The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Florence Davey-Attlee, Hannah Strange and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021
50 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
8:49 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

Turkey authorizes emergency use of China's Sinovac vaccine, mass rollout to begin on Thursday

From CNN's Gul Tuysuz in Istanbul

Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca receives the first shot after Turkish authorities gave the go-ahead for the emergency use of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by China's Sinovac Biotech, in Ankara, Turkey, on Wednesday, January 13.
Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca receives the first shot after Turkish authorities gave the go-ahead for the emergency use of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by China's Sinovac Biotech, in Ankara, Turkey, on Wednesday, January 13. Turkish Health Ministry via AP

Turkish health regulators approved the Chinese Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use on Wednesday, clearing the way for a mass vaccination program to begin on Thursday.

“The scientific data has been evaluated and 14-day testing of samples taken from the batches that have arrived have been examined in our laboratories... Emergency use authorization has been issued," the Turkish Drug and Medical Device Administration said in a statement.

Immediately after the announcement, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca received the first dose of the vaccine on live television. He told reporters that he and other members of the Pandemic Science Council are being vaccinated immediately and rollout across all 81 provinces in Turkey will begin on Thursday.

The administration did not release details about the data used to determine the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. Advanced, Phase 3 trials are ongoing in Turkey, but the vaccine is also being tested in other countries, including Brazil.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced on Wednesday that his country expects to receive 10 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine. Indonesian President Joko Widodo received the first shot of Sinovac vaccine on Wednesday and announced that vaccination will start across the country immediately.  

Questions over Sinovac data: On Tuesday, the government of Sao Paulo published data showing that the Sinovac vaccine was just 50.38% effective in late-stage trials in Brazil, significantly lower than earlier results showed.

While the number exceeds the threshold required for regulatory approval, it falls far below the 78% previously announced.

8:32 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

3 million new US Covid-19 cases were diagnosed in the past 13 days

From CNN's Amanda Watts and Virginia Langmaid

The United States has tallied over 3 million new Covid-19 cases in 2021 so far, John Hopkins University reports.

It took 167 days to reach the first 3 million cases, from January 22, 2020 (when JHU reported the first US coronavirus case) to July 8, 2020. 

So far, 23,044,857 cases and 384,204 deaths have been reported from Covid-19 during the entire pandemic, per JHU. 

8:08 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

MLB offers stadiums as Covid-19 mass vaccination sites

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Major League Baseball teams reached out to county and city health officials this week to offer every MLB stadium in the country as a mass vaccination site, Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, told CNN on Wednesday.

"These stadiums are wonderful areas to be repurposed for larger, mass vaccination efforts," Freeman said, but she added that testing is still a priority.

"We have so many places across the country still experiencing high levels of transmission and resurgence of disease, that we can't afford to let down the testing right now," she said. "We're too early in the vaccination process to do that, because we still need to mitigate and manage the spread of the disease, even while we're vaccinating."

Many venues -- including Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles and Yankee Stadium in New York -- already have plans underway to become Covid-19 vaccination centers.

7:39 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

CDC reports 76 US cases of coronavirus variant first identified in UK

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

At least 76 cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in the UK have been found in 12 US states, according to data posted Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This includes 32 cases in California, 22 in Florida, five in Minnesota, four in New York, four in Colorado, two in Connecticut, two in Maryland, and one case each in Texas, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin and Georgia.

The CDC says this does not represent the total number of cases circulating in the US, but rather just those that have been found by analyzing positive samples. The agency cautions that its numbers may not immediately match those of state and local health departments.

While the variant appears to spread more easily, there's no evidence that it's any more deadly or causes more severe disease, according to the CDC. It has been found in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Experts suspect there could be many more cases in the country and have criticized the US for not doing more genetic sequencing of virus samples to surveil for mutations. Earlier this month, a CDC official told CNN the agency plans to more than double the number of samples it sequences by mid-January -- with a target of 6,500 per week.

7:26 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

US surpasses 23 million Covid-19 cases

By CNN's Virginia Langmaid

There have been at least 23,044,857 total cases of Covid-19 in the United States and at least 384,207 people have died from it since the pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

17 other countries in the world have reported over 1 million total Covid-19 cases, according to JHU:

  • India has over 10 million total cases
  • Brazil has over 8 million total cases
  • Russia and the United Kingdom have over 3 million total cases
  • France, Turkey, Italy, and Spain have over 2 million total cases
  • Germany, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Iran, Ukraine, Peru, and South Africa all have over 1 million total cases each

Track the US cases:

6:51 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

US pharmacists could administer 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine per month -- National Association of Chain Drug Stores

from CNN's Gregory Lemos

A pharmacist prepares to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Goodwin House Bailey's Crossroads in Falls Church, Virginia, on December 30, 2020.
A pharmacist prepares to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Goodwin House Bailey's Crossroads in Falls Church, Virginia, on December 30, 2020. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The President and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) said Wednesday that pharmacists across the US will have the capacity to administer 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine once supply is available.  

