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Hong Kong Suspends Shots; Brazilian Deaths Surge: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong and Macau temporarily suspended Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by BioNTech SE because of a packaging defect, dealing a blow to the cities’ efforts to revive their pandemic-battered economies. China’s central government wll speed up vaccination efforts to offer free shots to its entire population, Xinhua reported, without specifying a timeline.Brazil reported more than 3,000 daily deaths for the first time as the virus overruns its health system. A more contagious strain originating in the Amazonian city of Manaus has spread rapidly since the New Year. President Jair Bolsonaro, who has downplayed the severity of the pandemic, said the country is about to become self-sufficient in vaccine production. His address was met with louder than usual pot-banging protests in many cities.European Union vaccine shipments to the rest of the world could face severe disruptions under tougher rules set to be unveiled Wednesday. Guarantees that supplies to some 90 countries won’t be interrupted and protection to companies like Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. could be removed, a senior EU official said. Pfizer, meanwhile, said it has begun human safety testing of a new pill to treat the coronavirus that could be used at the first sign of illness.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases pass 124 million; deaths exceed 2.73 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 468 million shots given worldwideVaccinating Some of World’s Remotest Communities Tests Australia‘Too many questions’: Decades of mistrust spur vaccine hesitancyWhere are we in hunting for the coronavirus’s origin?: QuickTakeSubscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on cases and deaths.EU to Tighten Vaccine Export Rules (11: 37 a.m. HK)European Union vaccine shipments to the rest of the world could face severe disruptions under tougher rules set to be unveiled on Wednesday.The EU’s current export regime guarantees that supplies to some 90 countries won’t be interrupted, and also offers protection to companies like Pfizer Inc.and Moderna Inc. that have met their commitments in Europe. Under stricter restrictions being drafted in Brussels, both of those exemptions could be removed, a senior EU official said.Hong Kong, Macau Halt Vaccinations (10: 21 a.m. HK) The Hong Kong and Macau governments said Wednesday they received notifications about vial packaging defects from Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co., which has the rights to develop and market the shots across mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.BioNTech and Fosun Pharma have initiated an investigation into the issue and say there is no reason to believe product safety is at risk, according to the Macau government’s statement.China to Speed Up Vaccinations: Xinhua (9: 30 a.m. HK)China will speed up coronavirus vaccination to offer free shots for its entire population, Xinhua reported, without providing a timeline. China had administered 80.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccines as of March 22 and daily production has risen to about 5 million doses, it said.NZ to Vaccinate Citizens for Urgent Travel (8: 19 a.m. HK)The government is prepared to vaccinate people who need to urgently travel outside of New Zealand on compassionate grounds or for reasons of national significance, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in statement.Philippines Gets More Shots From China (8: 14 a.m. HK)The Philippines received 400,000 Sinovac doses donated by China on Wednesday, bringing total donations from Beijing to 1 million. Another 1 million Sinovac shots bought by the government and 979,200 donated by AstraZeneca are also expected to arrive by the end of the month, the Health Department said in a statement.Shanghai Offers Shots to Foreigners (8: 11 a.m. HK)Shanghai will allow foreigners in the city to start booking for a Covid-19 vaccination from March 29, according to a statement from the municipal government. The city will also allow all residents aged between 60 and 75 to register for a shot and will offer a domestically-developed vaccine.Livson Vaccine Could Get China Trial Nod (7: 27 a.m. HK)The vaccine, jointly developed by Livzon Pharma’s unit and Institute of Biophysics under Chinese Academy of Sciences, could be approved for human trials in China, according to a statement to Shenzhen stock exchange.Tokyo to Keep Early Store Closure Request (6: 57 a.m. HK)Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama will continue to ask bars and restaurants to close by 9 p.m. through April 21, the Asahi newspaper reported, citing several unidentified local government officials. The governors of the prefectures will hold a joint meeting as soon as Wednesday to decide on the extension.Brazil Reports 3,000-Plus Daily Deaths (6: 39 a.m. HK)Brazil reported more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths for the first time in a 24-hour period, as the pandemic spreads unchecked across the country and overruns its health system.The Health Ministry said that 3,251 people died on Tuesday, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 