Astra Shot Prevents Covid, China Cases Rise: Virus Update

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A Covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc prevented a majority of people from getting the disease, but fell short of the bar set by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. The vaccine stopped an average of 70% of participants in a study from falling ill, an early analysis of the data show.

China reported sporadic local cases in Tianjin, Shanghai and Inner Mongolia, raising concerns that the virus is popping up again in the world’s second-largest economy. Indonesia plans to shorten the year-end holiday to avoid mass gatherings.

Vaccinations against Covid-19 in the U.S. will “hopefully” start in less than three weeks, according to the head of the federal government’s program to accelerate a vaccine. Hong Kong and Singapore scrapped a planned travel bubble after cases spiked in Hong Kong.

Global Tracker: Cases pass 58.6 million; deaths near 1.39 millionRegeneron gets emergency U.S. clearance for Covid-19 therapyAstra-Oxford shot key to escaping pandemic for many nationsVaccine Tracker: Encouraging breakthroughs offer hopeExpat Hubs Turn on Foreign Workers Amid Covid-19

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chart: Covid-19 patients more than doubled since Labor Day

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Covid-19 patients more than doubled since Labor Day

EU May Pay Less for Vaccines Than U.S. (3:18 p.m. HK)

Countries in the European Union may pay less for coronavirus vaccines than the U.S. will, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, France’s industry minister, said in interview with Les Echos.

France and the EU are in a position of strength in vaccine negotiations because of their combined approach, said Pannier-Runacher, who heads France’s vaccine task force. France has signed or is on the verge of agreeing contracts with six vaccine suppliers, assuming they win regulatory approval for their shots.

Astra-Oxford Vaccine Prevents 70% of Cases (3:08 p.m. HK)

A Covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc prevented an average of 70% of participants in a study falling ill, falling short of a high bar set by peers.

The results combined data from two different dosing regimens, which may leave questions about the best way to give the AstraZeneca shot. One regimen, given to some 2,700 people, showed efficacy of 90%, while another, given to nearly 9,000 people, showed 62% efficacy.

The results look less promising than data from Moderna Inc., which said its shot stopped 94.5% of trial participants from falling ill, according to early data. Pfizer Inc., which is working with German partner BioNTech SE, said its vaccine candidate prevented 95% of symptomatic infections.

Indonesia to Cut Short Year-End Holidays (2:45 p.m. HK)

Indonesia is planning to shorten the duration of the year-end holiday to avoid mass gatherings suspected of triggering a recent spike in cases in Southeast Asia’s coronavirus hotspot.

President Joko Widodo ordered government agencies to decide on a shorter holiday period from the previously announced seven working days from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, Muhadjir Effendy, coordinating minister for human development and culture, said at a briefing after a cabinet meeting in Jakarta on Monday.

The cabinet decision came after Jakarta reported a significant uptick in virus cases in the past few days, with infections climbing to a record 1,579 on Nov. 21, which may have been spurred in part by gatherings organized by an Islamic organization, according to Covid-19 task force head Doni Monardo.

Japan to Halt Travel Subsidies for Sapporo (1 p.m. HK)

Japan is set to temporarily remove the Hokkaido capital of Sapporo from a domestic travel promotion campaign, the Yomiuri newspaper said on Monday, as the worst-yet wave of coronavirus cases spread across the country.

The move follows a request from the Hokkaido prefectural government, the paper said, citing a senior official from the region. The halt could start as soon as Nov. 26.

Las Vegas Casinos Reduce Capacity (11:10 a.m. HK)

Nevada will cut capacity at casinos and other public venues starting Tuesday to lower the spread of coronavirus infection, according to Governor Steve Sisolak.

Gaming operations and venues including restaurants, bars and gyms will be reduced to 25% of fire-code capacity, down from 50%, he said. The limit at retail stores, including grocery outlets, will stay at 50%, with strict social distancing and additional monitoring requirements.

