U.S. Improvement Clouded by Variant; Russia Surge: Virus Update

U.S infections have fallen to the level of the first lockdowns in March 2020, though President Joe Biden warned of a “deadly threat” from the highly-transmissible delta variant first found in India and now expected to become the dominant strain in the U.S.

The U.S. sent 2.5 million doses of Moderna Inc.s vaccine to Taiwan, reflecting part of Bidens pledge to donate 25 million shots worldwide to stem the pandemic.

Russia added the highest number of cases since the end of January, with Moscow hitting a daily record for new infections.
Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases exceed 177.9 million; deaths pass 3.8 million
Vaccine Tracker: More than 2.55 billion doses administered
Many Brazilians insist on Pfizer even with almost 500,000 dead of Covid
Covid counts hit zero in U.S. hospitals once overrun by victims
U.K. is a test case for Covid endgame as variant upends the math
Subscribe to a daily update from Bloombergs Prognosis team here.

U.S. Sends Taiwan 2.5 Million Doses 12:22 p.m. NY

The U.S. sent 2.5 million doses of Moderna Inc.s vaccine to Taiwan, reflecting part of President Joe Bidens pledge to donate 25 million shots worldwide to stem the pandemic.

While the U.S. has criticized China for what it says have been attempts to block vaccine supplies to Taiwan, an administration official said the U.S. shipment came with no political strings attached.

Taiwan is receiving Moderna shots on a plane that left Memphis on Saturday morning, according to two administration officials.
Malawi Runs Out of Vaccines 11:53 a.m. NY

Malawi has run out of vaccines because of delays in shipping, its health ministry said on Saturday, according to Agence France Presse. The nations inoculation campaign began in April, and many people are due for their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

With a new viral wave sweeping across Africa, Gambia said on Thursday that it too had run out of its AstraZeneca shots. It didnt say when new doses will be imported.
Delta Strain Likely to Dominate in Germany 11:26 a.m. NY

The delta variant will probably dominate in Germany within three to four weeks, Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder warned at a meeting of the youth wing of his party on Saturday, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported.

“If you get out of bed too soon after being sick, you risk a severe relapse,” the newspaper cited Soeder as saying. He defended a cautious re-opening strategy as authorities seek to speed the pace of inoculations, in particular second doses.
Israel Defends Vaccine Shipment 11:23 a.m. NY

The first batch of Pfizer vaccines Israel sent to the Palestinian Authority on Friday as part of a larger swap deal was “completely normal” and identical to the vaccines being given to Israeli citizens, Israels Health Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

On Friday, the Palestinian Authority canceled the exchange agreement, saying the doses were about to expire.

The Israeli Health Ministry said it sent vaccines with expiration dates that were “known, agreed upon and in accordance with the agreement between the parties.”
U.S. Outbreak Improves as Variant Threatens 8:01 a.m. NY

The U.S. reported just over 13,000 new cases on Friday as new infections dropped to the level seen in the first lockdown in March 2020, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Fridays number was a 10th that of the same day six months ago.

Another 368 deaths were reported, with average daily deaths about half of a month ago.

The continued improvement is clouded by the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant first found in India and hampering a final reopening in England. On Friday, President Biden called it “a serious and deadly threat” and urged Americans to get vaccinated. Full vaccination has been shown effective against the variant.
Oman Locks Down 6:55 a.m. NY

Oman announced a partial lockdown as the nation deals with its worst coronavirus outbreak since the start of the pandemic as variants spread rapidly. Movement of individuals and vehicles will be banned from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m. starting on Sunday, and public spaces and commercial activity will be shut, state-run Oman TV reported. Some essential businesses such as pharmacies and supermarkets may remain open.

The Gulf nation has over the past two weeks reported the highest number of daily deaths since the start of the pandemic. Hospitalizations have also increased after reporting cases of the delta, alpha and beta Covid-19 variants.
Singapore Passes Vaccine Milestone 5:55 a.m. NY

Singapores government said more than half its population has received at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot, the first Southeast Asian nation to cross this milestone in the battle against the pandemic.