298,676, the second most globally. Cases surged by 82,493 and 12.13 million people have now been infected.U.K. Kids to Get Shots as Soon as August (6: 03 a.m. HK)Children in the U.K. may be able to start getting vaccinated as early as August, the Telegraph reported, citing two unidentified sources involved in the plans. One source told the publication that August was the “earliest” possible start. The Telegraph depicted the government plans as provisional.San Francisco to Open Offices, Some Bars (4: 40 p.m. NY)San Francisco will open offices, outdoor bars and indoor recreational facilities as it moves to California’s orange tier, the state’s second-least restrictive level.Non-essential offices can open at 25% capacity starting Wednesday under the new guidelines, while already-open indoor businesses including restaurants and stores can expand capacity to 50%. The city also plans to allow outdoor concerts, theater performances and festivals for up to 50 people as of April 1, Mayor London Breed said.N.Y. Assembly Speaker Heastie Has Covid-19 (3: 05 p.m. NY)New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie tested positive on Tuesday for the coronavirus, according to a statement from his office. The Democrat said he was feeling under the weather and experiencing “extremely mild symptoms.”His positive test result comes in the middle of negotiations on the state’s approximately $193 billion spending plan for fiscal 2022, which begins on April 1. Heastie said he plans to stay in Albany and work from his residence.Dutch Lockdown Extended (2: 45 p.m. NY)The lockdown in the Netherlands, including a night-time curfew, will be extended until April 20, Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters in The Hague. The move comes after infections rose 16% last week compared with the week before, according to health agency RIVM. The Dutch government did, however, decide to postpone the starting time of the curfew by an hour, looking to retain backing from the Dutch public for the long-lasting, stringent measures. An advisory to not travel abroad was extended until May 15.J&J Partner Catalent to Make Vaccine (1: 47 p.m. NY)Millions more doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine are expected to be released after U.S. regulators cleared the way for contract manufacturer Catalent Inc. to help produce them.The Food and Drug Administration has approved a Catalent facility in Bloomington, Indiana, to make the single-dose vaccine’s active ingredient, according to people familiar with the matter. The approval is likely to be announced as soon as Tuesday.Pfizer Begins Human Trials of Covid Pill (11: 05 a.m. NY)Pfizer Inc. said it has begun human safety testing of a new pill to treat the coronavirus that could be used at the first sign of illness.If it succeeds in trials, the pill could be prescribed early on in an infection to block viral replication before patients get very sick. The drug binds to an enzyme called a protease to keep the virus from replicating. Protease-inhibiting medicines have been successful in treating other types of viruses, include HIV and Hepatitis C.Portugal Reaffirms Vaccine Goal (9: 44 a.m. NY)Portuguese Health Minister Marta Temido reaffirmed that the country will meet a goal to administer a vaccine dose to at least 80% of people over 80 by the end of March. “Naturally, if we had access to more vaccines we would have the possibility of vaccinating more people,” Temido told reporters.WHO’s Tedros Sees ‘Truly Worrying Trends’ (9: 18 a.m. NY)World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the recent rise in Covid-19 deaths and cases are “truly worrying trends.”Speaking at a World Trade Organization virtual event, Tedros urged nations to waive intellectual property rights for vaccines as a “mid- to long-term solution” to help developing countries manufacture their own shots.Fauci: Astra Likely Has a Very Good Vaccine (8: 47 a.m. NY)“The fact is this is very likely a very good vaccine,” Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. expert on infectious diseases, said of the Astra shot in a Good Morning America interview.Astra earlier said it will release up-to-date results from the final stage trial of the shot within 48 hours, responding to criticism from a U.S. science agency that the drugmaker’s analysis included old information.India Speeds Vaccine Push Amid Second Wave (8: 40 a.m. NY)India’s government opened one of the biggest coronavirus immunization campaigns to everyone over the age of 45 as the nation grapples with a case resurgence amid tensions over delayed vaccine supplies to other countries.World Is Too Optimistic About Covid: Farrar (8: 28 a.m. NY)“This pandemic is nowhere near its end,” Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist and director of Wellcome, the U.K. research foundation, said at a conference of the ACT Accelerator, a program to distribute vaccines and diagnostics to low-income countries. “There remains in my view too much optimism that there will be a single magic bullet that solves it all.”After one year, the world remains closer to the start of the pandemic than to its conclusion, as new waves take place around the world, Farrar said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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