Verizon Delays Office Return; India Advisory Cut: Virus Update

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Verizon Delays Office Return; India Advisory Cut: Virus Update
A member of the public receives health checks prior to the Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Covid-19 vaccine. (Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg)

New York City’s museums and cultural institutions will require visitors and staff to be vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. New York state mandated that all health-care workers must have at least their first dose of a Covid vaccine by Sept. 27.

The number of people dying with Covid-19 in hospitals is hitting previous highs in some hot-spot states with low-to-average vaccination rates, upending hopes the virus has become less lethal. Hopes that the world will ever to reach herd immunity against Covid-19 are fading.

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE submitted early-stage data to U.S. regulators showing that a third dose of their vaccine led to higher levels of protective antibodies when given eight to nine months after the initial regimen. Verizon Communications Inc. said it’s delaying its return to office for two months to Nov. 1.

Key Developments:

Verizon Delays Office Return; India Advisory Cut: Virus Update

Wyoming Hospitalizations Highest Since January (5:45 p.m. NY)

In Wyoming, where less than half of adults are fully vaccinated, Covid-19 hospitalizations are at the highest since January, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

Casper’s Wyoming Medical Center, the state’s largest, was caring for 33 virus patients Monday, about 15% of its capacity, the newspaper said. A rural hospital in Cody re-opened a special eight-patient Covid-19 unit and it was full over the weekend. In the state capital, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center is caring for 27.

Just under 43% of adults and less than 16% of children over 12 are fully inoculated in Wyoming, the Star-Tribune reported. The state’s population is about 580,000.

Vaccine Hesitancy Costing Steelworkers Bonus (4:45 p.m. NY)

The second largest American steelmaker is struggling to meet a vaccine threshold that would give a $3,000 bonus to each worker.

Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. promised a $1,500 bonus to all of their 25,000 employees who receive a jab, with the cash bonus increasing to $3,000 if an individual’s work site hits 75%, according to company spokeswoman Patricia Persico. The program is based on vaccination rates per site, with “more than” 20 of 46 locations above the 75% rate. The company-wide rate is about 60%.

The Cleveland, Ohio-based producer isn’t way behind its efforts for the incentive program, which expires Aug. 21, and it expects vaccinations this week to be even better, Persico said Monday in an email. United Steelworkers President Tom Conway said the company has been struggling to get unionized workers vaccinated.

“Maybe one plant might get there,” Conway said Friday in a phone interview. “But by and large it’s not going to get there.”

CDC Panel Reviews Boosters Next Week (4:40 p.m. NY)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Aug. 24 to discuss additional doses of Covid-19 vaccine, including booster shots.

Earlier Monday, Pfizer and BioNTech said they submitted early-stage data to U.S. regulators showing that a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine led to higher levels of protective antibodies when given eight to nine months after the initial regimen.

Deaths Hit Previous Peaks in Hot Spots (2:25 p.m. NY)

The number of people dying with Covid-19 in hospitals is hitting previous highs in some hot-spot states with low-to-average vaccination rates, upending hopes the virus has become less lethal.

In Florida, an average of about 203 people a day are dying in the hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, matching the state’s November 2020 peak, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data. That’s a daily average of about nine per million residents, the data show.

Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri have also seen deaths among patients with Covid-19 soar in the past two weeks.

CDC Lowers Travel Advisory for India (2 p.m. NY)

The CDC lowered its travel advisory for India one notch to Level 2, citing a “moderate level of Covid-19.”

Verizon Delays Return to Office (1 p.m. NY)

Verizon Communications Inc. said it’s delaying its return to office for two months to Nov. 1. Previously, employees were told to start coming into the office on a hybrid basis after Labor Day on Sept. 7.

The New York-based telecom, which has been encouraging employees to wear masks and get vaccinated, is considering whether to make the shots mandatory for all employees but didn’t give a timeframe for when it might address the issue again.

D.C. Requires Shots for Health-Care Workers (12:50 p.m. NY)

All health-care workers in the District of Columbia must have received at least the first dose of Pfizer Inc. or Moderna Inc. vaccine, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson shot by Sept. 30, Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

Pfizer Submits Third-Dose Data to FDA (11:35 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE said they have submitted Phase 1 trial data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine. The companies said in a statement that people who received a third dose of their mRNA vaccine showed “a favorable safety profile and robust immune responses.”

Pfizer Taps Bond Market for Vaccine Expenses (10:55 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. is tapping the U.S. investment-grade market with a sustainability bond that will help fund Covid-19 vaccine expenses, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The note, due in 2031, may yield 0.75 percentage points above Treasuries, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the details are private.

Proceeds from the sale are marked for research and development expenses and the manufacturing and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. The New York-based pharmaceutical company sees the vaccine bringing in $33.5 billion of revenue this year, which would make it one of the top-selling medicines ever.

