November 24 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Kara Fox, Antonia Mortensen, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020
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12:43 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

NFL players now must wear face coverings on the sideline during games

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

Green Bay Packers' David Bakhtiari wears a face mask on the bench during the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Nov. 15, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Green Bay Packers' David Bakhtiari wears a face mask on the bench during the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Nov. 15, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Mike Roemer/AP

The NFL now requires players to wear face coverings on the sideline during games, according to a memo on the league's updated Covid-19 protocols distributed on Monday and obtained by CNN Sports from a league source.

The new guidance requires “players who are not substituting or preparing to enter the field of play and are not wearing their helmets” to wear a “mask or a double-layered gaiter” on the sidelines.

Coaches who call plays, who were previously permitted to wear a face shield in lieu of a face covering, will also now be required to wear a mask or double-layered gaiter.

Other requirements: The NFL is also cracking down on postgame mingling between opposing teams. Players and team personnel will now only be permitted to “briefly” interact with the opposing team while wearing masks, before “promptly” returning to their locker rooms.

The league is also reducing the number of players that can travel to a game to 62, whether the player is eligible to play in the game or not.

The changes will take effect this week, beginning with the three games on Thanksgiving.

12:26 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Japan's Covid-19 death toll surpasses 2,000

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

Japan reported eight coronavirus-related fatalities on Tuesday, bringing the country's Covid-19 death toll to 2,002.

The country also reported 1,522 new infections on Tuesday, with the total caseload now at 134,639, according to Japan's Health Ministry.

The number of seriously ill patients doubled in three weeks, from 160 cases on Nov. 1 to 330 on Monday.

Tourism scheme paused: Amid surging cases, the Japanese government is looking to partially suspend its subsided domestic travel campaign. The governors of Hokkaido and Osaka prefectures said Monday they agreed to the temporary suspension of discounted travel bookings in their capital cities of Sapporo and Osaka, where the infection rate is rapidly increasing.

Tokyo recorded 314 new cases on Monday while Osaka and Hokkaido reported 281 and 206 cases respectively.

12:02 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Belize prime minister tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Tatiana Arias

Belize’s Prime Minister John Briceño has tested positive for coronavirus, the Belize Press Office said in a statement Monday.

“Prime Minister Briceño will remain in isolation for the next two weeks, after which he will be re-tested,” the statement said. 

Briceño took office as the head of state on Nov. 13. 

As of Monday, Belize has reported 5,249 cases of Covid-19 and 136 deaths, according to official data.

10:46 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

The US could have 20 million coronavirus cases by Inauguration Day, new model predicts

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

The number of Covid-19 cases in the United States could reach 20 million by Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, according to a new coronavirus modeling forecast from Washington University in St. Louis.

The model, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports on Monday, looked at coronavirus case numbers and mobility data.

“We forecast rates of new cases for Covid-19 under different social distancing norms and find that if social distancing is eliminated, there will be a massive increase in the cases of Covid-19,” the team wrote.

The model projected that if current social distancing measures are at a 60% return to normalcy compared to pre-pandemic levels, the US will likely reach 20 million cases before the end of January.

The importance of social distancing: Greater social distancing efforts could reduce the number of new cases even further, although the efforts vary widely across the country, the researchers noted.

“Even small increases in social distancing can have a large effect on the number of cases we observe in the next two and a half months,” model co-developer Raphael Thomadsen said in a statement. “Going back to a 50% return to normalcy, which was the average level of distancing in early August, would likely result in 5 million fewer cases by the end of January. 

If the US returned to the level of social distancing in April, Thomadsen predicted the spread of Covid-19 could be “effectively squashed.”

But this is probably a conservative estimate, the team said, because their model assumes only 10% of coronavirus cases are ever diagnosed.

“However, more recently, testing has increased, and probably more like 25% of cases are diagnosed,” model co-developer Song Yao said in a statement. “In that case, total COVID cases would increase beyond 20 million in the next few months unless we, as a society, engage in more social distancing.”

The researchers also predicted the holiday season will create “a great deal of uncertainty” in the model because people will travel more at the end of the year.

11:33 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Fauci disagrees with "well-meaning governors" who plan on state-level assessment of vaccines

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Source: PBS Newshour

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday he disagrees with “well-meaning governors” who plan on performing state-level safety reviews of coronavirus vaccines after they are authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that New York health officials will review a coronavirus vaccine after it is approved by the FDA to ensure its safety.

Fauci told PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff he understands that governors want to protect their citizens, but with the mixed signals coming out of Washington, they’re missing something important about the vaccine approval process. 

“The process of the decision of whether or not a vaccine is safe and effective -- that is made by a completely independent group, not by the federal government, not by the company,” said Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“It's made by an independent group of scientists, vaccinologists, ethicists, statisticians,” he added. 

Fauci said he wants everyone to understand there is no political pressure affecting the vaccine approval process.

“I hope that they would then realize that that's good enough,” he said.

Fauci added that if everything goes well, vaccinations will likely begin in December and the US will be able to start vaccinating the broader population “in earnest” in April and May.  

11:33 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

FDA asks committee critical to vaccine authorization to meet twice in December 

From CNN Health’s Elizabeth Cohen

A volunteer receives his first injection as a participant in a Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Moderna at Accel Research Sites on Aug. 4, in DeLand, Florida.
A volunteer receives his first injection as a participant in a Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Moderna at Accel Research Sites on Aug. 4, in DeLand, Florida. Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked members of its vaccine advisory committee to reserve Dec. 17 and 18 for meetings, presumably to discuss a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Moderna, according to a source familiar with the process. 

