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A person in Guinean gets vaccinated (AFP)
A person in Guinean gets vaccinated (AFP)

Fauci hints at eased rules; AstraZeneca cuts EU target: Covid-19 update

  • Ireland’s government will maintain its strict lockdown regime until at least April 5
  • South African President Cyril Rampahosa backed a call by French President Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for wealthy countries to donate 5% of their vaccines to poorer nations

Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, suggested the US may soon issue guidance easing public health protocols for people who are fully vaccinated. And the US might be looking at a surge in vaccine availability next month.

AstraZeneca Plc expects its vaccine to gain emergency-use authorization in the US in April and to deliver as many as 50 million doses by the end of that month. But it also expects to deliver fewer than half the vaccines it had committed to supply the EU in the first and second quarter.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he’s “very optimistic" that England’s restrictions on social contact will end in June, and airline bookings have started to surge in Britain. Thailand may waive quarantines for vaccinated visitors to help revive tourism. Italy is imposing a new hard lockdown in areas close to the country’s original coronavirus epicentre.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases exceed 111.9 million; deaths pass 2.48 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 213 million shots given worldwide

Colorado deactivates hospital care plan (8:23 a.m. HK)

Colorado ended its Crisis Standard of Care Plan that set emergency guidelines for allotting hospital care and recommended allocation of scarce resources such as ventilators and intensive care unit beds, the state’s Joint Information Center said. The deactivation was ordered earlier in the month but announced publicly Tuesday.

Biden shelves mask shipments (7:40 a.m. HK)

Biden will announce a program to send cloth masks to disadvantaged U.S. communities to curb while shelving for now a proposal to send masks to every American, according to two administration officials familiar with the plans.

Chip shortage to hit Ford, GM results: Moody’s (7:01 a.m. HK)

The global semiconductor shortage exacerbated by the pandemic will slash earnings at General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. by about one-third this year as supply constraints hamper production and profits, Moody’s Investor Service estimated.

The chip shortage will materially erode margins and could lower expected earnings before interest and taxes by as much as $2 billion for GM and $2.5 billion for Ford, the ratings agency said in a note published Tuesday.

US looks for a surge in vaccine supply (4:15 p.m. NY)

Johnson & Johnson said it will be ready next month to ship 20 million doses of its one-shot vaccine, adding to a coming surge in vaccine availability in the U.S., according to Bloomberg analysis of drugmaker promises.

Along with vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., which both require two doses, the delivery targets through next month will be enough to fully vaccinate 130 million Americans.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee scheduled a meeting for Sunday and Monday regarding J&J’s application for emergency use of its vaccine candidate. An authorization could swiftly follow the meeting.

Astra cuts 2Q delivery to EU by half (2:45 p.m. NY)

A person familiar with the matter confirmed a report by Reuters that AstraZeneca is expected to deliver about half the Covid-19 vaccines it had committed to supply the European Union in the second quarter.

According to Reuters, the company told EU officials it would deliver fewer than 90 million doses, compared with a commitment of 180 million. It also plans to deliver about 40 million doses in the first quarter, down from a previous commitment of 90 million.

The shortfall wouldn’t impact the EU’s target of vaccinating 70% of the adult population by the end of summer, the person said.

Dutch government moves to relax lockdown (1:45 p.m. NY)

The Dutch government will take “a little bit more risk" in relaxing a few lockdown measures. Secondary schools will partly reopen, shopping with an appointment will be allowed and barbers and other so-called contact jobs can reopen. The government announced the new measures hours after case numbers showed an increase in the week ending Feb. 23. A much debated nighttime curfew will be extended until March 15.

Ireland to stay in lockdown (1:15 p.m. NY)

Ireland’s government will maintain its strict lockdown regime until at least April 5, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said in a national address. Non-essential stores, bars and personal services -- which have been closed for over six weeks -- will remain shuttered, and people will have to stay within 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from home. In one change, schools will reopen on a phased basis next month. Offering some hope, Martin said over 80% of adults will have been given at least a first vaccine dose by the end of June.

