December 11 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Brett McKeehan, Nada Bashir, Eoin McSweeney, Hannah Strange and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0438 GMT (1238 HKT) December 14, 2020
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5:12 p.m. ET, December 11, 2020

US buys 100 million more doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a syringe containing a Covid-19 vaccine,developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna on July 27 in Binghamton, New York.
Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a syringe containing a Covid-19 vaccine,developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna on July 27 in Binghamton, New York. Hans Pennink/AP

The federal government plans to buy 100 million more doses of coronavirus vaccine from Moderna, the Health and Human Services Department said Friday.

“The purchase announced today brings the total doses of mRNA-1273 owned by the federal government to 200 million. Moderna began manufacturing the first 100 million doses while clinical trials were getting underway,” HHS said in a statement.

The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue emergency use authorization for Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine at any moment, and the federal government has denied reports it turned down an opportunity to buy 100 million extra doses of Pfizer’s vaccine last summer. Vaccine advisers to the FDA will meet next week to discuss an emergency use authorization for Moderna’s vaccine.

“If authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use as outlined in agency guidance, doses of the vaccine will begin shipping immediately. The vaccine would be provided at no cost to Americans,” HHS said.  

Both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines have been shown to be about 95% effective in preventing symptomatic infections. Moderna’s vaccine does not need to be kept as cold as Pfizer’s does during shipment and storage.

5:31 p.m. ET, December 11, 2020

CDC held extra meeting Thursday night to discuss allergic reactions to Pfizer vaccine

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

Erik S Lesser/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Erik S Lesser/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called a meeting of experts Thursday night to discuss reports of allergic reactions to Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, an expert told a meeting of vaccine advisers Friday.

“Last night, CDC convened an external group with experience in vaccine safety, immunology, and allergy to collate expert knowledge regarding possible cases,” the CDC’s Dr. Sara Oliver told a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. ACIP was meeting to discuss the vaccine ahead of an expected emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration.

“The FDA is obtaining more data from the UK regulatory authorities and will consider if additional information would need to be included in an EUA regarding this issue.” 

British health officials have started vaccinating people there with Pfizer’s vaccine and reported at least two allergic reactions. Members of ACIP expressed some concern about the reports, as did members of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, although the committee nonetheless voted to recommend that the FDA authorize the vaccine for use in the US. An EUA from the FDA is expected imminently.

 

5:30 p.m. ET, December 11, 2020

CDC advisers expect FDA authorization of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine before Saturday morning

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A member of staff holds a phial of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination health center on December 8 in Cardiff, England.
A member of staff holds a phial of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination health center on December 8 in Cardiff, England. Justin Tallis/Pool/Getty Images

Vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expect the US Food and Drug Administration to issue an emergency use authorization for Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine before Saturday morning, the CDC’s Dr. Amanda Cohn said Friday. 

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met Friday and plans another meeting as soon as the FDA issues an EUA for the vaccine. The meeting will be held Saturday if the FDA issues the EUA before 10 a.m. ET Saturday, Cohn told the committee as it wound up Friday’s meeting. 

“We do anticipate that it is likely,” she said.

ACIP will advise the CDC about whether Americans should receive the vaccine under an FDA EUA.

3:36 p.m. ET, December 11, 2020

South Carolina reports its highest daily number of new Covid-19 cases ever 

From CNN’s Natasha Chen

South Carolina announced that it had its highest number of new cases of Covid-19 on Friday.  

“One week ago, today, South Carolina announced its highest number of new cases of Covid-19. Today, we eclipse that number by more than 700,” South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control wrote in a news release on Friday afternoon.   

South Carolina announced a total of 3,217 confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 on Friday and 47 additional deaths, bringing the statewide total to 4,673 deaths and 245,200 cases.   

“South Carolina, like many other states, is currently experiencing a worsening of this pandemic,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director. “While the arriving vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel, it will be months before there is enough vaccine available for everyone. It is incumbent upon all of us to continue to take actions aimed at saving lives.” 

South Carolina health officials are urging residents to do their part to help take the recommended actions and precautions to slow the spread. 

“No one else should have to die at the hands of this silent killer,” said Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist. “It is within all of our powers to stop Covid-19. As we each wait patiently for our turn to receive the Covid-19 vaccines, let’s keep doing our part by wearing our masks and practicing social distancing.” 

