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Fauci Hails ‘Extraordinary’ Trial Data; NYC Wave: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) —

The Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech prevented more than 90% of infections in a study, the most encouraging scientific advance so far in the battle against the coronavirus. Novavax’s experimental vaccine received a fast-track designation from U.S. regulators.

Meanwhile, the pandemic shows no signs of slowing, with worldwide infections surpassing 50 million. Cases in the U.S. topped 100,000 for a fourth day, bringing the nation’s total close to the 10 million mark. U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announced a new 13-member coronavirus task force, and New Jersey is preparing more restrictions.

Germany has more severe patients than at any point since the pandemic began, underscoring the urgency facing authorities to contain the disease. Hungary is tightening its lockdown measures, as Prime Minister Viktor Orban dropped his opposition to doing so. Ukraine’s president tested positive.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases surpass 50.4 million; deaths top 1.25 millionWith U.S. cases at record levels, hospitalizations may be nextChina will disinfect all overseas shipments of cold-chain productsWith pivots and new products, some travel companies are thrivingAfter crushing Covid, Melbourne emerges wary and more sedateVaccine Tracker: Encouraging results could mean there’s a tool to control the virus

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

NYC ‘Dangerously Close’ to Second Wave (11 a.m. NY)

New York City is coming “dangerously close” to a second wave of the novel coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday. The city’s positive test rate is above 2% and increasing, and cases are rising as well. “We need to do everything in our power” to control the virus, the mayor said.

Russia: Our Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective (10:40 a.m. NY)

Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, is more than 90% effective, according to preliminary observations, the Health Ministry said in text message. The ministry cited observations of patients outside phase 3 of trial, according to Oksana Drapkina, Director of National Research Center for Preventive Medicine of the Ministry of Health.

The text came in response to Pfizer Inc.’s announcement that the vaccine it’s developing with BioNTech SE prevented more than 90% of symptomatic infections in a study of tens of thousands of volunteers. It is the most encouraging scientific advance so far in the battle against the coronavirus.

WHO’s Aylward Sees Direction Changing by March (10:30 a.m. NY)

The ACT Accelerator program, which is an alliance between the World Health Organization, countries including France and organizations such as the World Bank, aims to “fundamentally change the direction” of the pandemic by March as more tests, treatments and vaccines become available, said Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO adviser.

Speaking at this week’s World Health Assembly in Geneva, he said the ACT Accelerator is in need of $4.5 billion of additional financing. He said that data on the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is a substantial step forward, though more data on safety and quality are still needed.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, said earlier at the meeting that the UN body is looking forward to work with the Biden administration.

Ukrainian President Zelenskiy Tests Positive (10:25 a.m. NY)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he tested positive for Covid-19 and is self-isolating. Zelenskiy is feeling fine and will continue to work remotely, according to a statement from his office.

Fauci Says Pfizer Results ‘Extraordinary’ (10:05 a.m. NY)

Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer will have a “major impact” on the battle against the coronavirus. The efficacy of the Pfizer drug candidate being over 90% “is just extraordinary,” Fauci said Monday on a call with reporters. Separately, he said Moderna may have similar results to the Pfizer vaccine because it is also based on mRNA technology.

N.J. Imposing New Virus Restrictions in N.J. (9:55 a.m. NY)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he will reimpose some restrictions Monday in the wake of the state reporting about 5,000 new Covid-19 cases in just 48 hours. The state’s bars, restaurants and indoor youth sports may be reined in, Murphy said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” The limits wouldn’t include college sports as part of measures he said he would announce Monday. Outdoor restaurants and takeout will also be unaffected.

U.S. and Europe First in Line to Get Pfizer Covid Vaccine (9:50 a.m. NY)

The U.S. and Europe are in line to get the first doses of an experimental coronavirus vaccine after a partnership between Pfizer and BioNTech delivered positive preliminary results in a large patient trial. The partners said they’ll be able to produce enough to inoculate 25 million people this year, less than a third of the population of Germany, where BioNTech is based.

“We will need to find a way to distribute that in a fair fashion,” BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said in an interview.

The partners expect to ramp up production significantly next year, with capacity for as many as 1.3 billion doses.

Novavax Vaccine Gets Fast-Track Tag From FDA (9:30 a.m. NY)

Novavax Covid-19 vaccine received a fast-track designation from U.S. regulators as the drugmaker prepares to launch a large, late-stage study before the end of the month, the company said on Monday. The expedited review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could help push the candidate forward into a short-list of frontrunners in the race to bring a vaccine to market.

