January 21 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Sharon Braithwaite, Eliza Mackintosh, Ed Upright, Zamira Rahim and Caitlin Hu, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021
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6:53 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

For the second time, US reports more than 1 million new Covid-19 shots in a day

From CNN Health’s Michael Nedelman and Deidre McPhillips

The US has reported more than a million new Covid-19 shots in a day, according to data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday.

This is an increase from the 16.5 million administered doses reported Wednesday, marking the second time a reported single-day increase has surpassed one million. 

More than 17.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the US, of the 38 million that have been distributed, according to data published by the CDC. 

The last time this happened was Friday when 1.1 million new doses were reported. Over the past seven days, an average of 914,000 doses have been administered per day. 

About 2.4 million people have received both doses, according to the CDC.


6:43 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

EU leaders consider tougher border restrictions as coronavirus cases surge

From CNN’s James Frater in London

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a video conference meeting of the members of the European Council focused on the Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic, in Brussels, on January 21.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a video conference meeting of the members of the European Council focused on the Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic, in Brussels, on January 21. Olivier Hoslet/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission has proposed tougher restrictions on travel both within and to the European Union to limit non-essential travel as cases of coronavirus surge across the continent.

“In view of the very serious health situation, all non-essential travel should be strongly discouraged, both within the country and of course across borders,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday following a video summit with EU leaders.
“With regard to the external borders, we will also propose to have additional safety measures. For those traveling from third countries on essential travel to Europe we would, for example, require testing before departure,” she added.

During the summit, Member States agreed “unanimously” to recommend a common framework for the use of rapid antigen tests and the mutual recognition of coronavirus test results across the EU.

“The mutual recognition of test results for SARS-CoV2 infection carried by certified health bodies is essential in order to facilitate cross-border movement, cross-border contact tracing, and treatment,” the European Council said in a statement. 

“This is a central tool to help mitigate the spread of the virus and contribute to the smooth functioning of the internal market,” the statement added.

The European Commission is expected to assess and consider the details of the proposed measures on Monday.

6:26 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Former Brazilian President Lula says he has recovered from Covid-19

From CNN’s Taylor Barnes in Atlanta and Patrick Oppmann in Havana

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, tweeted a statement Thursday that said he had tested positive for Covid-19 and was in "excellent recovery."

Lula, his fiancée, and seven members of his entourage had been tested for Covid-19 last month in Brazil before departing for a trip to Cuba, and again upon arrival on Dec. 21.

But a third test in Cuba on Dec 26 revealed positive results for him and other members of his team, according to the statement, “confirming that they were imported cases through epidemiological investigation.”

Lula said he had been diagnosed with lung lesions but did not require hospitalization.

“I and my entire team are grateful for the dedication of the health professionals and the Cuban public health system who were with us in daily care," he said, adding that he was eager to be vaccinated and taking precautions:

“I am prepared to get the vaccine, as soon as we have a vaccine for everyone. I keep waiting for my turn in line, with my arm at my disposal to take as soon as I can. And while everyone is not vaccinated, I will continue with a mask, avoiding crowds and using a lot of sanitizer gel.”

5:37 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Vaccines should still work against virus variants, Fauci says

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Federal health officials are watching the rise of coronavirus variants, but so far they don’t appear to threaten the efficacy of vaccines, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Thursday.

The two most prominent new variants are the one first seen in Britain and another spotted first in South Africa. Both appear to be more transmissible, and that will mean more cases, more hospitalizations, and more deaths, Fauci told his first White House briefing under the new Biden administration.

Some very early studies indicate that the pattern of mutations seen in both variants may allow the virus to somewhat evade the immune system response prompted by vaccination.

“That does not mean that the vaccines will not be effective,” Fauci told the briefing.

“There is a thing called the cushion effect,” he added.

The vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna are highly effective and prompt a strong immune response. Even a somewhat diminished response still means overwhelming activity against the virus, he said. Other researchers studying the mutations and the effect on the vaccine response have said the same thing.

“Even though it is diminished somewhat, it still is effective,” Fauci said. But the virus will mutate so long as it is circulating, he cautioned. “It is all the more reason why we should be vaccinating as many people as we can,” he said.

