November 27 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 2:08 a.m. ET, November 28, 2020
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2:24 p.m. ET, November 27, 2020

More information is needed about different AstraZeneca vaccine dosing regimens, WHO officials say

From CNN's Naomi Thomas and Kara Fox

An Oxford Vaccine Group researcher in a laboratory works on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
An Oxford Vaccine Group researcher in a laboratory works on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. John Cairns/University of Oxford/AP

More information and research is needed to understand the difference in efficacies of AstraZeneca vaccine dose schedules and whether a new trial is needed to check the efficacy of the lower dosage, World Health Organization officials said during a news briefing in Geneva on Friday.

“The first thing to say is, what we’ve seen is a press release,” said Katherine O’Brien, director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO. “And what is really the next most important step is that the data really needs to be evaluated based on more than a press release.”

There is only so much that can be included in a release, she said, and it needs to be reviewed in terms of the data and questions asked about the data that may come up during the review.

“It’s difficult to weigh in on this,” O’Brien said. “I think what we can emphasize, though, is that from what we understand about the press release, there is certainly something interesting that has been observed, but there are many reasons that could underlie the differences that were observed.”

More information, including evaluations of the immune response in the trial, is needed, she said.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, agreed with O’Brien, saying that everything that is known is from the news release, and it appears that less than 3,000 people were given the half dose, then full dose of the vaccine.

It is also understood that no one over the age of 55 was in that group. The group given two full doses were larger numbers and had different age groups.

“It’s very hard to compare these two groups and that I would say the numbers are still small to really come to any definitive conclusions,” she said.

“Now, of course, the advantage of using a smaller dose, particularly if you’re getting higher efficacy, is great and you can save on the vaccine and at the same time you are benefitting from higher efficacy, but I think it would be speculation at this point,” she said.

Swaminathan said that they have heard that AstraZeneca would like to do a full trial of the half dose full dose schedule, “if we are to explore this hypothesis of having perhaps a better efficacy with a lower dose, then it would need a trial.”

Remember: The US Food and Drug Administration requires a threshold of at least 50% efficacy. It is not clear if the FDA will authorize emergency use however.

AstraZeneca has not yet tested its half-strength dose in the US either. But on Thursday, a spokesperson for the company told CNN their aim was to include the half-strength dose regimen into their US trials, which currently has around 10,000 participants.

1:15 p.m. ET, November 27, 2020

Here's how to prevent Covid-19 spread if you traveled for Thanksgiving

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Travelers wearing face shields walk through Portland International Airport on November 25.
Travelers wearing face shields walk through Portland International Airport on November 25. Nathan Howard/Getty Images

If you ended up traveling for Thanksgiving, there are steps you can take to prevent any further spread of coronavirus.

Try to be outdoors as much as possible, advises Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room physician and former Baltimore health commissioner. 

“Do not gather indoors, especially not for meals. … Have your meals outside as much as you can. If you’re indoors, open all the windows and all the doors. Make sure to wear masks anytime you're around people who are not in your immediate household,” Wen said in an interview on CNN. 

Wen said that once people travel back to their homes, they should quarantine and then get tested. 

“Then when you return to your home communities, I would encourage people to quarantine. Quarantine for at least seven days, and then get tested. If you cannot get tested, quarantine for 14 days. And the reason is we don't want to see coronavirus wherever it is that we’re going back home to, given how high the level of Covid is all throughout the country,” she said. 

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1:12 p.m. ET, November 27, 2020

Vermont governor: If you held large gatherings, "you shouldn't send your kids to school next week"

From Jonathan Kubiak

Citing the potential impact that the Thanksgiving holiday might have on the number of future Covid-19 cases, Vermont issued updated guidance to residents.

Speaking on behalf of the Vermont Department of Health, Dr. Mark Levine said “my request to Vermonters who may have participated in travel or multi-household gatherings is simply this: please quarantine yourselves at home and please get tested now and in seven days.”

Citing rising case numbers, Levine pleaded with Vermonters to avoid any nonessential travel and any gatherings, particularly those between households.

