January 18 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Sharon Braithwaite and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, January 19, 2021
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4:30 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

California becomes first US state to surpass 3 million Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

In this Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021 file photo, a health care worker tends to a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center during the coronavirus pandemic in San Jose, California.
In this Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021 file photo, a health care worker tends to a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center during the coronavirus pandemic in San Jose, California. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

California has become the first state in the nation to record more than three million Covid-19 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

The number of Covid-19 cases in California has tripled in just the past two months.

Current data shows at least 3,005,830 cases and 33,623 deaths resulting from the virus that has plagued the nation and debilitated the economy.

More than a million of those cases are centralized in Los Angeles County, where about one in 10 people have been confirmed to have contracted the virus. Health officials speculate the actual number may be as high as one in three.

Over 33,000 Californians have died from Covid-19 and hospitals throughout the state remain overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients seeking treatment.

About 90% of the state remains under stay-at-home orders due in part to limited intensive care unit capacity.


3:55 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

New study shows more evidence of long-lasting immunity after coronavirus infection

From CNN's Maggie fox

There’s more evidence that people develop broad, long-lasting immunity to coronavirus after an infection. 

A new study published Monday shows people’s bodies were producing a range of antibodies for six months after recovering from infection – and they were producing the B cells that, in turn, make these antibodies – something that promises even longer-lasting immunity.

It’s the latest in a batch of studies that show people’s bodies continue to produce immune responses after infection, which lowers the risk that people can get infected with the virus over and over again. 

The study, published in the journal Nature, also suggests that people produce a variety of antibodies that attack the virus from different angles. That’s good news for people worried about the emergence of new variants of the virus. Scientists are concerned that these mutations could help the virus evade either a natural immune response or a response elicited by vaccination.

The team took a close look at the blood of 87 people about six weeks after infection and then just over six months after infection.

They found, as have others, that there’s an initial spike in antibodies produces – one that dies away after a few months. But then the B-cells kick in and start making new antibodies. And not only that – they seem to make a new variety of antibodies that can act on even mutated virus.

It appears to be happening because little pieces of the virus stay in the body long after infection, helping prompt an ongoing immune response. They took samples from the intestines of some of their volunteers and found evidence these little bits – called antigens – were continuing to stimulate the immune response.

"The observation that memory B cell responses do not decay after 6.2 months, but instead continue to evolve, is strongly suggestive that individuals who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 could mount a rapid and effective response to the virus upon re-exposure," the team lead by molecular immunologist Dr. Michel Nussenzweig at Rockefeller University in New York wrote.

4:44 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

US surpasses 24 million Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Amanda Watts and Virginia Langmaid

Motorists wait in lines to take a coronavirus test in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium on January 4 in Los Angeles.
Motorists wait in lines to take a coronavirus test in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium on January 4 in Los Angeles. Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

There have been at least 24,018,793 total cases of coronavirus in the United States and at least 398,307 people have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

It took the United States 304 days to reach 12 million Covid-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. It only took the nation 59 days to reach the second 12 million cases.

3:05 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

More than 40,000 people in Florida are overdue for their second Covid-19 vaccine dose, health department says

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccines are prepared at the John Knox Village Continuing Care Retirement Community on January 6 in Pompano Beach, Florida. 
Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccines are prepared at the John Knox Village Continuing Care Retirement Community on January 6 in Pompano Beach, Florida.  Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More than 40,000 individuals who received their first Covid-19 vaccine dose in Florida are overdue for their second dose, according to the latest report from the state’s health department.

Those who are overdue for their second shot account for about 5% of the nearly 916,000 people who have received their first Covid-19 vaccine shot in the state.

Both Covid-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States – Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna – were authorized as a two-dose series. The second dose should be administered 21 days after the first dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and 28 days after for the Moderna vaccine. Last week, the CEO of BioNTech said there’s a risk of initial protection declining if the administration of a second dose is delayed.

The latest vaccine summary report from the Florida health department includes data through Saturday. “Overdue” individuals are defined as “those who have received their first dose and have passed the recommended timeframe to receive their second dose.” Data are provisional and subject to change.

12:59 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

"Stick with full dose, followed by full dose," Fauci says of Covid-19 vaccines

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Patrick Semansky/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Patrick Semansky/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Monday that people should stick with two full doses of vaccine, given the appropriate number of days apart.

Speaking at the Choose Healthy Life Black Clergy Conclave, Fauci maintained that the “proper, scientifically validated approach” for both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines is to receive a full dose, followed 21 and 28 days later, respectively, by another full dose.

