(Bloomberg) — UK. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said lockdown rules will be scrapped over the next seven weeks. Denmark will ease curbs this week and dropped Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 shot. Bavaria’s Oktoberfest festival was canceled, but free beer is available to New Jersey residents who get a vaccine.
India was criticized for a “lack of leadership” by a former central bank chief, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi resists pressure to lock down. Hong Kong is isolating all residents of a building after finding a case, and reviewing a decision to make vaccinations mandatory for foreign domestic workers after a backlash. There is also growing anger at Australia’s decision to ban citizens returning home from India.
The New York Stock Exchange will allow more traders on the floor if they’re fully vaccinated, after weekly confirmed cases in the U.S. rose at the slowest pace of the pandemic. The Biden administration will support Pfizer’s move to start exporting U.S.-made doses of its vaccine.
Global Tracker: Cases top 153 million; deaths exceed 3.2 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 1.17 billion doses have been givenIt’s Not Just India. New Virus Waves Deluge Developing CountriesIndia Travel Ban Means U.S. Visa Workers Remain Stuck AbroadNew York City is roaring back to life, one year after its nadirWhat are vaccine passports and how would they work?: QuickTake
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UK. to Gradually Wind Back Curbs (1:15 p.m. Hong Kong)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said lockdown rules are set to be scrapped in seven weeks’ time, hailing the UK.’s successful vaccine rollout ahead of key elections this week.
On the campaign trail, Johnson said the pandemic data was likely to allow people in England to stay overnight with friends or relations, with indoor hospitality able to reopen from May 17.
Remaining social distancing rules are also likely to be canceled from June 21, he added, although he warned that international travel will need to be carefully monitored after May 17 to avoid reimporting the virus again.
Rajan Slams India’s Leadership (12:55 p.m. Hong Kong)
India today reported more than 357,000 new infections, bringing the total official tally to more than 20 million cases, and an additional 3,449 deaths.
The wave of infections in India has revealed complacency after last year’s first wave, as well as a “lack of foresight, a lack of leadership,” said Raghuram Rajan, former governor of the country’s central bank.“If you were careful, if you were cautious, you had to recognize that it wasn’t done yet,” Rajan said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “Anybody paying attention to what was happening in the rest of the world, in Brazil for example, should have recognized the virus does come back and potentially in more virulent forms.
Denmark Eases Curbs, Drops J&J (12:30 p.m. Hong Kong)
Denmark will ease more restrictions this week as the infection rate has remained stable in the Nordic country, the government said. All children through 8th grade will return to schools full-time, while cinemas, theaters and gyms will also reopen.
Denmark also won’t use J&J’s vaccine due to concern about the risk of blood clots, the Danish Health Authority said. The move comes less than a month after Denmark became the first European Union member to drop AstraZeneca Plc for similar reasons. Both shots are used in many other countries.
Denmark had pre-ordered about 7 million vaccine shots from J&J, more than from any other producer, so the decision will delay the national vaccine rollout by four weeks.
Hong Kong to Review FDW Decision (11:35 a.m. Hong Kong)
Hong Kong is reviewing a decision to make vaccinations mandatory for foreign domestic workers after a wave of criticism, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said.
“After listening to voices in the society, I have requested the Labour and Welfare Bureau to review the justification, feasibility, and discuss with experts including consulates of relevant countries where the foreign domestic helpers mainly come from.”
The decision had led to an outcry from officials in the Philippines, home to many such workers, and was branded “very discriminatory” by Cynthia Tellez, head of the Mission for Migrant Workers.
Mexico Sees Slower Rise in Toll (11:00 a.m. Hong Kong)
The death toll of the Covid-19 pandemic is easing in Mexico, where daily fatalities dropped below 100 for the first time in a year this week, according to official data from the Health Ministry.
The country reported 112 new Covid-19 deaths from the virus Monday, bringing the total to 217,345. On Sunday, Mexico posted 94 deaths, the least since May 3, 2020. While Mexico normally registers fewer fatalities at the start of the week, the seven-day average has been steadily dropping; during the winter, Mexico regularly reported more than 1,000 victims a day from the virus, with a high of 1,803 on Jan. 21.
Egypt Inoculates 900,000 People (10:50 a.m. Hong Kong)
Some 2.2 million individuals in Egypt have registered to receive a Covid-19 vaccine and 900,000 have been inoculated against the virus, television channel Sada Elbalad reported, citing the country’s health ministry spokesman.
India to Get 220 Million Serum Shots (9:55 a.m. Hong Kong)
Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, will deliver 220 million doses to federal and state governments over the next few months. The central government will get 110 million of those doses of Covishield, the manufacturer said.
“Vaccine manufacturing is a specialized process, it’s therefore not possible to ramp up production overnight,” CEO Adar Poonawalla said. Covering all of India’s 1.4 billion people is “not an easy task.”
