The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 10:08 a.m. ET, January 9, 2021
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10:07 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

Maker of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine applies for emergency use authorization in the Philippines

A nurse prepares a syringe of the Sputnik V vaccine at a clinic in Moscow on December 28, 2020.
A nurse prepares a syringe of the Sputnik V vaccine at a clinic in Moscow on December 28, 2020. Vladimir Gerdo/TASS/Getty Images

Russia's Gamaleya Institute, which developed the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, has applied for emergency use authorization in the Philippines.

The Moscow-based company filed its application on Thursday, according to the Philippines News Agency.

A day before that, Gamaleya withdrew its application to hold clinical trials in the country, according to CNN affiliate CNN Philippines.

Gamaleya is the third vaccine maker -- alongside Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca -- to apply for emergency use authorization in the Philippines. 

It usually takes the Philippines' Food and Drug Administration 21 days to decide if a drug or vaccine will be allowed for use in the country, according to CNN Philippines.

Last November, Russia said the Sputnik V vaccine was at least 91.4% effective and could be more than 95% effective, according to data from its Phase 3 trials.

9:01 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

FDA commissioner encourages states to begin vaccinating more priority groups

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said during an Alliance for Health Policy event Friday he’s encouraging states to broaden criteria for who can be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Some states have about 30% to 35% utilization of the current vaccine that they have, he said, and “we’re encouraging those states to broaden the criteria for administration.” Several states have opened up vaccination to people in certain age groups, even if they haven’t finished vaccinating health care workers. 

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Phase 1a consists of health care workers and residents in long-term care facilities, Phase 1b includes adults ages 75 and older and frontline essential workers and Phase 1c prioritizes adults ages 65 to 75, people ages 16-64 who have high-risk medical conditions and other essential workers. 

“There’s a science and data driven approach to those recommendations, and I feel that those are very reasonable to follow,” Hahn said. But if the first prioritization group isn’t using all the available vaccine, it’s reasonable to move on to the next group, “not going outside of the guardrails of the recommendations of the ACIP, because I think they’re really important, but maybe going down to the next level as you try to use as much vaccine as possible.” 

8:09 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

Oregon using National Guard to speed up Covid-19 vaccination effort

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the state will be using members of the National Guard to help administer the Covid-19 vaccine in an effort to speed up distribution.

“We continue to look at how we can use every single tool we have to swiftly vaccinate Oregonians,” she said in a news conference Friday.

The governor acknowledged the state fell well short of their goal to administer 100,000 doses by the end of the year and need to make up for lost time in order to get to the next phase of vaccinations.

The National Guard will begin assisting with a vaccination event this weekend at the State Fairgrounds in Salem. They are planning a marathon session in the hopes of giving 250 shots per hour.

“Our Guard members will be providing logistical and nursing support,” Brown said.

7:49 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

US reports more than 130,000 Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN’s Haley Brink

Clinicians tend to a Covid-19 patient at Providence St. Mary Medical Center on January 6 in Apple Valley, California.
Clinicians tend to a Covid-19 patient at Providence St. Mary Medical Center on January 6 in Apple Valley, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images

The United States reported 131,889 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Friday, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

This is third highest current hospitalization reporting and the 38th consecutive day that the US has remained above 100,000 current hospitalizations. 

According to CTP data, the highest hospitalization numbers are...

  • Jan. 6, 2021: 132,464
  • Jan. 7, 2021: 132,370
  • Jan. 8, 2021: 131,889
  • Jan. 5, 2021: 131,215
  • Jan. 4, 2021: 128,206
9:10 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

Moderna says second dose of its Covid-19 can be effectively administered up to 42 days after first dose

From CNN's John Bonifield

A box of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines is unpacked at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center in Boston on December 24, 2020.
A box of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines is unpacked at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center in Boston on December 24, 2020. Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

Moderna believes the second dose of its Covid-19 vaccine can be effectively administered between 21 to 42 days after the first dose, Ray Jordan, a spokesperson for the company, told CNN Friday.

Moderna declined to say whether the company could meet demand for second doses of coronavirus vaccine if the incoming Biden administration releases all vaccine at once, instead of holding back half.

In clinical trials, Moderna's vaccine was given as two doses 28 days apart. On Friday, President-elect Joe Biden’s team said his administration would release all doses of coronavirus vaccines right away, instead of holding back half to ensure second doses are given on time, as the Trump administration has been doing.

When asked if Moderna would be able to produce enough additional vaccine to get second doses administered on day 28, the company declined to directly answer.

"Moderna is not aware of changed requirements associated with the Biden plan but has affirmed its plan to deliver according to the existing government supply contracts," Jordan said. "This includes an expectation of delivering 100 million doses by the end of the first quarter and 200 million doses total by the end of the second quarter. Earlier this week, Moderna reported having already delivered 18 million doses to the US government."

