Canada to Start Vaccines; White House Pushes FDA: Virus Update

California counted more than 35,000 new Covid-19 cases for the second straight day, New York’s infections quickened and New Jersey reported record cases on Saturday. U.S. vaccinations against Covid-19 are set to begin next week after the government approved a shot by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE for emergency use.

Record U.S. deaths and cases on Friday underscored the urgency of deploying the shots, which are due to arrive at the first administration sites on Monday. By contrast, some U.S. states are loosening restrictions.

Italy moved ahead of the U.K. as the European country with the most virus-related deaths, while the worldwide toll rose to more than 1.6 million. Peru has suspended trials after an adverse event, while Brazil has sent its vaccination plan to the nation’s top court.

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Peru Suspends Trial of China Vaccine After ‘Adverse Event’ (6:38 a.m. H.K.)

Peru has temporarily suspended trials of Sinopharm Group Ltd.’s Covid-19 vaccine after an unspecified “adverse event” was reported during a clinical trial.

Phase 3 trials started in September. Peru has seen more than 980,000 cases and 36,544 deaths from coronavirus, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Brazil Sends Vaccination Plan to Top Court (6:39 a.m. H.K.)

The nation’s health ministry on Friday delivered a national immunization plan to the Supreme Court and the Federal Attorney’s Office, according to a note on the ministry’s website Saturday.

Plan will be released to Brazilians on Thursday, The country has the world’s third-highest number of Covid-19 cases, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News.

A Stock Trader’s Guide to the Global Covid Vaccine Rollout (6:22 a.m. H.K.)

The race to distribute the one product that billions of people around the world will want will create investment opportunities as traders look at the companies involved in the rollout.

Each vaccine that has won or is near approval offers a different logistical challenge, from ultra-cold storage to getting products to places across the developing world

CDC Advisers Back Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine (3:09 p.m. NY)

A panel of advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted to recommend that people age 16 and older receive Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine, clearing one of the last hurdles for U.S. vaccinations.

CDC Director Robert Redfield must give a final sign-off on the panel’s recommendations at a meeting on Saturday.

France’s Pace of Infections Rises (3 p.m. NY)

France’s rolling seven-day average of new cases increased 1.2% to almost 12,000, marking a further rise from a recent low of 10,348 on Dec. 4.

While another 194 people died of causes related to Covid-19, the rolling average fell to 397 in Saturday’s data, the lowest in more than a month. The positive-test ratio was 6.3%, unchanged from Friday.

California Cases Surpass 35,000 for Second Day (2:45 p.m. NY)

California reported a record 35,729 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, its second straight day with more than 35,000. Deaths increased by 225 to 20,847. Hospitalizations climbed 3.5% in 24 hours to a record 13,410 patients.

The Greater Los Angeles area blamed a “Thanksgiving surge” for an increase in cases, which rose by 13,815 to 501,635. The county, home to the highest number of infections and fatalities in the U.S., reported 50 new deaths for Friday, bringing the total to 8,199.

New York State Cases Rise for Fifth Straight Day (2:34 p.m. NY)

New York recorded 11,129 new cases and 95 additional deaths statewide linked to Covid-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Twitter. It’s the fifth consecutive day of increasing cases, according to state data, bringing daily infections closer to the record of 11,571 reported on April 14.

The latest positive-test rate is slightly less than 4.6%, Cuomo said.

Nebraska Eases Virus-Related Restrictions (2 p.m. NY)

Nebraska relaxed some coronavirus-related restrictions on Saturday, increasing the capacity limit for indoor gatherings to 50% from 25% and allowing some elective surgeries to resume. While groups in bars and restaurants will still be limited to eight patrons, they’ll no longer be required to stay six feet (1.83 meters) apart. Distancing requirements for gyms, health clubs and spas were lifted.

A decline in the percentage of hospital beds filled by Covid-19 patients made the changes possible, according to Governor Pete Ricketts.

Kentucky is scheduled to reopen indoor dining at bars and restaurants at 50% capacity on Monday. Gyms, event spaces such as theaters and professional services can also reopen at half-capacity, though masks must be worn while exercising, according to Governor Andy Beshear. While Beshear reported a state record of more than 4,300 new cases on Thursday, he said the positive-test rate declined for the seventh straight day.

N.J. Cases Reach Record (12:57 p.m. NY)

New Jersey reported a record 6,247 new Covid-19 cases, putting the state on course to surpass 400,000 total cases within the next day or two.

The new cases bring the total to 396,496. The state’s daily increase has averaged more than 5,000 this month. The number of people hospitalized for Covid-19 illnesses declined slightly to 3,543, though it’s more than triple the number on Nov. 1. An additional 71 deaths were reported, bringing the total to 15,864.

