The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Sharon Braithwaite, Meg Wagner and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Updated 12:08 a.m. ET, January 23, 2021
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1:35 p.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Severe allergic reactions to the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are a "rare event," CDC says

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Severe allergic reactions to the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are a “rare event,” according to a report published Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Jan. 10, among the more than 4 million people vaccinated with the first dose of the Moderna shot, only 10 people had severe allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. That’s a rate of 2.5 cases per million doses administered. 

A previous report on the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine estimated an initial rate of 11.1 cases per million of the first doses administered.

The CDC has been monitoring for adverse reactions and collected 1,266 adverse event reports related to the Moderna vaccine. Among those reports, 108 involving allergic reactions were flagged for further review.

The CDC determined 47 of the reports were nonanaphylaxis allergic reactions, 47 were considered nonallergic reactions, four case reports didn’t have enough information.

All 10 of the anaphylaxis cases were women. Of the 10, nine had a documented history of allergies and more than half of those people had a previous history of anaphylaxis. Only one had a prior allergic reaction to a vaccine. The others had allergic reactions to a mix of things – drugs, contrast agents used in some medical imaging and one person had a food allergy.  

Symptoms began at a median of seven and a half minutes after the shot. Among those for whom CDC had follow up information, all had recovered and had been discharged from the hospital and sent home. 

The current CDC guidance is that people who have an immediate allergic reaction to a first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine shouldn’t get the second. The guidance also mandates health care workers monitor people for at least 15 minutes after vaccination. Anaphylaxis is potentially life-threatening and requires immediate treatment; the CDC says vaccination sites need trained staff and supplies on hand to manage it.

“Anaphylaxis after receipt of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine appears to be a rare event; however, comparisons of anaphylaxis risk with that associated with non–COVID-19 vaccines are constrained at this time by the limited data available this early in the COVID-19 vaccination program,” the report said. “CDC and FDA will continue enhanced monitoring for anaphylaxis among recipients of COVID-19 vaccines.”
12:19 p.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Indoor dining at Michigan restaurants can resume next month

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

A "closed" sign hangs on the door of a restaurant in Detroit in April.
A "closed" sign hangs on the door of a restaurant in Detroit in April. Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Michiganders can once again dine indoors at restaurants starting Feb. 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced at a news conference Friday.

“The pause has worked," Whitmer said. "The efforts we have made together to protect our families, frontline workers and hospitals have dramatically reduced cases and we have saved lives. Now, we are confident that starting Feb. 1, restaurants can resume indoor dining with safety measures in place.”

Before the Department of Health and Human Services’ three-week epidemic order limiting social gatherings launched on Nov. 15, Michigan had 734 cases of Coivd-19 per million residents, Whitmer said. The state has now seen a 70% reduction to 177 cases per million, according to the Governor.

“I know this pandemic has hurt our restaurant owners, our restaurant workers, and all of their families. I want to thank those that made incredible sacrifices, and did their part, on behalf of our protecting our communities from Covid,” said Whitmer.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun further clarified that restaurants will operate at 25% capacity and must observe a 10 p.m. curfew.

“I'm pleased that we can move forward in this way. We know that our restaurant owners want to protect their patrons and help to end this pandemic,” Khaldun said, but said she wanted to remind people that scientists and doctors have reiterated that being indoors, with no mask on, is one of the riskier activities people can do when it comes to the spread of Covid-19.

“So now people have a choice. The safest thing to do, especially if you are elderly, if you have underlying medical conditions, or if you live with someone who's elderly or has underlying medical conditions,” Khaldun said. “The safest thing to do is to not be inside a restaurant, but we still want you to order from them though, you can support them with takeout delivery, or dining out doors.”

11:18 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine trial for kids is now fully enrolled

From CNN’s Amanda Sealy

Pfizer told CNN that its Covid-19 vaccine trial in children ages 12 to 15 is now fully enrolled with 2,259 participants. 

Pfizer began to enroll participants for this trial in October, but the company says it does not know when the data from this trial will be available.

Currently, Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine has been granted emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration for those who are age 16 and above. There is currently no FDA authorized Covid-19 vaccine for children. 

11:17 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Cuba reports first case of the Covid-19 variant found in South Africa 

From CNN's Patrick Oppmann

One case of the Covid-19 variant identified in South Africa has been detected in Cuba, Cuban health officials said during a daily briefing on Friday. 

The person found positive for the Covid-19 variant was tested at an airport upon entering the country and is now in isolation.

This is the first case of any Covid-19 variant found in Cuba. To date, Cuba has registered a total of 19,530 cases and 184 deaths. 

10:47 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Portugal reports record daily death toll

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London

Portuguese health authorities have reported yet another record daily increase in deaths from Covid-19, with 234 new fatalities in the past 24 hours.

It is the fifth consecutive record-breaking day.

Health authorities also reported 13,987 new cases in the past 24 hours, the second-highest daily cases count since the pandemic started.

The government decided Thursday to toughen the current lockdown restrictions and ordered schools and universities to close for at least 15 days, due to the rapid increase of cases.

