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Michigan Seeks Aid Amid Surge; EU Reviews J&J Shot: Virus Update

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 4/9/2021 Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- Governor Gretchen Whitmer called for Michiganders to voluntarily suspend social activities for two weeks, and asked the federal government to prioritize additional vaccines to the state, to help slow the spread in the hottest Covid-19 spot in the U.S. Like other Midwestern states, Illinois is seeing Covid-19 cases jump even as vaccinations accelerate.

Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE said they would ask regulators in the U.S. and elsewhere to allow use of their Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents ages 12 to 15. The University of Kentucky joined a growing list of schools nudging students to be vaccinated before school starts this fall.

Germany’s Paul Ehrlich Institute said it has now counted 42 cases of a rare type of brain blood clot in people who were vaccinated with AstraZeneca Plc’s shot, though a Johns Hopkins University’s professor said it’s still safe “overall” in spite of the rare incidences.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases pass 134.3 million; deaths 2.9 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 726 million shots given worldwideMichigan’s spread is putting pressure on the state even after speeding up vaccinationVaccine pace runs 2,400% faster in wealthiest countriesCVS welcomes desperate vaccine hunters looking for second doseEurope finds some rare successes in its struggle to defeat Covid

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.

Astra Should Be in ‘Toolkit’: JHU (3:10 p.m. NY)

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine has a “communication problem” rather than a “science” problem, Lauren Sauer, Johns Hopkins University’s associate professor of Emergency Medicine, said in a Bloomberg Radio interview. The vaccine could help in areas where there’s community spread, particularly among the elderly.

“This is just another tool in our toolkit and part of it is about the potential risk of these rare events,” Sauer said. “But we do know that it is overall safe and quite effective especially in our older population.”

U. of Kentucky Offers Students Vaccinations (3:02 p.m. NY)

The University of Kentucky is inviting more than 21,000 admitted students -- those who have been offered enrollment this fall -- and their families to register for a vaccination.

The school is offering vaccines at its football stadium, Kroger Field. Nearly 14,000 students have been vaccinated already, and more than 3,000 are in the process.

Brown University and Northeastern University has joined a group of universities including Rutgers and Cornell that will require students to get a vaccine in order to return to campus in the fall.

France Reaches Daily Vaccine Record (2:23 p.m. NY)

France administered a record 510,267 vaccine doses on Friday, bringing the total number of shots given since the inoculation campaign began to 14.1 million.

The country is speeding up vaccinations after a sluggish start as it battles a resurgence of the virus. The government reported 41,243 new cases and 301 deaths in the past 24 hours.

Germany Counts 42 Clot Cases After Astra Shot (2:17 p.m. NY)

Germany’s Paul Ehrlich Institute said it has now counted 42 cases of a rare type of brain blood clot in people who were vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s shot.

All but seven of the cases were in women aged 20 to 63, the drug safety oversight body said. Doctors also found low blood platelet counts in 23 of the cases. The figures, released late Friday, are up-to-date through April 2. Eight people died.

Illinois Cases Jump (1:50 p.m. NY)

Illinois, like many of its Midwestern neighbors, is seeing cases jump even as its daily vaccinations accelerate to stop the pandemic. Confirmed and probable cases on Friday rose to 4,004, the highest since late January, as the number of daily vaccinations reported rose to a record 164,462, according to the state department of public health.

Vaccine eligibility will expand to all residents 16 and over statewide on April 12. More than 80 of Illinois’s 102 counties had already begun opening up to younger adults before the statewide eligibility expanded.

Germany Reported to Weigh Curfews (1:39 p.m. NY)

Germany’s first draft of an agreement between federal and state officials for unified nationwide lockdown rules to curb Covid-19 infections includes a nightly curfew and business closures, Business Insider reported.

A 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew would be triggered when local seven-day incidence rates rise above 100 infections per 100,000 people, according to the report.

Pfizer, BioNTech Seek Approval for Young Teens (1:15 p.m. NY)

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech SE said they would ask regulators in the U.S. and elsewhere to allow use of their Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents ages 12 to 15.

The companies said in a statement that they had requested that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expand the vaccine’s emergency-use authorization and that they plan to request similar rulings from other regulators worldwide in coming days.

If the requests are granted, it could pave the way for many more schoolchildren to be vaccinated before the next school year.

J&J Shots to Resume in North Carolina (12:58 p.m. NY)

A healthcare provider in North Carolina will resume giving Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Saturday after as many as 10 people experienced fainting or dizziness on Thursday after receiving shots. None of the apparent side effects were serious, said Alan Wolf, a spokesman for UNC Health, though the provider suspended J&J vaccines Thursday and Friday.

UNC Health conferred with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state health officials, who determined there were no safety issues with the J&J shots, he said. Wake County, which includes the capital of Raleigh, also suspended J&J shots after mild reactions Thursday.

WHO Condemns Vaccine Inequality (12:33 p.m. NY)

A lack of political will and weak global solidarity are the “mother of all bottlenecks” to ensuring an equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to low-income countries, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Countries should waive intellectual-property protections around their Covid-19 vaccines to make the shots more accessible, he said Friday in an online discussion hosted by the World Bank. The provisions in the World Trade Organization’s rules around IP were meant to waive IP protections during emergencies.

J&J Shipments Drop in U.S. (11:40 a.m. NY)

Weekly U.S. shipments of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine are dropping to 1.5 million for the coming week after a one-time supply spike of 11 million the previous week.

