October 25, 2020

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N.Y. to Review Vaccine; Records in U.K., France: Virus Update

9 min read
(Bloomberg) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he did not trust the Trump administration...

(Bloomberg) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he did not trust the Trump administration and that the state would independently review any vaccine authorized by the federal government. The virus is taking a toll on U.S. college enrollment.

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France and the U.K. reported the highest number of cases since the start of the pandemic. U.K.’s government set out its plan to rescue millions of jobs and businesses as the pandemic threatens to derail the economy again. France introduced new steps to fight a rapid resurgence.

New U.S. cases matched daily increases of the previous seven days. Novavax Inc. plans to start enrolling 10,000 participants for a late-stage study of its experimental vaccine in the U.K.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 32 million; deaths exceed 979,600Covid death toll nears 1 million, but real number may be doubleHow one island eliminated the virus by cutting itself from the countryLockdown Lite is the new strategy for fighting Covid-19Chinese vaccine maker to offer shots first to testing nationsAirlines face desolate future as attempts to reopen crumbleTwo cats got Covid from owners, spurring call for vigilance

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on coronavirus cases and deaths.



a screenshot of a video game: U.S. filings for unemployment benefits contrast with estimates for a decline


© Bloomberg
U.S. filings for unemployment benefits contrast with estimates for a decline

Genes Offer Hints to Covid Severity (5:05 p.m. NY)

Genetic variants that identify weak spots in the immune system could explain why Covid-19 cases range from asymptomatic to death, according to two studies published Thursday in the journal Science.

The studies are the first published findings from the COVID Human Genetic Effort, an international consortium examining whether genetic factors can explain the wide variation for how the disease manifests in people. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced the findings.

Wisconsin Reports Near Record (4:55 p.m. NY)

Wisconsin, a key battleground state in the presidential election, reported 2,392 daily cases, its second highest on record, the department of Health Services reported. Positive-test results were 18%, compared with less than 1% in New York.

Amid an outbreak around the Midwest, the state said its seven-day average was 1,939 daily cases, with a total of 108,324. Another six people died, for a total 1,265 fatalities.

Noravax Set to Start Late-Stage Study (4:13 p.m. NY)

Novavax Inc. plans to start enrolling participants for a late-stage study of its experimental shot for the novel coronavirus in 10,000 patients in the U.K.

The company joins the ranks of AstraZeneca Plc, Pfizer Inc. with German partner BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc. as its vaccine enters the final stretch on the path toward regulatory approval. There are roughly 38 shots being tested in humans around the world and more than 140 others in earlier stages of study, according to the World Health Organization’s estimates.

U.S. Cases Rise 0.6% (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 0.6% as compared with the same time Wednesday to 6.95 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The increase matched the average daily gain of over the past week. Deaths reached 202,404.

HHS Allows Vaccine Czar to Retain Stock (3:10 p.m. NY)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defended former GlaxoSmithKline executive Moncef Slaoui’s decision to hold onto millions of dollars in stock in the pharmaceutical giant as he leads the Trump administration’s effort to accelerate Covid-19 vaccines.

In a letter released late Wednesday to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Legislation Sarah Arbes said Slaoui has “taken steps well beyond those required of him by law” to mitigate conflicts of interest. The HHS also provided documents on his financial interests and contracts that weren’t made public.

Democrats’ Stimulus Bill at About $2.4 Trillion (3:05 p.m. NY)

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells senior Democrats a draft coronavirus relief bill would be about $2.4 trillion because it will include airlines, restaurants and PPP small business aid, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The Democratic leadership is still seeking a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and no decision has been made on whether a bill will be voted on next week.

France Cases Jump to Record (2:20 p.m. NY)

France reported 16,096 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a record, as cases surge across Europe and bring new restrictions on social life.

The seven-day rolling average of new infections, which smooths out reporting spikes, stood at about 11,679 after breaching 13,000 daily cases in the last week.

Ireland Imposes More Curbs (1:40 p.m. NY)

Ireland’s government moved to tighten restrictions in a second county and signaled more limits may follow. Travel to and from Donegal in the northwest of the country will be limited, while restaurants will be restricted to outdoor service only. That mirrors restrictions placed on Dublin six days ago.

“We have seen a deterioration” over the last week nationally, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said. There is “every chance” more restrictions will follow in other parts of the country, he added.

Ireland reported 324 new cases on Thursday, with three deaths.

Madrid Hospitals Filling Up (1:24 p.m. NY)

Hospitals in Madrid are filling up with seriously-ill Covid-19 patients again, raising the specter of a health-care collapse similar to the grim scenes southern Europe experienced last spring.

The number of intensive-care beds with coronavirus patients in the Spanish capital region jumped to 39% on Thursday from 25% at the end of last week, according to official data. But Miguel Hernan, a Harvard University epidemiology professor who has advised the Spanish government, said the way Spain counts capacity understates the strain and ICU beds in Madrid actually are almost full.

A Distrustful Cuomo Says N.Y. Will Review Federal Vaccine Plans (12:40 p.m. NY)

Skeptical of the Trump administration’s oversight of the Covid-19 response, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state would review any vaccine authorized by the federal government. The move underscored how the push for a vaccine has become enmeshed in politics.

New York will launch a Clinical Advisory Task Force comprised of doctors, scientists and health experts to advise New Yorkers on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, Cuomo said during a briefing in Manhattan. He noted that polls show a growing mistrust of any vaccine. “Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion,” Cuomo said.

