December 9 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Eoin McSweeney, Nada Bashir, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, December 10, 2020
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5:34 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Mississippi governor signs new executive order that limits gatherings

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

Gov. Tate Reeves adjusts his face mask as he prepares to leave his Covid-19 press briefing on Wednesday, August 5, in Jackson, Mississippi.
Gov. Tate Reeves adjusts his face mask as he prepares to leave his Covid-19 press briefing on Wednesday, August 5, in Jackson, Mississippi. Rogelio V. Solis/AP

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a new executive order on Wednesday that adds stricter limitations on indoor and outdoor gatherings and adds more counties to the state’s mask mandate list.

The new order limits indoor crowds to no more than 10, and outdoor crowds no more than 50. 

Face coverings are required in schools statewide.

There are 61 of the state’s 82 counties under a mandatory mask mandate, according to a release from Reeves’ office. 

On Wednesday, the state reported an additional 2,746 Covid-19 cases and 24 deaths.

Since the start of the pandemic, the state has reported 170,672 cases and 4,041 deaths. 

Note: These numbers were released by the state’s 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.

4:43 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Johnson & Johnson says it's reducing the size of its phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial  

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Johnson & Johnson said it will cut the size of its Covid-19 vaccine trial because the virus is so widespread.

The trial initially planned to recruit 60,000 volunteers.

“Given the high incidence of Covid-19 among the general population, we expect that approximately 40,000 participants will generate the data needed to determine the safety and efficacy of our investigational Covid-19 vaccine candidate,” spokesperson Lisa Cannellos told CNN over email. “We continue to anticipate that interim data from the ENSEMBLE trial will be available by the end of January. If the vaccine is safe and effective, an emergency use authorization application could be submitted to the FDA in February. Other health regulatory applications around the world would be made in parallel.” 

Moncef Slaoui, of Operation Warp Speed, said Wednesday that the trial may have enough participants by the end of the week.

“We have already recruited more than 38,000 subjects in the study,” Slaoui said at a news briefing. “With J&J we decided to cap the recruitment to around 40,000 subjects, which will happen by the end of this week or in the next two or three days.” 

Slaoui said that he thought if the data showed that the vaccine worked, an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration would be “hopefully approved swiftly.” 

 

4:16 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

US has a "moral responsibility" to help make sure the vaccine is fairly distributed, Fauci says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said that he believes the United States has a "moral responsibility" to ensure equitable distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine around the world. 

"There are countries on our globe that have different resources and different capabilities of responding to epidemics and pandemics that are common to all of us," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN Wednesday during a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health virtual event.

While speaking, Fauci emphasized that he was giving his personal opinion and not speaking on behalf of the United States.

Fauci's comments were made a day after President Trump signed an executive order aimed at prioritizing the shipment of the coronavirus vaccine to Americans before other nations.

"We have a moral responsibility as a rich country, along with other rich countries, to make sure that when we have the facilities and the capabilities – be it life-saving drugs for HIV, life-saving preventions for HIV, or a vaccine for Covid-19 – that as a global community, we do everything we can to make sure that there is the equitable distribution of those countermeasures throughout the world," Fauci said. "I think we all need to pull together as a global community to make sure that there’s equitable distribution."

4:01 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Fauci says Covid-19 vaccine allergic reactions are concerning, but are likely "unusual and rare"

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

A phial of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine concentrate is diluted with 1.8ml sodium chloride ready for use at Guy's Hospital in London on December 8.
A phial of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine concentrate is diluted with 1.8ml sodium chloride ready for use at Guy's Hospital in London on December 8. Victoria Jones/AFP/Getty Images

While the significant allergic reactions that two health care workers in the United Kingdom experienced after receiving Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine are of concern, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday that such a reaction is likely "unusual and rare."

The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said on Wednesday it was "fully investigating" those two cases.

"It obviously, Sanjay, is of some concern because there are people who have what’s called allergic diathesis or tendencies to get allergic reactions," Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta during a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health virtual event on Wednesday. 

Yet "it likely is an unusual and rare effect but clearly everyone now is aware of that and will be looking at that -- and particularly taking care of people who do have underlying allergic phenomenon, that they may be cautious about vaccination or at least be prepared to respond with some sort of anecdote to the reaction," Fauci said.

Fauci added: "If I were a person that had an underlying allergic tendency, I might want to be prepared that I might get a reaction and therefore be ready to treat it." 

 

3:38 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

People with "severe allergic reactions" may not be able to get Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Slaoui says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser for the Defense Department's Project Warp Speed, speaks during an Operation Warp Speed vaccine summit at the White House in Washington DC, on Tuesday, December 8.
Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser for the Defense Department's Project Warp Speed, speaks during an Operation Warp Speed vaccine summit at the White House in Washington DC, on Tuesday, December 8. Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

With news that two United Kingdom health workers had allergic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, White House vaccine chief Moncef Slaoui said Wednesday that the US Food and Drug Administration will likely consider this information as it makes its determination on emergency use authorization.

