UPDATE 1-Mexico minister plans visits to Russia, China, India, U.S. over vaccines

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Bloomberg

Biden Sets New Shot Goal; Texas Blocks ‘Passports’: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — U.S. President Joe Biden will announce Tuesday that he wants all American adults to be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by April 19, two weeks earlier than his previous goal, a White House official said.In the European Union, most member states will have enough supplies to immunize the majority of people by the end of June, sooner than the bloc’s official target, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg. The projections provide some hope that the EU’s vaccination campaign will improve after a lackluster start.The bloc’s regulator may indicate a potential link between vaccination with AstraZeneca Plc’s shot and rare cases of blood clots, an official told an Italian newspaper. A new study found that most toddlers infected with the virus carry a high viral load and may be silent spreaders despite a lack of symptoms.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases pass 131.8 million; deaths exceed 2.8 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 673 million shots given worldwideDay of 4 million vaccines signals sharp turnaround for U.S.Mobile vaccine squad has a mission: Protect the neediestHow pandemics change the course of history: Stephen MihmWhy the mutated coronavirus variants are so worrisome: QuickTakeSubscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on cases and deaths.Hard-Hit Hungary Starts Easing Restrictions (11:45 a.m. NY)Hungary, the world’s worst-hit country by the coronavirus pandemic, prepared to relax lockdown restrictions after giving a quarter of its citizens at least one dose of a vaccine.Shops and services can restart from Wednesday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a video on Facebook, after reaching the government-assigned threshold of 2.5 million people getting at least one vaccine shot. The premier has argued that this level of vaccination already covers the most vulnerable parts of the population.But with Hungary suffering the world’s highest number of deaths per capita from Covid-19, doctors in the country of almost 10 million have warned the government against relaxing curbs too early. It’s particularly important to stay vigilant with the more aggressive U.K. variant leading to a spike in the hospitalizations and deaths of younger Hungarians, practitioners say.Austria’s Eastern Provinces Extend Lockdown (10:58 a.m. NY)Austria’s eastern provinces around capital Vienna will remain under a stricter lockdown for one more week until April 18, while the western and southern parts of the country will remain somewhat less restricted, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said. For the east, that means schools stay in remote learning, non-essential shops remain closed and FFP2 masks are mandatory including in some highly frequented outdoor spots. If vaccination progresses as planned, the country will be able to lift restrictions step by step in May, Kurz said.Kenya Halts Private Sales of Russia’s Sputnik (10:50 a.m. NY)Private vaccinations with Sputnik V shots from Russia came to a stop in Kenya after the government barred companies from shipping and administering the Covid-19 vaccines.Ontario Faces Pressure to Close Schools (10:40 a.m. NY)Ontario Premier Doug Ford is under increasing pressure to close in-person schooling as a more deadly strain of coronavirus surges through the Canadian province.Public health authorities in the suburban regions of Peel and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph used their own authority on Monday to shift to remote learning only. The closures will last until at least April 18. Schools in Toronto, the country’s financial capital, are staying open for now, the local school board said.Texas Governor Blocks Vaccine ‘Passports’ (10:30 a.m. NY)Texas Governor Greg Abbott banned state agencies from creating so-called vaccine passports or otherwise requiring proof of a Covid inoculation in order for someone to receive services, the Texas Tribune reported.“Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal health information just to go about their daily lives,” Abbott said in a video.Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a fellow Republican, signed a similar order on Friday.Biden to Urge Vaccination for All Adults Early (8:55 a.m. NY)President Joe Biden will announce Tuesday that he wants all American adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by April 19, two weeks earlier than his previous goal, a White House official said Tuesday.Biden will also announce that 150 million doses of vaccine were administered within his first 75 days in office, keeping pace with his accelerated goal getting 200 million shots into arms by his 100th day in office. Almost half of U.S. states had opened vaccination to everyone 16 and older by the end of last week.EMA Says Astra Review to Be Over by Thursday (8:49 a.m. NY)The European Medicines Agency is still studying