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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7:59 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

American Hospital Association asks for help to "eliminate the barriers and expedite vaccination"

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

A pharmacist prepares the Pfizer/BioNTech administering it at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut on January 4.
A pharmacist prepares the Pfizer/BioNTech administering it at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut on January 4. Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

In a letter addressed to US Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Alex Azar, the American Hospital Association asked for help in eliminating barriers that are hindering the vaccine rollout. 

The letter says that the slow pace of the vaccine rollout in the country “has led to concern about whether the task of vaccinating all who are able to take the vaccine will happen as quickly as federal leaders have suggested it would.”

“In the first few weeks of administering vaccines, hospitals have seen a number of barriers to smooth and effective vaccinations,” said the letter. “We raise these to your attention so that you and your team can begin to eliminate the barriers and expedite vaccination.”

The letter also outlined the need for more transparency about the goals and expectations of the rollout, how to make data more accessible, improve communication and offer support to medical centers throughout the country:

We urge you to establish a process within HHS with the ability to be able to coordinate the national efforts among all of the states and jurisdictions and the many stakeholders; answer all of the questions expeditiously; establish and maintain effective communication among all involved; and identify and resolve barriers to the rapid deployment of millions of doses of vaccines.
7:04 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

More than half of Covid-19 transmission comes from people with no symptoms, study suggests

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

More than half of Covid-19 cases might have been transmitted by people not showing symptoms, according to a new study from researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s a model, not a real-life study, but based on data from eight studies done in China, about 59% of all transmission came from people without symptoms, the CDC team found.

"Across a range of plausible scenarios, at least 50% of transmission was estimated to have occurred from persons without symptoms," the team wrote in the journal JAMA Network Open on Thursday.

The model showed that about 59% of all transmission came from people without symptoms, which broke down to 35% from those who have not developed symptoms yet -- are presymptomatic -- and 24% from people who never develop symptoms.

Of course, the model provides only estimates about the spread of Covid-19 and more research is needed to determine whether the findings would be similar in the real world.

In the real world, the researchers wrote, "Measures such as mask wearing and social distancing empower individuals to protect themselves and, if infected, to reduce risk to their communities."

7:16 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Spain tops 2 million Covid-19 cases

 From CNN’s Ingrid Formanek and Stefano Pozzebon

A health worker takes a blood sample during a massive coronavirus antigen testing on January 4 in Granada, Spain. 
A health worker takes a blood sample during a massive coronavirus antigen testing on January 4 in Granada, Spain.  Álex Cámara/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Spain has topped 2 million Covid-19 cases, with the country’s health ministry announcing a total of 2,024,904 cases on Thursday.

The number of cases has more than doubled since October 21, when Spain’s overall coronavirus case count was 1,005,295.  

"The trend is still, clearly upward. The total amount of cases has topped 2 million," Health Ministry spokeswoman Maria Jose Sierra said during a televised press conference in Madrid on Thursday. 

Nevertheless, Sierra said a return to "hard lockdown" is not on the cards, and the Health Ministry is focused on tracking and confining emerging cases rather than impose harsh general measures. 

6:25 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Incoming CDC director receives Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

Incoming director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky looks on at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 8, 2020.
Incoming director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky looks on at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 8, 2020. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Incoming director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, received her first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“I've never had more faith in the promise of science and the power of hope to get us through this,” Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General, wrote on Twitter.

President-elect Joe Biden has appointed Walensky to be his CDC chief when he takes office later this month.

“I urge all Americans to get vaccinated as soon as you're able, wear a mask, and stop the spread,” Walensky add

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.