(Bloomberg) — China’s target to vaccinate 560 million people — 40% of its population — by the end of June is hampered by a supply shortage, forcing health authorities to extend the intervals between doses, and leaving some people unable to book second shots.
Japan is set to reimpose restrictions in Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa aimed at curbing a rapid spread of the virus in those areas, three weeks after ending a state of emergency in the capital. South Korea will keep social distancing levels and a ban on gatherings of five or more people for another three weeks.
The U.S. vaccination drive picked up in the past two days after a lull following Easter and the end of Passover, the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker shows. A record 4,249 deaths were reported in Brazil. More countries are limiting use of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine: the Netherlands won’t administer shots for people under 60, and Australia said it would guide against giving them to the under-50s. The U.S. stockpile has grown to more than 20 million doses.
China’s Vaccination Bid Hindered by Shortages (8:36 a.m. HK)
China’s ambitious efforts to vaccinate 560 million people by the end of June is running into a supply shortage, forcing health authorities to extend the intervals between doses, and leaving some people unable to book second shots.
The supply bottleneck comes as China’s vaccination roll out accelerates to nearly 5 million doses a day, the fastest in the world, though the proportion of its vast population covered still lags behind the U.S., Israel and other leading inoculating nations. While China gets its vaccine supply from domestic manufacturers, thus giving it more control than most countries which are struggling to secure doses, the accelerated pace is pushing the limits of what its homegrown makers can churn out, said people familiar with the matter.
Japan Seeks New Measures in Tokyo and Kyoto (8:34 a.m. HK)
Japan is set to reimpose restrictions in Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa aimed at reining in a rapid spread of the coronavirus in those areas, three weeks after ending a state of emergency in the capital.
Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told an advisory panel the government is seeking to introduce the measures from April 12 until May 11 in Tokyo and May 5 in Kyoto and Okinawa. Three other areas, Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi, are already under restrictions. The formal decision is set to come later in the day.
The new measures will be similar to those applied under the emergency, with bars and restaurants being instructed to close by 8 p.m., and those that fail to comply facing potential fines. Incentives will be provided for eateries to follow virus guidelines, such as maintaining sufficient space between tables.
Korea Keeps Distancing Levels While Closing Clubs (8:30 HK)
South Korea will maintain current social distancing levels and ban gatherings of five or more people for a further three weeks. The country is to temporarily close nightclubs and adult entertainment businesses in Seoul and Busan. There is no change in rules for business hours of karaoke bars, cafes, restaurants and gyms but further limits are possible at any time, depending on virus situation. The government is reviewing special measures to manage quarantine until most citizens receive vaccine.
U.K. Outlines Rules for International Holidays (8:20 a.m. HK)
The U.K. will decide by early next month whether Britons can resume taking international holidays on May 17, with destination countries rated according to their Covid-19 risk in a traffic light system.
Different Covid testing and quarantine regimes will be compulsory according to whether a destination is rated green, amber or red under the new system, the Department for Transport said. It’s too early to say which nations will fall in which category, with a decision to be announced in early May, it said, giving the same timeframe for a decision on whether travel resumes on May 17.
North Carolina Sites Halt J&J Shots: AP (8:14 a.m. HK)
North Carolina stopped administering Johnson & Johnson doses at a mass vaccination site in Raleigh as well as clinics in Hillsborough and Chapel Hill after at least 26 people experienced adverse reactions, AP reports, citing local health officials.
Reactions included fainting and at least four people were taken to hospitals for further examination, the report said. The CDC said that reactions like fainting are not uncommon after someone is vaccinated. All those taken to hospitals are expected to recover, local health officials said, according to the report
U.S. AstraZeneca Stockpile 20 Million Doses (6:50 a.m. HK)
The U.S. stockpile of the controversial AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has grown to more than 20 million doses, according to people familiar with the matter, even as the shot looks increasingly unlikely to factor into President Joe Biden’s domestic vaccination campaign.
AstraZeneca has yet to request Food and Drug Administration authorization for the two-dose vaccine, and the company faces safety questions abroad and scrutiny from U.S. regulators who’ve already rebuked it for missteps during clinical trials and partial data releases.
U.S. Vaccine Drive Picks Up Pace (6:07 a.m. HK)
The U.S. vaccination drive has picked up pace over the last two days after a lull following Easter and the end of Passover, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Another 3.4 million doses were reported on Thursday, bringing the seven-day average to 3.04 million, almost at the record level before the holiday dropoff.
So far, 175 million doses have been given in the U.S. At this pace, it’s estimated to take another 3 months to cover 75% of the population.
Brazil Hits Record Fatalities (5:29 p.m. NY)
Brazil registered a record 4,249 deaths on Thursday, pushing the total to 345,025, the Health Ministry said. Confirmed cases rose by 86,652, totaling almost 13.3 million as the pandemic continues to worsen in Latin America’s largest country.
