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
25 Posts
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10:05 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

FDA will look at data on allergic reactions to Covid-19 vaccine, US health secretary says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Alex Azar, US Health and Human Services secretary, on December 9.
Alex Azar, US Health and Human Services secretary, on December 9. CNN

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that he was learning of the allergic reactions experienced by two people in the UK to the Covid-19 vaccine “just with you, right now.”

Camerota asked Azar if he thought it would change anything in the United States, such as a pending emergency use authorization for Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine candidate by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Azar said he wanted to make sure the FDA had an opportunity to look at that data, adding he is certain they’ll be speaking with UK regulators, like always.

“FDA is going to not cut any corners,” Azar said. “They’re looking at the data. They’re looking under the hood at everything. So I’m sure that’ll be something the FDA looks at here, because we want to make sure that any vaccine that comes out in America has the full gold-standard stamp of approval of the FDA career people.”

Yesterday: The United Kingdom became 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.

The first Briton to get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received the first of two doses Tuesday, less than a week after the UK became the first country to approve it.

8:37 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Men face "almost three times the odds" of ICU admission for Covid-19, new study finds

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Men with Covid-19 appear to face higher odds of needing intensive care and dying compared with women who have the disease, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications on Wednesday, suggests that even though there is no significant difference in the proportion of men versus women testing positive for Covid-19, men have "almost three times the odds" of requiring intensive treatment, and higher odds of death. 

The study included data on more than 3 million Covid-19 cases reported from around the world between January and June. The researchers – from the University College London and the University of Cape Town – took a close look at the data by sex and severity of disease.

More on the study: The data showed that among the cases in the study, about 1.57 million were women and about 1.53 million were men. Yet when it came to data on more than 12,000 intensive care unit admissions, about 8,000 of those were men and 4,000 were women, the researchers found. Among more than 200,000 Covid-19 deaths in the study, about 120,000 were men and 91,000 were women.

The researchers determined that while both sexes have an equivalent risk of infection, the male sex was associated with a higher risk of severe disease and death.

The study comes with some limitations, including that more research is needed to determine which specific biological factors may be driving these differences.


8:26 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine could be authorized within days, US Health secretary says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the US Food and Drug Administration could approve the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine in a “matter of days.” 

Azar said the vaccine would then be shipped to “wherever the governors have told us they want it to go.”

The initial focus is health care workers and nursing home residents.

“20 million people should get vaccinated in just the next several weeks and then we’ll just keep rolling out vaccines through January, February, March as they come off the production lines,” Azar said. 

Azar said the general population should start seeing vaccines available to around February and March. 

“The governors will decide how to prioritize and get that out there,” he said. 

Remember: The US FDA has not yet approved a coronavirus vaccine. The FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is set to meet tomorrow to discuss Pfizer’s application for an emergency use authorization for its coronavirus vaccine.


8:11 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

See the stay-at-home text millions of Californians received yesterday

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

California authorities sent this cell phone text alert to two major regions of the state on Tuesday, December 8, to notify people that the coronavirus is spreading rapidly and advise them to stay home except for essential activities.
California authorities sent this cell phone text alert to two major regions of the state on Tuesday, December 8, to notify people that the coronavirus is spreading rapidly and advise them to stay home except for essential activities. State of California via AP

After registering a record number of new coronavirus cases in the state of California in one week, residents of Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley received a text on Tuesday asking them to stay home and abide by newly enacted health orders, according to a tweet from California Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

The California text message comes as the state is reporting alarming coronavirus numbers. The state reported 169,354 new cases over the past seven days, which is the highest any state has reported over the course of the pandemic. Over the last two weeks, daily case counts in the state have more than doubled.

California also reached a grim milestone Tuesday when it recorded more than 20,000 deaths.

In the past two weeks, hospitalizations rose by 71% and ICU admissions saw a 68.7% increase, California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said at a news conference Tuesday. 

Ghaly expressed concern that with the strain, highly trained health care workers will "not be able to provide the kind of care Californians have come to expect.”

Both Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley found themselves under the new health orders Sunday night as ICU capacity in each fell under the 15% threshold set by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

California is not the first state to use cellphones to warn residents about coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic — in April, New York City sent an emergency alert to phones asking all licensed health workers to support its health facilities. And in October, officials in Utah sent an emergency alert to every phone in the state to warn about rapidly rising cases.

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8:39 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

This nurse traveled around the US to treat Covid-19 patients. She says "the people stay with you."

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Some hospitals in coronavirus hotspots have brought in traveling nurses to help them care for the influx of patients.

Contracts range from 4 to 13 weeks, nurse Laura Liffiton explained. She’s been in New York, Arizona and Wisconsin over the past few months. She said that she’ll never forget the patients she has treated. 