“Take this pandemic seriously,” Governor Phil Murphy said on Twitter.

U.K. Welcomes U.S. Vaccine Start (12:40 p.m. NY)

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock, whose country began Covid-19 vaccinations on Tuesday, said the FDA’s emergency-use approval for the U.S. shows the global effort “to defeat our common enemy” is gaining ground.

The U.K. was the first western country to begin a vaccination program after approving the vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech the previous week. Canada, which has secured the most doses per person of any country, will begin its immunization campaign as early as Monday, with 30,000 initial doses of the vaccine making their way from Belgium.

Puerto Rico Lays Out Vaccine Timeline (12:15 p.m. NY)

Puerto Rico will begin receiving Covid-19 vaccines next week, though the general population might not get them until next summer, Governor Wanda Vazquez said Saturday.

The U.S. territory of 3.2 million people will have access to some 205,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of December, Vazquez said. Medical professionals and nursing homes will have priority, followed by first responders, public school employees and essential workers.

The National Guard, which is helping manage the effort, said it has five specialized freezers deployed across the island. On Monday, Puerto Rico tightened its nightly curfew, business restrictions and social distancing measures through Jan. 7. The territory has reported 108,485 Covid-19 cases and 1,266 deaths.

FAA Approves Vaccine Use for U.S. Airline Pilots (11:50 a.m. NY)

U.S. airline cockpit crews and other licensed pilots were granted approval to take the newly approved coronavirus vaccine Saturday.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates pilot health issues, said anyone receiving the vaccine shouldn’t fly for 48 hours after each shot, but found that it was otherwise safe.

The FAA’s Office of Aerospace Medicine “will monitor the patient response to Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and may adjust this policy as necessary to ensure aviation safety,” the agency said in a press release.

Italy Deaths Exceed U.K.’s (11:33 a.m. NY)

Italy’s deaths blamed on Covid-19 rose by 649 to 64,036 and now exceed U.K. fatalities, which increased to 64,026 in Saturday data from both countries.

Italy reported 19,903 new cases, an increase of more than 1,000 compared to Friday.

U.K. Numbers Top Weekly Averages (11:24 a.m. NY)

The U.K. reported another 519 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, about 100 more than Friday and the previous seven-day average. New cases were also ahead of the average at 21,502 ,compared to slightly more than 17,000 in the past week.

Dakota Hospitals Ready to Vaccinate (11 a.m. NY)

Sanford Health was notified that Pfizer Inc. received its order for the drug company’s Covid-19 vaccine, which the Food and Drug Administration authorized for emergency use on Friday night, spokeswoman Angela Dejene said in an email Saturday.

The South Dakota-based health system will receive another notice when the order ships. Sanford could receive vaccine in its North Dakota and South Dakota hospitals as soon as Sunday and could start “putting shots in the arms” as soon as Monday, Dejene said.

Sweden to Allow Holiday Travel (8:02 a.m. NY)

Sweden’s foreign minister Ann Linde said she won’t advise against traveling within the European Union over Christmas and New Year. The emphasis should be on distancing and hygiene, because trips themselves aren’t the main issue, Linde said in an interview with Swedish Radio P1 on Saturday.

AstraZeneca to Buy Alexion for $39 Billion (7:55 a.m. NY)

The acquisition of Alexion, a specialist in the development of treatments for rare diseases and immunology, would bolster AstraZeneca in areas such as the treatment of blood disorders, building on Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot’s turnaround. Since taking over in 2012 he has pushed the U.K. drugmaker further into other lucrative areas such as cancer therapies.

UPS to Support Distribution of Pfizer Vaccine (7:32 a.m. NY)

UPS will take part in the distribution of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine as part of Operation Warp Speed in the U.S. The doses will originate from storage sites in Michigan and Wisconsin, transported to UPS facilities in Louisville, before being expedited “Next Day Air” to destinations including hospitals and clinics, the company said in a statement.

Iran to Start Trials of Local Vaccine (6:14 a.m. NY)

The first human trial of Iran’s locally developed vaccine will get underway within two weeks, according to a statement by Setad, a state-controlled foundation in charge of the development, the official IRIB News reported. The vaccine requires three doses, with 56 volunteers set to receive injections in the first phase.

Iran recorded the fewest daily infections in six weeks with 8,201 new cases since Friday. Deaths dropped for the fourth day in a row to 221, bringing the toll to 51,949 since the pandemic began, the Health Ministry reported.

Germany Headed for Tighter Curbs, Scholz Says (6:30 p.m. HK)

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said citizens need to prepare for tougher restrictions to help slow the rapid spread of the coronavirus in Europe’s largest economy.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to hold talks with regional leaders this weekend to agree on stricter curbs, which are likely to include closing nonessential stores and extending the school vacation.