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India to Get Most Covax Shots; Dems to Meet Biden: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — Top Democrats from the U.S. House of Representatives will meet with President Joe Biden on Friday after the Senate backed a non-binding call to oppose stimulus checks for upper-income taxpayers. Johnson & Johnson asked U.S. drug regulators to clear its experimental Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, which would give the U.S. a third vaccine.India is set to receive the most number of Covid-19 vaccine doses in the initial distribution from the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative, despite the fact that India’s supply of shots currently outstrips demand. The U.K. government said a mandatory quarantine for travelers will start Feb. 15, fleshing out a policy announced last month.When might life around the world return to normal? In 7.4 years, at today’s vaccine rates.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases top 104.7 million; deaths near 2.3 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 119 million shots given worldwideSuper Bowl crowd presents an experiment in Covid immunityWhat the future of restaurants might look likeThe $9.2 trillion price tag for failing to vaccinate the worldBin Laden, robot conspiracy theories test Pakistan vaccine driveBrace yourself: Long-haul travel may not get going until 2023Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on cases and deaths.AstraZeneca to Apply Today for Japan Approval: Report (11:28 a.m. HK)AstraZeneca plans to submit an application in Japan for manufacture and sales of its coronavirus vaccine, Nikkei reported, without attribution. The application could be made as soon as this afternoon, according to Nikkei.AMLO Says in Good Health During Covid Recovery (11:21 a.m. HK)Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said a Covid antigen test he took returned a negative result. AMLO, as the president is commonly known, posted a video online saying he’s in good health as he recovers from Covid-19, after announcing last month that he had contracted the disease.The president said Mexico also would emerge well from the pandemic and pointed out some positive economic indicators.India to Dominate First Tranche of Covax Shots (10:32 a.m. HK)India is set to receive the most number of Covid-19 vaccine doses — 97.2 million shots — in the first tranche of distribution from the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative, despite the fact that supply in the country currently appears to outstrip demand.The Covax initiative, aimed at creating equitable global access to Covid vaccines especially for developing countries, is planning to distribute 337.2 million doses at the end of this month, the first delivery of some 2 billion shots it’s ordered so far.According to an interim distribution forecast published Wednesday, the second-biggest tranche of 17.2 million shots will go to Pakistan, followed by 16 million doses to Nigeria and 13.7 million to Indonesia. North Korea will receive 2 million shots.The large allocation to India is likely to raise eyebrows given that the country currently seems to have plenty of shots, but few takers. Only around half of those eligible to get vaccinated in its inoculation drive have come forward, and local media reports say that India producer Serum Institute of India is sitting on over 55 million doses and has temporarily halted production.Post-Coup Myanmar Kicks Off Vaccination Drive (10:12 a.m. HK)Myanmar is set to kick off vaccination for the general public Friday, starting with townships with the highest number of infections and mortality rate, according to Khin Khin Gyi, director of emerging infectious disease at the Ministry of Health and Sports. Authorities will prioritize those 65 and above in the initial phase.Myanmar’s military, which seized power in a coup earlier this week, has vowed to inoculate 38.4 million people 18 and older by the end of this year. The administration expects the first batch of 30 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine ordered from the Serum Institute of India to arrive next week and 27 million doses from the Covax facility from March.Tokyo Survey Shows 0.91% Have Covid Antibodies (10:03 a.m. HK)A survey conducted by Japan’s Health Ministry in December found 0.91% of people in Tokyo have Covid-19 antibodies, up from 0.1% in a June tally. The survey showed a rate of 0.58% in Osaka and 0.54% in Aichi prefecture.House Dems to Meet Biden After Senate Move on Stimulus (9:33 a.m. HK)Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other U.S. House of Representatives leaders will meet with President Joe Biden on Friday after the Senate backed by 99-1 a non-binding call to oppose stimulus checks going to “upper-income taxpayers” — one of a series of messaging votes the chamber is taking in a complex process of preparing Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan for passage through Congress.The amendment to the fiscal 2021 budget resolution doesn’t define the income cutoff for stimulus checks, but serves as a test vote for senators to gauge support on tightening the requirements.FDA Limits Emergency Use Authorization for Plasma (9:11 a.m. HK)The U.S. Food and Drug Administration revised its Emergency Use Authorization for convalescent plasma, limiting its use to hospitalized patients early in the disease. The convalescent plasma used must contain high levels of antibodies.The EUA was updated based on data from more recent clinical trials since the original order was issued in August, the agency said in a statement. The original authorization produced an embarrassing episode for then-FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, who had to walk back comments he made exaggerating the benefit of convalescent plasma. Plasma with low levels of antibodies has not been shown to be helpful in treating Covid-19 and is no longer authorized for use in treatment, the FDA said.Canada Extends Cruise-Ship Ban to February 2022 (9:03 a.m. HK)Canada extended its ban on cruise ships through February 2022 because of Covid-19, effectively shutting down popular summer trips to Alaska for another year. The prohibition will allow authorities to focus on vaccine rollout and limit the spread of new variants, the government said in a statement.The decision is a setback for an industry trying to get back in business after being in dry dock for almost a year. Alaska is one of the industry’s top destinations, and the ban will also affect New England cruises that travel north to Montreal and other stops.China Gets Northern Outbreak Under Control (8:50 a.m. HK)China appears to have controlled a virus resurgence in its northern regions, with new local cases reported at just six Friday, from 135 on Jan. 14. Overall, China’s winter wave — concentrated in the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Hebei — numbers more than 2,000 infections.While there were concerns that infections would seep into the Beijing ahead of Lunar New Year and national political