FEBRUARY 13, 2021
The U.S. has administered 50.1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine in the two months since rollout of the shots began, according to data compiled by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Schools should use masks and social distancing to safely resume in-person learning as soon as possible, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Friday.
Chinese scientists refused to share important data with World Health Organization investigators looking into the origins of Covid-19, the New York Times reported. That came after the WHO said it hasn’t ruled out any hypotheses about the roots of Covid-19, comments that appeared to pull back from an earlier rejection of speculation that the virus could have leaked from a lab.
President Joe Biden ruled out requiring passengers on domestic flights to have a Covid test while South Korea is easing social distancing rules, allowing longer operating hours for some businesses and reopening nightclubs for the first time since November, while Kenya expects its first vaccines this month.
Global Tracker: Cases exceed 108 million; deaths pass 2.3 million
Vaccine Tracker: More than 159 million shots given worldwide
U.S. Spotlight: Covid cases drop in hard-hit states, heralding more improvement.
Yellen takes ”go big” message to G-7 to aid economic recovery.
Israel Sits on Moderna Vaccines After Signing Pfizer Data Accord Rise of Variants Sparks Push for All-in-One Covid Vaccines Surprise tax bills await in pandemic-affected filing season
Kenya Says It Will Get First Coronavirus Vaccines This Month (2:11 p.m. HK)
Kenya expects to get its first Covid-19 vaccines by the end of this month and inoculate 16 million of its roughly 53 million people by June of next year.
The country will procure vaccines made by AstraZeneca Plc, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, and any others in the Covax facility, Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said Friday in a statement.
China Refused to Give Important Data to WHO Team, New York Times Says (11:21 a.m. HK)
Chinese scientists refused to share raw data with investigators from the World Health Organization that could help understanding of the coronavirus’s origins, the New York Times reported.
Disagreements over patient records and other matters sometimes turned into shouting, the newspaper said, citing WHO investigators who recently returned from the city of Wuhan. China’s resistance to revealing information about the pandemic’s early days make it difficult to uncover clues that could prevent future outbreaks, it reported. Officials in China pushed the WHO investigators to embrace the government’s view of the virus, included the unproven idea that it came to China from abroad, the Times said.
The WHO earlier said it hasn’t ruled out any hypotheses about the roots of Covid-19 after the fact-finding mission to China rejected speculation that the coronavirus could have leaked from a lab. The comments appeared to pull back on the investigating team’s remarks earlier this week.
Mexico Covid-19 Deaths Rise 1,323 to Total 172,557 (9:11 a.m. HK)
Mexico reported a daily rise of 1,323 Covid-19 deaths, bringing the total to 172,557, according to data released by the Health Ministry Friday night.
In Mexico City, which has moved down from the highest alert level, 75% of general hospital beds are occupied while 66% of beds with ventilators are being used. That is above the national rate of 45% and 42% respectively.
Biden Rules Out Mandating Covid Tests for Domestic Flights for Now (8:52 a.m. HK)
President Joe Biden has ruled out requiring coronavirus tests for all passengers on domestic flights as of now, saying the scientific evidence doesn’t support implementing the measure.
A White House statement late Friday said the CDC isn’t recommending testing and Biden will follow their lead.
South Korea to Ease Social Distancing to Help Small Businesses (8:45 a.m. HK)
South Korea is relaxing its social distancing rules, allowing businesses to operate for longer hours in an effort to help ease the struggle of mom-and-pop stores.
Starting Monday, South Korea will apply level 2 social distancing rules for Seoul and surrounding Gyeonggi province, a half notch lower from the previous 2.5 level, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said at a briefing. For the rest of the country, the level 1.5 social distancing rules will be applied, also a half notch lower.
The adjustment will allow restaurants, coffee shops and gyms in Seoul and its metropolitan area to remain open for an hour longer, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. It will also see nightclubs and karaoke bars reopen for the first time since November.
U.S. Has Given 50.1 Million Vaccine Doses (8:07 a.m. HK)
The U.S. has administered 50.1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine in the two months since rollout of the shots began, according to data compiled by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.
With the milestone, 36.8 million people in the U.S. have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, and of those 12.8 million have been fully vaccinated.
More than 1.7 million doses a day in the U.S. are being administered, based on a seven-day average.
California Expands Vaccines to People as Young as 16 (8 a.m. NY)
California will start offering vaccinations to people as young as 16 who have disabilities or pre-existing health conditions, although they will have to wait several weeks to receive their doses. Under the new guidelines unveiled Friday, vaccinations will be available starting March 15 to Californians with a series of medical conditions that could increase the risks posed by Covid-19. Conditions listed by the state include cancer, chronic kidney disease, coronary artery disease, obesity and pregnancy. California is also offering vaccinations to health-care workers, nursing home staff, food and agriculture workers, educators and people 65 years old or older.
Like the rest of the nation, California is still grappling with inadequate vaccine supplies. The mass-vaccination site at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles had to shut down Friday after running out of doses. The state, with almost 40 million residents, has received just under 8 million doses to date and has administered 5.5 million.
