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
17 Posts
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8:00 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Two vaccinated UK health workers suffer allergic reaction, prompting new advice

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Amy Cassidy

Health officials in England are advising people with a “significant history of allergic reactions” not to have the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine after two health workers who received the jab on the first day of roll-out on Tuesday suffered allergic reactions.

“As is common with new vaccines the MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] have advised on a precautionary basis that people with a significant history of allergic reactions do not receive this vaccination after two people with a history of significant allergic reactions responded adversely yesterday,” according to a statement from Stephen Powis, the national medical director for the National Health Service (NHS) in England.

"Any person with a history of a significant allergic reaction to a vaccine, medicine or food (such as previous history of anaphylactoid reaction or those who have been advised to carry an adrenalineauto-injector) should not receive the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine," the MHRA advices states.

On Tuesday the United Kingdom become the world's first nation to begin vaccinating its citizens with a fully vetted and authorized Covid-19 shot, a landmark moment in the coronavirus pandemic.

According to PA Media, it is understood that both staff members had a significant history of allergic reactions and carried adrenaline autoinjectors. Thousands overall are believed to have been vaccinated in the UK on Tuesday.

The logistical challenges of manufacturing and distributing tens of millions of vaccines mean the roll-out will be gradual, with the most vulnerable people and health care workers first in line.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told UK media on Tuesday morning that the vaccine "will gradually make a huge, huge difference."

Read the full story:

5:59 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Rich countries are hoarding Covid-19 vaccines and leaving the developing world behind, People's Vaccine Alliance warns

From CNN's Rob Picheta

A phial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine being prepared for use at Guy's Hospital in London on December 8.
A phial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine being prepared for use at Guy's Hospital in London on December 8. Victoria Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Rich countries have bought enough Covid-19 vaccine doses to immunize their populations three times over, an international vaccine watchdog has said, but developing countries are being left behind in the global sprint to end the coronavirus pandemic.

In 67 poorer nations, just one in 10 people can hope to receive a vaccine by the end of next year, the People's Vaccine Alliance said on Wednesday.

But in the developed world, where a rush to secure vaccine supplies began in the first weeks and months of the pandemic, a surplus has been ordered; with nations representing just 14% of the world's population owning more than half of the most promising vaccines.

The group urged pharmaceutical companies to share their technology and intellectual property with the World Health Organization, and called on governments to commit to sending vaccines to the developing world, in order to close the economic disparity between nations as they look to emerge from the devastating Covid-19 crisis.

"No one should be blocked from getting a life-saving vaccine because of the country they live in or the amount of money in their pocket," said Anna Marriott, Health Policy Manager at Oxfam -- one of the charities that makes up the People's Vaccine Alliance, along with Amnesty International, Global Justice Now and others.

Read the full story:

5:24 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

How Neanderthal DNA affects human health, including the risk of getting Covid-19

From CNN's Katie Hunt

Neanderthal DNA may play a small role in swaying the course of Covid-19 infection, recent research has shown.

Scientists examined a strand of DNA that has been associated with some of the more serious cases of Covid-19 and compared it to genetic sequences known to have been passed down to living Europeans and Asians from Neanderthal ancestors. The Neanderthal DNA strand is found on chromosome 3; a team of researchers in Europe has linked certain variations in this sequence with the risk of being more severely ill when infected by Covid-19.

"It's exciting for us to find out that Neanderthals had things that are important for us 50,000 years after they went extinct," said Svante Pääbo, director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who has been studying Neanderthal DNA for three decades.

The study also revealed considerable differences in how common this genetic risk variant is in different parts of the world. It's particularly common among people in South Asia, where about half of the population carry the Neanderthal risk variant. In Europe, one in six people carry the risk variant, while in Africa and East Asia it is almost nonexistent.

Read the full story:

10:24 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

I'll be first to take the vaccine in Israel, PM Netanyahu says

From CNN’s Oren Liebermann

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the arrival of over 100,000 of doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccines at the Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on Wednesday, December  9.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the arrival of over 100,000 of doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccines at the Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on Wednesday, December 9. Abir Sultan/Pool/AP

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would be the first person to take the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the country as the first shipment of doses arrived onboard a DHL flight at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.

“I believe in this vaccine. I expect that it will receive the appropriate permits in the coming days and I want the citizens of Israel to be vaccinated,” Netanyahu said as the doses were offloaded from the cargo flight.

“In order to do this, I want to serve as an example for them and I intend to be the first in the state of Israel to be vaccinated with this vaccine.”

However, as coronavirus cases trend upward in Israel, Netanyahu warned the pandemic is not over, and encouraged everyone to social distance. “We see the end. We still need to follow the rules regarding masks, hands and distancing, but the end is in sight. What is important to me is that millions of Israelis be vaccinated,” he said.

Oren Libermann reports:

4:22 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Nearly 1,000 South Korean schools suspend in-person classes as Covid-19 cases surge

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul and Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Almost a thousand schools across South Korea have suspended in-person classes due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases, according to the country's Ministry of Education.

