florida data scientist embroiled in a dispute with the state’s Republican governor over the handling of coronavirus figures, had her home raided on Monday by armed police who confiscated her computers.

Workers who went to the office in ten of the largest US business districts fell to 16.9% of pre-Covid-19 levels in the week ended 2 December, according to data from Kastle Systems. Employees who went to the office decreased 5.8 percentage points from 22.6% the previous week.

California, struggling with a record surge in coronavirus cases, will use a phone-based app developed with Google and Apple Inc. to help alert people who may have been exposed to Covid-19. State officials have been testing it on several University of California campuses for the past two months and will make it publicly available on Thursday. The app, whose use is voluntary, will tell someone whether they have recently come into close contact with another person who has the app and has tested positive for the virus – meaning large numbers of residents will need to sign up in order for it to be effective.

California reported 24,735 new cases Monday, a day after shattering records with more than 30,000 daily infections. Much of the state is now under stay-at-home orders as officials try to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

India: India reported 26,567 new coronavirus infections, data from the health ministry showed on Tuesday, the lowest daily increase since 10 July. Daily cases have been falling in India since hitting a peak in September. However, experts have cautioned that the testing regimen – relying heavily on less-accurate rapid antigen tests – may understate scale of the epidemic.

South Korea: Seoul authorities are converting shipping containers into temporary hospital wards to accommodate a potential overflow of patients amid a surge in coronavirus infections in the South Korean capital.

Italy: Italy’s coronavirus outbreak continued to slow Monday, with health officials reporting the lowest daily new cases since 20 October. The country registered 13,720 new infections compared with 16,377 a week ago, and the number of patients in intensive care declined. Deaths fell to 528 compared with 564 on Sunday.

Vaccine news

Global: The World Health Organization said Monday that persuading people on the merits of a Covid-19 vaccine would be far more effective than trying to make the jabs mandatory. The WHO said it would be down to individual countries as to how they want to conduct their vaccination campaigns against the coronavirus pandemic.

US: President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday to ensure that priority access for Covid-19 vaccines is given to the American people, for doses procured by the US government, before assisting other nations, senior administration officials said on Monday.

US officials insisted they’ll have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses to let most Americans get inoculated by next summer, downplaying reports that they passed up a chance to secure more of Pfizer Inc.’s shot. The Trump administration is confident that the US will have enough supply to vaccinate everyone, a senior administration official said Monday on a call with reporters.

Indonesia: Indonesia’s government plans to begin inoculating those on the front lines of the pandemic, including health workers and law enforcement, in January, Wiku Adisasmito, a spokesman for the task force, said in televised address. Inoculations can begin pending quality and safety checks as well as the issuance of an emergency use authorization from the food and drug regulator known as BPOM.

The first batch of Covid-19 vaccine ordered from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. arrived in Indonesia late Sunday, marking a new phase in the country’s fight against Southeast Asia’s worst outbreak.

UK: The UK is set to administer the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Tuesday, with the NHS giving top priority to people over the age of 80, frontline healthcare workers and care home staff and residents.

Italy: Italy may get its first 3.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine as soon as 15 January, a week earlier than expected, Il Messaggero newspaper reported earlier Monday.

South Korea: According to Yonhap, South Korea has secured 64 million vaccine doses for 44 million people (three of the vaccines need two shots). Vaccines for 34 million will come directly from the drugmakers and 10 million via the WHO. The vaccines ordered are sufficient to cover 88% of the population.

South Korea’s pharmaceutical company GL Rapha will begin full-scale production of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in January after sending test products to Russia this month, Maeil Business Newspaper reported, citing an unidentified company official. GL Rapha’s pharmaceuticals manufacturing unit will produce 150 million doses to be exported to the Middle East, the report said.

UAE: Abu Dhabi has started a volunteer program for Phase 3 clinical trials of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V. The oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates is initially seeking 500 volunteers, according to the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office.

Lockdown updates

Hong Kong: Hong Kong will ban evening dining at restaurants and close fitness centres, the city’s leader said on Tuesday, as part of new measures aimed at stemming a fourth wave of coronavirus infections.

France: France is poised to miss a coronavirus goal set by President Emmanuel Macron as a condition for lifting the country’s lockdown next week, with daily new Covid-19 cases holding at more than twice the targeted level.

Economy updates

Uruguay: Uruguayan beef allegedly tainted with Covid-19 couldn’t have been contaminated in the country because the shipment was dispatched in December 2019 before the virus was detected domestically, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement. The frozen beef shipment, which the disease control center in Wuhan on 6 December 2020 said contained Covid-19, passed through South Africa, Malaysia and the city of Tianjin before reaching a warehouse in Wuhan in March 2020, the ministry said. Uruguay detected the first local Covid-19 cases in the second week of March.

7:57 am

Economic disparity drives Covid vaccine distribution inequality

8 December

Gregory Daco, an economist, shared an article on the greatest vaccine effort in history, with the UK leading the pack to clear the first shot from Pfizer and BioNTech. The US is also making similar efforts and has succeeded in developing the Moderna vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, which revealed 94.5% efficacy in its early stage data.

Experts believe that by the end of the year millions will be inoculated, and billions across the globe. The article explains how nine potential vaccines are being tracked around the globe, on the basis of national procurement deals to patients being administered doses. According to the data collected, 7.85 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have already been allotted.

Economists believe that this maybe enough to meet the vaccine requirements of at least half the world, if administered evenly. However, it is a fact that the economically richer countries have placed higher bets on these vaccines with extensive supply agreements, while the need for ultra-cold storage requirements make it even more difficult for tropical countries and emerging markets to bag the vaccine deals, the article detailed.

Meanwhile, countries like Russia and China are carving their own path and are most likely to depend on domestically produced vaccines such as the Sputnik V and Sinopharm-made vaccine. The two countries authorised these vaccines in July and expect their entire populations to be vaccinated.

Read more

2:10 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 67.1 million – more than 14.7 million in US

7 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of COVID-19 have reached over 67,178,000, with more than 1,537,000 deaths and 43,191,000 recoveries.

Worldwide, daily confirmed cases continue to increase. In North America and across the world, the US maintains its place as the most affected country with over 14.7 million total confirmed cases, followed by India and Brazil.

In addition, the US, Brazil, and India continue to report a high death toll, contributing approximately 30% to global deaths.

In Denmark, a partial shutdown was announced after a surge in cases was detected over the weekend.

Daily confirmed cases have reached an all-time high since the start of the pandemic, with over 2,000 new cases detected on Saturday.

Regional and local restrictions there will last until 3 January 2021, while existing nationwide restrictions will last until 28 February 2021.

Natasha Karim, MPH, Managing Epidemiologist at GlobalData

8:58 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 67 million – UK to administer first vaccinations on Tuesday

7 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections pass 67 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1.5 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 US: US COVID-19 infections have passed 14.7 million, meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 282,310 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US president-elect Joe Biden has picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be his health secretary, putting a defender of the Affordable Care Act in a leading role to oversee his administration’s coronavirus response. In other news, Biden is expected to nominate Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, to run the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Reuters reports, citing a person familiar with the decision.

 Multiple news outlets are reporting that Rudy Giuliani, personal lawyer to Donald Trump, has been admitted to hospital following the announcement by Trump on Twitter that Giuliani had tested positive for coronavirus.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports that the Arizona state legislature will close for the whole of this coming week, “after at least 15 current or future Republican legislators may have been directly exposed to COVID-19 by meeting with Rudy Giuliani.”

The US is hospitalizing almost 2,000 coronavirus patients a day, data released by the Department of Health and Human Services show. There were a record 102,579 COVID-19 patients in hospitals as of 4 December, 5,911 more than on 1 December. New York, North Carolina and Tennessee recorded the biggest increase in inpatients. New Mexico exceeded its ICU capacity, with 103.3% of intensive-care beds utilized, the data show. COVID-19 cases account for at least one in five hospital patients in nine states, led by Rhode Island with 23.7%.

Larry Dixon, a retired and prominent state senator in Alabama, left some last words of warning before he died last week from COVID-19 at age 78. Dixon for years headed the state board that oversaw the medical profession. “We messed up,” Dixon, a Republican, was quoted saying by, citing a friend who is a medical doctor. “We just let our guard down. Please tell everybody to take this thing seriously and get help as soon as you get the virus.”

South Korea: President Moon Jae-in on Monday ordered testing for the new coronavirus to be expanded by mobilizing the military and more people from the public service, as the country continued to report triple-digit daily new cases.

South Korea reported 615 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said, capping a month of triple-digit daily increases that have driven the nation’s largest wave of infections in nine months.

