U.S. to Deliver Doses to Pharmacies; Yang Infected: Virus Update

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U.S. to Deliver Doses to Pharmacies; Yang Infected: Virus Update
Healthcare works wait for arriving travelers to administer mandatory Covid-19 tests at Toronto Pearson International Airport. (Photographer: Cole Burston/Bloomberg)

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration will test a program to provide coronavirus vaccines directly to pharmacies, as they try to ratchet up the pace of inoculations.

New York mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang, a Democratic candidate for president last year, tested positive for Covid-19. The U.S. may recommend wearing two masks to battle the more contagious variants of the coronavirus, according to Anthony Fauci.

AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid vaccine showed 82.4% effectiveness with a three-month gap between two shots, according to a new study that bolsters the U.K.’s controversial decision to adopt the extended dosing interval. Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine provided strong protection in an interim analysis of an advanced clinical trial.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases top 103.6 million; deaths surpass 2.24 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 100 million shots given worldwide
  • U.S. Spotlight: Illinois’s curve drops more sharply than peers
  • QuickTake: Masks, Covid and what kind of mask -- what experts say
  • Stats show a trend from vaccinations: Johns Hopkins (Video)

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.

U.S. to Deliver Doses to Pharmacies; Yang Infected: Virus Update

Southern Africa Needs Vaccines, Group Says (4:35 p.m. NY)

Doctors Without Borders said Southern Africa is in dire need of vaccine doses, and called for more-equitable distribution of shots with health workers and people at highest risk given priority.

“Health workers in Mozambique, Eswatini, and Malawi are currently struggling to treat escalating numbers of patients with little prospect of receiving a vaccine to protect themselves or others from the virus,” the group said in a statement.

France Sees Vaccines for All by Summer’s End (4:05 p.m. NY)

French President Emmanuel Macron said that based on contracts secured at a European level, France will be able to offer the Covid-19 vaccine to all adults who want it “by the end of summer.”

All nursing home residents who want to the shot will have it by early March, representing about 500,000 people, he said. Macron called on the French to keep up preventive measures, test and isolate, saying the vaccination won’t end a lockdown or relieve pressure on hospitals. “The virus is circulating at great speed,” he said.

France’s National Authority for Health declined to recommend giving AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine to people age 65 and over, a spokesperson said Tuesday by phone, declining to be identified in line with its policy.

Puerto Rico Officials Isolating After Test (3:45 p.m. NY)

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi and San Juan Mayor Miguel Romero are both in isolation after Romero tested positive for Covid-19.

On Twitter Tuesday, Romero said an antigen test came back positive, and he was waiting for the results of a more-reliable PCR test. The governor’s office said Pierluisi, who had recently met with Romero, was isolating as a precaution.

Cuomo Says Waiters Could Be Eligible for Vaccines (2 p.m. NY)

Restaurant workers, taxi drivers and workers at developmentally disabled facilities could become eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccines if local governments choose to include them, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Cuomo said he is directing local governments to make decisions about whether to add groups, and which ones, to the so-called 1B eligible tier, he said in a briefing Tuesday.

Last week, he announced a plan to reopen New York City’s indoor dining on Feb. 14 to 25% capacity, raising questions about whether restaurant workers should then be included in eligibility lists. He has also been asked to make those with health conditions eligible.

Dutch Lockdown Extended Until March (1:52 p.m. NY)

The lockdown in the Netherlands will be extended until March 2, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Tuesday.

Despite decreasing infections since Christmas, Rutte warned of “an inevitable third wave” because the British mutation accounts for about two-thirds of all new infections. A relaxation of measures would have been possible if it weren’t for the British variant, he said.

Rutte did announce a reopening of elementary schools from Feb. 8, stating that the risk is limited. The night-time curfew will remain in place until Feb. 10, and Rutte said his government will decide early next week whether an extension is needed.

Ireland Reports Death Record as Surge Eases (1:10 p.m. NY)

Ireland recorded 101 virus related deaths on Tuesday, the highest since the pandemic began, health authorities said. The nation had battled one of the world’s worst outbreaks last month, which is now showing signs of easing. Daily infections dropped to 879, the lowest in over a month.

Astra Shot Shows 82% Efficacy With 3-Month Gap (1 p.m. NY)

AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid vaccine showed 82.4% effectiveness with a three-month gap between two shots, according to a new study that bolsters the U.K.’s controversial decision to adopt the extended dosing interval.

The vaccine also may significantly reduce transmission of the virus, according to analysis of trial data by the University of Oxford, which developed the vaccine with the U.K. drugmaker. Swabs taken from volunteers in the U.K. arm of the trial showed a 67% reduction in transmission after the first dose, the report showed.

U.S. to Test Direct Delivery to Drugstores (1 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden’s administration will begin Tuesday to test a program to provide coronavirus vaccines directly to pharmacies, as they try to ratchet up the pace of U.S. inoculations.

Biden’s team will announce Tuesday that they’ll ship roughly 1 million doses per week directly to pharmacies as a trial run, according to two people familiar with the plans. The people asked not to be identified ahead of the announcement.

The program will expand as vaccine supply allows, the people said. It’s distinct from a planned 5% increase in shipments that the Biden administration revealed to states in a call with governors Tuesday morning, one person said.

NYC Mayoral Candidate Yang Tests Positive (11:15 a.m. NY)

New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang tested positive on Tuesday for Covid-19 after facing criticism for aggressive in-person campaigning. He said he was experiencing mild symptoms and would quarantine in accordance with public health guidelines.

“When the time is right, I look forward to once again hitting the campaign trail and advancing a positive vision for our city’s future,” he said in a statement.

