N.J. Mulls Cash Incentives; U.K. to Ease Travel: Virus Update


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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he is considering cash incentives to lure people to get vaccinated. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he sees no reason to require Covid-19 shots for students to return to school. Wyoming became the latest U.S. state to limit vaccine passports.

Britain will permit relatively free leisure travel to 12 nations and territories. China’s Sinopharm won the backing of the World Health Organization for its vaccine, paving the way for a wider rollout of the shot in countries scrambling for immunizations.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she is open to discussing President Joe Biden’s proposal to waive patents on Covid-19 vaccines but that the U.S. needs to dramatically ramp up the number of shots it’s exporting in the short term.

Key Developments

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U.S. Vaccine Pace Ticks Up Slightly (6:17 p.m. NY)

The U.S. recorded 2.83 million vaccine doses on Friday, marking the first uptick in the 7-day average in more than three weeks. The average rose from 2.08 million to 2.09 million after three consecutive single-day increases, according to data compiled by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Demand for vaccines has been falling since a peak of 4.63 million doses recorded on April 10. The U.S. has administered a total of 255 million doses.

CDC Pinpoints Airborne Spread (5:11 p.m. NY)

Inhaling air filled with tiny virus-laden particles, being splashed or sprayed on with droplets or touching one’s mouth, eyes or nose with contaminated hands are the primary ways the novel coronavirus spreads, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. Prevention tactics, including masking and hand washing, remain effective, the CDC said. Most airborne transmission occurs within 3 to 6 feet, though it can occur at greater lengths.

The update comes more than one year since Covid-19 started spreading in the U.S. and after some scientists called for the U.S. health agency to acknowledge the role airborne transmission plays in spreading the virus.

Wyoming Bans State Vaccine Passports (4:35 p.m. NY)

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon issued a directive Friday preventing state agencies, boards and commissions from requiring Covid-19 vaccine passports for public spaces and services. Such documents “would divide our citizens at a time when unity in fighting the virus is essential,” Gordon said. He also urged local governments and businesses “to align their practices with this directive” to provide full access to public spaces and services.

More than a dozen U.S. states have moved to ban or limit various forms of proof of Covid-19 vaccination.

Poorer Nations Didn’t Order: Pfizer (3:50 p.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc.’s chief executive said that low- and middle-income countries had opted not to order the company’s Covid-19 shot, in a letter posted online after the Biden administration said it supported waiving patents to expand global access to vaccines.

“We reached out to all nations asking them to place orders so we could allocate doses for them,” Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said in a letter addressed to Pfizer employees. “In reality, the high-income countries reserved most of the doses. I became personally concerned with that and I reached out to many heads of middle/low-income countries by letter, phone and even text to urge them to reserve doses because the supply was limited.”

EU Calls on U.S. to Export Vaccines (3:25 p.m. NY)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she is open to discussing President Joe Biden’s proposal to waive patents on Covid-19 vaccines but that the U.S. needs to dramatically ramp up the number of shots it’s exporting in the short term.

Von der Leyen said that vaccine manufacturers in the European Union have exported about half of the shots they’ve produced, some 200 million in total, and urged the U.S. to match that effort.

The U.S. has so far gobbled up nearly all of the doses produced on its soil. It has sent 4.2 million AstraZeneca shots — which aren’t yet authorized for use in the U.S. — to Mexico and Canada and says it plans to ship another 60 million of those doses by the end of June.

Indy 500 Track Cited in Vaccine Drive (2:40 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator commended the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500 race, for temporarily transforming into a vaccination site.

While 57% of adult Americans have at least one shot, Biden’s goal of reaching 70% by July 4 requires further efforts, Jeff Zients told reporters on Friday. That includes the collaboration by Indycar and state officials, he said.

Cases in Indiana increased 16% in the week through May 3, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitalizations are also rising.

Sao Paulo Extends Transition Plan (1:36 p.m. NY)

The state of Sao Paulo in Brazil will remain for another two weeks in its so-called “transition phase” of restrictions, but allowing service and commerce to extend opening hours until 9 p.m., with a 30% operating capacity from 25% earlier, Governor Joao Doria announced at a press conference.

