August 15 coronavirus news

By Tara John, Melissa Macaya, Zamira Rahim, Laura Smith-Spark, Alaa Elassar and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:20 a.m. ET, August 16, 2020
14 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
7:03 a.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Russia begins manufacturing Sputnik V vaccine

From CNN’s Zahra Ullah and journalist Anna Chernova in Moscow 

Only around 2,000 people are slated to take part in the Phase 3 trials
Only around 2,000 people are slated to take part in the Phase 3 trials

The production of Russia's coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, has started, the Russian health ministry said on Saturday, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

Developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute, the vaccine was approved by the Russian government on Tuesday before beginning crucial Phase 3 trials.

Vaccine production before completed trial: Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), announced earlier this week that Phase 3 trials of the vaccine would start on August 12 in Russia.

Only around 2,000 people are slated to take part in that critical stage of the Russian vaccine, according to Sputnik V’s website.

No scientific data on the Sputnik V vaccine has been released. As the treatment is only entering crucial Phase 3 clinical trials, it means there are huge unanswered questions over its safety and effectiveness.

Members of the Russian elite have reportedly taken doses, including the daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Dmitriev.

Speaking to CNN's Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Tuesday, Dmietriev said "safety is at the core of the vaccine."

"We know the technology works and we will publish the data in August and September to demonstrate that," Dmietriev said. 

He added that the vaccine will be gradually rolled out to high-risk people before a mass vaccination of Russians begins in October. The vaccine will be made available to other countries around November.

6:59 a.m. ET, August 15, 2020

French High Council of Public Health recommends widespread use of masks

From CNN’s Isabel Tejera in Madrid 

The French population should wear masks in all enclosed collective spaces, be it public and private, or places where there is a high density of people outdoors, in order to limit the emission of respiratory particles, it announced on Friday.  

This follows an open letter sent by 239 international scientists to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on July 4 proposing the reclassification of SARS-CoV-2 as an airborne virus. 

The HCSP says their mask recommendation should be combined with other prevention measures. It also calls on more research to understand the role of aerosols in viral transmission.

Data from France shows that over the past week, ending August 13,  there has been a 66% increase in newly reported cases and a 52% increase in weekly incidence rate per 100,000 population, indicating a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.  

The French government on Friday declared Paris and Marseille and its surrounding areas high-risk zones for the virus, granting authorities there powers to impose localized curbs to contain the spread of the disease.

6:39 a.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Vaccines are safe. But huge numbers of people around the world say they wouldn't take a Covid jab

From CNN's Emma Reynolds in London

Vaccines are our most effective tool in combating infectious diseases
Vaccines are our most effective tool in combating infectious diseases

Susan Bailey, a 57-year-old retired nurse from Florida, has had all her jabs and gets a flu shot every year. She's a vocal Joe Biden supporter -- and one of a growing number of people globally who say they wouldn't take a coronavirus vaccine even if one becomes available soon.

"I'm not anti-vaccine. My kids were both vaccinated with everything, but I would not take a Covid vaccine today," Bailey told CNN.

"I have underlying health issues ... I would want to see enough studies in a long-term period of what the ramifications are for the vaccine."

Bailey said she doesn't trust US President Donald Trump, and that consensus around a vaccine among the world's top scientists and at least six months of testing would be just "a start" in persuading her to take it. "It's much too soon for me, I'd have to say, 18 months."

Her trepidation is echoed by a significant proportion of adults all over the world, who reject the extreme views of the anti-vaccine community, but say they have major concerns about a coronavirus jab.

Neil Johnson, a physicist at George Washington University who is studying vaccine skepticism on social media, told CNN the four most common objections are: safety; whether a vaccine is needed; trust of the establishment and pharmaceutical companies; and perceived uncertainty in the science.

To see how widespread hesitancy is, he suggests asking your family and friends whether they would take a Covid-19 vaccine if one were available now.

"I would be surprised if you ask 10 people and you get all 10 jumping and saying yes without adding any caveats," he said.

Powerful tool: Scientists say vaccines are our most effective tool in combating infectious diseases, preventing 6 million deaths every year. Numerous studies have proven that they are safe. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US epidemiologist, said that widespread uptake of a coronavirus vaccine could end the pandemic and a study in The Lancet medical journal found that it was the only way to fully end lockdowns.

