EU’s June Vaccine Target; Review of Astra Shot: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) — Most European Union member states will have sufficient vaccine supplies to immunize the majority of people by the end of June, much earlier than the bloc’s official target, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg.The projections provide some hope that the EU’s vaccination campaign will improve after a lackluster start. The bloc’s regulator may indicate a potential link between vaccination with AstraZeneca Plc’s shot and rare cases of blood clots, an official told an Italian newspaper.A new study found that most toddlers infected with the virus carry a high viral load and may be silent spreaders despite a lack of symptoms.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases pass 131.8 million; deaths exceed 2.8 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 673 million shots given worldwideCovid mutants multiply as scientists race to decode variationsMobile vaccine squad has a mission: Protect the neediestFuture pandemics are already splitting American politicsHow pandemics change the course of history: Stephen MihmWhy the mutated coronavirus variants are so worrisome: 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.Tanzania Signals Pandemic Shift (5:48 p.m. HK)Tanzania’s new president will appoint a committee to advise her on how to curb the spread of Covid-19, reversing her predecessor’s denial of the pandemic.“We cannot isolate ourselves,” President Samia Suluhu Hassan told senior government officials in an address televised on state broadcaster TBC1. Under her predecessor, John Magufuli, Tanzanians were asked to eschew the use of masks and to use traditional remedies. The government stopped publishing Covid-19 infection data in May, when fatalities were at 21, and said it would not procure any vaccines.WHO May Soon Clear Chinese Vaccines (5:35 p.m. HK)Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm may receive emergency-use listing from the World Health Organization by the end of April, a spokeswoman said at a media briefing. The WHO is in the later stages of the process and has asked for additional data.The WHO’s authorization is needed for the global Covax initiative to send vaccines to participating countries, in order to ensure a product’s safety and efficacy for those that might not have the resources to make the assessments themselves.EMA’s Cavalieri Sees Possible Blood-Clots Link (5:01 p.m. HK)The European Medicines Agency is about to indicate a potential link between AstraZeneca’s vaccine and rare cases of blood clots, Italy’s Messaggero reported, quoting Marco Cavalieri, who chairs the agency’s vaccine evaluation team. Still, cases are extremely rare and the risk-benefits ratio is still a positive one, he said. The EMA “will indicate there is a link but it is still not clear how it works,” Cavalieri told the paper.Malaysia to Keep Using Astra Shot (4:13 p.m. HK)Malaysia will continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Star reported, citing Health Minister Adham Baba. The decision was taken because the vaccine has more benefits than drawbacks, the report cited Baba as saying. The country on Friday granted conditional registration to the vaccine supplied through the Covax facility.EU Sees Near-Virus Immunity by End June (4:05 p.m. HK)Most European Union member states will have sufficient vaccine supplies to immunize the majority of people by the end of June, much earlier than the bloc’s official target, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg.Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands will be in a position to fully inoculate more than 55% of their total populations, projections in the document show. The EU wants to immunize 70% of adults by the end of the summer, which — depending on the demographics of each member state — corresponds to around 55-60% of total population.Sweden Boosts Pandemic Spending (2:55 p.m. HK)Sweden’s government will spend a further 6.9 billion kronor ($792 million) on measures to fight the pandemic, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said. The money will be used to prevent the spread of the disease and carry out vaccinations, and to extend support measures for individuals who need to work from home until June 30.U.K. Starts New Virus Loan Program (2:36 p.m. HK)The U.K.’s Recovery Loan Scheme starts Tuesday, offering loans of as much as 10 million pounds ($14 million) to businesses, the Treasury said.The government is providing an 80% guarantee for all loans, and interest rates have been capped at 14.99% — though they’re expected to be much lower in most cases. The program runs until the end of the year and replaces various emergency-loan ones that have distributed more than 75 billion pounds since the pandemic began.Indonesia Extends Movement Curbs (2:32 p.m. HK)Indonesia’s government expanded movement restrictions to Aceh, Riau, South Sumatra, North Kalimantan and Papua, according to the coordinating minister for economic affairs, Airlangga Hartarto. Curbs are now being implemented in 20 provinces through April 19.Valneva to Start Final-Phase Tests (1:55 p.m. HK)Valneva SE plans to start final-phase clinical trials on its vaccine candidate this month, a step forward for a French drugmaker’s low-tech shot that’s being backed by the U.K. government. A phase 1/2 test gave positive results for a high dose.The vaccine uses a sample of the virus that has been killed to stimulate an immune response without causing the disease. The U.K. has signed a deal worth as much as 1.4 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) to receive as many as 190 million doses of the shot between 2021 and 2025. The British government is also investing in the biotech’s Scottish manufacturing plant.Toddlers May Be Silent Spreaders (1:32 p.m. HK)Most toddlers