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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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.

5:18 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

Some states have tapped dentists, retired physicians and medical students to administer vaccines

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

As the US looks for ways to speed the administration of Covid-19 vaccines, some states and providers are pulling in non-traditional vaccinators, including dentists, retirees and students, to aid in the process. 

On Monday, the California Department of Consumer Affairs approved an emergency waiver allowing dentists to administer Covid-19 vaccines to people ages 16 and up. The American Dental Association says dentists are cleared to give the vaccine in multiple states, including Oregon, where the first dentist in the US to administer a Covid-19 vaccine did so last month. 

Some health systems, like Mount Sinai Health System in New York City and The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Medicine, are tapping a well of newly trained nursing, medical and dental students to aid in the vaccination effort.

“We have been using some atypical vaccinators because we're trying to prioritize keeping our licensed nurses at the bedside,” said Dr. Sarah Nafziger, professor of emergency medicine at UAB. “While we're rolling out vaccine, we're simultaneously dealing with a patient surge.” 

Some jurisdictions are looking to retired health care workers, who have the skills to administer vaccines and aren’t actively attending to Covid-19 patients.

“It’s a lot of retired physicians that are standing up to act as vaccinators,” New Jersey State Commissioner of Health Judy Persichilli said during a news conference Wednesday.

Covid-19 vaccinators must be trained and authorized. 

Dr. William Reynolds, president of the American Optometric Association, says optometrists are an untapped resource in the vaccination effort. He said they are widely distributed and ready to jump in in smaller and rural communities that may need more manpower.

The association says 19 states allow optometrists to administer medicine via injection – and in California, they can administer flu and shingles vaccines – but they aren’t authorized to give the Covid-19 vaccine, specifically. 

“We want to be part of the solution,” said Reynolds.

5:13 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

Fauci says US watching coronavirus to make sure vaccines work against any new variants

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Anthony Fauci speaks at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland.
Anthony Fauci speaks at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland. Patrick Semansky/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Health officials are watching to make sure that coronavirus vaccines are effective against any variants that arise, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Friday.

Fauci remarked on a study that indicates changes being seen in the virus are not, so far, affecting whether vaccines will work. “Right now, the scientists … have taken a close look at this, and have determined that the antibodies that are induced by the vaccine that we’re using now are still very effective against the mutant strain,” he said during an event on health equity hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University.

“We will also be looking at that very carefully and following it very carefully,” he said, adding that if anything changed then manufacturers can quickly modify the vaccine to match.

“Right now, the data indicate that the UK mutant is still quite sensitive to the antibodies that are induced by the vaccine,” he said. “But again, we’re going to be very careful. We’re going to continue to follow that to make sure that it stays that way.”
4:44 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

Canadian prime minister anticipates "tough" days ahead as country considers extended lockdowns

From CNN’s Paula Newton

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a press conference in Ottawa, Ontario, on January 8.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a press conference in Ottawa, Ontario, on January 8. CTV Network

Canada continues to set new daily records for Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

“Frankly, it’s frightening to see cases rise at home and around the world, day after day,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a news conference from Ottawa Friday. 

Trudeau pleaded with Canadians to continue to follow local public health guidelines as vaccines continue to roll out across the country. 

“Quantities of both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine will scale up in February. Remember that Canada has the most vaccines secured per capita in the world, which means that, by September, we will have enough vaccines for every Canadian who wants one,” Trudeau said. 

Some provincial leaders have said that federal authorities have not yet delivered enough doses to meet the demand for vaccinations for priority groups like health care workers and resident of long-term care centers. 

According to government data, Canada has vaccinated less than 1% of its population, and most of those with only a single dose. 

10:08 a.m. ET, January 9, 2021

Pfizer declines to say if it can produce vaccine quickly enough to get second doses out on schedule if Biden releases withheld supply

From CNN's John Bonifield

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to be administered in Reno, Nevada on December 17, 2020.
Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to be administered in Reno, Nevada on December 17, 2020. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

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

Pfizer’s vaccine is supposed to be given as two doses 21 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 Pfizer would be able to produce enough additional vaccine to get second doses administered on day 21, the company declined to directly answer.

"Pfizer is confident in our ability to deliver 200 million doses of our vaccine to the U.S. government by July 31st. We are committed to collaborating with the Biden Administration on common-sense solutions to the challenges in vaccine distribution, so that as many Americans as possible have access to our vaccine as quickly as possible," Pfizer said in a statement.

 

4:10 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

New York City will start administering vaccine to city workers and elderly starting Monday, mayor says

From CNN's Rob Frehse

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press briefing in New York on January 8.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press briefing in New York on January 8. NYC Media

New York City will begin administering the Covid-19 vaccine to city workers and the elderly staring Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.

 “New York City has heard enough,” de Blasio tweeted Friday afternoon. “We will begin administering shots to City Workers and the elderly in 1B starting on Monday.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday afternoon that while New York’s hospitals will continue to prioritize vaccinating health care workers, beginning on Monday, the additional providers will be allowed to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine to anyone belonging to groups 1A and 1B of state’s vaccination plan.

Earlier Friday, de Blasio said he was continuing to push for authorization to vaccinate those over 75 years of age, saying the state hadn’t opened up to the next category. He called the elderly population the “single most vulnerable population right this minute.”

CNN's Laura Ly contributed to this report.

4:06 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

Biden will get his second vaccine dose on Monday

From CNN's Jasmine Wright

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 7.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 7. Susan Walsh/AP

President-elect Joe Biden will receive his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Monday, 21 days after he received the first dose, incoming press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed in a transition briefing.

His second dose, along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ likely to happen a week later, will both be done publicly to continue to instill confidence on the vaccine, Psaki said.

Starting Friday, up to 35 members of the incoming administration will begin to receive their vaccine in coordination with the White House Medical Unit.

5:02 p.m. ET, January 8, 2021

Brazil receives requests for emergency use of two Covid-19 vaccines

From CNN's Jaide Garcia and Florencia Trucco 

Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria shows to members of the media a package of the CoronaVac vaccine at Guarulhos International Airport in Guarulhos, Brazil, on December 3, 2020.
Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria shows to members of the media a package of the CoronaVac vaccine at Guarulhos International Airport in Guarulhos, Brazil, on December 3, 2020. Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil's National Health Regulator, Anvisa, confirmed on Friday they received two separate requests for emergency use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and the Coronavac vaccine developed by Sinovac to fight against Covid-19. 

The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) ordered two million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on an experimental basis. 

The Butantan Institute requested approval for the experimental use of the Coronavac vaccine developed by Sinovac, which showed 78% efficacy during phase 3 trials on Thursday. 

Anvisa stated in Friday's two news releases that their goal pertaining to both requests is to "make the analysis of emergency use within 10 days, discounting any time that the process may be pending information, to be presented by the laboratory." 

Anvisa also reiterated that they hold themselves accountable to scientific and regulatory procedures, which "must be followed by those who seek the authorization of vaccines to be used in the Brazilian population." 

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Sinovac, the company developing the Coronavac vaccine.