NYC to Require Vaccines for Museums, Zoos (10:05 a.m. NY)

New York City plans to require visitors to its museums and other cultural institutions to be vaccinated, the New York Times reported, citing an unidentified city official.

Verizon Delays Office Return; India Advisory Cut: Virus Update

The policy will require that visitors and employees at the city’s museums, concert halls, aquariums and zoos be vaccinated, the newspaper said. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to make the announcement at his briefing Monday morning.

Interpol Warns on Fake Vaccine Offers (10:05 a.m. NY)

Interpol said it’s issued a worldwide alert over organized crime groups attempting to defraud governments with fake offers to sell Covid-19 vaccines.

The global law-enforcement agency said the warning follows some 60 cases in 40 countries around the world where individuals in health ministries and hospitals have received offers for vaccines approved for distribution in their country.

“Usually claiming to represent a vaccine manufacturer or a government agency facilitating the distribution of vaccines, the scammers are targeting both professional and personal email accounts of potential buyers, as well as making contact via phone,” Lyon, France-based Interpol said.

Indonesia Extends Curbs, Eases Some Limits (10 a.m. NY)

More cities on Java and Bali islands will be allowed to reopen shopping malls for people who are vaccinated with capacity limits, as the government extends virus curbs until Aug. 23.

Indonesia will also allow some export-oriented companies to operate with 100% workforce on site using two shifts and strict health protocol, in a bid to find a way to reopen the economy without worsening its coronavirus outbreak. That program will involve 390,000 workers.

The government is preparing roadmaps to reopen other sectors, including education and tourism, as it gears up to live with the virus for a few more years. It will focus on accelerating vaccination, stepping up testing and tracing, while enforcing mask mandates. Indonesia aims to administer 100 million total vaccine doses as of the end of the month, from 83 million so far.

J&J to Require Shots for All U.S. Staff (8:27 a.m. NY)

Health-care giant Johnson & Johnson said it will require all U.S.-based employees and contractors to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 effective Oct. 4. J&J has more than 40,000 employees across the U.S., many of whom have been critical to the development of a single-dose coronavirus vaccine. J&J added that individuals with medical conditions or other reasons not to be vaccinated will be able to seek accommodations.

J&J is “committed to following the science and to taking appropriate measures to support the health and well-being of our employees and contractors, as well as to uphold our responsibilities to the communities in which we live and work,” the company said in an emailed statement. “As Covid-19 continues to devastate families and cause untold hardship, the data shows getting vaccinated is critical to helping end the pandemic.”

Verizon Delays Office Return; India Advisory Cut: Virus Update

EU Evaluates Roche’s RoActemra (7:51 a.m. NY)

The European Union drug regulator is evaluating Roche Holding AG’s anti-inflammatory medicine RoActemra, with a view to extending its use to include treatment of hospitalized adult patients with severe Covid-19 who are already receiving treatment with corticosteroids and require extra oxygen or mechanical ventilation.

Glaxo, CureVac Second mRNA Shot Promising (7 a.m. NY)

Early studies show that a second-generation messenger RNA Covid-19 shot from GlaxoSmithKline Plc and CureVac NV looks more promising than the German vaccine-maker’s first attempt. It showed a better immune response in cynomolgus macaques in a pre-clinical challenge study, the drugmakers said Monday.

Higher levels of neutralizing antibodies from the newer version were also shown against variants including beta and delta. Late-stage trials of CureVac’s original vaccine showed 48% efficacy, a blow to the drugmaker earlier this year. The company has said the shot provides full protection against hospitalization and death for those under the age of 60.

Indonesia’s New Cases Lowest Since June (6:19 a.m. NY)

The country reported 17,384 confirmed infections on Monday, the least since June 23. One in five people tested were found to have the virus, a sign of insufficient testing. Indonesia continues to top the world’s tally of daily deaths, with 1,245 fatalities reported on Monday.

The government said it stopped using the number of deaths in formulating its pandemic policy because reporting delays mean the current situation isn’t reflected. As the number of cases and deaths ease in the most populated island of Java, the highly infectious delta variant is spreading across the outer islands, which have less-equipped health-care systems and lower vaccination coverage.

Thailand Extends Restrictions in Hot Spots (5:05 a.m. NY)

Thailand extended the closure of non-essential businesses and movement controls in its virus hotspots, including in Bangkok, until the Covid outbreak shows clear signs of easing. The near-lockdown measures in 29 provinces will stay at least until Aug. 31, according to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

German Advisory Body Backs Child Vaccinations (5:03 a.m. NY)

Germany’s national vaccination advisory body recommended Monday that all 12- to 17-year-olds get vaccinated against Covid-19. The benefits of getting vaccinated outweigh the risk of very rare side effects, vaccine commission STIKO said in a statement. The move aligns the authority with official policy. The government has been offering vaccinations to youngsters since the beginning of August.

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