(Bloomberg) — Japan is set to extend a virus state of emergency that includes Tokyo to the end of May. Hong Kong will shorten mandatory quarantine stays for fully vaccinated inbound travelers, the South China Morning Post reported.
A mathematical model prepared by advisers to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggests India’s coronavirus outbreak could peak in the coming days. But the group’s projections have been changing and were wrong last month, and India reported another day of record cases on Friday with more than 414,000 infections.
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE can make as many as 3 billion doses this year, more than double what the partners forecast six months ago.
- Global Tracker: Cases total 155.6 million; deaths exceed 3.25 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 1.23 billion doses have been given
- WTO wades into vaccine feud as Merkel, pharma balk at Biden plan
- The world turns to China for vaccines after India, U.S. stumble
- Wall Street giants get swept up by India’s brutal Covid wave
- A new wave of vaccines is coming, and they’re not all also-rans
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Hong Kong to Shorten Quarantine, SCMP Says (12:22 p.m. HK)
Hong Kong will shorten quarantine periods for fully vaccinated inbound travelers and residents who are close contacts of people infected with Covid-19, the South China Morning Post reported, easing one of the world’s strictest policies amid efforts to encourage inoculation.
The newspaper did not elaborate on how long the new quarantine periods would be. Hong Kong currently requires a mandatory 21-day hotel quarantine for many arrivals, and two weeks for people coming from a handful of low-risk countries including Australia and New Zealand.
China Vaccine Stocks Rebound as Merkel Opposes Patent Waiver (11:17 a.m. HK)
Shares of Covid-19 vaccine developers in Asia got some relief after the German Chancellor rejected a U.S. proposal to waive patent protections for coronavirus shots.
Chinese vaccine makers including Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. rebounded after slumping on Thursday following the initial news that the U.S. would support discussions for a waiver of the rights to develop vaccines.
Ho Chi Minh City to Shut Some Schools (9:48 a.m. HK)
Ho Chi Minh City officials ordered the temporary closing of classes excluding those for 9th and 12 graders beginning May 10 over Covid-19 concerns, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported, citing the city government’s order. The city’s school closures follow similar moves in Hanoi and 13 provinces, according to the paper.
Japan Poised to Extend Virus Emergency to May 31, NHK Says (8:08 a.m. HK)
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to extend a virus state of emergency that includes Tokyo to the end of May and expand it to cover two more regions hit by rising case numbers, public broadcaster NHK said Friday.
The move, which comes less than three months before the capital is set to host the Olympics, will add the industrial region of Aichi and the southern prefecture of Fukuoka to areas subject to restrictions.
India’s Modeling Has Covid Outbreak Peaking (8:05 a.m. HK)
A mathematical model prepared by advisers to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggests India’s coronavirus outbreak could peak in the coming days, but the group’s projections have been changing and were wrong last month.
The team’s most recent forecast puts them more in line with at least some other scientists, who have suggested a mid-May peak for India.
Singapore Finds Two New Cases Before Crackdown (8:02 a.m. HK)
Singaporean authorities found two new Covid-19 cases in the local community on Thursday, marking the third straight day of single-digit infections just before tighter social distancing rules and border controls kick in later this week.
Australia to Resume Repatriation Flights From India (7:59 a.m. HK)
Australia will resume repatriation flights for citizens stranded in pandemic-hit India from May 15, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
Three flights are planned for May, aiming to evacuate some of the 900 Australians in India considered to be vulnerable to the pandemic to a facility in the Northern Territory, Morrison told reporters in Newcastle on Friday. There’s been no decision on the resumption of normal commercial flights from the country, he said.
Australian Borders May Not Fully Open Until Mid-2022, AFR Says (7:54 a.m. HK)
Australia’s international borders may not completely open until the middle or the second half of 2022, the Australian Financial Review said, citing reported comments Friday by Trade Minister Dan Tehan.
