N.Y. Cases Slow After Record; New Strain in Japan: Virus Update

This content was published on January 10, 2021 - 20:49

(Bloomberg) --

New York state’s new Covid-19 cases fell for a second day, after reaching a record since the start of the pandemic. California’s average daily deaths rose to a new high. U.S. lawmakers may have been exposed to the virus while they were held in a secure room during Wednesday’s attack on Congress, the Capitol’s attending physician said. North Dakota, once one of the nation’s worst-hit states, has gone two days without a death.

Japan has found a variant of the coronavirus similar to strains discovered in Britain and South Africa. The U.K. is on course to meet its target for vaccines, but faces pressure on the health service due to surging cases, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

Switzerland’s drug regulator may give the green light to Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine by Jan. 13, Japan is reportedly considering approving Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine for people age 16 and above.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 90 million; deaths surpass 1.93 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 24 million shots given worldwide
  • Connecticut outpaces New York in race to vaccinate residents
  • Automakers are losing production as virus disrupts chip supplies
  • Altering vaccine regimens endangers effectiveness, according to the EU regulator
  • Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on coronavirus cases and deaths.

Pope’s Personal Doctor Dies from Covid-19 (3:32 p.m. NY)

Fabrizio Soccorsi, 78, personal doctor to Pope Francis, has died, ANSA reported citing the Vatican media. He was hospitalized in Rome for cancer, though the cause of death was complications from Covid-19, the report said.

The pope chose him as his personal doctor in 2015. ANSA did not say if the two had recent contact. On Saturday, Francis said that getting a vaccine was an “ethical” obligation and that he would take one as soon as this week.

North Dakota Reports No Deaths for Second Straight Day (3:29 p.m. NY)

North Dakota reported no new virus fatalities for two consecutive days, the first time since early September. The state’s reported death toll has risen from 156 at the time to 1,353 on Sunday, while cumulative cases have increased from about 14,000 to almost 95,000, including 93 in the latest report. The outbreak eased -- as it surges around the nation -- after Governor Doug Burgum in November imposed a mask mandate and other restrictions.

Czechs Protest Against Lockdown in Prague (2:45 p.m. NY)

Several thousand people protested in Old Town Square in central Prague on Sunday, demanding the government end lockdown restrictions, the police said. The country of 10.7 million, which reported a record 17,730 new infections on Wednesday, is one of the world’s worst-hit by the current outbreak. It has recorded 13,115 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The government, which has closed most shops, services and schools, and imposed a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., plans to keep the lockdown in place at least until Jan. 22.

California’s 14-Day Death Average at New High (2:18 p.m. NY)

California added 468 new deaths to 29,701, pushing the 14-day rolling average for fatalities to its highest since the start of the outbreak. The state had 49,685 new cases, bringing the total to almost 2.7 million -- exceeding those in Italy, Spain and Germany.

With ICU capacity at its lowest level since the pandemic began, the state has been in crisis as Covid-19 patients overwhelmed medical centers. Most of the state is under some lockdown, with regions including Southern California having almost no ICU beds.

Denmark Likely to Extend Restrictions, Premier Says (2:07 p.m. NY)

Denmark will most likely have to extend parts of its lockdown, which initially had been set to end in one week, because the U.K. variant of the virus is spreading fast, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.

“We must prepare ourselves for a situation where we have to prolong some of the restrictions,” Frederiksen said late Sunday in an interview with broadcaster TV2. “Unfortunately things indicate it will take a bit longer.”

N.Y. Cases, Positive-Test Rate Drop (2:03 p.m. NY)

New York’s new cases dropped to 15,355, two days after rising to a daily record of 18,832, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. Hospitalizations fell, to 8,484, and another 151 people died. The state reported a slight reduction in the rate of positive tests, to 6.22%, though it remains high in other pockets around the state. The Mohawk Valley is above 10%, with Long Island at 9.60% and the Finger Lakes at 9.55%.