China Reports Cases in Three Areas (10:15 a.m. HK)

China reported sporadic local cases in Tianjin, Shanghai and Inner Mongolia, raising fears that the virus is popping up again even in a country with the most stringent curbs.

Shanghai on Sunday reported two more confirmed cases. The two infected people are a couple and the man was a co-worker of a previously diagnosed Covid-19 patient who works at the cargo station of Shanghai Pudong International Airport. The airport, which has seen six people infected, conducted mass testing for employees overnight.

The northern coastal city Tianjin, which neighbors the capital Beijing, reported a cluster of new cases potentially linked to a port worker who may have had contact with contaminated freight.

Singapore Economy to Rebound as Virus Eases (9 a.m. HK)

Singapore’s economy will probably expand 4% to 6% next year as it rebounds from the coronavirus slump and global growth recovers.

The city-state also narrowed its forecast for this year’s contraction to 6%-6.5%, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement Monday. The economy shrank less than previously estimated in the three months through September, showing that exports could help smooth a path to recovery after the worst quarterly plunge on record.

Better Times Ahead

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Better Times Ahead

U.S. Hospitalizations Jump 36% (9:10 a.m. HK)

Covid-19 hospitalizations accelerated in the U.S., with coronavirus cases now accounting for almost a quarter of patients in South Dakota and New Mexico, government data show.

Almost 2,800 Covid-19 patients a day were admitted to U.S. hospitals from Nov. 11 to Nov. 19, according to Department of Health and Human Services data analyzed by Bloomberg News. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Kansas recorded the biggest increases in Covid-19 hospitalizations.

Hong Kong-Singapore Travel Bubble Halted (8 a.m. HK)

The shelving of the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble shows just how delicate the process of reopening borders is, even for places that have largely contained the coronavirus, casting further doubt over any global recovery in international air travel.

Asia’s virus outbreak is dwarfed by those in the U.S. and Europe, but a recent uptick in cases in Hong Kong proved enough to delay the start of the air corridor between the two financial hubs by two weeks, dashing the plans of those who booked flights that were due to begin Sunday. The bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was heralded as a pandemic world-first, allowing people to travel to and from the two places without the need for quarantine.

chart: Shares of Cathay and Singapore Air staged a recovery in November with bubble plan

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Shares of Cathay and Singapore Air staged a recovery in November with bubble plan

America’s Most Infected Area Shuts Outdoor Dining (8:10 a.m. HK)

The Greater Los Angeles area added 2,718 new coronavirus cases Sunday, with the five-day average exceeding the 4,000 threshold that triggered additional measures where restaurants, breweries and bars will once again limit their businesses to just pick-up and delivery. The new curbs will start at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

“If our cases and hospitalizations continue to increase, we will need to issue further restrictions to protect our health-care system and prevent more deaths,” Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County, said in a statement Sunday.

Hundreds of Bodies Still Unclaimed in NYC (7:07 a.m. HK)

Hundreds of bodies remain unclaimed in freezer trucks in New York City from the first deadly wave of Covid-19, the Wall Street Journal reported. The paper reported that 650 bodies are being stored near the waterfront in Brooklyn, many of whom are people whose families couldn’t be located or couldn’t afford a funeral.

“Supporting families and helping facilitate respectful final arrangements for individuals who passed at the height of the pandemic reflects the core mission of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner,” Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson said in a statement on Sunday.

U.K.’s Johnson Pledges Testing as Way Out of Covid Curbs (5:33 p.m. NY)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce a massive increase in community coronavirus testing on Monday as part of a plan to reintroduce tiered restrictions in place of the England-wide lockdown that ends on Dec. 2.

Areas under the highest level of curbs will have access to regular tests. People who come into contact with someone with the disease will be able to avoid quarantine by taking a test every day for seven days, Johnson’s office said.

CVS Chief Says 48 Hours From Vaccine Receipt to Care Homes (4:24 p.m. NY)

Elderly Americans will be among the first to receive Covid-19 vaccines, and CVS Health will lean on processes developed by years of conducting seasonal flu clinics to speed a rollout to care homes across the U.S., the pharmacy chain’s CEO said Sunday.

