January 12 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Ivana Kottasová, Florence Davey-Attlee and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 13, 2021
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2:32 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine may be authorized in the US "towards the latter part" of March, official says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard and Nick Neville

Operation Warp Speed's chief adviser Moncef Slaoui speaks during a briefing on January 12.
Operation Warp Speed's chief adviser Moncef Slaoui speaks during a briefing on January 12. HHS DOD

The federal government’s Operation Warp Speed program is hoping for emergency use authorization of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine by the end of March, a top official said Tuesday.

Britain authorized the vaccine last month and has been using it, but the US Food and Drug Administration will likely want to use US data for any emergency use authorization of the vaccine, said Operation Warp Speed's chief adviser Moncef Slaoui.

"In terms of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the assumption we are working on is that the emergency use authorization will be submitted on the basis of the ongoing Phase 3 trial in the US," Slaoui said during a briefing on Tuesday.

"Hopefully the vaccine again is efficacious, as has been shown in the trials conducted in Brazil and in the UK," Slaoui said. "So maybe an approval somewhere towards the latter part of the month of March, and a significant number of doses available around that time."

Reminder: The FDA paused US trials of AstraZeneca’s vaccine last year after questions about adverse reactions in volunteers. Those questions were cleared up and trials of the vaccine, often called the Oxford vaccine because it was developed with Britain’s Oxford University, have resumed.

1:55 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine trial needs more teen volunteers

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard and Nick Neville

Biotechnology company Moderna has been testing its Covid-19 vaccine in children as young as 12 – but those trials need more volunteers, Operation Warp Speed's Moncef Slaoui said on Tuesday.

"We are running a clinical trial, a Phase 3 trial, in adolescents 12 to 18 years of age with the Moderna vaccine. It's a real challenge. It's been four weeks ongoing. We only recruited about 800 subjects in the trial," Slaoui said in a news briefing.

The vaccine cannot be cleared for use in children unless it’s tested in children, Slaoui said. Moderna’s vaccine is authorized for adults aged 18 and up.

"It's really very important for all of us – for all of the population in America – to realize that we can't have that indication unless adolescents aged 12 to 18 decide to participate, of course as a voluntary decision, into the clinical trial," Slaoui said. "We need to recruit about 3,000 subjects into the trial to complete them."

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has also been testing its vaccine in teenagers.

1:38 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Top Democrat says additional Covid-19 relief legislation will be top of new agenda

From CNN's Ryan Nobles and Manu Raju

Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks during a press conference on Tuesday, January 12.
Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks during a press conference on Tuesday, January 12. Pool

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the soon to be majority leader of the United States Senate, sent his colleagues a letter on Tuesday outlining his caucus’s agenda with a promise to focus on Covid-19 relief and support for the incoming Biden Administration.

Schumer made it clear that quickly passing another round of relief related to the Coronavirus pandemic would be a high priority for the Senate Democrats.

"As you know from our work at the end of the last Congress, the job of COVID emergency relief is far from complete. Democrats wanted to do much more in the last bill and promised to do more, if given the opportunity, to increase direct payments to a total of $2,000 – we will get that done," Schumer wrote.

He also promised to work to confirm the slate of cabinet officials appointed by President-Elect Biden as quickly as possible.

The entire letter from Schumer was against the backdrop of the violent insurrection at the Capitol last Wednesday. Schumer said the incident showed the need to install qualified Senate approved members of the cabinet and promised that incoming Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin will closely examine the rise of violent extremist and white supremacist groups in America.

Schumer also made clear that his Caucus would make sure that the events of Jan. 6th are fully investigated and those responsible are brought to justice.

He also promised that every security measure necessary will be in place for the upcoming inauguration.

1:39 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Netherlands lockdown extended by three weeks

From CNN’s Mick Krever in London

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks about the country's Covid-19 restrictions during a press conference on January 12 in The Hague, Netherlands.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks about the country's Covid-19 restrictions during a press conference on January 12 in The Hague, Netherlands. Bart Maat/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

The lockdown in the Netherlands is being extended by three weeks, until Feb. 9, the prime minister said in a press conference on Tuesday.

"Nearly everyone will understand that there was no other choice," Mark Rutte said, "because the numbers are not decreasing fast enough and we are also now dealing with the British coronavirus variant. And we are very concerned about that variant."

Rutte first announced the lockdown on Dec. 14, and said it would be in effect until at least Jan. 18. The lockdown is more stringent than anything implemented during the first wave, in spring 2020, when non-essential shops were allowed to remain open – They are now closed.

The number of coronavirus infections in the Netherlands are falling but still significant. There were 49,398 positive reported cases is the past seven days, Jan. 5 to 12, according to the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.

That was a decrease from the 56,440 reported between Dec, 29 and Jan. 5.

1:20 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine on track to apply for emergency use authorization at end of the month

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard and Nick Neville

Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson could apply for emergency use authorization of its Janssen Covid-19 vaccine around the end of this month, Moncef Slaoui of Operation Warp Speed said during a briefing on Tuesday.

Slaoui said millions of doses should be available by the end of February.

"We are very clear – we, meaning Operation and Janssen Pharmaceuticals – that analysis will be completed before the end of the month, and EUA submission will take place at the end of this month," Slaoui said on Tuesday.

