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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2:15 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

US reports nearly 189,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton in Atlanta

The United States reported 188,952 new coronavirus infections and 3,955 virus-related fatalities on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

According to JHU's tally, the nationwide totals now stand at 24,627,882 cases, including 410,105 deaths.

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

Vaccine numbers: At least 37,960,000 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 17,546,374 shots administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Track US cases: 

2:00 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

India vaccinates more than 1 million healthcare workers in less than a week

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A healthcare worker vaccinates a frontline health worker with the Covishield Covid-19 vaccine in Kolkata, on January 19.
A healthcare worker vaccinates a frontline health worker with the Covishield Covid-19 vaccine in Kolkata, on January 19. Sumit Sanyal/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

India has vaccinated a total of 1,043,534 health care workers so far during the first phase of a nationwide vaccination drive that began on January 16, the country's government announced Friday.

The country plans to vaccinate 10 million health care workers in the first phase of its vaccination program, followed by 20 million frontline workers, before moving onto its second phase of vaccinating 270 million people over the age of 50 or those under 50 with comorbidities. 

"2021 has brought new hope for India," Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said at a news conference Friday. 

Earlier this month, India approved two vaccines for emergency use -- Astra Zeneca's Covishield vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and the India-developed Covaxin vaccine made by Bharat Biotech. India has procured 11 million doses of Covishield and 5.5 million doses of Covaxin for the first phase.

Due to concerns around the use of Covaxin before its third phase trial data has been released, and the below target turnout of beneficiaries in many states, the Indian government on Thursday began an awareness campaign to assuage concerns.

"In such a context those who are spreading misinformation in society about the vaccines, please ignore them, we have to take the vaccine to protect ourselves and our society against Covid," Vardhan added.

India has reported 10,625,428 total cases of coronavirus, including 153,032 deaths, according to the country's Health Ministry.

1:47 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

WHO plans to deliver 600 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Africa by end of the year

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, speaks during a news conference at the European headquarters of the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 1, 2019.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, speaks during a news conference at the European headquarters of the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 1, 2019. Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The World Health Organization is planning to deliver 600 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Africa by the end of the year, a senior official said during a WHO news conference on Thursday.

The delivery will be arranged via the COVAX scheme, and the initial 30 million doses are expected to arrive by March, WHO’s Africa director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said. 

By the end of the year, the scheme is expected to cover about 20% of the population in African countries, based on two doses per person, she said.

“Health workers and vulnerable people in Africa need urgent access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines," she said. “It is deeply unjust that the most vulnerable Africans are forced to wait for vaccines while lower-risk groups in rich countries are made safe.”

Moeti added that healthcare workers and other high priority groups will be prioritized in the vaccination drive.

1:33 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Vaccinating over 60s is most important for saving lives from Covid, study finds

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

A resident receives a Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine from a healthcare worker at The Palace, an independent living community for seniors, at Coral Gables in Miami, on January 12.
A resident receives a Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine from a healthcare worker at The Palace, an independent living community for seniors, at Coral Gables in Miami, on January 12. Eva Marie Uzcategui Trinkl/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Vaccinating the over 60s is the most effective way to cut deaths from coronavirus, researchers reported Thursday. 

A mathematical model looking at various vaccination strategies shows that vaccinating younger adults does more to stop the overall spread of the virus, but immunizing the older groups saves more lives.

“We found that across countries those aged 60 and older should be prioritized to minimize deaths,” the team at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Harvard School of Public Health wrote in their report published in the journal Science.

The models they ran did not include the benefits of vaccinating people with chronic health conditions, who also have a high risk of severe disease and death compared to young healthy people. They also did not consider the current plan of vaccinating frontline health care workers and essential workers first. And they did not include vaccinating children in their modeling.

“The role of children during this pandemic has been unclear. Under our assumptions about susceptibility by age, children are not the major drivers of transmission in communities, consistent with emerging evidence,” they wrote. “Thus, our results differ from the optimal distribution for influenza vaccines, which prioritize school-age children and adults age 30-39.”

The federal government has already asked states to shift to vaccinating people over 65.

1:14 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Shanghai reports first new Covid-19 cases in 2 months

From CNN's Beijing Bureau

People in protective suits cordon off an area around a residential neighborhood in Shanghai's Huangpu district in China, on January 21.
People in protective suits cordon off an area around a residential neighborhood in Shanghai's Huangpu district in China, on January 21. STF/AFP/Getty Images

Shanghai's Huangpu district reported six new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, according to the local health commission, the first infections in the city since November last year.

The first patient tested positive after a regular Covid-19 test for staff at the Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center. 

The second case lives in the same residential compound as the first patient and tested positive during a regular test of medical personnel at the city's Renji Hospital.

Both medical facilities suspended outpatient services, according to notices on their respective social media accounts. Authorities also declared the residential compound where these confirmed cases lived as being a "medium-risk area" on Thursday. 

According to a statement from the Shanghai Health Commission, as of 10 p.m. Thursday, 72 close contacts had been tracked down and tested negative. Some 15,073 relevant personnel have received nucleic acid tests and got negative results.

All close contacts identified have been put under medical observation, and relevant locations where confirmed cases were known to have visited have been notified and disinfected, according to the local health commission. 

