2 December

Global: coronavirus infections near 64 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll exceeds 1.48 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 US: Covid-19 infections have passed 13.7 million, meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 270,669 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The US reported more than 100,000 Covid cases a day every day of November, Johns Hopkins data shows, as it heads into a festive season marked by surging hospitalisations.

 Los Angeles County on Tuesday reported a record number of new Covid cases – 7,593. The ratio of tests that come back positive almost doubled from a week ago, to 12%. Hospitalizations also rose past a previous peak in early July.

Texas posted a record 15,182 new Covid-19 diagnoses on Tuesday, breaking the old record set less than a week ago by more than 500 cases. The increase pushed the second-largest US state’s cumulative total to 1.18 million, according to state health department figures. Meanwhile, virus hospitalizations exceeded 9,000 for the first time since July.

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A CNN report citing internal Chinese government documents said Hubei Province had a 20-fold spike in what was identified as influenza cases in one week in early December 2019, around the same time the first symptomatic Covid-19 patients was found. One document CNN reviewed suggests China had detected around 200 Covid-19 cases in 2019. That’s higher than the “44 cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology” China reported to the World Health Organization for the period up to 3 January, 2020.

India: India’s daily coronavirus cases continued to stay below the 50,000 mark for the 25th straight day, with 36,604 new infections reported, data from the health ministry showed on Wednesday. The country now has 9.5 million total infections, but cases have been dipping since a peak in September, in spite of a busy festival season last month.

 Germany: Germany recorded 24,766 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours through Wednesday morning, and daily fatalities jumped to a seven-month high of 483. The rise in infections – the biggest in six days – took the total to 1,094,678, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Vaccine news

Japan: Visitors to next year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo won’t need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before arriving, Nikkei reported. Travelers who submit proof of a negative test and use an enhanced version of Cocoa, a virus tracking app from the Japanese government, also won’t be subject to a two-week quarantine, according to the report.

Mexico: Mexico’s government is due to sign a contract on Wednesday with pharmaceutical company Pfizer for the delivery of its coronavirus vaccine, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said on Tuesday. Pfizer has submitted the details about its vaccine to Mexico’s health regulator, Cofepris, and the country’s foreign minister last month said the government expects the vaccine to reach Mexico in December.

US: A government panel on Tuesday formally recommended early doses of Covid-19 vaccines be given first to healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents in the US, generally seen as people who live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The US Transportation Department said Tuesday it has made preparations to enable the “immediate mass shipment” of Covid-19 vaccines and completed all necessary regulatory measures.

The first shipments of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine will be delivered to the US on 15 December, CNN reported, citing an Operation Warp Speed document. Moderna’s vaccine will arrive a week later, CNN said, adding that the distribution dates are contingent on the vaccines getting FDA clearance for emergency use.

A Roche Holding AG test that detects the presence and level of coronavirus antibodies was cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use. The test could be used to evaluate how well the shots work, including over time, Roche said in a statement announcing the approval. Like other antibody tests, the assay could also be used to identify potential plasma donors. The use of so-called convalescent plasma to treat people hospitalized with Covid-19 was granted emergency authorization by the FDA earlier this year.

Turkey: Turkey has plans for “widespread” Covid-19 vaccination and will prioritize medical personnel, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. The country will receive up to 20 million doses this month, followed by another 20 million doses in January and 10 million in February.

Lockdown updates

UK: Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered his worst-ever Commons rebellion on Tuesday night, as 55 Conservative MPs opposed the government’s new coronavirus tier system. The UK’s month-long lockdown ends on Wednesday, 2 December.

England’s new three tier system comes into effect on 2 December. Non-essential shops in all areas can reopen, as can gyms, hairdressers and other personal care businesses, with the formal instruction to stay at home coming to an end. The “rule of six” will again apply for outdoor gatherings in all areas.

US: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon shorten the length of self-quarantine recommended after potential exposure to the coronavirus to 10 days, or 7 days with a negative test, a federal spokesperson said on Tuesday. CDC currently recommends a 14-day quarantine in order to curb the transmission of the virus.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s de facto cabinet has agreed to raise the fine for breaking social distancing rules to HK$10,000 from HK$2,000, the South China Morning Post reported, citing unidenfitied people. The increase is subject to input from the Department of Justice, according to the newspaper. The city faces 103 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, up from 82 the day before, the SCMP said. Hong Kong has ratcheted up curbs on clubs, bars and restaurants in the past week, and has also closed schools.

Indonesia: Indonesia shortened its year-end holiday by three days to stem the virus spread and avoid a repeat of a long weekend in October that led to a spike in cases.

Vietnam: Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered the aviation authority to halt international commercial flights after the nation reported its first local coronavirus cases in almost three months.

Economy updates

US: UnitedHealth Group Inc. expects the pandemic to carve $2 billion out of its profits next year, with Covid-19 testing and treatment costs remaining steady even as more Americans return to their doctors’ offices for routine care. Executives said costs for virus testing and treatment won’t be offset by widespread deferrals in care in 2021, as they were in 2020 when U.S. medical providers shut down most non-urgent in-person care for weeks during the spring.