infected with the virus don’t have symptoms, but have a high viral load and a long duration of live viral shedding, making them potential silent spreaders of the infection, according to a study by the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.To identify any hidden transmission chain, the authors recommend testing stool samples from young children. “While we are working intensively to prevent high-risk individuals from being infected, it is important to come up with a solution to avoid unfavorable outcomes in young children,” said Siew Chien Ng, associate director of the university’s Centre for Gut Microbiota Research.Russia Delays Chinese Vaccine (1:11 p.m. HK)Russian officials have slowed authorization of China’s CanSino Biologics Inc.’s vaccine, the only foreign inoculation undergoing domestic testing, because local authorities are prioritizing Russian-developed shots, according to three people familiar with the situation.When CanSino’s local partner filed for approval in November, it wasn’t clear how quickly Russia would be able to scale up production of its domestic vaccines, according to one of the people, who is a government official. Now Russian officials now are confident they can rely on homegrown shots and there isn’t a need for foreign doses, the person said, adding that the CanSino vaccine may get approval later.Thai Bars Testing Finds Clusters (12:55 p.m. HK)Thailand reported 250 new virus cases as testing of hundreds of patrons from Bangkok bars confirmed several new infection clusters. The flareup prompted authorities to close almost 200 night-life entertainment venues for two weeks, including bars, pubs and karaoke centers.The surge in new cases comes ahead of Thailand’s New Year holiday next week, when millions travel across the country.New Zealand, Australia Travel Bubble (12:21 p.m. HK)New Zealand has agreed to open a quarantine-free travel corridor with Australia as of April 19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, restoring unrestricted, two-way travel for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.“The bubble will give our economic recovery a boost and represents a world leading arrangement of safely opening up international travel while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and keeping the virus out,” Ardern said. New Zealand has consistently topped Bloomberg’s Covid resilience ranking and Australia currently lies third, but both have suffered sporadic outbreaks requiring regional lockdowns.Panacea Jumps on Sputnik Deal (12:08 p.m. HK)India’s Panacea Biotec jumped 20%, making it the top gainer in the S&P BSE Small Cap Index, after the company signed an agreement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to produce 100 million doses a year of the Sputnik V vaccine.Variants Heighten Need for Vaccine Funds (12:02 p.m. HK)A plan to end the pandemic by speeding up immunizations could be financed through a record asset allocation via the International Monetary Fund, according to the Rockefeller Foundation.The IMF should approve and swiftly distribute $650 billion in additional reserve assets to help developing economies vaccinate as much as 70% of their populations by the end of next year, the foundation said in a report.The report, whose contributors include former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Jeffrey Sachs, a professor of economics at Columbia University, details ways to leverage a large issuance and reallocation of IMF special drawing rights that can be exchanged for freely usable currencies. The plan calls for wealthier countries to voluntarily reallocate at least $100 billion of their unneeded drawing rights to provide further support to the developing world.North Korea to Skip Tokyo Olympics (10:16 a.m. HK)North Korea has decided not to participate in the Tokyo Olympics, a state-run sports website reported, making it the first country to skip the games because of the pandemic.The decision was made March 25 by the country’s Olympics committee, which cited the need to protect its athletes amid the global health crisis, Sports in the DPR Korea, a website run by North Korea’s sports ministry, said Tuesday. North Korea won seven medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016.Venezuela’s Guaido Seen Recovered (9:55 a.m. HK)Juan Guaido, president of the opposition-led National Assembly in Venezuela, said he has recovered from Covid-19. Guaido, who is recognized by the U.S. and around 50 other countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, said the opposition is trying to organize a national vaccination plan.Washington Lowers Age for Vaccines (9:10 a.m. HK)Washington, D.C. residents aged 16 and older will be eligible for vaccinations starting April 19, Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Twitter. She urged those eligible to pre-register.India’s Death Ratio Declines (9:08 a.m. HK)India now has the highest daily caseload in the world, with more than 100,000 new infections reported Monday, yet the ratio of reported deaths to cases has fallen to around 1.3% from as high as 3.6% a year ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The trend could be caused by increased testing, better hospital treatment, improved immunity, the age of those infected and even vaccinations.A comparison with other nations shows progress isn’t linear. While the U.S. has brought its rate down to a stable 1.8%, countries that lagged in vaccinations seem to have suffered as more contagious coronavirus strains emerged. Germany’s rate swung from 1.5% in November to 2.9% in early March — passing Brazil — before easing to 2.7%. Japan’s rate climbed to 1.9% from 1.3% in mid-January.The U.S. has administered 167 million vaccine shots, India 79 million, Brazil 25 million, Germany 14 million and Japan only 1.2 million.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.