Yet an Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs online poll from May indicated half of Americans would hesitate to take or refuse a vaccine, and a study by King's College London last week found similar results in the UK.

Read more:

6:38 a.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Health officials in Illinois have identified Covid-19 cases linked to a "mini-prom"

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Health officials in southern Illinois are looking for people who attended a "mini-prom" earlier this month and may been exposed to multiple confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The Wabash County Health Department asked the public in a Facebook post to get in touch if they were at the August 4 event and have been experiencing coronavirus symptoms including fever, loss of taste or smell, a cough, shortness of breath or a sore throat.

US leaders from coast to coast have throughout the past few months warned that young groups of people and social gatherings were driving an increase in coronavirus cases. Many of the nation's top health officials have urged Americans to avoid not just bars but any crowded indoor spaces.

Read more here

5:21 a.m. ET, August 15, 2020

"The benefits of London are gone." Why one young couple is moving to the country

From CNN's Mick Krever in London

Michael and Agata in their southwest London apartment
Michael and Agata in their southwest London apartment

For as long as there have been cities, their residents have agreed to an unwritten contract.

They tolerate cramped living quarters, noise and pollution. In exchange, they get the vibrancy that rural towns often lack. The pandemic has broken that contract. And many city dwellers are ready to move.

"All of the benefits of London are gone now," Michael, 29, said while sitting in the garden of his small London apartment. "The pubs, the clubs, and the bars have all shut, or they're open in very odd circumstances."

London's pubs and restaurants have been gradually reopening since July, when the coronavirus lockdown that turned one of the world's liveliest urban meccas into a virtual ghost town began to ease. But social distancing rules mean that many establishments are operating at less than half their usual capacity, and some have closed permanently. In a bid to get more Londoners dining out, the UK government is even subsidizing restaurant meals in August.

Michael and his partner, Agata Olszewska, 28, had long planned to eventually leave London. They would take a well-traveled trajectory: Spend their 20s getting ahead at work, then move somewhere more comfortable and affordable. (CNN Business is not using Michael's full name because he is employed as a civil servant and not authorized to speak to the media.)

While pay in London is generally much better than other parts of the United Kingdom, the cost of living, notably rent, is considerably higher and buying property can be unaffordable due to the size of down payment required. That often prompts professionals to move further out of the city when they want to buy a home.

"We probably thought about doing it in about two years' time, to get the maximum benefit of working in London," Olszewska, an architect, said. "The pandemic kind of accelerated our decision to move now."

Read more:

4:51 a.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Covid-19 rates in children are "steadily increasing," says new CDC guidance

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Schools and universities across the US are reopening and in some cases have had to readjust their approach
Schools and universities across the US are reopening and in some cases have had to readjust their approach

Health experts say children make up more than 7% of all coronavirus cases in the US -- while comprising about 22% of the country's population -- and the number and rate of child cases have been "steadily increasing" from March to July.

The data was posted alongside updated guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for pediatricians that also includes what is known about the virus in children.

"Recent evidence suggests that children likely have the same or higher viral loads in their nasopharynx compared with adults and that children can spread the virus effectively in households and camp settings," the guidance states.

Transmission of the virus to and among children may have been reduced in spring and early summer due to mitigation measures like stay-at-home orders and school closures, the CDC says.

But now, schools and universities across the country are reopening and in some cases have had to readjust their approach following positive tests among students and staff. How to safely welcome students back has been an ongoing debate between local and state leaders as some push for a return to normalcy and others fear returning to class could prove deadly for some. In some cases, teachers have opted to resign rather than risk contracting the virus.

"So if I'm put into a classroom of 30 or more kids, it's a small room, there's one exit, the ventilation isn't all that great for schools," Arizona teacher Matt Chicci, who quit his job, told CNN. "It's not a good situation."

Read more here

4:05 a.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Are you immune to Covid-19 for three months after recovering? It's unclear

From CNN's Sandee LaMotte and Jacqueline Howard

The virus SARS-CoV-2 belongs to a large family of coronaviruses, six of which were previously known to infect humans. 
The virus SARS-CoV-2 belongs to a large family of coronaviruses, six of which were previously known to infect humans.  CNN

It's the question everyone wants answered: How long are we protected from catching Covid-19 after we've recovered from the novel coronavirus -- and what does that really mean?

Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its quarantine guidelines online to say that people who have recovered from Covid-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to three months -- but the agency clarified in a statement to CNN on Friday that does not mean that people are immune to reinfection.

"People who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to 3 months as long as they do not develop symptoms again," the CDC guidance stated.

A CDC spokesperson said the guidance is "based on the latest science about COVID-19 showing that people can continue to test positive for up to 3 months after diagnosis and not be infectious to others."

Yet "this science does not imply a person is immune to reinfection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the 3 months following infection. The latest data simply suggests that retesting someone in the 3 months following initial infection is not necessary unless that person is exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19 and the symptoms cannot be associated with another illness," the CDC statement said.

"I think this is an incredibly sticky wicket, as the British would say," said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, who was not involved in the CDC guidance.

"We think antibodies correlate with protection, but we don't really know that yet," Schaffner said.

Practical applications, Schaffner added, are still a long way off. Can a person who has antibodies begin to date or stop wearing a mask, for example? Absolutely not, he said emphatically.

Read more:

2:54 a.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Seoul reimposes social distancing measures after new coronavirus cases almost double in a day

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

South Korea has reintroduced social distancing measures for the greater Seoul area in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus after a recent spike in cases.

“The spread of coronavirus is very serious for Seoul and (neighboring) Gyeonggi province, the confirmed cases almost doubled in a day,” South Korea's Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun announced in a televised address on Saturday.
“Our priority is to swiftly stop the virus from spreading further in the capital area.”

Level 2 social distancing, as imposed in Seoul and Gyeonggi, means that indoor public gatherings are limited to 50 people, while 100 people are permitted to meet outdoors. Audiences will no longer be able to attend sporting events, public facilities run by the government will be shuttered and privately owned facilities deemed high risk will be closed.

Also on Saturday, United States Forces Korea said that from 6 p.m. local time, it would raise its health protection condition from “Bravo” to the second-highest “Charlie” for the greater Seoul metropolitan area, as well as an additional nine surrounding districts.

This restricts nonessential travel to hotspot areas for US military personnel.

South Koreans are currently enjoying a long weekend introduced by the government in July to give people relief from the stress of Covid-19.

The greater Seoul area had 139 new coronavirus cases on Friday.

2:13 a.m. ET, August 15, 2020

In Independence Day address, India's Modi calls for self-reliance in a post-coronavirus world

From CNN's Swati Gupta in New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a ceremony to celebrate India's 74th Independence Day at the Red Fort in New Delhi on August 15.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a ceremony to celebrate India's 74th Independence Day at the Red Fort in New Delhi on August 15. Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi used a national address on the country’s 74th Independence Day to thank those working on the frontline to combat the spread of Covid-19.

"The corona warriors, be it doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, ambulance drivers – there are so many names to list. These people have for such a long time been living the motto of ‘service is the highest religion’," he said.

Modi praised the pace at which India’s health sector responded during the pandemic to ramp up testing and build an infrastructure for vaccine development.

"In India, three vaccines are currently in various phases of testing and as soon as we get the green light, production will begin at a large scale. We already have the roadmap prepared on how every Indian will get the vaccination as quickly as possible," he said.

Modi also spoke about the need for a self-reliant India in a post-coronavirus world.

"A self-reliant India – it is a dream which we can see being transformed into resolve. We are a step away from 75 years of independence and it is essential to have India stand on its own two feet. To become self-reliant is now mandatory for our country," he said.

“Until how long will we keep exporting raw material to the rest of the world and then import finished goods back into the country? For how long can we allow this game to continue? And because of this, we have to become self-reliant."

Modi emphasized that for India to move ahead, an integrated, comprehensive infrastructure in health, education, and manufacturing was the most important goal for the country.

Addressing a very subdued and restricted gathering at New Delhi’s Red Fort, Modi also briefly mentioned the ongoing stand-off with China over the countries' shared border in the Himlayas.

"Whenever someone has tried to raise their eyes towards the sovereignty of our country, our soldiers responded to it in the same manner," he said, adding that Delhi "has strengthened its relationships in the extended neighborhood."