India and Thailand saw record daily Covid-19 cases, part of a new viral wave in Asia. Vaccines are in shorter supply in India, the world’s second most populous country.
In the U.S., surging cases in the Midwest helped push the number of daily infections to their highest in more than two weeks as the nation’s vaccination push regains pace.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition agreed on proposed nationwide rules for lockdowns and curfews in a bid to force compliance by some regional governments. European Union officials said the bloc is overcoming its vaccine supply problem.
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Pakistan Reports Most Deaths in Almost Five Months (2:33 p.m. HK)
Pakistan reported 114 deaths in its latest data, the highest in almost five months. The South Asian nation’s third wave is picking up pace with more than 5,000 new infections found daily for the past four days.
Tokyo Finds Most Cases for a Sunday in Two Months (2:27 p.m. HK)
Tokyo found 421 new coronavirus cases, the most for a Sunday in two months. Japan will reimpose restrictions in the nation’s capital as well as Kyoto and Okinawa from Monday to try to rein in a rapid spread of infections in those areas.
Record India Infections Prompt Curbs (2:00 p.m. HK)
India on Saturday registered a record 152,879 new infections, prompting the states to impose various curbs such as night curfews, sealing of borders between neighboring provinces and limiting capacity at bars, eateries and buses. The surge is also overwhelming hospitals as critical-care beds are vanishing quickly.
The world’s second most populous nation has become the ‘fastest country in the world’ to administer more than 100 million doses, taking 85 days to do so while the U.S. required 89 days and China reached the milestone in 102 days, India’s health ministry said. On Sunday, it began a four-day vaccine festival to intensify the inoculation drive, amid a shortage of doses.
South Korea Resumes AstraZeneca Shots for Certain Age Groups (1:45 p.m. HK)
South Korea will resume AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine inoculations for those between the ages of 30 and 60 years as its health authorities balanced potential risks of the shots against a widening outbreak.
The nation temporarily suspended the use of the vaccine for those below 60 last week after a 20-year-old health care worker was diagnosed with a blood clot shortly after getting an Astra dose. It followed similar blood clot reports elsewhere, prompting dozens of countries to limit Astra use.
Thai Cases Reach Record on Entertainment Venue Clusters (1:31 p.m. HK)
Thailand reported 967 new Covid-19 cases, a record daily tally, with the total climbing to 32,625. Most of the cases are related to entertainment venue clusters from the nation’s capital, according to the Health Ministry.
U.S. Vaccinations Hit Daily Record (11:27 a.m.)
The U.S. administered 4.6 million coronavirus vaccines on Saturday, a record for a day. In the last week, an average of 3.11 million doses per day were given.
Globally, more than 768 million doses have been administered across 154 countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg.
Osaka May Seek Emergency State (9:22 a.m. HK)
The governor of Osaka prefecture in western Japan warned that he may need to ask the central government to declare a state of emergency if current measures to quell the coronavirus outbreak are deemed insufficient.
The effect of stricter measures imposed earlier this month could start emerging in the week of April 19, and authorities will decide then if an emergency declaration was needed, Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said in a television program late Saturday. If declared, measures stronger than those taken during a state of emergency earlier this year would be required, he said.
Osaka, Japan’s third-largest prefecture by population with 8.81 million people, is seeing a steep rise in the number of infections, exceeding that of the capital Tokyo. It registered a daily record of 918 new virus cases on Saturday, compared with 570 in Tokyo.
Brazil’s Weekly Deaths Soar to Record (7:22 a.m. HK)
Brazil’s fatalities have risen for seven straight weeks to a record high, with deaths about three times more than the peak of the surge last summer, according to health ministry numbers. The nation broke daily records for fatalities twice over the past seven days, as the pandemic continues to worsen.
Health foundation Fiocruz has warned that the country’s South and Midwest will face an especially critical stage of the outbreak in coming weeks. The presence of coronavirus variants and a more rapid spread among young people will put more pressure on the healthcare system. Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro reiterated his opposition to lockdowns in a video posted on social networks on Saturday.
A total of 351,334 people are reported dead from the virus, the most after the U.S. Weekly cases rose again, after a one-week dip over the Easter holiday. The nation has recorded a total of 13,445,006 infections.
S. African Strain May ‘Break Through’ Pfizer Shot, Study Suggests (5:37 p.m. NY)
The coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa may be more likely than other strains to “break through” and reinfect people who had two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, according to an Israeli study released Saturday.
