Global Cases Rise; Indonesia Clears Second Vaccine: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) — U.S. airlines are urging the Biden administration to develop virus passports as coronavirus cases spread at the slowest pace since the pandemic began almost a year ago. Global cases meanwhile are picking up speed again after dropping to the lowest level since October a few weeks ago.AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine has been cleared for emergency use in Indonesia, while hotels in Thailand are pushing for a quarantine waiver for vaccinated tourists.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases pass 117 million; deaths top 2.6 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 312 million shots given worldwideU.S. Spotlight: Variant’s spread in Florida shows threat to recovery‘Hassle factor’ and distrust shadow wide U.S. vaccine hesitancyCelebratory ‘vaxications’ are giving the travel industry a boostAfrica can save the world from a never-ending pandemicHow the pandemic darkens the picture on women’s pay: 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.U.S. Firms in China See Improved Ties After Pandemic (1:30 p.m. HK)American businesses in China see their industries growing this year after the Covid-19 pandemic dented profits in 2020, with growing hopes the two nations will seek to mend ties, a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce shows.Some 81% of the 345 respondents expect industry growth this year and 45% see relations with the U.S. improving, a jump of 15 percentage points from last year, according to a report released on Tuesday.The surge in optimism on bilateral ties came on the back of Joe Biden’s election as the new U.S. president, AmCham China chairman Greg Gilligan said.AstraZeneca Vaccine Cleared for Use in Indonesia (12:15 p.m. HK)Indonesia cleared AstraZeneca Plc’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, a second shot made available by the government to bolster its inoculation drive amid concern over an influx of new virus variants.“We need to accelerate the vaccination program to achieve herd immunity as soon as possible,” Penny Lukito, head of the country’s food and drug regulator said in a virtual briefing Tuesday. The office, known as BPOM, first granted approval for Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s vaccine in January.Global Infections Rise Even as U.S. Cases Slow (noon HK)New global Covid-19 infections are picking up speed again after dropping to the lowest level since October a few weeks ago, as variants of the pathogen spread rapidly in places like Brazil and Europe. New infections for the seven days ended Sunday totaled 2.8 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg, increasing for a second week in a row following more than a month of declines.The pickup comes despite a significant slowing of infections in the U.S. as the nation ramps up its vaccination efforts. Brazil is seeing record cases and deaths, with its hospitals overflowing as it plays host to a more contagious variant. That country is on course to overtake India in the next week for the second-highest number of infections in the world.While variants are causing a spike in cases, global deaths continue to decline. Fatalities for the latest week totaled 62,646, the lowest number since November.Thai Hotels Seek Quarantine Waiver for Vaccinated Tourists (11:40 a.m. HK)Thailand needs to completely waive quarantine for vaccinated foreign travelers and provide Covid-19 shots to tourism workers for quick recovery of the industry, according to the Thai Hotels Association.“Not being able to welcome tourists for over a year now, we’re urgently requesting the government to reduce the lockdown days,” President Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi said in a Bloomberg TV interview Tuesday. Foreign tourists could be screened and tracked during their stay in Thailand to help alleviate concerns of virus spread, the group said.DBS Joins JPMorgan in Endorsing Office Work (10:40 a.m HK)DBS Group Holdings Ltd.’s Chief Executive Officer Piyush Gupta said employees need to sometimes work from the office to develop a firm’s identity.“You need to build the soul of the company, and it’s very hard to do that if everybody is always working from somewhere else,” Gupta, who runs Southeast Asia’s largest bank, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “So you need to bring people in from time to time.”Gupta’s comments on the benefits of working from the office echo remarks from global counterparts including JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon, who has said that working remotely for too long could decrease productivity and Barclays Plc CEO Jes Staley who expects his largely homebound bankers to return to their offices this year.Japan Posts Double-Digit Growth at End of Pandemic (8:50 a.m. HK)Japan confirmed its economy grew by double-digits at the end of last year, according to revised data that continued to show strength even as this quarter’s virus emergency sets back the recovery for the time being.Gross domestic product grew an annualized 11.7% from the prior quarter in the three months through December, the Cabinet Office reported Tuesday in figures that were a touch weaker than an earlier estimate. Economists had forecast a revised growth rate of 12.6%.Airlines Urge U.S. to Develop Virus Passport (8 a.m. HK)U.S. airlines, joined by travel groups and labor, urged the Biden administration to take the lead in developing standards for temporary Covid-19 health credentials that would help reopen global travel by documenting vaccinations and test results.The U.S. “must be a leader” in efforts already underway in other regions to implement such travel passports, groups including Airlines for America said in a letter Monday to Jeffrey Zients, the head of President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 recovery team. It’s essential for the government to partner with carriers and the travel industry “to quickly develop” standards, they said.U.K. Variant Found in More Houston Wastewater (5:05 p.m. NY)The Covid-19 U.K. variant has spread to 79% of Houston’s wastewater treatment plants, alarming city officials concerned about a new surge in infections.As of Feb. 22 — the most-recent date for which data was available — the variant was found in 31 of the city’s 39 treatment sites, according to David Persse, Houston’s director of emergency medical services. That’s up from 21 plants, or 54%, two weeks earlier, Persse said.Russian Vaccine to Be Made in Italy (4:45 p.m. NY)A Swiss biopharmaceutical company will produce the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine at its Italian facilities, marking the first European production agreement for the Russian shot.Lugano, Switzerland-based Adienne Pharma & Biotech SA signed an agreement with Russian sovereign wealth