Campus Outbreaks Erupt; Europe’s Hot Spots Spike: Virus Update

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Drugmakers are planning apublic pledge to not send any Covid-19 vaccine to the FDA for review without extensive safety and efficacy data. The joint stance is seen as a bulwark against political pressure being applied on the FDA to get a vaccine out as soon as possible.

Just weeks after schools began reopening, U.S. colleges are hostingraging clusters of Covid-19 infections, crises that are both medical and political. The University of Alabama reported another 872 cases Friday, for a total of 1,935 since classes began last month.

The U.K., France, Italy and Spain all reported the highest numbers of new cases since the spring outbreak. New Zealand reported its first virus death in more than three months.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases surpass 26.4 million; deaths exceed 871,000
  • Hot dogs, like crowds, may be missing from this year’s Labor Day
  • Covid is making it harder for California to seeblackouts coming
  • European infections surge as weariness and economic pain set in
  • IATA top doctor: airlines can’tafford to wait for a vaccine
  • Vaccine tracker: Where are we in the race for protection?

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis teamhere. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on coronavirus cases and deaths.

Vaccine Makers Plan Public Stance to Counter Pressure on FDA (6:30 a.m. HK)

Drugmakers are planning a public pledge to not send any Covid-19 vaccine to the FDA for review without extensive safety and efficacy data, according to people familiar with the effort.

The joint stance is seen as a bulwark against political pressure being applied on the Food and Drug Administration to get a vaccine out as soon as possible. It is likely to be announced in a multi-company statement as soon as next week. The plans, which could still change, were described by people involved in the effort on condition of anonymity.

The companies involved in the discussions include Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc., Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Sanofi and possibly others. All are developing vaccines for Covid-19.

Texas Hospitalizations Slow (6:12 a.m. HK)

Texas reported that 3,889 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases of Covid-19, the lowest number since late June. Fatalities rose by 140 to 13,231.

The state reported an additional 5,482 cases, including some backlogged data, bringing the total to 630,829 since the outbreak began. About 13% of that total, or 85,375, are considered active cases.

University of Alabama Reports Almost 2,000 Cases (5:57 p.m. NY)

The University of Alabama reported another 872 cases Friday, in an accelerating outbreak that has now infected 1,935 people, almost all students, the universityreported.

The cases were almost all on the university’s main campus in Tuscaloosa and were recorded since classes began on Aug. 19. Another 305 cases had been reported earlier in the year.

Dr. Myron Pope, vice president for student life, issued a letter saying that a moratorium on in-person student events would be extended through Sept. 13. He encouraged students to “responsibly connect” with small groups of roommates and friends over the Labor Day holiday.

Brazil Cases, Deaths Rise (5:45 p.m. NY)

Brazil reported another 50,163 cases, the day after it surpassed 4 million infections. The number, up from 43,773 the previous day, brings the total to 4,091,801.

Another 888 deaths were reported, up slightly from 834 the day before, for a total of 125,502. Brazil has the second-highest number of cases after the U.S., although India is expected to overtake it in the next few days.

Pfizer Doses 6,000 Patients with Second Shot (4:30 p.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc.announced on Twitter that it has given 6,000 participants in its Phase 2/3 trial a second dose of its vaccine candidate.

Albert Bourla, CEO of the drugmaker, said on Thursday that there are 23,000 patients enrolled in the trial and that it could have results as soon as October.

Pfizer has teamed up with Germany’s BioNTech on the experimental Covid-19 vaccine. AstraZeneca Plc and Moderna Inc. Also have candidates in late-stage trials.

U.S. Cases Rise 0.7% (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 0.7% as compared with the same time Thursday to 6.18 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The increase matched the past week’s average daily gain. Deaths rose by 0.5% to 187,200.

  • Florida reported 640,211 total cases, up 0.5% from a day earlier, compared with an average 0.6% increase in the previous seven days. Deaths reached 11,750, an increase of 100, or 0.9%.
  • Arizona reported 728 new virus cases, a 0.4% increase to 204,681 that was above the 0.3% average increase of the prior seven days. The state recorded 41 new deaths, bringing the toll to 5,171.
  • North Dakota experienced a 2.7% increase in the number of cases from the same time yesterday, bringing the total to 12,973, according to the data from Johns Hopkins and Bloomberg News.

California Positivity Rate Falls Below 5% (2:20 p.m. NY)

California’s 14-day average test positivity rate fell below 5% for the first time since June, to 4.9%, according to state health data. Hospitalizations also continued to decline, decreasing 2.5% yesterday to 3,513 patients. That’s about half of July’s peak.

