The Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech prevented more than 90% of infections in a study, the most encouraging scientific advance so far in the battle against the coronavirus.
The U.S. surpassed 10 million cases on Monday and appears poised to hit record hospitalizations later this week, with numbers soaring in populous Midwest states and along the Mexico border. President-elect Joe Biden announced a new 13-member coronavirus task force. New Jersey halted indoor dining after 10 p.m., and New York state is focusing on new hot spots, including the Finger Lakes region.
Germany has more severe patients than at any point since the pandemic began, underscoring the urgency facing authorities to contain the disease. Ukraine’s president tested positive, while Hungary is tightening its lockdown measures. In Asia, Shanghai reported its first domestic case in months.
Global Tracker: Cases surpass 50.4 million; deaths top 1.25 millionWith U.S. cases at record levels, hospitalizations may be nextPfizer vaccine results leave questions about safety, longevityMink cull shelved after Danish government botches Covid planTrump adviser leading post-election fight has the virusVaccine Tracker: Encouraging results could mean there’s a tool to control the virus
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California Expects to Scale Back Reopenings (4:20 p.m. NY)
California Governor Gavin Newsom said some areas will have to scale back their reopenings under the state’s tiered system after a resurgence of coronavirus cases.
“We’ll see some counties moving backwards, not forwards, and this is exactly why we designed the tier system the way we did,” Newsom said at a press briefing Monday. California’s tier assignments, which allow for varied levels of opening based on positivity rates and new cases per capita, are updated each Tuesday.
The most-populous state recorded more than 7,000 cases on both Sunday and Monday, a daily level not seen since the summer. While increased testing may account for some of the rise, the rate of positive tests has climbed to 3.7% from 2.5% just three weeks ago, Newsom said. He blamed the uptick on increased private gatherings and residents letting down their guards, and warned people not to get complacent because of news of a potential vaccine.
Utah Turns Away Out-of-State Patients (3:47 p.m. NY)
Utah Governor Gary Herbert said the state’s health-care system is so taxed by the Covid-19 pandemic that hospitals are rejecting patients from other states.
“We’re having to turn away people from Nevada, from Idaho and from Montana,” he said. Similarly, he said patients from the Four Corners region of Utah have been turned away from hospitals in Colorado Springs, Colorado, “because they have the same problems” with overcapacity.
Speaking at a news briefing Monday, Herbert said overcrowded health facilities in Utah “are at the brink of not being able to take anyone.”
“We’re in overflow mode, particularly in our intensive-care units,” the Republican governor said. “It’s not that we don’t have rooms with four walls,” he said, it’s that hospitals are facing shortages in doctors, nurses and others who provide care.
Wyoming, Montana Cope With Spikes (2:30 p.m. NY)
In Wyoming, where health officials have for weeks implored stubborn residents to mask up, hospitalizations set a record of 172 Monday, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Seventeen of 19 intensive-care unit beds at the state’s largest hospital, Wyoming Medical Center, were full, the Star-Tribune said, and three others reported no open ICU beds. The Cowboy State is the least populated, with about 600,000 residents.
Neighboring Montana reported 470 virus hospitalizations Monday, a third of the total since March, according to official data. Sevenof 10 large hospitals in the state reported beds in limited availability or near capacity, the Billings Gazette reported. Intensive-care units were also filling up. Montana’s population is just over 1 million.
France Sees Signs Measures Working (2 p.m. NY)
France is seeing some signs that measures to keep the spread of the coronavirus in check are working, Director for Health Jerome Salomon said in a briefing on Monday. In French cities where a curfew was instated mid-October, there’s a slowdown in virus activity, he said.
For the country as a whole, the peak of virus activity is still ahead, Salomon said. France started a second lockdown on Oct. 30, with limits on movement and closures of some stores, as infections rose too fast to await the effects of curfews. The measures are among the most stringent in Europe, according to an index maintained by the University of Oxford.
France has registered a total 1.81 million confirmed cases, according to Salomon, indicating an increase of 20,155 cases on Monday. He said hospitalizations rose to 31,125, while the number severely ill Covid-19 patients in intensive care climbed to 4,690. Both numbers are the highest since April.
Covid-19 patients now occupy 92.5% of French hospitals’ initial intensive-care capacity, up about 19 points from a week earlier.
The share of tested people who were positive for Covid fell to 19.8%, down from 20.3% a day earlier and slipping for a second day.
Nebraska Issues Mask Order (1:11 p.m. NY)
With virus cases surging across America’s heartland, the governor of Nebraska announced new health orders, including a requirement that masks be worn when people are in close contact for at least 15 minutes at businesses in the state, the Omaha World-Herald reported. The move by Governor Pete Ricketts follows a Twitter post by his chief spokesman assailing Nebraska doctors demanding further action.
N.Y. Focuses on New Hot Spots (12 p.m. NY)
New York state is focusing on new coronavirus hot spots as positive test rates near 3% statewide.
“The virus is making headway, and we’re going to increase restrictions and we’re going to increase enforcement,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday in a conference call with reporters.
