Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine won backing from a panel of experts who advise U.S. regulators, setting the stage for its shot to be the second vaccine cleared in the U.S.

Pfizer Inc. pushed back on claims it is experiencing problems producing its Covid-19 vaccine, as the company and the U.S. government continued to try to reach a deal for another 100 million doses. Some governors complained this week that their allocations of the shot are less than what they expected.

Germany plans some changes to its travel rules. China aims to inoculate 50 million people by early February and Japan will fast-track its review of Pfizer’s vaccine, while Malaysia is set to ease virus curbs. California sets a record for fatalities for the second consecutive day as the U.S. passed 17 million total infections.

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 75 million; deaths top 1.7 million
  • Pfizer and the U.S. are wrangling over the pace of its vaccine rollout
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  • Los Angeles is now the worst-hit U.S. metro area for Covid-19 cases
  • Singapore has tons of dry ice ready as it prepares for vaccine arrival
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  • Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID
China Vaccine Push, Malaysia to Ease Restrictions: Virus Update

Malaysia to Re-Open More Sectors as Virus Curbs Relaxed (5:08 p.m HK)

Malaysia is set to reopen its sports and recreational sectors, as well as tourism and culture sectors, subject to virus guidelines, according to Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob. It will ease restrictions beginning Dec. 19 nationwide, except for areas under enhanced movement control orders.

German Businesses Are Optimistic About Economic Recovery in 2021 (5:08 p.m. HK)

German businesses are hopeful that Europe’s largest economy will pick up in the first half of next year. Companies also were more optimistic about the current situation, with President Clemens Fuest saying tough new coronavirus restrictions are only hitting certain sectors.

The country is also planning changes to travel rules for citizens returning from outside the European Union’s Schengen area that would require them to provide a negative test before they begin their journey, Bild newspaper reported.

Japan to Prioritize, Fast-Track Review of Pfizer Covid Vaccine (4:00 p.m. HK)

Japanese Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said he has instructed authorities to prioritize review of Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. A vaccine isn’t a requirement to hold the Olympics, so there’s no plan to push to get all citizens vaccinated before the games, he said.

Denmark Cuts Economic Outlook on Wider Pandemic Fallout (3:30 p.m. HK)

Denmark’s government has cut its growth outlook but now sees a more moderate contraction this year, as the Nordic nation goes into 2021 after imposing a lockdown over Christmas to fight a surge in Covid-19 infections. Gross domestic product is seen shrinking 3.8% in 2020, compared with a 4.5%-contraction forecast in August.

China Plans to Vaccinate 50 Million by Early February (3:11 p.m. HK)

China has kickstarted an ambitious effort to inoculate 50 million people against Covid-19 ahead of the Lunar New Year, using locally developed shots that are moving closer to getting regulatory approval.

The launch will focus on giving Chinese-made vaccines to key groups including hospital, police, airport and customs staff, as well as utility workers, according to people familiar with the matter.

Philippine Prepares Pandemic Recovery Steps (2:25 p.m. HK)

The Philippines has lined up key measures to support economic recovery for President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval, as it aims for a strong rebound in 2021 after plunging into recession this year amid the pandemic.

Congress has approved a record $93.6 billion spending plan for 2021, and allowed unspent funds from this year’s budget and pandemic relief package to be rolled over to next year.

Turkey Publishes Regulation on Emergency Vaccination (1:30 p.m. HK)

Turkey may allow vaccination even if there is no comprehensive evidence for efficiency, quality or safety in case of emergency situations including pandemic, according to official gazette.

Thailand Eases Curbs on U.S., Japan Tourists (12:45 p.m. HK)

Thailand is easing travel restrictions on visitors from 56 countries, including the U.S., Japan and Singapore, ahead of the peak holiday season to boost the nation’s ailing tourism sector.

Tourists are allowed to enter Thailand without prior visas but will need to carry a health certificate to prove they are free of Covid-19 and undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

Indonesia’s Capital Sets Mall, Restaurant Curfew (11:17 a.m. HK)

Jakarta, a hotbed of Covid-19 cases in the country, is limiting activities at various public places from Friday until Jan. 8, 2021.

