A version of this story appeared in the February 17 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.
President Joe Biden suggested that all 300 million Americans could be offered Covid-19 vaccines by the end of July during a CNN town hall Tuesday as he urged the public to get the shot. “By the end of July we’ll have over 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate every single American,” he said, while admitting the process of administering the doses may take longer.
Biden would only commit to a return to normal by Christmas, saying he did not want to boost hopes when he could not be certain of a still-early vaccine rollout. The prediction of nearly another year in pandemic-dampened conditions was admittedly not optimistic. But Biden still said it was as good as he could offer with any level of confidence, Kevin Liptak writes. He also weighed in on the national debate on the safest way to reopen schools, saying teachers should be moved higher on the list of those who are getting vaccinated.
The pace of the vaccine rollout has steadily picked up each week since Biden started in the White House, and reached his goal of 1.5 million shots per day just about three weeks into his term. But there have been some shortcomings: Leaders in most states have stated publicly or in interviews with CNN that vaccine supply is the key – or only – hold up to increasing the pace of vaccinations, Deidre McPhillips and Amanda Watts report. CNN has also learned that if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine gets the green light from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), its rollout will be slower than officials initially expected.
Life expectancy in the US dropped a full year in the first half of 2020, according to a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and experts say that Covid-19 was a significant factor contributing to the decline.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: How long is it safe to wait for the second dose of the vaccine?
A: Some vaccine providers have been forced to cancel appointments due to the winter weather that has ravaged much of the US, and more than more than 2,000 vaccination sites are in areas suffering from power outages.
“We hope we can contain this particular outbreak and all of its ramifications throughout the world in a way that doesn’t have the … cycling of various versions of the virus so that you have to address it differently each year,” Fauci said in an interview with Spectrum News’ Lisa McRee on Tuesday.
Fauci also said that it’s “entirely conceivable” that scientists are already working on a universal coronavirus vaccine that would address all the variants.
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WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
While encouraging, experts warn that the numbers are still high and people should not let their guards down as there could be another surge with new variants circulating. Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending Americans avoid travel if they can, the past weekend saw more than 4 million people flying since Thursday. And while officials are working to get more Americans vaccinated, winter storms are now delaying the process in parts of the country.
The answer depends on who you ask in South Korea. Lawmaker Ha Tae-keung told reporters Tuesday that he and other members of the National Assembly Intelligence committee were briefed by the country’s spy agency about an alleged hack of drugmaker Pfizer by North Korea. Later that morning, the agency rebutted Ha’s claims, saying it “reported general incidences of hacking attempts” of coronavirus vaccine developers to Ha and the committee, but “did not specify any company names including Pfizer.”
Pyongyang has not publicly acknowledged the alleged theft of data on Covid-19 vaccines and treatment research, and Pfizer said Tuesday it would not comment on the matter, Yoonjung Seo, Gawon Bae and Joshua Berlinger report.
But this is not the first time North Korean cybercriminals have been accused of stealing Covid-19 related information. Microsoft claimed in November that cyberattacks from North Korea targeted vaccine makers, sometimes “masquerading as World Health Organization representatives.”
South Africa scraps AstraZeneca, pivots to Johnson & Johnson vaccine
South Africa has offered its stock of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to the African Union, a senior health official said, as the country pivots to using shots developed by Johnson & Johnson instead, Eliza Mackintosh reports.
The country paused its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after preliminary trial data showed it offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness caused by the variant of the virus that emerged in South Africa last year. The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, was however unclear on whether the vaccine protected against severe disease from the B.1.351 variant.
Unequal distribution plagues Peru and Mexico
A scandal has rocked Peru over at least 480 people, including several ministers and a former president, quietly being vaccinated against Covid-19 before the country’s official vaccination campaign began. In a televised address, the country’s President Francisco Sagasti said those people “took advantage of their position” to receive the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine early.
AstraZeneca’s contract with UK “essentially the same” as EU’s
ON OUR RADAR
- Revelers breaching England’s pandemic rules attempted a rooftop escape after an illegal rave was shut down.
- Fauci won a $1 million Israeli prize for his work combating Covid-19 and other infectious diseases
- Tourists who take selfies with wild mountain gorillas could put the primates at risk of Covid-19, according to new research
- While many other destinations slammed their borders shut during the pandemic, the Maldives chose to fully reopen to travelers from any country, regardless of the status of the virus there. This made it one of the most successful tourism stories of 2020
- Did you survive Covid? Maybe you can thank your Neanderthal ancestors
- The number of new Covid-19 cases reported worldwide fell by 16% last week, says the World Health Organization
As people try to keep warm without power, they run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning when using unconventional heat sources such as stoves, grills or generators. Here’s what you need to know and do in order to stay safe and warm during the cold snap.
Google Maps can already tell you which train to take or map out an optimal driving route. Now, it’s simplifying travel even more by letting users pay for parking or public transportation right from their phones.
“In the survey I’m doing online about dreams [in] the pandemic, bugs are the most common one … Where the dreamer is being attacked by usually large numbers of bugs, swarms of flying insects, roaches are crawling towards you, masses of wriggling worms.” – Deirdre Barrett, dream researcher and assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.
In today’s episode, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to Barrett about her Covid-19 dream survey and why we’re having good and bad dreams a year into the pandemic. Listen now.