UK: COVID infections rose by 17,272 on Sunday, the highest since Nov. 26 and 20% above the seven-day average of 14,400. Images circulating online of busy shopping streets in the run-up to Christmas and a period of looser restrictions during the festive season have sparked concerns that infections could surge again toward the end of the year. Another 231 deaths were reported, down from 397 on Saturday.

Japan: Public support for new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, has plummeted over the past month amid mounting criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. A new poll by the Kyodo news agency shows support for his cabinet at 50.3%, down 13 percentage points from a month earlier. Disapproval rose from 19.2% to 32.6%.

Japan is preparing to send nurses from the Self-Defence Forces to Osaka and Hokkaido to help treat a surge in coronavirus infections as soon as the two prefecture governments request it, chief government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said on Monday.

Vaccine news

US: All Americans who want to get a COVID-19 vaccine should be able to do so by the second quarter of next year, Health and Human Services Alex Azar said. With the US Food and Drug Administration due to decide as early as Thursday on emergency authorization for a shot developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, Azar and Moncef Slaoui, the head of the government’s program to accelerate a vaccine, expressed confidence that the FDA would clear the way.

UK: Britain is set to administer the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, with the NHS giving top priority to vaccinating the over-80s, frontline healthcare workers and care home staff and residents.

India: The Serum Institute of India has sought emergency use authorisation from India’s drug regulator for AstraZeneca Plc’s COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday, according to several reports in Indian media, citing the Press Trust of India.

Indonesia: Indonesia received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine from China on Sunday, President Joko Widodo said, as the government prepares a mass inoculation programme. In other news, the Indonesia Ulema Council is set to issue a declaration that the COVID-19 vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. is halal, CNN Indonesia reported. The council, known as MUI, has sent a commission to visit Sinovac’s factory to monitor the content of the vaccine and is now awaiting results from lab trials before issuing the declaration.

Lockdown updates

Germany: The state of Bavaria is tightening its coronavirus lockdown regime, mostly banning people from leaving their homes starting from Dec. 9 and formally declaring a “disaster situation.” Previous and existing measures haven’t sufficiently brought down infections in the region, the Bavarian government said in a statement on Sunday. Under the new rules, people will only be allowed to leave their homes if they have a valid reason.

8:26 am

Company coronavirus news summary – Moderna and Israel expands Covid-19 vaccine supply agreement – India grants emergency approval to Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine

7 December 2020 

Moderna announced that it has expanded its supply agreement with the Ministry of Health of Israel by an additional four million doses of the mRNA-1273 vaccine for Covid-19. While the Ministry of Health in Israel is yet to complete regulatory approval for the vaccine, the country has secured access to six million doses of mRNA-1273 through the expanded agreement.

Clover Biopharmaceuticals announced positive clinical results from its Phase I trial . The results demonstrated that Clover’s protein-based Covid-19 S-Trimer vaccine candidates with GlaxoSmithKline or Dynavax adjuvants induced strong immune responses, including neutralising antibodies and cell-mediated immunity. The vaccines were also found to be safe and tolerable among 150 adults and elderly volunteers.

Eli Lilly and UnitedHealth Group are collaborating to study bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) in high-risk, Covid-19 individuals in areas such as symptom tracking, in-home testing and in-home infusions to detect the SAR-CoV-2 virus. Bamlanivimab was recently granted emergency use authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating mild to moderate Covid-19 patients who were at high risk of developing severe Covid-19 and/or hospitalisation.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted emergency use authorisation to Pfizer India for its Covid-19 vaccine, making it the first company to get the approval in the country and after its parent company secured clearance in the UK and Bahrain. Officials reported that the company has sought permission from the drug regulator to import the vaccine for sale and distribution in the country.

7:44 am

How management skills can help reduce Covid impact

7 December

Linda Yueh, an economist, shared an article about how managerial practices influence the ability of economies to weather large shocks such as the Great Recession and the more recent Covid-19 crisis. The article draws useful insights from the Great Recession to understand how to build managerial talent and logistics in cushioning economic shocks from crises such as the coronavirus.

Research suggests that countries with a higher quality of management prior to the Great Recession were able to limit employment losses by moderating real wage growth, the article noted. However, economists also believe that the effect of management quality on macroeconomic outcomes could be quantitatively different for Covid-19 and its recovery, but qualitatively similar.

The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of the swift reorganisation of tasks and logistics to cushion economic shocks. This implies rapidly deploying teleworking and online services, reorganising supply chains, and supporting firms to preserve skills, production, as well as market shares.

Many studies have suggested that effective managers respond to exogeneous microeconomic shocks by reallocating workers to preserve, develop and utilise workers’ skills, maintain their incentives and satisfaction, and preserve productivity, the article detailed.

Read more

1:35 pm

Global Data Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 65.3 million – US Exceeds 14 million

4 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 65,359,000 with over 1,509,000 deaths and 42,072,000 recoveries.

The US has reached over 14,000,000 total confirmed cases and 276,383 total confirmed deaths. The number of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 is increasing in the US.

On Wednesday, the country reported a record high of 2,801 new confirmed deaths.

In western Europe, while it appears the second wave is on a downturn, countries are concerned about surges following holiday trips in December.

France increased border surveillance and in Spain trips between regions are restricted.

Germany extended the current lockdown till mid-January.

Japan and South Korea continue to report increasing number of new confirmed cases and deaths.

-Bahram Hassanpourfard, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

11:19 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 65 million – more than 1.5 million deaths

4 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 65 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1.5 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 14 million, meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 276,366 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US president-elect Joe Biden has told CNN that it was his “inclination” that, on his inauguration, he would ask the public to wear masks for the first 100 days of his administration to help drive down the spread of the virus. He also said that he would be happy to get his vaccine publicly to encourage people to follow suit, following Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton’s pledges to do the same.

North Carolina reported a record 5,637 new infections and the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began. Governor Roy Cooper urged residents to “take personal responsibility” in following the state’s mask order and other health measures but warned of tighter restrictions. “Everything is on the table in weeks to come,” he told reporters, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.

Texas logged its fourth straight day of 10,000-plus new virus cases, the longest such streak since the height of the state’s initial outbreak in July, state health department figures showed. The second-largest US state posted 13,857 new diagnoses, driving the cumulative total to 1.22 million.

India: India’s daily coronavirus cases rose by less than 40,000 for the fifth straight day, health ministry data showed on Friday, with 36,595 new infections reported in the last 24 hours.

Italy: Italy reported a record number of daily coronavirus deaths on Thursday, surpassing March’s peak, as the government laid out a plan to restrict movements over the coming holiday season. New fatalities linked to the pandemic hit 993, ahead of 969 on 27 March. Some 23,225 new cases were recorded, down 20% from the same day last week.

Vaccine news

Global: Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine appears to offer potent protection against coronavirus that will last a minimum of three months and potentially much longer, according to a letter from the researchers who conducted the trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The number of antibodies produced to fight the infection dropped slowly over time, though they remained elevated and started to plateau three months after volunteers received the second injection.

The World Health Organization said it was considering introducing electronic vaccination certificates, as hopes for an end to the pandemic were boosted after Britain became the first country to approve use of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Moderna Inc said on Thursday it expects to have between 100 million and 125 million doses of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine available globally in the first quarter of 2021. The company said 85 million to 100 million of those doses would be available in the United States, with 15 million to 25 million available outside the country.

US: America’s leading infectious diseases scientist, Anthony Fauci,has apologised for implying that he thought Britain’s drug regulator had rushed through its coronavirus vaccine approval. His comments came a day after Britain became the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for general use, prompting some scepticism among European neighbours and suggestions of politicisation.

Costa Rica: Costa Rica has signed an agreement with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE for the manufacture and delivery of three million Covid-19 vaccines next year, the office of President Carlos Alvarado said on Thursday.

Lockdown updates

South Korea: South Korea’s capital Seoul will require most establishments to close at 9pm each day, after South Korea reported 629 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number in nine months. Of the new cases, 295 were from capital Seoul alone.

Japan: Osaka prefectural government raised its virus alert to the highest level after a rise in serious cases put strain on its medical system. Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, at a news conference late Thursday, urged residents to stay home until 15 December.  Schools will remain open but bars and restaurants in certain districts are being asked to close early. Osaka reported 386 new cases Thursday; number of patients with serious conditions rose to 136, meaning two-thirds of hospital beds have been occupied, according to Kyodo.

US: Delaware issued a stay-at-home advisory, halting in-person learning at schools, prohibiting winter sports competitions and requiring people to wear masks indoors if mixing with another household. The order runs from 14 December through 11 January.