The new stage of the restriction phase will take place between May 8 and May 23. Indicators are not signaling a third wave, said Joao Gabbardo, executive coordinator of the Contingency Center, a group that suggested restrictions to the state government.

Maine ICUs Filling With Unvaccinated (1:34 p.m. NY)

Maine’s intensive-care units are being overwhelmed by unvaccinated patients with severe cases of Covid-19, the Portland Press Herald reported. While overall hospitalizations are down, intensive care admissions are beginning to approach the levels of the viral surge over the holidays. Doctors said patients are trending younger, given the higher number of senior citizens who have been vaccinated, and are likely infected with more virulent strains of the virus.

Nigeria Seeks 30 Million Doses of J&J Vaccine (1:24 p.m. NY)

Nigeria plans to get 29.6 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust led by Afreximbank, the finance ministry said.

The government is working on a supplementary budget to cover vaccine procurement and delivery, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said in a statement on Friday. Already, 29 billion naira have been released for the deployment of vaccines, which is 52% of what is required from 2021 to 2022, she said.

U.K. to Ease Travel Restrictions (12:37 p.m. NY)

Britain will permit relatively free leisure travel to 12 nations and territories including Portugal as it seeks to reopen tourism while keeping control over the coronavirus pandemic.

A legal ban on international leisure trips will be eased from May 17, as expected, the Department for Transport said Friday. Return journeys from approved countries will require Covid-19 tests but no period of quarantine.

NYC Mayor Against Vaccine Mandate (12:23 p.m. NY)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he sees no reason to require Covid-19 shots for students to return to school. Children can return “without a requirement, I think that is the right way to go,” de Blasio said Friday on WNYC when asked if students would be mandated to have the Covid-19 vaccination the same way they must have shots like the MMR vaccine.

The mayor said he would like “for every child to be back in school,” on opening day in September.

Greece Eases More Curbs (11:54 a.m. NY)

Greece is further easing restrictive measures as part of a plan to gradually return to more normal conditions, Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said Friday. Some local beaches will again open from May 8, courts, primary and night schools from May 10 while museums will open their doors on May 14 and open-air cinemas from May 21. Greece opens to international tourism from May 15, when more measures are expected to be lifted including the current ban on inter-regional travel.

WHO Approves Sinopharm Shot (11:41 a.m. NY)

China’s Sinopharm won the backing of the World Health Organization for its Covid-19 vaccine, paving the way for a wider rollout of the shot in countries scrambling for immunizations. The backing of Sinopharm’s shot adds another inoculation to Covax, a program backed by WHO and other global health groups dedicated to ensuring every country has access to vaccinations.

U.K. Passes Vaccination Milestone (11:39 a.m. NY)

Two thirds of adults in the U.K. have now had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, continuing the country’s rapid rollout as it looks to reopen more of its economy.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps is due to speak at a press conference on Friday afternoon where he will lay out the government’s plan to restart international travel on May 17.

Singapore Limits Foreign Workers (10:17 a.m. NY)

Singapore will reduce entry approvals for foreign workers planning to enter the country in the coming weeks, and delay the arrivals of many of those already approved to enter, the government said Friday.

The move, aimed at reducing imported cases of Covid-19, comes hours before Singapore is set to launch a three-week crackdown that will limit the size of group gatherings to five. The government earlier this week had already extended travel quarantine to 21 days from the current 14, except for travelers from lower risk places.

N.J. Considers Cash Incentives (9:19 a.m. N.Y.)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he is considering cash incentives to lure people to get vaccinated.

“All things are on the table,” Murphy said of a potential cash lure. The state already is running a “Shot and a Beer” program, with free beverages at New Jersey breweries for people who can show proof of vaccine during May.

Starting today, the state is allowing people to sit at indoor bars, eat at buffets and dance at weddings, amid other easing measures.

Ghana Gets More Covax Shots (7:21 a.m. N.Y.)

Ghana has become the first country to get a second delivery of vaccines from the World Health Organization-backed Covax facility after India, which manufactures the shots, halted exports.





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