(Bloomberg) — The Covid-19 variant that emerged in the U.K. and sparked concerns of faster spread could become dominant in the U.S. as soon as March, U.S. public-health researchers said in a report.
The world hit a frightening Covid-19 benchmark, with 2 million people dead and few expectations for infections to start dropping soon. The U.S. leads all countries in deaths, with Brazil, India, Mexico and the U.K. next in line.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will run out of vaccines by next week due to supply shortages. New York state will receive 50,000 fewer doses next week than it did the week before, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
The U.K. said it will require all visitors from overseas to have a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of travel. Norway said Covid-19 vaccines may be too risky for the very old and terminally ill.
Global Tracker: Cases top 93.4 million; deaths pass 2 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 35 million shots given worldwideIn moment of respite, Covid hospitalizations fall in 36 statesAs NYC staggers on, cost to lives and livelihoods keeps risingHow to think about traveling now that Covid vaccines are outHow fear of vaccine threatens to delay pandemic’s end: QuickTakeA year after Covid began, China’s economy is beating the world
Fast-Spreading Covid Variant Seen Becoming Top U.S. Strain (1:43 p.m. NY)
The Covid-19 variant that emerged in the U.K. and sparked concerns of faster spread could become dominant in the U.S. as soon as March, U.S. public-health researchers said in a report.
Steps should be taken to reduce its transmission, including increased genomic surveillance and adherence to public-health measures like testing and mask-wearing, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday in the report.
“Increased SARS-CoV-2 transmission might threaten strained health-care resources, require extended and more rigorous implementation of public-health strategies, and increase the percentage of population immunity required for pandemic control,” the report said.
France Hospitalizations, ICU Stays Creep Up (1:32 p.m. NY)
France reported cases increased by 21,271 to 2.87 million on Friday, with the seven-day rolling average of infections remaining near 18,000. The number of hospitalizations and Covid patients in intensive care continued their increase of recent days, rising to the highest in more than three weeks, according to data from health authorities. Deaths linked to the virus rose by 636 to 69,949, with the number including several days of data from nursing homes.
Spain Cases Hit Record (1:11 p.m. NY)
Spain’s new cases rose to a daily record of 17,039, from 16,676 on Thursday. The country’s 14-day infection rate rose to 575.1 per 100,000 people from 522.7 the previous day.
The Madrid region announced plans to bring forward a curfew to 11 p.m, from midnight starting Jan. 18. Restaurants will need to close by 10 p.m.
Global Deaths Pass 2 Million, Led by U.S. (12:48 p.m. NY)
Led by the U.S., the world hit a frightening Covid-19 benchmark, with 2 million people dead and few expectations for the numbers to start dropping any time soon.
With the rollout of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine and the Moderna Inc.shot going slowly in the U.S., and virtually non-existent in many parts of the world, the odds of controlling the outbreak before the summer at the earliest are slim.
Covid has already killed more people than malaria and tuberculosis combined in the past year, and is nearing the those seen from AIDS, which peaked at 2.3 million in 2005.
N.Y. to Receive Fewer Doses, Cuomo Says, as State Hits Record Cases (12:38 p.m. NY)
New York will get 50,000 fewer doses next week from the federal government than it did the week before, despite increasing the number of people eligible for the vaccine this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a briefing on Friday.
The federal government didn’t boost the disbursement of the doses in proportion to the amount of people who could now get the shot, he said. Most distributors are already fully booked, and are booking appointments 14 weeks in advance, Cuomo said.
He said seven million people in New York are now eligible to get the vaccine and they are chasing 250,000 doses a week.
“What they did was like opening the flood gates of eligibility,” he said. “All of this volume, it has to go through the point of a needle, literally and figuratively.”
The state previously was receiving 300,000 doses a week, which does not include second doses.
The state has distributed 74% of its allocation, or 827,715 doses to date, he said. Of those, 731,285 were first doses and 96,430 were second doses.
Statewide 324,671 coronavirus tests were conducted on Thursday, a record high, Cuomo said. Nearly 20,000, 6.14% of the tests were positive, including hot spot areas, also a record. There were 183 virus-related fatalities and 8,808 hospitalizations, according to state data.
U.K. Says All Visitors Need Negative Virus Test (12:23 p.m. NY)
The U.K. said it will close its travel corridors with countries around the world, meaning all visitors from overseas will require a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of travel to enter Britain.
Visitors may be checked when they arrive in the U.K. and could face substantial fines if they do not comply, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a televised press conference on Friday.
“We will be stepping up our enforcement both at the border and in country,” Johnson said.
