Race Emerges as Vaccine Problem; U.S. Cases Slow: Virus Update

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Initial data from New York City show“profound” racial disparities in who is receiving the vaccine, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. New York state reported the fewest new cases in more than a month. Across the U.S., infections continue to slow.

A top health adviser to President Joe Biden warned that a new variant of the coronavirus circulating in the U.K. will likely become thedominant strain in the U.S. Ten Republican senators have proposed analternative plan for Covid-19 economic stimulus costing about $660 billion.

AstraZeneca Plc will deliver9 million additional vaccine doses to the European Union in the first quarter of this year, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. South Africa will receive its first vaccines on Monday.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases approach 103 million; deaths surpass 2.2 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 94.4 million shots given worldwide
  • Governmentsexploit Covid data for other uses, risking backlash
  • Pfizer or Sputnik?Race to inject prompts calls for choice
  • Faced with a vaccine emergency, the EU made anenemy of everyone
  • Covid mutationsundercut optimism even as more vaccines get near
  • How vaccine nationalism flares over scarce supplies:QuickTake

Subscribe to adaily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis teamhere. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on cases and deaths.

Britain to Prioritize Ireland in Vaccine Sharing: Telegraph (5:35 p.m. NY)

Britain will prioritize offering excess Covid-19 vaccines to Ireland once it has achieved enough supply for the U.K., the Telegraph reports. No doses would be sent out of the U.K. before the target to inoculate people over 50 years of age is achieved by mid-spring.

Philadelphia Health Official Resigns (5:33 p.m. NY)

Philadelphia’s deputy health commissioner resigned amid allegations she favored a self-described group of college kids in bids for public funding for vaccination sites in the city, the Philadelphia Inquirerreported.

Caroline Johnson’s “actions were inappropriate because the information shared was not available to all potential applicants,” the newspaper quoted health department spokesman James Garrow as saying in a statement Saturday.

The city health department ended its partnership with the group, Philly Fighting Covid, on Jan. 25, in part because it failed to disclose that residents’ personal information could be sold, the Inquirer reported.

Brazil Cases, Deaths Slow (5:09 p.m. NY)

Brazil reported 27,756 new cases, fewer than the previous day as the nation’s second-wave outbreak slows. Total cases are 9,204,731, according to data from the Health Ministry. Another 559 people died, also fewer than the day before, for a total of 224,504 fatalities. Brazil has the most deaths after the U.S.

U.K.’s Captain Tom Hospitalized With Covid-19 (3:15 p.m. NY)

Captain Sir Tom Moore, the 100-year-old veteran who raised almost 40 million pounds ($55 million) for the U.K. health service since the start of the pandemic, was admitted to the hospital after testing positive for Covid-19. Hannah Ingram Moore said her father was diagnosed last week and had been hospitalized for “additional help” breathing, the A.P. reported.

New California Cases, Deaths Drop Below Average (2:46 p.m. NY)

California reported fewer new cases and fatalities than its 14-day rolling averages, according to the health department’s website.

The state said there were 18,974 new cases yesterday, with the 14-day average falling to the lowest in more than seven weeks. That brings the total number of cases to 3.2 million. Deaths climbed by 481 to 40,697.

The state’s 14-day positivity rate dropped to 7.4%, a two-month low, while the number of patients hospitalized have fallen to a one-month low.

South Africa to Receive First Vaccines (1:54 p.m. NY)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza, who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccines, will receive South Africa’s first consignment of Covid-19 vaccine on Feb. 1, according to a statement from the presidency.

The first phase of the vaccine rollout programme will prioritize around 1.2 million frontline health workers, according to the statement.

Swiss Face Vaccine Shortage (1:48 p.m. NY)

Switzerland faces a shortage of vaccines much like many of its European neighbors. The country will be able to vaccinate only 650,000 people in February rather than the planned 1.3 million, newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported. It also quoted Interior Minister Alain Berset as saying that the goal of vaccinating everyone above the age of 75 by the end of February would probably not be met, though the target of immunizing the public by the end of June was still achievable.

The Swiss government is also in talks with Johnson & Johnson for its vaccine, newspaper Sonntagszeitung reported, citing a Federal Office of Public Health spokesperson.

Biden Health Adviser Warns of Virus Variants (1:46 p.m. NY)

A top health adviser to President Joe Biden warned Sunday that a new variant of the coronavirus circulating in the U.K. will likely become thedominant strain in the U.S. and may lead to future restrictions on in-person gatherings.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the nation’s health care system must prepare for a surge in serious cases such as the one experienced recently in England.

“What we have to do now is also anticipate this and understand that we’re going to have to change quickly,” said Osterholm, who’s a member of Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board.

EU Says AstraZeneca to Deliver Millions More Doses (1:43 p.m. NY)

AstraZeneca Plc will deliver9 million additional vaccine doses to the European Union in the first quarter of this year, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday.

The company will start deliveries one week earlier than scheduled and expand its manufacturing capacity in Europe, von der Leyen said on Twitter. The extra doses will bring the total to 40 million for the first quarter, she said.

AstraZeneca previously said that issues at a plant in Belgium meant deliveries this quarter would be less than half of what was initially planned. The relatively slow start of the EU’s immunization drive led to amessy political dispute last week over European export restrictions on vaccines.

