After the Pandemic, Will More People Wear Masks for Colds and Flu?

Once Americans return to crowded offices, schools, buses and trains, so too will their sneezes and sniffles.

Having been introduced to the idea of wearing masks to protect themselves and others, some Americans are now considering a behavior scarcely seen in the United States but long a fixture in other cultures: routinely wearing a mask when displaying symptoms of a common cold or the flu, even in a future in which Covid-19 isn’t a primary concern.

“I will still feel a responsibility to protect others from my illness when I have a cold or bronchitis or something along those lines,” said Gwydion Suilebhan, a writer and arts administrator in Washington who said he also plans to continue wearing masks in situations like flying on airplanes. “It’s a responsible part of being a human in a civil society to care for the people around you.”

Such routine use of masks has been common for decades in other countries, primarily in East Asia, as protection against allergies or pollution, or as a common courtesy to protect nearby people.

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Other leading American health officials, however, have not encouraged the behavior. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — which at the beginning of the pandemic advised against wearing masks, and only changed its guidance a couple of months later — does not advise people with flu symptoms to wear masks, and says they “may not effectively limit transmission in the community.”

That’s partly because there’s no tidy scientific consensus on the effect of masks on influenza virus transmission, according to experts who have studied it.

Nancy Leung, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong, said that the science exploring possible links between masking and the emission or transmission of influenza viruses was nuanced — and that the nuances were often lost on the general public.

randomized controlled trials — the gold standard in scientific research — that masking reduced transmission of influenza viruses in a community.

There was some evidence from observational studies that masks reduced community transmission of influenza viruses, she added, but that research had a caveat: Observational studies cannot isolate masking from other possible factors, such as hand hygiene or social distancing.

“You can’t really decipher whether that observed reduction in transmission is due to face masks alone or not,” Dr. Leung said.

For similar reasons, the fact that the flu all but vanished in the United States during the coronavirus pandemic — and that many Americans anecdotally reported that they caught fewer colds than usual in 2020 — is not evidence alone that masks were responsible.

In East Asia, the historical use of masks is based on more than just medical research, and the steps that led each country to adopt them vary widely.

Please sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.)

Others pointed to institutional differences, including a history of anti-masking laws in the United States that were implemented during periods of social unrest in order to discourage violence.

New York State, for example, passed an anti-masking law in 1845 to prevent tenants from demanding land reform, according to research by Sharrona Pearl, a professor of medical ethics at Drexel University in Philadelphia. And from the 1920s to 1950s, several states passed similar laws in response to violence by the Ku Klux Klan.

Several East Asian scholars said in interviews that the region’s mask-wearing customs varied widely because people in each country had responded over the years to different epidemiological or environmental threats.

Jaehwan Hyun, a professor of history of Pusan National University in South Korea, said that ignoring the nuances could be dangerous.

seasonal dust storms that sweep into the country from Mongolia and northern China.

“Generally speaking, Koreans until recently believed that mask wearing was a sort of ‘Japanese practice,’ not ours,” he said.

In Hong Kong, where 299 people died during the SARS epidemic of 2002-3, the experience of universal masking against that coronavirus helped create a “cultural familiarity” with a practice that was also common during episodes of severe air pollution, Mr. De Kai said.

“It was a big reminder to people that masks are important not only to protect yourself from the pollution but also to avoid infecting those around you,” he said.

In Taiwan, SARS and recent air pollution were the two main factors that prompted people there to develop the habit of mask wearing, said Yeh Ming-Jui, a professor of public health at National Taiwan University in Taipei.

Professor Yeh said he believed mask wearing was not more widespread in the West because people there had no immediate memories of a severe pandemic — at least until now.

“The experience and health practices of past generations have been gradually forgotten,” he said.

Amy Chang Chien contributed reporting from Taipei.

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Covid-19 Vaccines: Novavax Reports More Delays

Novavax, one of the first players in the race to vaccinate the world against Covid, delivered disheartening news on Monday, saying that its highly protective vaccine would not be authorized in the United States or Britain until at least July, and that it would not reach peak production until the end of the year.

The delays, announced during an earnings call with investors, are the latest setback for the little-known Maryland company, which was granted up to $1.6 billion from the U.S. federal government last year and whose product has shown robust results in clinical trials. Despite these wins, the company has struggled to demonstrate that it can deliver on its promise to supply the world with 2 billion doses this year. Novavax has never brought a vaccine to market in its 34-year history.

On the call, the company’s president and chief executive, Stanley C. Erck, said that the regulatory and manufacturing hurdles causing the delay have now been resolved. “Nearly all of the major challenges have been overcome, and we can clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Investors did not appear to agree: By Tuesday morning, the company’s stock had fallen to $133.86, down nearly 17 percent, although it rebounded somewhat later in the day.

finalized a deal with Gavi, a public-private global vaccine partnership, to supply 1.1 billion doses of its shot to low- and middle-income countries. Novavax has struck other deals with countries like South Korea, Japan and Australia, and has set up agreements with eight production plants around the world.

In January, the company estimated that it would hit its full production capacity of 150 million doses a month by the middle of this year, a prediction it later revised after facing a shortage of supplies like filters and the giant single-use bags that are used in vaccine manufacturing. On Monday, the company delayed its estimate again, saying it expected to reach production of 100 million doses a month by the end of the third quarter, and to make 150 million a month by the fourth quarter.

One of its major manufacturing partners, the Serum Institute in India, has faced its own production and geopolitical challenges. A fire at the facility earlier this year reduced its capacity, and in April, Serum’s chief executive, Adar Poonawalla, called out the United States for restricting access to raw vaccine ingredients. And though Novavax’s deal with Serum is intended to supply the rest of the world through its arrangement with Gavi, the Indian government has banned exports of vaccines from the country as it struggles with a deadly second wave of Covid-19.

which is tracking global vaccine deals. “I think particularly for countries in South and Southeast Asia, as well as countries in Africa, it is hard to overstate the impact that this is having.”

Regulatory hurdles have also set Novavax back. On Monday, company executives said that a now-resolved issue with an “assay” — a test that was needed to confirm that their product can be consistently manufactured at commercial scale across multiple production plants — was delaying regulatory approvals around the world, and that countries like Britain and the United States would not grant authorization until at least July. Company officials once said they hoped to gain authorization for their vaccine in April.

persuaded Novavax to set up a trial there last year in part by promising speed in clinical development and regulatory approval. But time is running out: About two-thirds of British adults have received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, most made by AstraZeneca, and every adult is expected to be offered one by the end of July.

The vaccine’s role in Britain depends in part on how quickly Novavax can start distributing its shot. A British factory making the vaccines has said that it would be ready by the summer. The country has recently turned away from the AstraZeneca shot in younger people because of the risk of very rare blood clots, leaving room for Novavax to be an alternative for people under 40.

The country is also studying the effects of administering a second dose of the Novavax vaccine in people who have already received a first dose from either Pfizer or AstraZeneca.

the company was on the verge of closing after a major trial failure for another vaccine, and it was forced to sell off its manufacturing facility to raise money.

Last year, the Trump administration placed a major bet on the tiny company as part of its Operation Warp Speed project, signing a $1.6 billion contract for delivery of 110 million doses by early this year. In April, the total amount of the deal was increased to $1.75 billion, according to Novavax’s financial filings. The company’s large trial in the United States and Mexico has still not been completed, although executives said on Monday that they expected results from that study “in a few weeks.”

Novavax officials said they now did not expect to deliver those doses until the end of this year or early 2022. A spokeswoman for Novavax said there was no penalty for later delivery in its contract with the U.S. government.

Novavax’s spotty track record does not offer confidence that it can rise to the challenge of producing billions of doses, said Les Funtleyder, a health care portfolio manager at E Squared Capital Management who invests in domestic and emerging markets. “It seems they were really unprepared for a challenge of this magnitude,” he said.

Recent news of internal turnover — such as the departure last month of Novavax’s chief financial officer, five months after taking the role, for personal reasons — does not help, Mr. Funtleyder said. “It’s a bad look,” he said.

children older than 12, in an effort to catch up to Moderna and Pfizer, which have already tested their products in that age group.

The vaccine can also be stored at normal refrigeration temperatures, without the freezing temperatures required by Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines.

“By the end of 2021 there will still be a great need for safe and effective vaccines that can travel well,” said Ms. Taylor, of Duke University. “Novavax looks like it can fit that description.”

Dr. Saad B. Omer, the director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, noted that when concerns were raised over the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines because of links to blood clots, countries with multiple vaccines available were able to switch to other options.

“It’s good to hedge our bets,” he said. “If we want to avoid, for example, body blow after body blow to low-income countries in many parts of the world that has an impact on everyone, we need to vaccinate a huge chunk of the world.”

Benjamin Mueller and Noah Weiland contributed reporting.

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Stocks Tumble as Inflation Concerns Resurface: Live Business Updates

began on Wall Street on Monday in the tech sector.

Traders remain unsettled by rising prices and the impact that could have on inflation. In turn, this could prompt central banks to rein in monetary stimulus sooner.

The S&P 500 was 1.6 percent lower on Tuesday, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 1.2 percent after the index fell 2.6 percent on Monday.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index dropped 2.3 percent, the worst day since late December. The Nikkei 225 in Japan closed 3 percent lower.

Commodity prices have soared recently. Futures on copper, which is often seen as a barometer for the global industrial economy, reached record highs on Friday and oil prices have recently hovered near levels not seen since 2018. Even though commodities pulled back from their highs on Tuesday, the elevated prices are expected to raise costs for businesses.

It’s fuel for a debate about how temporary the increase in inflation this summer will be. Federal Reserve policymakers have said they expect it to be transitionary — because bottlenecks in supplies will be resolved, and comparisons to last year’s slowdown make inflation numbers appear worse.

Still, investors have been spooked by the prospect that the Fed might be forced to raise interest rates to rein costs in sooner than it has indicated it will. Higher interest rates discourage risk taking in the markets, and high-flying stocks can be hit hard when concern about inflation dominates. On Wednesday, the U.S. government will report its Consumer Price Index for April.

On Monday, a survey showed Americans’ year-ahead inflation expectations rose to 3.4 percent in April, the highest level since 2013, but the longer-term outlook — over the next three years — held steady at 3.1 percent.

“The recovery in demand coupled with the supply disruptions across the world are raising fears” that the jumps in inflation reported over the next few months “may not quickly reverse,” Henry Ward, an analyst at HSBC, wrote in a note. “Commodity prices from lumber to oil are rising and house prices continue to hit new highs.”

On Tuesday, oil prices fell. Futures on West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, dropped 0.5 percent to $64.63 a barrel. Last week, the price climbed above $65 to the highest since October 2018.

“We are now entering a time of year when stocks have historically found it more challenging to advance,” Mark Haefele, the chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, wrote in a note. With stock indexes already near record highs and concerns rising about coronavirus variants, “investors may be tempted to follow the old adage: Sell in May and go away,” he wrote.

