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U.K., Sweden Vaccine Plans; Osaka on Highest Alert: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — The U.K. is hoping to inoculate millions of Britons against Covid-19 before the year is out, and most of the first batch of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine doses secured by the government have already reached the nation, according to Business Secretary Alok Sharma. Sweden plans to join a European Union pact on vaccines with Moderna Inc. and expects 4 million doses next quarter.U.S. President-elect Joe Biden said he would ask all Americans to wear a mask to curb the spread of the virus for the first 100 days of his administration. New York City’s average number of coronavirus cases and its infection rate hit the highest levels since May, while statewide daily infections closed in on 10,000.In Asia, Osaka raised its virus alert to the highest level after a rise in serious cases put strain on the Japanese prefecture’s medical system. South Korea’s number of newly confirmed cases climbed to the highest since early March and its capital Seoul calls for cutting late night activities. India said its scientists are working on a vaccine that could be ready in the next few weeks.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases exceed 65 million; deaths top 1.5 millionPfizer scaled back vaccine output targets earlier this yearCovid fighters run out of weapons with virus spreading in homesCovid’s Sun-Belt return targets Miami, Phoenix and Las VegasOperation Warp Speed and U.K. vaccine drive leave Europe behindN.Y. developers hire influencers to sell homes during CovidVaccine Tracker: Covid-19 inoculations are about to beginSubscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVIDSweden to Take Part in EU Vaccine Agreement With Moderna (4:20 p.m. HK)Sweden said it will take part in the EU agreement on vaccines with Moderna Inc. and that the nation expects to secure 4 million doses in the first quarter. The inoculations would be free for the country’s citizens, with priority for residents and staff of care homes for the elderly.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.Philippines Allows Conventions in Malls, Hotels (11:36 a.m. HK)Philippines has allowed hotels, malls and restaurants to host meetings and conventions after reported coronavirus infections declined in the past days.Economic managers are pushing to further reopen the economy that’s forecast to shrink as much as 9.5% this year. The Philippines has the second-worst outbreak in Southeast Asia, even as daily cases have declined over the past days.South Korea’s Newly Confirmed Cases at Highest since March (8:43 a.m. HK)South Korea reports 629 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours vs. 540 a day earlier, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website.The number of newly confirmed cases was at the highest since early March and officials are eyeing more steps to curb the virus spread.Japan’s Second-Biggest Region on Highest Alert (7:14 a.m. HK)The Osaka prefectural government raised its virus alert to the highest level after a rise in serious cases put strain on its medical system.Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, at a news conference late Thursday, urged residents to stay home until Dec. 15. Schools will remain open but bars and restaurants in certain districts are being asked to close early.Osaka reported 386 new cases Thursday; number of patients with serious conditions rose to 136, meaning two-thirds of hospital beds have been occupied, according to Kyodo.Biden Says He’ll Ask All Americans to Wear Masks for 100 Days (7:06 a.m. HK)President-elect Joe Biden said he would ask all Americans to wear a mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus for the first 100 days of his administration as well as issue a “standing order” requiring face coverings in federal buildings and on all interstate transportation.“Not forever, for 100 days,” he said. “And I think we’ll see a significant reduction” in infections.North Carolina Hits Record Cases, Hospitalizations (7 a.m. HK)North Carolina reported a record 5,637 new infections and the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began. Governor Roy Cooper urged residents to “take personal responsibility” in following the state’s mask order and other health measures but warned of tighter restrictions. “Everything is on the table in weeks to come,” he told reporters, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.Texas’ Caseload Explodes (6:17 p.m. NY)Texas logged its fourth straight day of 10,000-plus new virus cases, the longest such streak since the height of the state’s initial outbreak in July, state health department figures showed.The second-largest U.S. state posted 13,857 new diagnoses, driving the cumulative total to 1.22 million. Virus hospitalizations climbed for a sixth straight day, reaching 9,151, a 54% increase from a month ago, the data showed.Delaware Issues Stay-at-Home Advisory (5:01 