(Bloomberg) --

President Joe Biden’s push to begin offering third doses of Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine faces the first of two crucial tests Friday when advisers to the Food and Drug Administration meet to discuss whether booster shots should be offered to most Americans.

Idaho extended health care rationing statewide as Covid-19 hospitalizations surge amid a “dire” situation, state officials said Thursday in a statement issued from Boise. Alaska neared record cases, with its largest hospital also rationing care to those who could benefit most. 

Mississippi has overtaken New Jersey as the state with the highest per-capita death toll from Covid-19. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is ready to begin administering booster shots as soon as the federal government authorizes them, as early as next week.

Key Developments:

  • Global Virus Tracker: Cases pass 226.9 million; deaths exceed 4.6 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 5.85 billion doses administered
  • Arizona AG admits suit over Biden vaccine rules is a ‘long shot’
  • U.S. racial vaccine gaps are biggerthan we thought
  • NYC schools face $1 billion cliff after Covid widened inequity
  • Why the delta variant is giving more children Covid: QuickTake

Alaska Nears Record Cases Amid Rationing of Care (6 a.m. HK) 

Alaska reported near-record cases, days after the state’s largest hospital, Providence Alaska Medical Center, said it had begun to ration care aimed at treating patients who stand to benefit most. The 1,027 cases reported on Thursday was the second highest of the pandemic, after a record of almost 1,100 was set the day before. The state has only 14 adult-intensive care beds available, according to state data. 

FDA Advisors Begin Pivotal Meetings on Boosters (5:08 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden’s push to begin offering third doses of Pfizer Inc.’s coronavirus vaccine faces the first of two crucial tests Friday when advisers to the Food and Drug Administration meet to discuss whether booster shots should be offered to most Americans.

The meeting will take place as an extraordinary public debate plays out among administration officials, pharmaceutical executives, scientists, public health experts and global activists about whether boosters are even needed, and whether those doses would do more good being sent to poorer nations whose residents haven’t received even a single shot. 

The White House’s plan to begin offering boosters to almost all vaccinated adults starting next week has raised concerns among health experts that the administration is rushing ahead without enough data and regulatory oversight. 

L.A. Demands Vaccination or Test for Large Events (4:27 p.m. NY)

Los Angeles County is requiring that guests attending large events like outdoor concerts and ballgames show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test from the past 72 hours, saying the change is needed to coax residents into getting their shots.

Large outdoor venues will need to comply by Oct. 7, the county said Thursday in an emailed statement. Places like bars and nightclubs will have to require that customers and employees have at least one dose of the vaccine by that date and both doses by Nov. 4.

Colorado Schools Report Doubled Infections (4:05 p.m. NY)

Infections in Colorado’s elementary, junior high and high schools nearly doubled in the last week, the Denver Gazette reported. The number of active cases among students and staff rose to 1,583 from from 886, the newspaper said, citing data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Mississippi Now Has Most Dead Per Capita (1:07 p.m. NY)

Mississippi has overtaken New Jersey as the state with the highest per-capita death toll from Covid-19.

Since the end of June, Mississippi has been among the states hardest-hit by the latest wave of infections, fueled by the fast-spreading delta variant. In that period, Mississippi’s cumulative deaths rose by about 22% to 306 per 100,000 residents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In other words, about one out of every 327 Mississippians has died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began last year. In New Jersey, it’s closer to one-in-328.

Italy Requires Covid Pass for All Workers (12:30 p.m. NY)

Italy will require all workers to have a valid Covid passport, as the government led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi moves to set the toughest vaccination requirements in Europe.

A cabinet meeting on Thursday approved the measure, according to an official familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named as the decision is not public yet.

The wider use of the passports -- dubbed Green Pass -- had met fierce opposition from right-wing parties including Matteo Salvini’s League, which backs Draghi’s government. 

NYC Prepares to Give Out Booster Shots (11:07 a.m. NY)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is ready to begin administering Covid-19 booster shots as soon as the federal government authorizes them, as early as next week.

During a briefing on Thursday, de Blasio said once the federal government gives the green light on boosters, “we need to be ready to move immediately.” The city will use all 1,900 vaccination sites across the city to help administer the booster shots.

“We have the health-care infrastructure” to meet the booster shot demand, Dave Chokshi, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said during the briefing.