“iI you had one of those gatherings, you shouldn’t send your kids to school next week,” Gov. Phil Scott added.

Despite lower levels of reported holiday and pre-holiday air travel, various surveys conducted prior to Thanksgiving had estimated between a quarter and a third of all Americans planned to dine with people outside of their immediate household.

“Such surveys probably underestimate reality, as people don’t always want to freely admit doing what they have been told not to do,” acknowledged Levine. Nonetheless, Levine noted that Vermont was among the top three regions in the country with the fewest respondents planning on dining with others, the others being Washington state and the District of Columbia.

Vermont's numbers: The state has reported 4,005 cases of coronavirus and 67 deaths since the pandemic started. 

Note: These numbers were released by Vermont’s public health agency and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

1:12 p.m. ET, November 27, 2020

Trudeau warns Canada will "have to hold on tight" as Covid-19 cases rise

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

As coronavirus cases across Canada rise, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country is "in some of the toughest days of this pandemic" and warned residents of what is come.

“Winter's coming. We're being driven indoors. We can't sit on patios and grasses like we used to do. We're going to have to hold on tight. We're going to have to be there for each other, by keeping our distances from each other," Trudeau said, speaking during a news conference on Friday.

He asked Canadians to avoid gatherings, wear a mask, and follow health guidelines. But he also highlighted that, “vaccines are on the horizon — there's a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Trudeau announced that Canada is setting up a national operation center through the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces. This team will coordinate logistics and distribution of vaccines. 

The operation center will work through issues around vaccine cold storage, as well as data sharing and reaching indigenous and rural communities.

“Canada is well prepared for large scale rollouts of vaccines, but this will be the biggest immunization in the history of the country. We must reach everyone who wants a vaccine, no matter where they live,” he said. 

Speaking in French, Trudeau aded that “we are now less than a month away from the holiday season. I know that December will be difficult for a lot of people, but don't forget that the present situation isn't permanent,” he said through an interpreter. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, we must hold on a little longer.”

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the country averages 5,194 new cases per day. The agency tests roughly 75,666 people daily, which correlates to a 7.6% percent positivity.

Over the last week the country saw an average of 2,072 hospitalizations from Covid-19. At least 428 of them were in the intensive care unit.

 

12:41 p.m. ET, November 27, 2020

Minnesota records highest number of daily Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Kay Jones and Konstantin Toropin

Minnesota Department of Health reported more than 100 deaths related to Covid-19 — the highest number of deaths reported in a single day in the state.

The 101 deaths reported on Friday bring the state's total to 3,476. 

"This is a sad development, but it is not a surprising development," Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement. "For weeks we have been sounding the alarm about the dramatic growth in COVID-19 cases. We know that more cases leads to more hospitalizations and deaths, and today’s news reinforces that tragic pattern."

The Friday report also shows a total of 295,001 Covid-19 positive cases statewide, up 5,704 cases from Wednesday's report. 

At least 1,007 patients have been hospitalized due to Covid-19 since Nov. 20, the state's dashboard shows. 

"As we make our way through the next few weeks and a holiday season unlike any we have experienced, we must redouble our efforts to protect each other – especially those who are at higher risk of developing severe illness," Malcom said. "Every public activity now is more risky than it was even a few weeks ago, so the best way to slow this spread is for people to stay home and away from gatherings with those outside of our immediate household." 

Note: These numbers were released by the state's public health agency and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.  

1:12 p.m. ET, November 27, 2020

Pennsylvania reports highest number of new Covid-19 cases since pandemic began

From CNN's Taylor Romine

Pennsylvania reported 15,785 new Covid-19 cases, with a record high of 8,425 new cases reported on Wednesday, according to a release from the state's Department of Health and Covid-19 dashboard. 

Wednesday's total cases are the highest the state has seen since the pandemic began, according to state data.

Another 7,360 new cases were reported on Thursday, the health department said.

The release reported an additional 118 deaths on Wednesday and 21 deaths on Thursday.

As of Thursday at 12 a.m. ET, 4,087 patients were hospitalized with 877 people in intensive care.

