January 6 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim, Angela Dewan and Hannah Strange, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021
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8:54 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Immunity to Covid-19 infection lasts at least 8 months after recovery, study finds

From CNN Maggie Fox

Avera Health workers provide Covid-19 tests to citizens at a testing site in Sioux Falls, on January 6.
Avera Health workers provide Covid-19 tests to citizens at a testing site in Sioux Falls, on January 6. Erin Bormett/Argus Leader/Imagn/USA Today

People’s immunity to Covid-19 lasts at least eight months after they have recovered from an infection, researchers reported Wednesday.

A study of 188 people who recovered from Covid-19 infections showed they had broad immune protection months later -- not just antibodies, but also several types of immune cells that the body musters after an infection.

“Our data show immune memory in at least three immunological compartments was measurable in about 95% of subjects five to eight months post symptom onset, indicating that durable immunity against secondary COVID-19 disease is a possibility in most individuals,” they wrote in their report, published in the journal Science.

While there have been worries that the antibody response fades, Dr. Jennifer Dan of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology and the University of California, San Diego worked with her team to see how the immune responses held up for Covid-19 survivors. She said they found just the opposite.

Dan and her team found that peoples' bodies were producing antibodies, memory B cells, CD8 T cells, and CD4 T cells that were trained to home in on Covid-19 for as long as eight months after they became ill.

There have been reports of people getting infected twice by coronavirus, but the researchers noted that large studies showed if it happens, it’s rare.

8:07 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

US hits record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

The United States reported 132,476 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Wednesday, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

This is the 36th consecutive day the US has remained above 100,000 current hospitalizations.

The highest hospitalization numbers according to CTP data are:

  1. Jan 6: 132,476
  2. Jan 5: 131,215
  3. Jan 4: 128,206
  4. Jan 3: 125,562
  5. Dec 31: 125,379
8:02 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Vaccine makers would have to ask FDA before making changes to Covid-19 vaccine schedule, experts say

From CNN Jacqueline Howard

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine in Pompano Beach, Florida.
A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine in Pompano Beach, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration has made clear that it does not plan to make any changes to Covid-19 vaccine dosing schedules in the United States -- but if any changes were made, the vaccine manufacturer would have to specifically ask the agency to adjust authorization.

CNN confirmed with the FDA on Wednesday that before any change could be made to the emergency use authorization for a vaccine, the manufacturer would need to submit data to the FDA supporting the requested change.

If changes are proposed to the Covid-19 vaccine dosing schedules in the future, "it won't be FDA that moves it," said David Benkeser, a biostatistician at Emory University whose research includes work on preventive vaccines. "They're bound by legal operations that dictate how drugs are approved in the country, and so it's not surprising to hear them say that their strong preference is to stick with what we know works."

Health officials have been speculating about the possibility of stretching vaccine supply by giving people a single dose instead of two doses, or by cutting doses in half. British officials created an uproar by saying they would consider such changes.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and Dr. Peter Marks, who heads FDA’s vaccine division issued a statement Monday, saying that “suggesting changes to the FDA-authorized dosing or schedules of these vaccines is premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence.”

7:46 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

CDC’s ensemble forecast projects up to 438,000 US deaths from Covid-19 by January 30

From CNN's Ben Tinker

A medical staff exits the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center on January 1, 2021 in Houston, Texas.
A medical staff exits the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center on January 1, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Go Nakamura/Getty Images

An ensemble forecast published Wednesday by the CDC projects there will be 405,000 - 438,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by January 30.

Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future. The previous ensemble forecast, published December 30, projected up to 424,000 coronavirus deaths by January 23.

At least 359,977 people have already died from Covid-19 in the US, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

6:45 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

CDC found over 50 cases of the UK variant in the US

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

Banners advising people to wear masks against the coronavirus hang along Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. 
Banners advising people to wear masks against the coronavirus hang along Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.  Damian Dovarganes/AP

At least 52 cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom have been identified in the United States, according to the CDC on Wednesday.

This includes 26 cases in California, 22 cases in Florida, two cases in Colorado, and one case in Georgia and New York.

CDC says this does not represent the total number of cases circulating in the US, but rather those that have been found by analyzing positive samples. The agency cautions that its numbers, which are expected to update on Tuesdays and Thursdays, may not immediately match those of state and local health departments.

While the variant appears to spread more easily than Covid-19, there's no evidence that it's more deadly or causes more severe disease, according to CDC. 