Gallery: From Wuhan to the White House: A timeline of COVID-19’s spread (Stacker)
WHO Doesn’t Recommend Vaccination as Proof for Travel (12:05 p.m. NY)
The World Health Organization Emergency Committee on Covid-19 is recommending that countries do not require proof of vaccination from incoming travelers, as the impact of inoculations in reducing transmission is yet unknown. Nations should instead implement coordinated, evidence-based measures for safe travel.
Italy to Tighten Restrictions; Cases, Deaths Slow (12 p.m. NY)
Italy registered 16,146 new virus cases on Friday, from 17,246 the day before, and 477 deaths, compared with 522 on Thursday. The positive test rate dropped from 10.7% to 5.9%.
Italy’s government plans to tighten restrictions on movement of people and shop openings, according to a health ministry official. Meanwhile the country has reached 1 million Covid-19 vaccinations, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Twitter on Friday.
Greece to Reopen Retail (11:40 a.m. NY)
Greece will reopen its retail sector under certain conditions from Jan. 18, Greek Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis said Friday. Hairdressers, beauty salons and dietitians will also be allowed to open, he said. Greece’s 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will be maintained, and the wearing of masks remains compulsory. The move will return to work around 140,000 retail sector employees. Greece has been in a national lockdown since Nov. 7.
NYC Will Run Out of Vaccines Next Week, Mayor Says (11:32 a.m. NY)
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will run out of vaccines by next week due to supply shortages.
“I’m telling you at this rate, there will not be any doses available in New York by next week,” de Blasio said in an interview with WNYC. “If we don’t get a serious supply, we’re going to have to freeze the appointment system. That would be insane after all the progress we’ve made.”
Hospitals across the city have canceled or stopped scheduling appointments for people to get the Covid-19 vaccine. New York state’s website says appointments remain available at sites including the Javits Center, but error messages pop up when trying to schedule a vaccine.
Maine Cases Break Record (10:55 a.m. NY)
Maine reported a record 830 cases on Friday, the third consecutive day with new infections exceeding 800, state data show. Like many states, Maine announced this week it will expand eligibility for vaccinations, and several health-care providers said they would begin inoculations for people 70 years and older.
Pfizer to Cut Covid Vaccine Deliveries as It Renovates Factory (10:47 a.m. NY)
Pfizer Inc. has notified countries around the world that it will deliver fewer doses of its Covid-19 vaccine in the next three to four weeks as it works to renovate a factory in Belgium.
The renovations will serve to boost capacity from mid-February, according to statements from Norway, Germany and the company. The factory, in Puurs, supplies vaccine to all countries in the world outside of the U.S., the German Health Ministry said.
Norway Warns of Vaccination Risks for Sick Patients Over 80 (10:35 a.m. NY)
Norway said Covid-19 vaccines may be too risky for the very old and terminally ill, the most cautious statement yet from a European health authority as countries assess the real-world side effects of the first shots to gain approval.
Norwegian officials said 23 people had died in the country a short time after receiving their first dose of the vaccine. Of those deaths, 13 have been autopsied, with the results suggesting that common side effects may have contributed to severe reactions in frail, elderly people, according to the Norwegian Medicines Agency.
Portugal Deaths Rise to Record (10:33 a.m. NY)
Portugal on Friday reported the highest daily increase in deaths since the start of the outbreak. There were 159 new fatalities in a day, more than the previous record of 156 on Wednesday, taking the total to 8,543 deaths, according to government data.
The number of new infections rose by 10,663 in a day, just below the record 10,698 new cases reported on Thursday. Portugal began imposing tighter restrictions on Friday, including closing non-essential stores.
England Covid Outbreak May Be Slowing as Johnson Says Stay Home (9:40 a.m. NY)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Britons not to go out this weekend even as the coronavirus outbreak showed signs of slowing.
Government figures suggest the so-called R-rate — estimating how many people each infected person passes the disease to — has fallen slightly in England and may even be below 1 in London.
The capital has been one of the worst hit regions by the fast-spreading new strain of the virus and was under the toughest pandemic restrictions in November and much of December. When the R value is above 1, the disease is spreading exponentially.
Catalan Parties, Government Agree to Delay Elections (9:01 a.m. NY)
Regional elections in Catalonia initially scheduled for Feb. 14 have been postponed as cases of coronavirus soar and authorities toughen restrictions. Elections will now be held on May 30, the regional government announced on Friday.
Former FDA Head Kessler to Help Lead Covid Vaccine Effort (8:45 a.m. NY)
Kessler, who serves as a co-chair of the Covid-19 task force for Biden, will be chief science officer of the pandemic response program, according to an emailed statement from Biden’s transition team. He’ll replace Moncef Slaoui, a scientist and former executive at British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline Plc.
U.K.’s Johnson to Lead Coronavirus Press Conference at 5 pm (8:10 a.m. NY)
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead the coronavirus press briefing at 5 p.m. in the U.K. today, Johnson’s spokesman Jamie Davies said in call with press.
