November 16 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton and Sebastian Shukla, CNN

Updated 11:00 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020
27 Posts
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9:48 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

US stocks rise sharply after Moderna says vaccine is 94.5% effective

From CNN’s Charles Riley

Pedestrians walk past the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, on Monday, November 9
Pedestrians walk past the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, on Monday, November 9 Wang Ying/Xinhua/Getty Images

US stocks rose sharply Monday, on pace to hit new record highs, after Moderna said that its experimental Covid-19 vaccine is highly effective.

That heralded another breakthrough in the fight against coronavirus that could eventually help the world's biggest economies recover from deep recessions.

Moderna said in a statement that the first interim analysis of Phase 3 trial results showed its vaccine candidate was 94.5% effective against the coronavirus.

Last week, Pfizer said that a vaccine it developed with German drug maker BioNTech was more than 90% effective against Covid-19.

There are dozens more potential vaccines in development, and the promising test results from Moderna and Pfizer suggest that vaccines may be an effective way to fight the coronavirus. Both vaccines require two doses to be administered. 

US stocks rose after Moderna announced the results. The Dow added 1.2%, or 330 points. The S&P 500 increased 0.75% and the Nasdaq was flat. Shares in Moderna were up 11%.

1:22 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

US Health secretary says Moderna's vaccine is "more flexible." Here's why.

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar delivers an update on "Operation Warp Speed" in the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday, November 13.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar delivers an update on "Operation Warp Speed" in the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday, November 13. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine candidate is “more flexible" because "it can be kept in regular freezer refrigeration," US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Monday on Fox and Friends.

Pfizer's vaccine candidate has to be kept at minus 75 degrees Celsius — or about minus 103 degrees Fahrenheit. No other vaccine in the US needs to be kept that cold, and doctors' offices and pharmacies do not have freezers that go that low.

Moderna's vaccine can be kept at minus 20 degrees Celsius, which is about minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Other vaccines, such as the one against chickenpox, need to be kept at that temperature.

On Moderna's vaccine, Azar said:

"So it’s going to be amenable to that program we announced last week, going to your local chain or community pharmacist and getting vaccinated. The Pfizer one’s going to be really good for big institutional vaccination, say a whole hospital setting, several nursing homes at once."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misstated the temperature the Moderna vaccine can be kept. It's minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

9:15 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Vaccinations could begin toward the end of December, Fauci says

A traffic officer directs drivers as people arrive and depart from the Covid-19 testing venue at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, on Thursday, November 12.
A traffic officer directs drivers as people arrive and depart from the Covid-19 testing venue at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, on Thursday, November 12. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

As Moderna announced its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective against coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease doctor, said vaccinations could begin next month.

Moderna plans to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for authorization of its vaccine soon after it accumulates more safety data later this month.

Fauci says he expects the first Covid-19 vaccinations to begin "towards the latter part of December, rather than the early part of December."

Initially, there won't be enough vaccine for everyone. The highest priority groups — which include health care workers, the elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions, —will get the vaccine first.

"I think that everybody else will start to get vaccinated towards the end of April," Fauci said. "And that will go into May, June, July. It will take a couple of months to do."

9:02 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

NYC schools will stay open tomorrow as 7-day Covid-19 test positivity rate remains under 3%

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

Parents and students demonstrate during a rally to call on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to keep schools open in New York, on Saturday, November 14.
Parents and students demonstrate during a rally to call on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to keep schools open in New York, on Saturday, November 14. Mary Altaffer/AP

New York City schools will remain open Tuesday, as the city’s seven-day test positivity rate remains under 3%, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a televised interview with MSNBC.

The seven-day average test positivity rate as of Monday morning is 2.77%, he said.

If the test positivity rate reached or exceeded 3%, city schools could be closed and students would move to all-remote learning, the city previously announced.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has publicly suggested that schools across New York City should be allowed to “test out” of closing as Covid-19 rates continue to rise across the city.

“Because if the school is not spreading the virus, or if the school has a much lower positivity rate than the surrounding area, then the school is not a part of the problem, and you could argue keeping the children in the school is part of the solution rather than the children spending time on the street in the neighborhood where the infection rate is higher," he said.

Schools should also be able to “test out of a red zone” areas around the state, where infection levels are 4% or higher, Cuomo said.

Remember: The positivity rate is the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of those overall who have been tested. So, as more and more people are being tested, the focus is shifting to the positivity rate — how many of those tested are actually infected.

8:44 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

The US added 1 million Covid-19 cases in just 6 days

From CNN's Holly Yan, Madeline Holcombe and Dakin Andone

The US surpassed 11 million coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, as states across the country moved to enact restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

The latest milestone comes just six days after the US recorded 10 million cases, per Johns Hopkins data. It was the fastest the US has added one million new cases since the pandemic began.

At least 45 states have reported more new infections this past week compared to the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins University.

"We have this firestorm of coronavirus all across the country," emergency medicine physician Dr. Leana Wen said. "It's not one or two hotspots, the entire country is a hotspot of coronavirus infection."

Nationwide, more than 246,000 people have died including —1,266 new deaths reported on Saturday alone.

Here's a look at where cases are rising across the country compared to last week:

2:13 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Moderna's vaccine has a significant advantage over Pfizer's

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

Moderna announced this morning that its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective against the virus, making it the second vaccine in the United States to have a stunningly high success rate.

