(Bloomberg) — A vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. was found to be more than 50% effective in a Brazilian clinical trial, but key supporting data wasn’t released.
Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE agreed to double the supply of their Covid-19 vaccine to the U.S., which said it has administered a total of more than 1 million shots in 10 days.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed tougher regulations across a swath of England in an effort to rein in the mutant strain of coronavirus that’s spreading quickly across the country.
Sydney Cluster Grows to 104 (8:22 a.m. HK)
The cluster of Covid-19 infections in Sydney’s Northern Beaches has grown to 104, according to authorities, who urged residents to limit their movements help curb the spread of the virus. New South Wales state recorded seven new cases linked to the cluster and are investigating a further two cases, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters Thursday.
“The virus is circulating in parts of the community,” she said. “There are potential chains of transmission that we are not on top of.”
Texas Posts Record 19,185 New Cases (7:12 a.m. HK)
Texas logged 19,185 new virus cases, smashing the previous 24-hour record established less than a week ago, state health department figures showed. Hospitalizations in the second-largest U.S. State climbed to more than 10,500, the 13th consecutive daily increase and just shy of the all-time high of 10,893 reached in late July.
More than half of the Lone Star state’s 22 trauma service zones have at least 15% of hospital capacity occupied by virus patients, health department data showed.
Los Angeles has one-day record deaths (7:02 a.m. HK)
Los Angeles hit its highest number of daily deaths in the pandemic at 145. New cases were 16,525.
Barbara Ferrer, LA County director of public health, said that a surge in cases seems to be “leveling off at 14,000 to 15,000 a day, which is far too high.”
Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of the county’s public health services, predicted 8,000 Angelenos would die in the current surge. She said most hospitals have no available ICU beds and ambulances are waiting hours to unload patients. “Many of these people will not live to see 2021,” she said. “Covid-19 is absolutely rampant in Los Angeles county.”
China Vaccine Trial Data Is Withheld (6 a.m. HK)
A Covid-19 vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd. was found to be more than 50% effective in a Brazilian clinical trial, though researchers delayed releasing more information at the request of the company.
A 50% efficacy rate is a minimum standard set by U.S. regulators for emergency authorization of Covid vaccines. Messenger RNA vaccines from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. have produced far better results, reducing symptomatic Covid cases by well over 90% in giant trials.
The late-stage trial of Sinovac’s vaccine in Brazil, involving about 13,000 participants, suggested the shot is “safe and effective,” authorities at the Butantan Institute and from the state of Sao Paulo said. They were asked to not disseminate the information until it was thoroughly reviewed in China as part of a contractual agreement, they said.
“Our goal was for the shot to be more than 50% effective,” state Health Secretary Jean Gorinchteyn said at a press conference. “A vaccine that reaches at least that is already cause for celebration.”
U.S. Vaccinations Surpass 1 Million (3:17 a.m. HK)
The U.S. may lead the world in Covid-19 vaccine shots administered, with 1,008,025 doses given in the 10 days since the first doses were cleared for use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
State-led vaccination campaigns are rolling out shots from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., focused at first on hundreds of thousands of health-care workers around the country who have been battling the virus on the front lines in hospitals. The vaccines require two shots weeks apart to deliver the highest level of protection.
China, which has several home-grown vaccines, has vaccinated more than 650,000 people and says it has administered 1 million doses. That figure could in fact be far higher, or at least higher than the U.S. total, since the country has provided infrequent updates on its effort. Russia has vaccinated 440,000 people. Both countries got a head start in August by authorizing domestically produced vaccines before they’d been fully tested.
N.J. Sees Most Hospitalizations Since May (3:15 a.m. HK)
New Jersey hospitals reported 3,841 patients with Covid-19 symptoms, the highest number since May 13, Governor Phil Murphy said.
“They are not good,” Murphy said of the new statistics, which stem from 4,919 newly confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the state’s total this year to 445,138. Hospitals reported 765 patients in intensive-care units, 63% of them on ventilators.
The state recorded 103 new deaths, the second consecutive day that fatalities exceeded 100.
