November 23 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020
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6:46 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

UK hopes to start vaccinating people next month

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite, Naomi Thomas, Vasco Cotovio and Nadine Schmidt

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks to the media in London on November 23.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks to the media in London on November 23. George Cracknell Wright/LNP/Shutterstock

As AstraZeneca became the latest drugmaker to release encouraging Covid-19 vaccine trial results on Monday, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that his government hopes to start vaccinating people in December, pending approval.

"Subject to that approval we hope to be able to start vaccinating next month. The bulk of the vaccine rollout programme will be in January, February, March, and we hope that sometime after Easter things will be able to start to get back to normal," Matt Hancock said on BBC Breakfast Monday.

Other countries are also hoping to start rolling out vaccinations next month.

Moncef Slaoui, the head of the US government's effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, said the first Americans to receive a vaccine -- if all things go according to plan -- could be as early as the second week of December.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week that she expected a coronavirus vaccine to be approved in Europe in December or "very soon after the turn of the year."

The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, said on Friday that a “very substantial” part of the country’s population could be vaccinated in the first half of 2021. He said Spain would be the first European country, along with Germany, to have a vaccination plan.

6:13 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Job guarantees and free money: "Utopian" ideas tested in Europe during the pandemic

From CNN's Julia Horowitz

Christine Jardine in London in 2019.
Christine Jardine in London in 2019. Aaron Chown/PA/Getty Images

Christine Jardine, a Scottish politician who represents Edinburgh in the UK parliament, was not a fan of universal basic income before the pandemic hit.

"It was regarded in some quarters as a kind of socialist idea," said Jardine, a member of the centrist Liberal Democrats party.

But not long after the government shut schools, stores, restaurants and pubs in March with little warning, she started to reconsider her position.

Covid-19 has been [a] game changer," Jardine said. "It has meant that we've seen the suggestion of a universal basic income in a completely different light."

In her view, the idea -- sending cash regularly to all residents, no strings attached -- now looks more "pragmatic" than outlandish.

She isn't the only one to change her mind. As the economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus drags on, support in Europe is growing for progressive policies once seen as pipe dreams of the political left.

In Germany, millions of people applied to join a study of universal basic income that will provide participants with €1,200 ($1,423) a month, while in the United Kingdom, more than 100 lawmakers -- including Jardine -- are pushing the government to start similar trials.

Austria has launched a first-of-its-kind pilot program that will guarantee paying jobs to residents struggling with sustained unemployment in Marienthal, a long-suffering former industrial town about 40 miles southwest of Vienna.

Read the full story here:

5:41 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Chaotic scenes at Shanghai airport after workers test positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Nectar Gan, Shanshan Wang and Shawn Deng

Shanghai's biggest international airport momentarily descended into chaos Sunday night, after authorities ordered a mass testing drive in response to a small outbreak of Covid-19 linked to several cargo handlers.

Since the beginning of November, seven cargo workers and their close contacts at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport have been diagnosed as confirmed coronavirus cases, including two reported on Sunday.

In a bid to contain the cluster, authorities ordered all cargo staff at the airport to undergo coronavirus tests overnight and set up a temporary testing site on the second floor of a parking garage, according to a statement from the Shanghai government.

Photos and videos circulating on Chinese social media show hundreds of people packed closely together inside the garage -- the opposite of social distancing -- with a line of people in hazmat suits trying to hold back crowds pushing forward.

But the chaos appeared to have calmed before midnight, when the airport police posted photos on Weibo showing workers lining up orderly for the tests.

As of Monday morning, 17,719 samples had been collected. Of the 11,544 samples that have been tested, all received negative results, officials said at a news conference.

While the initial chaos has drawn criticism on Chinese social media, the swift, drastic response over just a few cases highlights the length the Chinese government is willing to go to in order to stamp out any resurgence of the virus.

Read the full story here:

5:18 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Pakistan's "second wave" of virus shutters schools 

 From CNN’s Sophia Saifi in Islamabad

Pakistan will close all education institutions from Thursday through January 11 as Covid-19 cases mount in the country, according to education minister Shafqat Mahmood.

Home learning will be instituted between Thursday and December 24, when holidays begin, Mahmood announced Monday.

Health authorities in Pakistan have recorded 2,756 new cases of the virus over the past 24 hours. At the end of October, the country’s health ministry announced that Pakistan was officially in the midst of a “second wave” of the virus.

Pakistan has had 376,929 cases of Covid-19 with 7,696 deaths recorded since March, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.

5:07 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Oxford scientist shares excitement over vaccine results

From CNN's Schams Elwazer and Sharon Braithwaite

The chief investigator of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine trial said the fact that the candidate may be up to 90% effective is exciting news.

Results from clinical trials of this coronavirus vaccine show it has “an average efficacy of 70%,” with one dosing regimen showing an efficacy of 90%, pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca said in a Monday news release.

"Excitingly, we've found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply,” Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, said.

