November 16 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton and Sebastian Shukla, CNN

Updated 11:00 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020
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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.

 

10:21 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Covid-19 vaccine could be delivered by end of 2020, developers say

From CNNs Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

A Covid-19 vaccine could be delivered as early as the end of the year, according to German company BioNTech and US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

"Based on current projections we expect to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021," the companies said in a press release last week.

The two companies announced last week that their candidate vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing infection in volunteers, per preliminary data. The vaccine uses a never-before-approved technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA, to produce an immune response in people who are vaccinated.

The mRNA works by tricking cells into producing bits of protein that look like pieces of the virus. The immune system learns to recognize and attack those bits and, in theory, would react fast to any actual infection.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post cited a Twitter account that has been suspended. That sourcing has been removed.

6:54 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Boris Johnson "fit as a butchers dog" and "bursting with antibodies" after being forced to self-quarantine

From CNN's Sebastian Shukla

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was healthy and had no coronavirus symptoms after being forced to self-quarantine on Sunday due to contact with an MP who tested positive for Covid-19.

Johnson said he was "as fit as a butchers dog" and "bursting with antibodies," but that he would still be quarantining to stop any potential spread of the virus.

In a video posted to Twitter, Johnson praised the UK National Health Service Test and Trace system, which notified him of his exposure, saying that he was heading into his quarantine with a "high heart, full of optimism and confidence."

And he sounded a positive note about the UK's virus response, saying that Britain now had "two gigantic boxing gloves to wallop our foe into submission," referring to mass testing and the prospect of a vaccine.

In April, Johnson was treated for Covid-19 in the hospital, where he spent three nights in intensive care.

Hear Boris Johnson's message after potential Covid-19 exposure:

5:09 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Germany's Angela Merkel will meet with state governors today to discuss new restrictions

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media in Berlin, on November 10.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media in Berlin, on November 10. Andreas Gora/Pool/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet the country’s state governors Monday to discuss the introduction of new coronavirus restrictions.

Ideas on the agenda for the meeting, scheduled for 2 p.m. local time, are expected to include the banning of any private parties in the run-up to Christmas, CNN affiliate NTV reported.

Other possible measures include limiting people to meet only with members of their own household and a maximum of two other people from another household. Youngsters would only be able to meet with one other friend for the time being.

Those displaying symptoms of a cold would have to immediately go into home quarantine and until the symptoms abate, according to NTV. 

While schools will stay open, the meeting will consider whether to cut classes in half to reduce students’ numbers, and to require younger pupils to wear masks in school, NTV reported.

5:11 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

France has passed the peak of coronavirus epidemic, health minister says

From CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne in Paris

French Health Minister Olivier Veran speaks during a press conference at the French Health Ministry in Paris, on November 12.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran speaks during a press conference at the French Health Ministry in Paris, on November 12. Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

France has passed the peak of its coronavirus outbreak, the country's Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Sunday.

“Over the past 10 days, there’s been a decrease in the number of new Covid-19 cases, and the positivity rate has been declining, so everything suggests that we have passed a peak of the epidemic,” Veran said in an interview with regional press group Ebra.
"We are once again getting this epidemic under control,” he said. 

Veran said the decrease in cases was due to lockdown measures. "But we have not defeated the virus yet," he said. 

On Sunday, France reported 27,228 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours. The country's total caseload is surging close to 2 million, according to its health agency.

Intensive Care Unit admissions and hospitalization rates increased on Sunday, after a small dip on Friday and Saturday.

3:19 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

South Australia reinstates Covid-19 restrictions, halts international flights

From CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney

The Australian state of South Australia has reinstated some social distancing restrictions and halted international flights into its capital, in an attempt to curb a new coronavirus outbreak.

Announced by the state's Premier Steven Marshall on Monday, the new measures include the closing of gyms, canceling community sport and capping funerals at 50 people. Masks will be mandatory for aged care facilities, with visitors capped at two per day.

