G-7 Wants Global Certificates; Shangri-La Canceled: Virus Update

The Group of Seven nations will next month discuss ways to recognize Covid-19 vaccination certifications internationally, supporting a system for the mutual recognition of inoculation documents.

The organizers of the Shangri-La Dialogue, which usually draws in top military officials and diplomats, scrapped next month’s event in Singapore following an increase in cases, coming on the heels of the cancellation of the World Economic Forum in the city state.

Data from the U.S., Israel, Qatar and Malta suggest messenger RNA vaccines developed by Moderna Inc. and the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE partnership are more effective in quelling transmission of the virus.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 164.9 million; deaths exceed 3.4 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 1.54 billion doses have been given
  • Social networks are exporting disinformation about vaccines
  • Vaccine holdouts in Africa reject world’s route to recovery
  • Cascade of rare complications deepen India’s Covid misery
  • QuickTake explains why ‘long Covid’ could outlast the pandemic

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G-7 to Discuss Vaccine Certificates (5:38 p.m. HK)

The Group of Seven nations will next month discuss ways to recognize Covid-19 vaccination certifications internationally, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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Make sense of the headlines and the outbreak’s global response with the Coronavirus Daily.

The group of major economies aims to support the creation of a global framework for mutual recognition of documents showing proof of inoculation, said the person, who asked not to be identified. Such an endorsement, if it leads to the creation of concrete measures, would ease the revival of global travel as more people get the coronavirus jab. It would be especially welcomed by the airline and tourism industries, among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

Japan Is Main Destination for EU Vaccines (4:46 p.m. HK)

The European Union has authorized the export of more than 210 million vaccine doses to 45 countries since the end of January, according to a memo seen by Bloomberg.

Japan is the main destination, with some 90 million shipments authorized, followed by the U.K. with almost 21 million finished doses. The EU expects to receive about 27 million doses this week, bring the total deliveries to 261 million by Sunday.

Taiwan Local Transmissions Surge (4:16 p.m. HK)

Taiwan is facing major threats from a surge in coronavirus cases and drought-triggered power outages, potentially derailing one of Asia’s economic success stories this year.

The island has gone from zero local cases earlier this month to recording 1,512 domestic infections in the past six days alone, and stocks fell Thursday after a soft lockdown was extended to the entire island. Schools were already closed, but the new rules mean masks are mandatory outdoors, with limits on social gatherings and the closing of many public facilities.

If cases stay high, Taiwan may be forced into a full lockdown, which would spread the pain from the retail sector to exports in an economy heavily reliant on trade.

Shangri-La Dialogue Canceled (4:15 p.m. HK)

The organizers of the Shangri-La Dialogue, which usually draws in top military officials and diplomats, have canceled the event in Singapore due to uncertainty arising from the increase in coronavirus cases and the introduction of new restrictions.

The meeting, which focuses on global defense and security, was slated for June 4-5. The cancellation of the event comes on the heels of scrapping the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Singapore and the delay of a widely-anticipated travel bubble with Hong Kong.

Singaporean authorities discovered 27 new cases in the community with a larger proportion from earlier infections, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

China Studying Mixing of Vaccines (3:53 p.m. HK)

China is conducting research on mixing different covid vaccines, Shao Yiming, a researcher at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a briefing.

The country will also be able to produce new vaccines quickly if current versions don’t work against new variants.

EasyJet Sees Recovering Demand (2:30 p.m. HK)

EasyJet Plc reined in its plans for capacity growth and said it’s expecting a summer of gradually recovering demand as European destinations seek to reopen travel while continuing to battle the coronavirus outbreak.

Europe’s second-biggest discount airline expects to offer only 15% of its pre-virus capacity in the current quarter, compared with 20% previously, before building up flights from June, it said Thursday after reporting a loss of 701 million pounds ($990 million) for the first half through March.

Malaysian Businesses Seek Tighter Curbs (2:19 p.m. HK)

Malaysian industries are calling on the government to tighten virus protocols and accelerate the vaccine roll-out, in a bid to stave off a full lockdown as infections climb to a record.

The Malaysian Iron and Steel Federation asked the government to assure there would be “no total lockdown” to maintain business confidence, while proposing tighter curbs on public mobility and work-from-home practices. The Chemical Industries Council of Malaysia suggested reducing the workforce on site and increasing fines to ensure better compliance.