fund RDIF to manufacture the vaccine at its production site near Milan, according to a statement on the company’s website. Italian regulators must still approve the production but several million doses are expected to be made by the end of the year.U.S. Airline Fliers Top 1 Million a Day (4:35 p.m. NY)U.S. airlines carried an average of more than 1 million passengers a day in the past week, the highest non-holiday total since the Covid-19 pandemic began gutting travel demand in the country almost a year ago.Sunday’s total of 1.28 million was the third highest since travel collapsed in mid-March 2020, according to data reported by the Transportation Security Administration. The only equivalent periods with that many fliers since March 17, 2020, have been during the traditionally busy Thanksgiving and Christmas periods.Florida Lowering Eligibility to Age 60 (3:10 p.m. NY)Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the state is opening up the vaccine to everyone 60 and over starting on March 15, expanding general eligibility by five years from the previous starting age of 65.Speaking from Tallahassee Monday, DeSantis said the state still had more to do to vaccinate the 65-and-over community but that demand had started to “soften a little bit.”Official data show at least 2.6 million of the state’s 4.5 million seniors have gotten at least one shot, but the data are generally reported with a lag. DeSantis said he expected the number will increase to 3 million later this week.Dutch Lockdown Extended (2 p.m. NY)The Netherlands will extend its lockdown until the end of March, but slowly ease some restrictions, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Monday. A curfew from 9 p.m. until 4.30 a.m. will remain in place, but shopping on appointment will be expanded and adults are allowed to take part in outside sports with up to four people.The extension means the country, which suffered riots in January over virus curbs, will hold next week’s general election during a lockdown. Rutte also looked ahead to the summer, estimating that four more months are needed to reach a critical amount of vaccinated people to allow for significant easing of restrictions.WHO Concerned About Nations With Conflicts (1:35 p.m. NY)The World Health Organization expressed concern about nations facing conflicts that could halt or slow the response to the pandemic, including vaccinations, officials said at a briefing on Monday.“The response to the pandemic needs to be a public health response and we have to take out politics,” said Kate O’Brien, head of the WHO’s vaccination division. She said vaccines have a shelf life and risk being wasted if they’re not distributed on time.Myanmar, Yemen, Syria and Libya have all faced disruption to general health services.The WHO is having difficulty getting information on Covid and other health issues in many areas, according to Mike Ryan, head of the WHO health emergencies program.Chicago Ballparks to Allow Fans (1 p.m. NY)Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs, and Guaranteed Rate Field, home to the Chicago White Sox, will allow up to 20% capacity, starting on each baseball team’s opening day in April. That capacity may grow as vaccination and recovery efforts continue, but any jump in Covid-19 cases could prompt closures, the city said.Wrigley Field, the oldest ballpark in the National League, will be limited to 8,274 fans per game starting on April 1, the city said. Normal capacity is 41,374. Guaranteed Rate Field, home to the Chicago White Sox on the South Side, will be limited to 8,122 fans. Normally, the ballpark seats just over 40,000 guests.The move follows the city’s steps to ease Covid-19 restrictions as numbers improve. Chicago has already increased capacity at bars and restaurants to 50%.U.K. Vaccinates One-Third of Population (11:55 a.m. NY)More than one-third of the U.K. population has received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as deaths from the disease continue to fall.Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the milestone at a news conference on Monday, the same day the government took its first major step in easing lockdown restrictions by reopening schools. “Today we’ve been able to take that crucial first step on what we hope is our cautious but irreversible roadmapto freedom,” he said. “The overwhelming feeling is one of relief.”CDC Loosens Rules for Vaccinated People (11:05 a.m. NY)Vaccinated people can visit indoors without masks but must still wear them in public and avoid large gatherings when around those who aren’t immunized or are at high risk for contracting Covid-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.The agency issued its long-awaited guidance for what fully vaccinated people can safely do, as inoculations rise but as health experts warn that the risk of the virus remains, especially with new variants.Broadly, the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated people can meet freely in private settings with other fully vaccinated people, but that several restrictions remain, including advising against travel and recommending mask-wearing in public.EU’s Von Der Leyen Rips Vaccine Critics (11 a.m. NY)The European Commission is “tired of being the scapegoat” for the slow rollout of vaccines, its president, Ursula von der Leyen, said as she continues to face pressure over the EU’s uncertain response to the pandemic.In a blistering counter-attack against criticism over the European Union’s sluggish Covid-19 vaccination program, von der Leyen refocused blame on manufacturers, notably AstraZeneca Plc, which she said hadn’t stockpiled doses as it started producing in Europe.Draghi Vows to Jump-Start Italy Vaccinations (10:50 a.m. NY)Prime Minister Mario Draghi pledged strong action to turn around Italy’s slow vaccination campaign, saying an exit path out of the coronavirus pandemic isn’t far away if the country can move faster on inoculations.Speaking via video, the newly appointed premier told a Rome conference that his priorities include fueling a recovery for Italy’s economy, which contracted 8.9% last year.NYC Mayor Praises J&J Shot (10:15 a.m. NY)New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has begun deploying the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and praised the shot as a way to reach home-bound seniors and other people who weren’t able to get the vaccine before. The city has initiated a program to bring shots directly into senior homes.“Finally we have the vaccine we need,” de Blasio said on a Monday virus briefing. “People want the J&J vaccine because its one-dose and you’re done.”In other news, the city will reopen high schools for in-person learning on March 22, bringing students in the U.S.’s largest public-school system back into classrooms a year after the pandemic closed it down.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.