Earlier Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reported a positive test rate of 8.77%, based on a seven-day average. Two days ago, the city’s rate was 9.38%. In November, it was below 2%.

France Cases Below Recent Average (1:23 p.m. NY)

France reported 15,944 new cases in the past 24 hours, while deaths increased by 151 to 67,750, according to the national health agency. The virus is circulating at an elevated level, with an average of 18,000 new cases daily, Health Minister Olivier Veran said earlier Sunday in an interview with Cnews television and Europe1 radio. Still, case numbers are growing more slowly than in other European countries such as the U.K. and Germany, he said.

U.K. to Test Anti-Virus Nasal Spray (12:59 p.m. NY)

The U.K. will begin clinical trials on a nasal spray aimed at reducing infection by killing the coronavirus, according to a company statement released Sunday.

SaNOtize Research and Development Corp., based in Vancouver, said the trials will begin Jan. 11 at Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The spray uses nitrous oxide to prevent the virus from incubating and spreading to the lungs, the company said.

It is currently undergoing Phase II trials in Canada.

Capitol Physician Warns of Possible Covid Exposure During Attack (12:19 p.m. NY)

Lawmakers may have been exposed to the coronavirus while they were held in a secure room during Wednesday’s attack on Congress, the Capitol’s attending physician said Sunday.

“Many members of the House community were in protective isolation in room located in a large committee hearing space,” physician Brian Monahan said in a statement. “During this time, individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”

Vaccine Distribution Can be Improved Using Big-Box Stores, Gottlieb Says (12:01 p.m. NY)

Big-box stores should be on the table to improve access and speed up distribution of vaccines, said former Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb. “We need to take an all-of-the-above approach and push it out through different channels, including the big-box stores, including federal sites that the Biden administration is talking about setting up. We need to try everything right now to create multiple distribution points.”

Gottlieb, who sits on the board of Pfizer Inc., said supply isn’t as much of an issue as distribution right now, but in two or three weeks it could become a greater concern. He noted that with roughly 40 million vaccines available around the country and about 50 million Americans over the age of 65, there’s currently enough supply to vaccinate senior citizens “more aggressively” if more varied distribution points are opened.

“A lot of senior citizens aren’t going to want to go to a stadium stadium to get an inoculation,” Gottlieb said. “They’re going to want to go to a local pharmacy or a doctor’s office.”

U.K. Cases Stay Above 50,000 (11:20 a.m. NY)

The U.K. reported more than 50,000 cases for the 13th day in a row, with 54,940 new infections recorded on Sunday. Another 563 people died within 28 days of a positive test, bringing the total to 81,431. Fewer fatalities are often seen on weekends due to reporting delays.

Italy Reports Fewer Cases, Deaths (11:11 a.m. NY)

Italy added 18,627 new cases Sunday, compared with 19,978 the previous day. Daily deaths dropped to 361 from 483 Saturday. Patients in ICUs rose to 2,615, the highest since Dec. 23.

Government is planning new restrictions to be approved by decree later this week. Italy has vaccinated 589,798 people.

German Virus Spread Accelerates (10:54 a.m. NY)

The coronavirus is spreading faster in Germany than at any time since June, according to a key metric.

The moving four-day average reproduction rate hit 1.52 on Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute public health agency reported. That’s slightly higher than in late October, when Germany’s Covid-19 levels surged, prompting lockdown measures. The metric captures the average number of people infected by one infected person. The figure exceeded 2 in Germany in late June, after localized outbreaks at meatpacking plants.

The rate of Germans age 80 and older being infected increased to 309 cases per 100,000 people as of Sunday, up from 288 a week ago. That age bracket has accounted for half the Covid-related deaths in Germany, Health Minister Jens Spahn has said.

Former U.K. Adviser Optimistic About Herd Immunity (8:56 a.m. NY)

Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, who worked on modeling the coronavirus outbreak for the U.K. government in the early stages, anticipates a decline in the growth rate of new cases thanks to rising immunity, according to the Sunday Times.

