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March 8, 2022

Covid-19 update: Global Covid deaths pass 6 million

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 6 million, with a figure of 6,007,367 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have continued past 447 million to a world wide figure of 447,894,535.

Moderna Inc. plans to start human trials for vaccines against 15 threatening viruses and other pathogens by 2025, part of a strategy to develop shots that could be made quickly in response to a future pandemic. The effort will include prototype vaccines against the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome, a cousin of Covid-19; the Ebola and Marburg viruses; a tick-borne virus that causes Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever; and mosquito-borne viruses such as chikungu.

News by region

Americas

US: Covid -19 infections have now passed 79 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has increased to more than 960,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Coronavirus cases in the US were little changed as compared to the same time yesterday at 79.3 million, as of 3:50 p.m. New York time, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News.

The national increase in cases matched the average daily increase of less than 0.1% over the past week. California had the largest number of confirmed cases at 9.01 million, a 0.1% increase from the same time the previous day

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said the state would recommend against vaccinating healthy children for Covid-19, a position that contradicts guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Brazil: Brazil reported a total of 29,069,469 Covid-19 cases, with 20,456 confirmed in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data. The country’s coronavirus death toll rose by 198 in the last 24 hours to 652,341.

Mexico: Mexico reported 42 new Covid-19 deaths Monday, bringing the total to 319,901, according to Health Ministry data. Mexico has administered 183,629,633 doses of vaccine against coronavirus, with 85,344,341 people receiving at least one dose and 79,127,835 people fully vaccinated

Argentina: Argentina reported 6,286 new Covid-19 cases Monday, bringing the total to 8,942,888, according to Health Ministry data. Deaths increased 75 to 126,842, while 8,744,742 people have recovered.

Europe

France: French drugmaker Sanofi plans to invest 935 million euros ($1.02 billion) over the next few years to develop messenger RNA vaccines in France, a push into the technology behind some of the most effective Covid-19 shots. Sanofi plans to spend the money through 2026 as part of a 2 billion-euro global investment program announced last July to accelerate its mRNA strategy, according to a statement Monday. Sanofi is rushing to catch up with rivals like Moderna Inc. and the BioNTech SE-Pfizer Inc. alliance that generated tens of billions of dollars in revenue and saved lives by rapidly developing mRNA Covid vaccines.

Italy: In the week ending 6 March Italy reported 33,942 fewer new Covid-19 cases and 244 fewer deaths than the week before, according to data released by the Italian government. Total cases have decreased to 1.0 million, a decrease of 105,937 from a week ago but a rise of 550,529 from a year earlier.

Asia pacific

China: China saw its daily domestic Covid-19 infections topping 500 for a second day as Omicron caused multiple clusters across the country. The resurgence is the worst China has seen since bringing its initial outbreak centered around Wuhan under control in early 2020.

A total of 330 infections reported on Tuesday are asymptomatic, as Omicron quickly spreads among students in the eastern city of Qingdao and workers in southern manufacturing hub of Dongguan. The highly infectious variant also spawned scattered spread in Shanghai, which has so far sought to contain the flareup through targeted response and refrain from mass testing, travel bans and lockdowns frequently used in other parts of China. Beijing also reported new infections on Tuesday amid the annual parliamentary meeting attended by lawmakers from across the country. Zhang Wenhong, a renowned infectious disease doctor who advises Shanghai municipal government on Covid control and treatment, said on his Twitter-like Weibo account Monday that implementing Covid Zero strategy should not come at the expense of sacrificing normal life.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s government is considering a “drastic shift” in its efforts to contain a Covid-19 outbreak by focusing on cutting the number of deaths as top priority instead of a compulsory mass testing, Ming Pao reports, citing an unidentified person in the government. Lowering deaths, lessening severe cases and cutting infections have been suggested by visiting Chinese top Covid-19 expert Liang Wannian as priorities, the report said. According to Hong Kong Economic Times, about 260,000 were queuing online to register with the government’s new platform for positive rapid antigen test results within the first four hours of its launch.

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission reminded securities firms to review and update their business continuity plan as the city faces the most severe outbreak since the pandemic began. The regulator urged brokerages to start preparing now and considering the number of actions that may need to be taken ahead of a proposed citywide mandatory Covid-19 testing to ensure their operations will not be affected, according to a circular. Businesses should critically review the impact of sudden disruptive events, including the possibility of staff shortages or reduced service offerings by essential vendors and service providers, as a result of positive cases identified during the mass testing.

Indonesia: Indonesia won’t require domestic travelers to show a negative test result for Covid-19 if they have been fully vaccinated, as the country continues to ease virus curbs. The decision will be set out in a ministerial rule to be issued soon, said Coordinating Minister for Investment and Maritime Affairs Luhut Panjaitan, who oversees the pandemic response for Java and Bali. The government could lift all quarantine requirements for international visitors on 1 April or earlier if an ongoing trial in Bali proves successful, he added.

Economy news

China: Shares of state-owned China Meheco Co. shot up more than 50% in the past week amid speculation that the Beijing-based drug maker will be the local partner for Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 treatment pill. China conditionally approved Pfizer’s Paxlovid last month, making it the first foreign pharmaceutical product that Beijing has endorsed for Covid-19. China Meheco is the only drug company that’s overseen by the central government, leading investors to bet that it will be the local distributor instead of a private company.

Australia: Australian business sentiment strengthened in February as an outbreak of the Omicron variant of coronavirus dissipated, easing supply-chain disruptions and reviving demand.  Business confidence jumped to 13 points from a revised 4 in January, recording gains across all industries, a National Australia Bank Ltd. survey showed Tuesday. Business conditions – measuring hiring, sales and profits –  climbed to 9 points from a revised 2 to be back above its long-run average. The poll was largely concluded before Russia invaded Ukraine, NAB said.

Separately, according to CommBank HSI Index report released in Sydney, Australia’s household spending intentions rose 1.8% to 107.3 from a month earlier in February.

Japan: Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, the country’s largest business lobbying group, requests that the government plan the nation’s exit strategy from the pandemic immediately, according to a policy paper it released Monday. The government should declare Covid is endemic as soon as possible and move on, it said.

US: Moderna Inc.’s shares have dropped 50% this year as investors pulled back from Covid-19 healthcare stocks and staged a broader rotation out of growth names. The biotech firm fell 7.3% on Monday amid a broader market selloff and has erased $52 billion in value this year. Investors were concerned over the future revenue of Covid-19 vaccines and increasing competition in the space. The stock has fallen about 74% from its record closing high of $484.47 set in August 2021.

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