(Bloomberg) — Pfizer Inc. said it has begun human safety testing of a new pill to treat the coronavirus that could be used at the first sign of illness. The head of the World Health Organization called recent increases in deaths and cases “truly worrying trends.”AstraZeneca Plc said it will release up-to-date results from the final stage trial of its vaccine within 48 hours, responding to criticism from a U.S. science agency. The European Union and Britain edged toward breaking their deadlock over the drugmaker’s shots, while Germany will impose a hard lockdown over Easter to try to reverse a wave of infections.Progress in fighting the crisis is showing signs of stalling. While fatalities in the U.S. and U.K. ease, places like India and eastern Europe are seeing a resurgence. Hungary is short of doctors and nurses, forcing hospitals to put out a call for untrained volunteers.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases pass 123.7 million; deaths top 2.72 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 458 million shots given worldwideHong Kong vaccine rollout hampered by reliance on Chinese shotsVaccinating some of world’s remotest communities tests Australia‘Too many questions’: Decades of mistrust spur vaccine hesitancyWhere are we in hunting for the coronavirus’s origin?: QuickTakeSubscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on cases and deaths.Texas Opening Vaccines to All Adults (11:15 p.m. NY)Texas joined a growing list of U.S. states opening vaccinations to all adults.Pfizer Begins Human Trials of Covid Pill (11:05 a.m. NY)Pfizer Inc. said it has begun human safety testing of a new pill to treat the coronavirus that could be used at the first sign of illness.If it succeeds in trials, the pill could be prescribed early on in an infection to block viral replication before patients get very sick. The drug binds to an enzyme called a protease to keep the virus from replicating. Protease-inhibiting medicines have been successful in treating other types of viruses, include HIV and Hepatitis C.The new protease inhibitor is the second such medicine Pfizer has brought into human trials to treat Covid-19. Pfizer is testing another given intravenously to hospitalized virus patients.NYC Municipal Workers Will Return May 3 (10:30 a.m. NY)New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said about 80,000 city workers will return to their offices beginning May 3, a promise he outlined in his State of the City address in January.“We’re going to have strict safety measures in place,” de Blasio said Tuesday during a virus briefing. “It’s another step toward the full recovery of New York City.”The city has administered more than 3.4 million vaccines and is expecting a “major boost” in supply in early April, the mayor said. All New Yorkers 50 and older are eligible to get their Covid-19 shots.Portugal Reaffirms Vaccine Goal (9:44 a.m. NY)Portuguese Health Minister Marta Temido reaffirmed that the country will meet a goal to administer a vaccine dose to at least 80% of people over 80 by the end of March. “Naturally, if we had access to more vaccines we would have the possibility of vaccinating more people,” Temido told reporters.WHO’s Tedros Sees ‘Truly Worrying Trends’ (9:18 a.m. NY)World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the recent rise in Covid-19 deaths and cases are “truly worrying trends.”Speaking at a World Trade Organization virtual event, Tedros urged nations to waive intellectual property rights for vaccines as a “mid- to long-term solution” to help developing countries manufacture their own shots.Fauci: Astra Likely Has a Very Good Vaccine (8:47 a.m. NY)“The fact is this is very likely a very good vaccine,” Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. expert on infectious diseases, said of the Astra shot in a Good Morning America interview.Astra earlier said it will release up-to-date results from the final stage trial of the shot within 48 hours, responding to criticism from a U.S. science agency that the drugmaker’s analysis included old information.India Speeds Vaccine Push Amid Second Wave (8:40 a.m. NY)India’s government opened one of the biggest coronavirus immunization campaigns to everyone over the age of 45 as the nation grapples with a case resurgence amid tensions over delayed vaccine supplies to other countries.World Is Too Optimistic About Covid: Farrar (8:28 a.m. NY)“This pandemic is nowhere near its end,” Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist and director of Wellcome, the U.K. research foundation, said at a conference of the ACT Accelerator, a program to distribute vaccines and diagnostics to low-income countries. “There remains in my view too much optimism that there will be a single magic bullet that solves it all.”After one year, the world remains closer to the start of the pandemic than to its conclusion, as new waves take place around the world, Farrar said.“The end to this pandemic is through science and through the equitable access to that science,” he said. “Without diagnostics, we are blind to what is happening. We do not know how the epidemic is developing and where there are pockets that remain.”In a separate presentation, Fauci sounded a more positive tone. He said people should remain cautiously optimistic about the outlook, even as U.S. cases plateau following recent declines.“I don’t think that that should cause us to despair,” Fauci said in an online talk while being welcomed as an honorary fellow by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. “As we continue to vaccinate more and more people, which will ultimately give us control of the outbreak, we’ve got to remember we can’t just completely turn off all public health measures.”Countries Loosen Visitor Rules (8:20 a.m. NY)Cyprus will open its borders starting April 1 to visitors from Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the U.K., the country’s tourism ministry said. Those with a negative test result who haven’t come into close contact with a confirmed case will be guaranteed a quarantine-free stay. Vaccinated travelers from Israel won’t need to be tested, and the same will apply to Britain starting May 1.Kuwait said arrivals who have taken one of the vaccines it has approved would be exempt from hotel quarantine requirements.Insurer Lures Vaccine Skeptics With Gift Cards (7 a.m. NY)In the effort to encourage skeptics to get vaccinated, one insurer hopes gift cards and cheaper hotel stays may help tip the balance.Manulife Financial Corp. is adding the vaccination as a way to win points in its Vitality health-tracking program, which rewards health- and life-insurance policyholders for things such as exercising, getting health screenings or taking nutrition classes online. Those points can be redeemed for rewards including Amazon.com Inc. gift cards, Hotels.com lodging discounts and less-expensive gym memberships.Citi CEO Bans Zoom on Friday, Urges Vacations (6 a.m. NY)Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser has barred internal video calls on Fridays and encouraged vacations in an effort to combat workplace malaise brought on by the pandemic.Fraser, who replaced Michael Corbat earlier this year, said the final day of the working week shall be known as “Zoom-Free Fridays” and designated May 28 as a holiday to be known as “Citi Reset Day.”Kremlin Hopes Putin Vaccination Speeds Rollout (6 a.m. NY)Russian authorities hope that President Vladimir Putin’s long-awaited decision to get his first dose of a Russian Covid-19 vaccine Tuesday will help speed up the country’s inoculation rate, which has fallen short of initial targets.