But he recommended that investors stay in the market, despite expected volatility, because the government spending coupled with consumer spending as economies further unlock will lead to more economic growth, which would be good for stocks.

“What we want to see, and I certainly want to see, is more progress and broader progress,” Loretta Mester, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said Tuesday. 
Credit…Ann Saphir/Reuters

Federal Reserve officials on Tuesday stood by their strategy of waiting to see further improvement in the labor market and broader economy before removing monetary support, even as some on Wall Street criticized their policies for being too complacent in the face of rebounding growth.

“The outlook is bright, but uncertainty remains, and employment and inflation are far from our goals,” Lael Brainard, a Fed governor, said in a speech prepared for delivery before the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. “While more balanced than earlier this year, risks remain from vaccine hesitancy, deadlier variants, and a resurgence of cases in some foreign countries.”

Ms. Brainard’s colleague Loretta Mester, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and historically one of the Fed’s more inflation-wary members, struck a similar tone in a Yahoo! Finance interview earlier in the day. Fed officials have said they want to see “substantial further progress” toward their goals of stable inflation that averages 2 percent over time and maximum employment before dialing back their $120 billion in monthly bond purchases, and Ms. Mester reiterated that.

“What we want to see, and I certainly want to see, is more progress and broader progress,” Ms. Mester said, explaining that she wants to see more strength in the labor market, and is expecting to this year.

The comments came as economists try to parse incoming data, including a weaker-than-expected April jobs report, quickly rising inflation expectation measures, and a consumer price report set for release on Wednesday that is expected to show a substantial jump this year. Price gains are picking up as year-over-year measures lap weak data from 2020 and as supply shortages tied to reopening push prices higher.

Policymakers expect real-world price increases to be temporary. Low numbers from last year will fall out of the data, and supply chains for things like lumber and computer chips should eventually readjust, though it is not clear how quickly that will happen.

Ms. Mester said she expected supply constraints to ease next year, but noted that “there are upside risks to that forecast” and that she would be watching to make sure consumers and businesses do not come to expect much faster gains.

Likewise, Ms. Brainard said that she would “remain attentive to the risk that what seem like transitory inflationary pressures could prove persistent as I closely monitor the incoming data.”

Some critics are warning that the Fed’s rock-bottom interest rates and emergency bond purchases — policies meant to help bolster the economy in bad times — may be inappropriate, either because they risk fueling higher inflation or because they could spur instability by pushing stock prices and risk-taking higher.

“We’re still acting like we’re in a black hole, and in fact, the economy is accelerating,” Stanley Druckenmiller, chief executive of the investment manager Duquesne Family Office, said on CNBC Tuesday, after criticizing the central bank’s policies for risking asset bubbles.

Hearst Tower, in New York. The company has sold Marie Claire to the British publisher Future.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Hearst Magazines, the home of numerous publications aimed at women including Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Harper’s Bazaar, has sold the United States edition of Marie Claire to Future, a British publisher, the companies said on Monday.

Marie Claire U.S. had been part of Hearst since 1994 in a joint venture with French company Marie Claire Album. Future, which publishes a variety of magazines including Marie Claire U.K., said it had acquired the U.S. edition from both owners.

Future’s chief executive, Zillah Byng-Thorne, said in a statement that the addition of Marie Claire U.S. was part of the company’s plan to increase its North American audience “significantly.”

Debi Chirichella, the president of Hearst Magazines, said in an email to staff that Marie Claire U.S. employees were notified of the sale on Monday. “We will do everything we can to ensure that the transition to new ownership is a positive one,” Ms. Chirichella wrote.

Faye Galvin, the head of communications at Future, said in an email that the company hoped all existing Marie Claire U.S. employees would “accept the offer to work with us.”

Ms. Galvin singled out Sally Holmes, the editor in chief of Marie Claire U.S. since September. “In terms of Sally in particular, she is absolutely key to driving the business forward and together we will build on her success,” she said in an email.

Marie Claire was started in 1937 in France by the writer Marcelle Auclair and the industrialist and media magnate Jean Prouvost, who helped create the current-events magazine Paris Match.

In the mid-1990s, under the editor Bonnie Fuller, the U.S. version distinguished itself from its competitors by emphasizing the practical, providing readers with concrete style and beauty tips, rather than the fantasies of fashion. Its other long-term editors were Joanna Coles and Anne Fulenwider.

President Biden has called for $50 billion to encourage domestic semiconductor production as part of his infrastructure plan.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Semiconductor companies and big businesses that use chips have formed a new coalition to push for tens of billions of dollars in federal funding for semiconductor research and manufacturing in the United States.

The new group, the Semiconductors in America Coalition, announced its formation on Tuesday amid a global semiconductor shortage that has caused disruptions throughout the economy. Its members include chip makers like Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm and companies that rely on semiconductors, like Apple, Google, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Verizon and AT&T.

The coalition is calling on Congress to provide $50 billion for semiconductor research and manufacturing, which President Biden has proposed as part of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure package.

“Leaders from a broad range of critical sectors of the U.S. economy, as well as a large and bipartisan group of policymakers in Washington, recognize the essential role of semiconductors in America’s current and future strength,” said John Neuffer, the president and chief executive of the Semiconductor Industry Association, a trade group.

In a letter to congressional leaders, the new coalition noted the shortage of semiconductors and said that in the long term, federal funding “would help America build the additional capacity necessary to have more resilient supply chains to ensure critical technologies will be there when we need them.”

The shortage has been acutely felt in the auto industry, forcing carmakers to idle plants. Ford Motor expects the shortage to cause profit to be about $2.5 billion lower this year and to cut vehicle production by about 50 percent in the second quarter.

The new coalition does not include any automakers, which have their own ideas for how the government should encourage domestic semiconductor manufacturing. In a letter to congressional leaders last week, groups representing automakers, automotive suppliers and autoworkers expressed support for Mr. Biden’s $50 billion proposal but emphasized the need to increase production capacity for automotive grade chips as part of the effort.

The letter — from the American Automotive Policy Council, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association and the United Automobile Workers union — suggested providing “specific funding for semiconductor facilities that commit to dedicating a portion of their capacity to motor vehicle-grade chip production.”

In a letter to congressional leaders last month, technology trade groups argued against setting aside new production capacity for a specific industry, saying that such a move would amount to “unprecedented market interference.”

Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, declared a state of emergency, allowing fuel transportation waivers.
Credit…Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

The vital fuel pipeline stretching 5,500 miles from Texas to New Jersey remained largely shut down on Tuesday after last week’s ransomware attack.

Colonial Pipeline, the company that operates the pipeline, said Monday that it hoped to restore most operations by the end of the week. The attack, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation said was carried out by an organized crime group called DarkSide, has highlighted the vulnerability of the American energy system. The pipeline provides the Eastern United States about half its energy.

Industry analysts said the impact would remain relatively minor as long as the artery was fully restored soon. “With a resolution to the shutdown in sight, the cyberattack is now treated as a small disturbance by the market and prices are trimming Monday’s panic-gains,” said Louise Dickson, an oil markets analyst for Rystad Energy.

Here are some of the latest developments:

Gillian Friedman contributed reporting.

Travelers at Salt Lake City International Airport in March. OPEC is projecting growing demand for oil and petroleum products — including airplane fuel — as global economies expand through the year.
Credit…Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

OPEC forecast on Tuesday that demand for its oil, which collapsed during the pandemic last year, would continue to roar back in 2021.

In its Monthly Oil Report, the 13-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries depicted favorable market conditions for the cartel that could potentially lead to higher prices for consumers.

The world economy will continue to recover, the OPEC analysts said, thanks to stimulus measures and vaccination programs in the United States and Europe, and accelerating growth in most Asian economies. Economic recovery will translate into a substantial rise in demand for oil.

At the same time, OPEC’s economists expect production from the cartel’s rival, the United States, to remain flat this year as the shale oil producers, who seized market share from OPEC in the years before the pandemic, rein in spending on drilling.

Over all, output from producers outside the cartel will increase by less than one million barrels a day for 2021 from 2020’s depressed levels, OPEC forecast.

OPEC said that the need for the organization’s crude would surge in 2021 by an overall 5.2 million barrels a day, or more than 20 percent, after a drop by about the same amount in the previous year. OPEC defines demand for its crude as the gap between world oil demand and the output of other producers.

Prompted by Saudi Arabia, OPEC and its allies, including Russia, have been only gradually opening up their spigots as world demand returns from the pandemic, creating a tight market that has contributed to prices for Brent crude approaching $70 a barrel. OPEC, for instance, estimated that in the first quarter of 2021 demand for its crude outstripped supply by about 700,000 barrels a day.

In April, the group known as OPEC Plus agreed to a program of gradual increases through July. The group reaffirmed these plans on April 27. Analysts say that these adjustments are still likely to add up to a market where supplies are tight.

OPEC and Russia are, however, by agreement not producing several million barrels of oil a day, and pressures will grow to open the taps if demand continues to increase. In addition, a breakthrough in ongoing indirect negotiations between the United States and Iran could lead to large volumes of Iranian oil coming into the market later this year.

The company said last year it was considering separating Victoria’s Secret from the rest of its business.
Credit…Ted Shaffrey/Associated Press

L Brands has decided to spin off Victoria’s Secret rather than sell it, the DealBook newsletter was the first to report.

The company said last year it was considering separating Victoria’s Secret from the rest of its business, and it tested the interest of private equity. Ultimately, L Brands decided to split itself into two independent, publicly listed companies: Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. The deal is expected to close in August.

L Brands received several bids north of $3 billion, sources familiar with the situation said, requesting anonymity because the information is confidential. It turned the offers down, because it expects to be valued at $5 billion to $7 billion in a spinoff to L Brands shareholders. Analysts at Citi and JPMorgan recently valued Victoria’s Secret as a stand-alone company at $5 billion.

“In the last 10 months, we have made significant progress in the turnaround of the Victoria’s Secret business, implementing merchandise and marketing initiatives to drive top line growth, as well as executing on a series of cost reduction actions, which together have dramatically increased profitability,” Sarah Nash, chair of the company’s board, said in a statement.

“The board believes that this path forward will return the highest value to shareholders and that the separation will allow each business to achieve its best opportunities for growth.”

The pandemic torpedoed a sale last year for much less. That agreement, announced in February 2020 with the investment firm Sycamore Partners, valued Victoria’s Secret at $1.1 billion.

Apart from a pandemic that upended the retail industry, Victoria’s Secret was dealing with a series of challenges: a brand that had fallen out of touch, accusations of misogyny and sexual harassment in the workplace and revelations about the ties between Les Wexner, the company’s founder and former chairman, and Jeffrey Epstein. (Mr. Wexner stepped down as chief executive last year and said in March that he and his wife were not running for re-election on the company’s board.)

As the pandemic shuttered stores and battered sales, Sycamore sued L Brands to get out of the deal, and L Brands countersued to enforce it, heralding a spate of similar battles between buyers and sellers. Eventually, in May 2020, the sides agreed to call off the deal.