South Australia reported four cases of coronavirus on Sunday -- its first local infections since April. The cluster grew to 17 on Monday, according to health authorities. 

One of the coronavirus cases works at a hotel quarantine facility, where international arrivals into Adelaide must quarantine for 14 days.

“Time is now of the essence, and we must act swiftly and decisively on the health advice to stay ahead of the game,” Marshall said. “We cannot wait to see how bad this gets.”

The state of Western Australia, which received flights from Adelaide on Sunday, designated South Australia as a "medium risk" jurisdiction on Monday and enforced a 14-day quarantine for arrivals from the state.

Victoria and New South Wales, the two states which previously saw large coronavirus outbreaks, will not subject arrivals from South Australia to quarantine.

3:03 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Olympic chief hopeful that spectators will attend Tokyo Games in a "post-coronavirus world"

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo and Angus Watson in Sydney 

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach speaks to the media after his meeting with Japan's prime minister in Tokyo, on November 16.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach speaks to the media after his meeting with Japan's prime minister in Tokyo, on November 16. Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool/AP

The head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Monday he is hopeful that spectators will be able to attend the Tokyo Olympics next year in a “post-coronavirus world.”

"We can and will make these Olympic Games as a great symbol of solidarity and unity of humanity in this world, which by then will hopefully be a post-coronavirus world," IOC President Thomas Bach said in Tokyo.

Bach said he hopes a vaccine could make the games safer, if one is available by the time the Tokyo Olympics are due to begin on July 23, 2021. 

"In order to protect the Japanese people, and out of respect for the Japanese people, the IOC will undertake a great effort so that as many as possible of the Olympic participants and visitors will arrive here vaccinated if by then a vaccine is available,” Bach said. 

Bach arrived in Japan on Sunday for meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday.

“We are determined that we will realize the Tokyo Olympics," Suga said alongside Bach on Monday. “We will work closely with the IOC president and make our best efforts to carry out a safe Olympics."

2:33 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

India sees lowest single day rise in coronavirus cases since July

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

India reported 30,548 new coronavirus cases for the past 24 hours on Monday, the lowest single day rise since July 15, according to a CNN tally of data from the Indian Ministry of Health. 

Monday also marks the ninth consecutive day that new infections have fallen below 50,000. That's despite the celebrations and gatherings for Diwali -- the festival of lights that fell on November 14 this year.

The Health Ministry attributed the declining new cases to the "successful dissemination of Covid Appropriate Behaviour among the varied population groups".

However, as people gathered to shop ahead of Diwali, experts warned India may see an uptick in cases in the following weeks. 

"I won't be surprised if cases rise across India," Dr. Arvind Kumar, founder and managing trustee of the non-profit Lung Care Foundation, told CNN on Thursday, adding that the effects of the festive gatherings may be felt a week or two after the festivities. 

As of Monday, India's total caseload stands at 8,845,127, with 130,070 deaths.

2:08 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

New Zealand makes masks compulsory on domestic flights and Auckland public transport

From CNN’s Julia Hollingsworth in Hong Kong and Angus Watson in Sydney

Mask-wearing will be compulsory for passengers aboard domestic flights in New Zealand and on public transport in the country’s most populous city, Auckland, according to Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins.

Previously, passengers were only required to wear masks on planes and public transport when the country was at Covid alert level 2. New Zealand has four alert levels to respond to the severity of outbreaks, with level 4 being the highest.  

The rule will come into effect at 11.59 p.m. local time on Wednesday. 

There are currently 58 active cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, according to the Health Ministry. Five of them are cases from people within the community, and the remaining 53 were detected at the border. 

“The new move is in line with the measures already taken and fits with New Zealand’s overall focus on keeping the virus out and stamping it out when cases appear,” Hipkins said.  

Research from earlier this year found that close to 90% of public transport users in Auckland believe masks should be compulsory when riding, according to Auckland Transport.