South African: President Cyril Ramaphosareimposed several curbs aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic in one of the nation’s biggest municipalities, which is battling a second wave of infections.

Economy updates

Philippines: Economic managers are pushing to further reopen the economy that’s forecast to shrink as much as 9.5% this year. The Philippines has the second-worst outbreak in Southeast Asia, even as daily cases have declined over the past days.

9:03 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Inovio expands Covid-19 vaccine global manufacturing capacity – Daewoong eyes Phase II studies of anti-parasitic drug

4 December 2020 

Senhwa Biosciences announced that the first patient had been enrolled into its Phase II investigator-initiated trial (IIT) of silmitasertib, an investigational drug for the treatment of Covid-19 . The trial is being conducted at the Centre for Advanced Research and Education (CARE) in the US state of Georgia.

Inovio announced an agreement with Kaneka Eurogentec, a global plasmid manufacturer, to support the manufacturing of INOVIO’s INO-4800, its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Kaneka joins Richter-Helm BioLogics, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Ology Biosciences in the company’s global manufacturing consortium, and will fulfil its global manufacturing needs across its vaccines and DNA medicines portfolios.

Indonesia-based Universitas Gadjah Mada has entered into a partnership with PT Philippines Antiviral Indonesia to develop an antiviral drug for Covid-19. Although the drug development has commenced, Indonesia‘s Food and Drug Authority is yet to approve the drug for clinical trials.

Daewoong Pharma has sought regulatory approval from South Korea’s food and drug safety ministry to conduct Phase II trials of its anti-parasite niclosamide drug, DWRX2003, for treating Covid-19 . Around 200 infected patients will participate in the trials, the company announced.

8:26 am

How coronavirus created US unemployment crisis

4 December

Greg Ip, chief economics commentator for The Wall Street Journal, shared an article on how the coronavirus pandemic has pushed nearly 4 million Americans out of the labour market, a 2.2% contraction in the US workforce, with economists fearing that many wouldn’t return at all. The article further notes that women, low-wage workers, and baby boomers have been the worst affected, with many not only having lost their jobs but also not looking for jobs.

When lockdowns were lifted after March, the demand for workers witnessed a sudden rise, a phenomenon economists did not expect. Consequently, unemployment rates fell by more than half to 6.9% between April to October, correcting more than two-thirds of the initial rise.

However, economists believe that the health of the US workforce is overstated, as the supply of people either working or looking for jobs has declined.

For instance, just one-third of the workers, mainly those working in low-wage sectors such as retail, hospitality, and others, who have lost their jobs since February 2020 state that they want a job but aren’t looking for one.

Economists believe that the effects of the pandemic will continue to depress the labour force, marked by  a major retreat of baby boomers who constitute the productive workforce, women being forced to reduce their working hours or stop working altogether, thereby making a return much harder, and unskilled workers less likely to find well-paid jobs.

Meanwhile, president elect Joe Biden’s team is looking to address the coming crisis of nearly 12 million Americans being stripped off their unemployment benefits on December 26, along with programmes supporting student loan forbearance and protection from evictions also to end.

Read more

2:40 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 64.6 million – deaths rise in Germany, Hungary and Austria

3 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 64,664,000 with over 1,496,000 deaths and 41,627,000 recoveries.

The US, India and Brazil remain the most affected countries. In Europe, newly confirmed deaths are increasing in Germany, Hungary and Austria.

Germany reached a record high of 514 new deaths on Wednesday. The country is experiencing high infection rate at care homes.

Over the past four weeks, post-Soviet Union countries reported a high number of new cases compared to the previous month.

In November, many African countries also reported an increase of new confirmed cases.

Bahram Hassanpourfard, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData 

9:21 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer, BioNTech’s vaccine approved in the UK – US buys 650,000 doses of Lilly’s neutralising antibody

Pfizer and BioNTech has been granted a temporary emergency use authorisation for its Covid-19 mRNA vaccine, BNT162b2, by the UK’s Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This is the first approval in the world for a Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Pfizer and BioNTech are expecting further regulatory decisions and approvals in the days ahead and claim to be ready to deliver vaccine doses.

The US Government has purchased 650,000 additional doses of Eli Lilly’s neutralising antibody bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555). The $812.5m purchase agreement will see some doses delivered by the end of January. Bamlanivimab has been granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms in patients, which can progress to severe conditions.

Mesoblast has been granted Fast Track designation for Remestemcel-L by the FDA for treating acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by Covid-19. ARDS is the primary cause of Covid-19 mortality in patients.

Appili Therapeutics announced that it had dosed its first participant in its Phase III trial to evaluate the efficacy of oral Avigan tablets (Favipiravir) to fight the Covid-19 disease. The trial is being conducted across 47 outpatient sites, under the supervision of PRA Health Sciences. Approximately 826 participants will be enrolled into the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

9:16 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 64.5 million – deaths near 1.5 million

3 December

 Global: Coronavirus infections have passed 64.5 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll approaches 1.5 million. Currently, the world is regularly suffering more than 10,000 deaths per day according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 US: Covid-19 infections are heading towards 14 million, meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 273,835 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The Rust Belt, New York and California are likely to drive up the pace of Covid-19 deaths in coming weeks as the U.S. approaches 300,000 fatalities, based on a forecast from the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Reich Lab..

The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Wednesday the Covid-19 pandemic, still raging with unprecedented fury nationwide, will pose the country’s grimmest health crisis yet over the next few months, before vaccines become widely available.

 California’s agricultural workers have contracted Covid-19 at nearly three times the rate of other residents in the state, a new study has found, laying bare the risks facing those who keep a $50bn industry afloat.

The Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, issued an order for residents to remain in their homes and for all businesses that require in-person work to cease operations. The measure comes as the city is “close to a devastating tipping point,” said the statement. The strict order carved out exceptions for faith-based outdoors services, homeless people and essential businesses like supermarkets and banks.

New York City’s new coronavirus cases hit 1,809 on Monday, its highest daily tally since 3 May  and 144 more than the previous day. Yet its school system remains on track to reopen for pre-kindergarten and elementary students Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Japan: Japan authorities have been urging preparations for a “worst-case scenario” as serious Covid-19 cases have risen to a record across the country. Tokyo raised its Covid-19 alert to the highest of four levels last month, as daily infections in the Japanese capital increased by more than 500.

China: China is carrying out sweeping inspections on food importers, supermarkets, e-commerce platforms and restaurants to prevent the spread of coronavirus through imported cold chain products, the country’s market regulator said on Wednesday.

South Africa: Localised coronavirus outbreaks in parts of South Africa have raised fears that the country could see a resurgence in cases compounded by gatherings during the upcoming festive season.

Australia: Australia’s New South Wales state has recorded its first new case of the coronavirus in 25 days after a woman working at a quarantine hotel in Sydney tested positive. Authorities are investigating whether she became infected in the community or through work at the facility, the state health department said in a statement Thursday. The woman’s five family members were tested overnight and all returned a negative result for the virus.

Myanmar: Myanmar has imposed a strict stay-at-home order for two weeks in Mandalay district, home to the nation’s second-largest city, to contain a surge in Covid-19 cases after the 8 November general election, according to a statement by Mandalay Region Government.

India: India’s daily coronavirus cases continued to stay below the 50,000 mark for the 25th straight day, with 36,604 new infections reported, data from the health ministry showed on Wednesday. The country now has 9.5 million total infections, but cases have been dipping since a peak in September, in spite of a busy festival season last month.

 Germany: Germany recorded 24,766 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours through Wednesday morning, and daily fatalities jumped to a seven-month high of 483. The rise in infections – the biggest in six days – took the total to 1,094,678, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Vaccine news

South Korea: South Korean drugmaker Daewoong Pharma said on Thursday it had sought regulatory approval for Phase II trials of its anti-parasite niclosamide drug to treat Covid-19 patients, sending its shares up nearly 6%.

US: Eli Lilly and Co said on Wednesday the US government has purchased 650,000 additional doses of its Covid-19 antibody drug for $812.5 million. The doses will be delivered through 31 January, with at least 350,000 delivered in December, the company said.

New York expects to receive 170,000 doses of Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine on December 15, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. Health-care workers in the most high-risk jobs, such as emergency rooms, as well as nursing-home residents and staffers will receive the vaccine first, Cuomo said at a virus briefing in Albany.

Germany: Germany is conducting direct negotiations with domestic Covid-19 vaccine developers to obtain more doses than would be allocated through the shared European Union plan, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Wednesday. The country is in talks with BioNTech SE, Pfizer Inc.’s partner on the first vaccine approved in a Western country against the virus, as well as CureVac NVand IDT Biologika GmbH, Spahn said.

