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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1:41 a.m. ET, January 18, 2021

US reports more than 174,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Alta Spells in Atlanta

A healthcare worker from the Medical University of South Carolina holds a bio-hazard bag at a Covid-19 test site in Charleston, South Carolina on January 13.
A healthcare worker from the Medical University of South Carolina holds a bio-hazard bag at a Covid-19 test site in Charleston, South Carolina on January 13. Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The United States reported 174,513 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases nationwide to at least 23,933,368, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Another 1,723 virus-related fatalities were also recorded on Sunday, according to JHU. At least 397,574 people have died from Covid-19 in the US during the pandemic.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

Vaccines: At least 31,161,075 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 12,279,180 shots administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Track US cases:

1:25 a.m. ET, January 18, 2021

Cuba reports highest rise in new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Tatiana Arias

A view of a street in Havana, Cuba, on January 11.
A view of a street in Havana, Cuba, on January 11. Yander Zamora/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Cuba reported a record of 650 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, according to the country's Health Ministry.

The Caribbean island nation also recorded four new deaths Sunday.

Cuba's total number of Covid-19 cases as of Sunday stands at 18,151. The country has also recorded a total of 170 coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to official data.

1:00 a.m. ET, January 18, 2021

Confidence in Chinese vaccines has taken a hit. But as cases rise, some countries are still pushing ahead

From CNN's Helen Regan in Hong Kong

An employee works on the production line of CoronaVac, Sinovac Biotech's vaccine against Covid-19, at the Butantan biomedical production center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on January 14.
An employee works on the production line of CoronaVac, Sinovac Biotech's vaccine against Covid-19, at the Butantan biomedical production center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on January 14. Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

Mass public vaccination programs using a Chinese coronavirus vaccine are underway across Indonesia and Turkey, where tens of millions of people are expected to receive doses of the CoronaVac shot made by Beijing-based company Sinovac.

On Wednesday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo was shown receiving the country's first CoronaVac shot, after the government authorized it for emergency use. While on Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced he had also received the vaccine.

But the rollouts come despite a growing number of questions over the effectiveness of the shot, which last week was revealed to have an efficacy rate of just 50.38% in late-stage trials in Brazil -- significantly lower than earlier results showed. That rate only barely crosses the 50% efficacy threshold as set by the World Health Organization, and is far lower than the 78% previously announced to much fanfare in China earlier this month.

The apparent discrepancy has led to concern among some scientists, and shaken international confidence in Chinese-made vaccines.

"Since many countries are planning to order, or have already ordered Sinovac's vaccines, it might undermine people's willingness to take them, because people may question the usefulness of the vaccines," said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the US based Council on Foreign Relations and expert on the Chinese health care system. "It could be a potential stumbling block."

The Brazilian results suggest CoronaVac is far less effective than vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which have an efficacy rate of about 95%. Russia says its Sputnik V vaccine has an efficacy of 91%, while the UK's vaccine, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, has an average efficacy of 70%. The Sinovac vaccine has a lower efficacy rate than its domestic Chinese competitor, developed by the state-owned Sinopharm, which it says has a 79.34% efficacy.

Read the full story:

12:53 a.m. ET, January 18, 2021

India vaccinated more than 200,000 people on the first day of its mass immunization program

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

Health workers wait in line to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in Mumbai, India on January 16.
Health workers wait in line to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in Mumbai, India on January 16. Fariha Farooqui/Xinhua/Getty Images

More than 200,000 people were vaccinated against coronavirus on the first day of India's nationwide vaccination drive on Saturday, the country's Health Ministry announced in a news release on Sunday.

According to the ministry, the total is "much higher than many other countries such as the USA, the UK, and France."

As of Sunday, India has vaccinated a total of 224,301 people, and to date 447 adverse events following immunization have been reported, of which three patients were hospitalized. 

"Protocols are in place for reporting, immediate case management at vaccination session site, transportation and hospitalization, and further care of such cases," the release added. 

Indian Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan on Sunday congratulated states on a successful vaccine rollout. 

"Our Prime Minister has been in constant contact with the state chief ministers ... we have developed a common timeline and plan according to which we are all working ... we need to stick to the plan to meet our targets," Vardhan said. 

India has reported more than 10.5 million Covid-19 cases, including 152,419 deaths, according to the Health Ministry on Monday.

Some context: India is embarking on one of the world's most ambitious mass immunization programs ever undertaken, with the country of 1.35 billion planning to inoculate 300 million frontline workers, elderly and vulnerable people by August.

Earlier this month, Indian drug regulators gave the go ahead for two coronavirus vaccines, one developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and the other conceived locally by Bharat Biotech and a government-run institute.

12:28 a.m. ET, January 18, 2021

China's economy grew 2.3% in 2020 as pandemic recovery quickens

From CNN's Laura He in Hong Kong

China's economy grew more than expected last year, even as the rest of the world was upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

The world's second largest economy expanded 2.3% in 2020 compared to a year earlier, according to government statistics released Monday.

