Europe Reviews China Shot; U.K. Sees Lockdown End: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country is on course to scrap lockdown rules over the next seven weeks. Denmark will ease curbs this week and dropped Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine.Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is planning for U.S. employees to return to offices by mid-June. The European Union’s drug regulator started a review of one of the vaccines from China, and Pfizer Inc. increased the forecast for sales of its Covid-19 shot this year.Cricket regulators suspended the Indian Premier League after players tested positive. India was criticized for a “lack of leadership” as its prime minister resists pressure to lock down. Hong Kong is reviewing a controversial decision to make shots mandatory for foreign domestic workers, and there’s growing anger at Australia’s ban on citizens returning home from India.Key DevelopmentsGlobal Tracker: Cases top 153.5 million; deaths exceed 3.21 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?: 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.Pfizer Boosts Vaccine Revenue Forecast (6:46 a.m. NY)Pfizer Inc. boosted its full-year forecast for sales of its vaccine produced with BioNTech SE to approximately $26 billion, from about $15 billion previously. The guidance includes 1.6 billion doses expected to be delivered this year under contracts that have been signed through mid-April, and it may be adjusted as additional contracts are executed, Pfizer said in its release.“We also are in ongoing discussions with multiple countries around the world about their needs, and we expect these discussions to lead to additional supply agreements,” CEO Albert Bourla said in prepared remarks.Moderna Tests Lower-Dose Vaccines (6:02 a.m. NY)Inc. is testing vaccines with lower doses to try to boost supply, and it may also need to expand work on boosters to cover for more variants, Chairman Noubar Afeyan said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. He said he expects the coronavirus may become endemic like seasonal flu, and that vaccinating children seems like a good approach given Covid’s after-effects.Vietnam Extends Quarantine Period (5:41 p.m. HK)Vietnam is keeping people in quarantine centers longer than the 14-day period amid the emergence of cases being traced to overseas travelers.Provinces were instructed by the health ministry to “temporarily keep” in quarantine until further notice people who have completed the 14-day isolation, according to a post on the government website. Three patients in Vinh Phuc were found to be carrying a virus variant first detected in India, the health ministry said.Malaysia Imposes Curbs in Richest State (5:32 p.m. HK)Malaysia tightened restrictions in six districts in Selangor, the country’s richest state, in a bid to contain a rise in infections. The so-called movement control order will be in place from May 6 through May 17, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a briefing. While social gatherings will be banned in the six areas, economic activities will be allowed.EU Regulator Starts Rolling Review of Sinovac (5:08 p.m. HK)The European Medicines Agency said it started a rolling review of the vaccine from China’s Sinovac Life Sciences Co. to test compliance with safety and quality standards, the first major step in gaining approval for use in the European Union.The EMA started a rolling review of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in March. Its human medicines committee, CHMP, said the decision to review the Sinovac shot was based on studies and data that suggest the vaccine triggers the production of antibodies that target SARS-CoV-2, according to a statement.Japan PM Struggles Over Decision (4:54 p.m. HK)Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is reportedly struggling with the decision on whether to end or extend the coronavirus state of emergency for Tokyo and greater Osaka.Suga told infectious disease expert and cabinet adviser Nobuhiko Okabe that the decision over whether to lift the emergency on May 11 will be “tough,” local broadcaster FNN reported, citing Okabe’s remarks to reporters after a meeting with Suga on Tuesday.Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura indicated the prefecture may seek an extension to its current state of emergency due to the number of new cases and pressure on the medical system.India Cricket League Suspended (4:11 p.m. HK)India’s cricketing regulator suspended the Premier League after multiple players contracted Covid-19, bringing a temporary halt to a tournament that has divided the nation on whether it was appropriate to play sport as thousands of citizens die each day.Singapore Finds New Local Cases (3:56 p.m. HK)Singapore preliminarily confirmed five new cases of locally transmitted infection, the country’s health ministry said in an emailed statement. The cases were discovered after testing patients, visitors and staff at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, or their close contacts.Germany Pushed on Medical Spending (2:50 p.m. Hong Kong)Germany needs to boost investment in public-health services so the nation is better prepared for future pandemics, according to Klaus Reinhardt, the president of the country’s medical association.Germany must make sure it maintains adequate reserves of protective equipment, and establish effective crisis units that can react quickly to outbreaks of disease, Reinhardt said in an interview with ZDF television.“Our hospitals have helped us a great deal during this pandemic, perhaps a bit better than in other countries, and we also need to think about how we keep them functioning well and make them fit for the future,” Reinhardt said.U.K. to Gradually Wind Back Curbs (2:45 p.m. Hong Kong)British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. is on course to gradually scrap lockdown rules over the next seven weeks, hailing the U.K.’s successful vaccine rollout ahead of key elections this week.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, though he warned that international travel will need to be carefully monitored after May 17.“With the vaccine rollout going the way that it is – we have done 50 million jabs as I speak to you today, quarter of the adult population, one in four, have had two jabs,” the premier said on a visit to Hartlepool in northeastern England yesterday. “You are seeing the results of that really starting to show up.”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 tally comes as Premier Modi continues to see lockdowns as the “last option” despite a growing domestic and international chorus calling for action.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 Reviews Worker 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.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.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.”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.”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.N.J. Offers Free Beer for Shots (2:20 p.m. NY)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.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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