Brazil: Brazil has opened the route for emergency approval of Covid-19 vaccines and outlined the requirements for companies looking to do so. Authorisations will be analysed on a case-by-case basis and that to be considered the vaccine must be in late-stage trials in Brazil. It said no requests had been received so far.

UK: Mass immunisation against coronavirus will begin next week, UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday as he moved to defuse a diplomatic row over claims that Brexit was responsible for the fast-track approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Turkey: Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca outlined a road map for vaccination as the country struggles with an increasing number of coronavirus cases and deaths. The first batch of vaccines is expected to arrive after 11 December, and people including medical staff and those over 65 years old with chronic diseases will be vaccinated in the first phase, according to minister’s remarks in state Anadolu news agency.

Lockdown updates

Spain: Spain will allow families to meet in groups of up to 10 on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as part of its restrictions on festive season gatherings, Health Minister Salvador Illa said in a news conference on Wednesday. The government is seeking to strike a balance between permitting small-scale festive gatherings and combating the pandemic.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany will extend its partial lockdown by three more weeks as the country struggles to regain control of the coronavirus spread. Bars, gyms and cinemas will remain closed until 10 January and the government will reconvene with regional leaders on 4 January to reassess the restrictions, Merkel said on Wednesday after talks with the premiers of Germany’s 16 states.

8:29 am

How Covid could lead to wartime levels of government borrowing

3 December

Faisal Islam, an economics editor at the BBC, shared a Resolution Foundation report on safeguarding governments’ financial health during the coronavirus crisis by taking examples from the previous crises.

The report anticipated double-digit hits to the gross domestic product (GDP), as well as borrowing earlier in March, weighing the losses to be the same as during the Spanish Flu and Ebola crises, rather than the 0.5 to 1% annual losses in GDP following the SARS outbreak.

The report also speculated economic impacts to last for months, if social distancing measures were to continue for indefinite periods.

Although the current pandemic cannot be compared to the East Asian countries’ V-shaped recovery from SARS in 2003, Spanish Flu and Ebola outbreaks are more relevant precedents for the current Covid-19 crisis, the article noted.

All three crises are marked by peaks and troughs of losses and output, making it difficult for economies to return to pre-outbreak levels.

The report also probed into government deficit, which is expected to rise into high single or double digits as a proportion of the GDP.

Taking an example of West Africa, the report highlighted how economies ran into 5% and 9% deficits during the peak of the Ebola outbreak.

Likewise, the fiscal measures adopted during the coronavirus pandemic has been unparalleled and may even lead to wartime levels of government borrowing.

Read more

3:42 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 64 million – deaths on the increase

2 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 64,007,000 with over 1,483,000 deaths and 41,170,000 recoveries.

A mild downturn of new confirmed cases continues in the top ten most affected countries. However, new confirmed deaths are increasing in Russia and the US.

The new confirmed case numbers in Germany have fallen by half since early November.

However, there is no significant decline in the number of new daily confirmed deaths.

Today, the UK authorized the use of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for mass rollout.

Many hospitals are waiting to receive the supply to start the vaccination process for priority groups.

Meanwhile, Japan has reached over 153,000 total confirmed cases of Covid-19.

The number of patients in intensive care units is increasing rapidly, and the country reported a record high of 34 new confirmed deaths yesterday.

Bahram Hassanpourfard, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:55 am

International update: Global Covid infections near 64 million – US records 100,000 cases daily

2 December

Global: coronavirus infections near 64 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll exceeds 1.48 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 US: Covid-19 infections have passed 13.7 million, meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 270,669 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The US reported more than 100,000 Covid cases a day every day of November, Johns Hopkins data shows, as it heads into a festive season marked by surging hospitalisations.

 Los Angeles County on Tuesday reported a record number of new Covid cases – 7,593. The ratio of tests that come back positive almost doubled from a week ago, to 12%. Hospitalizations also rose past a previous peak in early July.

Texas posted a record 15,182 new Covid-19 diagnoses on Tuesday, breaking the old record set less than a week ago by more than 500 cases. The increase pushed the second-largest US state’s cumulative total to 1.18 million, according to state health department figures. Meanwhile, virus hospitalizations exceeded 9,000 for the first time since July.

A CNN report citing internal Chinese government documents said Hubei Province had a 20-fold spike in what was identified as influenza cases in one week in early December 2019, around the same time the first symptomatic Covid-19 patients was found. One document CNN reviewed suggests China had detected around 200 Covid-19 cases in 2019. That’s higher than the “44 cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology” China reported to the World Health Organization for the period up to 3 January, 2020.

India: India’s daily coronavirus cases continued to stay below the 50,000 mark for the 25th straight day, with 36,604 new infections reported, data from the health ministry showed on Wednesday. The country now has 9.5 million total infections, but cases have been dipping since a peak in September, in spite of a busy festival season last month.

 Germany: Germany recorded 24,766 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours through Wednesday morning, and daily fatalities jumped to a seven-month high of 483. The rise in infections – the biggest in six days – took the total to 1,094,678, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Vaccine news

Japan: Visitors to next year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo won’t need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before arriving, Nikkei reported. Travelers who submit proof of a negative test and use an enhanced version of Cocoa, a virus tracking app from the Japanese government, also won’t be subject to a two-week quarantine, according to the report.

Mexico: Mexico’s government is due to sign a contract on Wednesday with pharmaceutical company Pfizer for the delivery of its coronavirus vaccine, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said on Tuesday. Pfizer has submitted the details about its vaccine to Mexico’s health regulator, Cofepris, and the country’s foreign minister last month said the government expects the vaccine to reach Mexico in December.

US: A government panel on Tuesday formally recommended early doses of Covid-19 vaccines be given first to healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents in the US, generally seen as people who live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The US Transportation Department said Tuesday it has made preparations to enable the “immediate mass shipment” of Covid-19 vaccines and completed all necessary regulatory measures.

The first shipments of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine will be delivered to the US on 15 December, CNN reported, citing an Operation Warp Speed document. Moderna’s vaccine will arrive a week later, CNN said, adding that the distribution dates are contingent on the vaccines getting FDA clearance for emergency use.

A Roche Holding AG test that detects the presence and level of coronavirus antibodies was cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use. The test could be used to evaluate how well the shots work, including over time, Roche said in a statement announcing the approval. Like other antibody tests, the assay could also be used to identify potential plasma donors. The use of so-called convalescent plasma to treat people hospitalized with Covid-19 was granted emergency authorization by the FDA earlier this year.

Turkey: Turkey has plans for “widespread” Covid-19 vaccination and will prioritize medical personnel, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. The country will receive up to 20 million doses this month, followed by another 20 million doses in January and 10 million in February.

Lockdown updates

UK: Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered his worst-ever Commons rebellion on Tuesday night, as 55 Conservative MPs opposed the government’s new coronavirus tier system. The UK’s month-long lockdown ends on Wednesday, 2 December.

England’s new three tier system comes into effect on 2 December. Non-essential shops in all areas can reopen, as can gyms, hairdressers and other personal care businesses, with the formal instruction to stay at home coming to an end. The “rule of six” will again apply for outdoor gatherings in all areas.

US: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon shorten the length of self-quarantine recommended after potential exposure to the coronavirus to 10 days, or 7 days with a negative test, a federal spokesperson said on Tuesday. CDC currently recommends a 14-day quarantine in order to curb the transmission of the virus.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s de facto cabinet has agreed to raise the fine for breaking social distancing rules to HK$10,000 from HK$2,000, the South China Morning Post reported, citing unidenfitied people. The increase is subject to input from the Department of Justice, according to the newspaper. The city faces 103 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, up from 82 the day before, the SCMP said. Hong Kong has ratcheted up curbs on clubs, bars and restaurants in the past week, and has also closed schools.

Indonesia: Indonesia shortened its year-end holiday by three days to stem the virus spread and avoid a repeat of a long weekend in October that led to a spike in cases.

Vietnam: Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered the aviation authority to halt international commercial flights after the nation reported its first local coronavirus cases in almost three months.

Economy updates

US: UnitedHealth Group Inc. expects the pandemic to carve $2 billion out of its profits next year, with Covid-19 testing and treatment costs remaining steady even as more Americans return to their doctors’ offices for routine care. Executives said costs for virus testing and treatment won’t be offset by widespread deferrals in care in 2021, as they were in 2020 when U.S. medical providers shut down most non-urgent in-person care for weeks during the spring.

