November 10 coronavirus news

By Zamira Rahim, Stephanie Halasz, Ben Westcott, Steve George, Emma Reynolds, CNN

Updated 0504 GMT (1304 HKT) November 11, 2020
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1:55 p.m. ET, November 10, 2020

NYC Mayor says positivity rate increase is "very worrisome"

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press briefing in New York City on November 10.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press briefing in New York City on November 10. NYC Media

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the continued increase in the percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 was “very worrisome.”

The positivity rate was up 2.8% Tuesday, with a seven-day rolling average of 2.31%, which de Blasio said was “not someplace we want to be.” 

If the seven-day average goes above 3%, schools will go remote for a period, he said. If it continues climbing, some businesses could face “full scale closures,” or “limits on hours.”

"We can turn this back, but this is a warning sign if ever I’ve seen one that we have some work to do quickly to make sure the city stays safe and we do not have that second wave," de Blasio said.

“We believe we can still fight back the second wave,” he added later.

The mayor said one area of “tremendous concern” was new cases on a seven-day average. NYC had set a threshold of 550 cases, which it has “far surpassed” with 795, de Blasio said.

While some of the extra cases is indicative of more testing, “some of it obviously indicates a problem,” he said.

“We have not had major events or major gatherings be the cause … of spread that we’ve been able to identify," added de Blasio.

Dr. Jay Varma, health advisor to the city, said about 5% of cases were associated with gatherings, and around 10% were due to travel.

For more than half, “we don’t have a way to directly attribute the source of infection and that’s a concern,” Varma said.

1:32 p.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Lebanon lockdown to include government departments and schools

From CNN’s Ghazi Balkiz in Beirut

Lebanon’s lockdown will include the closure of government departments, schools, universities, and retail stores -- but some key institutions will remain open, the government said on Tuesday. 

Beirut’s Rafic Hariri airport will stay open, as will security directorates, telecommunication departments, banks, and private and public health sectors. 

It is unclear if the lockdown will affect movement on the streets. 

What else? The lockdown includes suspension of work in companies, private institutions, stores of all kinds and offices of self-employed workers.

Exceptions to the lockdown include mills, bakeries, everything related to the manufacturing, storage and sale of basic food, and delivery services in restaurants, the government said. 

The reconstruction of the area damaged by the August blast in Beirut’s port will continue, the government added.

1:08 p.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Brazilian biomedical institute denies claim linking Sinovac vaccine to "serious adverse event"

From CNN's Shasta Darlington in Sao Paulo

The Director of the Butantan Institute Dimas Covas speaks during a press conference at Butantan's headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on November 10.
The Director of the Butantan Institute Dimas Covas speaks during a press conference at Butantan's headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on November 10. Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

The director of Brazil’s biomedical Butantan Institute, Dimas Covas, has said that a "serious, adverse event" suffered by a Sinovac vaccine trial volunteer was unrelated to the trial itself.

Brazilian health authorities halted the clinical trials of the Chinese vaccine on Monday after the event.

“The serious adverse event observed in a volunteer in the trial has no relation to the vaccine,” Covas said at a press conference in Sao Paulo Tuesday.
“It was analyzed and determined that there was no relation."

But he could not provide more details about the event or the volunteer, citing privacy reasons, insisting that regulators had all the information showing that the event was unrelated to the trial.

Chinese firm Sinovac began the Phase 3 clinical trial of its CoronaVac vaccine in collaboration with the Butantan Institute and the state of Sao Paulo in late July.

CoronaVac has been at the heart of a political feud between Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and the governor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria, who is expected to run against him in the country’s next presidential elections in 2022.

While Doria said he hopes to eventually vaccinate Sao Paulo state residents with CoronaVac, Bolsonaro has disparaged the vaccine and has backed a vaccine candidate produced by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

Covas said Tuesday that there was no reason to interrupt Sinovac's trial.

On Tuesday, Bolsonaro said on social media that with the suspension of the Sinovac trial the “president wins one.”

Separately, Sinovac said Brazil's decision to halt clinical trials was not due to the vaccine itself.

