Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Plc reported positive results from a mid-stage study, offering optimism their delayed Covid-19 vaccine could be cleared by the end of the year.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the next step out of lockdown must be taken “with a heavy dose of caution” as more coronavirus restrictions are lifted on Monday. India has scaled up inoculations for its 1.3 billion population and Taiwan will ban entry to foreigners. Thailand’s daily Covid cases surged to a record.
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India Plans to Boost Vaccination (4:32 p.m. HK)
India has scaled up vaccination for its 1.3 billion population as it prepares for a new wave of infections, said Baijayant Panda, vice president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
“The biggest bet of course we are making is that our vaccination rollout has been scaled up enormously,” the BJP leader, known as Jay Panda, said in an interview to Bloomberg TV Asia on Monday. “By end of the year, we hope to have a majority of Indians vaccinated.”
Hong Kong, Singapore Delay Travel Bubble (4:19 p.m. HK)
An air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong has been delayed as Singapore battles a rising number of unlinked cases tied to the more aggressive and transmissible coronavirus strain known as B.1.617.
A further announcement should be made on or before June 13, the Hong Kong government said in a statement Monday.
Thai Daily Cases Reach Record High (3:55 p.m. HK)
Thailand’s daily Covid cases surged to a record with outbreaks in prisons, construction camps and densely populated areas in the nation’s capital showing no signs of easing, piling pressure on authorities to accelerate the slow vaccination drive.
The country on Monday reported 9,635 new infections, the highest-single day increase since the pandemic began, with 6,853 cases coming from prison clusters alone.
Johnson Urges Caution Amid India Strain (3:54 p.m. HK)
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the next step out of lockdown must be taken “with a heavy dose of caution” as more coronavirus restrictions are lifted on Monday.
The government is concerned that the highly transmissible virus strain that originated in India could lead to a major surge in cases, and is accelerating the vaccine rollout to people older than 35 this week in an attempt to contain the new variant.
Ryanair Posts Record Loss (3:09 p.m. HK)
Ryanair Holdings Plc posted a record annual loss, while saying it’s likely to break even this year as vaccination programs allow a gradual easing of coronavirus travel curbs.
Bookings have increased significantly in recent weeks, pointing to a strong recovery in the second half, although forward visibility remains “close to zero,” the Irish company said in a statement Monday.
Singapore’s Rising Cases Tied to India Variant (3:05 p.m. HK)
The India strain has become more prominent among Singapore’s growing number of unlinked cases, in a sign that hidden chains of transmission of the variant have existed for some time.
Of the 17 unlinked cases identified on Sunday, six patients whose ages range from 29 to 57 preliminarily tested positive for the strain known as B.1.617, according to updated Ministry of Health data published overnight.
Taiwan to Ban Entry of Foreigners (2:42 p.m. HK)
Taiwan will ban entry of foreign nationals without residency from May 19 to June 18, according to website statement from Taiwan Centers for Disease Control.
Taiwan will also ban airline transit passengers from May 19 to June 18. Taiwan added 333 local cases of Covid-19 Monday, including 158 cases in Taipei city and 148 in New Taipei city.
U.K.’s Kwarteng Expects Reopening on June 21 (2:25 p.m. HK)
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng expects the U.K. will be able to complete the final step of reopening its economy on June 21 as planned.
“I fully expect that we’ll be reopened on the 21 of June. I think it’s very likely to happen,” Kwarteng told Sky News on Monday.
Sanofi, Glaxo Vaccine Works Well in Study (1:30 p.m. HK)
Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Plc reported positive results from a redo of a mid-stage study for their Covid-19 vaccine, putting the delayed shot on track for possible clearance by the end of the year.
Volunteers showed a similar immune response to people who have recovered from the coronavirus, Sanofi said Monday. Those who’d already been infected had a higher response after just one injection, prompting the companies to decide to test a second formulation to bring to market as a booster.
EU to Back Vaccine Expansion in Africa (12:14 p.m. HK)
The European Union will support an expansion of vaccine production in Africa with President Ursula von der Leyen to back proposals for strategic vaccine production hubs, the Financial Times reported, citing unidentified European officials.
Contributions could include both direct EU aid as well as funding from the European Investment Bank and national development agencies, the FT said. The EU also wants to help build up regulatory capacity, including the establishment of the African Medicines Agency.
Indonesia to Start Private Vaccinations (12:09 p.m. HK)
Indonesia’s private vaccination program will start with 484,400 doses of Sinopharm vaccines, Rosan Perkasa Roeslani, chairman on the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry known as Kadin, said by text message Monday.
The first phase will prioritize the manufacturing sector in 20 sites across the greater Jakarta area with Kadin estimating 20-26 million workers will be inoculated.
Earlier, the country suspended use of a certain batch of AstraZeneca’s vaccine pending an investigation into its side effects as a precautionary measure to test its toxicity and sterility.
China Vaccinates Almost 14 Million People a Day (11 a.m. HK)
China is vaccinating almost 14 million people a day, a record for the nation after it detected its first new cluster in months with a smattering of cases in the eastern province of Anhui and northeastern region of Liaoning.
Many nations in Asia, China included, are struggling to combat vaccine hesitation. Some people have been wooed into a sense of complacency due to the region’s early success in containing the virus while others simply don’t trust the safety or efficacy of the vaccines available.