Experts suspect there could be many more cases in the US and have criticized the country for not doing more genetic sequencing of virus samples to surveil for mutations. On Sunday, a CDC official told CNN the agency plans to more than double the number of samples it sequences over the following two weeks -- with a target of 6,500 per week.

The earliest known US sample that carried the current version of the variant was taken on December 19 in Florida, according to the genomic database GISAID. However, collection dates are not available for all samples.

7:46 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Israel's PM says new Moderna vaccine will arrive on Thursday

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on December 22, 2020.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on December 22, 2020. Yonathan Sindel/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late Wednesday that the Covid-19 vaccine Moderna “is due to arrive in Israel” on Thursday.

Netanyahu tweeted the announcement saying, “We will give these vaccines to people who cannot go to their HMO, whether they are isolated at home or cannot go to the inoculation sites for any other reason.”

He also said he spoke to Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel several days ago.

“This is the first Moderna shipment, others will come. I am working to bring millions of additional vaccines to the citizens of Israel so that we can emerge from the coronavirus pandemic once and for all,” Netanyahu said. 

The country is in the midst of a mass vaccination campaign, which has now seen over 1.3 million Israelis receive their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, out of a total population of about 9 million, according to Health Minister Yuli Edelstein.

Israel currently has over 60,000 Covid-19 cases according to the country’s health ministry.

7:13 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Ireland tightens lockdown measures, closing construction sites and schools

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

An empty street in Dublin city center on Monday, January 4, 2021, in Dublin, Ireland.
An empty street in Dublin city center on Monday, January 4, 2021, in Dublin, Ireland. Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Ireland has further tightened its Covid-19 lockdown measures, closing construction sites and schools across the country, Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Micheál Martin announced Wednesday, adding that such measures would be necessary "to suppress the surge and flatten the curve once again." 

Under the new restrictions all schools will close and move online until the end of January. An exception has been made for final year students, who will be allowed to attend school three days a week from January 11.

Other childcare services will also close, with exceptions made for vulnerable children and the children of frontline workers.

Non-essential construction projects will be ordered to close from 6pm on Friday, Martin added, acknowledging "how severe a measure this is on the construction sector."

On Wednesday, 7,836 new cases were recorded by Ireland’s Department of Health, and national hospitalization figures surpassed those from the first wave of the pandemic, Ireland’s Health Executive boss Paul Reid said on Twitter.

This surging case rate prompted the Irish government to re-impose Level 5 lockdown measures on December 30.

Taoiseach Martin said Wednesday that the situation in Ireland "is not dissimilar to what is happening in the UK in terms of the rapid growth in community transmission and rapid hospitalizations." 

5:22 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

WHO official: World is playing “a very dangerous game” as virus has opportunity to mutate

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

The World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The world — especially countries like the United States — is playing a “very dangerous game” with the novel coronavirus, giving it more chances to mutate as the virus spreads, a World Health Organization official said.

"We're playing a very dangerous game with this virus right now," Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for the coronavirus response, told CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. "What worries us is that the longer this spreads the more opportunities it has to change."

Van Kerkhove pointed out that many mutations won’t have much of an impact on the virus, but if a virus changes its genetics in just the right way, tests might not be able to detect it as easily, and vaccines might not work as well against it.

She pointed out that some countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, have done a better job controlling the virus. “It’s completely up to us to be able to bring the virus under control,” she said. “The virus is controllable, including these variants.” 

3:59 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

California records more than 450 Covid-19 deaths as hospitalizations reach new high

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg and Amanda Watts

The Dodger Stadium COVID-19 testing site, which is the largest in the U.S. reopened Monday on January 5, in Los Angeles, California.
The Dodger Stadium COVID-19 testing site, which is the largest in the U.S. reopened Monday on January 5, in Los Angeles, California. Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

California’s Department of Public Health confirmed 459 new Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday, as infection numbers and hospitalizations in the state soar.

The number of fatalities is well above the two-week daily average of just under 300 deaths a day. Only once has the daily report been higher, when the state reported 585 deaths on December 31 last year. 

Hospitalizations in the Golden State have reached a new high, with 22,820 coronavirus patients admitted for treatment statewide. More than 4,700 of those patients are in intensive care units.

There were nearly 30,000 confirmed infections reported Wednesday.

The total number of Californians infected with Covid-19 has now reached 2.4 million.