The update is some respite for the island nation after the government scaled back its reopening plans amid dozens of new cases over the last week, even as some countries with similarly high rates of vaccination allow a resumption of social activities and freer travel. The government preliminarily reported 14 new cases in the community Saturday.
U.K Considers New Quarantine Rules 5:33 p.m. HK

Britons who have been double-vaccinated could be spared a 10-day period in quarantine if they come into contact with a Covid-19 carrier, under new rules being considered by the U.K. government, according to the Times of London.

Instead, people who have been contacted under the U.K.s test-and-trace system could opt to take a Covid-19 test each morning for a week, with each negative result giving them a 24-hour waiver from the legal requirement to self-isolate, the paper reported, citing unidentified sources.
Russia Cases Spike 5:00 p.m. HK

Russia added the highest number of new cases since January 31, reporting 17,906 more infections on Saturday. Moscow remains the nations virus hot spot, registering 9,120 new cases, the highest on record.

Russia is experiencing a resurgence of the virus amid a rapid spread of the more contagious delta strain first identified in India. The resurgence has forced Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russias two largest cities, to restore some public restrictions just as many cities in the U.S. and Europe are easing them.

Moscow mayor Mayor Sergei Sobyanin earlier this week ordered mandatory vaccination for at least 2 million workers in the capital as rising cases threaten to overwhelm the capitals hospitals.
Uganda Demand for Oxygen to Soars 4:50 p.m. HK

Demand for oxygen in Uganda may rise almost nine-fold in a month as surging Covid-19 infections stretch health-care capacity in the East African country.

Daily oxygen consumption by coronavirus patients could climb to 25,800 cylinders from about 3,000 cylinders now, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said in a televised address. Confirmed cases have jumped by 46% this month to 68,779.
Western Australia Introduces Fresh Curbs 4:10 p.m. HK

Western Australia has announced all travelers to the state from New South Wales must be tested for Covid-19 and self-quarantine until receiving a negative result as new cases emerging from Australias most-populous state.

Anyone who recently entered Western Australia and has visited any of the exposure sites in New South Wales during the relevant times must also get tested immediately and self-quarantine for 14 days from their date of exposure, Western Australias Premier Mark McGowan said in a statement on Saturday.
Bangladesh Resumes Inoculations 2:25 p.m. HK

Bangladesh resumed vaccinations for front-line workers using Sinopharm Group Ltd. doses provided by the Chinese government. After Indias ban on vaccine exports, Bangladesh suspended its inoculation program and turned to China and Russia for help. China donated 1.1 million Sinopharm shots.

Health workers and law-enforcement personnel were among the first to receive their first dose of the vaccine on Saturday, private broadcaster ATN News reported. The Bangladesh government plans to buy 15 million Sinopharm doses.
India Holds Off on Vaccine Exports 12:20 p.m. HK

India wont resume exports of Covid-19 vaccines until it meets domestic needs, Dr. Vinod K. Paul, the head of the countrys Covid-19 task force said in an interview with the Associated Press.

“Once our immediate need of vaccinating a significant proportion of Indian people is achieved and vaccine stockpiles are visible from multiple sources, we would then like to play the role of serving others,” Paul said. India can expect at least 740 million doses between August and December, he said.

The worlds biggest producer of vaccines was sending jabs to over 90 countries in January, but curtailed the export program by April after a virulent second wave made India the worlds worst hotspot. Paul declined to say when he thought exports may recommence. Last month, the Serum Institute of India, the worlds largest supplier of vaccines, said it may not be able to start delivering doses until the end of the year.
BioNTech Produces More Antibodies Than Sinovac: SCMP 10:08 a.m. HK

BioNTechs Covid-19 vaccine triggered “substantially higher” levels of antibodies than the Chinese-developed Sinovac jab, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a study by the University of Hong Kong.

The results suggest some recipients of the Sinovac vaccine may need a third shot, the newspaper said, citing lead researcher Benjamin Cowling. The epidemiologist led a government-commissioned study that tracked antibody responses of 1,000 vaccinated people.
South Korea Speeds Up Covid Vaccination Program

Used vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Cowling said the tests might fail to pick up small amounts of antibodies generated by the Sinovac jabs. He was commenting on a recommendation by the governments scientific advisers to cut quarantine time for vaccinated travelers who test positive for antibodies but negative for the virus, the newspaper said.

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