9:20 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer/BioNTech seeks conditional approval in Europe for Covid-19 vaccine – Dr Reddys starts Sputnik V vaccine trial in India

2 December 2020 

Pfizer and BioNTech have applied for Conditional Marketing Authorisation (CMA) of its mRNA vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, to fight the Covid-19 disease to the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The submission completes the rolling review process and all clinical data submitted by Pfizer and BioNTech. If the EMA approves the vaccine, it will be granted a CMA for use in Europe by the end of 2020.

Dr Reddy’s and the Russian Direct Investment Fund announced today that they have begun adaptive Phase II/III clinical trials of the Sputnik V vaccine candidate in India. The trials began after receiving a clearance from the Central Drugs Laboratory, Kasauli, in India. The multi-centre randomised controlled study will investigate its safety and immunogenicity.

Rhizen Pharmaceuticals announced that it has sought Investigational New Drug (IND) approval from  the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test its oral DHODH inhibitor against Covid-19. The company announced that it will evaluate single doses of RP7214 among healthy individuals in its initial study, which is set to begin in early December 2020.

Celularity announced that the independent Data Monitoring Committee (DMC) has reviewed the its Phase I/II CYNK-001-COVID-19 study conducted among Covid-19 positive adults. The DMC confirmed the absence of toxicities and worsening inflammatory biomarkers, therefore allowing the trial to move ahead. Enrolment has begun for the multi-centre clinical study at Arizona, California, Arkansas, Washington, and New Jersey.

7:23 am

Lack of work from home opportunities increases pandemic risk in developing countries

2 December

Stephen L Ross, an urban economist, re-tweeted an article on the feasibility of working from home in developing countries.

The article noted that people’s economic experience of Covid-19 depends partly on whether they are able to work from home.

Poorer countries have fewer jobs that can be done at home, resulting in more workers losing their jobs or being exposed to the virus while working.

In countries like Brazil, low-qualified workers are less likely to do their job at home. Therefore, the impossibility to switch to a home environment is forcing people to leave their houses for work during the pandemic.

Evidence suggests that by May 2020, about 14% of the Brazilians employed were working remotely, while 37% of the employees with a tertiary education were able to work from home, and only 1%  of the workers with no school leaving certificate were able to work remotely.

Data from the Skills Toward Employability and Productivity (STEP) survey also found that ten developing countries including Bolivia, China, Armenia, Georgia, Columbia, Kenya, Ghana, Laos, Vietnam, and Macedonia, had only 13% of the employed population working from home.

Read more


1:46 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 63.3 million – confirmed cases increasing daily in Eastern Europe

1 December

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 63,359,000 with more than 1,400,000 deaths and 40,600,000 recoveries.

Since the beginning of November, the total confirmed cases in the US increased by 46.12% and the new daily confirmed cases averaged over 14,000 per day. This is 2.3 times higher than the previous month.

There has been a slight reduction over the past 10 days.

However, unlike European countries, the US does not have unified restriction measures across the whole country.

Therefore, the holiday season is expected to result in an uptick in the number of new cases.

In Europe, the total number of confirmed cases in Belgium and Czechia account for over 5% of their populations.

This is high when compared with total confirmed cases making up just 0.04% of the US population.

New daily confirmed cases are increasing in eastern Europe.

Lithuania reported new confirmed cases linked to a mink farm.

The total confirmed cases in Lithuania are now four times higher than a month ago.

Bahram Hassanpourfard, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData 

12:45 pm

International update: Global Covid infections pass 63.3 million – more than 1.47 million deaths

1 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 63.3 million.  Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll exceeds 1.47 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The director general of the World Health Organization has warned that spending time with friends and family at Christmas is “not worth putting them or yourself at risk”. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the body’s director general, said people should consider whether travelling during the festive period is necessary.

US: The US coronavirus death toll is 268,103 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, total infections number more than 13.5 million.

Scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found evidence of Covid infection in blood donations collected by the American Red Cross from residents in nine US states between 13 December 2019, and 17 January, 2020, according to a study published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn has been summoned to a meeting by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to explain why he hasn’t moved faster to approve the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, Axios reported, citing two senior administration officials. The meeting is set for Tuesday at 9:30 am in Washington, Axios said.

White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas, who won President Donald Trump’s favor by advocating the loosening of social distancing restrictions during the pandemic, resigned his post on Monday, according to a White House official.

Texas’s virus hospitalizations rose to 8,900, the third straight daily increase and the highest since 1 August, when the state’s initial outbreak was still raging.

France: France has seen its death toll rise by 406 to 52,731. Its health ministry said there were 4,005 new cases, fewer than on Sunday. It has also seen a fall in people in intensive care, and in the numbers admitted to hospital due to the virus. The country’s seven-day average of daily new infections stands at 11,118, an almost two-month low.

Brazil: Brazil’s health ministry has confirmed 21,138 new cases of Covid-19 and 287 deaths. Earlier on Monday, the WHO urged its government to be “very, very serious” about its rising coronavirus infection numbers, as more than 170,000 have now been killed.

Mexico: Mexico is in a “bad shape” as coronavirus cases and deaths surge, according to the WHO. The country’s death rally is now more than 105,500 and confirmed cases have passed 1.1 million. Public health experts believe it is likely to be significantly higher.

UK: The Labour party will abstain in a vote on England’s new coronavirus tier system on Tuesday over a disagreement on support for the hospitality sector.

Italy: Italy’s new virus cases on Monday were the lowest in five weeks. The country reported 16,377 daily cases, compared with 20,648 on Sunday. The country’s total virus deaths surpassed 55,000 on Monday, with 672 daily fatalities, compared with 541 the day before.

Vaccine news

Serbia: Serbia is to start tests of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, as it continues talks with Pfizer about purchasing its jab. Laboratories will get 20 doses this week for testing, according to a statement from the country’s prime minister, Ana Brnabić.

US: Vice President Mike Pence told governors on Monday that distribution of a coronavirus vaccine could begin by the third week of December, signalling that US regulators will swiftly approve an emergency authorization for the first shots.

Moderna Inc. requested clearance for its coronavirus vaccine in the US after a new analysis showed the vaccine was highly effective in preventing Covid-19, with no serious safety problems.

Lockdown updates

Colombia: Colombia will keep its land and river borders closed until 16 January in an attempt to stem Covid’s spread.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong has set up a hotline for the public to report suspected violations of social distancing orders on private yachts, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a briefing. Enforcement authorities will also step up scrutiny of junk boat parties.

US: California is considering a return to stay-at-home orders as hospitalizations from the coronavirus soar, with projections showing that intensive-care demand will exceed capacity in the next month.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will toughen the limit on outdoor gatherings to 25 people from 150 and halt indoor high school sports for the rest of 2020 after reporting more than 28,000 new Covid-19 cases in the past week, according to a person familiar with the decision.

Turkey: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a nationwide weekday curfew starting at 9 pm and ending at 5 am as the country copes with about 30,000 new cases per day. On the weekend, the curfew is stricter, running from 9 pm Friday to 5 am on Monday.

Philippines: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte extended the existing movement restrictions in the capital region through year-end, while keeping most of the country under the most lenient status. The capital Metro Manila and Davao City, which is the main economic center on the island of Mindanao, are among the few areas placed under the so-called general community quarantine status.

Malaysia: Malaysia will extend its movement control order on Top Glove Corp.’s worker dormitories in Klang for 14 days because of rising coronavirus cases. The order had been due to end Monday. The government last week ordered Top Glove to close 28 of its factories in phases, after its Klang facility recorded 1,067 Covid-19 cases out of 1,884 new daily cases in Malaysia.

Economy updates

Global: Opec will hold a second day of talks on Tuesday, as the oil producers’ club hopes to reach an agreement over cuts to production. Demand has been affected by the pandemic, with the current Opec president, Abdelmadjid Attar, saying it had caused “immense challenges”.

Rating agency Moody’s has said that most countries still face a “significant negative shock” from the pandemic, and vaccine trials have not caused it to change its forecasts.

US: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is cautioning lawmakers that the US economy remains in a damaged and uncertain state, despite progress made in the development of Covid-19 vaccines.

Philippines: The Philippines is looking at subsidizing coronavirus tests for tourists to boost its pandemic-battered tourism industry that’s gradually reopening to domestic travelers, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel on Tuesday. Travel vouchers for the subsidized tests from state-run Philippine General Hospital in Manila will be given to tourists, she said, without elaborating who can qualify.