A lot has changed since then. The retailer has overhauled its brand, de-emphasizing the overtly sexy image and products that customers saw as exclusionary. It has become “less focused on a specific demographic target and more focused on being broadly inclusive of all women of all shapes and sizes and colors and ethnicities and genders and areas of interest,” Martin Waters, the retailer’s chief executive, said on a recent earnings call.

The company also closed more than 200 stores and focused on improving profitability, which rose sharply at the end of last year, surpassing its prepandemic results.

Victoria’s Secret operating income

Victoria’s Secret is one of the retailers transformed by the pandemic, along with others like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Michaels, accelerating digital overhauls that may have otherwise taken years. Direct sales at Victoria’s Secret in North America rose to 44 percent of the total last year, from 25 percent the year before.

It’s unclear whether pandemic shopping trends will stick, and “it would be reasonable to expect some reversion,” Stuart Burgdoerfer, the L Brands chief financial officer, said at a March event. “But I also think that people have very much enjoyed some of the benefits that were forced on us or triggered through the pandemic.”

Amazon’s two-year bond has a yield just 0.1 percentage points above the equivalent in Treasuries.
Credit…Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Amazon sold $18.5 billion worth of bonds Monday, joining other corporate giants taking advantage of ultralow interest rates to raise money because … well, why not? The e-commerce titan was able to sell some of its debt at a record-low interest rate for a corporate issuer — barely above what the U.S. government pays.

Amazon’s two-year bond has a yield just 0.1 percentage points above the equivalent in Treasuries. That’s a big vote of confidence in Amazon, which has emerged as a winner during the pandemic. Over all, investors placed $50 billion worth of orders, according to The Financial Times, underscoring enthusiasm for debt that yields next to nothing.

Amazon raised $1 billion in the form of a sustainability bond, which is meant to finance investments in environmentally minded projects like zero-carbon infrastructure and cleaner transportation. Amazon is the latest company to sell bonds aimed at so-called E.S.G. investors (short for environmental, social and governance), a market that reached $270 billion last year.

To be sure, the bulk of Amazon’s offering will finance typical corporate actions like share buybacks, acquisitions and capital expenditures, according to the bond prospectus. It will add to the nearly $34 billion in cash that Amazon had on hand at the end of March — as will profits that are growing at extraordinary rates for a company of its size.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is struggling to hire manufacturing workers for its beer factory and staff members for its restaurants.
Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

As employers race to hire before an expected summertime economic boom, they are voicing a complaint that is echoing all the way to the White House: They cannot find enough workers to fill their open positions and meet the rising customer demand.

Many managers are unwilling to raise wages and prices enough to keep up, as they worry that demand will ebb in a few months and leave them with permanently higher payroll costs. They are instead resorting to short-term fixes, like cutting hours, instituting sales quotas and offering signing bonuses to get people in the door, Jeanna Smialek and Jim Tankersley report for The New York Times.

In and around Rehoboth Beach, Del., at least 10 people, managers and workers alike, cited expanded payments as a key driver of the labor shortage, though only two of them personally knew someone who was declining to work to claim the benefit.

In Delaware, Wawa gas stations sport huge periwinkle blue signs advertising $500 signing bonuses, plus free “shorti” hoagies each shift for new associates. A local country club is offering referral bonuses and opening up jobs to members’ children and grandchildren. A regional home builder has instituted a cap on the number of houses it can sell each month as everything — open lots, available materials, building crews — comes up short.

Scott Kammerer oversees a local hospitality company that includes a brewery and restaurants. He has been able to staff adequately by offering benefits and taking advantage of the fact that he retained some workers because his restaurants did not close fully or for very long during the pandemic.

But he has also raised wages. The company’s starting non-tip pay rates have climbed to $12 from $9 two years ago. Mr. Kammerer has not been forced to raise prices to cover increasing costs, because business volume has picked up so much — up 40 percent this year compared with a typical winter — that profits remain solid.

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CreditCredit…By Brenna Murphy

Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide explains why fights over money, power and our personal information are popping up all over streaming entertainment, and how we’re caught in the middle.

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Covid-19 Live Updates: As Deaths Fall in the West, the Virus Spreads in Southeast Asia

devastating year, with wave after wave of coronavirus infections, cases and deaths are falling in many of the Western nations that were once among the hardest hit. But even as the virus recedes in wealthy nations with robust vaccination campaigns, it is pummeling India and threatens to swamp Southeast Asian countries that had until now largely fended it off.

The result is that, over all, new global cases are leveling off after rising steadily since March and peaking in late April. Still, the world is in danger as long as they remain at “an unacceptably high plateau,” the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Monday.

In Southeast Asia, Dr. Tedros noted that “cases and deaths are still increasing rapidly.”

Cambodia and Thailand, which had controlled the virus throughout 2020, have recorded sharp increases in infections in recent days. Malaysia announced a new nationwide lockdown on Monday, two days after recording its highest daily case total since January.

Scientists warn that if the virus is allowed to spread unchecked in parts of the world with lower vaccine coverage, dangerous variants will continue to evolve, threatening all countries.

“Globally, we are still in a perilous situation,” Dr. Tedros said. About 772,000 new cases are reported on average each day globally, nearly half in India, where a virus variant, B.1.617, has been spreading.

The W.H.O. deemed B.1.617 “a variant of concern” on Monday. Other variants of concern include B.1.1.7, first identified in Britain and now dominant in the United States, and P.1, originally detected in Brazil.

In the United States, Britain and parts of Western Europe where vaccines have been widely deployed, the virus is subsiding, and people are flocking back to restaurants and other attractions.

Vaccines could soon be available to even more Americans now that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for 12- to 15-year-olds.

Dr. Robert Schooley, chief of the infectious disease division at the University of California San Diego, said that the global rate of cases “remains quite volatile.”

“We’re going to see a bit of a Whac-a-Mole situation for some time to come as local and regional outbreaks flare up and burn out,” Dr. Schooley said. This will continue to be the case, he said, as long as a substantial part of the global population remains unvaccinated.

Saskia Popescu, an infectious-disease epidemiologist who is an assistant professor at George Mason University, said that Americans should not be lulled into thinking the virus is defeated, because “we have to see the crisis in India as a wake-up call for global vaccine equity.” She added, “Covid-19 isn’t gone anywhere until it’s gone everywhere.”

A cremation ground for Covid-19 victims along the banks of the Ganges River, in Garhmukteshwar, India, this month.
Credit…Archana Thiyagarajan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As the chaos of India’s coronavirus outbreak spreads across the country, infections are surging in states and rural areas with fewer resources, where sickness and death are much harder to track. One measure of the misery, medical workers say, is that poor people are disposing of bodies in rivers because the cost of cremations has shot up.

The authorities believe that is what happened when villagers in northern India discovered dozens of bloated corpses washed up on the banks of the Ganges River along the boundary of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, two states where the virus is raging.

Residents found the bodies on Monday evening in Chausa, a riverine village in Bihar. Stunned onlookers crowded around the remains, many with brightly colored clothes sticking to them, floating in the shallows.

Some officials said that roughly 30 bodies had been discovered. Witnesses put the figure at more than 100. Some people in the area have a custom of sending the remains of loved ones, weighted with stones, into the Ganges, the holiest river in Hinduism. But authorities suspect that many of these people died of Covid-19.

“I’ve never seen so many bodies,” said Arun Kumar Srivastava, a government doctor in Chausa, who said that it was likely that some were Covid-19 victims. In the past few days, he said, he has seen more and more people transporting dead bodies, sometimes on their shoulders.

“Definitely,” Dr. Srivastava said, “more deaths are happening.”

The outbreak in India shows no sign of letting up, with the health ministry reporting more than 386,000 new cases and nearly 3,900 deaths on Tuesday. A quarter of a million people have died nationwide from the virus, although experts believe that the true toll is much higher because of low testing levels and the large number of deaths in India that typically go unrecorded.

As Covid-19 deaths have overwhelmed funeral grounds, some crematories are charging five or 10 times the usual price for last rites. Kishan Dutt Mishra, an ambulance driver in the Chausa area, said that the price of wood had risen beyond what many families could afford.

Driving a seven-mile stretch along the Ganges between Chausa and another nearby town, Buxar, Mr. Mishra said that he saw body after body washed up along the river.

“I have never seen even a few bodies, let alone so many of them, lining the river all through this stretch,” he said.

A quad test uses a polymerase chain reaction to look for multiple pathogens with a single sample.
Credit…Sanford Health

So-called quad tests, now available at thousands of hospitals and clinics, can detect not only the coronavirus but also two types of influenza and the respiratory syncytial virus, or R.S.V.

That might not seem essential given that the United States, like many other countries, witnessed a shocking absence of a flu season this past winter. But as the country begins to reopen, doctors say that flu and other pathogens could make a comeback this fall.

What’s more, even as a growing number of people get vaccinated against Covid, there are still some 40,000 new infections every day in the United States, so testing will still be in demand.

Unlike the antigen tests, the quad test looks for a virus’s genetic material using a polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R. The P.C.R.-based method is far more accurate than the antigen approach, though P.C.R. sequencing of patient samples used to be more cumbersome and relied on multistep procedures.

Several factors might precipitate the flu’s return in the fall: children returning to school, declining use of masks and perhaps a lack of recent immune system exposure to the flu. If more people get sick in the fall, they will want to know if it is flu or the coronavirus.

A teenager waiting for his Covid-19 shot at a vaccination site inside a school in Denver on Saturday.
Credit…Kevin Mohatt for The New York Times

The F.D.A.’s decision to authorize Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds presents a bright new opportunity in the push for broad immunity in the United States. But the challenges are more daunting than for immunizing older, more independent teenagers.

Surveys suggest that many parents — even those who eagerly got their own Covid shots — are reluctant to vaccinate pubescent children. Yet doing so will be critical for further reducing transmission of the virus and smoothly reopening middle and high schools.

Following the F.D.A.’s decision on Monday, states, counties and school districts are trying to figure out the most reassuring and expedient ways to reach younger adolescents as well as their parents, whose consent is usually required by state law. They are making plans to offer vaccines not only in schools but also at pediatricians’ offices, day camps, parks and even beaches.

“The game changes when you go down as young as 12 years old,” said Nathan Quesnel, the superintendent of schools in East Hartford, Conn. “You need to have a different level of sensitivity.”

Medical workers tending to a coronavirus patient in an emergency room in New Delhi last week.
Credit…Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Scientists in India are studying whether coronavirus variants, including one first identified in the western Indian state of Maharashtra last year, are contributing to the country’s devastating second wave.

On Monday, India recorded about 330,000 new cases. Its death toll is closing in on 250,000, which experts believe is almost certainly an undercount.

Though clinical data has not been made publicly available, anecdotally, doctors are reporting higher numbers of young people and children testing positive for the virus and more patients with severe disease requiring oxygen support.