“There are stories, there are things that the virus does to your body that you don't forget. They stay with you. The people stay with you. And the FaceTime calls, their families, all of these things, they stay with you. If anybody needs to know anything, it's that we don't forget you after we’re gone,” she said. 

Morgan Fitzsimmons, a traveling nurse also currently in Wisconsin, said that right now is “probably the most exposure that I've had to Covid-positive patients in the ER since everything has kind of begun.” 

She said she treats patients like they are her own family. 

“Everyone is a loved one. Whether this is a pandemic or this is before or after, we're in this to help people. And I would like the best care for my parents … So I would like to be able to provide that for people and their family members when they're feeling their worst,” she said. 


12:12 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

UAE says China’s Sinopharm vaccine has 86% efficacy rate

From CNN's Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi, Shawn Deng in Beijing and Yong Xiong in Seoul  

The first efficacy rate for a Chinese vaccine against coronavirus was revealed on Wednesday after the UAE’s Health Ministry said China’s experimental Sinopharm vaccine has an 86% effectiveness rate against Covid-19 based on interim analysis, state-news agency WAM said on Wednesday.

The Health Ministry said the results for the China National Biotec Group (CNBG) vaccine are based on interim analysis of the late-stage clinical trials which the UAE started for the vaccine in July. The UAE approved emergency use for frontline workers in September.

“The analysis shows no serious safety concerns,” the statement said.

“The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention, MOHAP, has announced the official registration of Beijing Institute of Biological Product’s inactivated COVID-19 vaccine in a major step towards combating the global pandemic,” the statement added, with no clarification of the details of the clinical trial results. 

The clinical trials alone have included 31,000 volunteers across 125 nationalities in the UAE, the statement said. However, almost 100,000 people in the Emirates have received the vaccine as part of a voluntary national vaccination program, the UAE Department of Health Under-Secretary, Jamal Al Kaabi, told CNN. 

CNN has reached out to Sinopharm for more details.

China has promised millions of coronavirus vaccines to countries globally, with a growing list of developing countries having priority access to its successful candidates.


7:44 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Ukraine reports record daily increase in Covid-19 deaths as government considers lockdown

From CNN's Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

A healthcare worker checks equipment in the new ward for Covid-19 patients at the Kharkiv Regional Clinical Hospital in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on November 30.
A healthcare worker checks equipment in the new ward for Covid-19 patients at the Kharkiv Regional Clinical Hospital in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on November 30. Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

Ukraine reported 12,585 new coronavirus cases and 276 deaths on Wednesday, its highest daily increase in Covid-related fatalities recorded in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to Ukraine's Health Ministry, the overall death toll as of December 9 stands at 14,204 with 845,343 reported infections.

Ukraine has seen a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, which forced the authorities to introduce a "weekend lockdown" in mid-November, according to state news agency Ukrinform. For three weeks, most public venues were shut down on Saturdays and Sundays, except for essential businesses, such as groceries, pharmacies, and gas stations.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week in a Facebook live video that the weekend lockdown helped slow down the growth of new infections but added that the country would likely go into a stricter lockdown in January.

"Let's be honest, it will be difficult to avoid a lockdown, and there is a considerable possibility that it will [happen] in January," Zelensky said. "But I've instructed the government… to inform [the public] in advance and in detail regarding the time of the lockdown, its format and [provide] a comprehensive list of quarantine measures so that it's not a surprise to anyone."

Zelensky’s cabinet is expected to roll out the proposed lockdown plan later on Wednesday, Ukrinform reported.

7:04 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Merkel urges Germans to reduce social contact over Christmas as cases rise

From CNN’s Stephanie Halasz in London 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, on December 9.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, on December 9. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Chancellor Angela Merkel has appealed to Germans to reduce their social contact over the Christmas period, telling lawmakers on Wednesday that scientists are “practically begging” citizens to stick to the scientific guidance. 

“The number of contacts is too high, the reduction of contacts is not enough,” Merkel said in the German parliament. “I’m sorry, I really am sorry from the bottom of my heart, but if the price we pay is 590 deaths a day, then that is unacceptable in my view,” she added. 

Addressing members of parliament, Merkel said restrictions introduced at the beginning of November had not proven effective, with high numbers of coronavirus-related deaths and ICU admissions still being reported ahead of the holiday period. 

“If we have too many contacts now in the run-up to Christmas and it ends up being the last Christmas with our grandparents, then we will have done something wrong. We should not let this happen,” she said. 

The Chancellor’s remarks come the day after Germany recorded its highest number of coronavirus-related deaths, with 590 recorded on Tuesday alone, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

Germany is struggling to stem a surge in coronavirus cases, with 20,815 new cases confirmed on Wednesday.

Several German states are also expected to tighten lockdown measures next week in an effort to bring the outbreak under control, including the state of Saxony, which will go into what officials there call a “hard lockdown,” closing most shops and moving all school classes online.

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."

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