Pfizer Shots Get Fast Track; Florida Cases Rise: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) —

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE received permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to fast-track two vaccine candidates, boosting their shares.

Hong Kong reported 41 new local cases, another record high, and tightened social-distancing measures amid fears of a resurgence after weeks of near-normal activity. More than half a million residents defied the fresh outbreak and government warnings to vote in an unofficial primary.

India added more than 50,000 over the weekend, with deaths topping 1,000.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 12.9 million; deaths surpass 569,600Covid-19 reinvades U.S. statesDeath rate in majority-Black countries is getting worseThe pros and cons of pooling Covid-19 testsAnonymity helped overcome stigma in handling of Korean nightclub outbreak

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus.

Florida Cases Rise More Than Average (10:40 a.m. NY)

Florida reported 282,435 Covid-19 cases on Monday, up 4.7% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 4.4% in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 4,277, an increase of 35, or 0.8%, according to the report, which includes data through Sunday.

The new rate of people testing positive for the first time climbed to 11.5% for Sunday, from 11.3% on Saturday.

Empire State Building Observatory to Reopen (9:12 a.m. NY)

The Empire State Building plans to reopen the observatory on July 20 under New York state’s Phase 4 guidelines. Hours of operation will be reduced for the first few weeks, and initial capacity will be cut more than 80% to only 500 guests at a time.

Top U.K. Scientists Urge Making Masks Mandatory (8:30 a.m. NY)

A group of U.K. scientists is calling on the government to make face masks mandatory in indoor spaces, as evidence on the use of coverings in preventing the spread of Covid-19 grows.

The Independent SAGE panel — set up as an alternative to the U.K. government’s official coronavirus advisory committee — published a report Monday petitioning for new laws to enforce the use of masks. Legislation should be accompanied by a campaign advising the public of the benefits, according to the group.

Hong Kong Tightens Measures Amid New Wave (8 a.m. NY)

Hong Kong tightened virus control measures as it battles with a new wave of local cases. These include limiting the number of people gathering in public to four from 50, and banning dine-in services at eateries from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. The moves were announced at a news conference with Chief Executive Carrie Lam. The new social-distancing measures take effect on Wednesday.

Earlier, Hong Kong reported 41 new local cases, another record high. Government officials said 21 were related to previous clusters while 20 were of unknown origins. This suggests that hidden chains of transmission have been circulating for some time as the population returned to work and social activities.

Moderna Vaccine Sales May Top $5 Billion (7:12 a.m. NY)

Moderna Inc.’s experimental vaccine for Covid-19 could generate sales of more than $5 billion a year, Jefferies analyst Michael Yee said, initiating the stock at a buy.

Chinese Ports Jammed (7 a.m. NY)

Intensive testing of meat, seafood and other products for the coronavirus has tripled customs clearance times at some major Chinese ports, raising concerns the delays could ensnare global trade flows.

Pfizer, BioNTech Vaccine Candidates Fast-Tracked (6:54 a.m. NY)

Two of Pfizer and BioNTech’s four investigational mRNA-based vaccine candidates received fast track designation from the FDA. The designation was granted based on preliminary data from phase 1/2 studies that are currently ongoing in the U.S. and Germany as well as animal studies. The companies said a large, global Phase 2b/3 study may begin as early as this month.

BioNTech shares rose 5% pre-market while Pfizer gained 1.6%.

Iran’s New Cases Slightly Below Average (6:09 a.m. NY)

Iran reported 2,349 new daily cases, a 0.9% increase that is slightly below the 1% average rise from the past week. There were 203 new deaths in the past 24 hours. The country has 259,652 infections and 13,032 fatalities.

Greece Allows Flights From Sweden (6 a.m. NY)

Greece will allow direct flights from Sweden from July 22, according to government spokesman Stelios Petsas. The country will also look into allowing direct flights from non-EU countries, such as the U.S., from end of July, depending on the situation in those countries and on condition travelers have a negative test for Covid-19 carried out within 72 hours before arrival.