Note: These numbers were released by the state's��public health agency and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.  

12:32 p.m. ET, November 27, 2020

Wales will impose more restrictions as Covid-19 infection rate rises

From Sharon Braithwaite

Shoppers are seen in Cardiff, Wales during Black Friday on November 27.
Shoppers are seen in Cardiff, Wales during Black Friday on November 27. Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

The reproduction rate for Covid-19 transmission in Wales "could be as high as 1.4," First Minister Mark Drakeford said Friday, adding that the virus is "back circulating widely and quickly."

The reproduction rate — the number indicates how many other people each infected person passes the virus onto — now ranges between 0.9 and 1 in the entire United Kingdom, the government's dashboard showed on Friday, meaning that "on average every 10 people infected will infect between nine and 10 other people." This represents a decrease from last week, when it ranged between 1.0-1.1.

Wales must use the coming weeks to reduce the spread of the virus, Drakeford said, outlining the measures agreed by the Welsh government.

"Cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues will now close. There will be new restrictions in the hospitality industry, which will come into effect on Friday of next week," he said at a news conference in Cardiff.

During Wales’ "firebreak" lockdown, which ended on Nov. 9, and in the weeks immediately afterwards, the R number in the country fe­ll below one, Drakeford said.

"The ground that we gained during the firebreak period is being eroded as the virus thrives on normal human behavior," Drakeford said, adding that "the result of the recent days is that the hospital system in Wales remains under sustained pressure."

Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England agreed this week on a common set of coronavirus rules ahead of Christmas.

The first minister warned Wales needs "to have as much headroom as possible as we approach the Christmas period to enable that relaxation to take place."

The Welsh government will finalize the details of new measures affecting the hospitality industry and put in place a "further major package of financial support" over the weekend and will be outlined next Monday, Drakeford said.

12:14 p.m. ET, November 27, 2020

New Jersey reports slight decrease in overall Covid-19 metrics

From CNN's Taylor Romine

A woman walks past a coronavirus testing site in the Ironbound section of Newark, New Jersey on November 24.
A woman walks past a coronavirus testing site in the Ironbound section of Newark, New Jersey on November 24. Seth Wenig/AP

New Jersey is reporting 4,100 new Covid 19 cases and 19 additional deaths, according to the state's Covid dashboard

This slight decrease in reported cases comes after New Jersey reported on Wednesday the second-highest total of new cases since the pandemic began. 

The state also announced that hospitalizations decreased on Thursday to 2,796 patients. As of Thursday, 279 people were currently on ventilators.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy once again reminded residents in a tweet to mask up and practice social distancing in order to protect themselves and their families. 

11:58 a.m. ET, November 27, 2020

Covid-19 hit 7 members of one family. Now they're speaking out so others don't go through the same pain. 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

CNN
CNN

Seven members of a Minnesota family tested positive for coronavirus, spurring them to speak out. 

Charles and Kirstin Johnson-Nixon and their three sons — plus Kirstin’s mother and father — all contracted the virus, and they have been speaking on panels and vowed to educate the hardest-hit communities.

“It makes you want to yell out and be on a mission to bring awareness to people … because we're already dealing with all the other problems that we have to deal with being Black in this country,” Charles Johnson-Nixon said in an interview with CNN’s Adrienne Broaddus. 

Black, Latino and Native American people are nearly three times more likely to be infected with Covid-19 than their White counterparts, data shows.

“I've had pneumonia before; I didn't feel what I felt with Covid. …I’m a Black woman, I'm overweight, I have some underlying issues, but I thought ‘how could this happen, you know, to us?’ We are doing all the right things,” Kirstin Nixon-Johnson said. She continues to experience side effects of the virus.

Her father was in the hospital for 50 days, but the family is thankful that he is now at home and recovering, although he still needs to be on oxygen.  

“I lost my father when I was young, and one of my goals when I became a father was to make sure that I was going to be here for my kids and the idea that this thing could turn on me and take me away from them was the hardest thing to deal with,” Charles said.

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