Some experts suspect that the surge is caused by the B.1.1.7 variant, first reported in Britain, and by B.1.617, the one discovered in Maharashtra that is distinguished by a mutation at two locations of the spike protein’s coding sequence.

One of these mutations is also found on a variant first identified in California. Experts say changes to the shape of the spike protein — which latches on to human cells — could make it more transmissible and better able to evade an immune response.

Gagandeep Kang, a pre-eminent Indian virologist, said there was not enough data to conclude whether either variant was contributing to India’s deadlier second wave.

“There is some conflicting data regarding the B.1.1.7 variant, which seems to indicate in some studies that it does cause more severe disease, in other studies not,” she said.

Based on reports from hospitals, Dr. Kang said, it appeared that the B.1.617 variant was causing more severe disease, but that again, there was insufficient data to draw any conclusions. She said that real-time genetic information would be needed to determine that B.1.617-infected people needed more oxygen. “We don’t know that,” she added.

The Indian government said that the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium, a network of labs created in December that is monitoring genomic changes in the virus, has asked states to send more samples along with patient clinical data to help evaluate whether the double-mutation variant is more transmissible.

However, the consortium said earlier this month that B.1.617, which it categorizes as a variant of concern, was being identified more often in some states as their infection numbers rose.

Global Roundup

Two Chinese men who created an online cache of banned reports on the coronavirus, defying government censorship, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a vague charge that Chinese prosecutors often use against politically troublesome defendants.

Chen Mai and Cai Wei, both in their 20s, used Github — an internet platform widely used by software developers to share code and information — to preserve Chinese news reports and articles that censors had erased from their original sites. They stored more than 100 articles about the coronavirus outbreak in China in early 2020.

Credit…Chen Kun
Credit…via Associated Press

Their archive, called Terminus 2049, included materials such as a candid account by a doctor who tried to warn others about the spreading contagion and descriptions from medical workers who said they were desperately short of protective wear.

The Chinese government has been reluctant to apply its usual heavy-handed censorship to Github because it is so important to high-tech companies. That makes the platform a place where users can occasionally challenge government controls on information.

Chen Kun, the brother of Chen Mei, said that the accusations laid out by prosecutors made it clear that the authorities were angry at the defendants for challenging censorship at a time when leaders in Beijing faced a surge of public anger over missteps and concealment as the coronavirus was spreading in central China.

The prosecutors accused Mr. Chen and Mr. Cai of operating a separate online forum that they said included “a great deal of fake news” and “insults of national leaders,” according to Chen Kun, who lives in France and relayed accounts from his mother, who attended the trial in Beijing.

“The whole trial was a charade,” he said in a brief interview, adding that the defendants could not freely choose their own lawyers. “The court-appointed lawyers clearly played along with official demands.”

Mr. Chen, 28, and Mr. Cai, 27, were detained in April 2020 as China began to emerge from its coronavirus outbreak. Both men pleaded guilty to the charges, possibly in the hope of securing an early release. The verdict is expected to be announced at a later hearing.

In other news around the world:

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is struggling to hire manufacturing workers for its beer factory and staff members for its restaurants.
Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

As employers race to hire before an expected summertime economic boom, they are voicing a complaint that is echoing all the way to the White House: They cannot find enough workers to fill their open positions and meet the rising customer demand.

Many managers are unwilling to raise wages and prices enough to keep up, as they worry that demand will ebb in a few months and leave them with permanently higher payroll costs. They are instead resorting to short-term fixes, like cutting hours, instituting sales quotas and offering signing bonuses to get people in the door, Jeanna Smialek and Jim Tankersley report for The New York Times.

In and around Rehoboth Beach, Del., at least 10 people, managers and workers alike, cited expanded payments as a key driver of the labor shortage, though only two of them personally knew someone who was declining to work to claim the benefit.

In Delaware, Wawa gas stations sport huge periwinkle blue signs advertising $500 signing bonuses, plus free “shorti” hoagies each shift for new associates. A local country club is offering referral bonuses and opening up jobs to members’ children and grandchildren. A regional home builder has instituted a cap on the number of houses it can sell each month as everything — open lots, available materials, building crews — comes up short.

Scott Kammerer oversees a local hospitality company that includes a brewery and restaurants. He has been able to staff adequately by offering benefits and taking advantage of the fact that he retained some workers because his restaurants did not close fully or for very long during the pandemic.

But he has also raised wages. The company’s starting non-tip pay rates have climbed to $12 from $9 two years ago. Mr. Kammerer has not been forced to raise prices to cover increasing costs, because business volume has picked up so much — up 40 percent this year compared with a typical winter — that profits remain solid.

Credit…Michael Hirshon

Andrew Ferren, an American citizen who has lived in Madrid for much of the past 20 years, traveled to the United States to get vaccinated. Read his full essay on the experience here.

In mid-March, as friends and family were getting vaccinated in the United States, and as production problems and health concerns about some vaccines slowed the European Union’s already sluggish campaign, my husband and two children and I found ourselves packing our suitcases for New York.

A few weeks later, we returned for the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Recent news articles have focused on American expats who have considered going back to the United States to get vaccinated. While it’s impossible to determine the exact numbers, I know about half a dozen Americans across Europe who, like us, made that decision.

The U.S. government has no program for vaccinating Americans abroad, and expats — all of whom maintain the same rights (voting, for example) and responsibilities (filing income taxes) of residents — are free to fly home and get vaccinated.

But the act of taking matters into one’s own hands can feel daunting, and there was also the fear that we might turn up for our shots only to be told they were out of vaccines.

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Covid-19 Live Updates: Pfizer Seeks Full F.D.A. Approval for Its Vaccine

their Covid-19 vaccine for use in people 16 and older. The vaccine is currently being administered to adults in America under an emergency use authorization granted in December.

The approval process is likely to take months.

The companies said in a statement on Friday that they had submitted their clinical data, which includes six months of information on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, to the F.D.A. They plan to submit additional material, including information about the manufacturing of the vaccine, in the coming weeks.

“We are proud of the tremendous progress we’ve made since December in delivering vaccines to millions of Americans, in collaboration with the U.S. government,” Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chief executive, said in the statement. “We look forward to working with the F.D.A. to complete this rolling submission and support their review, with the goal of securing full regulatory approval of the vaccine in the coming months.”

As of Thursday, more than 134 million doses of the vaccine had been administered in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Full approval would allow Pfizer and BioNTech to market the vaccine directly to customers.

It could also make it easier for companies, government agencies and schools to require vaccinations. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in December that employers could mandate vaccination, and legal experts have generally agreed.

Many companies have been hesitant to require the vaccines, especially while they have only emergency authorization, which is designed to be temporary. Some institutions, like the University of California and California State University systems, have said that they would do so only after a vaccine has full approval.

Full approval could also prompt the U.S. military, which has had low uptake of Covid-19 vaccines, to mandate vaccinations for service members.

If the F.D.A. grants full approval, it could also help raise confidence in the vaccine. The pace of vaccination has slowed in the United States in recent weeks, and a recent national survey indicated that most people in the country who planned to get the shots had already done so.

The agency is also expected to issue an emergency authorization for use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds next week. The companies have said that they plan to file for emergency authorization for 2- to 11-year-olds in September.

Moderna plans to apply for full approval for its Covid-19 vaccine this month, the company said during its quarterly earnings call on Thursday.

Director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Dr. Nancy Messonnier spoke in Washington in January 2020.
Credit…Amanda Voisard/Reuters

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, who famously warned the nation early last year that the coronavirus would upend their lives, resigned from her position at the Centers for Disease Control and Protection on Friday.

Dr. Messonnier’s resignation is effective May 14. She is taking on a new role as an executive director at the Skoll Foundation, a philanthropical organization based in Palo Alto, Calif., she told staff in an email on Friday.

Her exit may augur more changes at the agency. Reports have circulated for weeks that the C.D.C.’s new director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, planned to completely reorganize the division Dr. Messonnier led.

“My family and I have determined that now is the best time for me to transition to a new phase of my career,” Dr. Messonnier wrote in the email to staff.

Dr. Messonnier began her career in public health in 1995 with a stint in the prestigious Epidemic Intelligence Service. She has since held a number of leadership posts in the C.D.C. Since 2016, she has served as director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, the C.D.C. division responsible for managing influenza and other respiratory threats.

In late 2019, she became the agency’s lead in responding to the coronavirus, and initially shared a stage with President Trump at briefings about the coronavirus.

She fell out of favor with President Trump and sent stocks tumbling after she sounded a dire alarm about the coronavirus, saying it would disrupt the lives of every American.

“It’s not a question of if this will happen but when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses,” she said on Feb. 25, just as Mr. Trump was boarding Air Force One in New Delhi for his flight home.

Soon after that, she stopped appearing at briefings of the White House and of the C.D.C.

Patients with Covid-19 in the emergency ward at the Holy Family hospital in New Delhi on Thursday.
Credit…Rebecca Conway/Getty Images

India’s worsening coronavirus outbreak has spread far outside its cities to rural areas with poor health care infrastructure and limited testing capacities, doctors and experts say.

One factor behind the surge of cases, they believe, is a series of recent campaign rallies held without social distancing.

The state of West Bengal, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party lost an election last week after more than a month of campaigning to vast crowds, is recording the highest rate of positive coronavirus tests in the country. More than 31 percent of tests in the state are now coming back positive.

“There is a clear pattern here: States that went through elections and where large rallies were held are witnessing a huge rise in cases,” said Dr. Thekkekara Jacob John, a senior virologist in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, 1,028 new coronavirus cases and four deaths were recorded on March 26. On April 29, after campaigns for local village council elections were held, there were 35,104 cases and 288 deaths. A teachers’ union in the state said that 577 teachers and support staff members who were on duty as election workers had died of Covid-19.

The country’s cases as a whole have been skyrocketing since late March, from a seven-day average of more than 62,000 on March 31 to more than 385,000, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. On Friday, the country reported more than 410,000 new daily infections, a record, and more than 3,900 deaths.

As the outbreak reaches new heights, India’s vaccination campaign has slowed down, marred by supply shortages and competition among states.

The official daily death in the country has stayed over 3,000 over the past 10 days, and experts say the numbers are much higher,.

The true scope of the outbreak remains hard to measure. Nationwide, India conducted about 1.9 million coronavirus tests on Thursday, an increase from about 1.2 million daily tests last month, but hardly enough to keep up with a daily caseload that has almost quadrupled in that time.

West Bengal, a state of 90 million people that has poor health care infrastructure and is under a partial lockdown, has carried out fewer than 60,000 coronavirus tests a day. That is one of the lowest rates in the country, according to data compiled by researchers at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Abhijeet Barua, a physician in Kolkata, the state’s capital, said that cases had exploded in every corner of the city and that infections were spreading quickly in the state’s rural areas. At his 10-bed clinic, two people have died every day over the past 15 days, Dr. Barua said.

“What is making things worse in Kolkata is that over 70 percent of the population lives in close contact,” he said, adding that he was receiving dozens of calls a day from patients seeking help. “You can’t isolate yourself, because it is so congested here.”

