ECONOMY

Israel Eyes Fourth Dose; U.K. Drops Vaccine Passes: Virus Update

President Joe Biden will announce his next steps to boost the global vaccine supply before this year’s United Nations General Assembly begins, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said. Republican governors said the vaccine mandates Biden announced previously will backfire and harden resistance to getting the shot. 

The U.K. will abandon plans to call for proof of vaccination to enter certain venues, and may soon drop mandatory testing for returning travelers as part of a further easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Israel is making preparations to ensure it has sufficient vaccine supply in case a fourth round of Covid-19 shots is needed, the country’s top health official said

Cases Drop in Thailand (8:57 a.m. HK)

Thailand reported 12,583 new Covid-19 cases, the lowest one-day tally since July 20, according to government data on Monday. The Southeast Asian nation reported 132 deaths in the past 24 hours, the lowest daily fatalities since July 30. The lower tally comes as Thailand keeps strict containment measures in 29 provinces considered as virus hotspots at least until the end of September to prevent a spike in infections.

West Virginia Hot Spot (7 a.m. HK)

West Virginia reported more than 2,200 new cases on Sunday, as the state endures its worst outbreak of the pandemic. As cases begin to level off in hot spots like Florida and Missouri, West Virginia now has one of the worst per capita outbreaks in the U.S., according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with intensive-care cases breaking pandemic records and hospitalizations almost even with previous highs. 

The outbreak, driven by the delta variant, is expected to get worse. “The weather is going to get bad, and absolutely we’re going to be overrun in our hospitals, and there are going to be decisions that have to be made on who is going to live and who is going to die,” Governor Jim Justice said at a press briefing on Friday, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. “It’ll be terrible beyond belief.”

The Republican governor strongly urged people to get vaccinated, though he added that he opposes vaccination mandates. 

Parental Consent in Alabama (2:52 p.m. NY)

Alabama quietly shifted its rules earlier this summer to require parental consent for anyone younger than 19 to receive the vaccine at state-run clinics in public schools. AL.com reported. Generally, children older than 14 can consent to routine medical treatment, AL.com reported, but the state’s Department of Public Health changed the rules after complaints from several legislators that children were being vaccinated without parents’ consent. 

Medical officials were quoted as worrying that the change may further depress the rate of vaccination in Alabama, one of the lowest in the U.S. 

South Africa Eases Restrictions (2:23 p.m. NY)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa eased coronavirus lockdown restrictions in a bid to revive an economy reeling from the effects of the pandemic and a week of deadly riots. 

The move to virus alert level 2 from level 3 comes as Covid-19 infections drop and will allow for greater activity in an economy seen contracting in the third quarter because of the unrest.

Europe a Vaccine Leader, Breton Says (12:02 p.m. NY)

Europe has emerged as the biggest vaccine-producing continent in the world and makes enough doses in less than a month to administer third shots to its population, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton said.

Europe “is the world’s pharmacy,” he said Sunday in an interview on CNews. The region and the U.S. need to do more to get vaccines to Africa, he said, in part because of the importance of heading off new viral variants. 

Breton cited European initiatives to help Senegal, South Africa and Rwanda to manufacture vaccines. The fight against emerging Covid-19 variants is crucial, he said.

Pfizer for Kids Eyed by Halloween (11:48 a.m. NY)

Scott Gottlieb, a board member of the Pfizer Inc. and the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, said Covid-19 vaccines for kids could arrive as soon as Halloween this year.

Pfizer has said it will have data on Covid-19 vaccines for children by the end of Sept., and the FDA will take “weeks, not months,” to evaluate the data and make a decision, he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“In a best-case scenario, given that timeline they’ve just laid out, you could potentially have a vaccine available to children age five to 11 by Halloween,” Gottlieb said. Parents should consult with pediatrician to decide the number of doses and dosage for vaccinating their kids, he added.

GOP Voices Against Vaccine Mandate (11:38 a.m. NY)

Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a strong proponent of the Covid-19 vaccines, said President’s Joe Biden’s announcement of federal mandates last week only “hardens the resistance” to taking the vaccine. 

“This is an unprecedented assumption of federal mandate authority that really disrupts and divides the country,” the Republican governor said NBC’s “Meet the Press. “It increases the division in terms of vaccination when we should all be together trying to increase the vaccination uptake.”

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, also a Republican, called the mandates “an egregious overreach of federal authority” and said that attorneys general of several states are conferring about legal action. 

“So many people told me they’re just going to be fired if they’re forced to take the vaccine,” Ricketts said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is really going to create huge problems for all small businesses and for our American workers.”

Murthy Signal on Global Vaccine Supply (11:27 a.m. NY)

President Joe Biden will announce his next steps to boost the global vaccine supply before this year’s United Nations General Assembly begins, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said.

Biden is weighing a multilateral meeting ahead of the UN leaders’ sessions aimed at vaccine supply, and has said he will announce new vaccine measures this month. Murthy told CNN on Sunday that the announcement will precede the UN sessions.

“The president will be making announcements ahead of the UN General Assembly about additional measures that we’re taking to help vaccinate the world,” Murthy said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The session at which world leaders address the UN begins on Sept. 21. Biden said on Thursday that he’d make the announcement, though hasn’t yet signaled what it will be. 

U.K. Shelves Vaccine Passports Plan (8:15 a.m. NY)

The U.K. will abandon plans to call for proof of vaccination to enter certain venues, and may soon drop mandatory testing for returning travelers as part of a further easing of coronavirus restrictions to be announced this week, even as cases remain high. 

Health Minister Sajid Javid spoke ahead of steps expected to be announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday to managing Covid over the autumn and winter. Booster vaccines are also on the agenda. 

“I’ve never liked the idea of saying to people, ‘You must show your papers’ or something to do what is just an everyday activity,” Javid said in an interview on the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday. 

Scotland Must Tame Virus Before Referendum (5:54 p.m HK)

Scotland won’t call a new referendum on independence until the pandemic is under control, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

“This is not just about safety of polling stations,” Sturgeon said in an interview with Sky News Sunday morning.

Israel Prepping for Fourth Dose (5:18 p.m HK)

Israel is making preparations to ensure it has sufficient vaccine supply in case a fourth round of Covid-19 shots is needed, the country’s top health official said on Sunday. 

“We don’t know when it will happen; I hope very much that it won’t be within six months, like this time, and that the third dose will last for longer,” Health Ministry Director General Nachman Ash said in an interview with Radio 103FM.

Merkel Urges Shots Before Winter (4:20 p.m. HK)

Chancellor Angela Merkel urges Germans to get vaccinated ahead of the winter months. Four million people in Germany have contracted the virus and more than 90,000 people have died from it, she said on Sunday in her regular podcast. 

This week volunteer workers will offer vaccinations on soccer fields, in the streets and at mosques, she said.

The vast majority of patients treated in hospitals or intensive care units are unvaccinated, she said. To get through the fall and winter in good shape, “we therefore have to convince more people to get vaccinated.”

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