3:03 p.m. ET, December 11, 2020

White House official told FDA head vaccine must be authorized today or he needs to resign, sources say 

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Kevin Liptak and Jim Acosta

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows attends a luncheon on Capitol Hill on October 21 in Washington, DC.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows attends a luncheon on Capitol Hill on October 21 in Washington, DC. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn that he needed to have the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine emergency use authorized by the end of the day and if not, he needs to resign, an administration official and a source familiar with the situation told CNN.

A White House official said they do not comment on private conversations but the chief “regularly requests updates on the progress toward a vaccine."

The two men had a call this morning.

Another person familiar also said the chief of staff communicated to Hahn this morning that the vaccine needed to be authorized by the end of today. This person said Trump has been venting about Hahn since the UK vaccine was rolled out earlier this week. 

Hahn disputed the episode above. 

“This is an untrue representation of the phone call with the chief of staff. The FDA was encouraged to continue working expeditiously on Pfizer-BioNTech’s EUA request. FDA is committed to issuing this authorization quickly, as we noted in our statement this morning," Hahn said in a statement to CNN.

The Washington Post first reported the conversation between Dr. Hahn and the White House chief of staff. 

2:44 p.m. ET, December 11, 2020

Vaccine reaction among UK health workers with allergies happened "within minutes," Pfizer says

From CNN's Jacquelne Howard

The adverse reactions that occurred among two health care workers in the United Kingdom after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine happened "within minutes," a representative for Pfizer said on Friday.

The health care workers, who both have a significant history of allergic reactions, have since recovered. 

"Both of the women had their reactions started within minutes," Dr. Susan Mather, senior director of safety surveillance and risk management at Pfizer, told the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Community on Immunization Practices on Friday. "So, about two minutes, and the other one just said within minutes."

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices convened a half-day meeting Friday to discuss the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and then, in a follow-up meeting, will vote on whether any groups should not receive the vaccine.

Following the two cases in the United Kingdom, UK health authorities gave precautionary advice that people with a significant history of allergic reactions should not be given the vaccine.

2:21 p.m. ET, December 11, 2020

WHO releases an updated checklist to help support school re-openings as Covid-19 cases surge

From CNN’s Leanna Faulk

Children arrive for class on the first day of school reopening on December 7 in New York.
Children arrive for class on the first day of school reopening on December 7 in New York. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

In preparation for the surge of positive Covid-19 cases, the World Health Organization released an updated checklist on Friday to help school administrators in re-opening schools.

“Prolonged school closures are being presenting an unprecedented challenge to children's education, health and well-being,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual WHO briefing. “Today, WHO has released a new checklist to support schools in reopening and in preparing for resurgence of Covid-19 and similar public health crisis.”

The checklist encourages a continued practice of public health safety measures including wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands, sanitation and isolation.

“Schools can reopen safely,” Dr. Ruediger Krech, director of Health Promotion at WHO, wrote in a news release. “Decisions to reopen schools should be driven by data and the safety measures in place, but also address the concerns of students, parents, caregivers and teachers.”

Ghebreyesus said the checklist includes 38 suggested measures including reorganizing the layout of desks or changing school schedules to stagger breaks in between class.

2:03 p.m. ET, December 11, 2020

Senate passes stop-gap bill to avert shutdown hours before midnight deadline

From CNN's Clare Foran and Manu Raju

Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images
Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

After a series of last-minute holdups, the Senate just passed a one-week stop-gap funding bill by voice vote to avert a government shutdown at midnight tonight. The bill will next go to President Trump for his signature.

The short-term spending bill would extend government funding by a week to Dec. 18 and is aimed at giving lawmakers more time to reach an agreement on Covid relief and broader funding legislation for a new fiscal year. It passed the House earlier this week.

The Senate needed to pass the short-term government funding bill sometime during the day Friday ahead of the funding expiration deadline to avert a shutdown, but lawmakers have been dealing with a series of holdups that had thrown a timeline for a vote into question.

1:27 p.m. ET, December 11, 2020

As stimulus talks continue, the Senate will soon pass a stopgap to keep the government open

From CNN's Manu Raju

After some drama, the Senate is about to pass the weeklong stopgap by voice vote, aides tell CNN. 

This would keep the government open until Dec. 18

The stopgap measure comes at a make-or-break moment where Congress is working to come together quickly to give struggling Americans some desperately needed relief.

While there are some signs of progress on state and local aid in bipartisan relief talks, prospects are still grim for Congress to get a deal both sides can live with, get drafted quickly and jammed through Congress — and then onto the desk of a mercurial President who has had no role in the negotiations but can upend them at any given moment.