Covid Origin Likely From Bats; CDC Sounds Alarm: Virus Update

The coronavirus likely originated in bats and spread to humans through another animal, a long-awaited World Health Organization-China study found. The possibility it leaked from a lab in China is “extremely unlikely,” according to a draft of the report which is due to be published Tuesday.

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of “impending doom” as cases and deaths begin to rise again. Hospitalizations related to Covid-19 are already climbing in half of the U.S., the latest sign that the nation’s fourth upswing in infections is underway.

The U.S. is on pace to soon administer 3 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines a day as the supply increases and states widen eligibility. New York City administered a record 478,000 doses last week. A CDC study found the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine and the Moderna Inc. shot effectively prevented coronavirus infections, not just illness.

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 127 million; deaths near 2.8 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 559 million shots given worldwide
  • New York, London beat Asian finance hubs in race to vaccinate
  • Can a Vaccinated Person Still Spread the Coronavirus?: QuickTake
  • Mystery of Italian town’s 29 million shots strains EU-Astra ties
  • Vaccines Become a Race Against Time as CDC Warns of Covid Surge

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.

Singapore Develops Tests for Variants (6:54 a.m. HK)

Scientists from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University have developed a Covid-19 rapid test that detects variants in the virus, The Straits Times reported.

The results are produced within 30 minutes and are about 10 times more accurate than rapid antigen tests currently in use, according to the report.

Apple Offers Paid Time Off for Vaccines (6:45 a.m. HK)

Apple is encouraging employees to get Covid-19 vaccines by offering paid time off for appointments and paid sick leave for those experiencing side effects.

In California, where Apple has its main offices and more than 50 stores, people over the age of 16 will be eligible for vaccination on April 15, the state said last week. Many other states are also expanding vaccine eligibility.

Canadian Provinces Halt Astra Shots (4:29 p.m. NY)

Health officials in at least five Canadian provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, are halting the rollout of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to people under 55 over concerns it could lead to blood clots in rare circumstances.

The move could cast further doubt about the safety of the vaccine after concerns were raised in Europe about potential side effects. It’s also another setback for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vaccine effort, which is off to the second-slowest start among Group of Seven nations. Just 1.8% of Canadian residents are fully vaccinated, compared with 15.8% in the U.S., according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker.

U.S. Wants Private Sector to Lead on Passports (3:20 p.m. NY)

White House officials said that the push for vaccine passports should come from the private sector and that the federal government won’t take the lead in creating a centralized document-proving vaccination.

The U.S. government “is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of citizens,” Andy Slavitt, a White House Covid-19 adviser, said Monday in a briefing.

Biden: 90% Eligible for Shots by April 19 (3:15 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden said Monday that 90% of U.S. adults will be eligible to get a Covid-19 vaccine in three weeks, and that his administration will more than double the number of pharmacies where shots are available, as cases begin to rise again.

“Look at what we have done in the last 10 weeks. No other country has come close,” Biden said at the White House. But he urged states that have eased restrictions on masks and other prevention measures to reinstate them: “The war against Covid-19 is far from won.”

Biden made the announcement Monday afternoon at the White House, marking April 19 as a new milestone in the vaccination effort. He also said that nearly all U.S. adults will be able to get a shot within 5 miles of their homes.

U.S. Doses Head for 3 Million a Day (2:40 p.m. NY)

The U.S. is on pace to soon administer 3 million doses a day of Covid-19 vaccine, as the supply increases and states widen eligibility.

After stalling at about 2.5 million doses a day, the rate of shots administered in the U.S. has started to again climb. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the U.S. reported a total of more than 10 million shots in arms — a record three-day stretch that helped push up the average rate, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

On Monday, the U.S. reported 2.4 million doses administered. Mondays are typically slower days for vaccine reporting in the U.S., with the previous record on a Monday about 2 million doses.

N.J. Raises Outdoor Gathering Limit (1:50 p.m. NY)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he is increasing the outdoor gathering limit, in hopes of encouraging people to convene outside.

N.Y. Lowers Vaccine Age to 30 (1 p.m. NY)

New York state will make coronavirus vaccine eligibility universal by April 6, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday. It became one of the last U.S. states to take that step.

Vaccine eligibility will expand to those age 30 years and older starting on Tuesday, and then will then increase to those age 16 and older the following week, Cuomo said. The news comes ahead of the federal May 1 deadline aimed to increase eligibility for all those age 16 and older.