U.K. to Offer Under-40s AstraZeneca Alternative (7:50 a.m. HK)
The U.K. plans to offer under-40s an alternative to the AstraZeneca Plc Covid-19 vaccination because of concerns about blood clots that so far have affected a tiny proportion of those receiving shots, a person familiar with the matter said. The decision following a recommendation by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation may be announced as soon as Friday, according to the person.
North Carolina Cites 50% Vaccine ‘Milestone’ (5:45 p.m. NY)
More than half of North Carolina adult residents have received at least one vaccine dose, a “milestone” toward the state’s goal of ending mandatory social distancing, capacity and mass gathering restrictions on June 1.
”This is a significant milestone toward our goal of stopping the spread of COVID-19 and bringing summer back,” state health Secretary Mandy K. Cohen said in a statement.
Even so, state data show the vaccination pace has slowed by about half since March. North Carolina has covered 36% of its population, compared with a U.S. average of slightly more than 39%.
Minnesota Seeks Full Reopening in July (4 p.m. NY)
Minnesota will lift almost all restrictions by Memorial Day on May 31 and a statewide mask mandate will end by July 1, Governor Tim Walz said.
“We’re going to have a summer where just the simple pleasures will be back,” the Democratic governor said at a news conference.
Restrictions will be lifted in phases starting Friday and end by July 1 or when 70% of Minnesotans are vaccinated, whichever happens first. “We’re going to ramp up, step up and put our foot down on the gas on the vaccinations,” Walz said.
England Finds Indian Variant Is Widespread (3:05 p.m. ET)
The Indian variant of the virus was found across England, the Guardian reported, citing leaked emails on the latest case count.
The variant was uncovered in care homes, the paper said, raising concerns that it’s spreading quickly across communities. Public Health England is set to escalate one of the variants to one “of concern,” the newspaper said.
L.A. Eases Curbs on Theme Parks, Restaurants (3 p.m. ET)
Los Angeles County is easing restrictions on capacity limits from theme parks to restaurants starting Thursday after meeting the threshold to move to the least restrictive yellow tier. The county’s test positivity rate on Wednesday was 0.7%.
Theme parks will now be able to boost their capacity to 35% and open their doors for fully-vaccinated out-of-state visitors. Bars will be able to operate indoors at a 25% cap, with that limit rising to 50% for breweries and wineries. The capacity limit for restaurants, gyms and movies theaters will also increase to 50%.
Indoor live events and performances can have as many as 1,500 guests, with the capacity limit set at half for those tested or fully vaccinated, while outdoor venues can fill two-thirds of the capacity.
Merkel Opposes Waiving Patents (11:55 a.m. NY)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in against a U.S. proposal to waive intellectual-property protections for Covid-19 vaccines, casting doubt on whether the idea has enough international support to become a reality.
“The limiting factor in the manufacture of vaccines is production capacity and the high quality standards, not the patents,” a government spokeswoman in Berlin said by email. “Protecting intellectual property is the wellspring of innovation and it must remain so.”
NYC Pitches Vaccine Tourism (10:41 a.m. NY)
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is working with state officials to offer free vaccines to visitors as a way to encourage them to visit and spur tourism.
Mobile vans will bring Johnson & Johnson one-dose shots to Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge Park and other popular locations, de Blasio said Thursday during a briefing.
“We think this is a positive message to send to tourists,” the mayor said. “Come here and we’re going to take care of you.”
The city plans a $30 million marketing blitz to recharge its tourism industry. Capacity restrictions on restaurants, stores and shows will be lifted on May 19 as Covid-19 cases decrease and vaccinations increase, Governor Andrew Cuomo said this week. Broadway tickets for September shows went on sale today.
Pfizer Raises Production Target (10:38 a.m. NY)
Pfizer and BioNTech have capacity to make as many as 3 billion doses of their Covid-19 vaccine this year, more than double the amount the partners had predicted less than six months ago.
The partners will further increase their capacity for 2022 to more than 3 billion doses, BioNTech said in an e-mailed statement.
The increase is the latest in a series of production target boosts and comes amid increased demand for messenger RNA Covid vaccines around the world.