9:24 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna to seek early and conditional approval in the US and Europe for its Covid-19 vaccine – Regeneron and UPenn study intranasal administration of Covid-19 antibody cocktail

1 December 2020 

Moderna announced high efficacy of its mRNA-1273 Covid-19 vaccine candidate in a Phase III study. Interim analysis data indicated a vaccine efficacy of 94.1% as there were 196 cases of Covid-19. As a result, Moderna have requested  emergency use authorisation (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and conditional approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Novavax published an update on its Covid-19 vaccine clinical development programme. Its NVX‑CoV2373 vaccine is a stable, prefusion protein antigen developed from the genetic sequence of the Covid-19 spike  protein and adjuvanted with Novavax’s Matrix‑M™. Novavax has enrolled 15,000 participants in a Phase III trial in the UK, while a Phase IIb trial takes place in South Africa. The US and Mexico are also expected to see the start of Phase III trials in the coming weeks.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and ChemRar Group announced the increase in production of Avifavir, a Russian drug for treating the SARS-Cov-2 virus. ChemRar has launched a full-scale, 24-hour production of the drug that has double the production levels in November to approximately 200,000 packs per month.

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and Regeneron have collaborated to test if the latter’s casirivimab and imdevimab investigational antibody cocktail can fight Covid-19 when administered intranasally via adeno-associated viral vectors. The antibody cocktail is currently being investigated for treating and preventing the SARS-CoV-2 virus and has also been recently granted EUA by the FDA in certain high-risk patients suffering from mild to moderate symptoms.

8:57 am

New Covid surge heaps pressure on US economy

1 December

Nouriel Roubini, an economist, shared an article on how the coronavirus surge in the US is leading to a double-dip recession and dollar crash, according to Yale University’s economist Stephen Roach.

He further adds that the rise in coronavirus cases is disrupting Wall Street’s hopes for a V-shaped economic recovery.

Rubini also predicted the US to economy to face further lockdowns in the days ahead, as he spoke to CNBC’s Trading Nation.

However, he also adds that these lockdowns may not be as severe than the ones in spring but could lead to undeniable damages and shock the global economy into recession. Roach therefore believes that investors should be vigilant.

Roach also predicts a temporary relapse in the economy, mostly in the beginning of 2021.

He has also warned of a 1% dip in gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2021 but said it could be more significant.

He also warns of continued and intense pressure on the dollar, with the need for fiscal relief to address the economic crisis.

Read more

1:42 pm

Moderna to seek early and conditional approval in the US and Europe for its Covid-19 vaccine

US biotech Moderna has announced its Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 met its primary endpoint in a Phase III study. As a result, Moderna plans to file for emergency use authorisation (EUA) in the US and conditional approval in Europe.

Final data from the Phase III COVE trial showed Moderna’s mRNA-1273 achieved 94.1% efficacy. The vaccine’s efficacy was consistent across the different age, race, ethnicity and gender demographics enrolled in the study. These efficacy results are based on the 196 cases of Covid-19 that occurred in the COVE study; 185 of which were in the placebo group.

In addition, Moderna announced mRNA-1273 also achieved its secondary endpoint of preventing severe Covid-19. There were 30 severe cases in the COVE study, but all of these were in the placebo group. Also, the only Covid-19 related death in the trial was also from the placebo group.

Moderna also reported that the vaccine was well tolerated and that safety data would continue to be collected by the trial’s data safety monitoring board.

The company’s CEO Stéphane Bancel commented: “This positive primary analysis confirms the ability of our vaccine to prevent Covid-19 disease with 94.1% efficacy and importantly, the ability to prevent severe Covid-19 disease.

“We believe that our vaccine will provide a new and powerful tool that may change the course of this pandemic and help prevent severe disease, hospitalizations and death.

“We will file today for an EUA from the FDA and continue forging ahead with the rolling reviews that have already been initiated with several regulatory agencies around the globe.”

These final efficacy results are relatively consistent with the 94.5% interim efficacy data from the COVE study, which were announced by Moderna in mid-November.

10:19 am

International update: Global Covid cases pass 62.7 million – deaths exceed 1.45 million

30 November

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 62.7 million.  Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll exceeds 1.45 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: Covid-19 infections exceed 13.3 million, meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 266,875 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The top infectious disease expert in the US has warned that the country may record a “surge upon a surge” of the virus in coming weeks.

California reported 15,614 new cases, pushing the 14-day average to a record. The total number of infections in the state now stands at almost 1.2 million. Another 32 new deaths were reported, with fatalities at 19,121.

Former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration  Scott Gottlieb said he thought it would be “prudent” if federal health officials reduced the recommended quarantine time from 14 days to 10 or even 7 days for people exposed to those carrying the virus.

France: The rate of positive Covid-19 tests fell to 11.1%, just over half of where it was in early November. The number of patients in intensive care continued to decline from a peak almost two weeks ago. Deaths linked to the virus increased by 198 to 52,325, the smallest daily increase in a month.

Turkey: Turkey’s daily coronavirus death toll hit a record high for a seventh consecutive day on Sunday, with 185 fatalities in the last 24 hours.

Spain: Doctors and nurses are protesting in Madrid, against cuts that they say have left them struggling to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

UK: There have been a further 12,155 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, according to government data. This compares to 15,871 cases registered on Saturday.

Cases of coronavirus in England fell 30% after lockdown measures were rolled out in November, according to a study by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI UK Ltd. The findings show cases were rising as the country entered a four-week lockdown on Nov. 5 and that a sharp decrease followed as national restrictions were rolled out, according to the report published on Monday.

Italy: Italy reported on Sunday 541 virus deaths and 20,648 new daily cases, in a declining trend compared with the previous day. The number of patients in intensive care units across the country continued to fall for the fourth day, while the total number of hospitalized patients fell for the sixth day.

Taiwan: Taiwan added 24 imported Covid-19 cases, the biggest daily increase since March 23, according to Bloomberg data. The government will hold a briefing on 24 new imported cases later Monday, according to a text message from Taiwan Centers for Disease Control.

Vaccine news

Poland: Poland sees vaccine purchase and distribution costs at a minimum of 5 billion zloty ($1.3 billion), Dziennik Gazeta Prawna reported, without saying where it got the information. The government plans to vaccinate about half of the 38 million population by mid-2021. The vaccine will be free of charge.

US: Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the federal government hopes to quickly review and approve requests from two drug makers for emergency approval of their Covid-19 vaccines. Pfizer Inc. is scheduled to submit an Emergency Use Authorization request on 10 December for the vaccine it developed with Germany’s BioNTech, followed by Moderna on 18 December, Adams said.

UK: The UK government hopes to begin rolling out vaccination program before Christmas if regulators approve the shots in time, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said. “We hope, subject to the regulatory approvals, to be in a position to be able to have rolled out the vaccine sufficiently by, say, the spring to enable us to have a big change in the way we approach things,” Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show. Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London and a government adviser, said he would be “surprised” if a vaccine becomes available as soon as next week.

Lockdown updates

Hong Kong: Chief Executive Carrie Lam sees room for tougher measures on people and businesses to control the coronavirus epidemic, the South China Morning Post reported, citing Lam in an interview.

Indonesia: President Joko Widodo ordered the home minister to warn local leaders to step up health protocol enforcement. Movement restrictions in cities bordering Jakarta were extended until 23 December, the head of West Java Task Force Daud Achmad said in a statement. The government confirmed 6,267 new cases in the 24 hours through midday Sunday, the most since the outbreak began, with Central Java accounting for a third of them.

US: New York City’s state schools will start to reopen on 7 December, beginning with primary schools, the mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced on Sunday.

Iraq: Children in Iraq have started returning to school for the first time since late February, with social distancing measures in place and schools operating six days a week.

Lebanon: Lebanon will begin to slowly relax coronavirus restrictions imposed two weeks ago from Monday, as it looks to boost its struggling economy ahead of Christmas.

France: France’s highest administrative court has ordered the government to loosen coronavirus rules allowing no more than 30 people at religious services, in the face of angry objections from church leaders.

Economy updates

Italy: Italy’s government has approved a fourth stimulus package to support businesses hit by the latest restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The package is worth 8 billion euros ($9.6 billion), according to a statement published Monday. It delays tax deadlines for companies and expands cash handouts for workers in tourism and the arts, which have been severely disrupted by the pandemic.

Canada: Justin Trudeau will deliver another dose of stimulus to shore up an economic recovery that’s starting to creak amid a second wave of Covid-19 in Canada. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to announce billions of additional funding in a fiscal update Monday, with dozens of new measures that could include topping up existing benefits to families and business along with teeing up money for infrastructure, daycare and climate change.

9:15 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Malaysia signs a supply deal with Pfizer – RECOVERY trial adds another drug, Colchicine

30 November 2020 

The Russian Direct Investment Fund and pharma company Hetero have entered into an agreement to produce more than 100 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine per year in India. The partners have agreed to start production of Sputnik V in 2021.

