FS-ISAC Coronavirus Update, June 10, 2021
June 10, 2021
- Dr. Sharon Peacock, executive chair of the Covid-19 Genomics U.K. Consortium, said the Delta variant that originated in India and discovered in at least 74 countries and now the dominant strain in Britain, is more potent and about 40% to 50% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, formerly called B.1.1.7 that emerged from the United Kingdom last fall, with the strain already present in most US states, but the spread is at an early stage.
- Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine generates an immune response against some of the more common and worrying variants of the virus, researchers reported Wednesday, and as with Pfizer/BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines, the effects seem to be a little reduced against the B.1.351 variant first seen in South Africa and the P.1 variant that spread rapidly across Brazil, but fully effective against the B.1.1.7 variant first seen in Britain and a variant identified in California.
- While the US has “done very well” with vaccinating its population, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said today “we cannot declare victory prematurely because there are still a substantial proportion of people who have not been vaccinated,” and warning “We don't want to let happen in the US what is happening currently in the UK, where you have a troublesome variant essentially taking over as the dominant variant, which has made it a very difficult situation in the UK.”
- The seven-day average of daily US infections held below 15,000 as of Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, down 17% from a week ago and a level not seen since the early days of the pandemic.
- Eight US states - all but one of them in the Northeast - have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents, according to data published Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that the US Food and Drug Administration is looking into whether the expiration date on Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines can be extended and if so, how to get the doses utilized, after the company said this week it is conducting stability testing “with the goal of extending the amount of time our COVID-19 vaccine can be stored before expiry.”
- Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky reiterated Wednesday that people will likely need to receive additional doses of the Covid-19 vaccines alongside the annual flu shot for the next “several years,” with booster shots needed until herd immunity is achieved on a global level and world leaders and scientists are able to limit the spread of highly contagious variants.
- Top health officials in Europe and Africa said Wednesday they are worried about the potential emergence of new Covid variants that could render current vaccines useless, and John Nkengasong, director of Africa’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said he is “very concerned” about the emergence of a vaccine-resistant strain as the Delta variant first detected in India continues to spread around the world.
- Health authorities in Russia reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, logging the highest number of daily infections in more than three months as officials continued to downplay the pandemic’s severity.
- The United Kingdom government is expected to decide over the next few days whether to delay the lifting of restrictions in England on June 21, which had been “Freedom Day” and the date when the government hoped to “be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact.”
- If the spread of COVID-19 continues at current rates it will be years before the virus is controlled in the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization said on Wednesday, calling for countries to share excess vaccine doses and reporting that there were almost 1.2 million new cases and 34,000 deaths in the region last week, with four of the five countries with the highest death counts worldwide in the Americas.
- The US has purchased and will donate 500 million doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine worldwide – all through COVAX, the international vaccine initiative, as it seeks to be a key player in getting other nations vaccinated, with around 200 million doses to go out in 2021 and 300 million distributed in the first half of 2022 to 92 low and lower-income countries, in addition to the African Union.
- European Union lawmakers on Wednesday endorsed a widely-awaited new travel certificate aimed at saving Europe’s travel industry and prime tourist sites from another disastrous vacation season that will allow people to move between countries without having to quarantine or undergo extra coronavirus tests, paving the way for the pass to start in time for summer.
- US Inflation has been warming up this spring, and it’s expected to hit historical levels for the month of May, with the consensus forecast for the core consumer price index, which excludes food and energy, to be 3.5% on a year-over-year basis, according to Dow Jones - the fastest annual pace in 28 years.
- Despite the whole world preparing for a return of inflation, market participants in Europe are actually expecting the European Central Bank to keep its foot on the stimulus pedal this week, and while talk of a “taper” of pandemic-era bond purchases has reached a crescendo in many corners of the globe, many believe the Bank will keep to its current path due to an uncertain economic outlook and to avoid an unwanted tightening of financial conditions.
- The US workplace regulator will publish a rule on Thursday requiring healthcare employers to take steps to protect workers from COVID-19, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh told a congressional panel on Wednesday, with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration also expected to release non-binding guidance on how other businesses can protect non-vaccinated workers.
- Detroit's Big Three automakers and the United Auto Workers union said on Wednesday that workers will continue to be required to wear masks in workplaces, and in a joint statement said it was continuing the requirements "out of an abundance of caution."
- IBM’s US employees will go back to the office the week of September 7, according to a memo sent to staff this week from Chief Human Resources Officer Nickle LaMoreaux, which also said the company is working on protocols for fully vaccinated employees to work in the office without masks, and is developing health and safety protocols for business travel and meetings with clients from outside the company.
- All athletes and support staff traveling to Japan for the Olympic Summer Games, set to begin next month as the country battles a fourth wave of infections, are likely to be subject to disclose their movements through GPS data on their phones, if required, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said today.
- Fake COVID-19 vaccination cards are being sold online across various platforms, from Amazon to Telegram., with Amazon now having taken down the vendor, but photos shared on Twitter show what was once live - a 10-pack of blank vaccination cards for $12.99.