As of Sunday, 2.8% of statewide tests were positive, including in hot spots, he said. There were approximately 1,400 hospitalizations and 26 virus-related deaths on Sunday, he said.
The state is clamping down on portions of western New York, central New York, and the Finger Lakes region, particularly parts of Erie, Monroe, and Onondaga counties, where cases continue to increase.
Places of worship in those areas must limit their capacity to 50%, and gatherings must be kept to 25 people or fewer, according to the state. Indoor and outdoor dining will be limited to four people to a table, and schools are required to test teachers, staff and students weekly.
The state also is keeping an eye on Staten Island, where cases are climbing, he said.
Meanwhile, restrictions will be relaxing in Brooklyn as cases decrease, Cuomo said. Cases are also declining in Broome, Orange, and Rockland counties, he said.
The state will continue to focus on hot spots as they crop up and move on once they’ve been addressed, Cuomo said.
“This is going to be the constant for the foreseeable future,” he said.
NYC ‘Dangerously Close’ to Second Wave (11 a.m. NY)
New York City is coming “dangerously close” to a second wave of the novel coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday. The city’s positive test rate is above 2% and increasing, and cases are rising as well. “We need to do everything in our power” to control the virus, the mayor said.
Russia: Our Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective (10:40 a.m. NY)
Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, is more than 90% effective, according to preliminary observations, the Health Ministry said in text message. The ministry cited observations of patients outside phase 3 of trial, according to Oksana Drapkina, Director of National Research Center for Preventive Medicine of the Ministry of Health.
The text came in response to Pfizer Inc.’s announcement that the vaccine it’s developing with BioNTech SE prevented more than 90% of symptomatic infections in a study of tens of thousands of volunteers. It is the most encouraging scientific advance so far in the battle against the coronavirus.
WHO’s Aylward Sees Direction Changing by March (10:30 a.m. NY)
The ACT Accelerator program, which is an alliance between the World Health Organization, countries including France and organizations such as the World Bank, aims to “fundamentally change the direction” of the pandemic by March as more tests, treatments and vaccines become available, said Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO adviser.
Speaking at this week’s World Health Assembly in Geneva, he said the ACT Accelerator is in need of $4.5 billion of additional financing. He said that data on the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is a substantial step forward, though more data on safety and quality are still needed.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, said earlier at the meeting that the UN body is looking forward to work with the Biden administration.
Ukrainian President Zelenskiy Tests Positive (10:25 a.m. NY)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he tested positive for Covid-19 and is self-isolating. Zelenskiy is feeling fine and will continue to work remotely, according to a statement from his office.
Fauci Says Pfizer Results ‘Extraordinary’ (10:05 a.m. NY)
Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer will have a “major impact” on the battle against the coronavirus. The efficacy of the Pfizer drug candidate being over 90% “is just extraordinary,” Fauci said Monday on a call with reporters. Separately, he said Moderna may have similar results to the Pfizer vaccine because it is also based on mRNA technology.
N.J. Imposing New Virus Restrictions in N.J. (9:55 a.m. NY)
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he will reimpose some restrictions Monday in the wake of the state reporting about 5,000 new Covid-19 cases in just 48 hours. The state’s bars, restaurants and indoor youth sports may be reined in, Murphy said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” The limits wouldn’t include college sports as part of measures he said he would announce Monday. Outdoor restaurants and takeout will also be unaffected.
U.S. and Europe First in Line to Get Pfizer Covid Vaccine (9:50 a.m. NY)
The U.S. and Europe are in line to get the first doses of an experimental coronavirus vaccine after a partnership between Pfizer and BioNTech delivered positive preliminary results in a large patient trial. The partners said they’ll be able to produce enough to inoculate 25 million people this year, less than a third of the population of Germany, where BioNTech is based.
“We will need to find a way to distribute that in a fair fashion,” BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said in an interview.
The partners expect to ramp up production significantly next year, with capacity for as many as 1.3 billion doses.
Novavax Vaccine Gets Fast-Track Tag From FDA (9:30 a.m. NY)
Novavax Covid-19 vaccine received a fast-track designation from U.S. regulators as the drugmaker prepares to launch a large, late-stage study before the end of the month, the company said on Monday. The expedited review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could help push the candidate forward into a short-list of frontrunners in the race to bring a vaccine to market.
Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Makes Progress (6:45 a.m. NY)
A vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech prevented more than 90% of infections in a study of tens of thousands of volunteers.
The findings are based on an interim analysis conducted after 94 participants contracted the illness. The trial will continue until 164 cases have occurred. The preliminary results pave the way for the companies to seek an emergency-use authorization from regulators if further research shows the shot is also safe. If the data hold up and a key safety readout Pfizer expects in about a week also looks good, the world may have a vital new tool to control a pandemic.
Shanghai Reports First Domestic Case in Months (6 a.m. NY )
Shanghai reported a single domestic case of Covid-19 on Monday, according to the municipal government. The confirmed case works as a porter at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. The Chinese financial hub hasn’t reported any local cases in months, although it has seen a steady stream of imported cases.
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