Hospitalizations Up in Half of U.S. (12:07 p.m. NY)

The seven-day average of hospital admissions with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 increased in 25 U.S. states plus the nation’s capital and Puerto Rico last week, compared with same period a week earlier, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data through Saturday.

Additionally, about two in three patients with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 nationally are now younger than 65, according to data updated Friday from Covid-Net, a surveillance network covering 14 states.

CDC Chief Warns of ‘Impending Doom’ (11:45 a.m. NY)

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pleaded with Americans to wear masks and stick with Covid-19 mitigation measures, warning of “impending doom” as cases, hospitalizations and deaths begin to rise again.

Rochelle Walensky, speaking at a press briefing Monday, fought back tears as she outlined a series of warning signals and said she was frightened about a looming fourth wave of Covid cases.

She said the U.S. trajectory looks “similar” to that in the EU a few weeks ago, before spikes in cases took hold.

Pfizer, Moderna Shots Prevent Infection (11:05 a.m. NY)

Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. effectively prevented coronavirus infections, not just illness, with substantial protection evident two weeks after the first dose, government researchers said.

Two doses of the vaccines provide as much as 90% protection against infection, according to data from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published Monday. Earlier clinical trials had established that the shots also prevent illness, hospitalizations, and deaths.

The study adds to evidence that new vaccines made with messenger RNA technology actually reduce the spread of the virus in real-world conditions. An earlier study in Israel found a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine reduced infections by as much as 85%.

NYC Administers Record 478,000 in a Week (11 a.m. NY)

New York City administered a record 478,000 doses last week and expects more this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. He expects to reach a total of 4 million doses this week.

The city and District Council 37, the largest union for city workers, held a vaccination day at Citi Field over the weekend, and the mayor said 130,000 municipal workers have been vaccinated ahead of a May 3 return to offices. New York is intensifying vaccine efforts in Asian neighborhoods, opening a site at a Korean community center in northeast Queens.

At the same time, the most populous U.S. city is reporting more than 2,500 new confirmed Covid-19 cases a day, based on a seven-day average; and it had an average of 3.99 new virus-related hospital admissions per 100,000 as of March 27, the highest level in weeks.

“This crisis isn’t over yet,” de Blasio said.

Pfizer Demands S. Africa Ministers Sign Pact (10:30 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. is demanding that South Africa’s health and finance ministers personally sign a Covid-19 vaccine-supply agreement so that it is indemnified from any claims made against it in the country regarding the shot. The demand is contained in a March 24 letter from South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to his finance counterpart, Tito Mboweni, seen by Bloomberg and confirmed by the National Treasury. Pfizer wasn’t satisfied by assurances that the signature of the country’s health director general was sufficient to guarantee the indemnity, Mkhize said. Pfizer didn’t immediately respond to emailed queries.

Origin Study Finds Lab Leak Unlikely (8:43 a.m. NY)

The coronavirus probably spread from bats to humans via another animal, according to the long-awaited results of a joint World Health Organization-China study into the origins of Covid-19.

The authors suggest that the most productive research would be to find such an animal link, saying the hypothesis of lab leaks was extremely unlikely, according to a draft of the report, which was obtained by Bloomberg News before it’s due to be published Tuesday. The scientists suggested future studies take a wider geographical approach, including Southeast Asia, and investigate susceptible animal species more closely.

Top Biden administration officials on Sunday expressed concern about the way the report was crafted, including the possibility that the Chinese government had a hand in writing it.

U.S. Cases Rise for Two Straight Weeks (8:41 a.m. NY)

Covid-19 infections rose for two straight weeks in the U.S., the first such increase since January, as states ease restrictions. For the seven days ending Sunday, cases rose 17% from the prior week to about 444,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky has said she is “deeply concerned” about the changing trajectory.

Covid Origin Likely From Bats; CDC Sounds Alarm: Virus Update

Abu Dhabi Looks to Become Pharma Hub (8:35 a.m. NY)

Abu Dhabi is looking to transform itself into a pharmaceutical hub, with a goal to help distribute billions of vaccine doses, Abu Dhabi Ports Chairman Falah Mohammed Al Ahbabi said at a virtual event on Monday.

The comments come after the United Arab Emirates, of which Abu Dhabi is the capital, became the first nation in the U.S-allied Gulf to set up a coronavirus vaccine production facility.

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