Virus Outbreak: News and Analysis From June 19 – Bloomberg

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Russia added the highest number of cases since end-January, with Moscow remaining the nation’s hot spot, registering the highest number of daily infections on record.

The U.K. government is considering changes to its quarantine rules, with Britons who have been double-vaccinated possibly being spared a 10-day period in isolation if they come into contact with a Covid-19 carrier, according to the Times of London.

The highly transmissible delta variant of the virus continues to spread, even in nations with advanced vaccination campaigns such as the U.S. and U.K. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the variant is expected to become the dominant strain in the U.S. and President Joe Biden urged unvaccinated Americans to get shots. The southern Chinese city of Shenzhen confirmed a case of the delta strain at its international airport.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases exceed 177.8 million; deaths pass 3.8 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 2.55 billion doses administered
  • Covid counts hit zero in U.S. hospitals once overrun by victims
  • U.K. is test case for Covid endgame as variant upends the math
  • Putin’s Covid-19 boasts sour amid explosive rise in infections
  • CureVac’s Covid setback shows not all mRNA vaccines are equal
  • Subscribe to a daily update from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here.


U.K. Government Considers New Quarantine Rules, Times Reports (5:33 p.m. HK)

Britons who have been double-vaccinated could be spared a 10-day period in quarantine if they come into contact with a Covid-19 carrier, under new rules being considered by the U.K. government, according to the Times of London.

Instead, people who have been contacted under the U.K.’s test-and-trace system could opt to take a Covid-19 test each morning for a week, with each negative result giving them a 24-hour waiver from the legal requirement to self-isolate, the paper reported, citing unidentified sources.

Russia Cases Soar (5:00 p.m. HK)

Russia added the highest number of new cases since January 31, reporting 17,906 more infections on Saturday. Moscow remains the nation’s virus hot spot, registering 9,120 new cases, the highest on record.

Russia is experiencing a resurgence of the virus amid a rapid spread of the more contagious delta strain first identified in India. The resurgence has forced Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia’s two largest cities, to restore some public restrictions just as many cities in the U.S. and Europe are easing them.

The Moscow mayor Mayor Sergei Sobyanin earlier this week ordered mandatory vaccination for at least 2 million workers in the capital as rising cases threaten to overwhelm the capital’s hospitals.

Uganda Demand for Oxygen to Soar (4:50 p.m. HK)

Demand for oxygen in Uganda may rise almost nine-fold in a month as surging Covid-19 infections stretch health-care capacity in the East African country.

Daily oxygen consumption by coronavirus patients could climb to 25,800 cylinders from about 3,000 cylinders now, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said in a televised address. Confirmed cases have jumped by 46% this month to 68,779.

Western Australia Introduces Fresh Curbs (4:10 p.m. HK)

Western Australia has announced all travelers to the state from New South Wales must be tested for Covid-19 and self-quarantine until receiving a negative result as new cases emerging from Australia’s most-populous state.

Anyone who recently entered Western Australia and has visited any of the exposure sites in New South Wales during the relevant times must also get tested immediately and self-quarantine for 14 days from their date of exposure, Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan said in a statement on Saturday.

Bangladesh Resumes Inoculations With Sinopharm Shots (2:25 p.m. HK)

Bangladesh resumed vaccinations for front-line workers using Sinopharm Group Ltd. doses provided by the Chinese government. After India’s ban on vaccine exports, Bangladesh suspended its inoculation program and turned to China and Russia for help. China donated 1.1 million Sinopharm shots.

Health workers and law-enforcement personnel were among the first to receive their first dose of the vaccine on Saturday, private broadcaster ATN News reported. The Bangladesh government plans to buy 15 million Sinopharm doses.

India Won’t Resume Vaccine Exports Until Domestic Needs Met: AP (12:20 p.m. HK)

India won’t resume exports of Covid-19 vaccines until it meets domestic needs, Dr. Vinod K. Paul, the head of the country’s Covid-19 task force said in an interview with the Associated Press.

“Once our immediate need of vaccinating a significant proportion of Indian people is achieved and vaccine stockpiles are visible from multiple sources, we would then like to play the role of serving others,” Paul said. India can expect at least 740 million doses between August and December, he said.