Colchicine, an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat gout, is due to be tested as a possible treatment for Covid-19 in one the world’s largest clinical trials, reports suggest. The University of Oxford-based RECOVERY trial will be conducted on hospitalised Covid-19 patients and will randomly allot approximately 2,500 patients to be administered with Colchicine.

Wayne State University (WSU) and John Hopkins University have collaborated to determine the potential benefits of convalescent blood plasma from Covid-19-infected donors on diagnosed and exposed individuals, as well as to understand if the antibodies can help fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The WSU researchers conducted outpatient clinical trials, which are being sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University.

Malaysia and pharma giant Pfizer have entered into an agreement for the supply of 12.8 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine. This makes the Southeast Asian country the first to strike a deal with the US drug maker. Although Pfizer’s vaccine final trial data showed 95% effective, Asian countries are not betting on it due to the tropical climate, remote island communities and also the need for ultra-cold freezers in the region.

7:54 am

Covid causes first Swedish life expectancy fall in more than a century

30 November

Constantin Gurdgiev, an economist, re-tweeted about how Swedish life expectancy is set to decline for the first time in over a century due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The country’s statistics agency, Statistics Sweden stated that the average life expectancy of people living in the country had risen between 1900 and 2019.

However, the current fall to 80.8 in the year through August for men and 84.4 among women has become clearly visible.

Reports suggest that the country is harder hit by the coronavirus pandemic compared to its Nordic neighbours such as Finland, Norway, and Denmark, and has reported much higher Covid-19 mortality rates.

Sweden’s old age homes were particularly hard hit by pandemic deaths.

However, authorities have now jumped into action, completely banning social interactions to fight the virus spread, amid arguments around not imposing lockdowns becoming more controversial.

Sweden has been one of the hardest hit nations in Europe, and also the slowest in containing transmission of the disease.

Read more

11:34 am

International update: Global Covid cases pass 61 million – Germany exceeds one million infections

27 November

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 61 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll exceeds 1.4 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: US Covid-19 infections are nearing 12.9 million, meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 263,455 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

California reported 14,640 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total for the state to 1.2 million, behind only Texas in the US It also reported 104 new deaths, boosting the number of fatalities to 18,979.

Numbers in New York show no sign of letting up. Hospitalizations in the state topped 3,000 to their highest level since June 1, while new infections hit 6,933, the highest tally for seven months.

India: India reported nearly 45,000 new Covid-19 cases Thursday, bringing its total recorded outbreak to 9.27 million, the largest in the world after the US, with 135,223 deaths.

Iran: Iran reported a record 13,961 new virus cases on Thursday, setting a record for the third straight day. Total cases stand at 908,346. The Health Ministry also announced 482 new deaths. In total, 46,689 people have died from the virus in Iran.

Sweden: Swedish confidence in the nation’s strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic has slumped. A poll published on Thursday showed that 82% of Swedes are either “somewhat” or “very worried” as to whether their health-care system can meet the challenge facing it. Confidence in the authorities’ ability to fight the virus sank to 42% of those polled from 55% in October. Meanwhile, 44% of Swedes fear authorities aren’t doing enough to fight the virus, compared with 31% last month.

Australia: The state of Victoria has achieved “Covid” elimination. The state had an almost three-month lockdown to contain a second-wave outbreak but has now had 28 days without one new case.

Germany: Germany has exceeded 1 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, recording another 22,806 cases in the past 24 hours to total 1,017,830 infections.

France: France reported 13,563 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, compared with 16,282 on Wednesday and 21,150 a week ago, suggesting the spread of the virus continued to slow in the fourth week of a national lockdown.

Italy: Italy reported 822 Covid 19-related deaths on Thursday, up from 722 the day before.

Bulgaria: Bulgaria surpassed the Czech Republic and Belgium to become the EU country with the highest number of deaths per 100,000 people over the past 14 days, according to data by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

Japan: Tokyo posted its highest one-day number of coronavirus infections to date, with 570 cases recorded, on the final day before a request for bars and restaurants to close early comes into effect on Saturday.

Vaccine news

Brazil: President Jair Bolsonaro has said he will not take a coronavirus vaccine, the latest in a series of statements he has made expressing skepticism toward coronavirus vaccination programs. “I’m telling you, I’m not going to take it. It’s my right.”

South Korea: South Korea’s intelligence agency foiled North Korean attempts to hack into South Korean companies developing coronavirus vaccines, a member of a parliamentary intelligence committee was quoted as saying. It follows revelations last week, that hackers working for the Russian and North Korean governments have tried to break into the networks of seven pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in South Korea, Canada, France, India and the United States.

UK: AstraZeneca may begin another trial of its vaccine. The company, which is developing a treatment with Oxford University, is working with regulators to investigate a lower dosage of its vaccine that performed better than a full dosage.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock asked the UK medical regulator to potentially bypass its European Union counterpart and approve the supply of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid vaccine to speed its deployment.

US: President Donald Trump claims deliveries of a vaccine would begin next week. Speaking to US troops overseas via video link to mark the Thanksgiving holiday, Trump said the vaccine would initially be sent to frontline workers, medical personnel and senior citizens.

Africa: Mass vaccination against Covid-19 is unlikely to start in Africa until midway through next year and keeping vaccines cold could be a big challenge, the continent’s disease control group said on Thursday.

India: Zydus Cadila’s Covid-19 vaccine is likely to enter phase III trials next month and a launch is expected by March if things go according to the plan, The Economic Times reported.

Lockdown updates

Argentina: Hundreds of thousands of Argentines took to the streets of Buenos Aires to mourn Wednesday’s death of soccer icon Diego Maradona, upending the nation’s strict Covid restrictions.

UK: Almost all of England’s 55 million population faces tough post-lockdown restrictions. Tough new tier-based curbs will affect 99% of people in England when the national lockdown ends next week, prompting a furious backlash from MPs.

US: Thanksgiving celebrations in the US have been muted. As people travelled to see families, the US reported 181,490 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a third daily rise in a row, as hospitalisations hit a record for a 16th day in succession, at 89,959.

Croatia: Croatia will close cafes and restaurants and ban weddings until Christmas as the number of coronavirus cases hit a record high for the second day in a row, the government said. The country of 4 million reported 4,009 new cases and 51 deaths on Thursday, with 21,725 active cases.

Bulgaria:  Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who recovered from the virus two weeks ago, had repeatedly rejected a lockdown until this week. The government ordered a three-week partial closing starting Friday night – schools, restaurants, gyms and shopping centers will be closed, while private events are limited to 15 people.

South Korea: South Korea will decide soon whether further tightening of social distancing rules is needed as the nation reported more than 500 daily cases for second day, a health ministry official said.

9:41 am

Coronavirus company news summary – India’s first Covid-19 vaccine enters Phase III trials – Ukraine seeks World Bank loan to sign Covid-19 vaccine agreements

27 November 2020 

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, has inaugurated a pharmaceutical plant in Siberia to manufacture Covid-19 drugs. Russia has been experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases since September. However, authorities have not imposed national restrictions, but instead are relying on targeted measures in different regions.

Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, India’s first Covid-19 vaccine candidate, has begun its Phase III human clinical trial at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. Dr M V Padma Srivastava, the chief of the institute’s Neurosciences Centre, and three other volunteers are expected to receive the first dose. Around 15,000 volunteers will be enrolled into the trial in the next few days reports suggested.

Svitlana Shatalova, the deputy health minister, stated that Ukraine has sought a $100m loan from the World Bank to purchase Covid-19 vaccine doses to tackle rising infections in the country. The government is finalising all agreements, and the loan will be allocated towards the purchase of diagnostic and laboratory equipment as well, she added.

Biotests‘ Pentaglobin(R) is the first and only immunoglobulin M (IgM)-enriched preparation available in the global market. It is usually used for treating severe bacterial infections along with related antibiotics, but Pentaglobin(R) is also being used to treat severe Covid-19 patients with secondary bacterial infections.

7:39 am

Second Covid lockdown less painful than the first for UK GDP

27 November

Samuel Tombs, an economist, shared the latest indicators for the UK economy and society based on several surveys, data, and experiments.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Business Impact of Covid-19 Survey (BICS) revealed a 3 to 4% hit to the gross domestic product (GDP) from the lockdown 2.0, a painful hit but better than the first lockdown.

Initial results from Wave 18 of the BICS that took place between 2 November and 15 November, found that approximately 75% of the businesses had been trading for over two weeks.

It also found that about 13% of the businesses had stopped trade and did not intend to start in the next two weeks.

With respect to the social impacts of the coronavirus, work from home remained stable at 30% in Great Britain.

Meanwhile, travel to work increased to 56%. In addition, adults continued to shop for essentials, food, and medicines, while 97% of the adults adhered to the mandate of face coverings, according to BICS.

