ECONOMY

Pfizer Curbs Severe Covid; Olympics Opening: Virus Update

Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine appears to be less effective in halting the spread of the delta strain, though it shields well against severe illness, Israeli government data show.

Japan is planning to hold the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics without fans, giving up earlier plans to have spectators at the July 23 event, the Asahi newspaper reported. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to end social distancing and capacity limits at venues in England in two weeks, saying people must learn to live with coronavirus.

Sydney’s outbreak of the delta-variant of the coronavirus is raising concern Australia’s most-populous city may need to extend its two-week lockdown beyond Friday. Bangladesh reported a daily record for infections and deaths.

  • Global Tracker: Cases top 184 million; deaths near 3.98 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 3.19 billion doses administered
  • Mortality rose during delta variant surge in India, study shows
  • Getting athletes to pandemic Olympics is a logistical nightmare
  • From alpha to delta, why virus mutations cause alarm: QuickTake

Japan to Hold Olympic Opening Without Fans (7:39 a.m. HK)

The Japanese government is planning to hold the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics without fans, giving up earlier plans to have spectators at the July 23 event, the Asahi newspaper reported, citing several unidentified government officials.

IOC committee members, sponsors and other officials will be allowed to attend the ceremony, but the government will attempt to further downsize the number. Venues with capacity of 10,000 people or more will be banned from having spectators as well as games scheduled later than 9 p.m.

Australia Hits 8.2 Million Vaccines Given (5:48 p.m. NY)

Australia has administered 8.2 million vaccines doses, according to data collected by Bloomberg News and Johns Hopkins University.

The average rate is estimated at 125,007 doses a day. At this pace, it will take a projected 7 months to cover 75% of the population with a two-dose vaccine. Immunizations there started about 19 weeks ago.

Bolsonaro Hit by Vaccine Scandal (3:55 p.m. NY)

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro’s approval rating has fallen to 34%, the lowest since he assumed office, after being accused of turning a blind eye to an alleged kickback scheme in the purchase of vaccines. An MDA poll published Monday showed his popularity falling from 44% in February.

Myanmar Posts Record Rise in New Cases (2:26 p.m. NY)

Myanmar reported 2,969 new infections Monday, the largest single-day increase in cases since it first detected the coronavirus in March 2020, according to the country’s Ministry of Health and Sports. The rate of positive tests was 26.9%, also a record, and there were 42 new deaths.

Pfizer Shot Curbs Severe Illness in Israel (12:30 p.m. NY )

Pfizer’s vaccine appears to be less effective in halting the spread of the delta strain, though it remains highly effective at preventing severe illness, according to data from Israel’s government.

The shot protected 64% of people against Covid between June 6 and early July, down from 94% between May 2 and June 5, the Ynet news website reported, citing Health Ministry numbers. At the same time, the vaccine’s efficacy at keeping people who get infected out of the hospital in that period slipped only slightly, to 93% from 98%.

U.K. Plans to End Social Distancing (12:07 p.m. NY)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to end social distancing and capacity limits at venues in England from July 19, saying that people must learn to live with coronavirus.

Face masks will be made voluntary in all settings and the government will no longer instruct people to work from home, in a decisive shift from legal requirements to personal responsibility. All remaining businesses will be allowed to open, including nightclubs, and none will be required to demand any proof of vaccination or testing before entry.

The final decision will be still need to be confirmed on July 12.

England’s Mayors Want Masks on Transport (10:40 a.m. NY)

Mayors from the biggest English cities up and down the country urged U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stop people on public transport from traveling without face masks. Johnson is expected to confirm on Monday that face coverings will no longer be required in many situations after July 19.

“Many people are still anxious about traveling on public transport and we need to get people back to normal again; normal means taking public transport, which we know they haven’t been,” said Dan Norris, the Labour Mayor for the West of England, in an interview.

Luxembourg Premier Remains Hospitalized (10:40 a.m. NY)

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel will remain hospitalized for a second day after testing positive over a week ago, just days after attending a summit with European Union counterparts.

Bettel’s condition “is serious, but stable,” his government said.

Mauritius Pushes Ahead With Inoculations (9:49 a.m. NY)

Mauritius, a tourism-reliant Indian Ocean island nation, is set to fully inoculate 70% of its population by the end of September, before the second phase of reopening its borders to vaccinated tourists, according to Finance Minister Renganaden Padayachy. The target is within reach after the country received a second consignment of 500,000 SinoPharm vaccines on Sunday.

Duchess of Cambridge Self-Isolates (8:20 a.m. NY)

The Duchess of Cambridge is self-isolating for 10 days after coming into contact with a person who had Covid-19, The Times of London reported, citing Kensington Palace. She hasn’t experienced any symptoms.

Scotland Tops Europe’s Covid Hotspots (8:12 a.m. NY)

Scotland is recording the highest rates of coronavirus cases in Europe a little over a month before the government plans to lift most restrictions on society and the economy.

The regions covering the cities of Dundee and Edinburgh were top of the World Health Organization’s latest heat map, the BBC reported, as the delta variant rips through the country. Scotland last week reported daily infections exceeding 4,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic. It’s counting on vaccinations to break the link between infection and serious illness. So far, the data appears to back up that approach, with hospitalizations rising at a much slower rate than new cases.

Pfizer Curbs Severe Covid; Olympics Opening: Virus Update

Bangladesh Reports Record Infections, Deaths (8:05 a.m. NY)

Bangladesh reported daily records of 9,964 new virus cases and 164 deaths on Monday. The capital city of Dhaka accounted for almost half the daily caseload, while Khulna, a southwestern administrative division, logged 55 fatalities in signs of transmission in rural areas.

About 50% of infections come from villages, the Directorate General of Health Services said on Monday. The agency had previously lowered the minimum age for vaccines to 35 years from 40 years, as the South Asian nation resumes mass inoculations.

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