Earlier, Bloomberg News reported that the central government hasn’t placed an order larger than 110 million doses since sales started in December, citing a person familiar with the matter. The lack of a larger central stockpile, coupled with a devastating second wave which saw over 400,000 new daily cases on Saturday, is now making local state governments scramble and compete with one another in placing orders after Delhi turned over the responsibility of procuring vaccines to them last month.
Philippines Expects Delay Due to India (9:40 a.m. Hong Kong)
The Philippines expects its vaccine orders from India to be delayed or even reduced due to the virus surge in the South Asian nation. Vaccine shipments from India may arrive in September, according to Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, who earlier said the shots may be shipped starting this quarter. The Southeast Asian nation earlier this year signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India for 30 million doses of Novavax shots — its biggest supply agreement to date.
Hong Kong Isolates Some Residents (9:20 a.m. Hong Kong)
Hong Kong quarantined residents of a roughly 40-unit apartment building in Tsim Sha Tsui for 21 days after one of them was infected with the more transmissible N501Y mutant strain.
The patient is a 28-year-old woman who visited India last month, the government said. She had been quarantined from April 4 to 25 at a Hong Kong hotel. On April 26, she sought advice at a local hospital, where she had a negative result on a Covid-19 test. On April 30, a test was indeterminate. She was admitted to hospital on May 2, when further tests found she was infected.
The residents of her apartment building will be quarantined in government centers if they are asymptomatic, and treated in hospital if they have symptoms.
Australian Backlash Grows Over Ban (8:30 a.m. Hong Kong)
Critics of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to ban returning Australians from virus-ravaged India now include lawmakers from his own Liberal-National coalition government.
Fiona Martin told the Guardian that her government’s weekend announcement that Australian citizens in India who try to return home would be liable for five years in prison and fines of about $50,000 was “heavy-handed”. Fellow government lawmaker Dave Sharma said of the ban, which is in place until at least May 15: “There is little doubt this is an extreme measure and that it is causing significant hardship to the Australian Indian community.”
As of late March, there were 36,000 Australian citizens stranded overseas and seeking to come home, with about 9,000 of those in India. The ban represents a new, nativist low for the government, writes Bloomberg Opinion’s Daniel Moss.
Duterte Gets Vaccine, Senator Says (8:20 a.m. Hong Kong)
Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque administered the Sinopharm vaccine to President Duterte, Senator Christopher Go, a long-term aide, said on Facebook.
Sinopharm is a Chinese company, and Duterte late Monday defended China as still being a benefactor for the Philippines, denouncing “rude” comments by his own foreign affairs secretary about China’s behavior in the South China Sea.
Myanmar to Administer 500,000 Sinopharm Doses (8:00 a.m. Hong Kong)
Myanmar’s Ministry of Information said it is administering doses donated by China. The nation has been wracked by protests and deadly crackdowns by the armed forces since a military coup on Feb. 1.
Vietnam Closes Schools in Hanoi (8:15 a.m. Hong Kong)
Vietnam’s capital city instructed its two million school-age pupils to stay home and study online from May 4 onwards, as local authorities from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City imposed stiff crackdowns on public gathering sites in an effort to quickly contain a rise in local Covid-19 cases.
Asian Developing Countries See Rise (7:50 a.m. Hong Kong)
Nations ranging from Laos to Thailand in Southeast Asia, and those bordering India such as Bhutan and Nepal, have been reporting significant surges in infections in the past few weeks. The increase is mainly because of more contagious virus variants, though complacency and lack of resources to contain the spread have also been cited.
“It’s very important to realize that the situation in India can happen anywhere,” Hans Kluge, the regional director at the World Health Organization for Europe, said in a briefing last week. “This is still a huge challenge.”
Singapore Defers Non-Urgent Surgeries (7:30 a.m. Hong Kong)
Singapore’s Ministry of Health asked hospitals to defer non-urgent surgeries and admissions until further notice, in a bid to increase potential capacity for handling Covid-19 patients.
The measures include limiting emergency room visits only for life-threatening or other emergency conditions, and encouraging tele-consultations instead of in-person medical visits where possible. The city-state saw its first fatality due to complications from Covid-19 in nearly two months over the weekend.
NYSE Says More Staff Can Return If Vaccinated (6:47 a.m. HK)
The New York Stock Exchange is opening further to vaccinated traders.
Companies whose staff are based at the exchange will be permitted to raise their headcount if 100% of employees at the site can prove they’re fully vaccinated, according to a memo from NYSE Chief Operating Officer Michael Blaugrund.
The changes go into effect May 10 and are based on an “improvement to public health conditions in the New York City area and the continuing progress of the nationwide vaccination rollout,” Blaugrund wrote in the memo.
FDA to Approve Pfizer Shot for Teens: NYT (5:20 p.m. NY)
If the authorization is granted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory panel would likely meet the following day to review the clinical trial data and make recommendations for the vaccine’s use in adolescents, the newspaper said.
