The first Covid-19 vaccine expected to be deployed in the U.S. won the backing of a panel of government advisers, a step that will likely help clear the way for emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Australian government canceled an order for 51 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by CSL Ltd. and the University of Queensland after clinical trials ran into difficulties. An expert panel that advises the Japanese government on the coronavirus will again call for the suspension of the country’s “Go To” travel campaign in areas where there are major outbreaks, Asahi reported.

States across the U.S. implemented more restrictions with Virginia announcing a limited nightly stay-at-home order after record daily cases this week. Pennsylvania is temporarily suspending indoor dining at bars and restaurants.

  • Global Tracker: Cases exceed 69.4 million; deaths near 1.58 million
  • U.S. Hot Spots: December smashes records as deaths near 300,000
  • Pfizer shot backed by FDA advisers as agency decision nears
  • There’s still time to beat Covid without lockdowns
  • Bye-bye Bali, hello Bondi. Grounded Australians holiday at home
  • The window is closing for also-ran vaccine makers
  • Tracking coronavirus vaccines that will end the pandemic

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FDA Nears Pfizer Decision; Australia Cancels Order: Virus Update

Australia Cancels Order for CSL Vaccine as Trial Stumbles (8:32 a.m. HK)

The Australian government canceled an order for 51 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by CSL Ltd. and the University of Queensland after clinical trials ran into difficulties.

CSL stock declined the most in 10 weeks on Friday after the company said that following discussions with the government, it would not progress to phase 2/3 clinical trials of the V451 vaccine. It said a small component of the vaccine comes from the human immunodeficiency virus, and while that posed no risk of infection, some trial participants had false positive tests for HIV.

Pfizer Vaccine Gets Nod From FDA Advisers (5:40 p.m. NY)

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted 17 to 4 on Thursday that the benefits of the the vaccine by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE outweigh the risks for use in people ages 16 and older. One member of the group abstained.

The FDA doesn’t have to follow the recommendation, though often it does agree with its advisers.

FDA Nears Pfizer Decision; Australia Cancels Order: Virus Update

N.Y. Cases Still Close to Record Territory (4:40 p.m. NY)

New York’s new cases declined to 10,178 from 10,600 a day earlier, while the number of patients in intensive care units increased and another 92 people in the state died, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

With cases still close to the state’s worst-day record on April 15, New York remains close to familiar and dangerous territory. The rolling seven-day average of available ICU beds in New York City and Long Island is 25%.

FDA Nears Pfizer Decision; Australia Cancels Order: Virus Update

New York City’s 4.1% positive-test rate and Long Island’s 5.7% rate are little changed this week, according to state data provided by Cuomo. The numbers represent a rolling 7-day average.

New York City is driving the state’s spike, accounting for more than a quarter of new cases, with hot spots in Staten Island and the western end of Rockaway Peninsula in Queens. The Mohawk Valley and the Finger Lakes are reporting the highest new infection trajectory when scaled for population.

Still, the number of patients hospitalized statewide is about a quarter of what it was in April when coronavirus overwhelmed the health-care system. Patients are spending less time in the hospital, and less often require intensive procedures like intubation. Thanks to more sophisticated treatment, the virus is killing less often.

FDA Nears Pfizer Decision; Australia Cancels Order: Virus Update

Pennsylvania to Halt Dining Out Indoors (4:27 p.m. NY)

Pennsylvania is suspending indoor dining from Saturday and prohibiting gatherings and events of more than 10 people, Governor Tom Wolf said on Twitter. The measures will remain in place until Jan. 4.

Daily cases in the state hit a record of more than 12,000 last week. The latest count was 11,064 on Wednesday, according to state health data.

The goal is to avoid overwhelming the health-care system “and help Pennsylvanians get through the holiday season — and closer to a COVID vaccine — as safely as possible,” said Wolf, who said he tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Ohio Extends Curfew Through New Year’s (2:45 p.m. NY)

Governor Mike DeWine said state health officials are extending a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in Ohio until Jan. 2, seeking to limit social gatherings in and outside people’s homes while awaiting a vaccine.

“We believe the curfew, along with mask-wearing, have had an impact, and the next 21 days are extremely critical,” DeWine said on Twitter. “We must all do everything we can to slow down the virus.”

While the number of intensive-care patients with Covid-19 has increased 23% in the state over the past 21 days, it has declined by 2% in the last week, according to the Ohio Hospital Association.

Virginia Imposes Seven-Week Curfew Amid Record Cases (2:24 p.m. NY)

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced a “modified stay-at-home order” that requires people to stay at home from midnight to 5 a.m, with exemptions including grocery shopping, work travel and medical emergencies, from Monday through Jan. 31. Virginia counted a record 4,398 new cases a day earlier.

