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NYC Cases Climb Again; Iowa Reports Record Deaths: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — New York City’s average cases and positive-test rate continued to climb as Mayor Bill de Blasio advised people over 65 and with health conditions to stay home. Iowa reported a second straight day of record fatalities. Pennsylvania hit a second consecutive day of record cases amid strain on in its medical system. Nations across Europe are pushing ahead with fast-track Covid-19 jab programs, even as significant proportions of the public from France to Sweden remain opposed to the idea. The U.K. is hoping to inoculate millions of Britons before year-end, while Spain aims at vaccinating up to 20 million people by June. BioNTech SE said it’s on track to produce 50 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine with partner Pfizer Inc. this year, easing concerns that they might miss production targets. Bahrain granted emergency use authorization for that vaccine, the second country after the U.K. to do so.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases exceed 65.5 million; deaths top 1.51 millionTracking the coronavirus vaccines that will end the pandemicU.S. jobs recovery slows as virus rages, boosting aid chancesVaccine confusion leaves states asking how many doses they getCovid fighters run out of weapons with virus spreading in homesOperation Warp Speed and U.K. vaccine drive leave Europe behindSubscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVIDPennsylvania Hits Record Cases for Second Day As Pressure Rises on Hospitals (1:31 p.m. NY)Pennsylvania reported 11,763 cases, the second consecutive day of record infections. The number of hospitalizations has increased 10-fold since the start of October, to about 5,000, as medical officials warned of a looming crisis and as intensive-care beds filled in some parts of the state. “It doesn’t have to be this way,” Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, tweeted Friday. “Avoiding gatherings works. Staying home works. But it will take each one of us doing our part to stop the spread.”Pfizer, BioNTech Near 2020 Vaccine Target, Easing Output Concern (1:17 p.m. NY)BioNTech SE said it’s on track to produce 50 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine with partner Pfizer Inc. this year, easing concerns that they might miss production targets.As of Friday, the companies had made the majority of the promised supply for this year, BioNTech said in a statement to Bloomberg. For next year, they’re looking for ways to increase production capacity beyond a promised 1.3 billion doses.WHO Praises Vaccine Arrival But Warns Outbreak Not Over (12:55 p.m. NY)The World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while the news of the imminent arrival of vaccines against the coronavirus is like a “light at the end of the tunnel,” he remains concerned there’s a “growing perception” that the virus is over, warning the pandemic has a “long way to run.”Executive Director Michael Ryan warned that not everyone will be vaccinated next year and urged individuals to continue respecting safety measures even when the vaccine arrives.Iowa Hits Record Deaths for Second Straight Day (12:42 p.m. NY)Iowa reported 84 more deaths, the second consecutive day of record fatalities, state data show. Total deaths are now 2,603. The state posted another 2,901 new cases, in a week in which infections have trended lower than mid-November, when cases topped 5,000 on several days. The number of hospitalizations and intensive-care patients fell.NYC Positivity Rate Highest Since May (12:36 p.m. NY)New York City’s positivity rate for Covid-19 climbed to 5.43% in the 7-day period ending Dec. 2, the highest since late May. But public schools will still reopen Monday for those who’ve chosen to take part-time in-class instruction.The weekly average for newly diagnosed cases reached 2,041 on Wednesday, up from 1,962 the previous day. Still, hospital admissions for patients with coronavirus symptoms dropped to 134 — 40 fewer than the day before, a level that Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s public and private hospitals could handle.During an interview on WNYC radio, De Blasio warned people over 65 and those with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease to stay home and avoid contact with visitors unless it’s essential. Schools can reopen for pre-schoolers through 5th graders, de Blasio said, because they’ve been able to operate with “extraordinarily low transmission” for the past two months, with a positivity rate under 1%. “Our schools are literally safer than any place in New York City,” the mayor said.Italy Deaths Fall From Record (12:14 p.m. NY)Italy reported 24,099 new cases Friday, confirming the downward trend from last week. Daily fatalities dropped to 814 from a record 993 the previous day.The government eased restrictions on some regions. While the epidemic is still putting pressure on hospitals, there’s a general improvement in its transmission speed, which proves the three-tier restriction system introduced in early November has worked, according to the Health Ministry weekly report.JBS Sends Thousands of Meat Workers Home (11:59 a.m. NY)The latest surge in Covid-19 cases is starting to impact American meat-processing operations, with JBS SA telling thousands of vulnerable members of its workforce to stay at home.JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier, has put about 8% of its U.S. workforce on paid leave since coronavirus cases began to accelerate in October, a spokesman for the company said Friday. JBS USA employs about 64,400 people in the U.S., according to its website.Bahrain Is Second Country to Approve Pfizer Vaccine (11:51 a.m. NY)Bahrain has granted emergency use authorization for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and becomes the second country after the U.K. to approve it, Bahrain News Agency reported.The National Health Regulatory Authority approval followed “thorough analysis and review undertaken by the Authority of all available data.” The country approved Sinopharm’s vaccine for use by frontline workers in November.Swiss Warn of Tighter Restrictions (10:28 a.m. NY)The Swiss government urged the public to redouble its efforts to bring down Covid-19 cases and left the door open to further measures, should municipalities fail to take action.“The situation in our country is alarming,” Interior Minister Alain Berset said.