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U.S. Warns China on Covid Origins; Russia Surges: Virus...



U.S. Warns China on Covid Origins; Russia Surges: Virus Update

A health worker administers a dose of Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Covid-19 vaccine to a resident at the Latin America Memorial in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Friday, June 18, 2021. Brazilians are shunning two of the most widely available vaccines in the country, waiting it out for Pfizer shots, an unexpected and bizarre sight for a country that's recording 2,000 deaths daily, marching steadily to 500,000 lives lost to the virus.
By Bloomberg
20 Jun 2021 0

China will risk international isolation if it fails to allow a “real” investigation on its territory into the origins of the virus that caused the pandemic, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

By Bloomberg News

Word Count: 1746
(Bloomberg) — 


China has now administered more than one billion doses of vaccine as it speeds up its inoculation campaign. India may be hit by a third wave far sooner than predicted as people are ignoring guidelines, Randeep Guleria, director at the state-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences, told the Times of India.

Russia, Germany and Portugal reported an expanding spread of the highly transmissible delta variant that first appeared in India. Scott Gottlieb, a former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said vaccination remains the best defense against the variant.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases exceed 178.2 million; deaths pass 3.8 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 2.59 billion doses administered
  • Epidemiologists are starting to shift focus away from Covid case counts
  • Many Brazilians insist on Pfizer even with 500,000 dead
  • Covid counts hit zero in U.S. hospitals once overrun by victims
  • U.K. is a test case for Covid endgame as variant upends the math

Delta Strain Driving Spike in Lisbon (12:28 p.m. NY)

Preliminary results from June indicate the delta variant has a prevalence of more than 60% in the Lisbon region, Portugal’s National Institute of Health said on Sunday.

The government on Thursday announced it would restrict travel to and from the greater Lisbon area during the weekend as it tries to contain the spread of new infections. The restrictions on movement were applied from 3 p.m. on Friday, with exceptions including international travel.

U.S. Unvaccinated Areas Vulnerable to Variant: Gottlieb (11:50 a.m. NY)

The highly transmissible delta variant first found in India is driving infections in parts of the U.S. with low vaccination rates while having little effect in vaccinated areas, said Scott Gottlieb, former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Connecticut, for example, where I am, shows no upsurge of infection, but Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri show very substantial upsurges of infections,” Gottlieb, who’s on the board of Pfizer Inc., said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “That’s based entirely on how much population wide immunity you have based on vaccination.”

The variant, which is delaying the final reopening in England, now makes up 10% of U.S. cases. The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week it’s expected to become the dominant strain.

Biden Aide Warns Over Covid Origin Study (11:17 a.m. NY)

China will risk international isolation if it fails to allow a “real” investigation on its territory into the origins of the virus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Sullivan’s comments follow last week’s call by Group of Seven leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden for another probe into how the virus originated. Biden last month ordered the U.S. intelligence community to “redouble” its efforts to determine where the coronavirus came from and to report back in 90 days.

China has rejected the theory that the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first cases were reported.

Israel Reinstates Masks for Two Schools (5:41 p.m. HK)

Israel’s Health Ministry ordered schools in two towns to reinstate mask wearing after detecting new coronavirus infections. While the origin of the outbreak is being investigated, “there is a connection to a family that recently returned from abroad,” according to a statement late Saturday.

Israel dropped indoor mask requirements last week as new cases have remained under 100 for more than two months.

Indonesia Cases at Five-Month High (5:40 p.m. HK)

Indonesia recorded 13,737 new cases in the past 24 hours, still at its highest level in five months. About 371 more people died from the virus, its biggest daily record since April 4.

Ifo Sees Delta Variant as Danger to German Economy (5:36 p.m. HK)

The German economy faces a “serious danger” due to the delta variant of the coronavirus, Ifo President Clemens Fuest was cited as saying in an interview with T-Online.

“The recovery would be delayed” if Covid incidence rates rise again in the country, the news portal quoted Fuest as saying. “We would face a difficult autumn.”

Russia Cases Remain High (4:04 p.m. HK)

Russia added a further 17,611 cases, the nation’s coronavirus emergency response center reported. That compares to 17,906 new infections registered on Saturday, which was the highest number since January 31.

Russia is experiencing a resurgence of the virus amid a rapid spread of the more contagious delta strain first identified in India.

South Korea to Ease Virus Curbs (3:15 p.m. HK)

South Korea will relax its social-distancing rules starting next month as coronavirus cases slow amid rising vaccinations. The country will increase the maximum number of people who can gather privately from July 1, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Sunday in a televised briefing, and shops will be able to stay open for longer.

