January 4 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, January 5, 2021
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8:07 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

FDA says people need both doses of coronavirus vaccines

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A health worker administers a vaccine to a patient in their vehicle during the first day of mass Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations at the Kentucky State Fair and Exposition Center on Monday, January 4, in Louisville, Kentucky.
A health worker administers a vaccine to a patient in their vehicle during the first day of mass Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations at the Kentucky State Fair and Exposition Center on Monday, January 4, in Louisville, Kentucky. Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Anyone who receives the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine must get both doses, two top US Food and Drug Administration officials said Monday. 

They said people who are speculating about the possibility of making do with just one dose are misinterpreting the data.

“We have been following the discussions and news reports about reducing the number of doses, extending the length of time between doses, changing the dose (half-dose), or mixing and matching vaccines in order to immunize more people against COVID-19,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and Dr. Peter Marks, who heads FDA’s vaccine division, said in a statement.

“These are all reasonable questions to consider and evaluate in clinical trials. However, at this time, suggesting changes to the FDA-authorized dosing or schedules of these vaccines is premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence. Without appropriate data supporting such changes in vaccine administration, we run a significant risk of placing public health at risk, undermining the historic vaccination efforts to protect the population from COVID-19,” they added.

“The available data continue to support the use of two specified doses of each authorized vaccine at specified intervals. For the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the interval is 21 days between the first and second dose. And for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the interval is 28 days between the first and second dose.”

British officials have said they will allow more than 21 days between doses of Pfizer’s vaccines and would consider allowing people to get vaccinated with two different vaccines. Hahn and Marks dismissed these ideas for the US, saying while there is speculation that a single dose offers protection, there is not enough hard evidence to show it will.

“What we have seen is that the data in the firms’ submissions regarding the first dose is commonly being misinterpreted. In the phase 3 trials, 98% of participants in the Pfizer-BioNTech trial and 92% of participants in the Moderna trial received two doses of the vaccine at either a three- or four-week interval, respectively,” they wrote.

“Those participants who did not receive two vaccine doses at either a three-or four-week interval were generally only followed for a short period of time, such that we cannot conclude anything definitive about the depth or duration of protection after a single dose of vaccine from the single dose percentages reported by the companies.”

It’s understandable that people may want to stretch the vaccine supply, they said. But it’s not advisable.

“If people do not truly know how protective a vaccine is, there is the potential for harm because they may assume that they are fully protected when they are not, and accordingly, alter their behavior to take unnecessary risks,” they said.
10:00 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

1 in 5 Los Angeles residents getting tested for Covid-19 are testing positive

From CNN’s Jenn Selva

Motorists wait in long lines to take a coronavirus test in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium on Monday, January. 4, in Los Angeles.
Motorists wait in long lines to take a coronavirus test in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium on Monday, January. 4, in Los Angeles. Ringo Chiu/AP

A feared holiday surge of coronavirus infections has begun in Los Angeles County, where about one in five residents getting tested for Covid-19 are now testing positive, officials in the hard-hit region announced Monday, calling the situation a “human disaster” and predicting the death toll could soar to more than 1,000 people per week.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Covid-19 hospitalizations in the county have reached an all-time high with 7,697 patients, 21% of whom are in intensive care, a figure she called “distressing.”

“The anticipated surge from the winter holiday gatherings has begun,” said Ferrer. “The increases in cases are likely to continue for weeks to come as a result of holiday and New Year’s Eve parties and returning travelers.”

County health officials reported 77 new deaths on Monday, raising the total number in the county to 10,850, and an additional 9,142 cases. Ferrer pointed out Monday’s lower than average numbers reflect a lag in reporting from the holiday weekend and the closure of some testing sites.

According to Ferrer, one person is now dying from the virus every 15 minutes in L.A. County. 

"We're likely to experience the worst conditions in January that we've faced the entire pandemic, and that's hard to imagine,” she said. 

According to the L.A. County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office, with hospitals and mortuaries full of bodies, the county coroner’s office has been storing additional victims, a growing toll that has risen to 757 bodies, a coroner’s spokesperson told CNN.

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis called the situation in the county, which has doubled its total number of Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic in the last month alone, “a human disaster.” 

“Hospitals are declaring internal disasters and having to open church gyms to serve as hospital units. Our health care workers are physically and mentally exhausted and sick,” she said.

With infections continuing to surge out of control in the nation’s most populous county, Solis warned the situation, which is already “beyond our imagination, could become beyond comprehension.”

This post has been updated to reflect that one in five LA residents who were tested for the virus tested positive.

7:27 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

US hits record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

The United States reported 128,210 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Monday, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

This is the 34th consecutive day that the US has remained above 100,000 current hospitalizations.

According to CTP data, the highest hospitalization numbers were recorded on these days:

  • Jan. 4: 128,210 people hospitalized
  • Jan. 3: 125,544 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 31: 125,379 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 30: 125,218 people hospitalized
  • Jan. 1: 125,047 people hospitalized
7:07 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

Johnson & Johnson should have enough data by end of January to determine if its Covid-19 vaccine works

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

A pharmacy technician holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before it is administered in a clinical trial on December 15, in Aurora, Colorado.
A pharmacy technician holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before it is administered in a clinical trial on December 15, in Aurora, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images/FILE

Johnson & Johnson tells CNN its Janssen Covid-19 vaccine trial is still on track and the company should have enough data “toward the end of January” to determine if the vaccine is safe and if it provides protection against the novel coronavirus, according to company spokesperson Lisa Cannellos.