How AstraZeneca's statement explains the dosing regimens:

  • When the vaccine was given as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart, the efficacy was 90%.
  • When given as two full doses at least one month apart, the efficacy was 62%.
  • The combined analysis from both dosing regimens resulted in an average efficacy of 70%.

The clinical trials, conducted in the UK and Brazil, showed the vaccine was highly effective in preventing Covid-19 with no hospitalizations or severe cases of the disease reported, the statement said.

Sarah Gilbert, professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said that announcement the "takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by SARS-CoV-2."

"It has been a privilege to be part of this multi-national effort which will reap benefits for the whole world," she added.

The UK government has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine. AstraZeneca told CNN on Friday that the company had delivered four million vials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate to the UK government, with millions more frozen doses ready to be sent.

Read the breaking news story here:

4:55 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Dance studio cluster drives spike in Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong

From CNN’s Jadyn Sham in Hong Kong

A health care worker holds a sign reading "Dancing Group," referring to a dance club cluster of Covid-19, as people stand in line outside a testing center in the Yau Ma Tei district of Hong Kong, on November. 23.
A health care worker holds a sign reading "Dancing Group," referring to a dance club cluster of Covid-19, as people stand in line outside a testing center in the Yau Ma Tei district of Hong Kong, on November. 23. Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Hong Kong recorded 73 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, marking a new spike in infections, according to health authorities on Monday.

This is the highest daily figure since August 16, when Hong Kong experienced a "third wave" of the virus. 

Cases in the city have hovered between zero and a dozen since that wave calmed in September.

Of Sunday's infections, 10 were imported from abroad, eight were untraceable, and 55 were confirmed as locally transmitted, according to Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan of Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health.

Fifty of the locally transmitted cases were linked back to a cluster involving 21 different dance studios in the city.

4:32 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

After 118 days in the hospital with Covid-19, he's finally home just in time for the holidays

From CNN's Lauren M. Johnson

Darell Slater with his wife and daughters.
Darell Slater with his wife and daughters. Courtesy Kim Cochran

No one expected him home for the holidays -- but after 118 days in the hospital with Covid-19, Darell Slater will spend Thanksgiving with his family.

Slater, 71, was first diagnosed with Covid-19 on July 13 along with his wife, his family said. After two weeks of quarantine, she recovered but he did not.

"About a week later, after putting him on the ventilator, they told us that he was the sickest patient in the hospital ... and there was nothing else they could do for him there," said Slater's daughter, Kim Cochran.

By August 6, he was put on ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a therapy that adds oxygen to the blood and pumps it through the body.

"They said Covid just went in like a bomb and destroyed his lungs," Cochran said. "Two weeks later, every time they tried to remove him from ECMO he would crash immediately."

On September 18, Slater finally tested negative for Covid-19, and he started to be slowly removed from all of the machines. He was moved to a medical rehab facility, where he would remain for the next seven weeks. Slater was wheeled out of the hospital on Friday, where his waiting family was waiting for him.

The family said they are thankful to all of the hospital staff that helped take care of their dad.

"We just want to tell the story because we don't want anyone to give up," Cochran said. "You just can't give up."

Read the full story:

4:25 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Russia reports more than 25,000 new Covid-19 cases in a day for the first time

From CNN's Zahra Ullah

A medical worker takes a venous blood sample from a patient for Covid-19 antibody testing at a Gemotest lab in Simferopol, Crimea, Russia, on November 20.
A medical worker takes a venous blood sample from a patient for Covid-19 antibody testing at a Gemotest lab in Simferopol, Crimea, Russia, on November 20. Sergei Malgavko/TASS/Sipa USA

Russia reported 25,173 new Covid-19 infections on Monday -- the highest number of cases it has reported in a single day, according to the country’s coronavirus response center. 

The country has now officially reported more than 2.1 million confirmed cases, and 36,540 virus-related deaths.

However, a CNN investigation previously found that Russia's official death figures may grossly understate the real toll by excluding people who are presumed to have Covid-19 post mortem, and even those with pre-existing conditions that proved fatal due to the infection.

Read our investigation:

3:27 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Boris Johnson: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine results are "incredibly exciting"

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted on Monday that the results from AstraZeneca's experimental vaccine trials were "incredibly exciting."

"Incredibly exciting news the Oxford vaccine has proved so effective in trials. There are still further safety checks ahead, but these are fantastic results. Well done to our brilliant scientists at @UniofOxford &@AstraZeneca, and all who volunteered in these trials," he tweeted.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock also said on Monday that he was "really really pleased with this news."

"Of course, we have 100 million doses of this vaccine on order. And we've been working very closely with AstraZeneca as they're increasing the manufacturing of the vaccine," he said on BBC Breakfast.

"For our two top vaccine candidates that are the earliest in development, both to have come through with an effectiveness that high is really good news for everyone."

Trial results: The AstraZeneca/University of Oxford vaccine showed 90% efficacy in one dosing regimen, and 62% efficacy in a second regimen, giving it an average of 70% efficacy.

AstraZeneca said on Monday that it would immediately prepare to submit the trial data to authorities in countries that allow conditional or early approval.