Fauci said an experiment evaluating different dosing regimens was recently carried out in people ages 18 to 55. The results showed that when a half dose was given followed by a booster half dose, the level of antibodies produced was comparable to if someone was given two full doses.

“However, that is not clinical proof that they are equally comparable in protecting you,” Fauci said. “So, even though this was something that was done in a combination of curiosity and to see if we may have to go there, we are not recommending a half dose followed by a half dose.”

“Even though that’s interesting and it’s laboratory data, it is not backed up by a correlate of protection, which we may be able to do some time, but not now,” he said. “Bottom line, stick with full dose, followed by full dose.”

12:27 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

New York reports more than 12,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Brian Vitagliano

New York State reports 12,185 new positive Covid-19 cases with 153 new deaths and a positivity rate of 6.54%, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“Good news, we are seeing a decline in the Covid rates post-Christmas and New Year’s Eve surge,” Cuomo said during a news conference Monday.

“Hospital capacity is still, red zone, danger zone, shut down,” Cuomo said.

The governor said, “a stressor on this entire situation is the federal government increased eligibility dramatically but never increased the amount of the dosages.”

Cuomo said he sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar Monday demanding an explanation for what he said was a false claim that vaccine doses held in reserves would be shipped to states. “The federal government is in control of the supply, they must increase the supply,” Cuomo said. 

Cuomo said he also sent a letter to the President of Pfizer asking if New York can buy vaccine doses directly from the drug company, which Cuomo believes would be a first. “My job as governor of New York is to pursue every avenue and that’s what I am doing,” Cuomo said.

Note: These numbers were released by New York State Health Dept. and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.  

12:08 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

Virginia posts highest two days of new Covid-19 cases since pandemic began

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Over the weekend, Virginia posted its highest two days of new Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University.

On Saturday, Virginia added 6,757 new cases and on Sunday, a staggering 9,914 cases, according to JHU. The commonwealth is at its highest 7-day average of new cases, reporting roughly 5,778 new cases per day. And new cases are rising — up 15% from last week. 

The Virginia Department of Health told CNN, “The case counts for Sunday, January 17, 2020 are a complete and accurate picture of the daily numbers,” and not due to a backlog or change of testing as happens occasionally when states report a higher than usual numbers.

“This increase is likely due to exposures during the holidays, similar to after Thanksgiving,” the department said in the short statement.

Gov. Ralph Northam tweeted, “Virginia is seeing an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations.” He urged eligible residents to get vaccinated, “but until they are widely available, we ALL must continue to treat this virus like the dangerous threat that it is.”

10:24 a.m. ET, January 18, 2021

Austria's chancellor urges rapid approval of AstraZeneca vaccine

From CNN's Nina Avramova

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz speaks during a press conference on January 17.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz speaks during a press conference on January 17. Georg Hochmuth/APA/AFP/Getty Images

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has stressed that every week counts in terms of Covid-19 vaccinations and every day that the European regulator is able to decide faster on vaccine approval is a day "won" in Europe.

The approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine would offer Austria up to two million doses. 

"The EMA [European Medicines Agency] has all the data from AstraZeneca since January 12th. And what is now needed – based on all scientific facts, of course – is an immediate and quick decision, because AstraZeneca can deliver up to two million doses in the first quarter for Austria alone, and that of course makes an enormous difference to our success in vaccinating the population," Kurz told reporters on Monday.

Kurz added that there is no exact approval date yet.

"The British mutation of the virus is clearly more infectious, this poses us with enormous challenges," he said, citing the lockdowns across Europe. On Sunday, Austria’s lockdown measures were extended to last until Feb. 8. 

Austria has so far reported 389,106 Covid-19 cases and 7,122 deaths, according to the country’s Health Ministry.

9:55 a.m. ET, January 18, 2021

Pakistan approves use of China's Sinopharm vaccine following order of 1.2 million doses

From Sophia Saifi in Islamabad

Pakistan’s Drug Regulatory Authority has granted approval for the use of a vaccine developed by Sinopharm, a state-run Chinese firm.

In December last year Pakistan’s minister of science Fawad Chaudhry had announced that the country would be purchasing 1.2 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine from China’s Sinopharm in early 2021.

China's Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine has a 79.34% efficacy, higher than its Chinese competitor Sinovac.

The Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines have been regarded as potentially affordable and easily distributed vaccine candidates. Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the Chinese shots do not require expensive cold storage.

Head here to find out more about the latest on the rollout of Chinese vaccines.