Last week, Pfizer announced that early data show its vaccine is more than 90% effective against the disease.

While the two vaccines appear to have very similar safety and efficacy profiles, Moderna's vaccine has a significant practical advantage over Pfizer's.

Pfizer's vaccine has to be kept at minus 75 degrees Celsius — or about minus 103 degrees Fahrenheit. No other vaccine in the US needs to be kept that cold, and doctors' offices and pharmacies do not have freezers that go that low.

Moderna's vaccine can be kept at minus 20 degrees Celsius, which is about minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Other vaccines, such as the one against chickenpox, need to be kept at that temperature.

That means Moderna's vaccine can be kept in "a readily available freezer that is available in most doctors' offices and pharmacies," said Dr. Tal Zacks, Moderna's chief medical officer. "We leverage infrastructure that already exists for other marketed vaccines."

Another advantage of Moderna's vaccine is that it can be kept for 30 days in the refrigerator, the company announced Monday. Pfizer's vaccine can last only five days in the refrigerator.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misstated the temperature the Moderna vaccine can be kept. It's minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Experts weigh in:

8:35 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

"This is really a historic day," Health secretary says after Moderna announces vaccine results

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Alex Azar, US Health and Human Services secretary, praised the Moderna coronavirus vaccine trial news this morning on Good Morning America.

“Here we are, 10 months from the date when this virus hit out shores and we’ve got a second 90% plus effective vaccine for the American people. This is really a historic day,” he told George Stephanopoulos on Monday. 

Azar said that because the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are already being produced, they hope to have enough by the end of December to vaccinate 20 million of the United States’ most vulnerable citizens.

When asked by Stephanopoulos about who would get the vaccine first, Azar said “we’re going to follow the guidance. Once the full data package is in, then we’re going to follow the guidance of CDC.”  

“It’ll be wherever it’s going to add the most value according to the data and the science and the recommendations of our experts,” he said. 

More details:

8:04 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Trump nowhere to be seen as Covid crisis deepens

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

A medical staff member treats a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, on November 14.
A medical staff member treats a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, on November 14. Go Nakamura/Getty Images

More than 1 million Americans have been infected with Covid-19 in the last week. Over the weekend, the United States topped 11 million coronavirus cases and 246,000 deaths, meaning that one in 1,340 Americans alive in January has now died in the pandemic and one in 30 has been infected.

It's also getting worse. At least 45 states reported more new infections last week compared to the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins University. A new record-high number of patients have been hospitalized. Hospitals in several states are running out of capacity and staff.

But the country's leadership is nowhere to be seen. As an average of more than 1,000 Americans died every day in the past week, President Donald Trump continued to ignore the deepening crisis. In the absence of national action, states have been left to manage on their own. Over the weekend, Washington state announced new restrictions on social gatherings, while Michigan told high schools and colleges to move to remote learning for three weeks. New Mexico is banning in-person services for nonessential businesses starting today.

But the Trump administration hasn't just gone missing. It's actively pushing against the measures that experts say are necessary to curb the spread of the virus. White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Scott Atlas criticized Michigan's new restrictions and urged people to "rise up" against them.

The US is now looking a lot like Europe did a month ago. Belgium, France, Spain, the Czech Republic and others then saw infection levels rising beyond their worst predictions. Running out of hospital beds was a real possibility.

But those countries managed to slow the spread and -- for now -- prevent the virus from overwhelming their health systems. How? Through lockdowns and mask mandates.

The US could follow in their footsteps. Or it could just keep talking about the election.

Here's what else you need to know about the pandemic today:

7:33 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine "94.5% effective," according to early data

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

A participant in Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial receives a shot at Accel Research Sites in DeLand, Florida, on August 4.
A participant in Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial receives a shot at Accel Research Sites in DeLand, Florida, on August 4. Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine is "94.5% effective" in preventing infection, according to early data released by the American biotechnology company on Monday.

The results come hot on the heels of an announcement by US-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer last week that its vaccine candidate was 90% effective.

It’s just as good as it gets – 94.5% is truly outstanding," Dr Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious disease expert, said of the Moderna news.

The early results showed the vaccine protected people from getting both mild and severe forms of Covid-19, according to the company. 

In Moderna’s trial, 15,000 study participants were given a placebo, which is a shot of saline that has no effect. Over several months, 90 of those people developed Covid-19. 

Another 15,000 participants were given the vaccine, and five of them developed Covid-19. 

Among those receiving a placebo, 11 became severely ill, but none of the participants who received the vaccine became severely ill. 

The company said its vaccine did not have any significant side effects. A small percentage of those who received it experienced symptoms such as body aches and headaches. 

Moderna plans to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for authorization of its vaccine soon after it accumulates more safety data later this month. 

Fauci said he expects the first vaccinations to begin “towards the latter part of December, rather than the early part of December.” 

How the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine candidates compare: Moderna’s vaccine has some practical advantages over Pfizer’s. Moderna’s vaccine can be kept in a freezer that’s typically available in doctors’ offices and pharmacies, and then can be kept in the refrigerator for 30 days. Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be kept much colder, and doctors’ offices and pharmacies don’t have freezers that go that low. It then can stay in the refrigerator for only five days.