(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong, once known as the world’s freest economy and the “Global City of Asia”, is now second only in pakistan as the worst place to live during covid.
The city, rocked by its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic, saw its ranking drop to 52nd on Bloomberg. Covid Resilience Ranking in February – the lowest position ever held by a developed economy since the start of the measurement. That’s largely because the recent spike in omicron infections prompted Hong Kong, which ranked ninth a year ago, to pile strict social distancing measures on top of its isolationist policies.
In Canada, the world’s first plant-derived Covid vaccine has been cleared for use.
Elsewhere, the European Union medicines regulator erased new vaccine options for children, recommending Moderna Inc. vaccine approval for a younger age group and Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE immunization green boosters for adolescents. Actions taken by the European Medicines Agency on Thursday broaden options for age groups that have seen case rates soar as the omicron variant sweeps across the continent.
Shionogi Rises on Drug Optimism (12 p.m. HK)
Shares of Shionogi & Co. rose in Tokyo after the company said it filed for approval of its Covid pill, becoming the first Japanese company to do so for a coronavirus treatment in the country.
Vegan Vaccine (11:50 a.m. HK)
The world’s first plant-derived Covid vaccine has been erased for use in Canada, creating a new vaccine to fight the virus from a unit of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp. and Philip Morris International.
The vaccine named Covifenz was jointly developed by Medicago Inc., a biopharmaceutical company owned by Mitsubishi Chemical and Philip Morris and based in Quebec, and GlaxoSmithKline Plc. It will be available to adults ages 18 to 64, Health Canada said in a statement.
Western Australia cases are back on the rise (11 a.m. HK)
Western Australia has passed 1,000 daily Covid cases for the first time during the pandemic, the state’s chief health officer has told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. 3.
Case numbers and hospitalizations continue to fall in Australia’s two largest states, New South Wales and Victoria, which on Friday scrapped mask mandates for office workers and most other settings.
Indonesia to Start Manufacturing mRNA Vaccines (10:30 a.m. HK)
Indonesia could start manufacturing its own mRNA vaccines after the World Health Organization singled it out to receive technology transfer to become the hub for Covid vaccines in Southeast Asia. State-owned PT Bio Farma will start producing mRNA doses, according to a declaration from the Ministry of Public Enterprises, which did not name the brand. The company is one of the largest vaccine manufacturers in the region, with a production capacity of 3.2 billion doses per year.
Epidemic in China Grows (9:30 a.m. HK)
China’s Covid outbreak continued to swell, particularly in the northern part of the country, as Inner Mongolia detected 30 new cases and Liaoning Province found 18. A total of 82 nationwide transmissions were found. Friday in more than half of China’s provinces, according to the National Health Commission. There were 22 additional infected people who did not show symptoms. Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the pathogen first emerged more than two years ago, appears to have successfully fought off a surge after reporting more than 20 cases recently.
Singapore Facing Staff Shortage: Business Times (8:10 a.m. HK)
Businesses in Singapore are facing staff shortages after daily coronavirus infections hit a record high earlier this week, prompting temporary closures of some bank branches, restaurants and gyms, the Business Times newspaper reported.
The upsurge in infections has led the government to repel plans to ease limits on home gatherings and other pandemic curbs after local cases topped 20,000 for two straight days this week.
Omicron’s Korean wave will peak at 250,000 a day: Yonhap (7:45 a.m.)
South Korea expects its current omicron wave to peak in mid-March with daily cases reaching 250,000, Yonhap News reported, citing Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum. Kim said on Wednesday the government would revise social distancing rules if it deemed severe cases and deaths could be controlled even if omicron cases increased. Separately, the country disclosed 165,890 new cases on Friday.
Covid Leads to Rise in Orphans, Study Says (7:30 a.m. HK)
At least 5.2 million children have lost a parent or caregiver to Covid, putting them at risk of poverty, exploitation and abuse and highlighting the lasting scars of the pandemic, a study shows.
More than 1.2 million children under the age of nine were orphaned between March 2020 and October last year, along with 2.1 million children between the ages of 10 and 17, according to a new modeling study released in the journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.
Omicron Restrains Indian Economy (7:01 a.m. HK)
Indian economic activity showed mixed signals in January, with most indicators pointing to a moderation of growth after an increase in omicron cases brought back some of the pandemic-related restrictions.
While five of the eight high-frequency indicators compiled by Bloomberg News were weak last month, the others signaled a steady recovery. A three-month weighted average view of the readings, however, helped keep the needle on a dial measuring so-called “animal spirits” unchanged at 5 for a seventh month.
Asian Airlines Faces Bankruptcy Risks (7 a.m. HK)
Covid has crippled international aviation as nations have locked borders and imposed other restrictions that are only being dismantled in some parts of the world. Asia is lagging behind, with China and Hong Kong almost completely walled in, and the financial positions of some airlines in the region have deteriorated since Bloomberg made the same analysis in March and November 2020
New York Times Sets June for Return to Office (2:41 p.m. NY)
New York Times Co. told its employees to start returning to the office by the week of June 6.
Most Times employees will work in a “hybrid” environment that “balances the benefits of in-person attendance with the flexibility of remote working,” wrote Jacqueline M. Welch, Times director of human resources, in an internal memo. obtained by Bloomberg News. .
“We are making a gradual, gradual return that allows ample time to readjust to office life and manage a return that works for you and your family,” she wrote.
Most Californians Back Mask, Vaccine Rules (12:48 p.m. NY)
Most California voters support mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations and masking for students and teachers in K-12 schools, according to a new investigation by the Institute of Government Studies at UC Berkeley.
About two-thirds of the nearly 9,000 people polled said they wanted precautions taken to contain the virus, according to the poll, which was co-sponsored and published Thursday by the Los Angeles Times. Opinions diverged by political affiliation: While about 85% of Democrats supported vaccination mandates for schools, about 70% of Republicans opposed them.
Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a plan last week to move the most prosperous US state into the next phase of managing the pandemic as cases fall sharply.
Diving into US Vaccinations (10:51 a.m. NY)
The pace of Covid-19 shootings in the United States has dropped to the lowest level since the start of the vaccination campaign, the latest sign that the nation could be close to maximum absorption.
The seven-day average of injections given fell to 337,874 on February 18, the lowest since December 2020, when vaccine distribution had just started and injections were only available to the most vulnerable. At the height of the US campaign, in April 2021, around 3.5 million shots per day were being administered.
A January 11-23 survey for KFF Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor shows that most adults who want the vaccines have already been inoculated, and demand for childhood vaccines is proving much less robust.