Also, travelers to U.K. can’t enter within 10 days of leaving South America, Panama, Portugal or Cape Verde under new Covid travel restrictions.
Pfizer to Reduce Vaccine Shipments to Europe, Norway Says (7:09 a.m. NY)
Norway’s health institute says Pfizer plans to temporarily reduce deliveries of its Covid vaccine as of next week due to an upgrade needed within it production capacity. The move affects all of Europe while the Pfizer upgrade, aimed at increasing capacity, is implemented.
Czech Online Vaccine Registry Shuts Down Amid Huge Demand (7:07 a.m. NY)
The Czech Republic’s online registry for vaccinating people over 80 years old collapsed after launching Friday. The site was overwhelmed by demand as it registered 78,000 people and reached full capacity of 3,000 places for reservations for vaccination within 1.5 hours.
The country, one of the hardest hit by the pandemic in Europe, is grappling with the lack of available doses, as well as with creating an efficient system for distributing them. The Czech Republic started giving its first doses to medical workers and seniors in elderly homes late last year.
South Africa Sees Vaccine Deals Wrapped Up Within a Month (7:05 a.m. NY)
South Africa’s health department expects to finalize accords to buy millions of additional coronavirus vaccines within about a month and has agreed on an expedited payment process with the National Treasury to avoid delays in delivery.
Italy Needs to Return to Strict National Lockdown, Adviser Says (6:58 a.m. NY)
Italy needs to reimpose strict lockdown measures across the country as the current system of on-again/off-again curbs has failed to prevent a coronavirus resurgence, Walter Ricciardi, an adviser to Health Minister Roberto Speranza, said in an interview.
The original European epicenter of the pandemic, Italy imposed a nationwide lockdown in the spring. Despite more than 2 million virus cases to date and a resurgence in recent weeks, the government has thus far opted for a three-tier system based on regional restrictions that are generally softer than the measures last spring.
EMA Head Says Agency in Talks With Russian Vaccine Developer (6:10 p.m. HK)
European Medicines Agency hasn’t yet had applications for Russian and Chinese vaccines, but the agency is in discussions with a Russian developer of shots, according to Executive Director Emer Cooke.
EMA is still targeting end-January for its evaluation of the AstraZeneca vaccine, she says, adding that she is hopeful though the time line is “challenging” and “things can go wrong” with approval time frames.
British WHO Team Expert Will Now Be Allowed Entry, China Says (4:58 p.m. HK)
The two World Health Organization team members denied entry as part of a mission to investigate the origins of the coronavirus were British and Sudanese from Qatar, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian tells briefing in Beijing on Friday.
Both tested positive for serum IgM antibody while transiting in Singapore, though after a second round of tests the British team member tested negative and will be allowed entry.
Indonesia Virus Cases Rise By Record for Fourth Straight Day (4:40 p.m. HK)
Indonesia added the highest number of new Covid-19 cases for the fourth consecutive day, as the government kickstarts its mass vaccination program this week.
Southeast Asia’s largest economy reported 12,818 new cases in the 24 hours through midday Friday, the most since the outbreak began, taking total infections to 882,418. Some 238 people died over the same period to bring total fatalities to 25,484.
Germany’s Record Deaths Add Urgency to Push for Tougher Curbs (4:24 p.m. HK)
A record number of coronavirus deaths in Germany underscored the urgency facing Angela Merkel as the chancellor seeks to tighten lockdown restrictions.
The German leader is working to reach a consensus with state premiers on additional curbs amid fears that a more contagious variant may cause infections to spiral out of control, a government official said. A meeting to review pandemic measures, which was slated for Jan. 25, is expected to be moved forward.
Healthcare workers care for a Covid-19 patient in the ICU ward in Stuttgart, Germany, on Jan. 12.
Photographer: Andreas Gebert/Bloomberg
Europe has emerged as a global hot spot for the disease, with more than 400,000 fatalities and nearly 17 million infections. The bloc started vaccinations at the end of December, weeks later than the U.S. and the U.K.
South Africa Delays Reopening of Schools (3:37 p.m. HK)
South Africa delayed the start of the new school year amid a resurgence in infections. Public school pupils will return on Feb. 15, rather than Jan. 27, Deputy Basic Education Minister Reginah Mhaule told reporters in an online briefing.
Hungary’s Premier Urges Review of Chinese, Russian Vaccines (3:06 p.m. HK)
Hungary’s government has ordered authorities to review the efficiency of Russian and Chinese coronavirus vaccines as an option to boost the supply of shots, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday.
The eastern European nation may buy vaccines beyond a European Union deal on joint procurements to expedite inoculation, he said on public radio. Hungary’s health authorities will soon start vaccinating elderly people who have pre-existing conditions, expanding the eligible group from medical and social workers.
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