“These numbers are sobering,” the governor said. A week ago, they were declining, and “now they are as high as seven months ago.”
U.S. Wants Samples of U.K. Strain (2:45 a.m. HK)
The U.S. is trying to obtain samples of the mutant strain of SARS-CoV-2 that’s arisen in the U.K. for testing at the National Institutes of Health, according to Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease doctor.
“We at the NIH are in communication with our colleagues in the U.K. to try and get the isolate to work with,” Fauci said in a taped interview that will air on Bloomberg Television. “We need to take this seriously and we need to investigate it much further.”
The variant doesn’t appear to make infected people more ill than other strains, and vaccine makers have said they believe their shots will raise immunity against it.
Ireland Officials Find U.K. Variant (2:15 a.m. HK)
Irish health authorities said a variant of the coronavirus has arrived from the U.K., and warned the situation was at its most worrying since March. Almost 1,000 new cases were recorded Wednesday, the latest in a spike in numbers which has prompted the government to introduce new restrictions, including closing bars and restaurants on Christmas Eve for at least three weeks.
N.Y. Extends Eviction Moratorium (2:10 a.m. HK)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he will extend the state’s moratorium on evictions, which is set to expire Jan. 1.
Cuomo also implored federal officials to do more to stop or contain the spread of the new Covid-19 variant reported in the U.K, such as blocking flights from that country or requiring those passengers to test negative before boarding planes.
Spain to Vaccinate 2.3 Million in 12 Weeks (2:05 a.m. HK)
Spain plans to vaccinate about 2.3 million people over a 12-week period starting on Dec. 27. Spain will receive 4.5 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines arriving in weekly batches from Dec. 26, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Wednesday.
U.K. Reports Record Cases, Extends Lockdowns (12:30 a.m. HK)
The U.K. reported nearly 40,000 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, the most since the pandemic began, as it sent more areas of the country into its toughest level of restrictions.
“The rapid rise in cases is hugely worrying,” Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said in an emailed statement. The nation reported 744 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test, the highest since the end of April.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed tougher regulations across a swath of England in an effort to control the mutant strain of coronavirus that’s spreading quickly across the country.
Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Most of Hampshire and the remainder of Essex will face the strictest rules under the government’s 4-tier system from 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a press conference.
NYC Enforces Quarantine on Arrivals (12:05 a.m. HK)
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will strictly enforce quarantine rules for all travelers arriving in the city during the holidays, particularly those from the U.K., where a highly contagious new Covid-19 strain has been detected.
Visitors arriving at New York City’s airports will receive a city health department order to quarantine via certified mail to their home or hotel. All travelers from the U.K. will have sheriff deputies visiting their homes and hotels, he said. Visitors may avoid extended quarantine by getting tested before they travel and after they arrive, he said.
Travelers ordered to quarantine will be offered support services including free hotel stays and food delivery, if necessary. Violators will be subject to $1,000 fines per day, the mayor said. Motorists coming into the city will also be checked. About 10,000 car-stops have already been made in recent weeks. Those checks will be conducted more intensively over the holidays, the mayor said.
Moderna Shot Approved in Canada (11:40 p.m. HK)
Canada’s public health authorities approved Moderna Inc.’s coronavirus vaccine, the second shot to be licensed in a country that’s secured more doses per person than any other around the world.
Approval of the Moderna shot will allow Canada to expand its vaccination campaign beyond initial inoculation sites in urban centers. Northern regions have specifically requested doses from the Massachusetts-based company due to less-cumbersome refrigeration requirements.
NYC Has Most Hospitalizations Since May (11:35 p.m. HK)
New York City is seeing the biggest surge in Covid-related hospitalizations since May.
The number of people admitted on Monday jumped to 224, above the city’s early-warning marker of 200, from 196 the prior day. The city’s seven-day average hospitalization rate also is climbing, to 3.19 per 100,000.
During the height of the outbreak earlier this year, New York had an average of 13 new admissions per 100,000 a day and more than 12,000 hospitalized at one time. As of Monday, about 2,200 were in city hospitals for Covid illness.