“If you don’t need to go out, go home,” Northam said at a press conference. “This is just plain common sense.”

Virginia also will reduce the social-gathering limit to 10 people from 25 and step up enforcement of a statewide mask mandate, which Northam expanded on Thursday in line with the latest CDC guidance.

“While Virginia’s new cases per capita remain lower than 43 other states, all of the Commonwealth’s five health regions are experiencing increases in COVID-19 cases, positive tests, and hospitalizations,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

FDA Nears Pfizer Decision; Australia Cancels Order: Virus Update

Ontario Vaccinations Within Days, Premier Says (2:11 p.m. NY)

Ontario expects to receive “a very small number” of Covid-19 vaccines in the coming days and will prioritize health workers in long-term care homes and other high-risk settings, Premier Doug Ford said on Thursday. The province will administer the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine to those workers on Dec. 15 in Toronto and Ottawa.

France Swaps Lockdown for Curfew (1:15 p.m. NY)

Theaters, museums and cinemas, along with sports facilities, will remain shut in France instead of reopening as planned next week, Prime Minister Jean Castex said Thursday. A nighttime curfew will take effect on Dec. 15, he said. Meanwhile, travel across the country will now be permitted.

FDA Nears Pfizer Decision; Australia Cancels Order: Virus Update

Some 14,000 new cases were reported nationwide Thursday, almost triple a target set by President Emmanuel Macron, who said the lockdown could be lifted by mid-December if new cases averaged 5,000 a day.

Stockholm Almost Runs Out of ICU Beds (12:45 p.m. NY)

Sweden is trying to figure out how to expand capacity in its health-care system after almost running out of intensive care beds in Stockholm.

Stockholm’s ICU capacity reached 99% this week, as infection rates in the largest Nordic capital soar. Across Sweden, there were only 148 ICU beds left as of Thursday.

Efforts to expand capacity are being complicated by a shortage of trained staff, with many on sick leave after months of overtime. Others quit their jobs after the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.

U.S. Airline Pilots Seek Priority (12:05 p.m. NY)

The largest union of U.S. airline pilots is asking the government to give cockpit crews preference for receiving the coronavirus vaccine to ensure its shipment by air cargo isn’t interrupted.

Cargo-airline pilots “have experienced an alarming increase in Covid-19 exposure and infections,” Joseph DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, said in a letter to Senate lawmakers dated Wednesday.

Russia Revises Death Toll Upward (11:41 a.m. NY)

Russia reported a record monthly death toll of 22,571 in October, more than 80% above the previous peak in May, according to the State Statistics Service. The data, released Thursday and based on death certificates, are considered more accurate than the daily figures reported by the government’s virus-response office.

Russia has the fourth-most cases in the world. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said this week that its death rate is lower than those in many other countries.

Italy Reports Almost 900 New Deaths (11:40 a.m. NY)

Italy reported 887 new virus-linked deaths on Thursday, compared with 499 the day before, bringing the total to 62,626.

Cases increased by 16,999, compared with 12,756 on Wednesday. Italy, which was Europe’s early epicenter of the pandemic last winter, reported has reported almost 1.79 cases since the outbreak began.

London’s Case Rate Rises, Raising Restriction Concerns (7:36 a.m. NY)

London has the highest rate of coronavirus cases in England, according to the latest data, which will raise concern the U.K. capital will be lifted into the highest tier of restrictions next week.

The city had a rate of 191.8 cases per 100,000 population in the week ending Dec. 6, Public Health England said Thursday. That compared to 158.4 in the West Midlands region, where case rates have fallen the most.

German Regions Start to Tighten Lockdown (7:11 a.m. NY)

Authorities in Germany are discussing tighter nationwide restrictions before Christmas, and some regions are already acting. Berlin is set to join Bavaria and Saxony with stricter measures. The capital plans to close all non-essential shops and extend school breaks until Jan. 10, Mayor Michael Mueller said Thursday.

“At the moment, it’s the worst of three worlds” with too many infections, high costs to support affected businesses and public fatigue from weeks of pandemic curbs, Health Minister Jens Spahn said.

Seven-day infection rates in people above the age of 80 have reached nearly 250 per 100,000 residents, the Robert Koch Institute said on Thursday. That’s about two-thirds higher than in the population as a whole. Outbreaks in care homes are at about twice the level of the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, RKI President Lothar Wieler said.

Giuliani Feeling “Better Than Ever” After Leaving Hospital (6:48 a.m. NY)

President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani says he left the hospital feeling “better than ever” after being admitted to Georgetown University Medical Center with “serious symptoms” for Covid-19 several days ago.

“My treatment by the nurses and staff at Georgetown Med Star Hospital was miraculous,” the former New York mayor said in a tweet.

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