Pfizer Kids Shot Moves Closer, Biden Touts Mandate: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — Singapore recorded more than 3,000 Covid-19 infections for a third straight day and the number of seriously ill patients climbed as the city-state’s outbreak showed little sign of slowing.

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Malaysia approved Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine as the country’s first Covid-19 booster shot, while Australia recommended a third vaccination for vulnerable individuals. Pfizer and BioNTech SE asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve its jab for children aged five to 11.

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The World Health Organization called on countries with high vaccination rates to prioritize the delivery of coronavirus shots to lower-income nations. 

Key Developments:

Global Virus Tracker: Cases top 236 million; deaths exceed 4.83 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 6.43 billion shots givenOver 120,000 kids in U.S. lost parent or caregiver to CovidPandemic shows limits of Dutertismo: Clara Ferreira Marques

Malaysia Approves Pfizer Booster (10:36 a.m. HK)

Malaysia’s Drug Control Authority granted conditional approval for the Pfizer vaccine to be used as the country’s first Covid-19 booster shot.

The dose must be administered at least six months after the second shot, and is only for those 18 years old and above, said Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Hong Kong Trying to Convince China It Won’t Leak Cases (10:13 a.m. HK)

The Hong Kong government’s top priority is trying to fully reopen the border with China by convincing authorities there that the city won’t leak the virus into the mainland, a top adviser to Hong Kong’s leader said.

While foreign executives in Hong Kong might want the city to relax quarantine requirements — as long as 21 days in some cases — most Hong Kong residents appreciate the current Covid-free environment, said Bernard Chan, a financier and convener of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s advisory Executive Council.

Japan to Get 120 Million More Pfizer Doses (9:38 a.m. HK)

Japan’s health ministry signed a contract with Pfizer for 120 million more doses of its Covid-19 vaccine. The additional vaccination will be supplied from January, the ministry said.

© Bloomberg Vaccination In Okinawa as Virus Fight Drags On

Australia Advises Third Jab for Certain Cases (8:42 a.m. HK)

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization recommended a third Covid-19 vaccination for people who are severely immunocompromised.

The recommended interval for the third dose is two to six months after the second jab, the government advisory group said. 

Britons Underestimate Covid/Flu Threat (7:01 a.m. HK)

Adults in the U.K. are severely underestimating the impact that the combination of coronavirus and flu could have this winter, research showed.

Almost a third of respondents to a survey in England said they were unaware that Covid and flu can circulate at the same time. Just over a quarter didn’t know that influenza can be fatal. 

Covid Pill Sales Could Surge (6 a.m. HK)

Japanese drugmaker Shionogi & Co. Ltd. said the Covid-19 pill it’s developing could be a $2 billion drug potentially used in combination with a similar offering from Merck & Co. Inc., as the pandemic’s focus shifts to the need for easy-to-take medications able to combat mild cases.

Shionogi expects to have late-stage trial data for its pill by December and will move quickly on filing for regulatory approval in Japan, chief executive officer Isao Teshirogi told Bloomberg in an interview. The company will began manufacturing the drug this month.

© Bloomberg Shionogi & Co. President Isao Teshirogi Interview

Biden Leans In Harder on Shots (5 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden escalated his campaign to pressure private employers into imposing coronavirus vaccination mandates in a trip to a Chicago suburb, saying shots would save lives and boost the economy.

“I’m calling on more employers to act,” Biden said Thursday in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. “My message is require your employees to get vaccinated. With vaccinations, we’re going to beat this pandemic.”

Biden is seeking to increase the vaccination rate as public approval of his handling of the pandemic has been falling. The president said his administration would soon issue regulations to implement a plan he announced last month to require businesses with more than 100 employees to ensure workers are fully vaccinated or face weekly testing.

Italy’s to Allow Packed Theaters, Reopen Clubs (2:33 p.m. NY)

Italy, where Covid-19 certificates are required for most indoor activities, is allowing clubs and dance venues to reopen at half of indoor capacity. A government decision on Thursday also lets theaters and cinemas operate at full capacity.

Outdoor facilities at clubs can fill up to three quarters of capacity. Italy has vaccinated 79.6% of its eligible population older than 12. 

U.S. Hospital Strains Ease (1:39 p.m. NY)

A measure of new hospital admissions in Florida has declined almost to the level of May 13, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed mask guidance for fully vaccinated people — a change it reversed when the delta variant struck the U.S. 

Admissions in at least eight other states and Washington, D.C., are less than or close to May levels. The one-week average of new cases nationally has dropped 40% from its Sept. 21 peak, according to CDC data.

U.K. Slashes List of Quarantine Countries (1 p.m. NY)

The U.K. pared its so-called red list of countries subject to the tightest Covid-19 restrictions. Only seven countries will still require a 10-day hotel quarantine as of Monday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Twitter.

The U.K. is lightening border restrictions after frustrating airlines with constantly changing rules throughout most of the pandemic. A new system that does away with a complicated “traffic-light” approach took effect this week, and places including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives have already been taken off the red list.

San Francisco to Ease Mask Rules (12:30 p.m. NY)

San Francisco will ease its indoor mask requirements beginning Oct. 15 for areas including offices, gyms and college classes. People in those settings can remove masks if everyone is fully vaccinated, provided the gatherings don’t exceed 100 people.

The move follows a sharp improvement in the city’s most recent virus surge, with cases falling to 77 per 100,000 from 309 at the height of the summer outbreak. San Francisco will continue to require masks on public transit, in hospitals, jails and schools, according to a statement from Mayor London Breed’s office.

© Bloomberg San Francisco Leads Cities In Demanding Proof Of Vaccination

IBM Mandates Vaccine by Dec. 8 (12:10 p.m. NY)

International Business Machines Corp. said all of its U.S.-based employees must be vaccinated by Dec. 8 or be put on unpaid suspension.

The Armonk, New York-based company told workers that because it’s a government contractor, the company is required to adhere to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors. The requirement applies to U.S. employees regardless of where they work or how often they go into a company office, with limited medical and religious exemptions.

Greece Approves Third Shot for 50 and Over (12 p.m. NY)

Greece’s national vaccination committee approved a third vaccine dose for people older than 50, Health Ministry official Marios Themistocleous said Thursday. 

A minimum of six months must have passed since the second dose. A third dose for vulnerable groups, such as people with cancer, was approved earlier.

American Air Workers Face Nov. 24 Deadline (10:04 a.m. NY)

American Airlines Group said employees must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 24. Failure to comply will lead to termination, American Airlines said in a memo to employees. Workers can request medical and religious exemptions. The “majority” of employees already are vaccinated, the company said, without providing specifics.

Pfizer Seeks U.S. Approval for Kids’ Vaccine (8:16 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have submitted an application to U.S. regulators to administer their Covid-19 vaccine to children ages five to 11, bringing shots for school-age kids another step closer.

Clearance of the shot for the younger age group would herald a crucial new part of the immunization campaign in the U.S., where the Pfizer vaccine already has full approval for people 16 and older and is authorized on an emergency basis for ages 12 to 15.

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