Mr. Modi has repeatedly refrained from imposing a nationwide lockdown. Instead nearly a dozen of India’s 28 states have imposed restrictions, though they are less stringent than the nationwide lockdown put in place last year.

Protective masks are worn in March in Tokyo, the host of this summer’s Olympic Games.
Credit…Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times

TOKYO — Japan on Friday extended a state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions until the end of May to contain a surge of coronavirus cases, casting further doubt on the country’s ability to safely host the Summer Olympics, which are scheduled to begin in 11 weeks.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga made the announcement at a meeting of the government’s coronavirus task force, saying that the measures were necessary because infections remain at a “high level, mainly in large cities.”

The announcement extends emergency measures imposed last month to two more prefectures, covering a total of six prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, that are together home to over a third of Japan’s 126 million people. Another eight prefectures will be under slightly looser restrictions.

The existing state of emergency, which were imposed to curb travel during the just-ended Golden Week holiday period and had been set to expire next week, have not slowed Japan’s fourth wave of coronavirus infections. In early March, the country recorded about 1,000 daily new. It is now recording nearly 6,000, according to a New York Times database.

Health officials say that they are seeing a growing number of cases of coronavirus variants spreading in the population, including at least 26 cases of the strain first detected in India. The authorities in Tokyo say that in four out of five cases found in the city, the infected person neither traveled abroad nor had close contact with someone who had.

The outbreak is stretching health care systems even in Japan’s biggest cities. On Thursday, there were 370 people being treated for serious cases of Covid-19 in Osaka, a prefecture of nine million people, more than the number of hospital beds available for seriously ill patients.

Japan, which has recorded more than 620,000 infections and 10,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, has controlled the virus better than many countries. But the government has faced criticism for the sluggish pace of vaccinations, and for pledging to go ahead with the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to begin on July 23, despite widespread public opposition.

Toru Hashimoto, a lawyer and a former governor of Osaka prefecture, said on a television show on Friday that Olympic organizers were ignoring the severity of Japan’s outbreak, and that it was inappropriate to continue holding pre-Olympic “test events” during the state of emergency, even though they are taking place without spectators.

“If the government wants to reduce the number of people in the city, it’s not a time when test events can be held,” Mr. Hashimoto said.

The government has imposed two previous states of emergency during the pandemic, although they are looser than the total lockdowns seen in many nations. The measures allow the prefectures to ask businesses to close or to restrict their hours, and to fine those that do not.

Under the extended state of emergency, people are asked not to go out for nonessential matters, especially after 8 p.m., and to refrain from traveling outside their prefectures. Karaoke parlors are asked to close, and restaurants requested not to serve alcohol, with fines of up to 300,000 yen, or $2,750, for noncompliance.

A vaccination center in Johannesburg in March.
Credit…Joao Silva/The New York Times

A global debate is heating up over how to get Covid-19 vaccines to the nations most in need.

The United States is supporting an effort to suspend intellectual property protections on Covid-19 vaccines, and European countries say that richer nations should begin exporting more of their vaccine supply to poorer ones.

The European Union — whose approval is needed for any waiver of vaccine patents — said on Thursday that it would consider the Biden administration’s proposal. But Germany, the bloc’s largest economy, said that pushing pharmaceutical companies to share vaccine patents could have “significant implications” for the production of vaccines.

“The limiting factor in vaccine manufacturing is production capacity and high-quality standards, not patents,” a spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said in a statement.

On Friday, Canada shared similar concerns. “Our government firmly believes in the importance of protecting intellectual property and recognizes the integral role that industry has played in innovating to develop and deliver lifesaving Covid-19 vaccines,” the minister of small businesses, Mary Ng, said in a statement.

She added many barriers to vaccine access, like supply shortages, were unrelated to intellectual property.

The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said the bloc was “ready to discuss any proposals that address the crisis in an effective and pragmatic manner.”

She also suggested, however, that the focus should be on getting more vaccines to countries that needed them by following the bloc’s example in allowing significant exports of doses. The United States has balked at that approach, keeping most doses produced domestically for use at home.

“We call upon all vaccine-producing countries to allow export and to avoid measures that disrupt the supply chains,” Ms. von der Leyen said.

The European statements emphasized the challenges of winning E.U. support for the waivers at the World Trade Organization, where the bloc wields significant influence, and where unanimous approval would be needed for any measure to suspend patents.

Many experts believe that the waivers are needed to expand the manufacturing of vaccines and get them to poorer parts of the world where inoculations have far lagged behind those of richer countries.

Until the Biden administration’s announcement this week, the United States had been a major holdout at the W.T.O. over a proposal by India and South Africa to suspend some intellectual property protections. The move could give drugmakers access to the trade secrets of how the vaccines are made.

The pharmaceutical industry has argued that suspending patent protections would undermine risk-taking and innovation.

“Who will make the vaccine next time?” Brent Saunders, the former chief executive of Allergan, which is now part of AbbVie, wrote on Twitter.

But Stephane Bancel, the chief executive of Moderna, told investors on Thursday, “We saw the news last night, and I didn’t lose a minute of sleep.”

Mr. Bancel said his company never planned to enforce the patent because few, if any, other drug makers can easily manufacture mRNA, the genetic script that carries DNA instructions to each cell’s protein-making machinery.

The debate arises amid a growing divide between wealthy nations that are slowly regaining normal life, and poorer countries that are confronting new and devastating outbreaks.

In India, which is suffering the world’s worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic, only 2.2 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database. South Africa has fully vaccinated less than 1 percent of its people. By contrast, vaccinations are slowing down in the United States — where one-third of people are fully inoculated — as they begin to pick up in Europe.

If the European Union agrees to support patent waivers, it would take months for developing nations to see the impact. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the head of the W.T.O., told The Washington Post that she would press member countries to reach an agreement by Dec. 3.

Even if a waiver receives support from the trade body, it alone would not increase the world’s vaccine supply. Large drug manufacturers in India and elsewhere would need extensive technological and other support to produce doses, experts say.

Lifting intellectual property protections “is only one element,” said Anant Bhan, a health researcher at Melaka Manipal Medical College in southern India. Because of the additional steps required to begin making a vaccine on a huge scale, he said, “it is not going to mean increased access to vaccines in the near future.”

The American jobs engine slowed markedly last month, confounding rosy forecasts of the pace of the recovery and sharpening debates over how best to revive a labor market that was severely weakened by the coronavirus pandemic.

Employers added 266,000 jobs in April, the government reported Friday, far below the vigorous gains registered in March. The jobless rate rose slightly to 6.1 percent, as more people rejoined the labor force.

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“It turns out it’s easier to put an economy into a coma than wake it up,” Diane Swonk, chief economist for the accounting firm Grant Thornton, said of the disappointing report. “It’s understandable, it’s going to take some time, you’re not just going to snap your fingers and get everyone back to work,

Economists had forecast an addition of about a million jobs. The increase for March was revised down to 770,000 from 916,000.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing blamed supply chain problems for the loss of 18,000 jobs in that sector, noting in particular the impact that a shortage of semiconductors has had on the automotive industry.

And many offices are not yet ready to reopen fully. “I just think it takes a while for businesses to figure out how many people they need,” Ms. Swonk said, noting there is still a lot of skittishness on the part of employers and workers. “I don’t view this as terribly troubling or distressing.”

Ben Herzon, executive director of U.S. economics at the financial services company IHS Markit, agreed. “A single report with unexpected weakness in job gains is not a cause for concern,” he said. “Demand is picking up, activity is picking up.”

He noted that labor force participation had been on the upswing for two months in a row, rising to 61.7 percent last month from 61.4 percent in February.

More opportunities are bubbling up as coronavirus infections ebb, vaccinations spread, restrictions lift and businesses reopen. Job postings on the online job site Indeed are 24 percent higher than they were in February last year.

“There’s been a broad-based pickup in demand,” said Nick Bunker, who leads North American economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab. The supercharged housing market is driving demand for construction workers. There is also an abundance of loading, stocking and other warehousing jobs — a side-effect of the boom in e-commerce.

The economy still has a lot of ground to regain before returning to prepandemic levels. Millions of jobs have vanished since February 2020, and the labor force has shrunk.

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As the economy fitfully recovers, there are divergent accounts of what’s going on in the labor market. Employers, particularly in the restaurant and hospitality industry, have reported scant response to help-wanted ads. Several have blamed what they call overly generous government jobless benefits, including a temporary $300-a-week federal stipend that was part of an emergency pandemic relief program.

But there are other forces constraining the return to work. Millions of Americans have said that health concerns and child care responsibilities — with many schools and day care centers not back to normal operations — have prevented them from returning to work. Millions of others who are not actively job hunting are considered on temporary layoff and expect to be hired back by their previous employers once more businesses reopen fully. At the same time, some baby boomers have retired or switched to working part time.

An 18-year-old student received a shot of a coronavirus vaccine in Los Angeles last month.
Credit…Etienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock

A series of vaccine developments and the loosening of restrictions amid an improving virus trajectory may foreshadow a welcome return to normalcy for many young Americans, just as summer vacation nears.

By early next week, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue an emergency use authorization allowing the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to be used in children 12 to 15 years old, a major step ahead in the United States’ efforts to tackle Covid-19. Pfizer also expects to seek federal clearance in September to administer the vaccine to children age 2 to 11, the company said on Tuesday.

Vaccinating children is key to raising the level of immunity in the population, experts say, and to bringing down the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. It could also put school administrators, teachers and parents at ease if millions of adolescent students become eligible for vaccination before the next academic year begins.

The move would be a major leap forward, experts say, and comes as the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said that vaccinated adolescents would be able to remove their masks outdoors at summer camps.

Yet the eagerness of parents to let their children be vaccinated is limited, according to a new national poll, which found that three in 10 parents surveyed said they would get their children vaccinated right away and 26 percent said they wanted to wait to see how the vaccine was working. About 23 percent said they would definitely not get their children vaccinated, and 18 percent said they would do so only if a child’s school required it. The survey also noted that only 9 percent of respondents said they had not yet gotten a shot but still intended to do so, one more indication that achieving widespread immunity in the United States is becoming increasingly challenging.

As health experts focus on the future of vaccinating children, a growing number of students have returned to in-person learning this school year. In March, 54 percent of K-8 schools were open for full-time in-person learning, and 88 percent were open for either full-time in-person and/or hybrid learning, according to data from a federal government survey released on Thursday. But Black, Hispanic and Asian students are enrolled in full-time in-person learning at much lower rates than white students.

The Biden administration has made an aggressive push for reopening schools in recent months, including an effort to prioritize vaccinations for teachers and employees.

Administering the AstraZeneca vaccine in Nottingham, England, last month.
Credit…Oli Scarff/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Britain’s vaccines regulator advised on Friday that all adults under 40 in the country should be offered alternatives to AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. It factored in concerns over very rare blood clots, the dwindling risk of severe coronavirus infection in younger adults and the availability of alternatives.