5:09 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Czech parliament extends state of emergency until February 14

From Tomas Etzler in Prague 

The Czech parliament has extended the country’s national state of emergency until February 14 on Thursday, to allow the government to continue to impose legal measures and restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus without seeking parliamentary approval. 

The Czech Republic remains under “critical” Level 5 restrictions — the highest on the country’s Covid-19 risk assessment scale — which include the closure of restaurants, non-essential shops, and most schools, as well as a night-time curfew.

As of Wednesday, the Czech Ministry of Health has recorded 8,162 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases to 917,359.

The country’s total coronavirus death toll now stands at 14,973.

4:50 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

New variants of coronavirus worsen spread, says Europe's CDC

From CNN's Maggie Fox

New variants of the coronavirus that spread more easily could cause more hospitalizations and deaths across Europe, the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) warned Thursday.

“ECDC assesses the probability of the introduction and community spread of variants of concern in the European Union/ European Economic Area as very high due to their increased transmissibility,” the organization said in a new report.
“Such an increased transmissibility is likely to lead to an increased number of infections. This, in turn, is likely to lead to higher hospitalization and death rates across all age groups, but particularly for those in older age groups or with co-morbidities,” the report added.

ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said in a statement that this pattern may already be occurring in some places, and urged member states to curb the virus with precautionary measures and "accelerate vaccination of high-risk groups":  

“We are currently seeing deteriorating epidemiological situations in areas where more transmissible variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have become established."
“A combination of measures, including physical distancing, increased level of surveillance, sequencing of samples, and rigorous contact tracing and quarantine are needed to effectively curb the spread of the new variants."

There are three variants of concern, Ammon said. One, first identified in the UK and known as B.1.1.7 or VOC 202012/01, appears to have worsened spread in Britain and Ireland.

A variant first spotted in South Africa and called either 501Y.V2 or B.1.351, has also been seen in 10 European countries.

And a third variant called P1 has been detected in Brazil. This variant has only been seen in a few travelers so far in Europe.

4:56 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

France aims to vaccinate entire population by end of August 

From CNN's Nada Bashir

A nurse fills a syringe with a vial of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine at the Pasteur Institute, in Paris, on January 21.
A nurse fills a syringe with a vial of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine at the Pasteur Institute, in Paris, on January 21. Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

The French Government aims to offer the coronavirus vaccine to its entire population by the end of August 2021, Health Minister Olivier Veran said Thursday, adding that the government plans to carry out 70 million vaccinations by then.

Speaking during an interview with French TV channel TF1, Veran said the government projects that between 1.3 and 1.4 million citizens will be vaccinated by the end of January, rising to an estimated 4 million by the end of February, and 9 million by the end of March.

According to the latest government figures, a total of 823,567 citizens in France have received the coronavirus vaccine so far.  

4:35 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Rio de Janeiro mayor postpones carnival -- again

From CNN's Jaide Garcia and Florencia Trucco

The Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, has announced postponed carnival festivities again, after previously pushing the two-day parade from February 2021 to mid-year.

"It seems pointless to imagine at this point that we will be able to hold the carnival in July," Paes wrote on Twitter. "This celebration requires a great deal of preparation on the part of public bodies and of samba associations and institutions. Something impossible to do at the moment."

Paes did not specify if there will be a new 2021 date for carnival, but expressed hope that by 2022, Covid-19 vaccinations would allow the city to "celebrate life and our culture with all the intensity we deserve."

4:23 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Argentina’s president receives Russia's Sputnik V vaccine

From CNNE's Florencia Trucco in Atlanta

Argentina’s president Alberto Fernández received his first dose of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V on Thursday, according to a statement from his office. 

"The president reaffirmed the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and reiterated that his priority is that it reaches the majority of Argentines in the shortest time possible," the statement read. 

Fernández, 61, received the dose at the Posadas Hospital in the province of Buenos Aires.

The National Administration of Medicines, Food and Technology of Argentina (ANMAT) recommended the use of the vaccine on Wednesday to the Ministry of Health, for use on people over 60 years old.

Argentina received a shipment of 300,000 doses of Sputnik V on December 24.