Japan Probes Moderna Deaths; U.K. May Expand Jabs: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) —

Japan is investigating the deaths of two people who were administered Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 shots from vaccine batches which have since been suspended. The U.K. government could begin Covid-19 jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds next month. Scotland is considering vaccine passports for pubs and nightclubs. 

Tokyo’s seven-day average of new cases fell 16%, a sign its worst surge yet may be peaking. Singapore reported 121 new cases of Covid-19 in a day, with 113 of those coming from locally transmitted infections. 

India administered a record 10.3 million doses of vaccine in a day in its battle to contain the virus. Florida, Scotland, Malaysia, Russia and New South Wales in Australia were among places around the world reporting record infections or deaths because of the delta variant, which first emerged in India. A spike in cases in Switzerland caused a Zurich hospital to cancel non-emergency surgeries to free up space in intensive care.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 215 million; deaths pass 4.48 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 5.17 billion doses administeredVaccine holdouts in N.Y. persuaded by FDA approval, mandatesThe worst places to be as delta spreads are in Southeast AsiaSky could be the limit for surcharges on unvaccinated workersSpaceX, ULA see launch risk from low oxygen supply amid pandemicAntibodies waning? The immune system has a backup plan for that

Singapore Reports 121 New Cases (6:20 a.m. NY)

Singapore reported 121 new cases of Covid-19 in a day, with 113 of those coming from locally transmitted infections and the rest from newly-arrived visitors who had already been placed in isolation.

The city-state had experienced a steady decrease in cases until a resurgence on Aug. 23. But authorities have not flagged additional restrictions, thanks in part to the country’s high rate of vaccinations. The Ministry of Health on Friday said it expects 80% of the population to be fully vaccinated by the end of August.

Zimbabwe Union Goes to Court Over Forced Shots (11:05 a.m.)

Zimbabwe’s biggest worker’s union has taken the state and several firms to court for insisting that employees must be inoculated against Covid-19 before reporting for work, saying there is no law under the country’s statutes providing for compulsory vaccination.

Japan Investigating Deaths of Two People Who Had Moderna Shots (4:35 p.m. HK)

Japan said it’s investigating the deaths of two people who had been administered Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines.

While the relationship between the deaths and the shots is unclear, the health ministry will conduct the investigations together with external experts, and continue to assess the safety of the vaccine, according to a statement on Saturday.

Russia Reports Over 19,000 New Cases (4:31 p.m. HK)

Russia reported 19,492 new cases of Covid-19 in a day, according to the government’s virus response center. Total cases have reached 6.86 million.

The death toll from Covid-19 in July grew to 50,421, the highest monthly total since the epidemic began, amid spreading infections from the delta variant and continued public resistance to vaccination campaigns.

Tokyo’s Seven-Day Case Average Falls 16% (4:04 p.m. HK)

Tokyo reported 3,581 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, bringing the seven-day average down 16% compared to a week ago, a sign that the Japanese capital’s worst surge yet may be peaking out. Still, serious cases in Tokyo increased to 297, up from 294 the previous day, pointing to the likelihood the country’s medical system will remain under serious pressure.

Among the new cases, those in their 20s, 30s and 40s had the highest number of cases. Japan is in the middle of its fourth state of emergency set to last through Sept 12, provided the virus spread is brought under better control.

The Philippines added a record 19,441 Covid cases on Saturday.

U.K. May Start Vaccinating 12 to 15-Year-Olds (3:40 p.m. HK)

Starting next month, the U.K. government could begin Covid-19 vaccinations for 12 to 15-year-olds. Ministers have asked the National Health Service to start preparations ahead of a final decision by government scientists on whether to go ahead with the roll out to younger children. 

If the program goes ahead, schools will be required to make space to allow the vaccination of pupils or to give children time out from lessons to visit vaccination sites. Those 16 and 17 are already eligible to receive a Covid vaccine. “Throughout the pandemic the government has planned ahead so we can respond to changing circumstances,” said Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. “That is why, while I await updated advice from JCVI on the 12-15 cohort, I have asked the NHS to make preparations.”

Scotland Considering Pub Vaccine Passports (3:30 p.m. HK)

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday she was “actively considering” vaccine passports for Scots wishing to go to a pub or a nightclub. 