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Makes Progress (6:45 a.m. NY)

A vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech prevented more than 90% of infections in a study of tens of thousands of volunteers.

The findings are based on an interim analysis conducted after 94 participants contracted the illness. The trial will continue until 164 cases have occurred. The preliminary results pave the way for the companies to seek an emergency-use authorization from regulators if further research shows the shot is also safe. If the data hold up and a key safety readout Pfizer expects in about a week also looks good, the world may have a vital new tool to control a pandemic.

Shanghai Reports First Domestic Case in Months (6 a.m. NY )

Shanghai reported a single domestic case of Covid-19 on Monday, according to the municipal government. The confirmed case works as a porter at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. The Chinese financial hub hasn’t reported any local cases in months, although it has seen a steady stream of imported cases.

Hungary Tightens Lockdown (6 p.m. H.K.)

Hungary will ban public gatherings, expand a curfew to between 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., shut restaurants except for take-out food and switch secondary schools and universities to distance learning from Wednesday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. Gyms, theaters and museums must close and sports events must be held behind closed doors. Orban had previously resisted such tough measures.

Mink Cull Plan Needs to Win Over Denmark’s Opposition (3:55 p.m. HK)

Denmark’s government has yet to secure the political backing it needs to move ahead with a mass cull of the country’s mink population.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s government, which initially implied it didn’t need to pass a new law to move ahead, has since acknowledged it needs parliament’s go-ahead. Talks are now set to start Monday afternoon, and opposition parties have already said they’re unlikely to give their support.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said last week that the Covid variant found in Denmark’s mink farms has the potential to derail global efforts to develop a vaccine. Her government is now in talks with the World Health Organization.

Germany’s Severe Cases Hit Peak (3:39 p.m. HK)

Germany has more severe Covid-19 patients than at any point since the pandemic began, underscoring the urgency facing authorities to contain the disease. Europe’s largest economy had 2,963 people being treated for the coronavirus in intensive care facilities on Monday, exceeding the previous peak of 2,933 on April 18, according to the DIVI register of German ICU capacity.

China to Disinfect Cold-Chain Shipments (2:06 p.m. HK)

China will disinfect all overseas shipments of cold-chain products to try and avoid any potential transmission of the coronavirus, after contaminated pork and seafood were implicated in the infection of port workers, according to the country’s public health commission.

The move is aimed at ensuring the safety of imported chilled or frozen goods, while improving the efficiency of customs clearance and avoiding a backlog of cargoes at ports, according to the plan released Monday in conjunction with the customs administration, the transport ministry and the market regulator.

Contaminated frozen pork from Germany may have infected a port worker in China’s northern Tianjin city, the local health commission said on Sunday.

Utah Declares Emergency, Orders Mask Mandate (12:45 p.m. HK)

Utah, facing overcrowded hospitals, declared a state of emergency. Governor Gary Herbert ordered a statewide mask mandate, as well as two-week restrictions on casual social gatherings and extracurricular activities. The state plans to increase its testing.

WHO Chief Congratulates Biden and Harris (7:56 a.m. HK)

The director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their U.S. election victory. “My WHO colleagues and I look forward to working with you and your teams,” he said in a tweet. “Crises like the COVID19 pandemic show the importance of global solidarity in protecting lives and livelihoods. Together!”

New York Passes 3,000 Cases for Third Straight Day (5:36 p.m. NY)

New York reported 3,428 cases Sunday, the third consecutive day with more than 3,000 infections, the highest levels since early May. Cases in New York, the early epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, have been rising steadily since late September, as the state identified hot spots in Brooklyn and Queens in New York City and counties upstate.

U.S. Cases Near 10 Million With No Slowdown in Sight (5:02 p.m. NY)

Close to 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in the past 10 months, and with the start of winter just a month away, and the public increasingly likely to spend more time cooped up inside, the virus shows few signs of slowing down.

Infections are setting sequential daily records and expected to soar further as cold weather grips northern U.S. states, schools and businesses try to reopen, people move their daily activities inside and the holidays spur gatherings, health officials and experts said.

Worldwide Cases Pass 50 Million (11:41 a.m. NY)

Confirmed cases worldwide surpassed 50 million, with the U.S. accounting for the biggest number — 9.9 million — followed by India, Brazil, Russia and France, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

More than 1.2 million people have died of causes related to Covid-19.

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