p.m. NY)Delaware issued a stay-at-home advisory, halting in-person learning at schools, prohibiting winter sports competitions and requiring people to wear masks indoors if mixing with another household. The order runs from Dec. 14 through Jan. 11.The state already requires masks in public settings — and the new order does not change the rules for people at work or commuting.Colorado Projects Thousands More Deaths (4:43 p.m. NY)Covid-19 could kill between 2,000 and 4,400 people in Colorado this month, based on official state modeling data released Thursday. “The numbers could go up by as much as several thousand deaths,” said Jon Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, during an online news conference.It is estimated 1-in-40 of the state’s population of 5.7 million are currently infected, Samet said. “We have a population that is fatigued with doing what it needs to do,” Samet said. “I don’t like to be a grim prognosticator here. But if the curve keeps rising” it’s estimated “we’ll see more hospitalizations, more cases, more deaths,” he said.N.Y. Hospitalizations Most Since May (4:01 p.m. NY)Coronavirus hospitalizations in New York topped 4,000 for the first time since late May, as new cases in the state closed in on 10,000 a day, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.The state is focusing on increasing the number of hospital beds available as fears of overwhelming the hospital system increase. There currently are about 53,000 hospital beds statewide, 35,000 of which are occupied, Cuomo said.The state can increase to up to 75,000 beds using its “surge and flex” program, he said, adding that about 19,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized at the peak of the pandemic in March and April.California to Lock Down If ICUs Fall Short of Capacity (3:49 p.m. NY)California, the first state to tell residents to stay home to fight the coronavirus pandemic, may be about to do it again.Governor Gavin Newsom warned Thursday that the state would impose a new shelter-at-home order if hospitals start running short of intensive-care capacity, a dire possibility that could happen in some areas as soon a this week.“The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” he said.The order would be imposed in specific regions — such as the San Francisco Bay Area or Southern California — rather than statewide. It would take effect once a region’s hospitals had only 15% of their intensive care unit beds available, a threshold none has crossed so far. If imposed, the order would last three weeks.Ramaphosa Reinstates Curbs in South African Hot Spot (1:50 p.m. NY)South African President Cyril Ramaphosa reimposed several curbs aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic in one of the nation’s biggest municipalities, which is battling a second wave of infections.A 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew will be reinstated in Nelson Mandela Bay in the south of the country, Ramaphosa said in a televised address on Thursday. Alcohol sales be restricted and the consumption of alcoholic beverages in public spaces will be forbidden.The number of new coronavirus cases in South Africa jumped to 4,400 on Wednesday, the highest since mid-August, Ramaphosa said. Of the 800,872 people diagnosed with the disease in the country so far, 92% have recovered, while 21,803 have died.N.J. Reports Most Cases Since Pandemic Began (1:35 p.m. NY)New Jersey reported 4,913 new cases of Covid-19, the most since the state’s first case was disclosed on March 4. The high number partly reflects vastly expanded testing: Like many states early in the pandemic, New Jersey tested only those with virus symptoms. Now the state routinely processes 30,000-plus specimens per day, and last month ran more than 75,000 tests over 24 hours.The positivity rate, 13.68% on Nov. 28, is the highest since May as was the number of patients currently hospitalized, at 3,292. In addition, 64 deaths were reported.Moderna Vaccine May Offer Lasting Protection (11:57 a.m. NY)Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine appears to offer potent protection against coronavirus that will last a minimum of three months and potentially much longer, according to a letter from the researchers who conducted the trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The number of antibodies produced to fight the infection dropped slowly over time, though they remained elevated and started to plateau three months after volunteers received the second injection.While specific details the immune response needed to confer lasting immunity to the virus are still unclear, the initial findings suggest the vaccine has the potential to provide durable immunity, they said.The vaccine also triggered the production of helper T cells, a critical component of the immune system, 43 days after volunteers received their first shot, though longer studies are needed and are underway, they said.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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