J&J production will be limited until it receives authorization to produce shots at a beleaguered Emergent BioSolutions Inc. plant in Baltimore, President Joe Biden’s Covid response coordinator, Jeff Zients, said at a press briefing on Friday. J&J is still working closely with the Food and Drug Administration to secure authorization at the site, he said.

Italy Relaxes Restrictions (11:31 a.m. NY)

Italy eased lockdown restrictions, lifting some curbs that have been weighing on the economy in the region surrounding Milan and across the country as the latest virus resurgence slows.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza will sign a decree later on Friday to shift six regions classified as high-risk “red” areas to medium-risk “orange” status, his office said in a statement.

Michigan Seeks Aid Amid Surge (10:35 a.m. NY)

Governor Gretchen Whitmer called for Michiganders to voluntarily suspend social activities for two weeks, and asked the federal government to prioritize additional vaccines to the state, to help slow the spread in the hottest Covid-19 spot in the nation.

The U.S. needs a program that allocates additional vaccines to states that are experiencing surges, Whitmer said Friday at a press briefing. In the meantime, she urged high schools to shift to remote learning, diners to avoid indoor seating and youth sports to suspend games and practices.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but the data shows that we are still in the tunnel,” Whitmer said during a press briefing. “We’re going to have some tough weeks ahead so I’m asking everyone to please take this seriously. The numbers show young people are not impervious to this virus as we see more cases with teens.”

EU Seeks Up to 1.8 Billion Doses (9.20 a.m. NY)

The European Commission plans to publish tenders for up to 1.8 billion additional vaccine doses in the coming days, according to a commission official.

These include booster shots and doses for children and will mainly concern vaccinations in 2022 and 2023, the official said.

WHO Warns on Covid Trajectory (8:24 a.m. NY)

The pandemic is on the wrong trajectory after six weeks in a row of increases in cases and deaths, according to Maria van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead officer on Covid-19.

“Vaccines will not end the pandemic,” she said at a media briefing, saying physical distancing, wearing masks, avoiding crowds and working from home are tools that need to go hand-in-hand with vaccine rollouts.

Separately, the WHO is expediting the review of more vaccines, including Sinopharm, Sinovac and Sputnik V. The Chinese shots are in the final stages of evaluation, and an expert group will convene on April 26 for an assessment, according to Rogerio Pinto de Sa Gaspar, WHO’s director for regulation and pre-qualification.

Greece Backs Limited Astra Use (8:16 a.m. NY)

Greece’s National Vaccination Committee backed the continuation of vaccination program with any available vaccine, including the use of AstraZeneca vaccine, for adults above 30 years of age.

Puerto Rico Schools Go Back Online (8:15 a.m. NY)

Schools must revert to online-only classes for at least two weeks starting April 12, amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

The Health Department said there were no signs of outbreaks at schools, but the measure was needed to stem an island-wide increase in infections over the past week.

EU Reviews J&J Shot After Clots (7:14 a.m. NY)

Four serious cases of unusual clots accompanied by low blood platelets, one of which was fatal, have emerged after vaccination with Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, the European Medicines Agency said Friday.

The EU is relying on the one-shot vaccine to boost its immunization drive amid restrictions in some countries on use of the AstraZeneca shot, which is delivered in two doses. J&J said in a statement that no clear causal relationship had been established between its vaccine and clotting events.

Germany Doubles Vaccine Pace (5:13 p.m. HK)

The country administered about 720,000 doses on Thursday, a fourth straight daily record, thanks to a surge in vaccinations being performed in doctors’ offices, Health Minister Jens Spahn said Friday at a news conference.

That pace should continue for most of April as a network of 35,000 general practitioners offices get 1 million doses more in each of the next two weeks, and more after that.

chart: Shot Surge © Bloomberg Shot Surge

France Advises Limiting Astra Use (4:50 p.m. HK)

France’s top health body confirmed Friday it’s advising against using AstraZeneca’s vaccine as a second shot for the approximately 500,000 people aged under 55 years old who have received a first dose with the product.

The agency recommends the use of a messenger RNA vaccine for the second shot, with a 12-week interval. France has approved Pfizer and BioNtech, and Moderna vaccines based on this technology.

U.K. Sets Travel Return Plan (4:08 p.m. HK)

The U.K. said it will decide by early next month whether Britons can resume taking international holidays on May 17, while implementing coronavirus testing rules that airlines criticized as too costly.

Countries will be rated according to their Covid-19 risk in a traffic light system, the Department for Transport said Friday. At a minimum, travelers will need to buy a two-test package, including a so-called PCR assessment, that typically costs around 220 pounds ($300) per person.

Hungary Delays High School Opening (2:32 p.m. HK)

Hungary delayed the reopening of high schools by almost a month after protests from teachers about a premature return to in-person education.

Students in the last four years of basic education will return to classrooms from May 10 instead of April 19, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on public radio. Education groups had argued plans for an April reopening were premature with mass vaccination of teachers only starting this month. Orban has come under fire for easing pandemic restrictions based on progress in inoculation instead of the volume of virus cases or deaths.

India Hits Record Cases (1:48 p.m. HK)

India reported nearly 132,000 new coronavirus infections, marking the fourth time this week that the nation posted a record daily surge and pushing the overall tally past 13 million. Deaths rose to a total of 167,642, while over 94 million have been vaccinated, according to data from the health ministry.

As the new wave shows no signs of slowing amid vaccine shortages in some states, Narendra Modi’s government has asked states to work on a “war footing” to curb the outbreak in the country, which is on course to reclaim its spot from Brazil as the second-worst hit nation.

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