“We expect tough measures,” he also said and referred to the restaurant closures recently ordered in the city of Basel and in the mountainous east.With the holidays nearing, the government announced new rules to prevent crowding in shops. It also announced that ski resorts will be open for domestic tourism this winter, but the permits required for operation will be contingent on the epidemiological situation.Sweden Unveils Vaccine Strategy After 26% Reject Immunization (9:48 a.m. NY)Swedish health authorities acknowledged they need to convert vaccine doubters — currently just over a quarter of the population — if they’re to reach enough people to achieve herd immunity.Only 46% of Swedes say they want to be vaccinated, while 26% say they don’t, according to a recent Novus poll. Herd immunity comes when enough people in a community have developed immunity through being either infected or vaccinated. For Covid-19, the percentage is estimated to range from 55% to 82%.U.K. Virus R Number Extends Decline (8:45 a.m. NY)The U.K. said that the latest R number for the coronavirus in the country is between 0.8-1.0 and the growth rate range is -3% to -1% per day.On Nov. 27, the gauge was at 0.9-1.0, down from as high as 1.0-1.2 on Nov. 13. The R number is the number of people, on average, one person with coronavirus will give the virus to.French Increasingly Reluctant to Get Covid-19 Vaccine (8:39 a.m. NY)The French are increasingly unwilling to get vaccinated against Covid-19, with 53% of those in a November survey planning to get the shot, down from 64% in July, health authorities said in a weekly coronavirus bulletin.In the July survey, 67% of naysayers cited the new vaccines not being safe as the reason not to get the shot, while 18% opposed vaccination in general. Health authorities didn’t provide a breakdown of reasons in the November survey. France has said it won’t make the Covid-19 vaccine compulsory.Swedish Health Agency Sees Cap on Gatherings as Christmas Guide (8:03 a.m. NY)Sweden’s public health authority said the current ban of public gatherings of more than eight people is a suitable guideline for people to follow over Christmas and New Year.The country hasn’t decided on a firm cap for people wishing to socialize over the festive period, “but we have earlier had eight people as the norm,” the agency’s General-Director Johan Carlson told news agency TT.Spain Expects to Vaccinate up to 20 Million People by June (7:43 a.m. NY)Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a briefing Friday that he expects Spain will have given Covid-19 shots to 15 million to 20 million people by June. Elderly people in nursery houses and their staff, followed by health workers, will be vaccinated in the first phase of about 2.5 million people.Iceland Vaccine Program Aims for Herd Immunity by End of March (6:48 a.m. NY)Iceland aims to achieve herd immunity by vaccinating 75% of its population against Covid-19 by the end of March.A contract with Pfizer for enough vaccines to inoculate 85,000 people is expected to be signed next week, the Health Ministry said in a statement. Iceland, which is covered by the European Union’s procurement program, has already entered an agreement with AstraZeneca for enough doses to vaccinate 115,000 individuals. Agreements with Moderna and Janssen are also in the works, it said.Poland’s Virus Deaths Near 20,000; Record Slovenia Fatalities (5:26 p.m. HK)Poland registered 13,239 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, compared with 14,838 on Thursday, taking total number of infected to 1,041,846, the Health Ministry said on its website. The nation’s Covid-19 death toll increased by 531 to 19,359.Slovenia confirmed a daily record of 61 deaths from Covid-19 a day after the government published its plan of easing the lock-down measures.Glaxo-Backed Vaccine Shows Strong Immune Response in Early Trial (5:23 p.m. HK)A Covid-19 vaccine project supported by GlaxoSmithKline Plc is headed for advanced trials after showing a strong immune response in early studies. Sichuan Clover Biopharmaceuticals Inc. of China said its shot induced neutralizing antibodies and proved to be safe in a study of 150 adults and elderly volunteers. The vaccine uses adjuvants — agents that boost a vaccine’s response — from both Glaxo and Dynavax Technologies Corp.Sweden Aims to Get 2 Million Vaccines in First Quarter (5:16 p.m. HK)Sweden expects to get enough Covid-19 vaccines to immunize a fifth of the population in the first quarter of 2021, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said Friday.The nation has secured vaccines from Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc., AstraZeneca Plc, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc and CureVac NV through European Union agreements. Immunizations are scheduled to start on a smaller scale in January, with 4 million doses — enough for 2 million people – expected to be delivered by the end of March.The vaccination program will give priority to residents and staff at care homes, as well as the elderly receiving assistance at home, Public Health Agency director-general Johan Carlson said at a news briefing.Hungary Unlikely to Ease Virus Curbs as Deaths Hit Record (4:13 p.m. HK)Hungary reported a record 189 Covid deaths Friday, and has more than 7,800 patients still in hospital. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s coronavirus advisers are strictly opposed to a major easing of the country’s current pandemic measures, the premier said Friday in a state radio interview.India to Start Covid Vaccination as Soon as Approved (3:45 p.m. HK)Indian scientists working on a vaccine for Covid-19 are confident of being successful, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. Experts think the inoculation could be ready in the next few weeks, and the nation would start vaccinations as soon as there is green light from scientists, he said at an all-party meeting Friday.U.K. Hopes to Vaccinate Millions of Britons by End-2020 (3:20 p.m. HK)Most of the first batch of 800,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine secured by the U.K. have already reached the nation, and the government hopes to inoculate millions of Britons before the year is out, Britain’s Business Secretary Alok Sharma said in an interview with Sky News.Japan Still Sees Stimulus Role for Travel Despite Virus (3:09 p.m. HK)Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government remains committed to extending domestic travel subsidies as part of a stimulus package, despite rising virus cases stretching hospital resources in some of Japan’s biggest cities.Seoul to Close Stores, Theaters to Fight Virus (1:43 p.m. HK)Seoul will close stores, theaters, internet cafes, department stores after 9pm for two weeks starting Dec. 5 as well as cut the frequency of public transportation after 9pm.Its mayor urged citizens to stop late night, outside activities after 9pm for two weeks. This comes as the number of newly confirmed cases in the capital reached a record 295 in the latest tally.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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