The FDA consults with its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee before allowing any vaccine -- including a coronavirus vaccine -- to go on the market. 

On Sunday, Moncef Slaoui, the head of Operation Warp Speed, mentioned a Dec. 17 FDA review for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine. Last week, the pharmaceutical company announced that initial data shows its vaccine is 94.5% effective against Covid-19.  

The FDA has called a meeting of the committee for Dec. 10 to consider Pfizer’s application for emergency use authorization for the vaccine it has developed with its partner BioNTech. Pfizer says its vaccine is 95% effective against Covid-19. 

Moderna is awaiting more data on study participants who became ill with coronavirus and could apply to the FDA for emergency use authorization in the next week, according to a Moderna spokesman. 

“Within the next week or so, we expect to see efficacy data based on 151 COVID-19 cases per our protocol, and, if appropriate based on the data, make an EUA submission shortly thereafter,” spokesman Ray Jordan told CNN.
12:46 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

England cuts traveler quarantine period to five days

From CNN's Tamara Hardingham-Gill

England is drastically reducing its quarantine period for people arriving from most destinations in a move that will potentially throw open the doors for British people wanting to take foreign vacations.

As of Dec. 15, travelers arriving into England will have to self-isolate just five days instead of the current 14 under a new testing strategy announced by the UK government.

Under the new rules, all international arrivals from destinations absent from England's travel corridor list will have the option to take a Covid-19 test after being in quarantine for the shorter period.

Those who receive a negative result will be permitted to refrain from self-isolating, but must continue to follow domestic Covid-19 rules.

The "test and release" scheme requires passengers arriving in England by plane, ferry or train to book and pay for the test themselves. It's unclear whether the scheme will eventually cover the rest of the UK.

"Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international business," says UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
"By giving people the choice to test on day five, we are also supporting the travel industry as it continues to rebuild out of the pandemic."

The UK's mandatory two-week quarantine came into effect on June 8 and has been heavily criticized by many in the travel sector, who saw it as an obstacle to both tourism at home and for British people wanting to take a break overseas.

These rules were subsequently relaxed for those arriving in England from approved destinations, but this list changes weekly and travelers from countries that aren't considered "green" have been required to keep to the two-week quarantine.

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8:55 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

The US set another record for new Covid cases in children last week, AAP says

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

There were more than 144,000 new cases of Covid-19 reported among children in the week ending Nov. 19 -- marking the highest weekly increase since the pandemic began, according to an update Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Children now account for more than 11% of all confirmed coronavirus cases in the US. There has been a 28% increase in child Covid-19 cases over two weeks.

The AAP said 144,145 new cases among children 17 and under were reported from Nov. 5 to 19. The group, which represents pediatricians, says nearly 1.2 million children have been infected in the US as of Nov. 19. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 12.4 million Americans have been infected with the novel coronavirus.

Severe illness and death from Covid-19 are still rare among children. As of Nov. 19, children represented between 1.2% and 3.1% of total hospitalizations, depending on the state. Between 0.2% and 5.6% of all child Covid-19 cases resulted in hospitalizations in states that reported that information, and fewer than 0.14% of all children with Covid-19 died. Seventeen states reported no child deaths.

The count is not complete, because not all states report data the same way. These numbers come from 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. A smaller subset of states report information about hospitalizations and deaths by age.

The AAP says there is an “urgent need” to collect more data on longer-term impacts on children, including the ways in which the virus may hurt children physically and emotionally long-term.

8:03 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

AstraZeneca's Oxford coronavirus vaccine is 70% effective on average, data shows, with no safety concerns

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz, Kara Fox and Amy Cassidy

Drugmaker AstraZeneca announced on Monday that its experimental coronavirus vaccine has shown an average efficacy of 70% in large-scale trials -- the latest of several vaccine trials worldwide to post their results this month.

The average efficacy of 70% came from the average of two different dosing schedules tested as part of the trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil.

The vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, showed 90% efficacy in one dosing regimen -- when the vaccine was given to 2,741 people as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least a month later -- and 62% efficacy in a second regimen -- when two full doses were given to 8,895 people at least a month apart. That averages to a 70% efficacy, AstraZeneca said.

It is not yet clear why the two dosages produced such different results.

When people were given the smaller dose, the number of asymptomatic infections dropped, indicating a difference in transmission, Professor Andrew Pollard, the trial's lead investigator at Oxford, said in a call with journalists on Monday.

"What we've always tried to do with a vaccine is fool the immune system into thinking that there's a dangerous infection there that it needs to respond to -- but doing it in a very safe way," Pollard explained. "So we get the immune response and we get the immune memory ... waiting and ready if the pathogen itself is then encountered."

It may be that the best way of "kicking the immune system into action" is to give the body a small amount of the vaccine to begin with -- and then follow up with a larger amount, but as the data on that method is preliminary, there is still more work to do, Pollard said.

AstraZeneca is the third drugmaker to unveil promising results in the fight against coronavirus this month, with Moderna announcing earlier in November that its vaccine was 94.5% effective against coronavirus, and Pfizer/BioNTech revealing that its vaccine was 95% effective.

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