The most-populous state recorded 5,106 new cases, roughly in line with its 14-day average. There were 163 new virus deaths, more than the two-week daily average of 119, bringing California’s total fatalities to 13,490.

Illinois Cases Jump After Data Slowdown (2:15 p.m. NY)

On Friday, Illinois’s new case count lept to 5,368, three times Thursday’s figure, due to a “slowdown in data processing” earlier this week at the state’s Department of Public Health. Aggregate test-data reporting was affected for up to 48 hours due to a “large volume of testing occurring in Illinois,” the department said.

The slowdown, which is now fixed, delayed reporting of aggregate numbers but did not affect the reporting of positive or negative results to individuals, according to the state. California and Texas have had similar issues.

Illinois reported 29 more Covid-19 deaths on Friday, up from 25 on Thursday. Its rolling 7-day positivity rate was 4.1%, down from 4.4% the day before.

N.J. Transmission Rate Ticks Up (1:35 p.m. NY)

New Jersey cases arespreading again, just as the state reopened indoor dining and theaters. The transmission rate, measuring the number of people one Covid-19 positive person infects, topped 1 for the first time in two weeks, hitting 1.03.

It’s a warning sign as some schools ready to start next week. Public schools have mostly chosen to do all-remote learning or a mix of in-person and electronic. About 10% of the state’s almost 600 school districts will have fully in-person classes.

The state on Friday reported 15,978 deaths with lab-confirmed and probable Covid-19 links. Seven fatalities were logged in the past 24 hours.

Russian Death Rate Soared in July (1:20 p.m. NY)

The number ofdeaths in Russia in July rose 20% from a year earlier, with about a third of the increase coming from victims of Covid-19. The Federal Statistics Service put the total number linked to the virus that month at 10,079 dead, more than twice the 4,643 initially reported by the authorities. The agency reported 12,335 virus-related fatalities for June.

Russia has faced questions about the relatively low numbers of deaths it registers compared to other countries with major outbreaks of the disease. Earlier this week, Russiabecame the fourth country in the world to report more than 1 million cases of the disease. Overall, according to the latest report, 29,925 more Russians died in July than a year earlier.

France Cases Highest Since March (12:46 p.m. NY)

France reported 8,975 new cases Friday, the sharpest daily increase recorded since the outbreak began. Cases have risen throughout August and accelerated further this week with over 7,000 a day on Wednesday and Thursday. The previous record high was 7,578 cases on March 31.

The rise is at least in part due to France’s increased testing to over one million a week. Hospitalizations climbed to 4,671 from 4,643 in the last 24 hours. The number of patients in intensive care rose to 473 from 464. At the height of the outbreak in the in early April, over 7,000 patients were in intensive care one day.

French authorities have urged people to respect tightened rules on wearing masks in public and particularly in closed spaces. “Wearing a mask is altruistic: it protects us by protecting others,” the health ministry said.

WHO Expects Vaccine Mid Next-Year (12:40 p.m. NY)

The first doses of a vaccine against Covid-19 will probably start becoming available in the second or third quarter of next year, World Health Organization Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said at a briefing in Geneva. Countries initially won’t have enough for everyone and will need to prioritize high-risk populations.

“It’s a very optimistic scenario,” she said, because there are more than 30 in clinical trials and more than nine are in the third phase of clinical tests. Typically vaccine candidates have a 1-in-10 chance of working, she added. Phase-3 tests take several months because thousands of people need to be enrolled and they get two doses; while some steps can be accelerated, others can’t.

Separately, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the WHO, said that the Covax program, which is studying nine vaccine candidates, is discussing adding four more and evaluating an additional nine that are in early stages of development. People who oppose vaccines should look at how they eliminated smallpox, virtually eradicated polio and helped end Ebola, he said.

N.Y. Cases Rise Again (12:35 p.m. NY)

New York virus cases are slowly creeping up, though the state’s positivity rate remains below 1%. Of more than 93,000 tests conducted on Thursday, 0.92% were positive. The state has reported more than 800 cases for each of the last two days. The last time they topped 800 was in late July. There were 428 hospitalizations and five virus-related fatalities, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a Friday news release.

Pockets are seeing increased rates. Cuomo’s administration last week sent a SWAT team and rapid testing machines to Western New York to track a cluster, including multiple cases stemming from a food processing plant. Of the tests conducted in the region on Thursday, 1.6% were positive, according to the latest state data.

The number of cases has also increased in the Mohawk Valley, which saw 1.5% of tests come back positive. New York City’s infection rate was 0.7% on Thursday, according to Cuomo’s office.

Arizona Cases Moderate After One-Day Surge (12:31 p.m. NY)

Arizona on Friday reported 728 new virus cases, a 0.4% increase to 204,681. The average over the past week has been 0.3%. Cases spiked on Thursday by 1,091.

Positive-test results also declined, to 5.2% after three straight days in double digits. The Arizona Department of Health Services recorded 41 new deaths, bringing the statewide toll to 5,171.

Spit Tests Reliable, Studies Show (12 p.m. NY)

Two new studies made the case recently for an alternative to the invasive Covid-19 tests that require collecting a sample from deep in the nose.Saliva samples, both studies found, were nearly as reliable and far less of a hassle.

Anne Wyllie, a researcher at the Yale School of Public Health who was the lead author of one of the studies, said she hopes the work helps quell some of saliva’s detractors.

“There’s been a lot of debate about saliva versus swab,” she said. “I think some of it is not entirely justified.”

Spain Sees Most Cases Since April (11:58 a.m. NY)

Spain’s daily coronavirus infections rose to the highest in about four months, as the country struggles to control new outbreaks.

There were 4,503 new cases in the past 24 hours compared with 3,607 on Thursday, the Health Ministry said Friday. That was the highest since April 23, when 4,635 infections were recorded.

Spain has more cases per capita than any other European country. Infections have climbed since mid-July, as restrictions loosened and people grow weary of social distancing and hygiene guidelines. With schools preparing to open across the nation in coming weeks, concerns are mounting that events could spiral out of control.

Italy Reports Four-Month Record (11:45 a.m. NY)

Italy reported 1,733 new coronavirus cases Friday, the most since May 2, according to data on the Health Ministry website. The increase occurred as daily tests rose to a record 113,085. There were 11 additional deaths reported since Thursday. Total cases reported since late February rose to 274,644

While numbers remain distant from the peak of 6,557 new infections in a day on March 21, they’ve been inching up all week. A total 35,518 people have died from coronavirus in Italy.

Virus Tears Through U.S. Campuses (11:43 a.m. NY)

Just weeks into the academic year, U.S. colleges are hostingraging clusters of Covid-19 infections, crises that are both medical and political.

The State University at Oneonta in central New York on Thursday said it’s sending students home amid rising Covid-19 rates. The same day, Temple University in Philadelphia called it quits. So did Colorado College earlier in the week. At the University of Alabama, 1,200 of 38,500 students are infected, and the University of South Carolina’s positive test rate topped 27%. Even the University of Illinois, a pioneer in saliva testing for students, had to beg them to stop partying and increased patrols after finding more than 700 positive cases.

Administrators are under intense pressure to keep schools functioning, providing a semblance of educational and athletic normality: President Donald Trump has said canceling football games would be a “tragic mistake.” But experts say that virus cases will inevitably emerge and could threaten surrounding communities.

“We’re really watching these mini-experiments happen all across the country,” said Brian Fisher, a researcher with the PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which has been modeling the spread of Covid-19. “It remains to be seen for some campuses whether they’re going to get their outbreaks under control.”

U.K. Coronavirus Cases Highest Since May (11:34 a.m. NY)

The U.K. reported 1,940 new cases, the highest since May 30. The total now stands at 342,351. The reproductive rate, or R number, stands between 0.9 and 1.1, the government said. The growth rate ranges from -1% to 2%.

Another 10 people died in the U.K. within 28 days of testing positive, bringing the total to 41,537.

First Recent Death in New Zealand (11:20 a.m. NY)

New Zealand reported its first death in more than three months amid a resurgence of cases. A man in his 50s died at a hospital in Auckland, bringing total deaths from Covid to 23, according to thegovernment website.

The country had been Covid-free for more than 100 days until cases were reported in Auckland in mid-August. All of New Zealand is on Alert 2, which includes mask and social distance requirements, with additional restrictions in the Auckland region on social gatherings.

New Virus Death Forecast (11:06 a.m. NY)

The U.S. could see the number ofU.S. deaths from Covid-19 rise to 410,451 by the new year, with cold weather pumping up the numbers, according to aforecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.

That number is the most likely scenario if the use of masks and social distancing remains at the same level as now, the institute reported. It also notes a that the virus has followed seasonal patterns similar to pneumonia. If that holds up, northern countries can anticipate more cases in the late fall and winter months, leading to added deaths.

More than 186,000 people have died in the U.S. In June, the institute forecast that the country wouldn’t pass 180,000 dead until Oct. 1.

U.S. Job Market Recovery Continues (8:30 a.m. NY)

The U.S. labor-marketrebound extended for a fourth month in August, offering hope that the economy can recover despite a persistent pandemic and Washington’s standoff over further government aid to jobless Americans and small businesses.

Non-farm payrolls increased by 1.37 million, including the hiring of 238,000 temporary Census workers, according to a Labor Department report Friday. The unemployment rate fell by more than expected, by almost 2 percentage points, to 8.4%.

EU to Limit Internal Travel Disruption Threat (8:09 a.m. NY)

European Union regulatorsproposed ways for governments within the 27-nation bloc to cooperate more closely over coronavirus-induced travel restrictions. The proposals, which will be subject to approval by member states, include common criteria and thresholds for member countries when deciding whether to impose travel restrictions, and a joint framework for measures applied to travelers from high-risk areas.

“For the many citizens who rely on frictionless travel every day, the cacophony of national rules in the EU is overwhelming. We want to simplify things,” EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said on Friday in Brussels.

South Africa Study Finds 40% With Antibodies (8:02 a.m. NY)

Astudy among people who visited public health facilities for antenatal care and routine HIV tests in the Cape Town area found that 40% of respondents had antibodies against the coronavirus. Researchers stressed that the results are preliminary and based on a skewed sample of 2,700 people in South Africa’s Western Cape province who aren’t representative of the overall population.

Still, the study, the first of its kind, suggests that “especially in poorer communities, a relatively high proportion of people has been exposed to and infected with Covid-19,” said Mary-Ann Davies, director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research at the University of Cape Town.

EU Close to Concluding Talks With BioNTech (7:20 a.m. NY)

“We have now almost completed a portfolio with six promising vaccine candidates,” the EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told health ministers in a call on Friday, citing the Advance Purchase Agreement signed with AstraZeneca, and the conclusion of exploratory talks with Sanofi-GSK, Johnson & Johnson, CureVac and Moderna.

“We are also very close to concluding with BioNTech,” the commissioner said, according to a copy of her remarks. The bloc’s health chief urged ministers to chip in a top-up of the Commission’s crisis response fund to finance more agreements.

Russia Vaccine Produces Immune Response (7:10 a.m. NY)

Russia’s proposed Covid-19 vaccine induced an antibody response in all participants in early trials and found no serious adverse effects, according to the firstpeer-reviewed data on studies of the controversial project.

The vaccine also produced a response in T-cells — a type of white blood cell that helps the immune system destroy infection — according to preliminary results from phase 1 and 2 trials that were published Friday in the Lancet medical journal. Russian officials had previously made broadly similar claims about the shot, prior to review by outside experts.

Vaccine May Mark ‘Big Top’ for Rally: BofA (6:25 a.m. NY)

The announcement of a Covid-19 vaccine would likely mark the “big top” for the rally in stocks and credit markets, according to Bank of America Corp. With a surge in risk assets having recently pushed the S&P 500 Index to a record high, confirmation of a breakthrough along with a major recovery in jobs are needed to put a cap on the rally, strategists led by Michael Hartnett said. They point out that while the market consensus is bullish, cross-asset positioning remains neutral rather than “excessively” optimistic.

Diabetes, Obesity Drugs May Treat Covid (4:10 p.m. HK)

Novo Nordisk A/S, the Danish drugmaker, isexploring whether a new class of medicines that helps people lose weight and control diabetes also has potential in fighting Covid-19.

Research shows people afflicted by obesity and diabetes often fare worse in trying to overcome SARS-CoV-2. Initial analysis of electronic medical records shows that GLP-1 drugs, which help keep blood sugar levels in check, could be a “very meaningful therapy” in battling the illness, Novo Chief Scientific Officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen said in an interview. He pointed to evidence the virus attacks cells that produce insulin, the hormone needed by patients with diabetes.

Hungary Posts Record New Infections (3:48 p.m. HK)

Hungary reported a daily record of 459 coronavirus infections, with new cases mostly affecting young people. Active cases climbed to 2,817, the government’s task force reported on Friday, with the number of deaths rising by one to 621.

The average age of those who’ve contracted the virus so far in the autumn is 26, compared with 67 in the spring during the pandemic’s first wave, MTI state news service said, citing a state health official.

— With assistance by Ian Fisher, Kara Wetzel, Stacie Sherman, Flynn McRoberts, Shruti Singh, Jonathan Levin, Reg Gale, Stephen Merelman, Sara Marley, Janet Lorin, Alessandra Migliaccio, Marco Bertacche, Rodrigo Orihuela, Thomas Mulier, William Horobin, Ruben Munsterman, Susan Warren, and Robert Langreth

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