Sturgeon said while she didn’t to single out the hospitality industry, such venues would fall into the category of places the Scottish government might introduce a vaccine passport entry requirement. “I’ve been clear all the long we shouldn’t rule it out,” Sturgeon said on Friday. “It may be an added layer of protection and mitigation.” Her comments came as Scotland recorded a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections, forcing Sturgeon to deny the authorities were considering a circuit breaker lockdown.

CanSino Covid Shot Gives Chinese Company First Profit (3:05 p.m. HK)

Chinese vaccine developer CanSino Biologics Inc. posted its first profit after it started generating revenue from global shipments of the Covid-19 inoculation that it co-developed with the Chinese military.

CanSino’s one-shot Covid-19 vaccine was the first in the world to undergo human testing in March 2020 and was introduced in February. It has since been used in China, Mexico, Pakistan, Malaysia and Hungary. 

Swiss Hospital Cancels Surgeries as ICU Beds Fill: NZZ (2:56 p.m. HK)

Zurich University Hospital will postpone surgeries for patients “not in direct danger to life and limb,” as a spike in coronavirus cases fills up intensive care beds in Switzerland, newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung reported.

There are about 230 coronavirus patients in intensive care unit beds compared to about 20 in July, the paper said. At the Geneva University Hospitals, which had space for 10 coronavirus patients, 17 ICU beds are now occupied by those with Covid, newspaper Tribune de Geneve reported.

Slightly more than 51% of Switzerland’s population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, one of the lowest rates for a major economy in Europe.

India Inoculates 10.3 Million People in a Day (12:39 p.m. HK)

India administered a record 10.3 million vaccine shots on Friday, the government said, taking the cumulative number of doses given past the 620 million mark. The South Asian nation added 46,759 Covid cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total active caseload to almost 360,000.

Manila Restrictions Extended (10:20 a.m.)

The Philippines extended virus restrictions for another week in its capital region, until Sept. 7, as the government tries to balance the need to contain the pandemic with boosting the economy.

Metro Manila will remain under the so-called “modified enhanced community quarantine,” the second-toughest movement restrictions, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in statement Saturday. While most businesses are allowed to operate, many non-essential industries such as beauty parlors and bars remain shut. 

© Photographer: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images AsiaPac Manila Chapel Transforms Into Covid Ward

New Zealand Reports 82 New Local Cases (9:21 a.m. HK)

New Zealand’s fortress against the pandemic suffered another breach as the formerly Covid-free nation reported 82 new local cases, all in Auckland, lifting the total in the community outbreak to 429. 

Less than a quarter of New Zealand’s population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated. The nation administered more than 89,000 vaccines on Friday, the second-biggest daily total to date. 

Singapore said it would tighten border measures for passengers arriving from New Zealand.

Thailand Infections Slow (8:51 a.m. HK)

Thailand reported 17,984 new infections, the lowest in four days, and 292 deaths. Authorities said the current outbreak has peaked and approved the relaxation of some restrictions from Sept. 1 to allow inter-provincial travel, and restaurants and more businesses in shopping malls to reopen in 29 provinces, which are currently under the strictest curbs. 

The easing is part of the government’s “living with Covid” strategy hinted at earlier this week, with a goal of containing the outbreak to a level that doesn’t overwhelm the health-care system. There are currently 182,357 active cases in the country, with 5,109 patients in critical condition and 1,069 on ventilators.

© Bloomberg Free Medical Services and Food at Thai Temples as Nation Tops 1 Million Covid-19 Cases

Sydney Proposes to Ban Unvaccinated Patrons From Restaurants: SMH (8:52 a.m. HK)

Unvaccinated people may be denied entry from restaurants, bars and other hospitality venues under a reopening proposal in Sydney where delta cases are surging despite a lockdown, according to local media.

The New South Wales government is consulting with industry groups on a plan to require all hospitality staff and patrons to prove they have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine when the state begins to emerge from lockdown after reaching 70% vaccination rate, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The outbreak of the delta variant continued unabated in Sydney, with Australia’s largest city accounting for the bulk of new daily Covid-19 infections as New South Wales state had its worst day, with 1,035 new infections.

Trudeau Cancels Rally on Concern Over Anti-Vax Protesters: CBC (7:35 a.m. HK)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign rally in Bolton, Ontario, was canceled because his security staff were concerned about the number of anti-vaccination protesters at the site, CBC reported in a tweet. 

Trudeau has called a snap election for Sept. 20 on the premise he needed a mandate to “finish” the job of tackling the Covid-19 crisis and plan for the post-pandemic recovery.

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