Netanyahu Ally Calls for Lockdown (4:24 p.m. HK)

Israel Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a political ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called for an immediate lockdown of 10 to 15 days to halt a second outbreak. A strict lockdown had brought down the number of daily new cases to low double digits, but a flawed reopening sent that number as high as 1,500 earlier this month. In all, close to 39,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the country, including more than 360 fatalities.

Tokyo New Cases Slow (3:33 p.m. HK)

Tokyo reported 119 coronavirus cases on Monday, its first reading below 200 in five days, which may ease concerns that the virus is spreading beyond nightclubs and known hotspot areas. New outbreak clusters tied to a childcare center and a theater house were reported in the Japanese capital over the weekend.

Millionaires Want Higher Taxes (3:17 p.m. HK)

A group of more than 80 wealthy individuals from the U.S. and six other countries — including Walt Disney Co. heiress Abigail Disney, former BlackRock Inc. managing director Morris Pearl, and Danish-Iranian entrepreneur Djaffar Shalchi — are petitioning for higher taxes on the rich to help pay for the billions in new government programs made necessary by the pandemic.

In an open letter, the Millionaires for Humanity warn that the outbreak could push millions more people into poverty and strain already inadequate health-care systems, staffed largely by underpaid women.

France Primes Fresh Stimulus (2:52 p.m. HK)

France will unveil “massive” support for youth employment this week and a new broad stimulus plan including tax cuts for companies at the end of August, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

The measures will be in addition to emergency aid to protect jobs and companies during the lockdown and a series of support plans for sectors including tourism and auto and aircraft manufacturing.

Germany Infection Rate Above Key Threshold (1:24 p.m. HK)

Germany infection rate was above the key threshold of 1.0 for the first time in almost three weeks, rising to 1.04 on Sunday from 0.93 the day before, according to the latest estimate from the Robert Koch Institute. The country had 210 new cases in the 24 hours through Monday morning, compared with 377 the previous day and almost 7,000 at the peak of the pandemic in late March.

CanSino Jumps on Report of Vaccine Trials (1:07 p.m. HK)

CanSino Biologics shares rose 11%, set for a record high, after Reuters reported that the company is in talks with Russia, Brazil, Chile and Saudi Arabia to start a phase III trial of its vaccine candidate.

Singapore to Tackle Virus, Other Challenges (12:17 p.m. HK)

Singapore can return to tackling Covid-19 and “other urgent challenges” with the general election over, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post. The country’s cinemas are reopening Monday as part of a plan to ease restrictions.

Singapore’s missteps in handling the virus likely contributed to the ruling party’s reduced majority. The city-state is still recording more than 100 new cases of the coronavirus a day, with its overall tally at almost 46,000 infections, the second-highest in Southeast Asia.

Philippines Deaths Rise by Record (10:59 a.m. HK)

The Philippines recorded 162 new deaths, its highest daily increase, most of which occurred in June and only confirmed by the Department of Health on Sunday. New infections stood at 2,124 to bring the total to 56,259.

In Indonesia, President Joko Widodo wants to expand coronavirus testing capacity in eight provinces including Jakarta to bring nationwide number to 30,000 per day from a previous target of 20,000.

Australia’s Effective Jobless Rate (10:07 a.m HK)

Australia’s effective unemployment rate, which includes people who have opted against searching for work, is about 13.3%, compared with the official rate of 7.1%, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

Mexico Overtakes Italy (8:59 a.m. HK)

Mexico overtook Italy as the country with the fourth-most Covid-19 deaths, reporting 4,482 new cases and 276 deaths on Sunday. The case count rose to 299,750 and the number of deaths to 35,006, according to data released by the Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, Argentina has more than 100,000 confirmed cases. The Latin American country added 2,657 cases on Sunday, pushing its total to 100,166.

Ontario Outlines Next Reopening Stage (8:35 a.m. HK)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is set to announce details of the province’s next stage of reopening on Monday as officials determined the outbreak is under control. The province is currently in stage two, allowing shopping malls to open and restaurants and bars to serve patrons outdoors.

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