May 21 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 0228 GMT (1028 HKT) May 22, 2020
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8:53 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Fauci is "cautiously optimistic" about Moderna vaccine trial

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. CNN

The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, joined CNN's ongoing town hall to discuss the promising early results of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine trial.

The biotech company partnered with the National Institutes of Health to develop the vaccine, and reported this week that volunteers are showing positive results. If future studies go well, the vaccine could be available to the public as early as January, according to Moderna's chief medical officer.

Here's how it works: This vaccine produces neutralizing antibodies, which bind to the virus, thus disabling it from attacking human cells and preventing infection.

The human body actually produces antibodies against coronavirus quite readily, Fauci said -- that's why a large number of people spontaneously recover from the virus by themselves.

The trial results: The Moderna trial vaccinated dozens of participants and measured antibodies in eight of them. All eight developed neutralizing antibodies to the virus at levels reaching or exceeding the levels seen in people who've naturally recovered from Covid-19, according to the company.

"Although the numbers were limited, it was quite good news because it reached and went over an important hurdle in the development of vaccines. That's the reason why I'm cautiously optimistic about it," Fauci said.

Read more about the trial results here.


8:16 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Where all 50 states stand on reopening as Memorial Day approaches

Memorial Day is around the corner and each state has unique rules and regulations around how people can celebrate at places like beaches and state parks.

CNN has produced a resource here that shows where each state stands on reopening.

"Florida's beaches are technically open, but if you want to go to the 7 1/2 miles of beach in Miami beach, those remain closed. The mayor there says it has to do with exactly what you would think," CNN's Erica Hill said during the network's global coronavirus town hall. "There are concerns about controlling the numbers of people on the beach, concerns about social distancing on those public beaches."
7:50 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

CNN's global town hall on the coronavirus pandemic will start soon

From CNN's Kate Bennett

First lady Melania Trump will take part in CNN's weekly global town hall on coronavirus tonight.

Her remarks, which will be pre-recorded, are the first solo broadcast message from Trump since the onset of the pandemic.

It is anticipated she will specifically address the nation's students, most of whom have had their academic lives altered by stay-at-home orders and other precautionary health measures.

This week's town hall, hosted by CNN's Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is focused, in part, on education and the disruption to schools and colleges because of Covid-19. The town hall starts at 8 p.m. ET.

How to watch: The town hall will air on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Español. It will stream live on's homepage and across mobile devices via CNN's apps, without requiring a cable log-in.

You can also watch on CNNgo, and subscribers to cable/satellite systems can watch it on-demand.

We'll also be covering it with live updates here.

7:04 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Brazil reports record number of deaths as coronavirus cases top 300,000

From CNN's Shasta Darlington, Flora Charner and Chandler Thornton

Brazil set a record high for deaths from coronavirus within 24 hours and surpassed 300,000 total cases, the country's Health Ministry announced on Thursday.

The country reported a record high of 1,188 new deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 20,047 deaths.

Brazil's total number of confirmed cases reached 310,087 Thursday, up 18,508 from Wednesday, the ministry said.

Some context: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who once compared the virus to “a little flu," sent a tweet on Wednesday about the new health ministry protocol regarding the use of chloroquine to treat mild and moderate cases of Covid-19.

He tweeted: “There is still no scientific proof, but it is being monitored and used in Brazil and around the world…we are at war ‘the shame of not fighting is worse than being defeated’ – God Bless our Brazil.”

1:31 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

5% of antibody tests in the UK are positive, Health Secretary says

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio

An antibody fingertip test for the detection of COVID-19 is conducted on a patient in London on May, 21.
An antibody fingertip test for the detection of COVID-19 is conducted on a patient in London on May, 21. Yui Mok/PA Wire/AP

Around 5% United Kingdom antibody tests are positive, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said during a daily briefing on Thursday, citing to a surveillance study conducted by the UK Government.

According to Hancock, the UK government’s antibody surveillance study has also shown that the percentage that tested positive for coronavirus antibodies in London is higher at 17%.