The guidance extends earlier advice that people under 30 would be offered alternative doses.

The use of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been marred by uncertainty after reports of a possible link between the doses and very rare blood clots, but public health experts around the world say that the vaccine’s benefits far outweigh the risks for most people.

Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization stressed that the chances of younger people becoming seriously ill with the coronavirus had grown smaller as infection rates decrease across the country. It said that this new reality paired with the availability of alternative vaccines had factored into the decision.

But the country is also closely monitoring new variants of the coronavirus, and on Friday public health officials in England noted that a variant first detected in India was now considered a “variant of concern” — meaning that it is at least as transmissible as the dominant variant in Britain. The cases identified in the country more than doubled from 202 to 520 in the week, but still account for just a fraction of the cases there.

While there is still not enough evidence to indicate whether any of the variants recently detected in India cause more severe illness or render vaccines any less effective, Britain is proceeding with caution. Most of the identified cases of the variant are in London and in the town of Bolton in the northwestern England.

Regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine, the regulator advised that where available, an alternative should be offered to healthy adults under 40, though it stressed that potentially severe side effects from the doses were “extremely rare.” It noted that “for the vast majority of people, the benefits of preventing serious illness and death far outweigh any risks.”

The vaccination committee advised that anyone who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should still receive a second, except those who experienced clotting.

Britain’s medicines regulatory agency had received reports of 242 cases of blood clots accompanied by low platelet counts in people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine through April 28. As of that date, about 22.6 million AstraZeneca doses had been administered in Britain, including about 5.9 million second doses.

Over all, about 35 million people in the country have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

An airplane landing at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany.
Credit…Michael Probst/Associated Press

One returning pilot lost control of an aircraft during landing and skidded off the runway into a ditch. Another just returning from furlough forgot to activate a critical anti-icing system designed to prevent hazards in cold weather. Several others flew at the wrong altitudes, which they attributed to distractions and lapses in communication.

In all of these incidents, which were recorded on NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System, a database of commercial aviation mistakes that are anonymously reported by pilots and other airline crew, the pilots involved blamed the same thing for their mistakes: a lack of practice flying during the pandemic.

In 2020, global air passenger traffic experienced the largest year-on-year decline in aviation history, falling 65.9 percent compared with 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association. Flights were grounded, schedules reduced and thousands of pilots were laid off or put on furlough for up to 12 months.

As vaccination programs pick up speed across some parts of the world and travel starts to rebound, airlines are beginning to reactivate their fleets and summoning pilots back as they prepare to expand their schedules for the summer. But returning pilots can’t just pick up where they left off.

“It’s not quite like riding a bike,” said Joe Townshend, a former pilot for Titan Airways, a British charter airline, who was laid off when the pandemic hit in March last year.

“You can probably go 10 years without flying a plane and still get it off the ground,” he said, “but what fades is the operational side of things.”

Marc Johnson, a virologist at the University of Missouri, examining samples of wastewater to track the coronavirus.
Credit…MichaelB Thomas for The New York Times

Although Covid-19 is primarily a respiratory disease, research conducted early in the pandemic revealed that people infected with the coronavirus often shed it in their stool. This finding, combined with the scale and urgency of the crisis, spurred immediate interest in tracking the virus by sampling wastewater.

In the past year, many scientists have been drawn into the once niche field of wastewater epidemiology. Researchers in 54 countries are tracking the coronavirus in sewage, according to the Covid19Poops Dashboard, a global directory of the projects.

These teams have found that the wastewater data seemed to accurately indicate what was happening in society. When the number of diagnosed Covid-19 cases in an area increased, more coronavirus appeared in the wastewater. Levels of the virus fell when areas instituted lockdowns and surged when they reopened.

Several teams have also confirmed that sewage can serve as an early warning system: Wastewater viral levels often peaked days before doctors saw a peak in official Covid-19 cases.

And wastewater analysis has allowed scientists to detect the arrival of certain variants in a region weeks before they are found in people — and to identify mutations that have not yet been detected in people anywhere.

The surveillance is not a replacement for clinical testing, experts said, but can be an efficient and cost-effective complement. The approach is likely to be especially valuable in low- and middle-income countries, where testing resources are more limited.

“Not every population gets tested, not everyone has access to health care,” said Dr. Marc Johnson, a virologist at the University of Missouri. “If there’s groups of people that are asymptomatic, they probably aren’t getting tested either. So you aren’t really getting the full big picture. Whereas for our testing, everyone poops.”

global roundup

Australian residents at the Sydney airport last year, returning from India.
Credit…Bianca De Marchi/EPA, via Shutterstock

Australia will resume repatriation flights for Australian nationals in India after May 15, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday.

The resumption will end a travel ban that made it a criminal offense for citizens and residents of Australia to enter the country from India. No other democratic nation has issued a similar ban on all arrivals.

Australians who test positive for the coronavirus will not be allowed to travel, officials said, and the government has introduced a pre-departure testing regime in India in an effort to catch infections before they reach Australia.

Critics of the travel ban have accused the government of racism and insensitivity, but officials have said that the restrictions are necessary to prevent transmission from the devastating outbreak in India.

Australian officials initially said that anyone trying to return from India faced up to five years in prison and nearly 60,000 Australian dollars ($46,300). But as the measure came under withering criticism this week, Mr. Morrison said it was “highly unlikely” that those seeking to return home would actually face jail.

In other news from around the world:

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Japan Extends Emergency Measures Before Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO — Japan on Friday extended a state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions until the end of May to contain a surge of coronavirus cases, casting further doubt on the country’s ability to safely host the Summer Olympics, which are scheduled to begin in 11 weeks.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga made the announcement at a meeting of the government’s coronavirus task force, saying that the measures were necessary because infections remain at a “high level, mainly in large cities.”

The announcement extends emergency measures imposed last month to two more prefectures, covering a total of six prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, that are together home to over a third of Japan’s 126 million people. Another eight prefectures will be under slightly looser restrictions.

The existing state of emergency, which were imposed to curb travel during the just-ended Golden Week holiday period and had been set to expire next week, have not slowed Japan’s fourth wave of coronavirus infections. In early March, the country recorded about 1,000 daily new. It is now recording nearly 6,000, according to a New York Times database.

first detected in India. The authorities in Tokyo say that in four out of five cases found in the city, the infected person neither traveled abroad nor had close contact with someone who had.

The outbreak is stretching health care systems even in Japan’s biggest cities. On Thursday, there were 370 people being treated for serious cases of Covid-19 in Osaka, a prefecture of nine million people, more than the number of hospital beds available for seriously ill patients.

Japan, which has recorded more than 620,000 infections and 10,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, has controlled the virus better than many countries. But the government has faced criticism for the sluggish pace of vaccinations, and for pledging to go ahead with the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to begin on July 23, despite widespread public opposition.

Toru Hashimoto, a lawyer and a former governor of Osaka prefecture, said on a television show on Friday that Olympic organizers were ignoring the severity of Japan’s outbreak, and that it was inappropriate to continue holding pre-Olympic “test events” during the state of emergency, even though they are taking place without spectators.

“If the government wants to reduce the number of people in the city, it’s not a time when test events can be held,” Mr. Hashimoto said.

The government has imposed two previous states of emergency during the pandemic, although they are looser than the total lockdowns seen in many nations. The measures allow the prefectures to ask businesses to close or to restrict their hours, and to fine those that do not.

Under the extended state of emergency, people are asked not to go out for nonessential matters, especially after 8 p.m., and to refrain from traveling outside their prefectures. Public events are to be held without spectators. Karaoke parlors are asked to close, and restaurants requested not to serve alcohol, with fines of up to 300,000 yen, or $2,750, for noncompliance.

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Milva, Redheaded Italian Diva of Many Artistic Hues, Dies at 81

ROME — Milva, whose charisma, warm voice and flaming red hair made her one of Italy’s most recognizable divas from the 1960s through the ’80s, died on April 23 at a hospital in Milan. She was 81.

Her daughter, Martina Corgnati, said the cause was a neurovascular disease.

In an eclectic career that spanned more than 50 years, Milva sang at pop festivals and performed in high-culture houses like the Paris Opera and Milan’s prestigious Piccolo Theater. She became popular across Europe, especially in Germany. She crooned traditional songs and had contemporary hits. She wore glamorous dresses while singing leftist anthems.

President Sergio Mattarella, in a statement, called her “a protagonist of Italian music, a cultivated, sensitive and versatile interpreter.” Her body lay in state last month at the Piccolo, where fans lined up to pay their last respects.

“She used to say, ‘First I’ll finish the show, then I can die,’” Ms. Corgnati said. “The show came before everything.”

1954 Billy Wilder movie of the same name. But her family called her Milva, a fusion of her two first names, and it stuck professionally.

leftist views and her votes for Communist politicians. She sang about the killing of factory workers by the Italian police, performed traditional antifascist songs of the Italian Resistance, and sang musical versions of the work of anarchist poets. She became — also thanks in part to her blazing red hair — identified with the political left.

In 1968, when she sang the Resistance song “Bella Ciao” at the RAI Auditorium in Naples, she told the presenter, “I have a weakness for freedom songs.”

Giorgio Strehler, who oversaw the Piccolo, cast her in Brecht roles, most notably Jenny in “The Threepenny Opera.” She carried his theatrical influence into her concerts, which included 15 appearances at the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy.

She demonstrated “tireless perfectionism” in preparing her performances, said the director Filippo Crivelli, who worked with her for several years.

She characteristically sang with her hand on her hip, often dressed in Gianfranco Ferrè’s luxurious dresses and wearing a Guerlain perfume detectable from the first few rows.

Magazines put her on the cover, paparazzi chased her, and she was the subject of tabloid headlines, especially after one of her former boyfriends was found fatally shot in his car in mysterious circumstances and another killed himself.

She had no shortage of admirers. The Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone dedicated an album to her. Astor Piazzolla asked her to sing his tangos. Italians knew her best for “Alexander Platz,” a hit song adapted for her by the singer-songwriter Franco Battiato, a giant of Italian pop music, and “La Rossa,” a song written for her by another major artist, Enzo Jannacci.

She toured Asia and Europe, singing in at least seven different languages.

All that work took its toll. When her vocal cords grew inflamed, she gave herself cortisone shots to keep singing. Doctors said the treatments contributed to her neurovascular disease, according to Ms. Corgnati. She retired in 2012.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a sister, Luciana, and a brother, Antonio.

Vicky Schatzinger, a pianist who worked with Milva for 15 years, said she had repeatedly promised to cut her red hair once she left the stage, but she never did.

“She felt that her hair made her a character,” Ms. Schatzinger said. “But in reality, she was her character herself.”

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Covid-19 Live Updates: Vaccines Protect Against Some Variants, Studies Show

vaccine was extraordinarily effective against severe disease caused by two variants, including the dominant one in the United States. And the results of an early-stage trial of the Moderna vaccine — though not published or vetted by scientists — suggested that a single dose given as a booster was effective against variants first identified in South Africa and Brazil, the company said.