The world’s biggest producer of vaccines was sending jabs to over 90 countries in January, but curtailed the export program by April after a virulent second wave made India the world’s worst hotspot. Paul declined to say when he thought exports may recommence. Last month, the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest supplier of vaccines, said it may not be able to start delivering doses until the end of the year.

India has administered 272 million vaccine doses, including 50.5 million second doses, according to an official statement on Saturday. The number of active cases declined to 760,019 from a May 10 peak of 3.7 million, the statement said, while 60,753 fresh cases were reported in the last 24 hours.

Lloyd Webber Backs Down Over Cinderella Opening (11:55 a.m. HK)

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has backed down over his threat to open his new musical, “Cinderella,” without social distancing after being warned his staff and the audience could have been fined, the Telegraph reported. Lloyd Webber said he declined an offer from U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take part in a pilot program that would have allowed opening at full capacity because it was unfair to get special treatment, the paper said.

BioNTech Shot Produces More Antibodies Than Sinovac: SCMP (10:08 a.m. HK)

BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine triggered “substantially higher” levels of antibodies than the Chinese-developed Sinovac jab, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a study by the University of Hong Kong.

The results suggest some recipients of the Sinovac vaccine may need a third shot, the newspaper said, citing lead researcher Benjamin Cowling. The epidemiologist led a government-commissioned study that tracked antibody responses of 1,000 vaccinated people.

South Korea Speeds Up Covid Vaccination Program

Used vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Cowling said the tests might fail to pick up small amounts of antibodies generated by the Sinovac jabs. He was commenting on a recommendation by the government’s scientific advisers to cut quarantine time for vaccinated travelers who test positive for antibodies but negative for the virus, the newspaper said.

Australia May Open Border to Students First (9:50 a.m. HK)

Australia could open its international borders to foreign students before other visitors as a trial for travel bubbles the country is attempting to establish, the Australian newspaper said, citing an interview with the country’s leader Scott Morrison.

The Prime Minister told the newspaper the government is considering conducting early trials of a new recognition system for vaccinated arrivals on foreign students and has held initial talks with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on building a border clearance system that is compatible, Morrison said.

“Doing it (with) students would be a good first run-around to prove up the system,” he said. Other trials could be set up with regions including Singapore, Japan, and South Korea, the newspaper said.

Guangdong Reports 6 New Local Cases, Delta Variant (9:35 a.m. HK)

China reported 30 new virus cases, including six local transmissions in the southern province of Guangdong, bordering Hong Kong. Those included two each in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, one in Foshan and one in Dongguan, according to a statement posted on the Health Commission of Guangdong Province’s website.

One of the two cases reported in Shenzhen — a 21-year-old restaurant waitress at Shenzhen’s international airport — carried the delta variant, the city’s health authority said in a statement. The airport has tightened controls on entry, requiring all visitors to the terminals and ground traffic center to provide a negative nucleic-acid test administered within the prior 48 hours, according to a statement from Shenzhen Airport Group.

COVID-19 Vaccination In Foshan

People wait to receive their second doses of Covid-19 vaccines in Foshan, Guangdong Province, on June 15.

Photographer: Lin Andi/Visual China Group/Getty Images

Uganda Tightens Lockdown (5:47 p.m. NY)

Uganda strengthened an already strict lockdown, lengthening a curfew and curtailing travel inside the country. “The movement of persons needs to be stopped since it is the cornerstone of the rise in cases,” President Museveni said in a national address Friday night, the Daily Monitor reported.

Less than two weeks ago, Museveni imposed a curfew and shuttered schools, bars, places of worship and some shopping areas to stop a new viral wave. He announced more than 1,500 new daily cases and 42 deaths Friday.

Florida Wins Ruling on Cruises (5:06 p.m. NY)

Florida won a preliminary injunction against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, potentially easing cruise companies’ path back to the seas.

The injunction would prevent the CDC from enforcing a set of recently introduced rules — the CDC’s so-called conditional sailing order — at cruise ports in Florida. But U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday put the injunction on hold until July 18 and gave the CDC until July 2 to propose a narrower order. The conditional sailing order created a strict protocol for cruise lines to return to the sea.


Cruise ships at Port Miami Pier Cruise Terminal in Dodge Island, East of Miami Florida, in March 2020.

