January 7 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:05 a.m. ET, January 8, 2021
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6:54 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

CDC: Nearly 6 million people in the US have received their first dose of coronavirus vaccine

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

A healthcare worker administers a Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at the John Knox Village Continuing Care Retirement Community on January 6 in Pompano Beach, Florida. 
A healthcare worker administers a Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at the John Knox Village Continuing Care Retirement Community on January 6 in Pompano Beach, Florida.  Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Close to 6 million people have gotten the first dose of coronavirus vaccines, and 21.4 million doses have been distributed, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The CDC says 5,919,418 people had received the first dose of coronavirus vaccine as of 9 a.m. (ET) Thursday. It says 21,419,800 doses have been distributed. This indicates the ratio of doses administered to doses delivered is falling – from 33% over the weekend to 27.6% Thursday. It varies greatly from state to state, CDC statistics indicate.

Federal and state health officials are struggling to get people vaccinated. The federal government’s Operation Warp Speed officials repeatedly promised that 40 million doses would have been distributed by the end of December, and 20 million people vaccinated. 

State health officials say the federal government overpromised what they would be allocated, and say they lack the money, staff and other resources to get vaccines out to people. Federal health officials blame the holidays and paperwork, among other things, for the slow rollout.

6:26 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

UK Health Minister says patients may need to be re-vaccinated every 6-12 months 

From CNN's Zahid Mahmood and Samathana Tapfumaneyi

British Health Minister Matt Hancock speaks to the House of Commons Health Committee on January 7.
British Health Minister Matt Hancock speaks to the House of Commons Health Committee on January 7. UK Parliament TV

British Health Minister Matt Hancock said on Thursday that people may need to be re-vaccinated for Covid-19, every 6-12 months. 

Speaking to the House of Commons Health Committee, Hancock said there was uncertainty over how long the vaccines would last.

I anticipate we will probably need to revaccinate because we don't know the longevity of the protection from these vaccines," he said.

"We don't know how frequently it will be, but it might need to be every six months, it might need to be every year."

Hancock also addressed the government’s decision to delay the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for up to 12 weeks and said the reason was to ensure that people get the first dose in order to “save more lives.”

"The justification is really clear and straightforward, which is that it saves more lives, and ultimately, that is the public health justification," he said. “The data show that there is a significant protection from both the Oxford and the Pfizer jabs after the first dose."

Earlier on Thursday, WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said they had taken note of the recommendation of spacing out vaccine doses, but said it is important that the decision represents a “safe compromise” between limited global production capacity and government’s imperative to save lives. 

6:26 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Every Israeli citizen over age 16 will be vaccinated by the end of March, says PM

From CNN's Amir Tal and Andrew Carey

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a coronavirus vaccination facility in Jerusalem on January 6.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a coronavirus vaccination facility in Jerusalem on January 6. Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/AP

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he needs just twelve more weeks to vaccinate the entire country, after reaching an agreement with Pfizer that will speed up deliveries into Israel of the US company’s coronavirus vaccine.

We will be the first country to emerge from the coronavirus. The agreement I reached with Pfizer allows us to vaccinate all Israeli citizens over the age of 16 by the end of March, and perhaps even before that. In other words, we will vaccinate the entire population; anyone who wants to be vaccinated, will be,” he said in a televised statement Thursday evening.

Netanyahu, who is due in court Wednesday, where he is expected to enter a plea in his trial on corruption charges, is quickly making Israel’s vaccination program the key plank of his re-election campaign. He faces the voters on March 23 -- just four days before the Passover Seder, one of the most important nights in the Jewish calendar.

“We can do this because our health care system is one of the most advanced in the world, a real light to the Gentiles. On the upcoming Seder night, with the help of the God, we will be able to gather around the holiday table with grandparents, with father and mother, children and grandchildren. When we ask what has changed this night, the answer will be: everything has changed, this night we are all together.”

New tougher regulations come into effect across the country at midnight tonight (5pET) in an effort to bring down what have been rapidly rising numbers of new cases. Netanyahu called on Israelis to make “one last big effort” and stick to the stricter closure rules.

6:26 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

France detects two clusters of the UK Covid-19 variant

From CNN's Pierre Bairin and Zahid Mahmood

Two clusters of the coronavirus variant first discovered in the UK have been detected in France, the Health Ministry said on Thursday. The discovery comes as Prime Minister Jean Castex announced an extension of border closures between the UK and France. 

