ECONOMY

U.S. Seeks Expanded Access in Global Vaccine Talks: Virus Update

Talks starting this week between the U.S. and World Trade Organization over expanding access to vaccines will focus on how to get them “widely distributed, more widely licensed, more widely shared,” according to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. U.S. cases dropped to 45,236, the fewest on a Saturday since late September.

India’s deepening Covid-19 crisis cost Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a key election, as the ruling BJP party conceded West Bengal’s state poll. Modi had been widely criticized for continuing to hold mass rallies in the state in as infections rose.

Daily deaths in India hit a record 3,689 on Sunday, while the number of cases slowed slightly after the country became the first to cross the mark of 400,000 cases in a day. U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab pledged to send 1,000 ventilators.

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 152.4 million; deaths exceed 3.19 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 1.16 billion doses have been given
  • Hong Kong’s economy set to bounce back after long decline
  • India’s Covid nightmare is a warning to the world
  • New York City is roaring back to life, one year after its nadir
  • What are vaccine passports and how would they work?: 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.

Murphy to Announce Easing for N.J. (6:55 a.m. HK)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he’ll make an announcement on Monday on easing restrictions, citing Covid-19 numbers that are “decisively trending in the right direction.”

Limits on the size of outdoor gatherings and the capacity of large outdoor venues such as sports events are due to increase next week. Permitted indoor capacity, including at restaurants, remains at 50%.

While New Jersey’s case count since the start of the pandemic passed 1 million on Sunday, new infections declined in April and vaccinations picked up.

Los Angeles Set to Administer 260,000 Doses (6:45 a.m. HK)

Los Angeles plans to administer 260,000 doses this week, the most ever for the city, Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

L.A. will also add more locations where residents are able to get shots without appointments, keeping the “momentum” going as vaccination rates slow down across the country, according to his statement.

He’s also pushing for more equality in the accessibility of the vaccines, with almost 80% of first doses going to minorities and 60% to the hardest-hit communities in the past week.

Israel Reports Only 13 New Cases (6:03 a.m. HK)

Israel reported 13 new cases on Sunday, the fewest since last May, state data show. New daily cases have rapidly declined — from several thousand a month ago — as the nation has become a world leader in vaccinations. Almost 60% of Israelis have at least one shot and almost 56% are fully vaccinated, according the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. In the U.S. 44% have had one dose, and 31% are fully vaccinated.

U.S. in Talks on Vaccine Tech Waivers (3:31 p.m. NY)

Talks starting this week between the U.S. and World Trade Organization over expanding access to vaccines will focus on how to get them “widely distributed, more widely licensed, more widely shared,” according to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. “We’re going to have more to say about that in the days to come,” he said.

Trade Representative Katherine Tai is leading the U.S. side, Klein said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “Intellectual property rights is part of the problem, but really, manufacturing is the biggest problem,” he added.

India, South Africa and other countries are seeking a WTO waiver to more ease intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines. The U.S. administration is reluctant to let countries force drug makers to turn over proprietary know-how.

Nepal Grounds Airlines (2:39 p.m. NY)

Nepal’s government suspended domestic and international flights as new cases surged to a record on Sunday, the Press Trust of India reported. India’s worsened outbreak has crossed the border into Nepal, and the pace of cases is roughly 10 times higher than just two weeks ago. Domestic flights will be grounded on Monday, followed by international flights on Wednesday, until May 14. An exception was made for charter flights.

California Cases Inch Up (2:14 p.m. NY)

California reported 2,254 new cases yesterday, a rate of 4.2 new cases per 100,000, the health department’s website said. That’s higher than the previous day’s 2,094 new confirmed cases. There were 123 deaths for a total of 60,748. The seven-day positive test rate stood at 1.2%. California has administered more than 30.4 million vaccines in total.

Saudi Allows Vaccinated to Travel Abroad (1:44 p.m. NY)

Saudi Arabia will allow citizens who have received both doses of the vaccine to travel from May 17, state-run SPA reported, citing the interior ministry. The country will also fully open its air, land and sea borders from May 17.

Citizens who have received one dose of the vaccine can only travel 14 days later, while those who have had Covid-19 are permitted to travel within 6 months of having had the virus, according to SPA. Citizens under 18 will be able to travel with health insurance and must quarantine on their return to Saudi.

Quarter of U.K. Now Fully Vaccinated (1:29 p.m. NY)

The U.K. has now given a second vaccine to 15.3 million people, more than a quarter of the adult population. Almost 35 million people, over half the entire population have received a first shot.

The vaccine rollout, coupled with months of lockdown measures have led to a sharp drop in cases and deaths. New cases were at 1,671, the fewest since September and only 14 daily Covid-related deaths were reported by health authorities Sunday.

The decline in cases and deaths is allowing the government to ease lockdown measures, and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Sunday that the government would “shortly” announce details on how restrictions on leisure travel will be lifted on May 17.