Photographer: Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images

Vaccine Lottery Little Help for N. Carolina (4:36 p.m. NY)

Governor Roy Cooper said North Carolina’s pace of vaccinations has continued to drop despite the offer of four $1 million lottery drawings and tuition for people who receive at least one dose.

“Not significantly yet,” the Democratic governor said when asked at a news conference on Friday if the lottery announced June 10 had helped. About a dozen U.S. states are offering lottery winnings as an incentive to inoculations. Cooper said he hoped the first lottery draw on June 23 would spur greater numbers.

Biden Warns on Variant, Urges Vaccines (3:19 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden urged unvaccinated Americans to get inoculated from coronavirus, warning that the highly transmissible delta variant of the virus could cause more deaths.

“Even while we are making incredible progress, it remains a serious and deadly threat,” Biden said Friday during a White House event to celebrate 300 million doses of vaccine administered during the first 150 days of his administration.“The data is clear: If you are unvaccinated, you’re at risk of getting seriously ill, or dying, or spreading it.”

President Biden Delivers Remarks On Covid-19 Response And Vaccination

Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House on June 18.

Photographer: Tasos Katopodis/UPI/Bloomberg

A large swath of Americans — particularly in the politically conservative South — have declined shots despite warnings from health authorities that the virus remains a threat.

California Issues Digital Vaccine Record (2:25 p.m. NY)

California introduced a statewide digital Covid-19 vaccine record for residents, providing a scannable QR code and details of an individual’s inoculations that replicate the information on a CDC paper card.

Governor Gavin Newsom has said the record is not a vaccine passport, a contentious issue around the country and banned in many states. The digital record gives residents a “a convenient backup” to the card, the health department said, and was created with input from businesses and event organizers. The digital card could also provide an alternative to vaccine status when required for larger indoor events.

Palestinians Cancel Israeli Vaccine Deal (1:56 p.m. NY)

The Palestinian Authority canceled an agreement to exchange vaccines with Israel, saying the doses it was set to receive were about to expire.

Palestinian officials were expecting the doses to be good until August but instead received batches that expire this month, not leaving the Health Ministry enough time to use the shots for its population, Palestinian Authority Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said at a press conference on Friday.

Netherlands Eases Mask Rules (1:38 p.m. NY)

The Netherlands will move forward with the next stage of its reopening plan four days earlier than planned as cases continue to decline. From June 26, face masks will no longer be a requirement except for on public transport, in airports and where maintaining 1.5 meters of distance isn’t possible. The Dutch can also start to return to the office as long as social distancing is maintained. In places like nightclubs where social distancing cannot be maintained, face masks are not required, but a negative test or proof of vaccination must be shown at the door.


Travelers check in at a KLM counter at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on June 18.

Photographer: Koen Van Weel/AFP/Getty Images

N.J. Reaches Vaccine Goal (1:36 p.m. NY)

New Jersey has fully vaccinated 4.7 million people in six months, beating a deadline that the state had set for June 30, Governor Phil Murphy said.

“Our work is not yet finished, and we must continue working together to vaccinate all eligible individuals to end the Covid-19 pandemic,” the governor said in a statement. Seven municipalities with more than 100,000 residents, including New Brunswick, East Orange and Lakewood, have a vaccination rate of less than 50%, Murphy said this week.

Vaccine-Givers Race Time at an Atlantic City Convention Hall

People sit in observation area after receiving a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Atlantic City, New Jersey, earlier in April.

Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/ Bloomberg

Delta Variant Likely to Dominate in U.S. (1:27 p.m. NY)

The more-transmissible delta variant first found in India and now spread widely in the U.K. is expected to become the dominant strain in the U.S., said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. She said full vaccination provides good protection against it.

“As worrisome as this delta strain is with regard to its hyper-transmissibility, our vaccines work,” she said Friday on “Good Morning America. “I would encourage all Americans, get your first shot, and when you’re due for your second, get your second shot and you’ll be protected from this delta variant.”

— With assistance by Adam Majendie, Tim Ross, Charles Capel, Jake Rudnitsky, Elise Young, Diederik Baazil, Linus Chua, Ian Fisher, Ronojoy Mazumdar, Arun Devnath, Fred Ojambo, and Dina Khrennikova