12:56 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Johnson & Johnson will have 100 million Covid-19 vaccines for Americans by April, says board member

From CNN Health's Andrea Diaz

Johnson & Johnson board member Dr. Mark McClellan said on Thursday the company plans to have "enough vaccines for 100 million Americans by spring." 

"I do know that J&J is making a very large supply, going all out with its production both here in the US and elsewhere around the world, with the goal of having perhaps enough vaccines for 100 million Americans by spring, by this April or so," McClellan told CNBC. 

"So that's going to make a big difference in supply availability over the coming weeks and months, if the clinical trial does work out," 

McClellan also said that the vaccine's clinical trial is "going on at very large scale right now" to make sure it's safe and effective.

Close to seeking EUA: Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that Johnson & Johnson is "right around the corner" from seeking emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine from the FDA.

"Johnson & Johnson is right around the corner ... (which) means that they're probably a couple of weeks away from getting the data looked at, to have the FDA evaluate whether or not we're in a situation where we could move ahead and start thinking about getting it out into the public," Fauci told CNN's Chris Cuomo.

Fauci also stated that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has some advantages, as it's a single shot, and it doesn't have as stringent of a cold chain requirement.

However, when asked if AstraZeneca is close to requesting an EUA for its vaccine as well, Fauci said they're behind.

"AstraZeneca is not quite there yet, you know that's one that's being tested in multiple countries but it's a bit behind, but not too far behind," Fauci said. 

12:54 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

People waited up to 5 hours to get vaccinated at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles mayor says

From CNN's Alexandra Meeks and Sarah Moon

Dodger Stadium Covid-19 Testing and Vaccination site is seen in Los Angeles, on January 19.
Dodger Stadium Covid-19 Testing and Vaccination site is seen in Los Angeles, on January 19. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Some people this week waited in line for up to five hours at Dodger Stadium -- the largest vaccination site in the United States -- amid low supply of the Covid-19 vaccine in Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

Most of these individuals were over 65 years old.

"Some of the brave folks who came forward I know waited for up to five hours," Garcetti said. "I worked that line apologizing to people," he added. 

The mass drive-through vaccination site stayed open until 11 p.m. PT Wednesday, three hours past the scheduled closing time, to assure everyone in line was immunized, Garcetti said. Officials have since increased staffing and deployed additional resources to reduce wait times. The average wait time Thursday was 30-40 minutes, Garcetti said.

"There may be a wait ... so use the restroom beforehand, bring water and snacks, and make sure your gas tank is filled up or your car is charged," Garcetti said.

While there are nearly 1.4 million people over the age of 65 in LA, only about 850,000 first doses have been delivered due to strained supply, Garcetti said. If production of the vaccine does not ramp up, officials say it will take until June 2021 for all healthcare workers and seniors over 65 in LA to get vaccinated with their second dose.

"We're working day and night to expedite this process to deliver more of these vaccine to more Angelenos," Garcetti said. 

To date, five LA city sites have vaccinated more than 80,000 people. This week, Los Angeles County vaccination centers have immunized 46,635 people, a 90% increase since last week.

Surge in cases: LA County added 8,512 new coronavirus cases and 262 additional deaths on Thursday. According to Garcetti, the last time the county reported under 10,000 cases for two consecutive days was in the first week of December. 

The seven-day average of new cases has decreased by 30%, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Hospitalizations have also decreased this week, down 7% since last Thursday. 

To date, the county has reported a total of 1,046,021 Covid-19 cases and 14,641 deaths.

12:13 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Covid-19 vaccine second doses may be scheduled "up to 6 weeks" later, CDC says

From CNN Health’s Michael Nedelman

People can schedule their second doses of Covid-19 vaccine up to six weeks after their first doses if they are otherwise unable to get one in the recommended timeframe, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in guidance updated Thursday.

The recommended time between doses is three weeks for Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine, and four weeks for Moderna’s vaccine. 

"The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible,” the latest guidance says.

"However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. There are currently limited data on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series."

The updated CDC guidance appears to clarify earlier language that said “there is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine.”

Delaying the second dose up to six weeks is in line with what WHO advisers said earlier this month.

CDC says its guidance may be updated as new information and new types of Covid-19 vaccines become available.

Fauci's response: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said people would be "taking a chance" if they follow the CDC's updated guidance.

"You're taking a chance, the data from the clinical trials, showed that in the Moderna trial, you should get the boost 28 days after the prime, that's what I got, I got it exactly 28 days later, when you're dealing with Pfizer it's 21, that's where the data show is the optimal effect," Fauci told CNN Chris Cuomo on Thursday. 

Fauci said it's possible that delaying the second dose is “not going to be a big deal.” However, he said, we don’t know for sure because the vaccine data hasn’t been looked at for this extended time-period between doses. 

12:01 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021

Japan's prime minister expresses "determination" to hold Olympic Games

From CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said his government is “determined” to “realize a safe and secure Olympics” during a news conference Friday.

"We are determined to work closely together with the Tokyo metropolitan government, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, and the IOC to realize a safe and secure Olympics," Suga said.

Earlier on Friday, The Times of London, citing an unnamed senior member of the ruling coalition, reported that the government “privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus,” CNN has not independently verified the report.

Suga added: "Regarding the Tokyo Games, it will be a symbol of humanity overcoming the novel coronavirus, and a chance to showcase Japan's reconstruction from the devastating Northeastern earthquake and tsunami to the world. We will be well prepared on the measures for the infection."