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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1:01 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Sweden will limit public gatherings to 8, including in bars and restaurants

From CNN's Amy Cassidy in Glasgow and Henrik Pettersson in London

People eat at a bar in Stockholm on September 19.
People eat at a bar in Stockholm on September 19. Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Sweden will ban public gatherings of more than eight people – including in bars and restaurants — as Covid-19 cases surge across the Nordic country that famously opted not to lock down during the first wave of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven urged fellow Swedes during a press conference Monday: “don’t go to gyms, don’t go to libraries, don’t host dinners, don’t host parties. Cancel.”

He said the pandemic has created a “new norm for the entire society.”

The new government restrictions do not include closing gyms or libraries but people are being urged to be cautious.

“We are living in a trying time — it will become worse — do your duty, take responsibility and stop the spread of the virus,” Lofven said. 

The new rule limiting gatherings is expected to start on Nov. 24, pending approval from relevant government consultation bodies. 

The restrictions will last for four weeks, although the government warned they could be extended over Christmas and New Year if the situation does not improve.

The latest official health data from this past Thursday shows that Sweden reported 4,519 new cases. 

Infections and hospitalizations have risen sharply throughout the autumn. The cumulative 14-day infection rate is approximately 511 cases per 100,000 people, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 

Sweden has registered 177,355 cases and 6,164 deaths since the start of the pandemic. 

12:40 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

CDC committee will meet next week to decide who will get Covid-19 vaccine first

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

A nurse exits a tent for coronavirus patients at University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, on October 30. Health care workers will be among the first to get the coronavirus vaccine.
A nurse exits a tent for coronavirus patients at University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, on October 30. Health care workers will be among the first to get the coronavirus vaccine. Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

An advisory committee to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to meet next week to decide who will get a Covid-19 vaccine first, according to a longtime member of the committee. 

Members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices received notice last week that they’ll meet Nov. 23 for five hours, according to committee member Dr. William Schaffner. 

A spokesperson for the CDC confirmed the meeting. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN Sunday that he expects the first vaccinations to occur “towards the latter part of December.” But there won’t be enough vaccine for everyone to get it at once, so the CDC will set priorities. 

Among the first to get the vaccine will be health care workers, and essential workers, and in addition, those over age 65 and people with underlying conditions because they are at high risk for complications from Covid-19.  

The question is what order these groups should be in, Schaffner said.  

“Health care workers are baked in – that’s the first thing to happen, no doubt about that,” said Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

After that, the committee members will need to define what underlying conditions would merit getting a vaccine early on, and what defines “essential workers.” That group could include everyone from police officers to supermarket clerks. 

“There have been huge ethical discussions about this,” Schaffner said. 

The CDC committee was expected to make a decision about prioritization months ago, but did not. 

12:31 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

UK has reached "initial agreement" with Moderna to secure 5 million doses of candidate vaccine

From CNN's Nada Bashir

The UK government has reached an “initial agreement” with pharmaceutical company Moderna to secure five million doses of their candidate vaccine, should it be approved by regulators, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced Monday. 

“Should this latest vaccine be approved, the doses would be available from spring next year and I can announce that we have today secured an initial agreement for five million doses of the Moderna vaccine,” Hancock said during a Downing Street briefing.  

“This is another encouraging step forward, although I stress that this is preliminary. The safety data is limited, and their production facilities are not yet at scale,” he added. 

Earlier on Monday, Moderna announced that early data shows that its vaccine is 94.5% effective against coronavirus, making it the second vaccine in the United States to have a stunningly high success rate.

12:03 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

More than 1 million US children have been diagnosed with Covid-19, pediatricians say

From CNN's Maggie Fox

More than one million US children under 18 have been diagnosed with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association said Monday.

“As of Nov. 12, a total of 1,039,464 children have tested positive for Covid-19 since the onset of the pandemic. In the one-week period ending Nov. 12th, there were 111,946 new cases in children, which is substantially larger than any previous week in the pandemic,” the groups said in a joint statement.

“The increase tracks surges in the virus in communities across the U.S.,” they added.

“As a pediatrician who has practiced medicine for over three decades, I find this number staggering and tragic. We haven’t seen a virus flash through our communities in this way since before we had vaccines for measles and polio,” Dr. Sally Goza, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents pediatricians, said.

"We urgently need a new, nationwide strategy to control the pandemic, and that should include implementing proven public health measures like mask wearing and physical distancing,” Goza added in a statement.

“This pandemic is taking a heavy toll on children, families and communities, as well as on physicians and other front-line medical teams. We must work now to restore confidence in our public health and scientific agencies, create fiscal relief for families and pediatricians alike, and support the systems that support children and families such as our schools, mental health care, and nutrition assistance," she said.

While severe illness and deaths remain rare, the group urged health authorities to do more to collect data on longer-term effects on the health of children.

11:50 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Doctors say they’re at breaking point as Covid-19 cases surge

From running out of room at the morgue to caring for critically ill colleagues, many doctors and nurses on the frontlines of America's Covid-19 crisis tell CNN they "don't feel like heroes anymore."

The United States surpassed 11 million coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, as states across the country moved to enact restrictions in an effort to curb the spread.