Yang, a former Democratic candidate for president, had come under criticism for vigorous in-person campaigning, which included multiple outdoor lunches, subway rides and campaign events. He previously halted in-person events last month after a campaign staff member tested positive.

NYC Cases Slowing, Mayor Says (10:42 a.m. NY)

New York City’s coronavirus tracking data showed the pandemic’s impact on the city on a downward trend, with the seven-day average of new cases at 4,585 as of Sunday, down from its January highs of 6,371, the largest case surge since the pandemic hit last Spring.

“The numbers are going in the right direction,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a briefing Tuesday. “But I’m extremely concerned by the variants. These are big open questions of what’s coming at us.”

Daily hospital admissions totaled at 206 as of Jan. 31, just six above the city’s hospital capacity comfort level of 200, and the previous day, it was below that threshold at 186. Testing for the virus produced a seven-day positivity rate of 8.20%, down from January highs of 9.7%.

CDC May Recommend Two Masks, Fauci Says (10:20 a.m. NY)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control may recommend wearing two masks -- one over the other -- to keep at bay the more contagious variants of the coronavirus, according to Anthony Fauci.

The CDC and Fauci discussed the matter Monday but the agency doesn’t yet have the data to make any formal recommendation, he said Tuesday during a Washington Post event. Still, “it makes common sense” to increase protection, Fauci said.

The government’s top infectious-disease expert, now President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, has previously endorsed double-masking given the new strains of the virus.

Scotland Tightens Quarantine Rules (10:17 a.m. NY)

Scotland will tighten rules for anyone coming into the country in an effort to further suppress coronavirus infections as the government in Edinburgh set out an initial road map out of lockdown.

“We intend to introduce a managed quarantine requirement for anyone who arrives directly in Scotland, regardless of which country they’ve come from,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament.

The goal is to isolate Scotland -- even from the rest of the U.K. -- to keep infections on a downward trajectory. Scotland can’t control people entering the country from other parts of Britain and she is urging the government in London to take a similar approach.

U.K. Strain Picks Up Mutation, Raising Concern (9:47 a.m. NY)

The U.K. coronavirus strain that’s sparked concern around the globe has picked up another mutation -- in a few cases -- that appears to make the virus more resistant to vaccines. Scientists have identified the so-called E484K mutation on 11 different sequences of the new strain known as B.1.1.7, Public Health England said in an updated report Monday. The findings came from a data set of more than 200,000 sequences.

U.K., Italy Lead Moody’s Concerns in Europe (8:52 a.m. NY)

Britain and Italy top the list of European concerns for Moody’s Investors Service in the coming half-decade as they grapple with the fallout from the pandemic and economic headwinds.

U.S. Governors Meeting With White House (8:30 a.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he and other governors will be talking with the White House Tuesday about vaccines. He reiterated the state’s need for more supplies. He also said the state ordered all vaccination sites to honor and reschedule appointments that had to close because of the snowstorm. State sites will reopen Wednesday downstate, Cuomo said on 1010 WINS radio.

Evidence of Spread of U.K. Variant Seen (8:30 a.m. NY)

In the Netherlands, health agency RIVM estimates that about two-thirds of newly infected people last week had the U.K. variant.

Sweden’s Public Health Agency, meanwhile, said random checks suggest it’s also seeing an increased spread of the British variant. It was found in almost 11% of 2,220 samples analyzed. In the Paris region, an analysis of positive tests found the strain accounted for 15% to 20% of cases last week, up from around 6% in the first week of January.

EU Sees Vaccine Surge With New Contracts (7:56 a.m. NY)

The EU predicted a surge in the domestic supply of Covid-19 vaccines during the second quarter and said the bloc had authorized exports of the shots to the U.K. and Canada.

“We expect that in the second quarter we should be receiving 300 million doses and, of course, more if other vaccines come on stream,” European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer told reporters on Tuesday in Brussels.

Meanwhile, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said he had a video-conference meeting with AstraZeneca Plc CEO Pascal Soriot, who reiterated a commitment to boost production in Europe to meet the EU’s delivery schedule for vaccines.

Czech Has Highest Jump in Deaths Since WWII (7:45 a.m. NY)

The Czech Republic recorded a 15% jump in deaths in 2020, with the virus driving the annual increase to its highest level since the end of World War II. The country recorded 129,100 deaths last year, 16,700 more than in 2019, the Statistics Office said Tuesday.

Russian Vaccine Protects Patients in Early Test (7:35 a.m. NY)

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine provided strong protection against Covid-19 in an interim analysis of an advanced clinical trial, while its backers said it appears to work against new strains.

The vaccine was well-tolerated and also worked among the elderly, according to the peer-reviewed findings, which were published Tuesday in the medical journal The Lancet. Sputnik V showed efficacy of 91.6%, validating claims by the developers last year.

Pfizer Forecasts $15 Billion in Vaccine Sales (7:04 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. said it expects $15 billion in revenue this year from the Covid-19 vaccine it developed with BioNTech SE, a sign of returns to come from the industry’s pandemic response efforts.

Most New Delhi Residents Have Had Virus: Study (7 a.m. NY)

More than half the residents in India’s capital New Delhi have had the coronavirus and developed antibodies for the infection, a study shows. At the time of the survey in January, 56% of those tested had antibodies, Satyendar Jain, health minister for the Delhi government, said in a tweet on Tuesday.

With a population of about 16 million, New Delhi has so far reported 635,248 confirmed cases and has vaccinated 64,711 people.

Iran Cases Reach Six-Week High (6 a.m. NY)

The number of daily Covid-19 cases in Iran climbed to a six-week high with 6,820 new infections over the last 24 hours. The death toll rose by 72 overnight, reaching a total of 58,110, the Health Ministry reported.

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