The emergence of new variants, and whether vaccines are effective against them, is a subject of continued concern as a variant first detected in India, called B.1.617, spreads across the country. There is also a risk that further variants will arise there as the country’s outbreak grows, experts say. Another worrisome variant, P.1, is wreaking havoc across South America.

In the Pfizer studies, which were based on real-world use of the vaccine in Qatar and Israel, the two variants of focus were B.1.1.7, first identified in Britain and now detected in over 100 countries, and B.1.351, first identified in South Africa. The studies showed that the vaccine can prevent some of the most severe outcomes from Covid-19, such as pneumonia and death, caused by those variants.

“At this point in time, we can confidently say that we can use this vaccine, even in the presence of circulating variants of concern,” said Dr. Annelies Wilder-Smith, a researcher in infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

One of the Pfizer studies showed that the vaccine was 87 to 89.5 percent effective at preventing infection with B.1.1.7 among people who were at least two weeks past their second shot. It was 72.1 percent to 75 percent effective at preventing infection with B.1.351. The study was based on information about more than 200,000 people that was pulled from Qatar’s national Covid-19 databases from Feb. 1 to March 31.

Another study, conducted by researchers at Pfizer and at Israel’s Health Ministry, found that the vaccine was more than 95 percent effective at protecting against a coronavirus infection, hospitalization and death among fully vaccinated people 16 and older.

In the United States, experts now believe that attaining herd immunity is unlikely because of the spread of variants and hesitancy among some people in the country to be vaccinated. The variant that has caused the most alarm is B.1.1.7, which is about 60 percent more transmissible than original versions of the virus.

Moderna’s announcement was greeted cautiously, because the results of an early-stage trial have not been published or peer-reviewed. But the company said it was encouraged by results that suggested that a single booster shot of its vaccine would rapidly increase antibodies in vaccinated people, and that those antibodies were effective against the original form of the virus as well as the variants first identified in South Africa and Brazil.

A second booster specifically designed to counter the variant identified in South Africa produced an even stronger immune response, the company said.

A vaccination center at a school in New Delhi on Wednesday. 
Credit…Tauseef Mustafa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As India recorded a single-day high in new coronavirus cases on Thursday, its vaccination campaign has been marred by shortages and states are competing against one another to get doses, limiting the government’s hope that the country can soon emerge from a devastating outbreak.

The Indian health ministry recorded about 410,000 cases in 24 hours, a new global high, and 3,980 deaths, the highest daily death toll in any country outside the United States. Experts believe the number of actual infections and deaths is much higher.

A second wave of infections exploded last month, and some Indian states reintroduced partial lockdowns, but daily vaccination numbers have fallen. The government said it had administered nearly two million vaccine doses on Thursday, far lower than the 3.5 million doses a day it reached in March. Over the past week, 1.6 million people on average were vaccinated daily in the country of 1.4 billion.

India’s pace of vaccinations has become a source of global concern as its outbreak devastates the nation and spreads into neighboring countries, and as a variant first identified there begins to be found around the world. The outbreak has prompted India to keep vaccine doses produced by its large drug manufacturing industry at home instead of exporting them, slowing down vaccination campaigns elsewhere.

In an effort to make doses more widely available within India, the authorities have allowed states and private health care providers to buy vaccines directly from manufacturers. But that has left state governments competing with one another for doses, and experts say it has added more troubles to a sluggish rollout. The authorities in Delhi, the capital, and several states have said they had to delay the expansion of vaccine access to younger age groups because of shortages.

India also lacks enough doses to meet the growing demand. Two domestic drug companies — the Serum Institute of India, which is manufacturing the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, and Bharat Biotech, which is making its own vaccine — are producing fewer than 100 million doses per month.

About 3 percent of India’s population has been fully vaccinated, and 9.2 percent of people have received at least one dose. Experts say that at the current rate the country is unlikely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target of inoculating 300 million people by August.

India has recorded 20.6 million coronavirus cases and more than 226,000 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

India’s government has said it will fast-track approvals of foreign-made vaccines, and on Wednesday the Biden administration said it would support waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines to increase supplies for lower-income countries.

But a waiver would need to win unanimous support at the World Trade Organization — and even then, experts say, India’s drug companies would need extensive technological and other support to produced doses.

“The drop in I.P. protections is only one element,” Anant Bhan, a health researcher at Melaka Manipal Medical College in southern India, said of intellectual property. Because of the additional steps required to begin making a vaccine on a huge scale, he said, “it is not going to mean increased access to vaccines in the near future.”

As Mr. Modi has declined to impose a nationwide lockdown like the one he brought in last year, states have adopted their own measures. On Thursday, the southern state of Kerala, which has one of the highest caseloads, announced a near-total lockdown until May 16.

Experts also worry that a crisis may be unfolding in India’s rural areas, where testing capacities are even more limited.

“My main concern is nonavailability of testing and the logistics of not getting people tested in rural areas,” said Gautam Menon, a professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University in northern India. “So we will never get the real numbers for either infection rates or deaths from many such quarters of India.”

The U.S. State Department has approved the departure of family members of U.S. government employees in India and is urging American citizens to take advantage of commercial flights out of the country. It said on Wednesday that it would approve the voluntary departure of nonemergency U.S. government employees.

On Thursday, Sri Lanka became the latest country to bar travelers from India, joining the United States, Britain, Australia and others.

The European Union is one of the world’s largest producers, exporters and consumers of vaccines.
Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

The European Union is considering whether to follow the Biden administration’s decision to support a waiver of patent rights for Covid-19 vaccines as many poor and middle-income nations struggle to secure lifesaving doses.

The European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, stopped short of outright supporting President Biden in a speech on Thursday morning, but said the European Union was “also ready to discuss any proposals that address the crisis in an effective and pragmatic manner.”

“That is why we are ready to discuss how the U.S. proposal for a waiver on intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines could help achieve that objective,” she said, speaking at the Florence European University Institute.

The United States had been a major holdout at the World Trade Organization over a proposal to suspend some intellectual property protections, a move that could allow drugmakers access to the trade secrets of how the viable vaccines have been made. But President Biden had come under increasing pressure to support the proposal, which was drafted by India and South Africa.

President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Thursday that he welcomed the Biden administration’s support for waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines, but that the short-term priority was to donate existing doses to poorer countries rather than helping them produce the vaccines themselves.

“You can transfer the intellectual property to pharmaceutical manufacturers in Africa,” he said while visiting a vaccination center in southern Paris, but “they don’t have the platforms to produce mRNA vaccines.”

The European Union is one of the world’s largest producers, exporters and consumers of vaccines and has so far opposed activism at the W.T.O. level to recognize the pandemic as a huge emergency and remove protections on the vaccines. Doing so would allow them to ultimately be produced in larger volumes by manufacturers around the world.

Shares of some pharmaceutical companies fell on Wednesday after Mr. Biden’s announcement and continued dropping on Thursday. BioNTech shares in Germany were down about 15 percent since news of the administration’s decision. Novavax, which fell 5 percent Wednesday, fell another 3 percent in premarket trading on Wall Street.

The International Olympic Committee is moving to help athletes and officials get vaccinated before traveling to the Summer Games in Tokyo.
Credit…Hiro Komae/Associated Press

Athletes and officials traveling to the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer will be offered doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine before arriving in Japan, the International Olympic Committee said on Thursday, in an effort to reassure the Japanese public about the safety of hosting the event.

The committee said it had struck a deal with the drug makers to send the doses to Olympic and Paralympic Games participants’ home countries, where they will be administered through domestic inoculation programs.

The effort is the latest attempt by Olympic officials and Japanese organizers to assuage the concerns of Japanese people who do not want their country to host the Games during the pandemic. Less than 1 percent of people in Japan have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a New York Times database, and restaurants, bars and nonessential businesses are closed in several areas, including Tokyo.

The initiative was developed “not only to contribute to the safe environment of the Games, but also out of respect for the residents of Japan,” the committee said in a statement.

Despite the move and an earlier announcement that the committee would buy doses of a Chinese-made vaccine, there is no requirement for athletes, coaches, officials and others attending the Games to be vaccinated.

In March, China said it would provide vaccines for Olympic participants. But China’s vaccines have not been approved in many countries, and several — including Japan — said they would decline the offer.

The I.O.C. president, Thomas Bach, acknowledged that accepting the vaccine was voluntary, even as he urged competitors to be inoculated. “We are inviting the athletes and participating delegations of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games to lead by example and accept the vaccine where and when possible,” he said.

Dining at a restaurant in San Diego last week.
Credit…Ariana Drehsler for The New York Times

After weeks of coronavirus patients flooding emergency rooms in Michigan, hospitalizations are falling. On some recent days, entire states have reported zero new coronavirus deaths. And in New York and Chicago, officials have vowed to fully reopen in the coming weeks, conjuring images of a vibrant summer of concerts, sporting events and packed restaurants.

Americans have entered a new, hopeful phase of the pandemic as the outlook has improved across the nation. The country is recording about 49,000 new cases a day, the lowest number since early October, and hospitalizations have plateaued at about 40,000, a similar level as the early fall.

“We’re in a really good spell and we can act accordingly,” said Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Irvine, who said it made sense to loosen restrictions now, when the risk is lower than it might be this winter.

Yet even as a sense of hope spreads, there remain strong reasons for caution. Deaths are hovering around 700 a day — down from a peak of more than 3,000 in January. The pace of vaccinations in the country is slowing, and experts now believe that herd immunity in the United States may not be attainable. More transmissible variants of the virus are also spreading.

That could leave the coronavirus infecting tens of thousands of Americans and killing hundreds more each day for some time.

Although more than half of adults in the country have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, a new national poll suggests that the American public’s willingness to get a Covid-19 vaccine is reaching a saturation point.

Nine percent of unvaccinated respondents said they intended to get a shot, according to the survey, published in the April edition of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Vaccine Monitor. And with federal authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for people age 12 to 15 expected imminently, parents’ eagerness to have their children vaccinated is also limited, the poll found.

Among the parents surveyed, three in 10 said they would have their children vaccinated immediately, and 26 percent said they wanted to wait and see how the vaccines were working. Eighteen percent said they would have their children vaccinated only if a child’s school required it, and 23 percent said they would not have their children vaccinated.

“We’re in a new stage of talking about vaccine demand,” said Mollyann Brodie, the executive vice president of Kaiser’s Public Opinion and Survey Research Program. “There’s not going to be a single strategy to increase demand across everyone who is left.”

Even so, public health experts say that while they still expect significant local and regional surges in the coming weeks, they do not think they will be as widespread or reach past peaks.

Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, the health officer in Seattle and King County, said there was no playbook for an endgame to this pandemic, but he urged people to get vaccinated.

“I’m sure all of us want to avoid a long game of Whac-a-Mole with imposing and easing restrictions,” he said. “Vaccination is the cure.”

