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Oxford Trials Vaccine Flexibility; Sweden Passport: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — The University of Oxford is set to begin a trial combining Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca Plc and Pfizer Inc. that could provide greater flexibility in the use of scarce supplies globally.Confirmed cases in the Netherlands reached one million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. Sweden plans to roll out a “digital vaccination certificate” and has asked three government agencies to develop the infrastructure.President Joe Biden said he was open to tightening the eligibility for his proposed $1,400 stimulus checks, but any move to cut the payments’ base amount would mean starting his presidency with a broken promise.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases top 104 million; deaths surpass 2.26 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 108 million shots given worldwideBrace for wild swings in China’s data distorted by lockdownsHow Covid is shifting human behavior around the worldQuickTake: How “work from home” became “work from anywhere”Super-rich and punctual Switzerland is also behind on vaccinesDoubts loom over Tokyo Olympics without vaccine, isolation rulesSubscribe 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.Austria’s Tyrol Province Sees Surge of Mutation (4:36 p.m. HK)Austria’s Tyrol province, host to the Ischgl ski resort that became a superspreader venue in the pandemic’s early months, is seeing a surge in infections attributable to the variant that was first identified in South Africa.The chief virologist at the Medical University of Innsbruck found that about a fifth of new infections were probably caused by the variant and are calling for the region’s borders to be closed. The Health Ministry is reviewing the situation.Denmark to Use Astra Shots for People Under 65 (4:18 p.m. HK)Denmark will predominantly use AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for people under the age of 65, the Danish Health Authority says in a statement. The doses are expected to arrive as early as next week, with the country preparing to vaccinate all eligible and willing residents by July 4.China Donates Vaccines to Developing Nations (4:13 p.m. HK)China will donate coronavirus vaccines to three African countries and 13 other developing nations, according to its embassy in Kenya. Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone are among the countries that will receive the shots.North Korea to Receive AstraZeneca Vaccines (3:49 p.m. HK)North Korea expects to receive nearly two million doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 shot from Covax, a global program that seeks to provide equitable access to vaccines, Yonhap News reported, citing an interim report from the initiative.The doses will be produced by the Serum Institute of India and be distributed in the first half of the year.Sweden to Introduce Vaccine Passports (3:47 p.m. HK)Sweden plans to roll out a “digital vaccination certificate” and has asked three government agencies to develop the infrastructure to handle the relevant personal data.The new certificate should be ready for use “before the summer,” Health Minister Lena Hallengren and Minister of Digitalization Anders Ygeman said at a press conference on Thursday.Vaccination Delays Risk Middle East Unrest (3:00 p.m. HK)Possible delays in distributing vaccines could bring back social unrest in parts of the Middle East and North Africa and obstruct a speedy economic recovery, according to the International Monetary Fund.“It’s important to accelerate the provision of the vaccines in order to reduce the risk of diversions between countries, and also diversion within countries, which could lead to some social unrest,” said Jihad Azour, the IMF’s director for MENA and central Asia, in an interview with Bloomberg.Vaccines Delivered by Drone (2:50 p.m. HK)Zipline Inc., a drone delivery service that specializes in medical supplies, said it plans to begin transporting Covid vaccines in the markets where it operates in April. Zipline has been delivering medicine and supplies to rural clinics in Rwanda and Ghana since 2016 and, last year, began delivering personal protective equipment to hospitals and clinics in North Carolina. It plans to add operations in Nigeria later this year.The company declined to specify its vaccine partner, but said it has built a system that can deliver ultra-low temperature medical supplies, including all leading vaccines.Netherlands Caseload Reaches 1 Million (2:36 p.m. HK)The tally of confirmed cases hit 1 million in the Netherlands. While the country’s overall caseload has declined on a weekly basis since late last year, it extended its lockdown earlier in the week until March 2 as officials are concerned about an increase in cases with people infected by more contagious strains. The number of fatalities in the Netherlands is 14,281.U.K. Car Sales Worst in 50 Years (1:40 p.m. HK)U.K. car sales got off to the slowest start to a year since 1970 as dealerships closed because of the pandemic, with January registrations down about 40% from a year earlier, according to preliminary data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Final data will be released later Thursday. More than 10,000 jobs were cut across the auto sector last year.Thai Operator to Reopen Hotels (1:34 p.m. HK)Centara Hotels & Resorts, owned by one of Thailand’s richest families, is preparing to reopen properties, betting that wider global vaccine availability and easing containment measures will revive tourism.The chain expects a resumption in regional traffic in the third quarter and some international travel in the following three months, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Markland Blaiklock said. Foreign tourist arrivals to Thailand slumped to 6.7 million last year from 40 million in 2019.U.K. Passes Peak, Vaccinates 10 Million (1:02 p.m. HK)The U.K. has passed the peak of its latest wave of the pandemic, officials said, as the country reached the milestone of vaccinating 10 million people, about 15% of the population.Still, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said infections remain widespread and the state-run National Health Service would be “back in trouble extraordinarily fast” if social restrictions are lifted. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is “very hopeful” that schools will open on March 8, though he cautioned against moving too soon.Chicago Schools Delay Classes (12:05 p.m. HK)Chicago Public Schools again delayed a scheduled return to in-person learning after officials and the teachers’ union failed to reach an agreement on opening. President Biden is pushing to resume in-person learning in his first 100 days, but teachers’ unions and districts are at odds over how to do so safely.Japan Vaccination Plans for Medics (11:30 a.m. HK)Japan could start vaccinating medical personnel as soon as Feb. 17, FNN reported, citing unidentified government officials. The health ministry is expected to approve the use of Pfizer vaccines scheduled to arrive in the country around Feb. 14.Taiwan Vaccinations May Start in June (11:17 a.m. HK)Taiwan will likely start providing Covid-19 shots in June instead of an earlier estimate of March as the government is having difficulty purchasing vaccines, health minister Chen Shih-chung said in an interview with Apple Daily in Taipei.More Doses for Australia (10:21 a.m. HK)Everyone in Australia will have access to Covid-19 vaccines, Health Minister Greg Hunt said, as the country secured a further 10 million doses from Pfizer. Australia now has access to 150 million doses in total, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.Mexico Deaths Top 161,000 (10:03 a.m. HK)Mexico reported 1,707 daily coronavirus deaths, bringing the country’s total to 161,240. That’s the third highest toll globally, after the U.S. and Brazil.Saudi Arabia Halts Gatherings (9:52 a.m HK)All gatherings including celebrations such as weddings, company meetings at private or hotel halls as well as rest centers and camps will be halted for 30 days starting Thursday evening, state-run SPA reported, citing a statement from the interior ministry.Among other Gulf nations, Kuwait will impose a two-week entry ban on foreigners from Feb. 7 and is closing all commercial facilities apart from pharmacies and medical and food supply outlets from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. for a month. In Qatar, a maximum of five people are allowed to gather indoors and up to 15 outside during visits, funerals and gatherings.Qualcomm Underscores Chip Shortage (9:08 a.m. HK)Qualcomm Inc., the world’s largest smartphone chipmaker, said it is struggling to meet demand, signaling that a global semiconductor shortage is spreading.Like most chipmakers, Qualcomm outsources production to companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co., but these suppliers are having difficulties adjusting to a vigorous rebound in demand. The auto sector has also complained about the issue of shortages.American Airlines Jobs Warning (8:15 a.m. HK)American Airlines Group Inc. told 13,000 employees they could be laid off, many for the second time in six months, saying a much-anticipated summer travel rebound isn’t materializing.At the end of 2020 “we fully believed that we would be looking at a summerschedule where we’d fly all of our airplanes and need the full strength of ourteam,” Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in an email. “Regrettably, that is no longer the case.”U.S. House Passes Budget (7:05 a.m. HK)The U.S. House of Representatives passed a budget that helps clear the path for a fast-tracking of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan. The Senate plans to pass an identical version of the budget later this week.The House vote followed action by the Senate to consider a similar budget resolution — beginning a process that would let Democrats proceed with the stimulus without Republican votes. Still, the president told reporters before an Oval Office meeting with Democratic senators that he thought some Republicans would support his package.Biden signaled he wasn’t willing to reduce the standard $1,400 stimulus checks, which phase out based on income totals, according to participants on his call with House Democrats. Top party members are however considering ways to reduce the number of households that qualify for the checks.Australian Open Tennis Players Isolate (4:40 a.m. HK)After 28 days without a coronavirus case in the community, Melbourne reported its first from a worker at a quarantine hotel housing Australian Open tennis players, prompting a tightening of rules in the city.Masks are now mandatory in all public indoor spaces and the number of visitors allowed in homes halved to 15. The increase in office capacity for returning public and private sector workers that was slated for Monday has been paused as the city moves swiftly to track contacts of the case. Australian Open players, officials and support staff staying at the Grand Hyatt during the entire period were considered casual contacts of the case and must immediately isolate and get tested.Yankee Stadium Opens for Vaccinations Friday (3:45 a.m. HK)New York City’s Yankee Stadium will open as a mass vaccination site for Bronx residents on Friday, with 15,000 appointments available in the first week of operation, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.Targeting locations with higher positivity rates will keep the infection rate down and also “help ensure equity in our vaccine distribution process,” Cuomo said.Chile Expands Vaccination Program (8:44 p.m. HK)Chile, the Latin American country that has procured the most vaccines per capita, expanded its inoculation program Wednesday to include the elderly.People lined up at state-run health centers and private clinics to receive the first dose of the Sinovac vaccine. The government is putting into practice a program that begin with people age 90 and higher and essential workers. In coming days, the age limit will fall progressively.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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