The vaccine trial was fully enrolled Dec. 17. With the high number of infections in the US, the company determined it could enroll 45,000 volunteers and generate enough data.

If the trial shows the vaccine is safe and effective, the company has said it expects to submit an emergency use authorization application to the US Food and Drug Administration in February.

Unlike Moderna and Pfizer, the Janssen vaccine is a single dose shot. The vaccine uses a certain subtype of the adenovirus (a virus that causes cold symptoms) that is altered to carry the proteins for the novel coronavirus. Both viruses have been deactivated but exposure causes the immune system to create protective antibodies.

6:28 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

UK daily coronavirus cases reach new record high as England enters third national lockdown

From CNN's Nada Bashir

An almost-deserted Bank junction in the heart of London, seen on the first business day of the New Year, Monday, January 4.
An almost-deserted Bank junction in the heart of London, seen on the first business day of the New Year, Monday, January 4. Luciana Guerra/PA Wire/AP Images


The United Kingdom recorded a record 58,784 new coronavirus cases on Monday — the highest daily increase since the beginning of the pandemic and the seventh day in a row in which the UK has recorded more than 50,000 new cases. 

According to the latest government data, the total number of cases recorded across the UK since the pandemic began now stands at 2,713,563.

A further 407 deaths have also been registered over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of people who have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test in the UK to at least 75,431.

The staggering figures come as England enters a third national lockdown, which is expected to last until mid-February, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

"It is clear that we need to do more to bring this new variant under control," Johnson said during an address to the nation on Monday. "That means the government is once again instructing you to stay at home."

In a statement, Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England, urged citizens to adhere to government guidance in order to stem the spread of the virus. 

“The continuous rise in cases and deaths should be a bitter warning for us all,” Doyle said Monday.

“We must not forget the basics — the lives of our friends and family depend on it. Keep your distance from others, wash your hands and wear a mask. This virus will transmit wherever you let your guard down,” she added. 


5:18 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

France plans to create new citizens group to advise government on vaccine strategy

From Sandrine Amiel

A group of 30 French citizens will be selected at random to represent the concerns of members of the public and advise the country’s government on its vaccination strategy, the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council said.  

“A group of 30 citizens, selected at random, whose composition is intended to be as representative as possible of French society, will be formed,” the council said, adding that the group’s purpose will be to “take into account the concerns, observations and interrogations of citizens” across the country.  

“Its members will be invited to raise issues relating to vaccination, whether they are about scientific, health, technical or financial matters. Fears, resistance or questions surrounding the ethics of the national vaccination campaign may also be expressed,” the council added. 

In an interview with French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, the council said that the draw would be held on Monday, with the group expected to begin working on Jan. 16.

A broader digital consultation platform will also be set up, the council said on its website, “in order to collect on a large scale the expression of citizens on their concerns, their expectations or their information needs regarding the vaccination campaign."

4:41 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

6 cases of UK variant strain reported in Southern California, governor says

From CNN’s Alexandra Meeks

Office of the Governor of California
Office of the Governor of California

Six cases of the more transmissible coronavirus variant first seen in the UK have now been confirmed in patients in Southern California, as preliminary health data shows the Golden State, already battered by Covid-19, may soon be heading into a feared "surge on top of a surge," Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference Monday. 

The new cases of the Covid-19 variant were reported in four patients in San Diego, one of whom is hospitalized, and two others in San Bernardino. It remains unclear how this strain of the coronavirus first seen in the UK has contributed to the recent surge of cases in the California. 

"We are heading into what we anticipate as a surge on top of a surge... it's going to put a lot of pressure on hospitals and I see it coming out of the holidays," Newsom said. 

California reported 29,633 new cases of Covid-19 and 97 additional deaths on Monday. New case counts are typically lower on Monday due to lags in reporting over the weekend. This particular reporting period is substantially lower than the seven-day average of 37,845 cases and testing data from the holidays will likely increase that number, the governor emphasized.

The state has seen a seven-fold increase in hospitalizations, and a six-fold increase in ICU admissions over the last two months as the state continues to see a skyrocketing number of new infections, Newsom said. 

4:37 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

Stocks tumble on first trading day of 2021

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Wall Street ended the first trading day of the New Year sharply lower. Stocks tumbled after initially starting out in the green.

Here's how things ended up: 

  • The Dow closed 1.3%, or 383 points, lower.
  • The S&P 500 fell 1.5%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite also ended down 1.5%.

Investors are worried about the pandemic and chances for economic recovery in 2021, as well as the high-stakes runoff election in Georgia on Tuesday that will decide the balance in the Senate. On top of that, profit-taking weighed on the market after stocks reached record highs last week.

As stocks settle after the trading day, levels might still change slightly.

4:41 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

Upstate New York man has tested positive for the UK strain of Covid-19, governor says

From CNN's Sonia Moghe and Laura Dolan

New York Gov. Cuomo
New York Gov. Cuomo New York Governor's Office

New York Gov. Cuomo announced Monday that a person has tested positive for the UK strain of Covid-19, confirmed by the state’s Department of Health laboratory in Wadsworth.

The case is tied to a jewelry store in Saratoga Springs, and the man who tested positive did not travel recently. Cuomo said that since the man did not travel, it suggests the strain is in the community.

The man is in his 60’s and was symptomatic. Cuomo said the man is now on the mend.

Cuomo called on anyone who visited the store, called N. Fox Jewelers, between Dec. 18 to Dec. 24 to get tested.   

Three other people associated with the store have also tested positive. The lab in Wadsworth is testing those now to see if what strain of Covid-19 those three have.

The store was closed from Dec. 24 through today.