Covid-19 Pandemic: Live Updates and News for Apr. 6, 2021

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U.S. President Joe Biden said he wants all American adults to be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by April 19, two weeks earlier than his previous goal. California is aiming to fully reopen its economy on June 15.

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.

Antibodies to the Covid-19 virus persist for at least six months after patients receive the second dose of Moderna Inc.’s vaccine, according to a new analysis of lab results from 33 healthy adults in the drugmaker’s phase one trial.

Key Developments:

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Brazil Hits 4,000 Daily Deaths (5:05 p.m. NY)

Brazil reported more than 4,000 Covid-19 daily deaths for the first time as the pandemic continues to rage across the vast nation.

The Health Ministry registered 4,195 fatalities on Tuesday, bringing the total since the virus first arrived to 336,947. It’s the second highest tally globally, trailing only the U.S.

“If Brazil keeps the current pace, the country will probably reach 5,000 daily deaths in April,” said Christovam Barcellos, a researcher at Fiocruz.

Biden Urges Vaccination for All Adults Early (4:51 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden said he wants all American adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by April 19, two weeks earlier than his previous goal.

All but two states are already set to meet that goal, with only Oregon and Hawaii having planned to have opened up vaccines to all non-minors on May 1.

Biden said there will be no more confusing restrictions. But the president added it’s not time to celebrate yet and the fight against the virus isn’t over because new variants are still spreading quickly.

“The pandemic remains dangerous,” Biden said.

Brown, Northeastern Will Require Vaccination (3:55 p.m. NY)

Brown University and Northeastern University on Tuesday joined a group of U.S. universities that will require students to get a Covid-19 vaccine in order to return to campus in the fall. Both schools will allow religious and medical exemptions.

Other schools have made similar vaccination requirements. Rutgers announced in March that students planning to attend the fall semester must be fully vaccinated, while Cornell said Friday it intends to require that students get vaccinated.

Carnival Threatens to Move Ships Abroad (3:30 p.m. NY)

Carnival Corp., the largest cruise operator, is threatening to move some of its business away from U.S. ports as the federal government continues to restrict voyages over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vaccinations in Astra’s Children’s Study Paused (3 p.m. NY)

Vaccinations of children in a study of the Covid-19 shot developed by AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford have been paused while the U.K.’s drug regulator investigates rare cases of blood clots in adults.

The vaccine researchers are awaiting the results of a review by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the U.K.’s drug watchdog, “before further vaccinations,” the university said in an emailed statement. No safety issues have arisen in the children’s trial, he said.

California Sets June 15 for Reopening (2:30 p.m. NY)

California officials plan to fully reopen the economy on June 15 — if the pandemic continues to abate — after driving down coronavirus case loads in the most populous U.S. state.

Capacity limits on restaurants, movie theaters and other businesses will be lifted, Secretary of Health and Human Services Mark Ghaly said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

Governor Gavin Newsom has been slowly easing restrictions under California’s current tier-based system after a winter virus surge spurred renewed lockdowns. The state’s outbreak has dramatically improved, with average daily cases falling to about 2,000 from more than 40,000 in January. Its test positivity rate is at 1.6%, the lowest in the U.S.

Antibodies Last Six Months After Moderna Shots (2 p.m. NY)

Antibodies to the Covid-19 virus persist for at least six months after patients receive the second dose of Moderna Inc.’s vaccine, according to a new analysis of lab results from 33 healthy adults in the drugmaker’s phase one trial.

The finding, by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Emory University, Moderna and elsewhere, was published as a brief correspondence in the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers had previously published three-month followup results from the phase 1 study in the same journal.

“Our data show antibody persistence and thus support the use of this vaccine in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic,” the researchers wrote. Still, because it was focused on lab tests of blood samples from a small number of people in Moderna’s phase 1 trial, the study didn’t directly measure how durable the vaccine’s efficacy will be in actual practice.

Moderna shares rose as much as 6.4% in New York trading on Tuesday.

White House Rules Out Vaccine Passports (2 p.m. NY)

The U.S. government won’t issue so-called vaccine passports, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, though the Biden administration plans guidance for companies developing the credentials.

The administration doesn’t want vaccine passports “used against people unfairly” and will provide guidance “that will look like an FAQ” for private-sector development of the credentials, she said at a briefing.

Several Republican-led states have moved to limit development and use of the passports. Earlier Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an order forbidding state agencies or any entity receiving public money from requiring them.

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.

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.

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