Global Roundup

A checkpoint in Suva, Fiji, last week, after the Fijian capital entered a 14-day lockdown.
Credit…Leon Lord/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The police and the military in Fiji locked down a major hospital on the island of Viti Levu on Wednesday night, aiming to contain the country’s second coronavirus outbreak.

More than 400 patients and employees are inside the hospital, said Dr. James Fong, the health ministry’s permanent secretary. The lockdown was precipitated by the death of a patient in the intensive-care unit, the third known person to have died from the virus in Fiji. The virus is believed to have passed from the patient to at least two doctors.

Health workers hope to use the lockdown to determine which patients and workers might have come into contact with those infected. Officials said that those inside the hospital would be provided with food and other supplies. Sections of the hospital have been converted into intensive-care units in case other severe infections arise.

With a population of around one million, Fiji has about 50 active cases of the virus, out of 125 total cases reported since the start of the pandemic. Many of the active cases are thought to be of a coronavirus variant first discovered in India.

Recent social restrictions have often been ignored in the South Pacific island nation: The Fijian police have arrested more than 100 people for breaches, with many infractions said to be connected to alcohol or kava, a local intoxicant.

Dr. Fong said at a news conference this week that the country’s containment strategy could take months. “Every Fijian must be ready,” he said.

“We are not up against an identical enemy this time around,” Dr. Fong added. “The chains of transmission are more widespread, and the variant is more transmissible.”

In other news around the world:

A giant squid statue, made at a cost of nearly $230,000, in the town of Noto, Japan.
Credit…Noto Town, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A coastal town in Japan has provoked debate after spending nearly $230,000 in federal Covid-19 relief money on a 43-foot statue of a flying squid.

Noto, a fishing town where the squid is a delicacy, erected the statue in March in a bid to promote tourism after the pandemic subsides. The five-and-a-half-ton pink sea creature sits outside a squid-themed restaurant and tourist center.

Tetsuji Shimoyachi, a town official, said he hoped the statue would be “a driving-force attraction in the post-Covid period.”

But the giant squid’s unveiling provoked questions among some of the 16,000 residents of the town, roughly 180 miles northwest of Tokyo, who wondered whether there weren’t better uses of its emergency relief funds.

One Twitter user asked how the world would view the installation of a giant squid “in a country where vaccines were not provided, P.C.R. testing isn’t increased and the medical system has collapsed.”

Mr. Shimoyachi acknowledged that residents had raised concerns about whether the money should have been spent elsewhere.

He said that of the $6.2 million in coronavirus relief that the town received from the Japanese government last year, it had spent about $2.5 million on infection control measures and $1.3 million to promote local businesses and employment, and still had money left over after purchasing the squid statue. The town has recorded fewer than 30 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

In all, Japan allocated $41 billion in emergency subsidies to municipalities last year to address the pandemic and its economic impact.

Mr. Shimoyachi said that Noto was historically a center of squid fishing in Japan, but that catches had significantly declined because of competition from Chinese and North Korean boats. Tourism has also fallen, which led the town to build the tourist center in a bid to attract visitors — although Mr. Shimoyachi said that it was too soon to start a marketing campaign.

Japan has controlled the virus better than many countries but has faced a recent spike in cases in Tokyo and other municipalities. The surge has prompted a new round of economic restrictions, criticism of Japan’s slow vaccine rollout and questions over whether the country should proceed with the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled to begin in July.

The pandemic has caused some Americans to become more spartan when it comes to bathing.
Credit…Elizabeth Cecil for The New York Times

Robin Harper, an administrative assistant at a preschool in Martha’s Vineyard, grew up showering every day. “It’s what you did,” she said.

But when the pandemic forced her indoors and away from the public, she started showering once a week. The new practice felt environmentally virtuous, practical and freeing — and it has stuck.

“Don’t get me wrong — I like showers,” said Ms. Harper, 43, who has returned to work. “But it’s one thing off my plate. I’m a mom, I work full-time, and it’s one less thing I have to do.”

The pandemic has upended the use of zippered pants and changed many people’s eating and drinking habits. And there are now indications that it has caused some Americans to become more spartan when it comes to ablutions.

Parents say that their teenage children are forgoing daily showers. After the British news media reported on a YouGov survey showing that 17 percent of people in Britain had abandoned daily showers during the pandemic, many on Twitter said they had done the same.

Heather Whaley, 49, a writer in Reading, Conn., said that her shower use had dropped 20 percent in the past year. After the pandemic forced her into lockdown, she said, she began considering why she was showering every day.

“Do I need to? Do I want to?” she said. “The act of taking a shower became less a matter of function and more of a matter of doing something for myself that I enjoyed.”

A Covid-19 patient at a hospital in Moradabad, India, on Wednesday.
Credit…Prakash Singh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The calls come at all hours, sometimes 15 a day, from some of India’s most oppressed and severely ill people, buzzing a cellphone that belongs to Dolly Arjun, an Indian-American physician assistant in Boston.

A few years ago, Ms. Arjun founded a telehealth program to provide free health care to members of India’s Indigenous tribes and to Dalits, who are at the lowest rungs of India’s entrenched caste system and have long faced discrimination. Dalits are typically the last to receive assistance in humanitarian disasters and often live in impoverished rural villages with no hospitals, medical care or schools.

Now, with a devastating wave of coronavirus infections surging across India, Dalits are facing a new peril, Ms. Arjun said. She said she was desperate to help, even though she is emotionally exhausted after a year of working with Covid-19 patients in Massachusetts.

“Tons of people are dying,” Ms. Arjun said. “This is just a human to human need.”

Her focus is not just Hippocratic. She is Dalit herself, a rarity among Indian medical professionals in the United States, most of whom come from upper-caste urban families. “The only reason they might know a Dalit person is because it’s their servant at home,” Ms. Arjun said.

Her telemedicine program has health workers in India who can translate for patients in local languages, but finding medical professionals in the United States to join the effort has not been easy, she said. Still, Ms. Arjun has recruited two physicians.

Patients contact the group through WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube, and the medical professionals call back on video. Often their first task is to reassure patients who have little understanding of the coronavirus or the appropriate medical treatments, Ms. Arjun said.

“Part of what’s happening now is patients are being told Covid is going to kill you, so they are panicked,” Ms. Arjun said.

She noted that in one Indian state the government has been broadly distributing packets of medications — including 25 days-worth of antibiotics, which cannot treat viruses — to residents, regardless of whether they have tested positive for Covid-19 or show symptoms.

Sometimes, however, the telehealth calls detect life-or-death emergencies. In late April, Ms. Arjun logged onto a WhatsApp video call with a young Dalit man and his 60-year-old father, who was at home with breathing problems in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, where it was around midnight.

“They didn’t know what to do,” she said. “They told us there were no hospitals or oxygen available, and they hadn’t seen a doctor.”

After assessing the man, Ms. Arjun urged the family to check to see whether any hospital beds were available instead of assuming that they were full. “It took a lot of convincing,” she said.

The next day, he was admitted and began to improve, but the hospital was running out of oxygen. Ms. Arjun put out a call on several WhatsApp groups for an oxygen cylinder, though the family did not know the name of the hospital and then fell out of contact.

Days later, she learned that the man had died.

There were road blocks, fires and riots in southern Bogotá on Tuesday after a week of protests and strikes over tax reforms proposed by the Colombian government.
Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — A teenager shot to death after kicking a police officer. A young man bleeding out on the street as protesters shout for help. Police officers firing on unarmed demonstrators. Helicopters swarming overhead, tanks rolling through neighborhoods, explosions echoing in the streets. A mother crying for her son.

“We are destroyed,” said Milena Meneses, 39, whose only son, Santiago, 19, was killed in a protest over the weekend.

Colombians demonstrating over the past week against the poverty and inequality that have worsened the lives of millions since the pandemic began have been met with a powerful crackdown by their government, which has responded to the protests with the same militarized police force it often uses against rebel fighters and organized crime.

The clashes have left at least 24 people dead, most of them demonstrators, and at least 87 missing. They have also exacerbated the anger with officials in the capital, Bogotá. Protesters say the government is increasingly out of touch with people’s lives.

Experts say this explosion of frustration could presage unrest across Latin America, where several countries face the combustible mix of an unrelenting pandemic, growing hardship and plummeting government revenue.

“We are all connected,” said León Valencia, a political analyst, noting that past protests had jumped from country to country. “This could spread across the region.”

The marches began last week after Mr. Duque proposed a tax overhaul meant to close a pandemic-related economic shortfall, and since then the crowds have grown. Demonstrators now include teachers, doctors, students, members of major unions, longtime activists and Colombians who have never before taken to the streets.

Latin America was one of the regions hardest hit by the virus last year, with cemeteries filling past capacity, the sick dying while awaiting care in hospital hallways, and family members spending the night in lines to buy medical oxygen in an attempt to keep loved ones alive.

The region’s economies shrank an average of 7 percent. In many places, unemployment, particularly among the young, spiked. And in the first few months of 2021, the Covid-19 situation has worsened.

Travelers at Chicago O’Hare airport last week. With more people vaccinated against Covid, travel is increasing.
Credit…Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More than 106 million people in the United States are fully vaccinated. Airlines are resuming overseas flights. Come summer, fully vaccinated people traveling from America will once again be welcome across Europe.

But the reality is more sobering.

Globally, more new coronavirus cases were reported in recent weeks than at any point since the onset of the pandemic. The numbers are being driven by an uncontrolled outbreak in India, but also account for troubling trends among European destinations popular with Americans, from France and Germany to Italy and Spain.

“My doomsday scenario is a mixing of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations in a setting where there is high viral load and high viral transmission,” said Dr. Sarah Fortune, the chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Even if international tourists could travel safely, securely and without risking the well-being of their hosts, visitors may face yet another impediment: The destinations may lack many of their usual draws. In Paris, bars and restaurants have been closed since the end of October, as are museums.

Jordyn Coleman, 11, attending math class from his apartment in Clarksdale, Miss., during a virtual learning day.
Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Until the pandemic, Jordyn and his mother, Precious Coleman, lived in Battle Creek, Mich., where he was known among his teachers as a bright but easily distracted student, capable of soaring when he was engaged.

On the day of a standardized test, Jordyn sat in front of his computer, humming to himself and spinning around in his chair. His teacher thought he was goofing off — until the results came in.

When his mother came to pick him up, a school administrator was waiting for her, and she worried Jordyn had gotten into trouble. “That’s when they told me that he had gotten not just the best score in his class but the best score in the entire grade,” she said.

After the pandemic hit, Ms. Coleman struggled to make ends meet. She and her two sons ended up moving to Clarksdale, Miss., one of the poorest corners of the United States. Ms. Coleman works an overnight shift at a casino. Jordyn waits for her to return home in the morning so he can log in to school with her cellphone, and she struggles to stay awake to help him.

Now Jordyn is at risk of becoming one of the lost students of the coronavirus pandemic in the most disrupted American school year since World War II.

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