U.S. Halts Vaccine Plant: U.K. Cites 7 Clot Deaths: Virus Update

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Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) —

The Biden administration stopped a Baltimore manufacturer from making AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine, days after the facility ruined 15 million doses of shots developed by Johnson & Johnson, the New York Times reported, citing two senior federal health officials who weren’t identified.

This comes as weekly U.S. infections hit their highest point since late February, even with vaccinations at record levels. The U.K. confirmed seven people had died from blood clots after receiving AstraZeneca’s vaccine. More than 18 million doses have been administered in the country, and regulators insist the shot is safe.

The first phase of Australia’s coronavirus vaccine rollout appeared to be two months behind schedule, the Age reported, citing federal Health Department tenders. Canada’s recorded virus tally topped the 1 million mark as a third wave of infections swept the country.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases surpass 130.6 million; deaths exceed 2.8 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 652 million shots given worldwideU.S. stops vaccination production at plant that ruined does, NYT saysCDC says vaccinated people can travel, should wear masksHow vaccine nationalism risks prolonging the pandemicHow pandemics change the course of history: Stephen Mihm

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Subscribe 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.

Canada Virus Tally Passes 1 Million (9:19 a.m. HK)

Recorded Covid-19 cases in Canada breached the 1 million mark as a third wave rippled across the country.

There were 1,001,650 recorded cases since the start of the pandemic as of Saturday afternoon, according to the Canadian Press. Canada, like other nations, is grappling with the spread of new variants that are sending more people to hospital and resulting in stricter lockdown measures.

Yunnan Cases On the Rise (9:10 a.m. HK)

The number of local coronavirus cases climbed in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan, with 10 local confirmed cases and one local asymptomatic case on Saturday, according to the National Health Commission. All of the cases were in Ruili, a city bordering Myanmar and the recent Yunnan cluster started on March 30, when the first local case was reported. Yunnan had 36 cases as of Saturday, the provincial government said, 33 of which were local.

Japan Mulls Expanding Injection System (9:07 a.m. HK)

Japan’s government will consider allowing a broader array of medical professionals, such as dentists, to inject Covid-19 vaccines as it looks to ramp up its shots in the coming weeks, the Nikkei newspaper reported, without saying where it obtained the information.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, in an appearance on national public broadcaster NHK, asked people to refrain from trips to the Osaka region. The government placed new virus restrictions on the region in recent days to battle a fresh surge.

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U.S. Halts Astra Vaccine at Plant (8:02 a.m. HK)

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department on Saturday stopped a Baltimore manufacturer from making AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, days after the facility ruined 15 million doses of shots developed by Johnson & Johnson, the New York Times reported, citing two senior federal health officials who weren’t identified.

The move came after the Maryland-based biotech firm, Emergent BioSolutions Inc., accidentally mixed up the ingredients from the two vaccines, which forced regulators to delay approval of the plant’s output, the newspaper said.

Johnson & Johnson later said in a statement that it’s assuming full responsibility on the manufacturing of a drug substance for its Covid-19 vaccine at Emergent BioSolutions’s Bayview facility.

Australia Faces Vaccination Delays (7:04 a.m. HK)

The first phase of Australia’s coronavirus vaccine rollout could end up finishing months behind schedule, the Age reported, citing federal Health Department tenders.

The tenders asking for private companies to provide vaccinations for the phase 1a group include a time frame that suggests the first phase won’t be done until the end of May, according to the report.

French Lockdown to Slow Rebound (6:21 a.m. HK)

France’s economy will rebound less than previously expected this year due to the latest four-week nationwide lockdown aimed at halting a surge in coronavirus cases.

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French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire cut the country’s 2021 GDP growth forecast to 5% from 6%, following an 8.1% contraction last year. A Bloomberg survey in March showed economists were expecting the economy to expand 5.7%.

U.K. to Issue Digital Covid Pass: Sun (6:05 a.m. HK)

The U.K. government will announce plans Monday for a new app that will confirm whether the holder has had a vaccine, a recent negative test or Covid-19 in the past six months, enabling the person to attend mass gatherings such as festivals, theaters or sports events, the Sun newspaper reported.