"Based on conservative assumptions, pharmacies have the capacity to meet the demand for 100 million vaccine doses in one month when that level of the vaccine supply is available," Steven Anderson told reporters on a phone call Wednesday.  

NACDS includes 40,000 pharmacies and 155,000 pharmacists, according to Anderson.  

6:05 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine generates immune response, few side effects, in early trials

From CNN Health's Maggie Fox

Early stage trials of Johnson & Johnson's experimental coronavirus vaccine show it generated an immune response in nearly all volunteers, with minimal side-effects, after a single dose.

The company expects to report details of more advanced trials later this month and is hoping to apply for authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration soon after.

Researchers who tested the vaccine in a combined Phase 1-2 trial -- mostly meant to show safety -- found either one or two doses of the vaccine generated both antibody and T-cell responses against the coronavirus. The trials were not designed to show whether the vaccine protected people against either infection or symptoms of coronavirus -- that's what the ongoing Phase 3 trials are designed to do.

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, an international team of researchers who tested the vaccine in around 800 volunteers said the early stage trials showed it was safe and probably should work.

The FDA has given emergency use authorization to two coronavirus vaccines – one made by Pfizer with partner BioNTech, and another by Moderna. Both were about 95% effective in preventing symptomatic disease in their Phase 3 trials. They use messenger RNA or mRNA – a new vaccine technology.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine arm Janssen uses a different approach for its vaccine, often referred to by its experimental name Ad26.COV2.S. It uses a weakened version of a common cold virus called adenovirus 26 to carry genetic material from the virus into the body, prompting human cells to produce pieces of the virus, which are then recognized by the immune system.

Read more on this story:

5:09 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

Even after schools reopened, coronavirus cases were lowest among younger children, study says

From CNN Health’s Jamie Gumbrecht

As some areas of the country push to reopen school buildings, a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that Covid-19 cases were lowest among younger children even after schools restarted for in-person learning. But to safely reopen schools, transmission in communities must be kept in check.

The report, published Wednesday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, considered more than 2.8 million laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases in people under age 24, from March 1 through December 12, 2020. 

More than 57% of those cases occurred among people ages 18 to 24. Cases among children and teens paralleled cases among adults through the summer and fall -- including spikes in cases in early summer followed by a decline, and then a steep increase in October through December.

By early December, 62% of US K-12 school districts had opened for full or partial in-person learning. Despite that, reports of school outbreaks were “limited,” CDC researchers wrote. Covid-19 incidence among the general population was similar in counties with in-person learning – 401.2 cases per 100,000 people – and those that were all-online – : 418.2 per 100,000 people.

There was no sign that increased cases among school-age children and teens preceded increases in other age groups; however, there were increases among other age groups after cases increased among people ages 18 to 24.

To prevent coronavirus transmission in schools, transmission in the community must be controlled, the report said. Communities and schools should implement mitigation strategies such as wearing masks, and people must adhere to them. CDC recommendations already say K-12 schools should be the last to close after all other mitigation measures have been attempted, and the first to reopen once it’s safe to do so, the report noted. 

“When community transmission is high, cases in schools should be expected, and as with any group setting, schools can contribute to COVID-19 transmission, especially when mitigation measures, such as universal and proper masking, are not implemented or followed,” the report said.

There are limitations to the report, including that Covid-19 cases are likely underestimated among young people, and case trends among teachers and school staff members are not available.

President-elect Joe Biden has pledged that his administration will reopen most schools within 100 days of taking office. 

4:36 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

Portugal to enter a new lockdown from Friday, but schools stay open

From CNN’s Duarte Mendonca in Cascais, Portugal

Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa holds a press conference at Palacio da Ajuda in Lisbon on January 13.
Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa holds a press conference at Palacio da Ajuda in Lisbon on January 13. Patricia De Melo/AFP/Getty Images

Portugal is set to enter a new lockdown on Friday but schools will remain open, Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced on Wednesday. 

“We have to take over the joint responsibility of stopping this pandemic together,” Costa said in his press conference. 

“The fundamental message of the decisions that we are taking is to return to our duty of home curfew -- as we had in March and April -- when we stopped, with success, the first wave,” Costa said.

“The rules that we are reimposing are essentially the same as March and April, with one exception which is tied with the democratic schedule around the Portuguese elections on January 24; and with the necessity of not sacrificing again our current generation of students and as such, we will maintain all the education systems fully operational as they are currently,” he said. 

The announcement comes amid rising concerns over record coronavirus numbers, after Portugal reached its highest number of daily cases and coronavirus related deaths.