“Our pharmacists, our nursing professionals have gone to skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities for several years now,” Larry Merlo said on CBS. “So we have the systems. We have the processes.”

Merlo said more than 25,000 long-term care facilities have selected CVS to be their Covid vaccine provider, and that the company is adding pharmacy staff ahead of the effort.

Swedish PM Sends Covid Plea After ‘Careless’ Response (2:28 p.m. NY)

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven used a rare Sunday night address to warn of the growing threat the coronavirus poses, amid fears the strategy used so far may not be enough to fight an increasingly deadly pandemic.

Lofven, the third prime minister in Sweden’s history to deliver such a national address, declared that “too many people have been careless about following the recommendations” that health authorities say are key if the virus is to be reined in.

Sweden famously avoided a lockdown, relying instead on voluntary measures. But with a death rate considerably higher than elsewhere in the Nordic region, and intensive care beds rapidly filling up, authorities in the country are now recalibrating their approach.

France Cases Slow (12:58 p.m. NY)

France’s confirmed cases rose by 13,157 on Sunday to 2.14 million. The seven-day average of new cases continued to drop, as the country’s second lockdown is starting to slow the virus’s spread. The share of positive tests slipped to 14%, falling almost 3 percentage points in a week and down from 20.6% in early November.

Another 214 people died, the smallest increase in four weeks. The number of patients in the hospital and in intensive care has been falling from a peak on Monday.

Gottlieb Says Hospitals Likely to Face Staffing Shortages (12:48 p.m. NY)

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned that staffing will be a bigger issue at hospitals than the number of available beds during the unfolding spike.

“The hospitals can create new beds, they just won’t have the people to staff them,” he said. That’s because unlike previous waves, there will be limited ability to surge staff from less-affected areas of the country to hot spots.

Gottlieb, who is a Pfizer board member, predicted that the vaccines could be widely available to the general public by the second quarter of next year if all goes well. He also said that perhaps 30% of the public will have been infected with Covid-19 by the end of the winter, building up some immunity.

a man sitting at a desk in front of a laptop: FDA And CDC Heads Testify To House Commerce Subcommittee On Seasonal Influenza Preparedness And Response

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FDA And CDC Heads Testify To House Commerce Subcommittee On Seasonal Influenza Preparedness And Response

Scott Gottlieb

Photographer: Toya Sarno Jordan/Bloomberg

Cuomo Warns New Yorkers of Holiday Risks (12:16 p.m. NY)

New York reported 5,391 cases, the sixth day with more than 5,000 new infections, as Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a warning about the heightened risks of infection over the coming holidays. “This is a very dangerous period,” he told reporters in New York City, urging citizens to heed public health rules. “It’s purely a function of what we do.”

Hospitalizations ticked up to 2,562, while the statewide positive-test rate dropped slightly to 2.7%, one of the lowest in the nation. The positive rate in the “micro-cluster” areas targeted for more stringent restrictions remained steady at 4.4%.

Italy Weighs Easing Lockdown Before Holidays (11:18 a.m. NY)

Italy reported 28,337 new coronavirus cases Sunday, down from 34,767 a day earlier – in line with the normal weekend pattern as fewer tests are carried out. Daily deaths fell to 562 from 692 on Saturday.

The government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is considering temporarily easing a soft lockdown in the run-up to Christmas to allow shops to open for longer hours in worst-hit regions, Italian newspapers reported earlier Sunday.

U.S. Plans First Vaccinations Next Month, Warp Speed Leader Says (10:40 a.m. NY)

Vaccinations against Covid-19 in the U.S. will “hopefully” start in less than three weeks, according to the head of the federal government’s program to accelerate a vaccine.

“On the 11th or on the 12th of December, hopefully the first people will be immunized across the United States, across all states, in all the areas where the state departments of health will have told us where to deliver the vaccines,” Moncef Slaoui, head of the government’s Operation Warp Speed, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

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