Gottlieb Expects Pfizer Push for Younger Teens (1 p.m. NY)

About five million children could immediately get vaccinated if the Food and Drug Administration approves Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for use in those under the age of 16, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in an interview Sunday with CBS’s “Face the Nation.” An additional five to seven million could get vaccinated before the start of the next school year, he said.

“That will be incremental, Americans getting vaccinated against Covid, and hopefully providing protection in an age group that has been susceptible to the infection,” he said. Gottlieb is on the board of directors for Pfizer, which last month asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to grant emergency use authorization for children ages 12-15.

Nigeria Imposes Travel Bans (11:49 a.m. NY)

Nigeria will deny entry to passengers who have visited India, Brazil and Turkey in the last 14 days as part of measures to avoid a third viral wave, Lagos-based ThisDay Newspaper reported, citing a statement from Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government.

The new travel advisory takes effect on May 4, the federal government, the newspaper reported. The government has also introduced a precautionary fine of $3,500 per passenger on any airline that ignores the new guideline.

Indian Drugmaker Blames Government (11:43 a.m. NY)

The head of the world’s largest vaccine maker blamed coming shortages in India on the failure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to anticipate a second viral wave, the Financial Times reported. Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of India’s Serum Institute, told the newspaper that a severe vaccine shortage would persist through July.

He said the government “took it easy” after cases declined in January. “Everybody really felt that India had started to turn the tide on the pandemic,” Poonawalla said.

Rio de Janeiro Halts Second Doses (11:34 a.m. NY)

Rio de Janeiro suspended the administration of the second dose of Sinovac vaccine for 10 days because of shortages, O Globo reported citing the city hall. Vaccine stock in the city has run out, as in other municipalities in Rio de Janeiro state.

U.S. Could Be Near-Normal By July, Jha Says (11:22 a.m. NY)

Much of the U.S. could “feel close to normal” by July 1 if vaccinations stay on track even at the recent slower pace, said Ashish Jha, dean of the school of public health at Brown University.

“It won’t be 100% but it’ll be pretty close to what life was like before the pandemic,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Encouraging more people in the U.S. to get shots is key, Jha said. “We’re at about 55% of all adults,” he said. “We need to get into the 70s and 80s.”

While Jha called the pandemic in India “awful” on Twitter, he said existing vaccines remain effective against the main variant detected there.

South Africa Gets First Pfizer Doses (11:05 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. will ship 4.5 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccines to South Africa by June helping the nation ramp up its inoculation drive.

The first 325,260 doses will arrive Sunday night, Zweli Mkhize, South Africa’s health minister said in a statement. The government also expects Johnson & Johnson to release stock from the Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd.’s plant in the nation by the middle of May following a verification process with regulators, according to the statement. Aspen is making the J&J vaccines under license.

BJP Concedes West Bengal Election (8:23 a.m. NY)

A BJP party leader conceded defeat in a state election in West Bengal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been widely criticized for continuing to hold mass rallies in the state in the run-up to the vote as India’s outbreak worsened.

The ruling BJP party is ahead in the state of Assam and Puducherry, but trails also in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, according to trends posted on the Election Commission of India website.

New U.S. Cases Drop Below 50,000 (8:10 a.m. NY)

The U.S. added 45,236 cases, the fewest on a Saturday since late September, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. It also was the lowest number since Sunday. Reporting by health authorities tends to lag on weekends.

Another 801 people died of Covid-19 across the U.S., more than the daily average of 675 over the preceding seven days. An estimated 3.3 million vaccine doses were administered, the most since the previous Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins data.

U.K. Pledges Ventilators for India (4:30 p.m. HK)

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the U.K. will be sending 1,000 ventilators “very shortly” to India to help the country cope with a surge of coronavirus cases that’s overwhelming hospitals.

“We’ve said that will do whatever we can, whatever they ask for,” Raab told Sky News on Sunday. “We have also looked at these oxygen generators like mini-factories. That’s the thing they need right now.”

India Cases Slow From Record High (12 p.m. HK)

India’s new daily coronavirus cases dropped to 392,488 on Sunday, a day after first exceeding 400,000, while deaths rose to a record of 3,689, government data showed. The nation needs to impose a nationwide lockdown to control the world’s worst Covid-19 crisis, members of a government virus task force told the Indian Express newspaper.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry said aircraft arrived from France and the U.S. carrying oxygen tanks and concentrators to ease the shortage at Indian hospitals.

U.K. Draws Up Vaccine Plan for Children (7:25 a.m. HK)

U.K. officials are drawing up plans to offer Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine to children aged 12 and over when the new school year starts from September, The Times of London reported.

The plans depend on advice due in the summer from scientists on the joint committee on vaccination and immunization, according to the report, which cites documents from the National Health Service that the newspaper confirmed with government officials.

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