A total of 19 cases of the variant have been identified in the country, including one cluster in the central French region of Ile-de-France, and the other in Brittany, west of the country, the ministry said in a statement.

The border between Britain and France will remain closed “until further notice,” with only specific categories of people able to travel -- provided they meet a negative coronavirus test before entering the country -- Castex said in a press conference.

“We are now a little above 15,000 new daily cases, or three times more than the target of 5,000,” Castex said. The rise in infections is getting worse than it was in mid-December, he warned.

On December 20, France closed its border with Britain after a new Covid-19 variant was found in the UK. Two days later, Castex said French citizens, residents and those with a "legitimate reason" can enter as long as they can show proof of a negative Covid-19 test.

Coronavirus has claimed the lives of 66,841 people in France, according to the latest figures released by the Health Authority on Thursday. A total of 2,727,321 people have been infected by the virus since the start of the pandemic.

6:26 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Mexican president says Mexico would vaccinate undocumented citizens in US

From CNN's Marlon Sorto, Amanda Watts and Jennifer Hauser

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico speaks during a press conference from the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico on Thursday, January 7.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico speaks during a press conference from the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico on Thursday, January 7. Berenice Fregoso/RDB/Agencia EL UNIVERSAL/AP

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Wednesday that Mexico is willing to vaccinate its undocumented citizens in the US -- though he didn't elaborate on how it would be carried out. 

His comments come after Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts answered a reporter's question Monday about whether undocumented immigrants working in meat processing plants would be vaccinated: "You're supposed to be a legal resident of the country to be able to be working in those plants so I do not expect any illegal immigrants will be part of the vaccine with that program," Ricketts said.

A member of Ricketts' communications team added in a tweet Monday that "while the federal government is expected to eventually make enough vaccine available for everyone in the country, Nebraska is going to prioritize citizens and legal residents ahead of illegal immigrants.”

Robert Velasco, a senior Mexican diplomat for North America, tweeted a letter from the Mexican consul to the Governor of Nebraska Thursday. The letter stressed that many Mexican nationals were an "essential" part of Nebraska's meatpacking industry and that a high percentage were undocumented with limited access to healthcare, making them very vulnerable.

The letter also stated:

During the 75th United Nations General Assembly held on September 20, 2020, the Governor of Mexico called for universal access to COVID-19 medicines, vaccines and medical equipment and for the prevention of eventual hoard ups and shortages of these vital items which goes against basic human rights, in this case of undocumented Mexican essential workers.
I would also like to emphasize that the Mexican government will apply the COVID-19 vaccine to all people living in Mexico regardless of their nationality and immigration status.

3:36 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

At least eight US states have now confirmed a case of the UK Covid-19 variant

 From CNN's Michael Nedelman

A healthcare worker administers a test at a drive-thru Covid-19 testing site in El Paso, Texas, on Monday, November 30, 2020.
A healthcare worker administers a test at a drive-thru Covid-19 testing site in El Paso, Texas, on Monday, November 30, 2020. Paul Ratje/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Officials in Texas and Connecticut have announced that the UK variant of Covid-19 has been identified in their states.

The variant appears to spread more easily, although there's no evidence that it's any more deadly or causes more severe disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Harris County Public Health in Texas said in a statement Thursday the first patient was a male between 30 and 40 with no travel history, which implies the variant has been transmitted locally. 

He is “stable, in isolation, and will remain there until cleared by public health officials.” The health department said it is finding close contacts, quarantining them, and conducting a “thorough investigation” with state health authorities.

Later, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said health officials in his state had identified two cases of the variant, which would bring the count for the US to at least 56 cases.

“The two individuals are between the ages of 15 and 25 and both reside in New Haven County. Both individuals recently traveled outside Connecticut – one to Ireland and the other to New York State – and both developed symptoms within 3 to 4 days of their return,” Lamont’s office said in a statement.

“Genetic sequencing of the virus has confirmed that the two cases are unrelated. The individuals’ specimens were collected earlier this month and subsequently tested positive.”

The new variant can only be identified with genomic sequencing, an extra step to the testing that diagnosis infection in people.