About 25% to 30% of the population has been infected, leading to “quite a lot of herd immunity in places like London,” he said in an interview. Still, Ferguson’s predictions for this month are gloomy and he expects the U.K. will hit 100,000 deaths.

It is not yet known what proportion of the population will need to become resistant to the virus, either through vaccination or infection, to achieve herd immunity, with experts saying at least 80% will be required, the newspaper said.

Japan Says It Found New Coronavirus Variant (6:32 a.m. NY)

Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases said authorities have found a new strain of the coronavirus in four passengers arriving from Brazil.

The new variant has similarities to those found in the U.K. and South Africa, the NIID said in a statement Sunday. The information about the new strain is limited to its genetic make-up, and it’s difficult to determine at the moment how infectious it is, the institute said.

Iran Records Lowest Death Toll Since June (6:50 p.m. HK)

Iran recorded 71 deaths from Covid-19 over the last 24 hours, its lowest daily toll since June 13. The number of daily new cases rose to 5,968 from 5,924 on Saturday. The country now has 56,171 coronavirus fatalities in 1,286,406 confirmed infections, the Health Ministry reported.

Poland Aims for 250,000 Jabs Next Week (5:27 p.m. HK)

Poland reported 177 new Covid deaths on Sunday, with 9,410 new coronavirus cases recorded. The country has already vaccinated more than 200,000 people and is planning shots for a further 250,000 in the week to come, which would take inoculations beyond 1% of Poland’s population.

U.K. on Course for Vaccine Target, Hancock Says (5:05 p.m. HK)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the U.K. is on course to meet its coronavirus vaccine target, but warned the surge in cases has left the state-run National Health Service in a “very, very serious situation.”

In an interview with Sky News, Hancock said more than 200,000 people are being vaccinated every day, including one-third of the over-80s regarded as the group most vulnerable to the disease. He said mass vaccination centers are opening to accelerate the rollout.

German Case Numbers Rise by 22,061 (4:17 p.m. HK)

Germany’s case numbers rose 22,061 to 1.93 million in the 24 hours through Sunday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Fatalities increased by 575 to 40,597. The country issued 50,066 Covid shots on Saturday, bringing the running total to 532,878 people who’ve received their first dose, according to the Robert Koch Institute public health agency.

Switzerland May Clear Moderna Shot (03:22 p.m. HK)

Switzerland’s drug regulator is set to approve Moderna’s vaccine by Jan. 13, newspaper SonntagsZeitung reported, citing unidentified sources. Moderna will deliver 200,000 doses within one day after the approval, the paper cited Nora Kronig, an official at the country’s health authority, as saying.

Moderna’s vaccine would be the second cleared for use in Switzerland, following the nod for Pfizer-BioNTech’s product in December. Moderna’s shot already has approval from the U.S., EU and U.K.

U.S. Reports More Than 269,000 Cases (1:45 p.m. HK)

The U.S. reports more than 269,000 virus cases, down slightly from 287,771 new infections on Friday -- the second-highest number on record, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

The previous high of 299,087 was recorded on Jan. 2 and was considered inflated as states reported backlogged data from over the New Year holiday.

An additional 3,655 people died on Saturday.

Japan Weighs Approving Pfizer Vaccine for Ages 16 and Up: NHK (10:13 a.m. HK)

Japan’s government is considering approving Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine for use by individuals aged 16 and above, broadcaster NHK reported.

Japan’s clinical trials are conducted on people from 20 years old, so data on those younger aren’t available, the report said, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. Inadequate data in overseas trials on people aged 15 and below, along with fewer severe Covid-19 cases among children, were also cited as reasons for excluding youngsters, NHK reported.

Pfizer and BioNTech SE, which applied for regulatory approval of their coronavirus vaccine in Japan last month, have agreed to provide 120 million doses to the country in the first half of 2021. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said the government is working to start vaccinations in late February.

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