Pfizer had reported that none of the adolescents in a clinical trial who received the vaccine developed symptomatic infections, a sign of significant protection.
U.S. Trade Chief Discusses Vaccine IP (4:25 p.m. NY)
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met virtually with World Intellectual Property Organization Director-General Daren Tang to discuss the role of intellectual property in dealing with the pandemic.
They spoke about “specific challenges confronting developing countries, and the proposed waiver to certain provisions of the World Trade Organization’s agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights for the Covid-19 pandemic,” the USTR said in an emailed statement.
Ohio Wants More Shots for Nursing Home Staff (4 p.m. NY)
To combat vaccine hesitancy among nursing home workers Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said Monday that he’d give caretakers’ noses a rest if they’d get the shot.
Nursing home employees are currently required to receive Covid-19 tests twice weekly. But DeWine, a Republican, said a new order will exempt employees that are fully vaccinated.
“We hope this change will be encouragement to those who work in nursing homes that haven’t been vaccinated yet,” DeWine said, cracking a smile during a remote news conference he held from his Cedarville home. “If you’re unvaccinated, it’s twice-a-week you’ll be tested.”
The announcement followed a state health investigation into a Covid-19 outbreak in an Ohio veterans home where roughly half of the staff has declined vaccination, according to local reports. DeWine said that state health officials continue to make shots available for anyone working in or living in long-term care.
White House Backs Pfizer Move on Exports (2:50 p.m. NY)
The Biden administration will support Pfizer Inc.’s move to begin exporting U.S.-made doses of its coronavirus vaccine, as the White House starts to unleash U.S. production for shot-starved nations abroad.
The governments of Mexico and Canada said last week that they expected to begin receiving doses of Pfizer’s vaccine from the U.S., the first time the company’s U.S.-made shots are known to have been delivered to any buyer other than the American government itself.
N.J. Offers Free Beer for Shots (2:20 p.m. NY)
NYC Subways Returning to 24-Hour Service (12:01 p.m. N Y)
Most capacity restrictions will be lifted across the tri-state region on May 19, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
New York City will again have 24-hour subways, boosting transportation options for workers as the most populous U.S. city inches toward normalcy.
In the state, the outdoor food and beverage curfew will be lifted May 17, and the indoor curfew will be lifted on May 31, Cuomo said Monday. The outdoor large stadium capacity will go to 33% in New York state on May 19, Cuomo said. However, New York will maintain the 6-foot (1.8-meter) social-distancing policy recommended by the federal government, the governor said.
BioNTech Soars to Record (11:45 a.m. NY)
BioNTech SE, the vaccine maker partnered with Pfizer Inc. on its Covid-19 shot, rose as much as 10% on Monday as the stock rallied past $200 a share at the open, breaking yet another record after closing at new highs four out of five days last week.
The German company was among the top gainers as the biotech sector regained lost footing and optimism about economies reopening bolstered stocks. Shots from Pfizer and BioNTech as well as Moderna Inc. have helped the U.S. reach more than 245 million doses administered, while side-stepping some of the safety concerns that have arisen for shots from AstraZeneca Plcand Johnson & Johnson.
WHO Urges Countries to Accept IP Waivers (11:30 a.m. NY)
Vaccine production capacity needs to increase in order to have a significant inoculation rate that will bring herd immunity, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing, adding that’s why a waiver on intellectual property is very important. There are more countries joining South Africa and India in being in favor of an IP waiver, and he said he hopes other nations will be convinced as well to make that a reality.
“There’s no reason, to be honest, not to decide on an IP waiver,” Tedros said. “The provision of waiving IP was meant for emergency conditions, and the level of emergency we’re in now is unprecedented. If we can’t use it now, when can we use it?”
NYC Employees Return to Office (11:05 a.m. NY)
More than 80,000 New York City public workers returned to the office on Monday, as the city asked all employees who had been working from home to return to city buildings. Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed back on concerns by the city’s largest municipal worker union, which said not enough of its workers had been vaccinated yet. Only 34% of its workforce has been vaccinated, according to DC37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. De Blasio also said 180,000 of the 300,000 city workforce has received at least one shot.
U.S. Cases Rise at Slowest Pace of Pandemic (10:35 NY)
Confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose at the slowest pace since the pandemic began in the week ended Sunday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The 1.07% gain was below the previous record of 1.25% set in the seven days ended March 14.
The total number of new infections increased by 344,448 last week, the lowest since the period ended Oct. 11, before the start of a surge intensified by the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. The slowdown comes even as some states, such as Oregon, are experiencing outbreaks driven by variants of the virus.
Germany’s Oktoberfest Canceled Again (10:30 a.m. NY)
Authorities in Bavaria canceled Oktoberfest again this year. Oktoberfest is “the most global party,” and waiting longer to cancel it would only have caused more economic damage, Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder said on Monday. The beer festival drew 6.3 million people to Munich in 2019.
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