CORONAVIRUS GLOBAL UPDATE
Ohio lowering vaccination age to 16; South Africa registers 139 deaths
South Africa registered 933 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 1,530,966. A further 139 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total deaths to 51,560.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron are ready to allow the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine again if the European Union’s drug regulator advises that it’s safe. The European Medicines Agency is reviewing the shot after several countries suspended it over health concerns.
The European Commission pushed back against member states’ attempts to dodge any blame over the EU’s lacklustre vaccination roll-out. Scotland will reopen hairdressers, car showrooms, garden centres and click-and-collect retail services on 5 April.
In the US, Moderna said the first children have been dosed in a paediatric clinical trial of its vaccine. Ohio will allow all residents of 16 and older to register for the Covid-19 vaccine beginning on 29 March. Apollo Global Management will test giving employees the option of working remotely two days a week until the end of the year.
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France, Italy signal they will allow Astra shot
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron are ready to allow the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine again if the European Union’s drug regulator advises that it’s safe, the Italian government said after the two leaders spoke by telephone.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is reviewing the shot after several countries suspended it on health concerns, is due to give a definitive assessment on Thursday. Draghi’s office said the initial guidance from the EMA was encouraging.
In unscheduled comments on Tuesday, the EMA reiterated that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks, and there was no indication that it had caused blood clots in a number of people. But it also warned about a negative impact on public perception and a risk of increased hesitancy about taking vaccines.
EU nations told to speed up vaccinations
European Union countries were warned on Tuesday that the slow pace of vaccinations, as well as moves to block the use of some doses, could put the recovery effort at risk and increase the likelihood of prolonged lockdowns.
The European Commission on Tuesday pushed back against member states’ attempts to dodge any blame over the EU’s lacklustre vaccination roll-out, which has been plagued by slow regulatory approvals and delivery disruptions by AstraZeneca. The bloc’s health chief, Stella Kyriakides, told EU ministers in a call that out of the 70 million doses delivered to member states so far, only 51 million have been administered.
Apollo to test partial remote work
Apollo Global Management will test giving employees the option of working remotely two days a week until the end of the year, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The exact start of the experiment will depend on when Covid-19 vaccines become more broadly available, the person said. Employees will be given at least 30 days’ notice.
Firms across Wall Street have been struggling with how – and when – to get employees back at their desks. Many are treading lightly or delaying the effort, given looming virus variants and the difficulties in obtaining vaccines.
Scotland eases restrictions as cases drop
Scotland will reopen hairdressers, car showrooms, garden centres and click-and-collect retail services on 5 April after the number of daily cases dropped by 30% over the past three weeks as the country’s vaccination programme ramps up. More restrictions will be lifted on April 26, with cafes, restaurants and bars able to cater to people outside and some food served indoors.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament that evidence shows the vaccines are reducing transmission. As part of the UK roll-out, Scotland has now inoculated about 40% of its adult population. It plans to keep vaccinating about 400,000 people a week into April, she said, with hopes of getting close to a return to normality by June 30.
Ohio to expand vaccines to anyone over 16
Ohio will allow all residents of 16 and older to register for the Covid-19 vaccine beginning on 29 March. The state will expand its eligibility to those of 40 and above on Friday.
Governor Mike DeWine said that the consensus of county health department officials was that the state needs to expand its eligibility more quickly due to a larger amount of supply and the varying levels of vaccine acceptance across the state.
“It’s imperative that we move as quickly as we can,” DeWine said on Tuesday during a news conference at a mass-vaccination site at Cleveland State University.
HSBC closes main office in Hong Kong
HSBC Holdings’ main office in Hong Kong has been closed until further notice after three people working in the building tested positive for Covid-19.
Visitors who stayed at the building for more than two hours between 2 and 15 March would be required to undergo mandatory coronavirus tests, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg.
The bank’s iconic main building in Hong Kong is located at 1 Queen’s Road Central.
Austria calls for EU correction mechanism
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called for a “correction mechanism” of the vaccine distribution in the EU to avoid political tensions in the bloc. Speaking in Vienna alongside the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Slovenia, Kurz said they were already in talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Russia condemns US for pressuring Brazil
Russia condemned the US for applying diplomatic pressure on Brazil to reject its Sputnik V vaccine, adding that attempts at political meddling in inoculation campaigns were costing lives.
The US Department of Health and Human Services said in its annual report published in January that its Office of Global Affairs sought to persuade Brazil not to allow the Russian vaccine, accusing Moscow of seeking to expand its influence in the Americas to the “detriment of US safety and security”.
Separately, Russia will triple production of Sputnik V in India following a new deal that strengthens Moscow’s pledge to inoculate a tenth of the global population. Gland Pharma, a Chinese-owned firm, will supply 252 million shots of Sputnik V from the fourth quarter.
AstraZeneca investors look past vaccine woes
AstraZeneca shares posted their biggest gain this year even as European countries suspended the use of its vaccine, with investors focusing on its promising lineup of experimental drugs and earnings growth prospects.
JPMorgan to bring summer interns into offices
Hundreds of JPMorgan Chase’s summer interns are set to attend its New York and London offices, according to a person familiar with the plans. Last year, Wall Street’s biggest names delayed, shortened or made virtual their paid summer programmes due to the pandemic.
US to export shots in ‘reasonable’ time
Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said the US will be able to export vaccines in a “reasonable period of time”.
“It’s not going to happen next week or next month, but it will happen,” Fauci said in an interview with MSNBC.
He cited the country’s contributions to the Covax programme and said the US will be able to give away surplus shots once its population is vaccinated.
Dosing starts in Moderna paediatric study
Moderna said the first children have been dosed in a clinical trial of its vaccine in kids from six months to less than 12 years old.
The phase two-phase trial is being conducted in conjunction with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The study is expected to enrol about 6,750 participants in the US and Canada. DM
— With assistance by Andreea Papuc, Jason Scott, Jinshan Hong, Robert Jameson, Thomas Kutty Abraham, Go Onomitsu, Claire Che, Muneeza Naqvi, Randy Thanthong-Knight, Anna Edwards, Misha Savic, Kathleen Hunter, Katherine Rizzo, and Rodney Jefferson.
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