The vast majority -- 743 schools -- are located in the capital Seoul, while 112 are in the eastern city of Ulsan.

As of Wednesday morning, a total of 1,651 students and 316 teachers have tested positive for Covid-19 since the outbreak began, the ministry added.

Public appeal: The South Korean government has urged people to cancel all gatherings and meetings during the Christmas period to combat the recent surge in infections.

"We ask you to cancel all gatherings and events at the year-end and Christmas. We understand the immediate regret of not being able to meet may be great, but it is necessary to put (them) off for each other," Yoon Tae-ho, a senior Health Ministry official, said in a briefing Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the country reported 686 new Covid-19 cases, bringing its total to 39,432, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

3:20 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

US officials aim to have Covid-19 vaccine administered within 96 hours of authorization

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer for the Defense Department's Project Warp Speed, speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force news briefing at the White House on Nov. 19.
Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer for the Defense Department's Project Warp Speed, speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force news briefing at the White House on Nov. 19. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Covid-19 vaccines will be distributed to vulnerable populations within days of an emergency use authorization (EUA), an official said, as the United States wrestles with an all-time high of daily new cases.

"We will start to have shots in arms within 96 hours of EUA," Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said Tuesday. "That's what I believe with all my heart."

Pfizer and Moderna both have vaccine candidates awaiting EUAs, and the US Food and Drug Administration has confirmed Pfizer's safety and efficacy ahead of a Thursday approval meeting. The anticipated approval comes as the US suffers spikes in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

The US has averaged 206,152 new cases a day over the past seven days -- the highest number of cases in the pandemic so far. And Tuesday, 104,600 people were hospitalized with the virus, according to The COVID Tracking Project, a record that has been set and broken over and over in recent weeks. In total, more than 286,000 people have died of the virus and more than 15.1 million have been infected, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The wider public will likely have to continue to grapple with spikes from the holiday season until vaccines are widely available in 2021. But officials are racing to distribute vaccines in the coming days for priority populations -- the elderly and health care workers.

While it will be a "herculean task," Perna said that he is confident that, with the planning from the CDC and collaboration from partners, "we will be able to execute this vaccine very efficiently, but more importantly, effectively."

Read the full story:

2:55 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Germany reports highest daily total of Covid-19 deaths

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Berlin 

Germany recorded 590 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, its highest single-day total of the pandemic, according to the country's disease control and prevention center, the Robert Koch Institute.

Tuesday's figure represents a daily increase of 167 deaths from the day before. Germany’s previous high was 487 confirmed deaths, reported on Dec. 2, according to RKI.

Germany is struggling to contain a surge in new coronavirus infections. RKI reported 20,815 new cases on Wednesday, around 3,500 more than the same day of the previous week.

The total tally of Covid-19 infections in the country is now 1,218,524 and at least 19,932 people have died, the public health agency's data showed. 

Tougher restrictions: Several German states will tighten lockdown measures to try to get the situation under control. The southeastern state of Saxony will go into what officials there call a “hard lockdown” next week, closing most shops and moving schools to online classes.

1:57 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

US reports more than 215,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton

The United States reported 215,586 new coronavirus cases and 2,534 virus-related deaths on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The nationwide totals currently stand at 15,164,886 confirmed infections and at least 286,229 fatalities, per JHU's tally.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

See CNN's tracker:

2:04 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Analysis: Yes, there's a vaccine, but not enough to go around

Analysis from CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

A phial of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is seen on a tray at the Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow on Dec. 8 as the UK begins its biggest vaccination program.
A phial of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is seen on a tray at the Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow on Dec. 8 as the UK begins its biggest vaccination program. Jeff J Mitchell/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

In the United Kingdom, people are getting Pfizer's Covid vaccine. The idea that we've officially entered the vaccine stage of this thing in the Western Hemisphere actually made me do a fist pump this morning. This is huge.

The process looks very organized in the UK, where they're converting sports stadiums to vaccine delivery locations for the masses. That is in part because in the UK they have the National Health Service, which means structure for everyone, ultimately, to get stuck. (Prime Minister Boris Johnson is waiting for his place in line, he said today.)

Here in the US, there is second-guessing of a Trump administration decision not to buy more vaccine from Pfizer, which is first out of the gate in the UK. It's also likely to be first in the US, but did not take part in all of Operation Warp Speed, the US vaccine effort. (Note: A former board member for Moderna, a Pfizer competitor, leads Operation Warp Speed.)

And there is no clear idea who will get the vaccine when in the US, although an executive order should be coming from President Donald Trump on that.

Here, there's a profit motive to health care and it's not clear to me that everyone will get a dose for free. It's also not clear who will want to take it. An administration official said Monday that by the end of March, 100 million Americans could have a vaccination -- everyone who wants it. There are more than 300 million people in this country.

Read the full analysis: