Drugmakers to Skip Vaccine Summit; U.S. Deaths Up: Virus Update

Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. executive are expected to miss Tuesday’s planned White House summit intended to build confidence in the Covid-19 vaccine.

Global coronavirus cases surpassed 67 million, with record infections sweeping across U.S. states and hospitalizations rising by almost 2,000 a day. The U.S. is averaging about as many deaths per day from Covid-19 as it was in April, when the pandemic ambushed the New York area.

The World Health Organization said it prefers information campaigns to mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations. People should be able to make up their own minds about the shots, an official said.

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Drugmakers to Skip Vaccine Summit; U.S. Deaths Up: Virus Update

Drugmakers to Miss White House Meeting (6:30 a.m. HK)

The two pharmaceutical companies closest to gaining U.S. clearance for a Covid-19 vaccine won’t attend a planned White House summit intended to build confidence in the shots.

Pfizer said in a statement that it had informed the White House that it wouldn’t attend the Tuesday event. Moderna executives also won’t be present, according to a person familiar with the matter. Both companies are seeking emergency-use authorization for their experimental vaccines

Wyoming Issues New Mask Order (6 a.m. HK)

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, a holdout on a statewide mask mandate, unveiled a Covid-19 plan Monday requiring face coverings in certain indoor public settings.

Gordon had been been promoting personal responsibility but last month said some state residents were being “knuckleheads” in shunning safety precautions. The order will be in effect from Dec. 9 to Jan. 8, Gordon’s office said in a statement.

Wyoming counties “can opt out of the requirements if local conditions move to safer levels in accordance with White House metrics,” according to the statement. The order also trims gathering sizes and business a hours in areas with widespread infection.

Wyoming reported 128 deaths in November, the highest number since the pandemic began.

California Launches Contact-Tracing App (4 a.m. HK)

California, struggling with a record surge in coronavirus cases, will use a phone-based app developed with Google and Apple Inc. to help alert people who may have been exposed. State officials have been testing it on several University of California campuses for the past two months and will make it publicly available on Thursday.

Drugmakers to Skip Vaccine Summit; U.S. Deaths Up: Virus Update

The app, whose use is voluntary, will tell someone whether they have recently come into close contact with another person who has the app and has tested positive for the virus — meaning large numbers of residents will need to sign up in order for it to be effective.

Governor Gavin Newsom said about a quarter-million people started using it during its pilot phase, and the app notified people who had come into contact with 60 infected individuals. “Even if we don’t have tens of millions of people participating in this program, the more people that participate, that opt in, the more effective this program can be,” Newsom said.

California reported 24,735 new cases Monday, a day after shattering records with more than 30,000 daily infections. Much of the state is now under stay-at-home orders as officials try to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

N.J. Contact Tracing Meets Resistance (3:12 a.m. HK)

New Jersey is struggling to get citizens who contract Covid-19 to comply with the state’s contact tracers, Governor Phil Murphy said Monday, with the rate of non-cooperation rising to 74% of cases. “Completely unacceptable,” he said.

Murphy said he spoke with President-elect Joe Biden on the vaccine rollout and asked for more stimulus aid to go to local and state governments. In the meantime, he pleaded with constituents to remain vigilant and asked households to celebrate the Christmas holiday at home, rather than with extended family.

New Jersey reported 3,573 cases Monday. It surpassed 6,000 daily cases for the first time on Sunday, reflecting a bump that state officials attribute, in part, to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Murphy said New Jersey won’t follow New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision Monday to close indoor dining if hospitalization rates don’t stabilize. Murphy said closing indoor dining will just drive people inside other people’s homes and hurt New Jersey businesses.

France Set to Miss Goal for Lockdown to End (3:10 a.m. HK)

Drugmakers to Skip Vaccine Summit; U.S. Deaths Up: Virus Update

France is poised to miss a coronavirus goal set by President Emmanuel Macron as a condition for lifting the country’s lockdown next week, with daily new Covid-19 cases holding at more than twice the targeted level.

The government is worried about the pandemic indicators, and is mulling alternatives to a planned end of stay-at-home measures on Dec. 15, Liberation reported on Monday, citing unidentified advisers in the Health Ministry. That could go as far as delaying the end of the lockdown should cases spike, according to the newspaper.

France reported 3,411 new confirmed Covid cases on Monday, when numbers are usually at a low due to a lull in testing over the weekend. The seven-day average of cases fell 0.8% to 10,489, with a decline in cases stalling for the past week. Deaths increased by 366 to 55,521.

Cleveland Clinics Close to Redeploy Staff (2:30 a.m. HK)

A large Cleveland-area health-care provider, MetroHealth, is closing seven facilities for the rest of the year in an effort to address a surge in Covid-19 hospitalizations, the system announced Monday.

MetroHealth is closing the clinics and outpatient centers to give hundreds of medical workers temporary assignments elsewhere in the system “to ensure adequate staffing levels,” it said in a tweet. More than 5,000 Ohioans are hospitalized with Covid-19, according to data released by the state on Sunday.

WHO Prefers Shots Not Be Mandatory (2 a.m. HK)

The World Health Organization said it prefers information campaigns to mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations. Some countries or situations may require the jabs, but there are examples of countries that introduced obligatory shots to improve vaccination coverage that ended up having the opposite effect, officials said at a media briefing.

“All of us who work in public health would rather avoid mandatory vaccination as a means of getting people vaccinated,” said Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies program. “We’re much better served to present people with the data, with the benefits and let people make up their own minds.”

NYC Adjusts Covid-Tracking Metrics (1:01 a.m. HK)

New York City is adjusting its data indicators tracking the virus “to give people the fullest picture of what we’re facing” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“We are in a new reality here, because a vaccine will be arriving in New York City in a matter of days but we also have real challenges over the next few months,” de Blasio said Monday at a virus briefing. “Our indicators need to be retooled.”

Hospital data will add admissions per 100,000 in the population, which is how the state keeps its data. De Blasio reported 144 patients with Covid-like symptoms as of Dec. 5. “This number is going up in recent days — 200 is where we need to keep below,” he said. The hospital admissions per 100,000 stood at 2.28. per 100,000; “We want to get that under 2,” he said.

Drugmakers to Skip Vaccine Summit; U.S. Deaths Up: Virus Update

Italy Cases Continue to Slow (12:15 a.m. HK)

Italy’s coronavirus outbreak continued to slow Monday, with health officials reporting the lowest daily new cases since Oct. 20. The country registered 13,720 new infections compared with 16,377 a week ago, and the number of patients in intensive care declined. Deaths fell to 528 compared with 564 on Sunday.

Italy may get its first 3.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine as soon as Jan. 15, a week earlier than expected, Il Messaggero newspaper reported earlier Monday.

Fauci Issues Christmas Warning (10:30 p.m. HK)

Anthony Fauci warned that the Christmas season could be worse than Thanksgiving in terms of the spread of Covid-19. The holiday is longer and “I think it could be even more of a challenge than what we saw with Thanksgiving,” Fauci said in CNN interview.

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased to 14.8 million as of 6:32 a.m. New York time, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News.

Drugmakers to Skip Vaccine Summit; U.S. Deaths Up: Virus Update

Puerto Rico Tightens Measures (10:15 p.m. HK)

Puerto Rico on Monday began tightening its curfew, imposing a Sunday lock-down and banning weekend alcohol sales as it attempts to control the spread of the virus. The new restrictions run through Jan. 7. The U.S. territory of 3.2 million people has reported 1,203 deaths due to the virus.

Germany’s 10 Million Vaccine Target (7:53 p.m. HK)

Germany aims to vaccinate 10 million people in the first quarter of 2021, Bild reported, citing a draft of the federal government’s vaccination plan. At two vaccinations per person, this would translate to 20 million doses. Medical staff in ICUs and Covid testing facilities, nursing home staff, and older, at risk patients would be first in line to receive the vaccine in the nation of 83 million people.

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