France Cases Slow (1:17 p.m. NY)

France reported 19,235 new cases, slightly below the seven-day average. An additional 195 people died from virus-related illness, bringing the toll to 76,057. Starting Sunday, the French government banned travel to and from countries outside the European Union except under extenuating circumstances.

Canada Passes 20,000 Fatalities (1:16 p.m. NY)

Canada’s death toll exceeded 20,000, two days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced sweepingnew restrictions on international travel.

Science Supports School Reopenings, Johns Hopkins Doctor Says (1:01 p.m. NY)

Current science suggests many schools are safe to reopen if the level of virus circulating in their communities is not “overwhelming,” said Dr. Tom Inglesby of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Inglesby’s comments on “Fox News Sunday” come as public school teachers in Chicago are pushing back on a plan to return to in-person learning as soon as Monday, and as President Joe Biden is keen for kids nationwide to be back in classrooms soon.

“If schools have very strong mitigation procedures in place, if they’ve reduce the density within the school, and they’re taking all of those measures very seriously, then schools can operate safely,” Inglesby said.

Miami, California Hit by U.K. Strain, Gottlieb Says (12:35 p.m. NY)

Southern Florida and southern California are the U.S. areas most at risk from the U.K. strain of the virus that causes Covid-19, former Food and Drug Administration head Scott Gottlieb said.

The new variant is likely to cause “regionalized epidemics” at least through the summer, Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He cited San Diego and Miami as hot spots of the U.K. variant that “need to be very mindful of the spread.”

Data suggest that existing vaccines offer protection against the U.K. variant, but less so against strains first seen in Brazil and South Africa, Gottlieb said.

NYC Vaccine Data Show Race Disparity (12:34 p.m. NY)

New York City broke down its Covid-19 vaccination data by ethnicity for the first time, with the mayor underscoring a“profound problem” with racial inequality.

White residents made up nearly half of the people who have received at least one dose, despite consisting of only a third of the population. Latinos, 29% of the city, only accounted for 15% of those vaccinated. The lowest ratio was among Blacks — even though they make up almost a quarter of the city’s population, they only accounted for 11% of those vaccinated.

“Clearly, we do see a profound disparity that needs to be addressed aggressively and creatively,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on a conference call on Sunday.

N.Y. Cases Lowest Since December (12:25 p.m. NY)

New York state reported 10,793 new cases, the lowest number of daily infections in more than a month, as Governor Andrew Cuomo said the post-holiday surge in the outbreak has eased. He said the seven-day averages of hospitalizations and positive test rates are also the lowest since December. Another 138 people died.

Cuomo highlighted racial disparities in administering the vaccine, saying that Black New Yorkers are most hesitant to take it, partly out of distrust. Black workers make up 17% of hospital employees offered the vaccine but they were only 10% of recipients, he said.

“It’s the clearest demonstration of hesitancy,” he said in a conference call with reporters. “It’s something we have to overcome.”

U.K. Vaccinates Almost 600,000 in Day (11:27 a.m. NY)

The U.K. gave almost 600,000 people the first dose of a vaccine in a day, the highest number so far. Some 598,389 shots were administered on Saturday, bringing the total to 8.98 million. New cases continue to drop, with 21,088 reported Sunday, and another 587 people died. Figures are often lower on weekends due to reporting delays.

Italy to Ease Restrictions (11:26 a.m. NY)

Italy reported 11,252 new cases and 237 deaths Sunday, as it gets ready to ease restrictions for most of the country starting Monday. The positivity rate remained even at around 5.2%. Italy’s cases have remained stable in recent weeks, and the country has so far avoided the sharp increases suffered by some neighboring countries.

Both the Milan and Rome regions will fall in the so-called “yellow zone” starting Monday, the lower tier of restrictions which allows bars and restaurants to remain open during the day.

GOP Senators Seek Stimulus Meeting With Biden (8:40 a.m. NY)

A group of 10 Republican senators wrote to President Joe Biden on Sunday offering analternative proposal for Covid-19 economic stimulus they say would gain bipartisan support. It’s expected to be in the $500 billion to $600 billion range, versus Biden’s plan for a $1.9 trillion stimulus that GOP lawmakers have rejected, an aide said.

It offers a glimmer of hope for a quick bipartisan bill to deal with urgent needs, including expiration of unemployment benefits, even as Democrats are free to pursue the rest of the Biden proposal using a partisan budget tool.

The senators said they plan to unveil their plan on Monday.

U.S. Reported Cases Slow (8 a.m. NY)

The U.S. added about 144,000 Covid-19 cases on Saturday, fewer than the average of almost 158,000 over the preceding seven days. The data, compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg, are further evidence the pandemic is slowing in the U.S., though the numbers don’t break down cases by virus variant.

An additional 2,786 people died from Covid-related causes, raising the U.S. death toll to more than 439,000 since the pandemic began. That compares with an average of about 3,200 deaths a day over the previous two weeks.

— With assistance by Ian Fisher, Melissa Cheok, Andrew Rosati, Sara Marley, Ros Krasny, Gaspard Sebag, Chiara Albanese, Sandrine Rastello, Catherine Bosley, Meghan Genovese, and Virginia Van Natta

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