It's China's slowest annual growth rate in decades -- not since 1976 has the country had a worse year, when GDP shrunk 1.6% during a time of social and economic tumult.

But during a year when a crippling pandemic plunged major world economies into recession, China has clearly come out on top. The expansion also beat expectations: The International Monetary Fund, for example, predicted that China's economy would grow 1.9% in 2020. It's the only major world economy the IMF expected to grow at all.

The pace of the recovery is also accelerating. China's economy grew 6.5% in the fourth quarter compared to a year earlier, according to the government. That's faster than the 4.9% growth recorded in the third quarter.

Read the full story:

12:06 a.m. ET, January 18, 2021

Global coronavirus cases surpass 95 million 

From CNN's Samantha Beech

Workers wearing protective gear carry the casket of a Covid-19 victim at the Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on January 8.
Workers wearing protective gear carry the casket of a Covid-19 victim at the Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on January 8. Jonne Roriz/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The number of known cases of Covid-19 globally has surpassed 95 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Johns Hopkins reports the current number of cases identified around the world is now at least 95,037,610 and at least 2,030,668 people have died from the disease. In just one week, the world has recorded more than 5 million new Covid-19 cases.

The United States has seen the most deaths and the most confirmed cases worldwide.

At least 23,932,306 coronavirus cases have been identified in the US, including 397,561 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins.

India, Brazil and Russia follow the US in reporting the highest number of recorded coronavirus cases in the world.

Track worldwide cases:

12:01 a.m. ET, January 18, 2021

Los Angeles County adds more than 11,000 new coronavirus cases

From CNN's Jennifer Selva

Motorists queue up to take a coronavirus test in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium's drive-thru testing site in Los Angeles Monday, January 11.
Motorists queue up to take a coronavirus test in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium's drive-thru testing site in Los Angeles Monday, January 11. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

A day after surpassing 1 million coronavirus cases, Los Angeles County reported 11,366 new infections and 108 deaths on Sunday.

According to a news release from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health (LADPH), these numbers, which are lower than any day of the past week, represent an undercount due to a lag in weekend reporting.

The numbers show:

  • The daily positivity rate has dropped in the past seven days from 16.5% last Monday, to 14% on Sunday.
  • There are currently 7,498 Angelenos hospitalized with the disease, and 23% of those are in the ICU.
  • Of the more than 5 million individuals tested since the pandemic began, 18% have tested positive.

UK variant: The LADPH announced its first confirmed case of the UK Covid-19 B.1.1.7 variant on Saturday, in a male who had traveled to L.A. County but is now isolating in Oregon. The department said it believed the more contagious UK variant was likely already spreading in the community and urged residents to "more diligently" follow safety measures.

9:37 p.m. ET, January 17, 2021

England expands Covid-19 vaccine program to people age 70 and older

From CNN's Sharif Paget 

Members of the public receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine at Lichfield Cathedral, in Staffordshire, England, on Friday, January 15.
Members of the public receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine at Lichfield Cathedral, in Staffordshire, England, on Friday, January 15. Jacob King/PA via AP

Starting Monday, England is expanding the next phase of its Covid-19 vaccination campaign to offer doses to people age 70 and older and those considered vulnerable to the virus, the UK government said in a statement issued late Sunday. 

Until now, the vaccination program has focused on two priority cohorts: people over the age of 80 and frontline health and care workers. 

“Today is a significant milestone in our vaccination programme as we open it up to millions more people who are most at risk from Covid 19," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday, according to the statement. 

While vaccinating the first two groups remains a priority, the statement read, vaccination sites that have enough supply can offer them to those 70 and older along with "clinically extremely vulnerable people."

“Now that more than half of all over-80s have had their jab, we can begin vaccinating the next most vulnerable groups," UK Health minister Matt Hancock said. 

"We are working day and night to make sure everyone who is 70 and over, our health and social care workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable are offered the vaccine by the middle of February," he added.

8:26 p.m. ET, January 17, 2021

Covid-19 variants may not be more deadly, but they can still cause more deaths, says Fauci

From CNN Health's Lauren Mascarenhas

More infectious Covid-19 variants that are not necessarily more deadly can still cause more deaths, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press.

“Even though on a one-to-one basis, it's not more virulent, meaning it doesn't make you more sick or more likely to die, just by numbers alone, the more cases you have, the more hospitalizations you're going to have, and the more hospitalizations you have, the more deaths you're going to have,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned that Covid-19 variants could accelerate the spread of the virus in the United States.

Fauci said the US is closely examining new variants, including one first identified in the UK and another, “more ominous” strain identified in South Africa and Brazil. Health experts are watching out for whether new strains could lessen the impact of Covid-19 vaccines, which would prompt some modifications to the vaccines.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it’s important for people to double down on public health measures and get vaccinated as soon as they can to prevent excess hospitalizations and deaths caused by new variants.