The latest milestone came 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.

Hear these health professionals describe what the spike in Covid-19 cases has been like for them:

11:38 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Here's how Chicago is planning on rolling out a possible vaccine

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Workers suit up in personal protective equipment as they prepare to open a COVID-19 test site in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, on Thursday, November 12.
Workers suit up in personal protective equipment as they prepare to open a COVID-19 test site in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, on Thursday, November 12. Scott Olson/Getty Images

While two coronavirus vaccine candidates, Pfizer and Moderna, now show high efficacy rates, Americans should not be hoping for any authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration before the last half of December, experts agreed.

And even when the vaccine finally becomes available, Chicago plans to first provide it to health care workers, who are at high risk of exposure, according to Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

“The problem is, right at the beginning, there's not going to be enough vaccine for you and I, and friends and family to get it. We'll start with health care workers,” she told CNN.

The first batch of vaccines that the city gets may not be enough to cover all of its health care workers, Arwady added. 

“We have a sense how many doses we would need,” she said Monday. “There are hundreds of thousands of health care workers in Chicago and we'll probably get maybe 150,000 between the two vaccines.”

There are plans in place to push the vaccine out as soon as it becomes available, Arwady said, adding that the city is equipped to accept and distribute any amount of vaccine that it gets. There's been work done to prioritize based on population.

“We want to get started on [ramping it up,] but it's going to take a number of months before we get to a point where it's widely available, which is why right now we need people to double down on the things that we know work — the masking, the social distancing, the staying at home when you can,” she said.

Watch the interview:

11:14 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Michigan GOP congressman tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Ali Main & Daniella Diaz

GOP Rep. Tim Walberg announced on Monday that he learned yesterday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

He said he is experiencing mild symptoms and remains "in good spirits," adding that it has been more than a week since he has attended a public event.

The Michigan Republican said his office is reaching out to individuals who he had been in contact with before he began self-isolating.

"As we enter the winter months, I encourage everyone to remain vigilant and adhere to public health guidelines to combat this virus," he wrote.

Read the tweet:

Another congressman, Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin, is quarantining after his mother tested positive for Covid-19, according to a statement from his office. His office said he drove her to a nursing home on Monday and then she tested positive on Tuesday.

He tested negative Friday and will test again at the end of the week.

11:06 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

EU will authorize deal to secure up to 405 million doses of candidate coronavirus vaccine

From CNN's Nada Bashir

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a statement at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Novem 16.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a statement at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Novem 16. Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool/AP

The European Union has announced its intention to authorize a contract with biopharmaceutical company CureVac for the supply of up to 405 million doses of their candidate coronavirus vaccine, pending regulatory approval. 

“Tomorrow, we will authorize a new contract to secure another Covid-19 vaccine for Europeans. This contract allows us to buy up to 405 million doses of a vaccine produced by the European company CureVac,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Monday. 

“If the vaccine is proven safe and effective against Covid-19, every Member State will receive the vaccine at the same time on a pro-rata basis, and under the same conditions,” she added. 

The announcement comes just days after the EU announced it had authorized a contract with Pfizer-BioNTech for their candidate vaccine, and marks the fifth coronavirus vaccine deal signed by the EU so far. 

Speaking during a press conference in Brussels, the commission president added that the EU is also pursuing a sixth contract with Moderna for its coronavirus vaccine. 

“We have already concluded exploratory talks with Moderna. We hope to finalize the contract soon,” von der Leyen said. 

11:05 a.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Moderna chair says vaccine trial results "exceeded" their expectations

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

Noubar Afeyan speaks at the 2019 Aurora Forum on October 16, 2019 in Yerevan, Armenia.
Noubar Afeyan speaks at the 2019 Aurora Forum on October 16, 2019 in Yerevan, Armenia. Victor Boyko/Getty Images

Noubar Afeyan, the co-founder and chair of Moderna, said that the interim results from its Covid-19 vaccine trial that showed a 94.5% efficacy rate “exceeded our expectations.”

“We’ve been working over the past six months to get to this point, since we started our very first human trials back in March, and of course it is an anxiety-filled moment, because in sciences, we can’t be sure to predict what might happen,” Afeyan said on CNN International Monday. 

Afeyan said that the company heard from the independent monitoring board Sunday. 

There were 15,000 people in the study who got the placebo and 15,000 who got the vaccine. The interim analysis showed that out of all those people, 95 volunteers in the trial that got Covid-19. Only five who became ill had gotten the vaccine. The other 90 got the placebo. 

“That, I must say exceeded our expectations, in the sense that there’s a lot of differences one gets when you get to larger populations and we were very gratified to see, so far, that actually the vaccines performed in a very robust way,” Afeyan said.

Among the volunteers that got sick, 11 had a severe form of the disease and none had received the vaccine. That could suggest that even if someone does get sick after the receiving the vaccine, it is protective enough to limit the illness to a mild case. Earlier tests in animals and prior human analysis showed the vaccine generated a robust and protective antibody response, Afeyan said.

“You know, in scientific or clinical research, optimism is something that you actively keep in check, because you have to do the rigorous experiments,” Afeyan said. “But certainly I can say that we're encouraged by this interim readout.”