reports on vaccination with AstraZeneca’s shot and possible blood clots and expects to conclude the review by Thursday.The agency will likely indicate a potential link between Astra’s vaccine and rare cases of blood clots, Italy’s Messaggero reported, quoting Marco Cavalieri, who chairs the EMA’s vaccine evaluation team.Still, cases are extremely rare and the risk-benefits ratio is still a positive one, he said. The EMA “will indicate there is a link but it is still not clear how it works,” Cavalieri told the paper.Romanians Cancel Astra Shots (8:02 a.m. NY)About 207,000 Romanians have canceled their appointments to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca shot since March amid concerns about rare blood clots.Valeriu Gheorghita, who heads the government’s vaccination task force, said concerns are understandable and there’s a need for more official guidance from the European Medicines Agency. Romania has contracted enough doses from Pfizer and BioNTech alone to reach an objective of vaccinating 10 million people by Sept, he said.Spain to Reach 70% Vaccination by Late August (7:40 a.m. NY)Spain expects to vaccinate 5 million people by the first week of May, ramping up the effort to reach 25 million people by the week of July 19, with a goal of immunizing 70% of the population by the end of August, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised statement.Spain has so far administered 8.74 million doses under its vaccination program out of 9.69 million supplied, according to Health Ministry numbers.Scotland’s Sturgeon on Covid Passports (7:30 a.m. NY)Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the country shouldn’t “close its mind” to the idea of vaccine passports as part of opening up services after lockdown.There needs to be a full public discussion on the matter, especially on “ethical and equity issues,” she told a coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on course for a battle with members of Parliament over plans to introduce the so-called Covid-status certificates.Iran Sees Record New Cases (6 p.m. HK)The number of new cases in Iran exploded to 17,430 over the last 24 hours, the highest since the pandemic surfaced in the country. The surge comes as millions of people defied government advice by traveling during the Persian new year holiday, which started on March 20.Tanzania Signals Pandemic Shift (5:48 p.m. HK)Tanzania’s new president will appoint a committee to advise her on how to curb the spread of Covid-19, reversing her predecessor’s denial of the pandemic.“We cannot isolate ourselves,” President Samia Suluhu Hassan told senior government officials in an address televised on state broadcaster TBC1. Under her predecessor, John Magufuli, Tanzanians were asked to eschew the use of masks and to use traditional remedies. The government stopped publishing Covid-19 infection data in May, when fatalities were at 21, and said it would not procure any vaccines.WHO May Soon Clear Chinese Vaccines (5:35 p.m. HK)Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm may receive emergency-use listing from the World Health Organization by the end of April, a spokeswoman said at a media briefing. The WHO is in the later stages of the process and has asked for additional data.The WHO’s authorization is needed for the global Covax initiative to send vaccines to participating countries, in order to ensure a product’s safety and efficacy for those that might not have the resources to make the assessments themselves.Malaysia to Keep Using Astra Shot (4:13 p.m. HK)Malaysia will continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Star reported, citing Health Minister Adham Baba. The decision was taken because the vaccine has more benefits than drawbacks, the report cited Baba as saying. The country on Friday granted conditional registration to the vaccine supplied through the Covax facility.EU Sees Near-Virus Immunity by End of June (4:05 p.m. HK)Most European Union member states will have sufficient vaccine supplies to immunize the majority of people by the end of June, much earlier than the bloc’s official target, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg.Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands will be in a position to fully inoculate more than 55% of their total populations, projections in the document show. The EU wants to immunize 70% of adults by the end of the summer, which — depending on the demographics of each member state — corresponds to around 55-60% of total population.Sweden Boosts Pandemic Spending (2:55 p.m. HK)Sweden’s government will spend a further 6.9 billion kronor ($792 million) on measures to fight the pandemic, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said. The money will be used to prevent the spread of the disease and carry out vaccinations, and to extend support measures for individuals who need to work from home until June 30.U.K. Starts New Virus Loan Program (2:36 p.m. HK)The U.K.’s Recovery Loan Scheme starts Tuesday, offering loans of as much as 10 million pounds ($14 million) to businesses, the Treasury said.The government is providing an 80% guarantee