UK begins vaccine campaign as US secures shots
The U.K. today starts the first Covid immunisation campaign in the West, while the U.S. pledged to secure enough vaccine doses for the nation. South Korea has acquired enough shots for the vast majority of its people, and Indonesia plans to begin a vaccination drive in January.
The World Health Organization said it favours information campaigns and allowing people to decide whether to take vaccinations instead of making them mandatory. Global cases surpassed 67 million, with record infections sweeping across U.S. states and hospitalizations rising by almost 2,000 a day. The U.S. is averaging about as many deaths per day from the virus as it was in April.
In Asia, Hong Kong will ban night dining at restaurants, returning to some of the broadest social-distancing measures since the pandemic began as cases rebound. Meanwhile, rival financial hub Singapore’s success in containing the virus helped to secure the next edition of the World Economic Forum.
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Indonesia Seeks to Start Covid-19 Inoculations in January (1:39 pm HK)
Indonesia’s government plans to begin inoculating those on the front lines of the pandemic, including health workers and law enforcement, in January, Wiku Adisasmito, a spokesman for the task force, said in televised address.
Inoculations can begin pending quality and safety checks as well as the issuance of an emergency use authorization from the food and drug regulator known as BPOM.
The first batch of Covid-19 vaccine ordered from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. arrived in Indonesia late Sunday, marking a new phase in the country’s fight against Southeast Asia’s worst outbreak.
India’s Declining Infections Prompt Questions About Testing Method (1:06 pm HK)
India has added 26,567 new coronavirus infections, according to the latest data from the federal Health Ministry Tuesday, the lowest number since early July. With more than 9.6 million cases, the country remains the world’s second-most affected nation after the U.S.
While new infections have been on a steady decline since they hit a high of more than 97,000 daily cases in mid-September, experts have cautioned that the testing regimen -- relying heavily on less-accurate rapid antigen tests -- may understate scale of the epidemic.
Abu Dhabi to Start Clinical Trials for Russian Covid-19 Vaccine (12:56 pm HK)
Abu Dhabi has started a volunteer program for Phase 3 clinical trials of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V.
The oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates is initially seeking 500 volunteers, according to the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office. Russian president President Vladimir Putin announced the registration of Sputnik V in August and a second inoculation was approved in October.
Developers of the vaccine have said that initial testing showed it was 91.4% effective in preventing infections, although final results haven’t yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Hong Kong Returns to Night Dining Ban, Shuts Gyms as Cases Spike (10:31 am HK)
Hong Kong will ban dining in at restaurants from 6 p.m. local time and close gyms and beauty salons, as the government returns to some of the broadest measures since the pandemic began amid a growing surge in cases.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the dining restrictions at a weekly press briefing Tuesday, without stating when the new restrictions would take effect. The ban will come into effect Thursday, Cable TV reported, citing unidentified people.
The Asian financial hub is struggling to contain its latest wave of Covid-19 infections, with case numbers often exceeding 100 a day last week -- the most since August. That’s prompted the government to gradually tighten its social distancing rules, recently raising fines for those breaching restrictions and sending civil servants back to working from home.
South Korea Secures Coronavirus Vaccine for as Many as 44 Million (9:48 am HK)
South Korea secured enough doses for 10 million people through a vaccine-purchasing program led by World Health Organization, and a further 34 million people through deals with global vaccine developers.
AstraZeneca Plc, Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. -- whose vaccines require two shots --will each supply 20 million doses, while Johnson & Johnson will supply 4 million. Vaccine imports will start in February. South Korea’s government has secured a budget of 1.3 trillion won ($1.2 billion) for vaccine purchases. The nation has a population of about 51 million.
WEF Opts for Singapore Over Davos in 2021 as Europe Cases Surge (9:34 am HK)
The World Economic Forum will hold its 2021 annual meeting in Singapore instead of its traditional home of Switzerland, which is battling a rising number of coronavirus infections.
The high-profile gathering, which attracts leaders across government, finance and economics, will be held in the Asian financial hub May 13-16 and return to Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, in 2022, the World Economic Forum said. The meeting will also include a virtual component to allow greater participation, according to Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry.
U.S. Says It Will Meet Vaccine Need Despite Global Pfizer Demand (8:52 am HK)
U.S. officials insisted they’ll have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses to let most Americans get inoculated by next summer, downplaying reports that they passed up a chance to secure more of Pfizer Inc.’s shot.
The Trump administration is confident that the U.S. will have enough supply to vaccinate everyone, a senior administration official said Monday on a call with reporters. The government signed a deal last summer to obtain 100 million doses of Pfizer’s experimental vaccine with partner BioNTech -- enough for 50 million people, given the two-dose regimen -- and also has agreements in place with Moderna Inc., AstraZeneca Plc, Johnson & Johnson and others.
All Eyes on U.K. for Western World’s First Covid Vaccinations (8:01 am HK)
The U.K.’s National Health Service will launch what it said will be the biggest immunization campaign in its history when it starts Covid vaccinations across the country on Tuesday.