Bars and restaurants will be excluded from requiring the certification, effectively a victory for dozens of lawmakers in Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party who had railed against what they called a “divisive and discriminatory” measure.

Argentine President Tests Positive (3:33 a.m. HK)

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez, who received two doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine earlier this year, has tested positive for Covid-19, his doctor said.

Fernandez had earlier said that he was self-isolating after receiving a positive result from an antibody test. A polymerase chain reaction test, which is more definitive, had confirmed the result, according to a statement signed by Federico Saavedra, Fernandez’s long-time personal doctor and now a member of his medical staff. Fernandez is “stable, asymptomatic and with indicators within normal ranges,” Saavedra added.

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U.S. Reaches 4 Million Doses for Second Day (3:03 p.m. NY)

The U.S. recorded a second consecutive day of vaccinations at about 4 million, as the weekly average hit a record 3.1 million doses a day, according to data compiled by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. At this pace, it will take another three months to cover 75% of the population. A total of 162 million doses have been administered in the U.S. The global tally is 632 million.

U.K. Says Astra Shot Safe Despite Clot Deaths (9:17 a.m. NY)

The U.K. confirmed seven people had died from rare blood clots after receiving AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. The U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said Saturday that of 30 cases of clotting and low blood platelets identified in people in the U.K. who had received the shot through March 24, seven had died. More than 18 million doses have been administered in the country and the regulator insists the shot is safe.

Australia is also investigating a case of clotting. The country said Saturday that it was cooperating with regulators in the U.K. and the European Union after identifying a case of blood clotting on April 2 in someone who had received the AstraZeneca shot.

U.S. Adds Almost 68,000 New Cases (8 a.m. NY)

The U.S. added almost 68,000 new cases Friday, as weekly infections hit their highest point since late February, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The upward trend continues even as the U.S. is vaccinating at record levels, with 4 million shots given on Friday, data from the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker show.

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Manila Lockdown Extended (7:52 a.m. NY)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approved a proposal to extend a lockdown in the capital Manila and nearby provinces by at least a week as the country’s active coronavirus cases reached the highest in Southeast Asia.

The national capital region and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal will remain under the enhanced community quarantine from April 5 to 11, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Saturday. The nation’s most stringent movement restriction was originally intended to be in effect only for a week to April 4.

U.K. Bars Kenya Visitors (6 a.m. NY)

The U.K. announced that from 4 a.m. on April 9, visitors who have been in, or transited through Kenya, in the previous 10 days cannot enter the country. British and Irish nationals, and third-country nationals with residence rights in the U.K. arriving in England from Kenya will be required to quarantine in a hotel, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said in a statement on its website. Different rules shall apply for arrivals into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the agency said.

Vaccinated Britons Face Fewer Curbs (5:27 p.m. HK)

Vaccinated Britons will face fewer Covid tests and could avoid some quarantine measures under U.K. government plans to ease restrictions around overseas summer holidays, according to the Daily Telegraph.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lay out a plan for opening up travel and is expected to reveal a traffic light system under which countries are rated red, yellow or green according to their risk based on vaccination levels, Covid rates and the prevalence of new variants, the newspaper said. All travelers returning to the U.K. will need pre-departure Covid tests irrespective of their vaccination status.

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U.K. Official Slams Astra ‘Bickering'(4:47 p.m. HK)

“Bickering” and disputes about vaccine supplies and possible side-effects of the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine “needs to stop” as it “just layers uncertainty in people’s minds,” Kate Bingham, who headed and launched the U.K. Vaccine Taskforce, said in a Financial Times interview.

Bingham said that AstraZeneca, whose vaccine safety has been called into question in a number of countries, are “heroes” for picking up an experimental vaccine invented at Oxford University and working out how to test, manufacture and distribute it at low cost around the world. The company has signed more deals to supply low-income countries than any another pharmaceutical rival and have been “caught up in geopolitics,” Bingham told the FT.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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