JHU Scientist Sees Possible Over-65 Boosters (11:05 a.m. NY)

U.S. drug regulators would probably limit any approval of Covid-19 booster shots to people older than 65, Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo said.

“If the FDA committee endorses anything it may be boosters over the age of 65,” she said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “That might be the next offering.”

A panel of outsider advisers to the Food and Drug Administration at a meeting on Friday plans discuss an application by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE for a third dose. Next week, Advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hold a two-day meeting on booster shots.

Brazil Halts Shots for Young Teens (10:53 a.m. NY)

Brazil’s health minister says people under 18 should only be vaccinated in case of other underlying conditions or disabilities, according to an order published on its website.

The ministry now says benefits of vaccinating healthy teenagers are not yet clear, with most of them recovering well when infected by the coronavirus. On Sept. 2, Brazil announced a plan to vaccinate all people aged 12-17.

Idaho Expands Health Care Rationing (10:39 a.m. NY)

Calling the situation “dire,” Idaho Thursday extended health care rationing statewide as Covid-19 hospitalizations surge, state officials said in a statement issued from Boise.

Crisis of care standards were initially imposed in hard-hit northern Idaho on Sept. 6. Thursday’s emergency order was put in place at the request of a major medical network in the state, St. Luke’s Health System, officials said.

“The situation is dire – we don’t have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for Covid-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident,” said David Jeppesen, director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Idaho has the lowest rate of vaccination in the U.S. after West Virginia, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. 

EU Divided on Vaccine Exports (9:03 a.m. NY)

Several EU governments are pushing back against a proposal by the bloc’s executive arm to extend controls on vaccine exports, according to people familiar with the matter. The European Commission is intent on renewing the mechanism that allows it to track where vaccines are exported to and to block shipments under certain circumstances, the people said. At a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday, several diplomats said they no longer saw the need for export controls now that the EU has sufficient capacity to meet its vaccine demand.

U.K. Set to Ease Travel Curbs (9 a.m. NY)

The British red list that hinders travel to 62 countries will be more than halved as the government relaxes curbs next month, the Times reported. 

The list, which has 62 countries at present, requires passengers to pay to quarantine in a hotel for almost two weeks. Countries on the list include Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, the Maldives, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

EU Prepares for Future Emergencies (8:55 a.m. NY)

In the wake of the pandemic, the European Commission officially launched the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority as part of plans to beef up the bloc’s health agencies and prepare for future emergencies.

In the event of a health emergency, HERA’s role will be to ensure the development, production and distribution of medicines, vaccines. 

China to Offer Booster Shots from September (6:15 a.m. NY)

China will start inoculating key population groups with booster shots between September and November, Henan Daily reported, citing a meeting held by the local government of central China’s Henan province. The program is aimed at people who were fully vaccinated before May 1.

U.K. Mask Wearing Falls (6:12 a.m NY) 

More than four million British people stopped wearing face coverings in public, the Guardian reported. 

In May, 98% of people said they had worn a face covering in the past week when leaving the house. That fell to 89% this month, the newspaper said, citing Office for National Statistics figures.  

China Has Fully Vaccinated More Than 1 Billion (3:14 p.m. HK)

China has fully vaccinated more than 1 billion people against Covid-19 -- over 70% of its eligible population -- powering ahead of the U.S. and Europe despite having no immediate plans to ease some of the strictest pandemic measures in the world. 

A total of 2.16 billion doses have been given in China as of Sept. 15, Mi Feng, a spokesperson at the National Health Commission, told reporters in Beijing on Thursday.

The success of China’s vaccination strategy hasn’t averted flareups of the pathogen in recent months, and questions remain about how effective the shots are, especially against the newest variants. The nation is currently battling a cluster in the southeastern province of Fujian after squelching an earlier delta outbreak, the broadest it’s experienced since Covid first appeared in Wuhan.

Putin Says ‘Tens’ of Cases in His Entourage (2:50 p.m. HK)

A Covid outbreak inside the Kremlin has sickened dozens of people working close to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president said, highlighting the scale of the outbreak in one of the country’s most carefully guarded areas.

“It’s not one or two people but tens of people,” Putin told a televised video link with other leaders in the Collective Security Treaty Organization. “I will have to observe self-isolation for several days.” 

Putin received the Russian Sputnik V vaccine earlier this year.



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