Africa Vaccine Holdouts Reject Route to Recovery (12:10 p.m. HK)

A handful of vaccine holdouts in the world’s least-inoculated continent could pose another big challenge for global efforts to end the pandemic.

Burundi, Tanzania and Eritrea have so far rejected the World Health Organization’s advice to register for Covax, an initiative to distribute vaccines to poorer countries, with some officials downplaying the impact of Covid-19 and effectiveness of jabs that have allowed several countries to begin opening up.

Thailand Prioritizes Vaccines for Workers (11:39 a.m. HK)

Thailand is adding workers to the front of the vaccination queue in an effort to buttress the economy as a raging Covid outbreak threatens to delay plans to reopen borders for foreign tourists.

Millions of employees under the social security program in Bangkok, the nation’s capital and financial hub, and nine provinces with large economies will get their shots along with other priority groups, including senior citizens and individuals with underlying conditions, according to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha.

Philippines Seeks to Overcome Shot Preference (11:10 a.m. HK)

The Philippine Interior Department ordered local governments not to announce available vaccine brands at vaccination centers, saying there’s a “need to educate the people in order to overcome brand preference.”

Vaccine recipients will only be informed of the brand on-site, and can refuse to inoculated. The order is also to prevent crowding, after long queues formed at the Pfizer vaccine rollout in the capital earlier this week.

The Southeast Asian nation has administered nearly 3.3 million shots, with the pace of vaccinations improving from last week, as it targets herd immunity this year to fight one of the region’s worst Covid-19 outbreaks.

Vietnam May Shorten Quarantine (9:05 a.m. HK)

Vietnam may cut the quarantine for vaccinated travelers arriving at the country’s airports to seven from 21 days.

Travelers “who are seen as safe only need seven-day quarantines and their health will be monitored after leaving the quarantine facilities,” Deputy Premier Vu Duc Dam said in an instruction, according to a post on the health ministry’s website, referring to fully-inoculated visitors. New guidance is expected to be issued by the ministry in a week.

Vietnam increased mandatory quarantines for travelers arriving in the country to 21 days from 14 days earlier this month following a flareup in domestic infections.

Singapore Orders Correction to Online Posts About Variant (8:47 a.m. HK)

Singapore’s Ministry of Health issued an order to Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and SPH Magazines requiring corrections to be made over what it says are online falsehoods that imply a new coronavirus variant had originated in the country.

“There is no new ‘Singapore’ variant of Covid-19,” the ministry said in a statement. “Neither is there evidence of any Covid-19 variant that is ‘extremely dangerous for kids’. The strain that is prevalent in many of the Covid-19 cases detected in Singapore in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originated from India.”

Why the Mutated Coronavirus Variants Are So Worrisome: QuickTake

Japan Panel Seen Approving AstraZeneca Vaccine (7:03 a.m. HK)

A Japanese health ministry panel is expected to approve the use of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid vaccine at a meeting scheduled Thursday after trials held in the nation confirmed effectiveness, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing an unidentified person.

The broadcaster reported Tuesday that the ministry also plans to approve the use of Moderna Inc.’s Covid vaccine.

Pfizer Shot Can Be in Fridge for Month (6:20 a.m. HK)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized storage of thawed, undiluted Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in the refrigerator for as long as one month, according to a statement from the regulators.

When initially authorized late last year, the shot had to be kept at ultracold temperatures, which limited its use in some areas that didn’t have access to the required storage technology. Previously, the shot could only be kept in a refrigerator for as long as five days. Regulators in Canada have issued a similar clearance.

Some Shots Better at Cutting Transmission (6:02 a.m. HK)

Data indicate mRNA vaccines are better at stopping people from becoming contagious, helping reduce onward transmission. Other vaccines, while effective in preventing acute illness or death from Covid, appear not to have this extra perk to the same degree.

“This will be an increasing trend as countries start to realize that some vaccines are better than others,” said Nikolai Petrovsky, a professor at the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University in South Australia. While the use of any vaccine “is still better than nothing,” he said, some doses “may have little benefit in preventing spread, even if they reduce the risk of death or severe disease.”

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