In other news, UK economists believe that the lockdowns have caused less economic damage than the pandemic would have otherwise caused.

Read more

8:57 am

Coronavirus company news summary – COVAXX signs vaccine supply deal with developing countries – Moderna and the European Commission confirm their vaccine supply deal

26 November 2020

Celltrion announced the enrolment completion of 327 patients suffering from mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms in its global Phase II clinical trial of CT-P59, a monoclonal antibody treatment candidate. Celltrion is considering submitting an emergency use authorisation (EUA) request to the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS), after getting positive results from the study.

COVAXX has received advance purchase commitments worth $2.8bn to supply over 140 million doses of its potential Covid-19 vaccine to emerging and developing countries such as Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru. The multitope peptide-based vaccine is currently undergoing trials in Taiwan. COVAXX believes it can produce one billion doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021.

The European Commission has approved the supply of 80 million doses of Moderna‘s mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate to fight Covid-19 . The Commission seeks to fast-track the access of a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine for Europe and can also double the purchase to 160 million doses, according to the terms of  the agreement.

RedHill Biopharma announced partnerships with two US-based manufacturers to support the large-scale manufacturing of Opaganib for Covid-19. The collaborations advance efforts to submit potential emergency use applications for Opaganib to fight severe Covid-19 pneumonia in early 2021.

8:32 am

International update: Global Covid cases pass 60 million – surge continues in US

26 November

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 60.3 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll exceeds 1.4 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Americas: The Americas reported more than 1.5m cases in the last seven days; the highest weekly number since the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization regional branch PAHO said. The rapid surge of infections in the US continued and cases accelerated in countries of North, Central and South America, PAHO said. In Canada, infections were rising particularly among the elderly and indigenous communities.

US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 12.7 million, meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 262,266 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The daily death toll in the US reached 2,157 – one person every 40 seconds. It was the first time since May that deaths had passed 2,000 in 24 hours.

Covid-19 has killed more than 100,000 residents and staff of nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the US according to a report  from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on health issues. The US passed the grim milestone on Tuesday.

President-elect Joe Biden called on Americans to unite in the face of a “long, hard winter,” using a Thanksgiving address to grieve for those lost to the pandemic and promise that the nation would beat it in the new year. “We have fought a nearly yearlong battle with a virus in this nation. It’s brought us pain and loss and frustration, and it has cost so many lives – 260,000 Americans – and counting,” he said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware.

California reported 18,350 new virus cases, shattering the daily record set last weekend. The 14-day average rate of positive tests climbed to 5.9%, a three-month high and up 2 percentage points in just two weeks. The most populous state is grappling with a virus resurgence spreading faster than ever.

Texas reported 14,648 new infections, a second straight daily record, according to figures from the Department of State Health Services. El Paso County has the most cases in the state, at 37,114, the figures show. That far exceeds infections in more populous Dallas County and Harris County, home of Houston.

A new government report says the US is still missing nearly eight coronavirus infections for every one counted. By the end of September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that as many as 53 million Americans had been infected. That is just under eight times the confirmed cases reported at the time. Previously, the CDC estimated that one of every 10 infections were being missed.

A sharply divided US Supreme Court blocked New York Governor Andrew Cuomo from reimposing strict attendance caps at worship services at some synagogues and Roman Catholic churches in parts of Brooklyn and Queens that have become Covid hotspots. With Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the majority, the court voted 5-4 to bar Cuomo from enforcing his 6 October “Cluster Initiative” against houses of worship that sued to challenge the restrictions.

New York state had 6,265 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest since 24 April , according to a briefing from Governor Andrew Cuomo. The overall positive testing rate was 3.62%.

India: India reported nearly 45,000 new Covid-19 cases Thursday, bringing its total recorded outbreak to 9.27 million, the largest in the world after the US, with 135,223 deaths.

Mexico: Mexico reported 10,335 new Covid-19 cases Wednesday night, bringing the total to 1,070,487, according to data released by the Health Ministry. Deaths rose 858 to 103,597. In Mexico City, 61% of hospital beds with ventilators are occupied, up from 53% a week earlier. Mexico has been criticized for its lack of testing, with officials acknowledging the country’s actual virus toll is probably much higher than reported.

France: France registered 16,282 new Covid cases on Wednesday, health authorities reported. The seven-day average of infections, which smooths out swings in cases over the course of a week, fell to 14,994, the lowest since 9 October. Deaths linked to the virus rose by 381 to 50,618.

Turkey: Turkey changed its reporting method for Covid-19 cases after Health Minister Fahrettin Koca came under increasing criticism for not fully disclosing the number of people who test positive for the virus, much like the rest of the world does. Turkey reported 28,351 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, Koca said in televised press conference. The total death from the virus rose by 168 to 12,840.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s government will empower doctors to mandate Covid-19 tests for suspected virus patients starting Saturday, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said on Thursday. The measure will last until 11 December.

South Africa: Hospital operators have warned of a potential surge in coronavirus cases during the December holiday season, when millions of people travel to holiday destinations, home towns and villages. The pandemic peaked in Africa’s most industrialized economy in late July, but case numbers have picked up again before the busiest time of the year for intra-provincial journeys and social gatherings.

Germany:    Germany reported 410 deaths in 24 hours; its worst such toll since the pandemic began. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 22,268 to 983,588 data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

South Korea: South Korea has reported its highest daily number of Covid-19 cases since March, despite the recent introduction of stricter social distancing measures in Seoul and other virus hotspots. The country reported 583 infections on Thursday, the first time they had topped 500 since 6 March.

Iran: Iran recorded its worst daily caseload, with the health ministry reporting 13,843 new infections. That pushed the national tally to 894,385 in the Middle East’s worst-hit country. The ministry’s spokeswoman, Sima Sadat Lari, told state TV the death toll rose by 469 in 24 hours to 46,207.

Ukraine: Ukraine registered a record 15,331 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, health minister Maksym Stepanov said on Thursday, up from a previous record of 14,580 reported on 21 November.

Italy: Authorities in Sicily asked Cuba’s government to send to the region about 60 health operators, including doctors and nurses, as hospitals are struggling with a shortage of medical personnel during the second wave. The request was filed this week to the Italian embassy in Cuba and consists of intensive care specialists, nurses, anaesthetists, resuscitators, virologists and pneumologists, the Italian newspaper la Repubblica reported.

Japan: Tokyo reported another increase in severe cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, to 60 from Wednesday’s 54, a day after the city asked residents to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors. Tokyo reported 481 new infections in all on Thursday. Serious cases, which the city defines as those requiring a ventilator or ECMO machine, have surged almost 50% this week.

Vaccine news

Philippines: The Philippines will sign an agreement Friday to buy two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca Plc. Included in the agreement are private companies that will help pay for the purchase, said Carlito Galvez, the country’s vaccine czar. A similar arrangement can be done with other vaccine manufacturers if the transaction is non-profit and they can bring down prices, he said. The government aims to vaccinate as many as 30 million people a year. Galvez on Wednesday said the Philippines, which has the second-worst outbreak in Southeast Asia, plans to buy as many as 50 million vaccine doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

South Korea: Hanmi Pharm shares rose by as much as 11% after Maeil Business Newspaper reports the Korean company is in talks with global pharmaceutical firms to make genetic vaccines for Covid-19 on contract. Hanmi Pharm can produce as many as 100 million units of genetic vaccines annually, the report says, citing the firm.

Lockdown updates

Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors on Wednesday agreed to extend a partial shutdown well into December in an effort to further reduce the rate of Covid-19 infections ahead of the Christmas period.

Malaysia: Malaysia will impose mandatory Covid-19 screening for 1.7 million foreign workers due to the high number of cases in the group, Star reports, citing Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob. The government also will impose a 50,000 ringgit ($12,240) fine per worker on employers that house foreign workers in crowded spaces.

Economic updates

US: Walt Disney Co said on Wednesday it would lay off 32,000 workers, primarily at its theme parks, an increase from the 28,000 it announced in September, as the company struggles with limited customers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Uganda: The pandemic has driven up Uganda’s poverty rate to 28% from 18% pre-Covid, New Vision newspaper reports, citing a Finance Ministry official. More than 3 million Ugandans have slipped into poverty since the outbreak began, according to the report.

Japan: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to price a 60 billion yen bond ($575 million) Friday, with the proceeds used to offer small-to-mid sized companies long-term funding at low interest rates. The city’s decision to specify the use of proceeds for pandemic-related relief “resonated with a lot of investors,” according to Kosuke Suzuki, deputy director of the bond section at Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s finance bureau.