 But experts say there may be many more cases that have been circulating unidentified.

At least eight states have now confirmed a case of the variant. The others are California, Florida, Colorado, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania.

2:20 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Los Angeles is reporting one Covid death every eight minutes

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Refrigerated overflow morgue containers outside the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner in Los Angeles, California, on Wednesday, January 6.
Refrigerated overflow morgue containers outside the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner in Los Angeles, California, on Wednesday, January 6. Bing Guan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

One person is dying from Covid-19 in Los Angeles every eight minutes, according to a new tweet from the county.

Over 11,000 Los Angeles County residents have died of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. More than 5,000 of those deaths have occurred in the past two months, data from the LA County Department of Public Health shows. 

“People who were otherwise leading healthy, productive lives are now passing away because of a chance encounter with the COVID-19 virus," LA County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday, adding that the county is seeing more than 200 deaths each day.

Cases have increased 941% since November 1 and so far, the rate of new cases in January is double what it was in December, according to Ferrer. In the past two months, the positivity rate in LA County has jumped from 3.8% to 21.8%.

Hospitalizations are 10 times higher than they were on November 1, and Health Services Director Christina Ghaly warns that yet another surge is expected within the next two weeks. More than 8,000 people are currently hospitalized, with 20% in intensive care units and 19% on ventilators.

Los Angeles County hospitals are still operating in contingency care, but given the overwhelming demand, could venture into crisis care mode. Should that occur, patients could be transferred to other areas and all hospitals will be required to halt elective surgeries.

11:35 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Patients in intensive care in the UK to receive arthritis drugs as trial shows reduction in mortality

From CNN’s Lauren Kent and Sarah Dean in London

Britain's Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam speaks during a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street in London, on December 2, 2020.
Britain's Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam speaks during a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street in London, on December 2, 2020. John Sibley/AFP/Getty Images

Patients in intensive care units in the United Kingdom could soon receive drugs typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis after clinical trials found they can help save lives and reduce time in hospital by 10 days, the Department of Health said Thursday. 

Results from the government-funded clinical trial — published online on Thursday, but not yet peer-reviewed — showed the drugs, Tocilizumab and Sarilumab, reduced the relative risk of death by 24%, when either were administered to patients within 24 hours of entering intensive care, the Department of Health said in a press release. They also reduced time in hospital by an average of seven to 10 days.

"This is a significant step forward for increasing survival of patients in intensive care with Covid-19. The data shows that tocilizumab, and likely sarilumab, speed up and improve the odds of recovery in intensive care, which is crucial for helping to relieve pressure on intensive care and hospitals and saving lives,” England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam said.

The government will update its guidance on Friday to encourage the use of these drugs for Covid-19 patients in intensive care. The drugs are typically available in UK hospitals.

During the trial, the drugs were administered in addition to a corticosteroid, such as dexamethasone, which is already provided in the standard of care, the press release said.  

Patients receiving the current standard of care alone experienced a mortality rate of 35.8%. This was reduced to 27.3% using tocilizumab or sarilumab, a 24% relative reduction in risk of mortality.

10:39 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

US vaccine rollout needs time to catch up to distribution goals, Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on December 22, 2020.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on December 22, 2020. Patrick Semansky/AFP/Getty Images

The US Covid-19 vaccine rollout needs a couple of weeks to catch up, and if that doesn’t happen, it’s time to make changes, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said on Thursday. 

The rollout has been slow, with just 5.3 million doses administered of the 17.3 million doses distributed in the United States, as of Wednesday.

Speaking on NPR’s Morning Edition on Thursday. Fauci noted that it’s early in the distribution process. and hiccups were always expected. 

That’s not an excuse, we can’t make excuses,” he added. “But I think that’s something to be expected.” 

 The other unfortunate thing, he said, was that the rollout began during the holiday season, “and that’s the reason why things start slow,” he added. 

“I think it would be fair to just observe what happens in the next couple of weeks,” he said. “If we don’t catch up on what the original goal was, then we really need to make some changes about what we’re doing.

“We just need to give a little bit (of) slack – not a lot – but enough to say, well, we’re past the holiday season, now let’s really turn the afterburners on.” 

The US has the highest number of Covid-19 cases worldwide, with a total of 21.3 million cases reported, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.