China Surpasses 1 Billion Doses (3 p.m. HK)

China has given out more than one billion doses of vaccine as the world’s most populous country speeds up its inoculation campaign. As of Saturday, 1.01 billion doses have been administered, according to data from the National Health Commission on Sunday, though it’s unclear how many people are fully vaccinated.

The Chinese capital Beijing had fully vaccinated more than 80% of the city’s adults as of Wednesday, the most among the world’s major cities and financial hubs. Even after 1 billion doses are given, China has only given enough doses to cover some 30% of its 1.4 billion people, and is still trailing behind the U.S., the U.K. and leading European nations where vaccination coverage approaches or has exceeded half of their respective population, Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker shows.

Switzerland Rolls Out Shots for Teens (2:42 p.m. HK)

Switzerland plans to allow young people aged 12-to-15 years to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as next week, the government’s vaccine chief Christoph Berger said in an interview published Sunday by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

The development comes two weeks after Switzerland’s medicines regulators, Swissmedic, extended its temporary ordinary authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to include people in that age group.

Philippines Plans Faster Vaccinations (2:30 p.m. HK)

The Philippines plans to speed up Covid-19 vaccinations and start inoculating its youth later this year after signing its biggest supply deal yet with Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, the government’s vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said. Forty million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech are expected to begin arriving from August and take the country’s total supply to 157 million.

Dubai Airport Hopes to Near Normal by Fall (2:14 p.m. HK)

Dubai Airport, the world’s largest by international passenger numbers, expects to recover as much as 90% of its pre-pandemic capacity by autumn and will reopen a terminal as demand picks up.

Air travel will get a boost as countries start to remove restrictions, while an upcoming holiday in the Middle East and Expo 2020 Dubai, which begins in October, will also help shore up demand, Dubai Airports Chief Executive Officer Paul Griffiths said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Sunday.

The airport plans to reopen a terminal and concourse that were shut in March 2020, and will add 3,500 jobs to meet growing demand.

Hong Kong to Examine Distancing Rules (1:10 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong’s government will “carefully examine” if there’s room to relax social distancing measures with current rules set to expire this week, Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung said in a blog post on Sunday. Hong Kong has reported zero locally transmitted cases for more than 10 days, with the current social distancing rules set to remain until June 23.

Olympic Opening Ceremony May Have 20,000 Spectators (11:30 a.m. HK)

As many as 20,000 people may be permitted to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, Japanese broadcaster NTV reported on Sunday, as organizers of the Games near a decision expected on Monday on whether they’ll be held with spectators. A cap of as many as 10,000 people is likely at other events, according to reports.

Elsewhere, a member of Uganda’s Olympic team tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival in Japan, Kyodo News reported, in the first such case ahead of the Games which begin in just over 30 days. The team member was one of nine competitors arriving for the Olympics, and had received two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, the report said.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike also scrapped plans for several Olympic public viewing sites in the capital where events from the Games were to be screened. Some of the sites will be turned into mass vaccination centers instead.

Need for Booster Shot Uncertain, WHO Expert Says (5:35 p.m. NY)

As some governments and pharmaceutical officials prepare for Covid booster shots targeting more-infectious virus variants, health authorities say it’s too early to tell if they will be required.

“We do not have the information that’s necessary to make the recommendation on whether or not a booster will be needed,” Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, said in a Zoom interview Friday. The “science is still evolving.”

Such a call is “premature” while high-risk individuals in most of the world haven’t yet completed a first course of vaccination, Swaminathan said.

Brazil Passes 500,000 Fatalities (5:22 p.m. NY)

Brazil reached 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 on Saturday, a toll second only to the U.S. As the milestone was officially passed, thousands protested in major cities against President Jair Bolsonaro and his handling of the pandemic.

Demonstrators asked for the president’s impeachment, a faster vaccination pace and an increase in cash assistance during a third wave of Covid-19 in Latin America’s largest economy.

“I am working tirelessly to vaccinate all Brazilians in the shortest time possible and to change this scenario that has plagued us for over a year,” Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga tweeted on Saturday before the official toll was announced. Almost 30% of the nation has received at least one dose of vaccine, and 11.6% is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Another 2,301 fatalities were reported Saturday for a total of 500,800, according to Health Ministry data.

–With assistance from Ocean Hou, Kamlesh Bhuckory and Joao Lima.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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