"In terms of vaccine dose availability, if submission is happening at the end of January, one could project that approval of the emergency use authorization may happen somewhere in the middle of the month of February," Slaoui added.

"We project to have single-digit million number of doses available in the second half of February," Slaoui said. "We're trying to make that number get as close to a double-digit number as possible and then a larger number in March and a much larger number in April. Remember, this is a one-shot vaccine so those are millions of individuals fully immunized."
1:25 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Nearly 45,000 coronavirus related fines issued across UK

From CNN's Duarte Mendonca

Police patrol Clapham Common for people not complying with coronavirus safety protocols on January 9 in London.
Police patrol Clapham Common for people not complying with coronavirus safety protocols on January 9 in London. Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Nearly 45,000 fixed penalty notices have been issued across the United Kingdom due to coronavirus related breaches, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Tuesday.

During a daily press conference, Patel warned those who have not been complying with the safety protocols issued by the government that police are "moving more quickly to issuing the fines, where people are clearly breaching coronavirus regulations."

"If you do not play your part, our selfless police officers who are out there, risking their own lives every day to keep us safe they will enforce the regulations. And I will back them to do so. To protect our NHS and to save lives," Patel said.

Her warning comes as the UK reported 1,243 new coronavirus related deaths on Tuesday, marking the second deadliest day since the start of the pandemic.

The latest figures released by the government have brought the total death toll to 83,203.

The UK also reported 45,533 new cases, bringing the total case number to 3,117,882.

On Monday, England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty told the BBC that the UK is entering its most challenging weeks since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, as hospitals face being overrun and morgues fill up.

1:18 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

HHS announced sweeping changes to US Covid-19 vaccine distribution. Here are the key things to know. 

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A health worker administers a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at South Bronx Educational Campus on January 10 in New York.
A health worker administers a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at South Bronx Educational Campus on January 10 in New York. Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday the federal government will no longer hold back coronavirus vaccine doses it kept in reserve, and it is asking states to open vaccinations to people 65 and older and people with chronic conditions who are at higher risk of severe disease.

He said the federal government would no longer hold back doses of vaccine to ensure that people who got their first doses would get second doses, too.

“We can now shift all of the dose that have been held in physical reserve,” Azar said.

Plus, states should vaccinate more people.

“We are telling states they should open vaccinations to all people … 65 and over and all people under age 65 with a comorbidity with some form of medical documentation,” Azar said, stumbling slightly over the wording.

Azar framed the change, which matches an approach announced by the incoming Biden administration, as something that had been part of the plan all along.

A senior administration official told CNN on Tuesday the shift follows two Operation Warp Speed meetings Azar held over the past 48 hours on how to speed up the lagging process.

Azar defended the slow and often chaotic rollout of vaccines.

“Several triggers have brought us to that point – nearly 38 million total doses of vaccine to date, including about 25 million first doses, have been made available for states to order against,” he told a news briefing. 

Azar blamed states for the slow rollout. “In some states, heavy handed micromanagement of this process has stood in the way of vaccines reaching a broader swathe of the vulnerable population more quickly,” Azar said.

1:03 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

New York's governor suggests rapid testing is a way to re-open state

From CNN's Sonia Moghe 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his State of the State address from the state Capitol on Monday, January 11 in Albany, New York.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his State of the State address from the state Capitol on Monday, January 11 in Albany, New York. Hans Pennink/Pool/AP

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a pilot testing program used at this weekend’s Buffalo Bills football game will be used as a model to help open up other aspects of life and business across the state. 

"Why can’t we use rapid testing to open restaurants in orange zones, theaters, offices," Cuomo said. "There are so many options."

Cuomo was speaking at the second in a series of "state of the state" speeches this week. He pointed to the success of the Buffalo Bills game pilot program where about 7,000 fans were tested for Covid-19 in a drive through testing setup. New York state’s Department of Health is monitoring the contact tracing results. 

Cuomo said the state will open hundreds of pop-up, rapid testing sites to be able to re-open office buildings and accelerate the return of the arts. 

He also announced the "New York Arts Revival," a public-private partnership program that will host a series of pop up performances starting on Feb. 4, with performers including Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Hugh Jackman and others. 

Cuomo added that the state will assist commercial building owners with empty office space with the ability to convert their spaces to affordable housing. 

"The reality is not all businesses will reopen and not all jobs are coming back as they were," Cuomo said. "Some of the changes we’ve seen this year will be permanent."

12:42 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

National Guard is helping administer the Covid-19 vaccine in 12 US states 

From CNN's Keri Enriquez

Two more states have begun using the National Guard to help administer Covid-19 vaccinations, according to National Guard spokesperson Wayne Hall.

Oklahoma and North Dakota are the latest additions, bringing the total number of states to 12. The ten other states are New Hampshire, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, California, Nevada and Arizona.

The majority of states are not relying on the National Guard to administer vaccines.

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team has discussed with governors the use of the National Guard, and as part of the ongoing agency review process discussed with the Department of Defense the use of the military, for the incoming administration’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts, a transition official tells CNN.

Biden said recently that one way in which his Covid task force will look to speed up the national Covid vaccination process after he takes office would be to potentially utilize the National Guard at mass vaccination sites. As CNN reported today, the deployment of the National Guard as part of the vaccination efforts is one of the major details that the Biden’s Covid team is deliberating over days away from inauguration.