National Health Service England Wednesday said that people with a “significant history of allergic reaction” to vaccine, medicine or food or those who have been advised to carry an adrenaline autoinjector should not be given this vaccine in the UK. 

Slaoui, the head of Operation Warp Speed, said at a news briefing that people with a history of severe allergic reaction had been excluded from the clinical trials, so he said, the adverse reactions from the two health professionals was “new news.”

The FDA will ultimately determine if people with severe allergic reactions should be allowed to get the vaccine or not.

“The expectation will be that subjects with known severe allergic reactions should not take the vaccine, until we understand exactly what happened here,” Slaoui said. 

CNN's Phil Black reports. Watch below:

2:59 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Over half of Americans say they would get a first-generation Covid-19 vaccine, new poll finds 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Vail Health Hospital pharmacy technician Rob Brown takes mock Covid-19 vaccines out of a thermal shipping container in the pharmacy at the hospital on December 8, in Vail, Colorado.
Vail Health Hospital pharmacy technician Rob Brown takes mock Covid-19 vaccines out of a thermal shipping container in the pharmacy at the hospital on December 8, in Vail, Colorado. Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Over half – 53% – of Americans have said that they would likely get a first-generation Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available, according to new poll results from Axios-Ipsos, released Wednesday. 

This number has increased from 51% before Thanksgiving and 38% in early October, Ipsos said.

Most people – 69% – said they were more likely to take the vaccine if it had been proven safe and effective by public health officials. And 67% and 65%, respectively, said they would likely take one if it had a 90% or more effectiveness rate, or it had been on the market for a few months.  

Sixty percent said that they would be likely to take it after being presented with a situation where Presidents Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton took the vaccine publicly. This was “an improvement over baseline but not as convincing as the safety arguments,” Ipsos said. 

The Axios-Ipsos poll is based on a nationally representative sample of 1,101 American adults and was conducted between December 4 and 7.

2:35 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Pennsylvania governor tests positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during a news conference in Malvern, Pennsylvania, on October 1, 2020.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during a news conference in Malvern, Pennsylvania, on October 1, 2020. Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group/Daily Local News via Getty Images

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced Wednesday that he has tested positive for coronavirus and has no symptoms.

Wolf’s wife Frances has been tested and the couple is awaiting her results, according to a statement. Wolf is currently isolating at home and received his results after a routine test.

Wolf will continue to govern remotely, the statement said.

“As this virus rages, my positive test is a reminder that no one is immune from Covid, that following all precautions as I have done is not a guarantee, but it is what we know to be vital to stopping the spread of the disease and so I ask all Pennsylvanians to wear a mask, stay home as much as possible, socially distance yourself from those not in your household, and, most of all, take care of each other and stay safe," the statement said.

2:31 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

More than 278,000 courses of Covid-19 antibody treatments have been sent to medical facilities, HHS head says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington DC, on November 19.
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington DC, on November 19. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

More than 278,000 courses of the two antibody treatments that have received emergency use authorization to treat Covid-19 have gone out to medial facilities, according to US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. The treatments, made by Eli Lilly & Co. and Regeneron, are for non-hospitalized patients.

Azar, who spoke at an Operation Warp Speed briefing Wednesday, said that the administration is working to send out more. 

Azar also encouraged people who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past three months to donate their plasma. As of the end of November, nearly 106,000 people with Covid-19 have been treated with plasma from recovered patients, according to UScovidplasma.org. 

“Please contact your local American Red Cross or local American blood bank or go to coronavirus.gov for more information about how you can volunteer to be a donor and give the gift of life,” Azar said.
2:09 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

HHS secretary says he would be willing to get first Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Jen Christensen, Ellie Kaufman and Sara Murray

United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, in Washington, DC.
United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said he’d gladly get the first Covid-19 vaccine after authorization, if for no other reason than to demonstrate to Americans that he has “supreme confidence” in the integrity of the vaccine approval process and the quality of the Covid-19 vaccines.

“I wouldn’t ask the American people to do something that I wouldn’t be able to do myself,” Azar said at an Operation Warp Speed briefing on Wednesday. 

The Operation Warp Speed team said they were so focused on getting the vaccine out to Americans that they hadn’t thought about who would get the actual first shot.

“We’ve been so focused on speed, getting it out, and deferring to the governors,” Azar said.

“We probably do need to ah, make a plan for, who’s going to get it first visibly,” said Gen. Gustave Perna, the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed.

“We’re all going to be available, if it’s appropriate at the time to receive the shot,” Perna said. 

More on the vaccine: Perna said that 2.9 million doses of vaccine will be distributed in the first shipment from Pfizer if the emergency use authorization is granted by the US Food and Drug Administration. 

Perna said that there were initially 6.4 million doses the federal government expected to receive from Pfizer in the first shipment. He separated 500,000 doses for reserve supply, then separated that number in half because the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses to be effective, bringing the total in the first shipment to 2.9 million doses.