AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine was
76% effective in a U.S. study, a slightly downgraded estimate based on the latest data collected from a contentious clinical trial, creating further uncertainty for the shots.
U.S. cases surpassed 30 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Brazil surpassed 300,000
deaths from Covid-19, the second-most in the world. Singapore will relax measures to allow more people to return to offices and permit larger gatherings.
Boris Johnson warned that the U.K. may need
tougher border measures “very soon” to prevent the arrival of Covid-19 variants from continental Europe that risk undermining the country’s vaccine rollout. The European Union and the U.K.
signaled a thawing of relations over vaccine sharing.
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Astra Reports Lower Efficacy Amid Questions (9:12 a.m. HK)
AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine was 76% effective in a U.S. study — a slightly downgraded estimate based on the latest data collected from a contentious clinical trial, and a twist that creates another layer of uncertainty for the shots.
The company issued the new analysis after an independent monitoring board expressed concern that the initial efficacy of 79% relied on outdated information. The earlier reading was based on data gathered through Feb. 17. The data glitch may delay the vaccine’s ability to win U.S. regulatory clearance, though it’ll likely still play a crucial role in halting the pandemic.
Trudeau, Von der Layen Talk After EU Export Move (9:10 a.m. HK)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
spoke with European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen after the EU moved to tighten vaccine export restrictions.
According to a readout from Trudeau’s office, “they agreed on the importance of rolling out safe and effective vaccines as quickly as possible, including with respect to continued close Canada-EU cooperation.”
Johnson Warns U.K. May Need Tougher Border Rules ‘Very Soon’ (8:10 a.m. HK)
The U.K. may need
tougher border measures “very soon” to prevent the arrival of Covid-19 variants from continental Europe that risk undermining the country’s vaccine drive, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament.
Ministers need to balance any decision to impose tighter restrictions — including potential virus checks on haulers coming from France — “against the very serious disruption that is entailed by curtailing cross-Channel trade,” he said.
Nissan Halts Brazil Production Until April 12 Over Covid (7:41 a.m. HK)
furloughing all employees in its industrial complex in Resende between March 26 and April 9, according to an emailed statement from Nissan Brasil, with production expected to resume April 12. The move aims to ensure employees’ safety and adapt the company to the current situation while guaranteeing business continuity, the Japanese automaker said.
Weaker Africa Virus Controls Drove More Severe Wave: Study (7:30 a.m. HK)
African countries’ loosening coronavirus-related controls and the emergence of more transmissible variants fueled a second wave of infections more severe than the first,
according to a study published in The Lancet journal.
Brazil Surpasses 300,000 Deaths (6:11 a.m. HK)
Brazil became just the second country to cross the mark of 300,000 deaths from Covid-19 as the virus continues to rage and overrun hospitals.
It took just two-and-a-half months for Brazil to go from 200,000 to 300,000 deaths, compared with five months between 100,000 and 200,000 fatalities, showing the veracity at which the virus and its P.1 variant is spreading.
The Health Ministry reported 2,009 additional deaths on Wednesday, taking the toll to 300,685. New confirmed cases jumped 89,992 in the past 24 hours, to a total of 12.2 million. Both totals are the highest globally after the U.S.
CDC Dashes Cruise Industry Hopes for Restart (4:15 p.m. NY)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is
holding firm on a phased return to cruise-line operations, dashing the industry’s hopes for a swift restart.
Cruise Lines International Association, the main lobbying group for cruise companies including Carnival Corp., issued a statement earlier Wednesday calling for the CDC to drop the order and agree to let U.S. sailings resume by July. But in an emailed response to questions, the CDC said the so-called Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, or CSO, remains in effect.
More U.S. States Expand Vaccine Eligibility (3:40 p.m. NY)
Louisiana, Idaho and Utah joined the growing list of U.S. states allowing anyone age 16 and older to receive coronavirus vaccines in coming weeks.
Duterte Warns Vaccine Line Jumpers (11:30 a.m. NY)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
warned officials against jumping the vaccine queue, saying the nation risks losing donated doses from the World Health Organization-backed Covax facility if health workers aren’t prioritized.
Iceland Imposes Tighter Limits (11:30 a.m. NY)
Iceland, whose handling of the pandemic is regarded as one of the best in the world, is imposing tighter social measures following a surge in infections linked to the British variant. The new restrictions, which will be in effect for three weeks, include closing schools and universities.
Cyprus Opening to Visitors (8:49 a.m. NY)
Cyprus will open its borders starting April 1 to visitors from the U.S., Russia and Ukraine, the tourism ministry said Wednesday. All travelers who were tested and proven to be Covid-free and who haven’t come into close contact with a confirmed case will be guaranteed a quarantine-free stay, it said. Cyprus said Tuesday that it will reopen borders in April for those coming from Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, while visitors from the U.K. can come from May 1.
Belgium Tightens Restrictions (8:07 a.m. NY)
Belgium’s federal government and regions tightened virus restrictions for the first time since late October, closing schools one week ahead of a two-week Easter break, and ordering hairdressers and beauty salons to shut again for four weeks starting Saturday.
Belgium is shying away from stricter lockdown measures enacted twice last year, however, allowing non-essential retailers to stay open on appointment and not issuing limits to domestic movements.
Merkel Scraps Easter Lockdown (7:38 a.m. NY)
Chancellor Angela Merkel
asked the German people for forgiveness after making a rare public apology for sparking massive criticism with plans for a five-day Easter shutdown.
Merkel dropped the proposal, calling it a “mistake,” after a hastily-arranged video conference with the heads of Germany’s 16 states around 33 hours after announcing the move.
— With assistance by Karen Leigh
Covid-19 Pandemic: Live Updates and News for Mar. 25, 2021 – Bloomberg