People over 80 will be at the front of the line for shots from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE early in the morning, with tens of thousands to follow in the coming days. The U.K. is the first western nation to start vaccinations, having approved the jab last week.
U.S. Workers Back to Offices Fell to 16.9% in Past Week (7:50 am HK)
Workers who went to the office in 10 of the largest U.S. business districts fell to 16.9% of pre-Covid-19 levels in the week ended December 2, according to data from Kastle Systems.
Employees who went to the office decreased 5.8 percentage points from 22.6% the previous week.
Uruguay Denies Sending Covid-Tainted Beef to China (7:25 am HK)
Uruguayan beef allegedly tainted with Covid-19 couldn’t have been contaminated in the country because the shipment was dispatched in December 2019 before the virus was detected domestically, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.
The frozen beef shipment, which the disease control centre in Wuhan on Dec. 6, 2020 said contained Covid-19, passed through South Africa, Malaysia and the city of Tianjin before reaching a warehouse in Wuhan in March 2020, the ministry said. Uruguay detected the first local Covid-19 cases in the second week of March.
South Korean Partner to Begin Russian Vaccine Output in January: Maeil (7:21 am HK)
South Korea’s pharmaceutical company GL Rapha will begin full-scale production of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in January after sending test products to Russia this month, Maeil Business Newspaper reported, citing an unidentified company official.
GL Rapha’s pharmaceuticals manufacturing unit will produce 150 million doses to be exported to the Middle East, the report said.
California Launches Contact-Tracing App (4 am HK)
California, struggling with a record surge in coronavirus cases, will use a phone-based app developed with Google and Apple Inc. to help alert people who may have been exposed. State officials have been testing it on several University of California campuses for the past two months and will make it publicly available on Thursday.
The app, whose use is voluntary, will tell someone whether they have recently come into close contact with another person who has the app and has tested positive for the virus -- meaning large numbers of residents will need to sign up in order for it to be effective.
Governor Gavin Newsom said about a quarter-million people started using it during its pilot phase, and the app notified people who had come into contact with 60 infected individuals. “Even if we don’t have tens of millions of people participating in this program, the more people that participate, that opt in, the more effective this program can be,” Newsom said.
California reported 24,735 new cases Monday, a day after shattering records with more than 30,000 daily infections. Much of the state is now under stay-at-home orders as officials try to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
France Set to Miss Goal for Lockdown to End (3:10 am HK)
France is poised to miss a coronavirus goal set by President Emmanuel Macron as a condition for lifting the country’s lockdown next week, with daily new Covid-19 cases holding at more than twice the targeted level.
The government is worried about the pandemic indicators, and is mulling alternatives to a planned end of stay-at-home measures on Dec. 15, Liberation reported on Monday, citing unidentified advisers in the Health Ministry. That could go as far as delaying the end of the lockdown should cases spike, according to the newspaper.
France reported 3,411 new confirmed Covid cases on Monday, when numbers are usually at a low due to a lull in testing over the weekend. The seven-day average of cases fell 0.8% to 10,489, with a decline in cases stalling for the past week. Deaths increased by 366 to 55,521.
WHO Prefers Shots Not Be Mandatory (2 am HK)
The World Health Organization said it prefers information campaigns to mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations. Some countries or situations may require the jabs, but there are examples of countries that introduced obligatory shots to improve vaccination coverage that ended up having the opposite effect, officials said at a media briefing.
“All of us who work in public health would rather avoid mandatory vaccination as a means of getting people vaccinated,” said Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies program. “We’re much better served to present people with the data, with the benefits and let people make up their own minds.”
NYC Adjusts Covid-Tracking Metrics (1:01 am HK)
New York City is adjusting its data indicators tracking the virus “to give people the fullest picture of what we’re facing” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“We are in a new reality here, because a vaccine will be arriving in New York City in a matter of days but we also have real challenges over the next few months,” de Blasio said Monday at a virus briefing. “Our indicators need to be retooled.”
Hospital data will add admissions per 100,000 in the population, which is how the state keeps its data. De Blasio reported 144 patients with Covid-like symptoms as of Dec. 5. “This number is going up in recent days -- 200 is where we need to keep below,” he said. The hospital admissions per 100,000 stood at 2.28. per 100,000; “We want to get that under 2,” he said.
Italy Cases Continue to Slow (12:15 am HK)
Italy’s coronavirus outbreak continued to slow Monday, with health officials reporting the lowest daily new cases since Oct. 20. The country registered 13,720 new infections compared with 16,377 a week ago, and the number of patients in intensive care declined. Deaths fell to 528 compared with 564 on Sunday.
Italy may get its first 3.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine as soon as Jan. 15, a week earlier than expected, Il Messaggero newspaper reported earlier Monday.
Fauci Issues Christmas Warning (10:30 pm HK)
Anthony Fauci warned that the Christmas season could be worse than Thanksgiving in terms of the spread of Covid-19. The holiday is longer and “I think it could be even more of a challenge than what we saw with Thanksgiving,” Fauci said in CNN interview.
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased to 14.8 million as of 6:32 am, New York times.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)