The study "has told us that around 17% of people in London and around 5% or higher in the rest of the country have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies,” Hancock said.

The Swiss multinational healthcare company, Roche, as well as the American multinational medical devices and health care company, Abbott, will supply the UK government with 10 million coronavirus antibody tests, Hancock said.

3:53 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Latin America overtakes US and Europe in new coronavirus cases three days in a row, CNN analysis shows 

View of the Intensive Care Unit treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients at a hospital in Manaus, Brazil, on May 20.
View of the Intensive Care Unit treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients at a hospital in Manaus, Brazil, on May 20. Michael Dantas/AFP/Getty Images

Latin America has reported more new coronavirus cases than either the United States or Europe for three days in a row, driven by high numbers in Brazil, Peru and Mexico, CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins University and World Health Organization data shows.

The numbers: The region reported at least 32,854 new cases on Wednesday, with more than half of them in Brazil.

The United States reported 22,534 new cases that day, according to Johns Hopkins University, while Europe – including Russia – reported about 17,900, according to the WHO. Both agencies rely on national governments for their data.

Latin America also reported more new cases than the Unites States or Europe on Tuesday, CNN calculations show: At least 29,240 in Latin America, compared to 22,391 in the United States and about 19,200 in Europe.

And on Monday, Latin America reported at least 23,388 new infections, while the United States reported 22,813 and Europe reported about 20,000.

Hear more:

12:49 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

UK company trialing 20 minute Covid-19 test, Health Secretary says

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio

Screen grab of Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a coronavirus (COVID-19) media briefing in Downing Street, London, on May 21.
Screen grab of Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a coronavirus (COVID-19) media briefing in Downing Street, London, on May 21. PA Video/PA Images/Getty Images

Britain has begun trials of a new swab test for the novel coronavirus which provides results in 20 minutes, the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced during a daily briefing on Thursday.

“It doesn’t need to be sent to a lab to be processed and so you get the result, on the spot, typically within around 20 minutes,” Hancock said, adding that it had proven effective in early trials. “We want to find out if it will be effective on a larger scale.”

 “If it works, we will roll it out as soon as we can,” he also said.

 The new test is developed by British company Optigene. 

11:42 a.m. ET, May 21, 2020

UK secures deal with pharma giant Roche for antibodies tests

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Lindsay Isaac

Britian's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London on May 20.
Britian's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London on May 20. Leon Neal/Getty Images

British health care workers will be the first to be tested for coronavirus antibodies after the government reached a deal with Roche to procure the test kits. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said today that the UK and the giant pharmaceutical company had agreed on deal, a week after the national health agency approved the tests for use. 

The tests will be free and more details will be released later during a daily government coronavirus briefing, he said. 

The UK currently has the fourth most coronavirus cases, according to the John Hopkins University tally on the pandemic.

11:28 a.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Health officials create Covid-19 guide for kids

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

The World Health Organization has created a Covid-19 guide for children ages 8 to 17, WHO said in a statement.

The guide “aims to help young people understand the science and social science of COVID-19 as well as help them take actions to keep themselves, their families and communities safe,” the statement said.

Along with The Smithsonian Science Education Center, WHO created the free online guide with seven student-led activities for children and teenagers..  

“With all the myths and misconceptions out there, it is important for children and youth to understand the nature of this pandemic and what can be done to prevent future pandemics from happening,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at WHO.

Here are some highlights from the guide:

  • Through a set of seven cohesive student-led tasks, participants engage in the activities to answer questions previously defined by their peers.
  • The questions explore the impact of Covid-19 on the world, how to practice hand and respiratory hygiene and physical distancing, and how to research more information about Covid-19.
  • The final task teaches youth how they can take action on the new scientific knowledge they learn to improve their health and the health of others. Each task is designed to be completed at home.
  • Includes updated research, activities, quotes from scientists and frontline public health officials, and physical and emotional safety tips on Covid-19
  • It also integrates inquiry-based science education with social and emotional learning and civic engagement.

The guide is available in more than 15 languages and can be found here.