G-20 Tackling Mental Health; U.K. Vaccine Passport: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) —

The Group of 20 are set to pledge to do more to tackle the impact of the pandemic on mental health as ministers meet in Rome this weekend.

The U.K. is looking at requiring vaccine passports for entry to big venues by this month, though has yet to make a decision on jabs for healthy schoolchildren. Italy will decide by the end of the month whether vaccines will become mandatory.

The U.S. is likely to begin its widespread booster campaign with only the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech vaccine, as health regulators seek additional information from Moderna Inc. An Israeli study among cancer patients found that 88% developed antibodies after two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine.

Key Developments

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 220.2 million; deaths exceed 4.5 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 5.46 billion doses administered
  • Delta surge means this is as good as it gets for global growth
  • Coronavirus daily: To boost or not to boost?
  • Needle phobics want shots, if they can avoid fainting, fleeing
  • One vaccine makes more antibodies than another. Does it matter?
  • Battered by Covid, cities fight for survival

Italy to Decide on Compulsory Vaccine (6:58 a.m NY)

Italy will decide by the end of September whether vaccines will become mandatory for all people aged 12 and over, Public Administration Minister Renato Brunetta said. A law will be passed if the country hasn’t reached a vaccination level between 80% and 90%, he said. At the moment, the level is about 71.5%, government data show.

Indonesia’s Cases at Three-Month Low (5:37 p.m. HK)

Indonesia reported 5,403 new cases though midday Sunday, the fewest in three months, despite falling behind on its daily vaccination target. The number of deaths fell to 392, the lowest since June 26.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy has targeted delivering 2.3 million vaccine doses per day in September, but only administered less than a third of that on Sunday.

G-20 to Do More to Tackle Mental Health (5:35 p.m. HK)

The Group of 20 are set to pledge more action to tackle the fallout of Covid-19 on mental health, according to a draft statement seen by Bloomberg. Health ministers meeting in Rome this weekend will acknowledge the consequences from isolation to unemployment to food insecurity, and that the pandemic has exposed gaps in mental health systems.

The impact has disproportionately hit groups including women, older people, persons with disabilities, as well as the poorest and most vulnerable, the draft showed. Ministers will therefore pledge to increase access to services and to better integrate mental health into their broader health care systems.

Pfizer Vaccine Safe for Cancer Patients: Israeli Study (5:09 p.m. HK)

An Israeli study among 330 actively treated cancer patients found that 88% developed antibodies after two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, compared with 97% among a control group of healthy patients. The researchers measured the antibody response two months after the second inoculation.

The study at Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center also found no significant side effects among cancer patients receiving active treatment. The proportion who didn’t develop adequate antibody responses was highest among those receiving chemotherapy as a single drug, compared with those treated with immunotherapy and targeted therapy as single drugs.

German Cases Now Exceed 4 Million (4:27 p.m. HK)

Germany has now recorded more than four million cases since the pandemic began, according to the RKI public health institute. Health officials registered more than 10,400 infections in the 24 hours to Sunday.

U.K. Looking at Vaccine Passports for Big Venues (4:26 p.m. HK)

The government is “looking at by the end of September” requiring vaccine certification for entry to large venues where infection risk may be higher, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said in an interview with Sky News. 

He also said the government hasn’t yet decided on whether to roll out vaccines to healthy 12- to 15-year-olds, but if the move does go ahead, then parental consent would be needed.

China Reports One Asymptomatic Patient in Guangdong (9:26 a.m. HK)

China’s National Health Commission reported one local asymptomatic patient in the southern province of Guangdong on Saturday. 

The country managed to quash an outbreak of the more infectious delta variant after aggressive curbs, with just a handful of local and asymptomatic cases cropping up in recent days.

Japan to Issue Online Vaccine Certs (08:16 a.m. HK)

The Japanese government will issue online Covid-19 vaccine certificates from December, Nikkei reported. 

The government plans for the application process and issuance to be conducted via mobile app, according to Nikkei, without citing where it got the information. The certificate will be in a form of a QR code, the report said. 