U.K. Hospitalizations Expected to Halve, Times Reports (5:13 p.m. NY)
Covid-19 patients in U.K. hospitals are expected to drop by more than half over the next month, The Times reported, citing internal government projections it saw.
Hospital admissions and deaths expected to fall to October levels; infection rates are falling faster than expected, and scientific advisers are increasingly optimistic about the reopening of schools on March 8 and the relaxation of other restrictions in April, the report said.
Canada Imposes Hotel Quarantines (4:44 p.m. NY)
As of Feb. 22, travelers arriving in Canada will soon have to foot the bill for a pricey hotel stay, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday. On arrival to Canada, airline travelers will be required to spend the first three days of a 14-day quarantine at a supervised hotel for a cost that’s expected to be upwards of C$2,000 ($1,580 USD).
They’ll also need to pay for a Covid-19 test at the airport, and for another test near the end of the full quarantine. Rules for travelers arriving by land have also been tightened. “These border measures will help stop the spread of Covid-19 and new variants,” Trudeau said.
Brazil Cities Run Out of Covid Shots (3:09 p.m. NY)
Brazilian cities including Rio de Janeiro risk halting vaccinations as the supply of shots runs out and prospects for the delivery of new doses remain murky.
On the eve of Carnival, local authorities are begging people stay home to avoid an explosion of cases. Festivities were canceled in Rio and Sao Paulo, where governor Joao Doria also scrapped the holiday for civil servants, but there’s concern travel and large gatherings over the four-day weekend will increase transmission.
Biden Showcases Stimulus With Local Leaders (2:50 p.m. NY)
President Joe Biden sought to rally support for his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package during a bipartisan meeting at the White House with mayors and governors, including New York’s Andrew Cuomo.
“The federal government has a major role to play here,” Biden told reporters Friday in the Oval Office meeting. He said local and state leaders “are all on the front lines, they’ve been dealing with this crisis since day one.”
The meeting was intended to highlight the bill’s $350 billion provision for state and local governments, some of which have seen tax revenue decline sharply during the pandemic.
Nevada Casinos Can Welcome More Guests (2:46 p.m. NY)
Nevada began lifting restricting on thousands of businesses and public facilities. Bars, restaurants and casinos can now allow guests at 35% of capacity indoors, up from 25% earlier. Events may now host 100 people, up from 50. Restrictions may be lifted further in a month, the state said.
“After making it through the very difficult winter surges and the pause, Nevadans want and deserve predictability about what our path forward will look like,” said Governor Steve Sisolak said in a statement.
CDC Urges Schools to Reopen (2:10 p.m. NY)
Schools should use masks and social distancing to safely resume in-person learning as soon as possible, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Friday.
Whether students should physically attend school has been among the most contentious issues of the U.S. pandemic response. The stakes are high for President Joe Biden, who has made ending the coronavirus crisis a central goal.
Many children in the U.S. have been learning online for almost a year, as last spring many U.S. schools were closed to thwart the spread of the coronavirus. Some teachers have opposed reopening classrooms because of health concerns.
FDA Agrees Moderna Can Boost Vaccine in Each Vial: NYT (1:08 p.m. NY)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has told Moderna Inc. it can put as much as 40% more vaccine in each vial, the New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the company’s operations.
Federal officials want Moderna to submit more data showing the switch won’t compromise vaccine quality. Two people familiar with Moderna’s manufacturing said retooling production lines to accommodate the change could be done in fewer than 10 weeks, or before the end of April.
N.Y. Extends Restaurant, Bar Hours (12:10 p.m. NY)
Governor Andrew Cuomo allowed restaurants and bars in New York to stay open an hour longer starting Sunday, citing declines in infection rates and hospitalizations. Closing time will be extended to 11 p.m. statewide, Cuomo said in a statement.
New York City’s trailing one-week average rate of positive Covid-19 tests has fallen to 4%, the lowest since Dec. 26 and a fraction of the 26% rate seen in early January, Cuomo said.
New York state added 8,404 new cases in the latest daily update and another 135 deaths. The number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients fell to 7,068, the fewest since Christmas Day.
U.K. Variant Spreads in Italy (11:53 a.m. NY)
A recent study of 3,984 coronavirus infections in Italy showed that 18% were the more-transmissible strain first found in the U.K., according to Giovanni Rezza, the head of prevention at Italy’s Health Ministry. Silvio Brusaferro, president of the ISS public health institute, said the U.K. variant could potentially replace the “traditional” virus in Italy in five or six weeks.
Italy reported 13,908 new cases on Friday, compared to 15,146 on Thursday, and 316 deaths.
U.K. Outbreak Slows (8:43 a.m. NY)
The U.K. government said it is “confident” the country’s coronavirus epidemic is shrinking, as the reproduction rate of the disease dropped to levels last seen in July.
The latest so-called R number for the U.K. is between 0.7 and 0.9, according to official estimates published Friday, down from 0.7 to 1.0 last week. The last time the upper end of the range was below 1 was on July 31 last year, after the first wave of infections.
New data released Friday from the Office for National Statistics also showed coronavirus infections fell for a fourth week, with around one in 80 people in England having the disease in the period to Feb 6. That’s down from around one in 65 people the previous week.