The World Health Organization’s vaccine advisers said earlier Friday that the second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine could also be administered as long as 42 days – six weeks – after the first dose.

5:35 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

There is no evidence homegrown variant is fueling coronavirus surge in the US, CDC says

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

There is no evidence the United States has a homegrown variant of coronavirus that’s fueling the recent increased spread of the virus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. 

The White House coronavirus task force told states last week “there may be a USA variant that has evolved here, in addition to the UK variant that is already spreading in our communities,” according to reports obtained by CNN.

But the CDC said there was no evidence of that yet.

“Based on scientific understanding of viruses, it is highly likely there are many variants evolving simultaneously across the globe,” a spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNN.

“Additionally, there is a strong possibility there are variants in the United States; however, it could weeks or months to identify if there is a single variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 fueling the surge in the United States similar to the surge in the United Kingdom,” the spokesperson added.

“Researchers have been monitoring U.S. strains since the pandemic began, including 5,700 samples collected in November and December. To date, neither researchers nor analysts at CDC have seen the emergence of a particular variant in the United States as has been seen with the emergence of B.1.1.7 in the United Kingdom or B.1.351 in South Africa.”

Variants of the virus first seen in Britain and South Africa have patterns of mutations that indicate they could make it easier for the virus to infect human cells, and thus to make it more easily transmitted.

5:30 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

CDC director warns of Covid-19 surge after US Capitol riot

From CNN's Keri Enriquez

Supporters of President Donald Trump are seen from behind scaffolding as they gather outside the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6 in Washington, DC.
Supporters of President Donald Trump are seen from behind scaffolding as they gather outside the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6 in Washington, DC. Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield warned that the riots at the US Capitol on Wednesday was likely a coronavirus “surge event” and “is going to have public health consequences.”

In an interview with the McClatchy newspaper group on Friday, Redfield called the riots a “very, very sad day” and expressed concern that members of Congress and law enforcement could have been exposed by the pro-Trump mob, perpetuating the spread of coronavirus.

“I do think you have to anticipate that this is another surge event. You had largely unmasked individuals in a non-distanced fashion, who were all through the Capitol,” Redfield told McClatchy. 

“Then these individuals all are going in cars and trains and planes going home all across the country right now. So I do think this is an event that will probably lead to a significant spreading event,” Redfield said.

On Thursday, the US reported more than 4,000 deaths from coronavirus for the first time. Redfield warned that the numbers are likely to increase. 

“We’re going to continue to see mortality in the 2,500-5,000 a day range,” Redfield said. “This is going to continue to get worse through January, and probably parts of February before we really start to turn the corner.”

“We haven’t hit the peak of the current surge,” he added. “Clearly, the amount of mortality we’re seeing, as many of us are trying to stress, is more than we saw on Pearl Harbor or 9/11, over and over and over again. That’s the state of the pandemic unfortunately we’re at right now.”
5:30 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

Second coronavirus vaccine dose is "absolutely critical," Fauci says 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Friday that the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is essential for optimal protection. 

“The second dose is absolutely critical,” Fauci said. 

His comments came on the same day that CNN reported that the Biden administration will aim to release every available dose of the vaccine once he takes office. While quickly doing this could increase the number of people who receive their first dose of the vaccine, it may delay second doses for some. Under current guidance, the two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine must be administered 21 days apart, while Moderna’s two doses should be given 28 day apart.

Fauci said that one dose of Moderna or one dose of Pfizer “has not been proven to be efficacious to the degree that we want, and we don’t know how long the protection lasts.”

“Whatever you’re hearing, one dose of the Moderna and one dose of the Pfizer is not optimal,” Fauci said. “Optimal is one dose of Pfizer, followed in 21 days by the boost. Or one dose of Moderna followed in 28 days with a boost if you want optimal protection and optimal durability.”  
5:25 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

Nearly 6.7 million people vaccinated against coronavirus, CDC says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Sergeant Brian Patrick McKnerney, of the New Jersey State Police, receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the Morris County vaccination site, in Rockaway, New Jersey, on January 8.
Sergeant Brian Patrick McKnerney, of the New Jersey State Police, receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the Morris County vaccination site, in Rockaway, New Jersey, on January 8. Sarah Blesener/The New York Times/Pool/AP

Nearly 6.7 million people have received their first doses of vaccine against coronavirus in the US and more than 22 million doses of vaccine have now been distributed, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

As of Friday morning, 30.2% of doses distributed have been administered, compared with 33% last weekend and 27.6% on Thursday.

The US is still struggling to catch up to the promised target of 20 million people vaccinated by the end of 2020.

The CDC said 22,137,350 doses of vaccine had been distributed as of 9 a.m. Friday and 6,688,231 people had received their first doses of vaccine.

States have said they don’t have enough staff or money to administer coronavirus vaccines at the needed rate.