WHO Warned on Dose Regimen; China City Locks Down: Virus Update
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China’s Dalian city announced that people in mid-to-high Covid-19 risk areas shouldn’t leave. Experts advising the World Health Organization recommended against extending the interval between two doses, a plan under consideration in the U.K.
One person in every 50 now has coronavirus in England, the British government said. Germany extended its lockdown and tightened restrictions, while Italy strengthened some measures to counter the risk of a resurgence. Denmark raised its Covid-19 alert level to the maximum.
Vaccinations are lagging in New York City, which has administered only about 119,000 doses out of the 480,550 delivered. New Jersey reported 138 deaths, the most since May, and 5,400 new cases.
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Puerto Rico to Relax Lockdown Measures (5:55 a.m. HK)
U.K. Steps Up Vaccine Drive, With One in 50 Now Infected
FDA Resists Pressure to Tweak Vaccine Dosages to Stretch Supply
Delays Over Pricing Holds Back India’s Vital Vaccine Rollout
WHO Advisers Warn Against Extending Dose Intervals: Virus Update
Puerto Rico’s new governor is opening beaches and parks, rolling back a curfew and ending Sunday lockdowns to give hard-hit businesses some breathing room.
Governor Pedro Pierluisi, who took office on Saturday, said the new measures will be in effect for 30 days starting Friday. Even so, masks, social distancing and capacity restrictions at businesses remain in place across the U.S. territory of 3.2 million people.
During a press conference Tuesday, Pierluisi said he was taking his cues from health officials and the private sector, but that he would adjust the restrictions if there were signs that infections were on the rise again.
Puerto Rico has reported 136,540 “confirmed, probable and suspected” cases of the coronavirus and 1,562 deaths due to Covid-19. Health officials say they have administered 70,000 Covid-19 vaccines since beginning the inoculation campaign Jan. 15.
Johnson Says 1 in 50 in England Has Covid (3 a.m. HK)
One person in every 50 now has coronavirus in England, the British government said, as medics raced to vaccinate millions of people against the disease.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said 23% of all over-80s in England have now been given a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, meaning some of the most vulnerable patients are getting the protection they need.
More than 1 million people in the country are infected, while in London one in 30 people are infected.
Indian Sees Vaccine Concern After Approvals (2:45 a.m. HK)
A survey of Indian citizens conducted after their country granted emergency approval to two coronavirus vaccines over the weekend found that 69% remained hesitant around getting Covid-19 jabs and wouldn’t rush to get them immediately -- the same level as last month before the regulatory nods.
Poor communication in India has “led to a level of distrust building amongst citizens,” said LocalCircles, a New Delhi-based pollster that received 8,723 responses to a question about vaccine hesitancy. Many Indians don’t believe enough information is “available when it comes to vaccine side-effects, efficacy, etc. from trials, which combined with declining case loads in India are top reasons why people are becoming hesitant.”
WHO Advisers Warn on Dose Intervals (2:15 a.m. HK)
Experts advising the World Health Organization on vaccine policies recommended against spreading the interval between two doses beyond 28 days, following a move by the U.K. to extend the period between shots to as much as 12 weeks in an effort to maximize coverage.
Countries facing “exceptional circumstances of vaccine supply constraints” can delay administration of the second dose of two-shot vaccines for a few weeks, according to a statement from Alejandro Cravioto, chairman of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, but data on safety and efficacy after only one dose is lacking.
Arizona Sees Record Deaths (1:55 a.m. HK)
Arizona on Tuesday reported 253 deaths from Covid-19, a record for the state that brought its total tally during the pandemic to 9,317. The latest number may reflect a backlog of cases: Arizona reported just three deaths in the previous two days.
People in High-Risk Chinese City Asked to Stay (1:30 a.m. HK)
China’s Dalian city announced that people in mid-to-high Covid-19 risk areas shouldn’t leave the city, and those in lower-risk areas have to provide a negative Covid test proof from the past three days if they need to depart, according to a statement from the city.
Separately, Shijiazhuang city, which reported 30 asymptomatic Covid-19 cases on Jan. 4, will suspend in-person classes at primary schools, middle schools and kindergartens, according to the city’s education bureau.