11:59 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

UK has a "70 to 80% chance" of life getting back to normal by Easter, government adviser says

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in Pisa and Katharina Krebs in London

Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University John Bell speaks during a parliamentary committee hearing on November 10.
Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University John Bell speaks during a parliamentary committee hearing on November 10. UK Parliament TV

Britain has a "70 to 80% chance" of life getting back to normal by Easter if the UK doesn't "screw up" the distribution of a potential Covid-19 vaccine, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University John Bell said Tuesday.

Bell is a member of the government’s vaccine taskforce. He appeared at a parliamentary committee hearing on Tuesday where he discussed Pfizer's promising Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Pfizer said Monday that the vaccine had more than 90% efficacy, based on early data.

Bell said that Monday's announcement by Pfizer was "a massive step forward" and that he's optimistic of getting enough vaccinations done in the first quarter of 2021. But he cautioned that obstacles to approving and distributing the vaccine remained.

"We've got to get a regulatory approval, we've got to get more material manufacturing. We have to get it distributed," he said.

However, he said it signals that many of the other vaccines "that have the same immunogenicity are likely also to be efficacious so I wouldn't be surprised if we hit the new year with two or three vaccines, all of which could be distributed."

“That's why I'm quite optimistic of getting enough vaccinations done in the first quarter of next year that by spring, things will start to look much more normal than they do now," he added.

The chair of parliament’s Health Committee Jeremy Hunt tweeted that the UK could at least start feeling "more optimistic."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Tuesday that the UK government doesn't yet know "whether or when the vaccine is approved," but that it has asked the National Health Service (NHS) "to be ready from any date from the 1st of December." 

"The logistics are complex, the uncertainties are real and the scale of the job is vast. But I know that NHS brilliantly assisted by the armed forces will be up to the task," Hancock said during a Covid-19 statement in the House of Commons.

11:35 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

EU to authorize contract for up to 300 million doses of Pfizer vaccine

From CNN's James Frater in London

A healthcare worker holds a syringe from the Phase 3 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech, at the Ankara University Ibni Sina Hospital in Ankara, Turkey, on October 27.
A healthcare worker holds a syringe from the Phase 3 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech, at the Ankara University Ibni Sina Hospital in Ankara, Turkey, on October 27. Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The European Union will authorize a contract on Wednesday for up to 300 million doses of a candidate vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced. 

“Once this vaccine becomes available, our plan is to deploy it quickly, everywhere in Europe,” von der Leyen said in a statement on Tuesday. 

“This will be the fourth contract with a pharmaceutical company to buy vaccines. And more will come. Because we need to have a broad portfolio of vaccines based on different technologies." 

The EU’s announcement comes after drug giant Pfizer announced Monday that an early look at data from its coronavirus vaccine shows it is more than 90% effective – a much-better-than-expected efficacy.

“This is the most promising vaccine so far. A safe and effective vaccine is our best chance to beat coronavirus and return to our normal lives,” von der Leyen said, highlighting that the EU had already begun working with member states to prepare national vaccine campaigns. 

We are almost there. In the meantime, let us be prudent, and stay safe,” she said. 

The European Commission has also signed contracts for vaccines with drug giants Sanofi-GSK, Astra Zeneca and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV.

11:19 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Wales cancels end-of-year school exams for 2021

From CNN's Amy Cassidy in Glasgow

Wales has cancelled end-of-year school exams for students in 2021 out of “fairness,” the country’s Education Minister Kirsty Williams said on Tuesday, following controversy over an an algorithm that was used to determine results in Wales, England and Northern Ireland.

The pandemic has disrupted school life across the United Kingdom, and many students responded with anger over the algorithm, which was used for A-levels, final high school exams that help determine student's eligibility for university courses.

“The time learners will spend in schools and colleges will vary hugely, and in this situation it is impossible to guarantee a level playing field for exams to take place. We will instead work with schools to take forward teacher-managed assessments,” Williams said in a statement. 

The changes affect students set to take three types of high school exams, known as GCSEs, AS levels and A levels, next summer.

The decision follows Scotland’s announcement on October 7 to cancel National 5 exams - the first set of exams high school students are required to sit.

England maintains that its exams will go ahead in 2021, but the government plans to delay them by three weeks to give students more time to prepare

11:01 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Fact check: Who deserves credit for Pfizer's vaccine announcement?