“We’re counting on the pace of vaccination accelerating,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call, noting that production is expected to pick up in the coming weeks.Vietnam Approves Sputnik Vaccine (5:55 p.m. HK)Vietnam’s health ministry approved Russia’s Sputnik V in a bid to quicken the country’s vaccination program, according to a posting on the ministry’s website. Vietnam started inoculations with AstraZeneca and is in talks with other producers.France Expanding Shots to Ages 70-75 (5:55 p.m. HK)From Saturday, all people in France ages 70 to 75 will be able to get vaccinated, President Emmanuel Macron said. So far, shots have only been offered to people over 75, patients with preconditions or medical staff, but a drop in the number of elderly people in intensive care has highlighted the need to expand eligibility.Frustration Mounts in Italy Over Rollout (5:51 p.m. HK)Lombardy’s governor, Attilio Fontana, announced the dismissal of the board of the company in charge of vaccination bookings in the region, the original epicenter of the pandemic in Europe, after a series of technological hitches.The Italian government is trying to improve coordination with regional leaders in an effort to speed up the vaccination campaign nationwide. The target is to triple the pace of inoculation to half a million people per day by mid-April, reaching 80% coverage by the end of September.Some U.S. Nursing Homes See First Cases (5 p.m. HK)Hundreds of U.S. nursing homes have reported their first confirmed Covid infections in 2021 after reporting none last year, according to a report by a consumer watchdog agency. While cases in the facilities have been dramatically reduced, the findings show the crisis hasn’t been eliminated despite the nationwide vaccination effort.Hong Kong Dashes Hopes for Looser Rules (4:40 p.m. HK)Hong Kong’s government has dashed business leaders’ hopes for a near-term easing of the city’s quarantine measures, signaling in a private meeting that any relaxation would require a dramatically higher vaccination rate and prolonged drop in local cases.Hungary’s Doctors Plead for Tougher Curbs (4:27 p.m. HK)Hungary has run out of doctors and nurses to deal with Covid-19 patients, forcing hospitals to put out a call for volunteers without any medical training. The country reported a record 252 daily coronavirus deaths, with doctors urging the government to implement tougher curbs.Ukraine also reported a record 333 new Covid fatalities.Cheap Steroid Drug Saves 1 Million Lives (3:30 p.m. HK)The steroid medicine dexamethasone has saved as many as 1 million lives globally as doctors prescribed it for coronavirus patients struggling for oxygen, according to new data from NHS England.Researchers at the University of Oxford first showed that the drug cut the risk of death in June, prompting a change in clinical practice worldwide for severely ill patients. The medicine, a cheap product used for decades to treat allergies and skin conditions, has saved an estimated 22,000 lives in the U.K. alone, the NHS said in a paper looking at how the health service responded to the pandemic.U.K. Unemployment Up Less Than Expected (3:20 p.m. HK)U.K. unemployment rose less than expected during a national lockdown to control the coronavirus as a government furlough program preserved jobs. The number of people looking for work rose 11,000 to 1.7 million, taking the jobless rate to 5%, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists expected the rate to rise to 5.2%.Regeneron Cocktail Cuts Hospitalizations 70% (2:53 p.m. HK)Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said it would apply for U.S. authorization for a lower dose of its Covid-19 antibody cocktail, after data from a final-stage trial showed early use of the drug reduced hospitalizations and deaths by 70%.Malaysia, Singapore Vaccine Certification (2:46 p.m. HK)Malaysia and Singapore are working toward reciprocal vaccination certification as the Southeast Asian neighbors plan to restore cross-border travel. Operational details, including the application process involved for entry and exit between the two nations will be discussed further.Covid Patients Should Postpone Surgery: Study (2:15 p.m. HK)Surgery should be delayed seven weeks for people who test positive for Covid-19 to reduce the risk of dying, according to the COVIDSurg Collaborative, an international group of 15,000 surgeons reviewing the likelihood of complications from elective surgery in coronavirus cases. Using data from 140,727 patients in 1,674 hospitals across 116 countries, the group found patients are more than 2.5 times more likely to die after surgery if the operation was performed within six weeks of a SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis.Germany’s Easter Lockdown (9:55 a.m. HK)Chancellor Merkel and regional leaders agreed to put Germany into hard lockdown over Easter to try to reverse a “third wave” of infections fueled by faster-spreading mutations.Under the plan, stores will be shuttered from April 1 for five days, except for food stores which will open on April 3, Merkel said after a video call with the country’s 16 state premiers that lasted more than 11 hours. Citizens will be encouraged to remain at home, and private gatherings limited to one other household and a maximum of five people.“We are now in a very, very serious situation,” Merkel said at a news conference that started just after 2:30 a.m. in Berlin. “The case numbers are rising exponentially and intensive-care beds are filling up again,” she said, adding that the number of infections must come down to allow the country’s vaccination campaign to start taking effect.Separately, Merkel said the EU shouldn’t impose a general vaccine export ban. “We must be very careful with general export bans at this stage,” she said. “Instead we will have to look very closely at supply chains.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.