Brazil Tops Russia, Japan Success Puzzles Experts: Virus Update

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Brazil added a record number of cases, overtaking Russia as the nation with the world’s highest number of coronavirus cases after the U.S.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump declared houses of worship as essential and directed governors to let them open “right now,” even though legal experts said he lacks the authority to override stay-at-home orders. The CDC warned though that singing can speed transmission and recommended against sharing items like collection plates.

Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious disease expert, said it may be time to consider a cautious reopening of the economy. Oxford University and AstraZeneca started recruiting for advanced human studies of one of the fastest-moving experimental vaccines, while a Russian institute said it used laboratory staff in a successful unofficial test on a potential vaccine.

25,294 in U.S.Most new cases today

-14% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​073 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-4.​8% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), April


The World Health Organization said the virus has spread now to every country in Africa, where cases have topped 100,000.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases top 5.1 million; deaths around 335,000
  • Here’s what your cruises will look like after Covid-19
  • We need a name for the greatest economic crisis this century

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus. For a look back at this week’s top stories from QuickTake, click here.

Japan’s Success in Managing Outbreak Puzzles Experts (7:20 a.m. HK)

Japan’s state of emergency is nearing its end with new cases of the coronavirus dwindling to mere dozens. It got there despite largely ignoring the default playbook.

No restrictions were placed on residents’ movements, and businesses from restaurants to hairdressers stayed open. And even as nations were exhorted to “test, test, test,” Japan has tested just 0.2% of its population -- one of the lowest rates among developed countries. Yet the curve has been flattened, with deaths well below 1,000, by far the fewest among the G7 nations. While the possibility of a more severe second wave is ever-present, Japan is set to leave its emergency in just weeks, and likely to exit completely as early as Monday.

Gilead’s Remdesivir Helped Only Those on Oxygen, Study Says (7 p.m. HK)

Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir, which was authorized to treat Covid-19 in adults and children who need supplemental oxygen, a ventilator or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), only significantly helped those on supplemental oxygen, not the latter two types, a pivotal study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found.

Brazil Overtakes Russia as Second-Most Infected Nation (6:28 p.m. NY)

Brazil added 20,803 cases, bringing the total to 330,890 -- topping Russia’s 326,448 infections. The number of deaths increased by 1,001 to 21,048. That’s still behind some of the most-affected countries in Europe including the U.K., Italy and Spain, along with the U.S..

With the worst-performing stock market and currency globally this year, Latin America’s largest economy no longer seems like a bargain for investors, as a bungled response to the pandemic turned the country into the world’s fastest-growing virus hotspot.

U.K. Police Question Johnson Aide (5:37 p.m. NY)

Boris Johnson’s chief adviser was interviewed by police for potentially breaking the U.K. government’s lockdown rules when he self-isolated with coronavirus symptoms. Police spoke to Dominic Cummings after he was seen more than 250 miles (400 kilometers) from his London home shortly after he went into isolation at the end of March -- a time when the prime minister and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had both tested positive.

At the time, U.K. citizens were under orders not to travel, and to stay at home. Cummings, a divisive behind-the-scenes figure within the administration, lives in London while his parents live in Durham, in northern England. Earlier Friday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said passengers arriving in the U.K. will be forced into quarantine for two weeks and face fines of 1,000 pounds ($1,200) if they break the rules.

Peru Continues Reopening Economy (5:15 p.m. NY)

Peru authorized more businesses to reopen, including hairdressers, electricians and online clothes retailers along with mining, fishing and construction companies that were cleared to reopen this month. The lockdown, which was set to expire Sunday, will continue through June 30, President Martin Vizcarra said.

Peru is battling South America’s biggest coronavirus outbreak after Brazil, with total cases surpassing 100,000 this week. Strict lockdown measures in place since mid-March have taken a heavy toll on the economy, with economic activity slumping 16% in March and more than a million jobs lost in Lima in the three months to April.

CDC Cites Choirs, Collection Plate in Guidance (4:15 p.m. NY)

Religious groups should consider suspending or limiting choirs or singing during services and avoid passing a collection plate, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in guidance issued hours after Trump demanded governors immediately open houses of worship. “The act of singing may contribute to transmission of Covid-19, possibly through emission of aerosols,” the CDC warned.

Churches should stay in contact with local and state officials as reopening decisions are made, and provide protection for staff or congregants who are at higher risk of infection. The guidance encouraged hand washing, use of face coverings and increased cleaning and disinfection measures.

U.S. Cases Increase 1.8% (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 1.8% as compared to the same time yesterday to 1.59 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That’s above the 1.5% average of the past week. Deaths rose 1.7% to 95,490.

  • New York cases rose 0.5% to 358,154, in line with the average increase over the past seven days, according to the state’s health department.
  • Florida cases rose 1.6% to 49,451 on Friday, compared with an average increase of 1.7% in the previous seven days, according to data from the state’s health department. Deaths rose 2.1% to 2,190.
  • Cases in California rose 2.6% to 88,444 while deaths increased 2.5% to 3,630, according to the state’s website.

Cases Reach All African Nations: WHO (3:15 p.m. NY)

Every nation in Africa now has coronavirus cases, as the continent’s infection total exceeds 100,000, the World Health Organization said. The first Africa case was reported 14 weeks ago.

Africa’s mortality rate has been low, with 3,100 confirmed deaths. By comparison, when cases reached 100,000 in Europe, deaths topped 4,900, WHO said. Early analysis suggests the lower mortality rate may reflect that Africa is the youngest continent, with more than 60% of the population under age 25. In Europe nearly 95% of deaths occurred in those older than 60.

Italy’s Deaths, New Cases Remain Low (12:10 p.m. NY)

Italy’s new cases remained below 1,000 for a 10th day on Friday, as health authorities said the epidemic’s curve is consistently descending in all regions, including Lombardy, the hardest-hit area. Authorities reported 652 cases, up from 642 a day earlier, for a total of 228,658. Daily fatalities were 130, down from 156 on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 32,616.

China Vaccine Shows Promise: Lancet (11:20 a.m. NY)

An experimental vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics of China was safe and generated an immune response in an early study in humans. The vaccine stimulated production of both antibodies that can stop infection along with immune T-cells, according to a report Friday in The Lancet medical journal. Further research is needed to show its effectiveness against the virus. The study was funded by CanSino and conducted by researchers from the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and other organizations.

“The challenges in the development of a Covid-19 vaccine are unprecedented, and the ability to trigger these immune responses does not necessarily indicate that the vaccine will protect humans from Covid-19,” Wei Chen, a professor at the Beijing institute that carried out the study, said in the report.

Russia Tests Covid-19 Vaccine on Researchers (8:10 a.m. NY)

A Russian government research institute said it conducted successful unofficial tests on a potential coronavirus vaccine. Laboratory staff who volunteered to receive the vaccine at the Gamaleya epidemiology institute in Moscow had no side effects and are healthy, said its director, Alexander Ginzburg, the state-run Tass news service reported. It didn’t state how many people took part in the trial.

— With assistance by Heather Smith, and Rachel Gamarski

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