From CNN's Daniel Dale

Drug giant Pfizer sparked a stock market rally with its Monday announcement that its coronavirus vaccine is more than 90% effective, based on early data. It also kicked off a battle over who deserves credit for the preliminary good news.

US President Donald Trump's administration was quick to applaud itself.

Others, however, pointed to the fact that Pfizer's senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development, Kathrin Jansen, publicly distanced the company from the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed vaccine initiative. Jansen was quoted Monday by The New York Times as saying: "We were never part of the Warp Speed. We have never taken any money from the US government, or from anyone."

The real story is more nuanced than both Pence's tweet and Jansen's comment made it sound.

Facts FirstPfizer's vaccine progress is certainly not solely attributable to the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed public-private partnership program. But it was not accurate for Pfizer to suggest that it is operating entirely apart from Operation Warp Speed; the company has a major agreement to sell at least 100 million doses to the federal government, and Pfizer acknowledged in a Monday statement to CNN that it is in fact "participating" in Operation Warp Speed through this deal. Also, at least some independent experts say the Trump administration deserves partial credit for Pfizer's progress.

But there's more to the story. Read here for the facts:

9:54 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Moscow restricts nightlife as Russia cases surge

From CNN's Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Medical workers treat a coronavirus patient in the intensive care unit of a temporary hospital in Moscow, on November 9.
Medical workers treat a coronavirus patient in the intensive care unit of a temporary hospital in Moscow, on November 9. Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images

Moscow is introducing a new set of coronavirus restrictions amid a record-breaking surge in new infections, the city's mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced Tuesday in a blog post.

The measures will be in force for two months, from November 13 until January 15, 2021. They impose significant restrictions on the city's social scene.

Under the new rules, entertainment venues, bars, and restaurants will close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Takeout and food delivery can still operate 24 hours a day, the statement added.

Sobyanin said that university and college students would switch to distance learning, bringing them in line with middle and high school students, who have been taking classes online for the past several weeks.

Most indoor venues for children, such as entertainment centers in malls, will be closed for the time being.

Theaters, concert halls and cinemas will be required to cap audiences at 25% capacity, while the organizers of mass sports events will need to secure special permission from local health authorities to host spectators.

"For two and a half months there has been a real fight against this disaster, a fight for health and lives of Muscovites,” Sobyanin wrote. 
"A week ago, the infection rate seemed to have stabilized at a high but still non-critical level. However, in recent days, we again saw a significant growth … and unfortunately in the coming weeks we might see the situation worsening."

On Monday, Moscow officially reported 6,897 new cases of coronavirus, the highest increase since the start of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the city accounted for 5,902 cases among 20,977 new infections registered across Russia.

9:35 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Hospitals in Swedish capital under "great strain" as cases surge

From CNN's Sarah Dean

Hospitals in the Swedish capital Stockholm are struggling to cope with a sharp increase in Covid-19 hospitalizations, according to the regional health authority. 

Björn Eriksson, Stockholm’s regional healthcare director, said that hospitals were having to postpone certain planned procedures, but he assured the public that they were ready to take care of all Covid-19 patients.

Sweden took a sharply different approach to its European neighbours in its Covid-19 response in the spring. The country did not enter lockdown and instead issued guidance to citizens, urging them to practice social distancing and personal hygiene. Its coronavirus death toll during the spring was one of the highest in the world per capita.

The regional health authority reports that 349 patients are in hospital in Stockholm, an increase of 76 from the end of last week. The numbers may appear low, but Sweden currently has an infection rate of approximately 346 cases per 100,000 people, far higher than Finland (53), Denmark (254) and Norway (112), according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)’s latest data. 

“The strain on our emergency hospitals is great,” Eriksson said.
“We consider the situation to be serious and are increasing coordination within the Stockholm Region in order to continue to be one step ahead in our planning so that healthcare capacity increases faster than healthcare needs.”

Sweden has tightened its guidance this month, limiting the number of people gathering in restaurants and bars as cases surge.

As of Friday, Sweden has registered 6,022 Covid-19 related deaths and a total of 146,461 cases, according to official health data.