Local governments currently issue the proof of inoculation in print for those with upcoming overseas travel plans. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has floated its use as a way to allow freer movement, saying the government will consider how to actively use vaccination certificates for reopening bars, restaurants, travel and events. 

Australia Aims to End State Border Closures by Christmas (7:40 a.m. HK)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has doubled down on his plan to end pandemic lockdowns and state border closures by Christmas, even as rising cases increase the pressure on Sydney’s health-care system. 

“Everyone can make plans for a family Christmas,” Morrison said in an interview with Melbourne’s Herald Sun paper on Sunday. “Nobody wants Covid to be the virus that stole Christmas, and we have a plan and the vaccinations available to ensure that’s not the case.”

Brazil, Mexico Report More Cases, Deaths (6:11 a.m. HK)

Brazil reported 21,804 cases in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data. The country’s coronavirus death toll rose by 692 to 583,362. 

Mexico reported 15,586 new Covid-19 cases Saturday, bringing the total to 3,420,880, according to the Health Ministry. Deaths increased by 647 to 262,868.

Alabama School Cases Double (5:43 p.m. NY)

Alabama reported almost 9,200 cases over the last week among students and staff, up from about 4,330 the week before, state data released on Friday show. Among the counties reporting the most infections were Jefferson, the state’s most populous, and Mobile, in the southwest, the data show. 

The spike comes as Alabama hits record cases — 33,000 in the week that ended on Friday — and schools are reopening. Despite the lack of state mask mandate, most school districts require masking.  

On Friday, with hospitals overwhelmed, Governor Kay Ivey said she designated $12.3 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to attract traveling nurses.

Brazil Bars Coronavac Shots from Unapproved Plant (4:54 p.m. NY)

Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa prohibited the distribution and use of Coronavac vaccines batches bottled by the manufacturer Sinovac in a plant not inspected and not approved by the agency, according to a statement. 

The measure was taken to mitigate a possible health risk, the agency said.

Anvisa was informed by Butantan Institute that Sinovac sent 25 batches to Brazil totaling 12.1 million doses. Another 17 batches with 9 million doses were also bottled in a place not inspected by Anvisa and are in the process of being sent and released to Brazil.

Covid Claims 48% of ICU Beds in Part of U.S. (4:49 p.m. NY)

Use of intensive-care units to treat U.S. Covid-19 patients increased to 29% in the week through Tuesday, drawing closer to a peak of 31% reached in January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ICU capacity was tightest in a region comprising Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, with 48% devoted to Covid patients. Ranking next at 44% was an eight-state bloc from Kentucky to Florida that includes much of the South. Intensive-care utilization was lowest at 9% in a group consisting mainly of New York and New Jersey, according to a regular CDC data set published Friday.

Hawaii Hospitals Face Oxygen Shortage (2:46 p.m. NY)

Hawaii is running out of oxygen and may have to ration care after Covid hospitalizations reached a record, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported. With field hospitals being erected and federally supplied health-care workers deployed, the state could run short of oxygen as soon as Monday, the newspaper reported. 

The delta variant has pushed infections to the highest point of the pandemic. Almost 6,300 weekly cases were reported on Friday, more than triple the level of the end of July. 

Texas School Districts Close (1:23 p.m. NY)

At least 45 Texas school districts have stopped in-person learning because of Covid-19 cases, affecting about 42,000 students, the Texas Tribune reported, quoting the state’s Education Agency. 

Weekly cases statewide rose to almost 128,000 on Friday, the most since early February, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Children’s hospitals in the state have reported surging numbers of pediatric cases. 

Governor Greg Abbott is battling with local districts over his ban on mask mandates in schools, which the state isn’t enforcing amid legal challenges. 

Kentucky Hospitals Strained (11:38 a.m. NY)

Kentucky leads the U.S. in a measure of strain on hospitals from incoming Covid-19 patients, ahead of Georgia and Florida. The state had almost 38 confirmed admissions per 100 beds during the week that ended Tuesday, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

On Friday, with new cases near a record, Governor Andy Beshear pleaded with residents to get vaccinated and wear masks indoors. “Right now is one of the most dangerous times we’ve had in this pandemic,” the Democratic governor said in a video posted on Twitter. “Folks, it is a scary time.”


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