U.S. Cases Increase 1.2%, Slowest Pace This Month: Virus Update

U.S. coronavirus cases recorded the slowest daily increase for the month of April. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain is past the peak of the outbreak. Spain recorded steepdeclines in new cases and Germany is set to extend restrictions.

Australia and New Zealand are considering a mutual reopening of their economies once the outbreak is under control, while Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned things won’t ever return to the way they were pre-pandemic, and Japan’s prime minister suggested an emergency status will be extended.

TheU.S. Food and Drug Administration is moving at “lightning speed” to review data on Gilead Sciences’ experimental treatment remdesivir. Gilead has more than50,000 courses of the therapy ready to ship as soon as it’s authorized for emergency use.

Key Developments

  • Virus Tracker: global cases top 3.2 million; deaths 232,000
  • Justice Department looking into signs offraud in SBA loans
  • Australia, New Zealand mull amutual reopening
  • Bill Gates seesvaccine within as little as nine months
  • Gilead warned of acloudy outlook despite remdesivir hopes
  • U.S.spies see no human role in coronavirus origins

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27,327 in U.S.Most new cases today

-15% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​106 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-0.​5% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), March

Latest Asia-Pacific Data Show Economic Hit, From Exports to Housing (8:06 a.m. HK)

South Korea’s exports plunged the most since the 2009 global financial crisis as the spread of the coronavirus slammed world trade. Shipments plummeted 24.3% in April from a year earlier, the trade ministry said Friday.

Australia’s house-price growth slowed in April and sales plunged, after home inspections and public auctions were prohibited as part of a sweeping economic lockdown to combat coronavirus. House values in the combined state and territory capitals rose 0.2%, versus 0.7% in March, according to CoreLogic Inc. data. Sales plunged about 40%.

Tokyo inflation plunged, returning to negative territory for the first time since 2017 as collapsing oil prices and the coronavirus dealt heavy blows to the Bank of Japan’s long fight against deflation. Consumer prices in the capital excluding fresh food, a leading indicator of national trends, fell 0.1% in April from a year earlier, data from the ministry of internal affairs showed.

Amgen to Test Otezla for Covid Treatment (4:15 p.m. NY)

Amgen Inc. will investigate the psoriasis drug Otezla as a potential therapy to treat Covid-19, the company announced during its first-quarter earnings.

In Covid-19 patients with extreme symptoms, it’s believed that an overactive immune system may be at least partially to blame; Otezla is being investigated to treat immune system-related inflammatory diseases beyond psoriasis. Researchers are exploring if drugs that help temper the immune response may help to curb the severity of the illness.

Amgen picked up the psoriasis drug Otezla in November from Celgene Corp. ahead of the company’s sale to Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Amgen plans to begin clinical trials of the drug as a potential treatment for adults with Covid-19 within weeks.

U.S. Cases Rise at Slowest Pace This Month (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 1.2% from the day before to 1.04 million, according todata compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That was below the average daily increase of 3% over the past week and Wednesday’s 2.7% rise.

  • New Jersey reported 460 new deaths, a record one-day increase, according to Governor Phil Murphy. Fatalities now total 7,228.
  • Texas also reported its highest death toll of the pandemic with 50 fatalities recorded in the past 24 hours, according to the state health department.
  • California reported cases rose 5.3% to 48,917, the biggest one-day jump in new infections. It had 95 deaths, the most in eight days. Hospitalizations remained stable from a day earlier.
  • Florida reported 33,690 cases, up 1.5% from a day earlier, according to the state’s health department. Deaths increased 4.1% to 1,268. Governor Ron DeSantis plans to start reopening the state on May 4.
  • Nebraska had the biggest daily increase in cases, 9.1%, to a total 3,851.

Russian Premier Tests Positive (2:19 p.m. NY)

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said he just learned he hastested positive for coronavirus and is temporarily stepping down, becoming the most senior Russian official to be diagnosed with the illness.

“The tests I did for coronavirus came back positive,” Mishustin said in a televised video conversation with President Vladimir Putin. “As a result, I must observe self-isolation and fulfill my doctors’ orders, which is necessary to protect my colleagues.”

Johnson: U.K. Has Passed Peak (12:20 p.m. NY)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. has passed the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, which has now killed more than 26,000 people and forced the country into an ongoing lockdown.

In his first press conference since recovering from Covid-19, Johnson promised to set out details next week on how businesses can get back to work to revive the stalled economy.

FDA Moving at ‘Lightning Speed’ on Gilead Drug: Hahn (9:26 a.m. NY)

“We’re working with the company to emphasize the necessity of speed while at the same time to understand the data,” the FDA commissioner said in an interview. “There will be a lot of factors that go into all the regulatory decisions. We want to look at the totality of data to make sure that remdesivir is targeted to the right patients.”

Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said on NBC’s Today Show that he expected an FDA decision relatively soon. A vaccine could be available by January, he said separately.

Euro-Area Economy Could Shrink as Much as 12%: Lagarde (8:36 a.m. NY)

The economy could shrink from 5% to 12% this year, Lagarde said during the opening statement of the ECB’s virtual monetary policy press conference in Frankfurt.

The ECBunveiled a further facility to inject liquidity into the economy after data showed the worst three-monthcontraction in a quarter of a century of data. It delivered a new lending salvo that includes a so-called “PELTRO” measure to further assist growth, and will keep asset purchases and interest rates unchanged.

The bank said the lowest interest rate on a program that gives banks incentives to lend to companies and households will fall to 50 basis points below the deposit rate, currently at -0.5%. Interest on the new, non-targeted facility will be 0.25% below the main refinancing rate that currently is zero.

Singapore Cases Must Ease Before Economy Restarts (7:41 a.m. NY)

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loongcautioned that things won’t ever get back to the way they were before. He warned “significant structural changes” to the economy are likely even after the virus abates, with some industries disrupted permanently, companies having to change their business models to survive and some jobs simply disappearing. Many workers will have to accept pay cuts so their companies can survive, he said.

When Singapore does reopen, it won’t happen all at once, Lee said. Rather, it will reopen step by step, with critical industries and those connected to global supply chains going first. Places that draw crowds, such as entertainment outlets and large-scale sporting events, will have to wait.

Children May Be Just as Infectious as Adults (7:30 a.m. NY)

Children with the new coronavirus may be as infectious as adults, according to astudy from Germany that recommends caution against an unlimited reopening of schools and kindergartens.

While children have a lower risk of developing severe illness from Covid-19, they may be no less capable of spreading it. Levels of virus in the respiratory tract -- the main route via which the pathogen is transmitted -- don’t appear significantly different across age groups, Christian Drosten, director of the Institute of Virology at Berlin’s Charite hospital, and colleagues found.

The WHO says more research is needed on the topic. For now, household transmission studies indicate that children are less likely to transmit Covid-19 to adults than the reverse, WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday.

— With assistance by Heather Smith, Kristen V Brown, and Naomi Kresge

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