Sinovac – Covid-19 Pandemic: Live Updates and News for Feb. 17, 2021
Japan began its vaccination program, starting with a group of frontline health-care workers.
South Korea reported 621 new cases, the most in six weeks. Coming after the Lunar New Year holidays, officials said it was hard to judge whether it was a temporary phenomenon or a resurgence of the virus. The figures came just two days after the country relaxed its social distancing rules.
Australia’s Melbourne will lift its five-day lockdown as planned, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said. Some restrictions on visitors to the home will remain, as will rules on mask-wearing. Meanwhile, New Zealand reported two new community cases of Covid-19 just hours before Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to decide whether to extend a lockdown in largest city Auckland.
Storms that blanketed much of the U.S. in snow and ice paralyzed the Covid-19 vaccination campaign, although data showed that hospitalizations in the country from the coronavirus have plunged nearly 40% from a winter peak less than four weeks ago.
- Global Tracker: Cases exceed 109.4 million; deaths pass 2.4 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 181 million shots given worldwide
- U.S. Spotlight: Deaths seen falling to slowest pace since November
- Biden says he invoked production law for more vaccine doses
- UK. identifies 1.7 million more at high Covid risk
- Why delaying the second Covid shot is messy: QuickTake
Subscribe 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.
South Korea Sees Most Cases in Six Weeks (11:05 a.m. HK)
South Korea reported 621 new coronavirus cases, the most in six weeks. Coming after the Lunar New Year holidays, officials said it was hard to judge whether it was a temporary phenomenon or a resurgence.
Just two days ago the country scaled back social distancing restrictions in response to a trend of declining infections.
U.S. Hospitalizations Tumble From Peak (11 a.m. HK)
U.S. hospitalizations from the coronavirus have plunged 39% from a winter peak less than four weeks ago, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show. The number of Covid-19 cases treated in U.S. hospitals dropped to 70,277 as of Tuesday from 114,281 on Jan. 25.
Cases declined by an average of almost 2,000 a day since Feb. 10, with New York, California, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania accounting for almost half of the national drop. In Georgia, 17% of in-patients have Covid-19, the highest proportion of any state. Hospitalized cases there have fallen 9.7% to 3,374 since Feb. 10.
Japan Starts Vaccination Drive (9:10 a.m. HK)
The country’s effort is starting at around 100 locations and focusing on a group of about 40,000 health-care workers, half of whom will be observed over the course of their two shots and after. Doses will then be expanded to more medical workers.
The elderly are also being prioritized, with vaccinations for those over the age of 65 set to start as early as April. Japan has been among the last of developed nations to start vaccinations, although it has also weathered the pandemic comparatively well, recording 418,000 infections and just over 7,000 deaths. Several regions in the Asia-Pacific, including South Korea, Australia and Hong Kong, have also yet to start their inoculation programs.
Melbourne to Lift Lockdown From Midnight (8 a.m. HK)
Melbourne’s lockdown will be lifted from midnight after five days after Australia’s second-largest city was able to bring an outbreak of the UK. strain of the coronavirus under control
Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters that schools, retail and hospitality will resume from Thursday. Offices will be allowed to return to 50% capacity. Still, wearing masks in public will remain compulsory, and household visits will be limited to five people.
New Zealand Reports New Community Cases (7:30 a.m. HK)
New Zealand reported two new community cases of Covid-19 just hours before Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to decide whether to extend a lockdown in largest city Auckland.
The new cases are connected to the Auckland family that initially tested positive at the weekend. Ardern is due to hold a news conference at 4:30 p.m. local time Wednesday on the Auckland lockdown.
U.S. Vaccine Deliveries Hit by Storms (6:40 a.m. HK)
Winter storms delayed vaccine shipments to Colorado and other states from a facility in Tennessee. More than 130,000 doses scheduled for delivery this week were affected, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said.
“In anticipation of the holiday weekend, Colorado requested and received doses Friday that were originally scheduled for this week,” the agency said. “This decision helps us have enough on hand to work with providers to move doses around to prevent cancellations.”