The study compared infected Israelis who had not been vaccinated with those who had either one or two doses of the vaccine. It found the prevalence of the South African strain was eight times higher in those who had two doses of the vaccine compared with those who had not been vaccinated — suggesting a reduced effectiveness against the strain.
The study, by Tel Aviv University and the nation’s largest health care provider, Clalit, cautioned that the variant’s presence in Israel is very low. The study has not been peer reviewed.
Canada Speeds Vaccine Goal (5:20 p.m. NY)
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday said any adult in the country who wants to be vaccinated can be fully inoculated by the end of summer.
“We’re on track to meet our commitment that every Canadian who wants to will be fully vaccinated by the end of the summer,” he said at a speech. The government’s original goal was to vaccinate every citizen by the end of September.
U.S. Has Some 54 Million Doses in Stock (4 p.m. NY)
Almost a quarter of Covid-19 vaccine doses distributed across the U.S. haven’t been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While the CDC data don’t specify reasons, health officials have expressed concern about distribution equity and vaccine hesitancy, notably among rural and minority populations. Of some 233 million doses delivered nationwide, 179 million, or about 76%, were reported administered as of Friday.
The CDC says some vaccine will always be kept back to maintain inventory, including for second shots. Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi and Wyoming have the lowest rates of administering first doses they have in hand.
About 68 million people in the U.S., or 20.5% of the population, are fully vaccinated and 34.5% have had at least one dose. Among people 65 and older, 59% are fully vaccinated and 77% have had at least one dose.
Merkel Presents German Lockdown Plan (10:43 a.m. NY)
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition agreed on proposed nationwide rules for lockdowns and curfews in a bid to force compliance by some regional governments. Hot-spot designations would be based on per capita infections at the county level, according to the draft law seen by Bloomberg on Saturday.
Merkel’s biggest hurdle is parliament’s upper house, where her governing parties lack a majority. Hospitals in Germany have come under strain after Covid-19 infection rates began rising in February, though vaccinations have picked up and reached daily records this week.
U.S. Top Court Eases Worship Curbs (10:24 a.m. NY)
A divided U.S. Supreme Court eased California’s curbs on at-home religious services, adding to a string of orders that have freed worshipers from state and local restrictions designed to stem the Covid-19 pandemic.
In an unsigned 5-4 order issued late Friday night, the court cleared two Northern Californians to resume hosting weekly Bible studies and communal worship for eight to 12 people.
U.S. Cases Continue to Accelerate (8 a.m. NY)
The U.S. added almost 81,000 new cases Friday as the virus spreads fast in pockets around the nation, especially in the Midwest, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The seven-day average has risen for five consecutive weeks.
Another 962 deaths were reported Friday, down for the second day, the data show, amid a general decline in fatalities. The U.S. recorded 4 million vaccine doses on Friday, as the pace picked up again after the Easter and Passover holidays, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.
Astra Shot Linked to Clots: Study (6:53 a.m. NY)
A Norwegian study into blood clots and abnormally low levels of platelets in five people who were given the AstraZeneca vaccine for Covid-19 has found that their condition was a vaccine-induced syndrome, according to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“By providing a link between thrombosis and the immune system, these results strengthen the view that vaccination may have triggered the syndrome,” the article cited the study as saying.
Denmark and Norway are avoiding use of the Astra vaccine even though it’s been approved for use there, saying they need more time to review the risks. Sweden and Finland are only offering it to people over the age of 65.
EU Predicts Rapid Vaccine Pace (5:32 p.m. HK)
Europe could have fully vaccinated 70% of adults before the U.K. reaches its own target of one dose for all over-18s by the end of July, Thierry Breton, the European commissioner leading Brussels’ vaccine task force, said in an interview with the Guardian.
Europe was expecting 360 million doses from five manufacturers in the second quarter, with European factories set to produce 200 million shots a month by September for an overall capacity of 2 to 3 billion by year end. The “extremely rapid” increase in European production capacity should allow the EU’s 27 nations to compensate for first-quarter shortfalls and allow “an almost normal tourist season,” Breton said.
New Wave Swamps India’s Hospitals (12:34 p.m. HK)
India is facing an escalating health crisis, with its second wave of virus infections hitting record highs, overwhelming hospitals around the country as supplies of intensive care beds and vital drugs come under pressure.
Across the South Asian nation, from the wealthiest and also the worst-hit state of Maharashtra to its most populous, Uttar Pradesh, reports are emerging of hospital beds running short and immunization centers turning away people as they run out of vaccines. India reported more than 145,000 new infections Saturday, and with over 13 million virus cases lags behind only the U.S. and Brazil.