South Africa calls for global shot equity (11:45 a.m. NY)

South African President Cyril Rampahosa backed a call by French President Emmanuel Macron and European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for wealthy countries to donate 5% of their vaccines to poorer nations.

“We need to pool our resources, capabilities, knowledge and intellectual property" to ensure equitable access to vaccines and medical supplies across the globe, Ramaphosa said.

South Africa and India have urged the World Trade Organization to suspend intellectual-property rights related to Covid-19 to ensure access to vaccines and medication for all.

US steps up genetic sequencing (11 a.m. NY)

The U.S. is analyzing about 14,000 coronavirus cases each week with genetic sequencing to detect faster-spreading variants, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. That’s up from 250 sequences per week when Walensky took office last month.

South Africa has concerns about Sputnik (11 a.m. NY)

South Africa has held extensive talks with the manufacturers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and has concerns about its efficacy against a variant of the coronavirus first identified in the country, said Anban Pillay, deputy director-general in the Department of Health.

Health authorities don’t think the vaccine produced by Novavax Inc. is suitable because of its low efficacy against the variant, while talks have been held with India’s Bharat Biotech International Ltd., he said.

Scotland eyes major reopening in April (10:05 a.m. NY)

Scotland is targeting a substantial reopening of its economy from late April if recent progress in suppressing the virus continues, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that any decisions on an easing of rules will be driven by “data not dates."

The Scottish government aims to reopen shops, bars, restaurants and hairdressers, in the first major easing of nationwide lockdown rules that were introduced at the end of last year. Before that, other restrictions, such as the stay-at-home requirement, will be progressively eased if the data allows, she told lawmakers in Edinburgh.

US may soon ease rules for vaccinated: Fauci (9 a.m. NY)

Anthony Fauci suggested Tuesday that the federal government may soon issue guidance easing public health protocols for fully vaccinated individuals.

“When you say, wait a minute, if I’m fully vaccinated, and my daughter comes in the house and she’s fully vaccinated, do we really" need the same strict rules? Fauci said on CNN. “Common sense tells you that, in fact, you don’t have to be as stringent in your public health measures."

Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, cautioned that he didn’t want to get ahead of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which he said could be forthcoming.

New hard lockdown in northern Italy (7:52 a.m. NY)

Italy plans to impose a hard lockdown in the northern province of Brescia and other municipalities of the Lombardy region following a surge of infections related to variants of Covid-19. The area is close to the original epicenter of the pandemic in Italy.

One in four in Lagos may have had Covid (6:39 a.m. NY)

One in four people in Africa’s biggest city may have had Covid-19. A survey showed that 23% of people in the West African nation’s commercial hub of Lagos, which has a population of 21 million people, have been infected. That’s far above the official estimate of 152,616 cases in the whole of Nigeria.

Germany extends border controls (6:38 a.m. NY)

People traveling to Germany from the Czech Republic and the Austrian province of Tyrol face border controls until at least March 3 after restrictions were extended by eight days, news agency DPA reported, citing a spokesman for the interior ministry.

The measures have been in place since Feb. 14 to stem the spread of aggressive variants. The new end date coincides with a scheduled meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers to discuss next steps.

Airline bookings surge on UK reopening plan (6:34 a.m. NY)

U.K. holidaymakers have begun showering airlines with summer bookings after Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined a road map for air travel to return.

EasyJet Plc ticket sales more than quadrupled in the hours after Johnson said Monday that international trips may restart as soon as May 17. Tour operator TUI AG said holiday bookings to Spain, Turkey and Greece jumped sixfold overnight, while Ryanair Holdings Plc cited Italy as another popular destination.

Johnson ‘very optimistic’ on June reopening (6:12 a.m. NY)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he’s “very optimistic" that England’s restrictions on social contact will end on June 21 but there is no guarantee, according to a pooled interview on Sky TV. The vaccine rollout has “made all the difference," he said.

Meanwhile, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is set to spend billions of pounds in extra support for the economy over the next four months, as pandemic curbs pushed unemployment to its highest level in almost five years.


This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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