N.J. Records Most Deaths Since May (12:55 a.m. HK)
New Jersey reported 138 deaths, the most since May, and 5,400 new cases, Governor Phil Murphy said at an event in Iselin. Positive test results were more than double the number reported on Monday. “It gets worse before it gets better,” Murphy said of the pandemic.
Hospitals reported 3,702 people under Covid-19 treatment, and that figure has been mostly steady. But the number of intensive-care patients ticked up slightly, to 679, after dropping for six straight days.
The positivity rate was 15% as of Jan 1, but Murphy cautioned that the figure may be unusually high because people tested on the holiday were likely to be experiencing symptoms.
NYC Mayor Rips Cuomo’s Hospital Fine Threat (12 a.m. HK)
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed back against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s threat to levy fines on hospitals that don’t administer vaccines quickly enough.
“Why don’t we stop talking about fines and start talking about the freedom to vaccinate?” de Blasio said during a Tuesday briefing.
New York City has administered only about 119,000 doses out of the 480,550 vaccines delivered. The city began inoculations in mid-December. “I take full responsibility” for speeding up the vaccinations, the mayor said.
Mitchell Katz, president of the city Health & Hospitals system, said everyone in all 11 public hospitals involved in direct patient care has been vaccinated in the past three weeks. His next goal is to vaccinate all staff, he said.
New York City’s Covid-19 infection data trended lower last weekend, with the seven-day average of new cases dropping to 4,064 as of Sunday, from 4,402 the previous day, and hospitalizations for that day totaling 210, just 10 above the public health safety threshold, after hitting a two-week high of 243 on Dec. 28.
Citywide tests had a 9.03% positivity rate over a two-week average as of Sunday, down from 9.22%. The rate of hospitalization in the population stood at 4.07 per 100,000 for the second consecutive day.
Germany Restricts Movement (11:35 p.m. HK)
Germany extended its lockdown and tightened restrictions as pressure mounts on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to contain the coronavirus spread and speed up vaccinations.
Merkel and state leaders agreed on Tuesday to limit non-essential travel to 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) for people living in areas with more than 200 cases per 100,000 people, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
Denmark on Alert Amid Variant Concerns (10:38 p.m. HK)
Denmark raised its Covid-19 alert level to the maximum and introduced fresh restrictions amid concerns over the more transmissible variant of the virus found in Britain.
The Nordic country’s alert level was moved up to five from four, signaling that contagion levels risk overwhelming the health service. While the number of new cases has fallen from its December peak, health officials say the presence of the British mutation on Danish territory could extend the state of emergency further.
Dutch to Start Immunizations, Last in EU (10:28 p.m. HK)
The Netherlands will start its vaccination program Wednesday, giving the first shot to a nursing home employee. The start was moved forward by two days, but the country is still the last EU member to begin immunizations. Prime Minister Mark Rutte acknowledged his government should have been better prepared.
The country saw a decline in new cases in the past seven days, even as the number of deaths and of patients admitted to intensive care units climbed, health agency RIVM reported Tuesday. Overall, RIVM concluded that “convincing effects” of the latest lockdown have not yet been achieved.
Ireland May Toughen Restrictions, PM Says (9:28 p.m. HK)
The closure of construction sites and manufacturing operations is “on the agenda” for a decision by the government in coming days, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said in an interview with RTE.
Schools may also stay closed in January, as new infections hit records after spiraling out of control over the past month, he said. Martin said curbs are likely to remain in place until a substantial share of the population is vaccinated. Some 35,000 vaccinations will be given this month, he said.
Ireland reported “a considerable surge” in cases and hospitalizations on Tuesday. Local media reported that 25% of new cases were linked to the more contagious variant of the virus first detected in England.
U.K. Covid Variant Found in Paris Region (8:24 p.m. HK)
The more transmissible Covid variant discovered in the U.K. has been found in a patient in the Paris region, Paris hospitals head Martin Hirsch said on France 2 TV. Health authorities have completed contact tracing on the patient and the case “is under control,” Hirsch said.
Hirsch expects Paris region hospitals and nursing homes to vaccinate more than 10,000 staff and residents this week. French officials have come under fire for lagging behind other countries in rolling out vaccines. “For the next three weeks, we have the locations, we have the people, we have the doses, and we’re pressing ahead,” Hirsch said.