Offices must close by 7 p.m., while restaurants, shopping malls, movie theaters and tourist sites must shut by 9 p.m. On Christmas and New Year public holidays, recreational sites must close by 7 p.m. Officials will increase monitoring of those traveling into the city and will check that travelers can show the negative results of their rapid antigen tests. Public transport will operate until 8 p.m. only.

China Vaccine Push, Malaysia to Ease Restrictions: Virus Update

Pfizer, BioNTech Apply for Covid Vaccine Approval in Japan (11:12 a.m. HK)

Vaccine is undergoing p1/2 trials in the country, but already approved for emergency use in several countries, including the U.S. Kyodo says inoculation could happen as soon as March, without attributing the information.

Mesoblast Shares Plunge After Trial Update (7:33 a.m. HK)

Mesoblast plunged as much as 45%, the most ever in intraday trading, after the Australian drug developer said its stem cell medicine isn’t likely to meet a target for reducing mortality in a trial of Covid-19 patients.

Sydney’s Surge Triggers Restrictions (5:25 p.m. NY)

Australia’s largest city reported an additional 10 cases on Friday, taking the total cluster on Sydney’s northern beaches to 28, prompting states to reimpose restrictions on visitors coming from New South Wales.

China Vaccine Push, Malaysia to Ease Restrictions: Virus Update

The outbreak ends a more than month-long run with limited community transmission in New South Wales state.

Benefits Outweigh Risks of Moderna’s Vaccine (5:15 p.m. NY)

FDA advisers agreed Thursday that the benefits of Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine outweigh any risk, giving a boost to efforts to ramp up the U.S. immunization campaign. The effort is initially focusing on health-care workers and seniors who live in long-term care facilities. The FDA could authorize the shot within the next day.

Moderna’s product is based on the same technology as a shot made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE that was cleared by the FDA last week, and like that vaccine showed a high degree of efficacy in late-stage clinical trials. At Thursday’s advisory meeting, some of the discussion focused on a handful of allergic reactions experienced by people in the U. S. and U.K. who got the Pfizer shot.

Putin’s Vaccine Comments Rattle Argentina (5:10 p.m. NY)

Comments by President Vladimir Putin signaling caution about Russia’s coronavirus vaccine reverberated in Argentina, where the government plans to use it on priority groups, including the elderly. Argentina will await the final results before importing the vaccines by plane to Buenos Aires, said a person familiar with the matter.

Putin, 68, expressed caution about taking the Sputnik V vaccine, saying at a news conference earlier Thursday that it hasn’t been fully tested on people his age.

China Vaccine Push, Malaysia to Ease Restrictions: Virus Update

Microsoft Urges Faster School Openings, Pledges Aid (5:05 p.m. NY)

Microsoft Corp. called for an accelerated reopening of elementary schools in Washington State and pledged protective equipment, cleaning supplies and technology to track Covid-19 tests. The company, based in Redmond, Washington, also called for teachers to be prioritized in the state’s vaccination plans.

The comments from the software giant come a day after Governor Jay Inslee loosened the state’s guidelines for school reopenings. Inslee’s announcement Wednesday was condemned by the statewide teacher’s union and also comes as hospitalizations linked to the virus have surged in the state over the past month.

European Leaders Isolating After Macron Tests Positive (3:54 p.m. NY)

Leaders from across Europe announced they’re isolating after coming into contact with French President Emmanuel Macron who tested positive for Covid-19.

Hours after being tested positive for Covid-19 after what an official described as “mild symptoms,” Macron, 42, took part in a conference about development aid via video, from isolation. His 67-year-old wife Brigitte tested negative on Thursday.

China Vaccine Push, Malaysia to Ease Restrictions: Virus Update

Macron is suffering from a cough, fever and fatigue, an official in his office said. Macron will isolate and work in a state residence known as “la Lanterne” in Versailles, while his wife will remain at the Elysee Palace.

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