Two French Airlines to Test Covid App (2 p.m. NY)
Two French airlines, Air Caraibes and French Bee, will start a pilot study next month of the AOKpass mobile application used to verify travelers’ Covid-19 test results. The test will include flights from Paris to overseas territories such as Guadeloupe and Tahiti. AOKpass is currently used on Etihad flights connecting Abu Dhabi with Paris and Pakistan.
U.S. Boosts Weekly Vaccine Supply (1 p.m. NY)
The U.S. vaccine supply is increasing to 13.5 million doses per week, up from 11 million, and the number of shots distributed through pharmacies will double, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients, announced the increases to governors in a conference call earlier, Psaki told reporters at a briefing. Two million doses will be delivered to pharmacies this week, she said, up from 1 million. The pharmacy program began Feb. 11.
J&J Seeks EU Clearance for Its Single-Dose Shot (11 a.m. NY)
Johnson & Johnson sought regulatory clearance for its Covid-19 vaccine in the European Union, on track to become the fourth shot approved in Europe and the first that can be given as a single dose.
The European Medicines Agency said a decision could be possible by mid-March, capping a rolling review process that started on Dec. 1 and has allowed EMA to examine the data on the vaccine as it emerged. A European Commission approval could follow immediately thereafter, President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet.
NYC Gave out 317,000 Shots Last Week (10:40 a.m. NY)
New York City recorded the highest number of vaccine doses administered last week since the inoculation drive began in December, doling out more than 317,000 shots, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.
The city also released new data revealing where the vaccines have been delivered by zip code in a bid to create a more equitable distribution. The data showed deep disparities and presented a road map to the city on where to target the city’s vaccine efforts, de Blasio said during the briefing.
The city still has a long way to go to deliver vaccinations to its more than 8 million residents. So far, the city has administered nearly 1.3 million total doses as of Sunday, including 870,6000 first doses. It gave out 57,000 first and second doses on Feb. 12, the highest one day of vaccinations the city has recorded, according to Health Department data.
CDC Advisers Weigh Delaying Second Doses (10:30 a.m. NY)
U.S. public health advisers are weighing recommendations for extending the interval between the first and second doses of Covid-19 vaccines, a potential strategy for quickly getting protection to more people amid the spread of new variants.
Health officials have rejected a dose-stretching policy adopted by the UK. that allows up to 12 weeks between Covid shots. Most drugmakers have concurred, saying that policies should follow the protocols used in the shots’ testing, in which the intervals were set at three or four weeks.
Biden Predicts U.S. Will Break Vaccine Goal (9:04 a.m. NY)
“I set a big goal of administering 100 million shots in the first 100 days. With the progress we’re making I believe we’ll not only reach that, we’ll break it,” President Joe Biden said in a tweet.
Encouraging Data From UK., Israel (8:57 a.m. NY)
In the UK., a report from the Office for National Statistics showed people over age 80 — a high-priority group in the country’s vaccination drive — were the most likely to test positive for Covid antibodies in England. The analysis estimated that 40.9% of people in that bracket had antibodies during the four-week period ending Feb. 1, “most likely due to the high vaccination rate in this group.”
That followed study results earlier this week from Israel’s Clalit health service provider showing a 94% drop in symptomatic cases among the vaccinated. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed spurring Israel’s sputtering vaccine drive by “outing” the uninoculated.
Romania also reported significant declines in cases among the elderly and inside hospitals after most residents in nursing homes and medical workers were vaccinated. The hospital infection rate has dropped by 87% in recent weeks, according to Valeriu Gheorghita, the head of the vaccination task force.
H.K. Panel Recommends China’s Sinovac (7:30 a.m. NY)
A panel of experts recommended that Hong Kong approve a vaccine from Chinese developer Sinovac Biotech, saying the shot — CoronaVac — has an efficacy rate of 50%. The move came after the group last week postponed a decision on the shot, saying it needed more efficacy data.
Separately, the Hong Kong government will allow venues including gyms, beauty parlors, cinemas and theme parks to reopen from Thursday while keeping public beaches and swimming pools closed.
— With assistance by Gearoid Reidy, Lisa Du, Jason Gale, Shinhye Kang, and Seyoon Kim
Sinovac – Covid-19 Pandemic: Live Updates and News for Feb. 17, 2021