N.J. Intensive-Care Surge; Asia Air Bubble Delayed: 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.

More than 12% of beds in U.S. hospitals were occupied by Covid-19 patients on Nov. 21, the most since April 9. In New Jersey, which is battling a second wave, the number of patients in intensive care jumped 13% in one day.

China reported sporadic local cases in Tianjin, Shanghai and Inner Mongolia, raising concerns that the virus is popping up again in the nation where it began. The euro area is slipping into another contraction amid new virus restrictions.

Global Tracker: Cases pass 58.7 million; deaths top 1.39 millionAstra delivers but can’t match rivals. Here’s what we knowRegeneron gets emergency U.S. clearance for Covid-19 therapyVaccine breakthroughs put Covid protection within reachCovid’s persisentce leads GOP, Democrats to same half measuresExpat hubs turn on foreign workers amid Covid-19Europe is trying to crack the door open for Christmas

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on coronavirus cases and deaths.



chart: The euro area is slipping into a second contraction because of virus restrictions


© Bloomberg
The euro area is slipping into a second contraction because of virus restrictions

Hong Kong-Singapore Travel Bubble Halted (10:40 a.m. NY)

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.

Hong Kong reported 63 new local cases on Monday, the most since early August.

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


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

Saudia Arabia to Offer Free Vaccines (10:20 a.m. NY)

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health said that the coronavirus vaccine will be available to everyone in the kingdom, free of charge. Saudi Arabia hopes that the coronavirus vaccines will cover 70% of the kingdom’s population by the end of 2021, the ministry added. The ministry didn’t specify which company’s vaccine it planned to use.

The kingdom registered 231 new coronavirus cases on Monday. The country now has 5,796 deaths from coronavirus in 355,489 known cases, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

N.J. ICU Patients Jump 13% (10:15 a.m. NY)

New Jersey had a 13% jump in intensive-care patients for Covid-19 from Saturday to Sunday, from 475 to 537. At the start of November, 212 patients were in ICU.

The state has 2,693 hospitalized for Covid-related reasons. That number has more than tripled in the past month.

U.S. Business Activity Expands (9:45 a.m. NY)

U.S. business activity powered ahead in November at the fastest pace since March 2015, with stronger growth at service providers and manufacturers highlighting broad momentum in an economy challenged by the coronavirus resurgence.

The IHS Markit flash composite index of purchasing managers at manufacturers and service providers increased to 57.9 from 56.3, the group reported Monday. Readings above 50 indicate growth and the figure stands in stark contrast to the euro area, where activity shrank as governments tightened restrictions to contain a surge in infections.

Luxembourg Tightens Curbs (8:56 a.m. NY)

Luxembourg’s rising infection, hospitalization and death rates prompted its government on Monday to impose new restrictions, including the closure of restaurants, bars, cinemas and fitness studios. Shops and schools will remain open.

The new measures are expected to take effect from Nov. 26 and remain at least until Dec. 15. The country needs a “break” of a few weeks to protect hospitals from being overwhelmed, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said Monday.

Normal Life May Return in Six Months, Oxford Scientist Says (8:50 a.m. NY)

Normality may return by May or June, said Adrian Hill, a scientist involved with the development of the vaccine by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. Even so, the operational challenges to get people vaccinated speedily is “considerable,” Hill told Irish broadcaster RTE.

U.S. Hospitalizations Most Since April (8:15 a.m. NY)

More than 12% of hospital beds in U.S. hospitals were occupied by Covid-19 patients on Nov. 21, the most since April 9, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The hospitalization rate rose to 12.5% from 12.4% the day before and hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients totaled 88,167.

Merck Agrees Deal for Potential Therapy (7:16 a.m. NY)

Merck & Co. agreed to acquire privately held biopharma company OncoImmune for an upfront payment of $425 million in cash to gain access to a potential Covid-19 therapy.

OncoImmune recently announced positive findings from an interim efficacy analysis of a late-stage study evaluating its lead therapeutic candidate for the treatment of patients with severe Covid-19.

Malaysia Posts Record Cases (6:38 p.m. HK)

Malaysia logged the largest single-day jump in new coronavirus cases since the outbreak began, even as authorities tightened movement restrictions to curb the spread of infections.

Malaysia reported 1,884 new infections, exceeding the previous high of 1,755 on Nov. 6, according to data from the health ministry. The country will temporarily close 28 rubber-glove factories in Selangor state to enable workers to undergo screenings, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Monday at a briefing.

Poland’s Contagion Eases (5:42 p.m. HK)

Poland registered 15,002 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the lowest daily increase in a month, taking the total number of infections to 876,333, the Health Ministry said on Twitter.

U.K. Seeks Vaccine Rollout From Next Month (5:35 p.m. HK)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the U.K. plans to start rolling out two coronavirus vaccines next month before the program gathers pace in the new year, with a return to “normal” possible in the spring.

Hancock was responding to trial results announced Monday by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca showing their Covid-19 vaccine prevented a majority of people from getting the disease. It followed positive results this month from a vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. Both still need to be assessed by the U.K. health regulator before they can be administered to the public.

Lockdowns Push EU Economy Into Contraction (5 p.m. HK)

IHS Markit’s eurozone composite Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 45.1 in November from 50 in October, hinting at declining output, according to data published Monday. The drop was led by services, reflecting the closure of bars and restaurants and the loss of business in the hospitality sector in the euro area. Manufacturing continued to grow, although at a slower pace.

The index for Germany showed it’s coping with the latest restrictions relatively well. Employment there rose, and the economy may only stagnate this quarter. France is forecast to shrink 3.5%.

Meanwhile in the U.K., PMI data showed output contracted in November for the first time in five months. A gauge of the services industry tumbled to 45.8, the lowest level since May. Factory output continued to expand though, boosted by pre-purchasing from overseas ahead of the separation from the European Union’s single market in January.

Pakistan Closes Schools, Universities (4:21 p.m. HK)

Pakistan will close schools, colleges and universities from Nov. 26 to Jan. 8 after reporting an increase in coronavirus cases, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said. The total cases in Pakistan increased by 2,756 in the past day to 376,929, official data showed.

Germany Moves Toward Tightening Lockdown (4:21 p.m. HK)

Germany is moving toward extending and tightening its shutdown restrictions, setting measures that would rein in New Year’s festivities as the country struggles to slow the stubborn spread of the coronavirus.



chart: Flatter Curve


© Bloomberg
Flatter Curve

Germany’s regional leaders are proposing that a partial lockdown that was due to run until the end of November is extended until at least Dec. 20. The measures would be rolled over for periods of two weeks if contagion rates remain above the government’s target level, according to a briefing paper drawn up by the officials and published in German media.

France Culls Mink (3:52 p.m. HK)

France has culled 1,000 mink at a breeding farm in Eure-et-Loire after detecting Covid-19, Environment Minister Barbara Pompili said Monday on France Info radio.

“No related human cases have been found,” she said. Three other mink farms are under investigation in the country.

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.

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.

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

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