meetings scheduled for March, the capital has recorded only 44 cases so far. Still, officials remain on high alert and have discouraged travel during the Lunar New Year holiday that starts Feb. 11, while tightening restrictions on people entering Beijing.U.K. to Start Mandatory Quarantine for Travelers Feb. 15 (8:15 a.m. HK)The U.K. will require travelers from coronavirus hot spots to quarantine starting Feb. 15, the government said, adding flesh to a policy first announced last month.Arrivals from countries on the U.K.’s travel ban list will be required to isolate for 10 days in government-approved accommodation, the Department for Health and Social Care said Thursday. The government is seeking bids from hotels near airports and ports to support the program.Meanwhile, British officials are working on a “vaccine passport” to facilitate tourism, the Times reports, without attribution.FDA Says Variants Won’t Mean Back to Square One (7:32 a.m. HK)The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with industry to ensure that updated vaccines for Covid-19 variants are deployed as quickly as possible, Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock said. The option of “streamlined” clinical trials for altered vaccines is under discussion, she said.“We do not believe there will be the need to start at square one with any of these products,” Woodcock said. “We do not want to create obstacles to getting these tools to the frontlines.”The FDA is building on experience with vaccines for other evolving infections diseases, such as the flu, she said.U.S. Consumer Bureau to Restart Data Collection (7:26 a.m. HK)The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will resume data collection from mortgage lenders and credit card companies that was halted earlier in the pandemic. The directives are part of a broader CFPB effort to study the pandemic’s impacts on consumers and boost racial equality.In March 2020, the CFPB gave banks and other companies a break from reporting data under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and the CARD Act, which governs credit cards. In a blog post Thursday, the acting director said the bureau would soon begin collecting that data again, as well as information related to small business lending and other loans.Vaccine Maker SK Bioscience Gets Preliminary IPO Approval (7:23 a.m. HK)SK Bioscience is eligible to list shares after preliminary review, Korea Exchange said Thursday, without giving further details. SK Chemicals holds 98% of SK Bioscience, one of the manufacturers of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine.J&J Seeks Emergency Vaccine Clearance in U.S. (5:49 p.m. NY)Johnson & Johnson asked U.S. drug regulators to clear its experimental Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, setting up what’s likely to be a fast-moving review process that could lead to millions more doses becoming available for the immunization drive within weeks.The drugmaker said Thursday it had filed an application for emergency-use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The shot would give the U.S. a third vaccine to try to halt a pandemic that has killed more than 450,000 Americans.The agency scheduled a Feb. 26 meeting where outside advisers will consider the request and make a recommendation about whether to grant it. While their decision isn’t binding, it would be unusual for the FDA to reject the experts’ advice.Novavax Begins Rolling Review in U.S. (5:20 p.m. NY)Regulators in the U.S. have begun to review certain data required for clearance of Novavax Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine while final-phase clinical trials are still underway, the company said.The process, called a rolling submission, has also begun in the U.K. and Canada, Novavax said. On Wednesday, the company said European regulators were doing a similar review.Texas Breaks Daily Vaccination Record (4:10 p.m. NY)Texas administered more than 150,000 vaccinations Thursday, the highest 24-hour total since the rollout, Governor Greg Abbott said in a tweet.The aggregate figure for shots in the second-largest US state will exceed 3 million “in a few days,” Abbott said. Meanwhile, statewide virus hospitalizations have dropped to the lowest since late December, health department figures showed.School Testing Experiment Hits Snarls (3:35 p.m. NY)A pilot project in which rapid Covid-19 tests were used in an effort to reopen some U.S. schools has encountered administrative and logistical hurdles, according to a report Thursday.Through a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Rockefeller Foundation, the project received about 140,000 quick-turnaround Covid tests from Abbott Laboratories. Even with access to testing from the outset, schools needed additional resources like staffing to perform the tests.U.S. Restrictions Easing (2:58 p.m. NY)Around the U.S., restrictions are relaxing as the outbreak eases:Massachusetts will increase capacity limits at business like restaurants and gyms to 40% from 25%Rhode Island is allowing weddings to have as many as 50 guests, and indoor dining now can include two householdsArkansas won’t extend a directive requiring bars and restaurants selling alcohol to close at 11 p.m.Michigan will allow high school sports leagues to restart practices and competitions. Masks will be requiredPuerto Rico will shorten its nighttime curfew by an hour — the new schedule is midnight to 5 a.m. — and allow many businesses to operate at 50% capacityDenver began accepting applications for a program that encourages businesses to add Covid-19 safety measures beyond what’s required by public health orders, helping businesses expand operational capacityNYC Is Denied Shifting First Vaccine Doses for Second (11:44 a.m. NY)New York’s state health commissioner denied New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s request to start using vaccine doses that have been reserved for second doses. The city currently has around 320,000 doses on hand that have been reserved for second doses. De Blasio has said these doses sit in storage for weeks and could be used for first doses.Responding to a Feb. 3 letter from the mayor, Commissioner Howard Zucker said Thursday the Biden administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently don’t recommend using second doses as first doses. The state will continue to follow that guidance unless the CDC says otherwise, he said.Meanwhile, New York City vaccine sites are up and running after a snowstorm shut them down for a few days, de Blasio said.BOE Sees Rapid U.K. Rebound Following Vaccine Push (7:41 a.m. NY)The Bank of England said the U.K. economy is heading for a rapid pickup in light of a bold vaccination effort. Despite lowering its outlook for the year, the central bank sounded an optimistic note on its hopes of a powerful rebound. Officials also kept monetary stimulus in place and agreed as a contingency that banks should prepare for the possibility of negative interest rates.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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