The country of ten million has been struggling with a spike in cases since the new year.

10:35 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Nearly 2,000 Covid-19 vaccines in Massachusetts "compromised" after freezer plug accidentally loosened

From CNN’s Joe Sutton and Carma Hassan

About 1,900 doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine were compromised when a cleaning contractor accidentally loosened the freezer’s plug at the Jamaica Plain VA campus in Massachusetts, Kyle Toto, a spokesperson for the VA Boston Health Care System, told CNN.

The doses were designated for employees at the health care facility as well as inpatient and outpatient veterans, Toto added.

Toto said VA Boston Pharmacy staff discovered the issue Tuesday because the freezer was no longer cold.

“The freezer was in a secure location and had an alarm system installed. The plug was found loose after a contractor accidentally removed it while cleaning. An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident and why the monitoring and alarm system did not work as expected. Replenishment doses are in process and we do not foresee disruption of our vaccination effort,” Toto said in an email.
11:44 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers will be among the 22,000 fans at this year's Super Bowl

From CNN's Homero De La Fuente

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell announced Friday the league will allow 22,000 fans at Super Bowl LV next month.

According to a press release, the NFL made the decision “following discussions with public health officials, including the CDC, the Florida Department of Health, and area hospitals and health care systems".

“These officials reviewed and provided feedback on the NFL's comprehensive plans that will enable the league to host fans and the vaccinated health care workers in a safe and responsible way,” the statement added.

Among the 22,000 fans, the NFL is giving 7,500 vaccinated health care workers free tickets to the game. The league said health care workers will be recognized with planned tributes in the stadium and during the broadcast.

"These dedicated health care workers continue to put their own lives at risk to serve others, and we owe them our ongoing gratitude, we hope in a small way that this initiative will inspire our country and recognize these true American heroes. This is also an opportunity to promote the importance of vaccination and appropriate health practices, including wearing masks in public settings," said Goodell.

Super Bowl LV is scheduled to take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, Feb. 7.

9:31 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

"We got to go into the trenches" to figure out what's wrong with the vaccine rollout, says Fauci

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s John Berman that to make a difference in the vaccine rollout, they need to get into local areas to understand what’s going wrong and how to fix it.

“It’s a complicated issue,” Fauci said when asked one thing he would like to see today to make a difference on vaccinations.

“What I think we really need to do is we got to go into the trenches — and I’ve said this so many times — and figure out what is it that’s the cause of what we’re hearing,” like why some states say they have doses sitting on shelves and others say they don’t have enough.

“You got to get into the local area and find out what’s going on here, what’s wrong, let’s try and fix it,” he said.

“Back months ago, for example when you’re sitting in the situation room and you hear, OK, things look pretty good, you know this is happening, that’s happening. You go home, you get on the phone to the people who are actually doing it and they say it’s not working well.” 

Fauci said that they need to go the local areas and partner with people doing vaccinations to look at what went wrong there and how they can help them to fix things — or help them to help themselves fix it. 

“I think that’s what you’re going to be starting to see, in fact it’s happening right now,” he said. 

If you aren’t sure of what’s going wrong, “don’t guess, go and figure out what it is and help people fix it,” he said.

9:30 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

EU to seek clarification from Pfizer on Covid-19 vaccine delays

From CNN’s James Frater and Katharina Krebs in London

The European Union will seek clarification from Pfizer on reports of new delays in delivering Covid-19 vaccines, chief spokesperson for European Commission Eric Mamer said during a press briefing on Friday.

Mamer stressed that the Commission is constantly in contact with the manufacturers and are aware of recent developments.

Last week Pfizer said that shipments from its vaccine facility in Puurs, Belgium, would be temporarily reduced as it scales up to produce 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2021.  

Eric Mamer explained that the deliveries are organised specifically between the Member States and the companies, while the Commission supports the relationship between the two. 

“We will of course continue our contact with BioNTech/Pfizer to ensure that we have always the latest information and see what are the next steps that need to be taken based on this,” he said. 

Some background: Italy announced Wednesday it will take legal actions against pharmaceutical company Pfizer over Covid-19 vaccine delays.

"Unfortunately this week we received 29% fewer vaccine jabs from Pfizer and we have been told that we will receive 20% fewer vaccine jabs next week," the country’s extraordinary coronavirus commissioner Domenico Arcuri said Thursday during a press conference. The vaccination rollout has been "significantly" slowed down due to this delay, Arcuri added.

"Until last Saturday we vaccinated an average of 80,000 people a day, with a peak of 92,618 in 24 hours. After Saturday, the people who were vaccinated are just over a third, 28,000 on average," he said.

Pfizer said last week that in order to increase capacity, changes were needed to the process and facility, and additional regulatory approvals would be required.

Pfizer's vaccine partner BioNTech later said that the original schedule for deliveries to the European Union would resume the week beginning Jan. 25.

BioNTech said it hoped to “increase delivery beginning the week of February 15," which would result in delivering “the fully committed quantity of vaccine doses in the first quarter and significantly more in the second quarter."