for all loans, and interest rates have been capped at 14.99% — though they’re expected to be much lower in most cases. The program runs until the end of the year and replaces various emergency-loan ones that have distributed more than 75 billion pounds since the pandemic began.Indonesia Extends Movement Curbs (2:32 p.m. HK)Indonesia’s government expanded movement restrictions to Aceh, Riau, South Sumatra, North Kalimantan and Papua, according to the coordinating minister for economic affairs, Airlangga Hartarto. Curbs are now being implemented in 20 provinces through April 19.Valneva to Start Final-Phase Tests (1:55 p.m. HK)Valneva SE plans to start final-phase clinical trials on its vaccine candidate this month, a step forward for a French drugmaker’s low-tech shot that’s being backed by the U.K. government. A phase 1/2 test gave positive results for a high dose.The vaccine uses a sample of the virus that has been killed to stimulate an immune response without causing the disease. The U.K. has signed a deal worth as much as 1.4 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) to receive as many as 190 million doses of the shot between 2021 and 2025. The British government is also investing in the biotech’s Scottish manufacturing plant.Toddlers May Be Silent Spreaders (1:32 p.m. HK)Most toddlers infected with the virus don’t have symptoms, but have a high viral load and a long duration of live viral shedding, making them potential silent spreaders of the infection, according to a study by the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.To identify any hidden transmission chain, the authors recommend testing stool samples from young children. “While we are working intensively to prevent high-risk individuals from being infected, it is important to come up with a solution to avoid unfavorable outcomes in young children,” said Siew Chien Ng, associate director of the university’s Centre for Gut Microbiota Research.Russia Delays Chinese Vaccine (1:11 p.m. HK)Russian officials have slowed authorization of China’s CanSino Biologics Inc.’s vaccine, the only foreign inoculation undergoing domestic testing, because local authorities are prioritizing Russian-developed shots, according to three people familiar with the situation.When CanSino’s local partner filed for approval in November, it wasn’t clear how quickly Russia would be able to scale up production of its domestic vaccines, according to one of the people, who is a government official. Now Russian officials now are confident they can rely on homegrown shots and there isn’t a need for foreign doses, the person said, adding that the CanSino vaccine may get approval later.Thai Bars Testing Finds Clusters (12:55 p.m. HK)Thailand reported 250 new virus cases as testing of hundreds of patrons from Bangkok bars confirmed several new infection clusters. The flareup prompted authorities to close almost 200 night-life entertainment venues for two weeks, including bars, pubs and karaoke centers.The surge in new cases comes ahead of Thailand’s New Year holiday next week, when millions travel across the country.New Zealand, Australia Travel Bubble (12:21 p.m. HK)New Zealand has agreed to open a quarantine-free travel corridor with Australia as of April 19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, restoring unrestricted, two-way travel for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.“The bubble will give our economic recovery a boost and represents a world leading arrangement of safely opening up international travel while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and keeping the virus out,” Ardern said. New Zealand has consistently topped Bloomberg’s Covid resilience ranking and Australia currently lies third, but both have suffered sporadic outbreaks requiring regional lockdowns.Panacea Jumps on Sputnik Deal (12:08 p.m. HK)India’s Panacea Biotec jumped 20%, making it the top gainer in the S&P BSE Small Cap Index, after the company signed an agreement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to produce 100 million doses a year of the Sputnik V vaccine.Variants Heighten Need for Vaccine Funds (12:02 p.m. HK)A plan to end the pandemic by speeding up immunizations could be financed through a record asset allocation via the International Monetary Fund, according to the Rockefeller Foundation.The IMF should approve and swiftly distribute $650 billion in additional reserve assets to help developing economies vaccinate as much as 70% of their populations by the end of next year, the foundation said in a report.The report, whose contributors include former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Jeffrey Sachs, a professor of economics at Columbia University, details ways to leverage a large issuance and reallocation of IMF special drawing rights that can be exchanged for freely usable currencies. The plan calls for wealthier countries to voluntarily reallocate at least $100 billion of their unneeded drawing rights to provide further support to the developing world.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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