Butantan Institute, which is responsible for producing Sinovac vaccine in the country, had issues importing raw material from China, forcing it to temporarily halt its output. The material for the shot will arrive about 10 days later than initially expected, the institute said in a statement. Sinovac’s vaccine is the most used in the country.
President Jair Bolsonaro has argued against lockdowns, suggesting on Wednesday there’s little point because the virus is “here to stay.” A poll last week reported a 48% disapproval rating for his government, compared with 31% in October.
Variants Drive Wisconsin Outbreak (4:49 p.m. NY)
Wisconsin reported 1,046 new cases on Thursday, the most in almost two months. At least half the recent samples sequenced are one of five virus variants, and cases are growing fastest among those under 18 years old, said Ryan Westergaard, a chief medical officer of the state Department of Health Services, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. “We are in a new phase of the epidemic that is clearly worse than we were before, and it’s transmission among young people who are driving the change in the curve,” he said.
One-third of the state has received at least one dose of vaccine, and all people 16 and older became eligible on Monday.
Florida Cases Jump (4:10 p.m. NY)
Florida posted 7,939 new cases Thursday, the most since Feb. 11, according to state health department data. The seven-day average climbed to the highest this month. Still, Florida’s cases per capita are running just slightly above the national average and significantly below hot spot states such as New Jersey, New York and Michigan.
Ohio Moving in ‘Wrong Direction’ (4 p.m. NY)
Governor Mike DeWine said that new infections in Ohio are “moving in the wrong direction” but “we can still turn this around” if more people get vaccinated. “We’re in a race. It’s a life and death race,” the Republican governor said at press briefing on Thursday.
Ohio crossed the threshold of one-third of those eligible having received the vaccine, and he was sending extra doses to areas with higher rates of virus variants. At the same time, the state reported 2,742 cases on Thursday compared with a 21-day average of 1,801, as hospitalizations and intensive-care admissions also increase. It was most new infections for three weeks.
Cleveland, Ohio, is on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of 10 U.S. metro areas with an increased Covid-19 burden in the week to Sunday.
Nations Seek to Limit Astra Use (2:15 p.m. NY)
The Netherlands won’t administer the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to people under the age of 60 for the time being, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said, according to a report on Dutch news agency ANP.
The Australian government said earlier it would guide against giving Astra’s vaccine to people under the age of 50, amid warnings of a link to a rare type of blood clots. Meanwhile, Portugal’s Directorate-General for Health said it recommends the Astra vaccine be used only by people over 60 years old.
Florida Sues to Restart Cruises (12:49 p.m. NY)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the state is suing the federal government to allow cruising to return in the U.S., more than a year after the industry went on hiatus over the Covid-19 pandemic.
The step is the latest escalation in a squabble between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the major cruise lines, many of which have their corporate headquarters in South Florida.
Russia, Slovakia Clash Over Vaccine (12:46 p.m. NY)
Slovakia and Russia clashed over the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine after the European Union member accused Moscow of delivering shots that were different from those used in a peer-reviewed study.
Russia rejected the allegations and demanded Bratislava return the 200,000 doses it sent. The dispute may set back efforts to use Sputnik widely in Europe. Slovakia was one of a few members of the bloc pushing to use the Russia-developed vaccine to help speed the roll-out of inoculations.
EU Has Exported 80 Million Doses (12:28 p.m. NY)
The EU has exported more than 80 million vaccine doses since the beginning of February, a document with updated data circulated among the bloc’s governments and seen by Bloomberg shows. A total of 112 million doses had been delivered to EU member states as of April 5, according to the memo circulated to diplomats in Brussels.
Japan has overtaken the U.K as the main export destination, getting 17.7 million shots produced in the EU, versus 13.3 million for shipment to Britain. European governments have been under pressure to curb exports as their rollout lags behind vaccination rates in the U.S and the U.K. However, out of the 534 export requests submitted by drugmakers so far, only one has been refused and two are pending, according to the memo dated April 8.
India Seeks to Make More Vaccines (12:24 p.m. NY)
India is attempting to boost its capacity to make vaccines, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday, as new coronavirus cases in the world’s second-most populous nation surged to a record.
Modi made the comments during a meeting with chief ministers to discuss ways to check the rapid rise of infections in the South Asian nation. Some states have said that they are facing a shortage of vaccines.
France Meets Vaccine Goal (12:13 p.m. NY)
France met its target of inoculating 10 million people with a first dose of vaccine on Thursday, a week ahead of schedule, as the country endures its third lockdown.
France opened mass vaccination centers across the country this week in a bid to further accelerate the roll-out of the shots, in a campaign that started sluggishly after the first vaccine was administered on Dec. 27.