New York may also require travelers from Europe to abide by its 14-day quarantine rule. Cuomo is expected to sign an executive order requiring travelers on flights coming from Europe to abide by the state’s contact tracing protocols, as it has required of those coming from hotspot states, said Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor.

The move comes as the federal government fails to screen those coming in, she said. “Inexplicably, in the last several weeks, the CDC has rolled back any sort of screening that’s taking place at the airport.”

The state currently has a quarantine mandate in place requiring those arriving from states with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate, each over a 7-day rolling average.

U.K. Cases Hit Record (12:25 p.m. NY)

The U.K. reported the highest number of new coronavirus cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic, breaking a record set at the peak of the first wave.

A further 6,634 new cases of Covid-19 were reported on Thursday by Public Health England, the agency tracking the data.

The milestone is “a stark warning for us all,” Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said. “The signals are clear. Positivity rates are rising across all age groups and we’re continuing to see spikes in rates of admission to hospital and critical care.”

Italy Cases Rise (12:22 p.m. NY)

Italy reported 1,786 new cases Thursday, compared with 1,640 the previous day and amid increased screening, with more than 108,000 tests in one day. Patients in intensive care units rose to 246 and 23 deaths were reported.

The region of Campania, which registered the most new cases in the past few days, ordered the use of face masks outside, as did the city of Genoa for the city center. Masks are already compulsory in the nation after 6 p.m. if social distancing isn’t possible.

New York, Michigan Call for Investigation of Covid Response (11:45 a.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday called for a Congressional oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Democrats said the administration politicized government functions, impeding the country’s response to Covid-19, according to a news release.

“The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of this tragedy is the direct result of President Trump and the federal government’s deceit, political self-dealing, and incompetence,” the governors said.

College Enrollment Drops (11:20 a.m. NY)

Fewer students are opting to attend college in the U.S., deterred by Covid-19 risk and the prospect of taking classes online.

Undergraduate enrollments dropped 2.5% for the current academic year, according data released by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The steepest decline was among international students, with non-resident alien undergrads down 11.2%.

Higher education in the U.S. has been hard hit by the economic fallout from the pandemic. Schools were forced to close and they have struggled to reopen, with many scrapping full on-campus learning, especially after outbreaks. Students and families are very concerned about the quality of education that is delivered entirely online, said Mikyung Ryu, director of research publications.

Meanwhile, the District of Columbia has become the fifth jurisdiction to grant certain U.S. law school graduates to be licensed to practice law without taking the bar exam.

Moscow Mayor Wants More Work From Home (11:18 a.m. NY)

Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin asked 5,000 companies to allow more employees to work from home due to a rising number of infections, Ria Novosti reported, citing the city’s press service.

Sberbank, which pressed workers to return to the office after Chief Executive Officer Herman Gref told managers in June that work from home was less effective, was among the companies to receive the request, RBC website reported.

On Thursday, Moscow reported 1,050 new cases, the first time that the Russian capital diagnosed over a thousand infections in a day since June.

Ibrahimovic Tests Positive (11:15 a.m. NY)

The Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic tested positive for Covid-19 and won’t take part in AC Milan’s Europa league match Thursday evening, the team said in a statement.

Ibrahimovic, who scored two goals in Milan’s serie A debut against Bologna Monday night, is the second player of the Italian team who tested positive to coronavirus this week.

Ibrahimovic is now in quarantine while all other players in the team were tested negative to the virus.

U.S. Jobless Claims Remain Elevated (8:39 a.m. NY)

Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits were little changed last week, contrasting with forecasts for a decline and highlighting an economic recovery that’s coming in fits and starts.

Initial jobless claims in regular state programs rose by 4,000 to 870,000 in the period ended Sept. 19, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday. Continuing claims fell 167,000 to 12.6 million in the week ended Sept. 12, which coincides with the reference period for the government’s monthly jobs report.

Londoners Carry on Driving (8:30 a.m. NY)

Traffic congestion in London remains high despite the government this week urging office staff to go back to home-working, a development that suggests the U.K.’s recovery in fuel consumption may continue.



a close up of a person: Stuck in Traffic


© Bloomberg
Stuck in Traffic

London’s streets were 3% more congested on Wednesday than they were on average last year, according to data from satellite navigation firm TomTom International BV. The jams were similar to those observed on Tuesday and Monday, and higher than a week earlier.

Brazil Central Bank Lifts Economic Forecasts (7:50 a.m. NY)

Brazil’s central bank sees the economy contracting less than it previously forecast this year as interest rates remain at an all-time low and the government spends billions of dollars in stimulus during coronavirus pandemic.

Gross domestic product will fall 5% this year compared with June’s forecast of a 6.4% drop, according to the bank’s quarterly inflation report released on Thursday. Policy makers see the economy growing 3.9% in 2021, while inflation remains below target in all scenarios through next year.

Sunak Announces Jobs Plan (6:56 a.m. NY)

In an emergency statement to U.K. Parliament, Sunak announced a new “job support scheme” for subsidizing wages of people in part-time work. The government will also extend loans for firms hit by Covid restrictions and provide more relief for value-added tax payments.

Economists — and the chancellor himself — warned the package, while saving some jobs, won’t stop a wave of redundancies when the current more generous program ends.

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Video: Potential fall COVID surge looms as FDA gets set to toughen vaccine standards (TODAY)

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